Monday, March 28, 2016

Turned Taquete: Next Generation

Over the years I've had several projects published, mostly by Interweave Press. My earliest project was in 1984 when I had two dishtowels accepted for the Design Collection series. I was soon to start an MA program in Craft Design at Iowa State University and I was beyond excited! The next two were a woolen scarf for another Design Collection and, sometime in the 90's, a necktie with palm trees in Theo Moorman technique that was actually in a Handwoven magazine. (BTW, all of my magazines and books are in storage right now so I can't actually check dates or anything.)

After a huge block of time, decades, I was invited to submit a project for a scarf in Diversified Plain Weave to Handwoven and wrote about it here. The project was a 6-block houndstooth pattern woven using Diversified Plain Weave (DPW for short) for the structure. The next year I submitted another DPW project for Handwoven's color themed issue, this time the concept being woven circles (a neat trick using only 6 blocks I might add).

This attention is fun, but in the back of my mind, I always wonder who (if anyone) ever actually weaves these projects. Okay, show of hands: how many of you have actually woven the Circles Scarf????


Fast forward to ... 2015. I wrote in this blog about a Turned Taquete scarf that I designed from a pattern called Jitterbug.

It was my first attempt at using the book Weaving with Echo and Iris. That design was both fun and very challenging. I was so happy when I finally got it right and wove it and shared it in this blog.

And it didn't go unnoticed! Denise Kovnat, who is in the Rochester, NY area, and writes the blog Random Acts of Color, asked my permission for one of her students to use my design in a workshop she taught at MAFA in Pennsylvania. Of course I said yes! And then recently she sent me an image of the finished piece that her student wove. And. Oh. My. God. Take a look at this:



This scarf was woven by Tina Kiethas and it won an award! Says Tina: "The scarf was in the Philadelphia Guild of Handweavers "Celebration of Fibers" show, and it won the Katherine Wellman Memorial Award for imaginative weaving incorporating design, color, and texture." She hopes her piece will inspire others to try Turned Taquete.

I am so happy for Tina, and so proud that she used my design for her weaving. Well done!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Very Slow Cloth

Just realized it's been almost two months since the last post. Much is happening Chez Moi and much more is going to be happening very soon. We are still getting the house ready to sell, and it is a hard slog, but we are getting there. I had surgery a week ago Monday (planned, not an emergency, but definitely puttng a crimp in my style). But, I have scarves to show off!
I am done weaving until after the move. All the yarn, except for some skeins of sock yarn for knitting, is in storage. My last warp was for a batch of Woven Shibori Scarves (see my previous post). I ended up with five scarves, quite a lot for me, as I am not really a production weaver.
I used a threading from the book Woven Shibori by Catherine Ellis. It's an advancing twill on 8 harnesses, and for each scarf I did something different in the treadling to minimize the boredom factor (see my previous post). So, when dyed, each one has a slightly different look.
Technical details: I used 2000 yards per pound rayon chenille sett at 20 epi. The pattern threads (see my previous post) were 6 ply DMC embroidery floss that I bought on the cone at Walmo online. FYI, embroidery floss works really well here. It's strong, cause you need that for gathering the scarves and tieing them for dyeing.
I used an indigo dye kit by Jacquard for three of the scarves. If you haven't tried this dye method yet, I highly recommend it. It's super easy if you follow the directions. The kit makes a ton of dye, and you can pretty much go crazy with it until it's finally used up. Fair warning: it smells.... earthy... And you'll need a five gallon bucket with a lid to keep it in.
Indigo is considered a vat dye, where the goods to be dyed are submerged in the dye pot. So, after drawing up the pattern threads very tightly and tieing them on each scarf, you dip them in the dye bucket and kind of swirl them around for about a minute or two. It doesn't take long! The scarf on the left had been dye-painted with a light blue fiber reactive dye for a base. The other two were left completely white.


The other two scarves were dye-painted in other colors with fiber reactive dyes. One was dusty rose, the other coral pink. When it came to the shibori dyeing faze, I again painted the dye on, On dusty rose I used black dye, which rinsed and dried to a dark dark burgundy. On coral pink I used purple.

After rinsing and drying well, the scarves kind of sat around for a long time until I felt well enough to start cutting the embroidery floss threads and revealing the underlying patterns. I then machine washed the scarves to get the pleats out and get a real look at all of them.

Next step will be to wash them (again) and dry them in a dryer so I can finally pull out the headers and twist the fringes.

Slow? Yeah.



Friday, January 15, 2016


It's been a while since I tried my hand at Woven Shibori. I looked back to my previous blog posts and I was astonished at just how long it's been. This is my first one. In 2010. Yikes.

So, there are a few reasons why I wouldn't necessarily call Woven Shibori my favorite technique. You've got an all white rayon chenille warp and weft, broken up by the occasional shot of aqua embroidery floss. And there are yards and yards and yards of it.

Still, it has its attractions. The real reward comes with the big reveal after all the dyeing.

But, the title of this post pretty much sums it up.

Reasons for this warp there are:

1. We are packing to sell the house and move. I have very little yarn left that is isn't in storage. But I did have a huge cone of white 2000 ypp rayon chenille.

2. I still haven't packed my dye stash, and expect to paint a bit more yarn before that happens, so dyeing is still something I can do quite readily. And this project should use up a lot of dye.

3. I have an indigo dye kit that I purchased a few months ago that would be nice to use.

So, I put in my time every day at the loom until my neck tells me to stop. I'm weaving about one third of a scarf per day. I could be done sometime next week. Then it will be time to fold up the loom.





Saturday, January 2, 2016

Back in the Day [Part the Third]

This is the third in my series of occasional postings about my earlier days weaving.
To review: My focus had been on weaving rugs in Summer and Winter Boundweave on Opposites (Taquete). This is a weft-faced weave of great flexibility using 6 blocks for design, woven on my 8 shaft loom. Each block can be woven independently or combined with other blocks, and up to 4 colors employed, a great advantage for designing.
I had decided to go small. Weaving rugs was just too costly and consumed too much space. My idea was to create small, rug-like pieces in cotton. I would sew them to good quality mat board and exhibit them in metal frames. I chose 5/2 cotton for warp and weft, and this turned out to be a good decision. For my first series I warped 5/2 cotton at 12 ends per inch and 10 inches wide. I figured 30 blocks, 5 repeats of a straight draw profile draft.
Here is a scan of my design for Magic Carpet #1:
My design method was pretty idiosyncratic, yet it worked well for me. I would make designs on the computer, using my (now) antiquated Apple IIe and the weaving software I was using at the time. Each design was from the same straight draw threading profile, but with a different tie-up. I took the designs and tie-ups, cut them into strips, and started arranging them until I liked the result.
Magic Carpet #1 was pretty awkward. I was just starting to see what the possibilities were. Not my finest effort...
Magic Carpet #1
Magic Carpet #2 was better, and the colors worked well. Notice the rather blocky paisleys at the top...

Magic Carpet #2:

Here is the scan of the design for Magic Carpet #3. The design strips don't show it, but the threading profile shows I used only five blocks for the main design. The sixth block was reserved for a border on the sides. A solid border on top and bottom completed the color frame. I often added color samples on the side for each part of the design.

Magic Carpet #3:
Magic Carpet #4 also has a border all around, this time of metallic yarn that was roughly the same size as 5/2 cotton. I used a lot of metallics as time went on...

Magic Carpet #4:

Black border on the next one.
Magic Carpet #5:
Magic Carpet #6:

Magic Carpet #7 with metallics worked into more of the design:


I really loved combining bands of design, working out color combinations, trying to balance both color and movement.

My next series focused on grids. But we'll do that next time. Happy New Year!








Friday, November 6, 2015

Rep Mats, Yarn Painting, House Projects, Oh My!

My group portrait of my entire stock of 5/2 cotton

was transformed to this







after I finished warping my loom for a bazillion (well, 10 yards worth) rep weave mats. 13" wide, 32 epi, and 432 warp ends.
I was basically making everything up as I went along. I kept to some basic color groupings, choosing colors just as much for how little there was on a cone (which meant that I would use another one up!) as for how good they would look in pairs. My process was long and convoluted and neither you nor I would last through an explication of the design. Suffice it to say that I chose colors in pairs that corresponded to dark/light or light/dark. I threaded the loom using all eight shafts, keeping to four independent blocks. The tie-up adhered to the four independent blocks rule as well.
By the time I got the warp rolled on, I was feeling just a bit ... overwhelmed. So much so, that I felt I needed to weave a... (da da daaaaaa) .... sample.
My thick weft is 16/8 mop cotton, and my thin weft is (what else) more 5/2 cotton.
So I did. I wove this sample, just combining blocks as I felt like it, feeling my way, deciding what I liked and what I didn't. I wove 3" hem headers at beginning and end. Then I cut it off, sewed the hems, and washed it in the washing machine. I wanted to see how it would perform, what the shrinkage would be, etc. Before washing, the mat was 13" wide and 23" long. After washing, it was 13" wide and 19 l/4" long. Shrinkage was approx. 20%. Good to know.
It washed beautifully, but it was a good thing I used a color catcher in the machine ;-)
So now I'm weaving more mats, but very slowly. Not because I'm naturally slow, but because of all the other things that take up time in a day.

Lately, I've had a big run of special orders of my handpainted yarn in my Etsy shop. I love the business, but it does take away from weaving time.
In addition, we had painters in my weaving studio (AKA the sun room). There was at least a week when I absolutely couldn't get any weaving done at all. But, the painting's done now and looks great. However, there aren't any window coverings on the 12 windows in there and there won't be until I can sew some. The good news is that the fabric arrived. Still waiting for the tension rods to hang everything with.
We're having the nicest Fall ever in Iowa, with lots of sunshine. You would think that would be wonderful, but tryng to weave in the sun room and being blinded by the sun is really not that much fun. So I try to duck in and out when the time of day is more commodious.
Oh my.




Monday, September 7, 2015

Mushing On

Here are the scarves I blogged about in the previous post. Aren't they awesome? Very drapey after wet finishing and pressing. I used a different tie-up And different weft for each scarf, but treadled all the same. These are just preliminary iPad photos. As soon as I take some more photos I will list them in my Etsy shop.

The next photo is a group portrait of all of my 5/2 cotton cones. I've been thinking of some ways to use all of them up. Fast. Short of tossing them in the charity shop box. I was thinking of double weave runners. Although tempting, the double weaving is a bit slow. Then I hit on a better idea: Rep weave placemats and runners. Rep weave uses up lots of warp. I'm thinking about 30 epi, and at a take-up rate that is blindingly fast. I think that will put a big dent in this pile of yarn, and in record time.

Technical Note: This photo is probably the 10th or 12th one I took yesterday. It's a panorama on my iPhone. Panoramas are fun, but if you're trying to shoot a subject that is a straight line, most of your photos come out bending and jagged in ways that are not attractive. I finally found something to prop my phone on, that would slide easily, and not move up and down (much). Short of using a mono-pod on wheels, this is the best photo, though still not perfecto.

I scored the ebook Rep Weave and Beyond by Joanne Tallarovic for half price over the weekend. Well worth it! Lots of good, non-traditional ideas for rep weave projects. But what the heck. I'll probably still make it up as I go.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Kids, Don't Try This at Home

[The project pictured here was woven by a specially trained stunt weaver in a locked studio. Do not attempt.]

Just kidding.

This weaving is a scarf and it is yet another example of my mission to destash, sweep clean, and make presentable my studio space, AKA sun room. It is a scarf warp that only destash-crazed weavers would ever attempt, but yet. Yet, I still went ahead and gave it a go. It seems to be working.

The warp I used is a shelf-full of hand dyed balls of 6-ply rayon mill ends that I accumulated over the years. I bought a lot of this yarn a few years ago, mostly in white. It dyed beautifully, and I wove things from it. I painted skeins and sold them on Etsy, and then the source dried up, and I just had a whole bunch of colors in yarn cakes of varying sizes.

I didn't even weight it all. I just started winding the warp. I decided on 24 epi and it was going to be a twill threading, but completely unplanned. I wound enough for 3-4 scarves, roughly 8 yards, and I ended up with just almost 10" of width.

Here is an image of the warp chains going on the loom. Front to back.

I wasn't pleased. There was something about this warp that was really not right. Basically, it looks like two scarves side by side, and it wasn't going to get any better when woven.

But wait! I thought of a risky yet it-just-might-workable strategy to fix it:

I took the middle chain and the left hand chain off the lease sticks, preserving the cross. I flipped the middle chain and put it back on the lease sticks, then put the left hand chain back on as well. Voila. I got a better distribution of color and value. I had a bit of trepidation, but what else is 40-odd years of weaving experience good for, if not for such wild and crazy stunts? (Only once in a while.)

I got to use my new Angel Wings for winding on, which was lovely. The warp went on super fast, and very smoothly. I don't know why I waited so long to get this fabulous gadget:

But I digress.

Before I wound on, I threaded the reed and the heddles, making up the twill pattern as I went along. I had made a record of the color order in my notebook as I wound the warp. So, in the notebook I went back to each color section and did a little twill riff, each color a little bit different. After each chain, I went to my iPad weaving software (WiIF 'n Proof) and entered the twill riffs and the colors. I could see how balanced (or unbalanced) the design was as I threaded.

It worked pretty well. I will probably change the tie-up for each scarf for a bit of variety, but I will be treadling the same order for each one.

So, now I'm weaving the first scarf, and I have enough of the 6-ply rayon dyed gold on a cone. But (wouldn't you know) that is the end of the 6-ply. So I gleefully bought some 6/2 rayon tencel in white for more weft colors. This rayon tencel is just about the same yards per pound as the 6-ply mill ends, and such a lovely blank canvas. It has a fabulous hand and soft feel.

Do you see where this is going?