Summer Came Early

In contrast to the usual long, wet, mostly cloudy Spring weather we have here on Whidbey Island, this year there’s been substantial sunshine and a number of days with more-than-Summer temperatures.  And significantly less rain than the norm.  My garden is astonishingly lush and gorgeous (maybe a post on that soon!), so looking out the windows or wandering through one sees a study in greens and burgundies, and experiences the pleasure of seclusion and calm.

Inside as well there’s a lot happening, as I steadily move forward with work on both looms, as well as catch up on the hand hemming of a stack of recently-finished designer towels.  Today, it’s all about the big loom.

It began with two hand-dyed skeins from Blazing  Shuttles, a colorway named Green and Gold.  One was tencel, the other bamboo; they were not identical in color, texture, or thickness.  In March, I received a postcard from the desert Southwest sent by a friend; the similarity of colors to my yarns was striking.

20160420_120252

20160420_120402

Once all my calculations and design processes were completed, I was able to eke out a 12-yard long warp, enough for five scarves.  The next photo gives a better idea of how the colors looked when all the threads were measured and ready to go onto the loom.

20160429_153755

I set up the two yarns across the warp in an A-B-A-B-A arrangement, and used a somewhat complex twill threading which would give me lots of options for patterning.

20160429_155956

I’m calling this series “Summer Meadow”; it’s not hard to see why.  The weaving is going smoothly and pleasurably — I completely love this warp, these colors, the luster and gleam of the yarns, and (contrary to how I often get tired of the whole thing on a long warp like this) I’m continuing to enjoy it all.  Only one more to weave now, so it’ll all be finished in a couple of days.  Here are the first four ~

#1, woven with hunter green tencel ~

20160501_172628

20160501_172654

#2, woven with soft yellow tencel (called “straw”) ~

20160506_151343

20160506_151427

#3, woven with yellow-green tencel (called “lemongrass”) ~

20160514_161309

20160514_161334

#4, woven with sky blue tencel (called “azure”) ~

20160518_174527

20160518_174559

The final one will be woven with a soft terra-cotta tencel (called “adobe”), in an as-yet-undetermined pattern.  I already know it’ll be my favorite.

The next batch of work on this loom will be another series of designer kitchen towels, in an interesting combination of bright red, turquoise, burgundy and grey.  The small loom right now has a series of three scarves in process, about which more next time.  They’re luscious!

Advertisements
Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ancient Elements (minus one)

In my last blog post (Vignettes), I was just beginning to weave a new series of designer kitchen towels.  Getting started on them had been a long slow process, as I was not inspired by the colors I was going to be working with.  There’s a little backstory here to explain that, since most of you probably know that ordinarily I choose the colors for virtually everything I weave.  This time was different.

P1030338

Last October, I was the organizer for a weaving retreat held here on Whidbey Island, led by Kathrin Weber (Blazing Shuttles), dyer and weaver extraordinaire.  This winter, she initiated a towel swap for the members of the group, and dyed some cotton yarns in colors that were reminiscent of the Pacific Northwest.  I selected one colorway called Mount Hood, and another called Stormy Ocean.  When I got them, they seemed drab and murky to me; I was uninspired, and did nothing for a long while.  One day, in a new shipment of miscellaneous hand-dyed yarns from The Drop Spindle, there was a fat, lustrous pearl cotton in interesting colors, some of which were similar to the ones I’d gotten from Kathrin.  Eureka!! there was the accent I needed to bring the whole venture to life. In the photo above, you can see glimmers of it.

P1030343

And in this photo, they’re even more apparent.  By this stage — winding the warp onto the loom — I was delighted with how the colors and textures were interacting.  The two main yarns were in an A-B-A-B-A distribution across the 22.5-inch width of the warp, and at no point were there similar colors adjacent to one another.  There were some very interesting combinations that emerged, and through it all the shiny thicker accent yarn kicked everything up another notch.  I loved it all!

The title — Ancient Elements — came from my impression that the yarn colors represented the land, the sea, and the sky here in this region (no fires west of the Cascade Range, and the volcanic beginnings are long in the past).  The ancients believed that the fundamental elements of the world were earth, air, fire, and water — so my towels used that nomenclature.  Here they are (photos taken during the weaving process) ~

Air #1 ~

P1030347

P1030349

Water #1 ~

P1030352

20160410_164605

Earth #1 ~

P1030361

P1030360

Air #2 ~

P1030370

P1030371

Water #2 ~

P1030375

P1030380

Earth #2 ~

P1030387

P1030389

Water #3 ~

P1030392

P1030397

Two of these were sent off today to Kathrin in North Carolina for the towel exchange, another was sent to its new owner in Florida, and the rest have been purchased by Washingtonians.  Needless to say, my early reservations and hesitations were for naught.

 

Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Vignettes

Ten days ago, on Saturday, I hosted my 2016 Spring Open Studio Day, for visitors to come to my home/studio and observe the weaving process, ask questions, chat with others, view and purchase finished work.  Busy day, and lots of fun for all parties though yours truly was truly fatigued at the end of the day.

IMG_1420

Like I say . . . . had a good time.

All the photographs in this post were taken by my friend Danette Sulgrove,  so I could have a record of the day but keep my nose to the grindstone.  Lots of pictures follow, with minimal explanation.

IMG_1412

Cheap toilet paper, ready to be woven in as a “header” at the beginning of the entire process ~

IMG_1414

IMG_1430

IMG_1424

IMG_1425

 

IMG_1427

Adjusting the lashing to even the warp tension across the width.

IMG_1440

Searching for a threading error, with kibitzer ~

IMG_1445

Error correction in process ~

IMG_1447

Weaving underway ~

IMG_1462

Border done, and on into the patterned portion ~

IMG_1480

IMG_1486

 

IMG_1421

 

IMG_1436

IMG_1474

 

IMG_1435

IMG_1507

IMG_1498

IMG_1495

IMG_1464

It was, as I said, a good day.  There’ll be another — the Summer one — on Saturday, July 9.  Perhaps you’ll be able to join me.

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Eye Candy (and how it got that way)

There’s the visible, and then there’s the hidden.  Today you get both.  The images are all of recent work, photos taken by the inestimable Michael Stadler, who has perfected the art of photographing textiles so that every aspect is crystal clear, including the dimensionality.  Interspersed among the pretties is my long-promised narrative on how the basic design and planning proceeds.  You can skip that part if you want — there’s basic math involved.

1A6A0001

For the sake of discussion, let’s say I decide to make a series  of three scarves, finished size nine inches by six feet (72 inches), plus fringes at both ends about three inches long.  Simple math ahead . . . . First, I need to calculate the length of the warp threads I’ll put on the loom that will give me that result.

1A6A9759

First, add up the total number of inches required for one scarf — 75 inches (a bit extra is added because when they’re off the loom, washed and ironed, a bit of length is lost) plus two times four, for the fringes.  That’s 75 + 8 = 83″ for one scarf.  I want three, so it’s 83 X 3 = 249″.  Then, for my big computer-assisted loom, I add 27″ to allow for what’s called loom waste.  Thus, 249 + 27 = 276″.  To convert that into yards (which is the way yarns are measured), divide by 36.  So — 276/36 = 7.66667, or 7 2/3 yards.  I would probably round that up to 8 yards, so I have a bit extra to play with, maybe make at least one of the scarves a little longer.

1A6A9967

Next step is to figure out how much yardage I’ll need in total.  I’m going to keep it simple here, in contrast to how I rather frequently play with it in real life.

1A6A9777

In order to end up with a scarf 9″ wide, I’ll need to make the warp about 10″ wide, to allow for what’s called “draw-in”, which is a normal result of the weaving process as the weft (crosswise thread) goes over and under the warp (lengthwise) threads.  And, adding another variable, I’ll stipulate that the warp yarn I’m going to use is optimally (in my experience) spaced at 20 threads to the inch.  That means I’ll need 200 warp threads to make up the width.  So far so good.

1A6A9974

An important consideration at this point is to be sure I have enough of my chosen yarn to make up the entire warp, so I simply need to multiply the number of threads by the length — 200 X 8 = 1600 yards required.  Essential information.

1A6A9786

By now, I will have designed — or chosen from the several hundred that are stored in my computer — the pattern(s) I want to use for this series.  Rarely is it the case that the pattern repeats in the threading come out to a nice neat number like 200, so I’ll need to be flexible and tweak a few things.

1A6A9801

So, just to add a little difficulty, let’s say I want to use a pattern that has a repeat of 85; two repeats across would be 170 threads, but that would be too narrow.  Three repeats would be 255, and that’s too wide.  I could use two, and add partial repeats on each edge, or I could use three (a more interesting possibility due to the axial symmetry) and subtract some threads on each side.  But the most intriguing approach (in my experience) would be to use two full repeats plus 30 threads of the third, and make the design asymmetrical and off-center across the width of the scarves.  All three options are good; the third strikes me as potentially the best from a design standpoint.

1A6A9821

In decisions like the above, there are no “right” or “wrong” choices — all are good, and it becomes a matter of personal preference (or foible) as to which one selects.

1A6A9834

In the example I’ve been using, the calculations were based on  using only one yarn in the warp.  I more often use multiple yarns, using one as the “main” or “background” yarn (usually a multi-colored hand-dyed yarn) and one or more secondary yarns as accents, both in terms of color and texture.  These turquoise/teal/lavender scarves are an example of this practice.

1A6A9843

When I’m using more than one yarn for the warp, the total number will need to add up to the number of warp threads I’ve decided upon for this particular series.  So, going back to my example above, if I decide to use the main yarn (130 threads),  and two additional ones, the secondary ones will need to add up to 70.  I’d probably do 45 of one and 25 of the other, and then space them each randomly across the ten inch width so as to make the cloth more interesting and surprising than if they were precisely and equally spaced.  It raises the degree of difficulty, but that’s what I most often like to do.

1A6A9879

1A6A98951A6A9910

These Heart-Throb scarves are an example of a still-different approach, where I kept tweaking the pattern on the computer till I had the elaborate design perfectly symmetrical and balanced, with the number of total warp threads that I had decided upon for the finished width I wanted.  Kind of a hybrid approach, which worked out splendidly.

1A6A9916

After all the number-crunching, the real work begins of preparing the warp to go onto the loom, and everything that follows after that.  What I’ve outlined here is only the bare beginning, both with respect to the process and to the time expended.

1A6A9996

Categories: Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Spring Vibe

You may have noticed that I skipped a week appearing here.  My baby brother (two years younger than me) came for a visit from his mountain stronghold in Truckee, California, and I pretty  much gave myself over to spending time with him.  We had the best time together in many years.  Maybe ever.  As children, we fought a lot — the outcome of adults around us unthinkingly pitting us against each other.  It took long years, really until less than ten years ago, for us to be friends and to genuinely enjoy and understand each other.  That’s not to say we don’t still go head to head sometimes; we do, but now we’re able to step back and ultimately chuckle at our respective intransigence.  I love the guy a lot.

The work on “Departure” continues, and as of today is in the homestretch.  In my last post, I showed you the first scarf in the series, but will show it again here to have most of them all together.  So here’s #1 ~

20160301_130701

P1030286

The weft yarn in that one is a pale green tencel, and in the second one (below) the weft is a pale pink tencel called “Apricot Blossom”, a fitting name ~

P1030292

P1030293

You’ll notice that some of these photos seem warm in tone, and some quite cool.  The warmer ones are more accurate; the cooler ones were taken on cloudy days, so there was no ambient sunlight to warm things up, literally as well as figuratively.

Here’s #3, woven with pale silver grey tencel, very subtle ~

P1030296

P1030297

You can see the wonderful texture contributed by the oddly-spun rayon secondary yarn; it’s likely to be even more obvious after these are off the loom, washed and ironed.

Finally, #4, woven with a fine pale lavender pearl cotton called “Orchid”, another fitting name ~

P1030300

P1030303

Bonus points if you correctly guess the name of my feline quality control supervisor.  She was a bit irritated at being disallowed to do testing on the weaving rather than near it.  I was firmly unsympathetic.

There’s one more to be woven — the weft will be an ivory tencel, which is likely to accentuate the subtle colors of the warp rather than blending with them.  Photos next week, along with the previously-promised explanation of how I go about planning and designing a warp.  Be prepared for some mathematical calculations, albeit relatively simple ones!

Categories: Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Still Going . . . .

Today’s weather has been quintessentially Spring-like — cloudy, sunny, strong gusty winds, pouring rain.  Some of those conditions have been sequential, some simultaneous, and the changes appeared rapidly and at short intervals.  My afternoon walk began in a light drizzle, which quickly devolved into a drenching downpour blown almost sideways by the wind.  My head and torso stayed dry beneath my bright yellow rain jacket; the rest of me got soaked.  I love this weather!

Here’s the last of the “Kilauea” series of scarves, woven with a soft orange tencel in an advancing twill patterning ~

P1030276

P1030277

All three came off the loom yesterday — Leap Day — and were immediately washed and hung overnight to dry just to the right dampness for ironing.  Their completion before month’s end gave me a total of 23 yards woven during February, I believe a new record.  My production pace has been quite gratifying.  And surprising.

Meanwhile, on the big AVL, there’s a new run of work in process, a series of five scarves I’ve named “Departure”.  (I’ll be interested to see if any of my readers can figure out why I came up with that name.  There are actually two reasons, which gives you more opportunity to guess correctly!)  Here’s the hand-dyed bamboo/hemp main yarn, ready to go onto the loom ~

P1030270

The next three images were shot with my smartphone, the first time I’ve gotten good enough shots to use.  (Let me know if you think they’re of similar caliber to the ones taken with my camera.)

20160301_130437

20160301_130701

20160301_130725

The secondary, highly-textured yarn is a shiny rayon with odd long bumpy areas; the weft in this scarf is a pale green tencel.  Shimmery finished cloth is pretty much guaranteed.

A different angle, taken with the camera ~

P1030286

Finally, a sneak preview of the new warp ready to go onto the lovely cherry Baby Wolf loom.  This will be another series of three scarves, as yet unnamed.  Very shiny hand-dyed rayon and the accent threads of a lustrous pearl cotton.

P1030280

The recent weeks of unusually dense work-time resulting in substantial finished work look like continuing.  Completed designs and tantalizing ideas beckon me onward; March is likely to give February a run for her money.

Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Firing on All Cylinders

For reasons I’m unable to comprehend, my production pace this month has been steadier and faster than maybe any time ever.  As of today, it doesn’t feel like it’s letting up, which suits me just fine.  I know that at some point I’ll step away for a little bit, or find that I’ve over-committed myself to “outside” activities of various sorts.  Such periods always sneak up on me, so for now I’m delighted to ride the wave of excitement and creative intensity.

And it’s Spring.  In earnest.  Which means Winter  is effectively over (though we will surely still have lots of rain), which is too bad, as the chilly rainy months are always my most productive.  I’m hoping this year to avoid the outdoor distractions for longer than usual.

So here’s the proof of last week’s work — it’s a series of three amazingly lustrous scarves in tencel and hand-dyed rayon, titled “Corruscation”.

P1030236

P1030244

And the second one ~

P1030245

P1030252

Finally, the third one ~

P1030254

P1030255

These three, plus the three Heart-Throb scarves and some additional recent work, were photographed today by Michael Stadler in his studio — always a revelation to me.  I’m so accustomed to seeing my work up close; when they’re being shot in the studio setting with great lighting at some distance from my eyes, I see them freshly and with an entirely different perspective.  I always feel like that view is a kind of final farewell to them, even if they’re still in my possession.

You may remember that I now have a second loom in my tool kit.  That one too has been hard at work.  I may have showed a couple of pictures of it some time ago, but now there’s real progress on the warp I have on it.  It’s a hand-dyed tencel from Kathrin Weber of Blazing Shuttles fame, and because this is a mechanical loom (in contrast to the big computer-assisted behemoth), I needed to keep the patterning relatively simple.  (You may not think so, but I know otherwise!)  This will be a series of three scarves; I’ve titled it “Kilauea”.

Here’s the first one ~

P1030125

P1030126

And the second ~

P1030265

P1030269

I’m at the midpoint on this one, and when I go back to it tomorrow, I’m going to reverse the treadling so that the pattern goes in the opposite direction for the second half of the scarf.  Thus, when it’s worn, the two ends will mirror each other.

Here’s a look a few steps back so you can see the loom itself — it’s a lovely, well-built tool which is a pleasure to use ~

P1030267

A couple of days ago, I was telling a friend about the design process I was working through for a new run of scarves which will be woven on the big loom.  It occurred to me that the mathematical and pattern considerations I manipulate to slowly develop a finished design — all done before working with the materials themselves — are a hidden part of what I do, one which I rarely mention much less write about.  Next time, you can expect to get an explanation of that part of my process.  I anticipate it’ll be somewhat of a struggle to attempt.

Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Hearts & Flowers (but no chocolate)

The customary celebrations of Valentine’s Day have long since vanished from my life.  What has taken their place is celebration of a different sort.

Here in the Maritime Northwest, the Spring season is already well under way this year.  You’ll see photographic evidence of that here and there further down, interspersed with evidence of how I chose to observe the public holiday.

For a number of years, I’ve had in mind to weave a series of Valentine’s scarves, having found in a weaving publication a project that contained representational hearts which looked pretty good.  But I never got around to it.  Until this year, about two weeks ago, when I embarked on a (relative) frenzy of design and weaving.

P1010895

I took the original weaving draft (pattern) from the article I’d saved, entered it into my design program, and did a substantial amount of revamping and redesign until the result suited my vision of a woven Valentine’s card, complete with  lacy borders.  Using silk noil and tencel in equal amounts in the warp, I raced through the warping process.

P1030210

And the weaving.  First, with a fine purple pearl cotton.

P1030212

And then, because I wanted the two ends to be symmetrical, I reversed the pattern precisely at the middle ~

P1030216

P1010899

P1010902

The second in the series was woven with a shiny silver-grey tencel ~

P1030221

P1030222

A different angle on the cloth gives a fresh perspective on both pattern and color; this is why I persist in using shiny yarns which reflect light in interesting ways.

P1010908

The third (and last) scarf in this series — which I’ve named “Heart-Throb” — was woven with a deep red fine bamboo, less lustrous and more textured than the tencel, and therefore resulting in quite a different effect than the two previous ones.

P1030226

P1030228

The finished dimensions of these three are about nine inches by 78 inches, plus fringes.

P1010914

Finally, a glimpse of a feline rendition of the generally-accepted meaning of this holiday ~

P1010477

And a last floral treasure, a bouquet of seedling hellebores, for you.

P1010920

Categories: Uncategorized | 3 Comments

On A Roll

During the first few weeks of a new year, my practice has long been Getting Things Organized (or Reorganized).  This past month has fit perfectly into that pattern, and by now a number of tasks which have awaited my attention are crossed off the list in this year’s work plan.  Satisfying indeed.

What has received rather less of my effort has been the weaving itself — the center around which all else rotates.  Still, on January 31, I completed the newest series of designer kitchen towels.  Lovely soft rich colors, interesting patterns, no two alike.  You saw the first two last week; now the other five can take a bow.  (I’m showing two photos of each, because the patterns show up quite differently in different color sections — which to my mind makes the whole enterprise both more intriguing and more seductive.)

P1030167

P1030170

 

 

P1030176

P1030182

 

P1030187

P1030189

P1030192

P1030194

 

P1030203

P1030200

A couple of caveats — these photos are all process images, taken while the work is on the loom, so the pieces are all under tension and therefore devoid of textural interest.  That will show up nicely after washing and drying.  Second, some of the  patterns are difficult to see well, due to the low contrast between the warp and weft colors.  This was intentional (a design decision), as I wanted a blended effect for this group rather than strong contrast (which would have shown the patterns much better).

Next up — a series of three Valentine’s scarves in silk noil and tencel.  Bright red.  Hearts.  I have the warp ready, and will begin putting it on the loom tomorrow.  Ready to go “awwwwww”?

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Warm Winter

The temperature outside as I write is 53 degrees; it’s 8:30 in the evening near the end of January.  Mild as springtime, and the garden is showing it — hellebores blasting into bloom, tiny hardy cyclamen strewn fuchsia and white all through the big central garden bed, rose bushes popping out scarlet leaf buds, and one indefatigable heirloom rose in a giant pot staunchly blooming through two days-long cold snaps.

P1030138

P1030139

P1030140

Indoors meanwhile,  the work on the big loom makes reference to the burgeoning world outside.  This series of designer kitchen towels is named “Living Earth” — the rich, soft colors remind me of those of soil, vegetation, water and sky, flowers and fruits.

As usual, these towels will each be unique — no duplicates in the run of seven — partly due to the ever-changing flow of colors in the hand-dyed warp threads, and partly to the variety of patterns I’ve designed.

Here’s a look at the first one ~

P1030148

P1030149

And the second one ~

P1030156

P1030163

P1030164

There’s a particular pleasure in weaving my way through the hand-dyed warps I buy from Kathrin Weber (Blazing Shuttles); it’s impossible to become bored with the work.  The colors  keep moving forward as I weave, and areas where two colors blend are especially interesting.  The sight of a fresh section coming over the horizon (as it were) is impetus to continue on, if for no other reason than to see how the solid-color weft yarn in this particular pattern looks laid over those pristine warp threads.

P1030159

P1030160

Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: