Saturday, September 10, 2016

Around and Around in Circles

I like things with circles. This vase is a case in point, and it had me at the dots. (The rest of it is pretty good, too. Unknown student artist from Iowa State University, c. 2003.) And don't get me started about stripes!
This scarf, found in a tiny store in Paris, is another example. I blogged the story of it here. I loved all the variations of circles in a woven fabric. I just had to bring it home with me.

I have an on again, off again obsession with weaving circles, made all the more of an obsession by the fact of my limitation of 8 harnesses. If I had 32, 24, or even 16 harnesses, the difficulty in designing for circles would be much less. But for now, I only have the one loom, and I am stuck. I designed a scarf in Diversified Plain Weave for Handwoven Magazine, May/June 2013. And it started from this graphic:
That graphic became this profile draft:

And then it beame this color profile draft:
And then it became this scarf on the loom:
At the time I played with complicating the design by moving the circles into two repeating offset rows. To get to that, the profile draft increased to 8 blocks. Unfortunately, there's not a lot of weave structures that I could substitute into that profile draft that would make an interesting, clean rendering of it, given my 8 harness limitation. Crackle Weave came close, but no cigar. I wanted to try Turned Taquete, and I gave it the old college try, but I soon realized that the way these circles are positioned was not working for me.
So I tried positioning the circles farther apart. This is the profile draft Ifinally came up with. The cirlces are four blocks each, and I had to tweek the tie-up until I got it to work.
Since moving, I have upgraded my computer and software considerably. I purchased a Macbook Pro and installed Fiberworks PCW (new to me) and upgraded my Pixeloom. So now I have dueling weaving software and they don't do everything equally. I tried echo theadings on both programs, and I was much more satisfied with the result from Pixeloom. Just sayin'.
Here is the final Turned Taquete Circles drawdown. It took a LOT of trial and error and tweeking, but I finally did it. So what shall I weave?

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Woven Shibori Scarves - Well, Finally!

I was preparing to list these Woven Shibori scarves in my Etsy shop (see button on the right!). As I sometimes do, I got out my trusty weaving notebook to refresh my memory about the details of these scarves. Turns out I started this project in December of 2015. What??? Could that be true?

I started the planning in December. Somehow, during the holidays, I got the warp wound and on the loom and started weaving. I blogged about the weaving on January 2016. And I blogged about the scarves again on March 12. This picture accompanied that post, so clearly I had been working. Off and on.

It's all a blur now. There was so much going on at the time with the house sale and all the work that was going on regarding that. I'm surprised I got this much done. Still, it's shocking how long it all took.

My notebook contains only the bare bones of the project. Warp: 2000 ypp white rayon chenille sett at 20 epi. Advancing twill threading with a 48 end repeat and a total of 192 warp ends. Plus two floating warps that were really unnecessary. I have a print out of a drawdown. And I have three treadling order printouts for the pattern shots. Five scarves. Three printouts. I must have used two of them twice. Who remembers?

And that's all she wrote. I thought I would have recorded my dye colors. But no. This one is probably melon and overdyed with deep purple.

This one is blue, overdyed with indigo. I do remember the indigo dyepot. Vividly.

The next two are indigo on white.

And this one is burgundy, overdyed with black.

That's it. That's all I can remember. Eight months is way too long between weaving projects. I need to get busy, and I do plan for some dishtowels very soon. And there will be notes.

I have the yarn in a bin somewhere or other...

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

I Feel a Blog Post Coming On...

OMG. It was March when I posted last. Four months ago... That is way too long, but I have to say, a lot has happened.

From the photo, you may surmise that my loom, which was forever ensconced in a sunroom with burgundy carpeting, is now in a much different room, in another state. Yes, we have made the move from Iowa to Louisville, Kentucky, and the loom made the move as well. It was a huge, year long process, making that move. Our house had to have 25 years of deferred maintenance done in about 14 months. It was painful and expensive, but in the end it was worth it. We were able to sell fairly quickly, and get moved to be closer to the daughters, son-in-law, and the grandchildren.

Settling in has been slow. There are boxes that may never be unpacked... We've been in the house almost two months, and yesterday the couch arrived! Brace yourself.

It's eggplant. And I love it.

But I digress. The weaving studio is finally taking shape. We're in a house that is 116 years old, and about 800 square feet smaller than we had before. The loom and a work table and a bunch of plastic bins are residing in the smallest bedroom (of 3). My books are down the hall in another bedroom, but will probably make the trip up the hall eventually.

We live in a fabulous historic neighborhood that is very walkable, with restaurants, shops, library, baseball, golf, etc. very close by. I have a local yarn shop about four blocks away. The Woolery is about an hour away in Frankfort.

I haven't figured out if there are any weaving guilds in the area though. If Kentucky weavers could let me know if there are weaving groups around the Louisville area, it would be much appreciated!

Meanwhile, I have started handpainting yarn, and selling on Etsy. It's good to know that my faithful customers haven't forgotten about me. I really have to get busy weaving now!




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!