Friday, March 30, 2007

My Crackl'in Kite

When I went to Convergence in Grand Rapids last year I attended a seminar on crackle. For those of you unfamilar with crackle, its a weave structure based a couple of 'rules' and when woven a famous weaver once said it looked like the crackle in old pottery. All the crackle I have woven hasn't reminded me of old pottery...but that's the tale my weaving books tell.

Crackle is a weave structure of no special interest to me except for the fact I am in the Complex Weavers study group of that name. Every year I play around and weave up a crackle pattern for a sample exchange. I have no special attraction for the fact each time I weave it I wonder why am I actually weaving the structure. I have worked diligently to make it interesting. One year, I attempted to make the structure look like the waves of the ocean. Another time I used sewing thread as the warp and weft and created rainbows. This last time I experimented with cassette tape as the weft.

Ah but back to my story. At the crackle seminar I attended in Grand Rapids the speaker definitely stated that you simply could not get accepted into a juried show if you wove with crackle. NEVER. There was just something about crackle which turns the jurors off.

Hmmm...that certainly sounded like a challenge to me. How could I get a crackle piece into a juried show...and if I was going to get in...why not win a prize? I always love the challenge.

Here is one of my entries into Showcase, a juried show, at the Visalia conference I just attended.

Yes - it is a kite. That's a box kite I constructed with woven material and balsa wood. The material was woven with 3/2 perle cotton and cassette tape in a four harness crackle pattern. The cassette tape was both natural and painted.

The piece placed second in the woven multi-dimensional category.

Onto the next challenge - here is the kite hanging in our backyard. It's quite light and seems like it really wants to fly. Any little bit of breeze and it starts moving upwards. Next time I go to Hawaii I plan to take it along and see how it flies.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Easy Ikat

One of the workshops I took in Visalia was a one day affair on Easy Ikat by Bonnie Tarses. I've never done 'real' ikat so 'easy' ikat seemed just fine to me. Here is a picture of my easy ikat scarf on my loom being woven. It's a 3/2 cotton warp ; sett at 16 epi with 20/2 cotton weft.

Apparently in 'real' ikat, one plans a complex design often on a cartoon, lays out the warp onto the cartoon then carefully ties and dyes the warp in specific ways to get the design desired. At that point - untie, warp and weave.

Easy ikat avoids all that 'nasty' planning. One still ties and dyes...but you just design with what you already have. She does a demo for every class she teaches and just keeps the result for future pieces. Bonnie prefers virtual dyeing to actually dyeing herself...but will do the real thing - usually only in black. Here's a reference to her blog showing the yarn she dyed for our workshop. You can read more about easy ikat there. [If you hate to read she also did a podcast you can listen to - just google her name.]

Since it was only a day class, Bonnie had already done some dyeing and what we got to do was to 'spontaneously' create a warp using some of her dyed yarn. Our workshop fee only covered enough dyed yarn to do about half a scarf so we added some solid strips to make a nice pattern. It was all planned and created on the warping board. I shifted the yarns to get a pattern I liked and tied it up for latter warping onto the loom. Unfortunately it slipped a bit in the warping process but I still like the result. Even my DOH commented approvingly.

I wove the piece in about an hour or was a plain weave using only two shafts on my eight shaft loom. It would have taken less but I ripped [does one frog on a loom?] out about a foot or two at the beginning since I didn't like the warp color. I started out with white...and then changed to navy blue weft. The darker color looks better.

This workshop was fun and quite lively. It was my fifth day in Visalia and the perfect workshop for my last workshop of the conference. After that - it was onto shopping and finding the perfect silk...oh and perhaps some linen....tapestry bobbins...tapestry needles...loom accessories...

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Painters' Studio

I have been decompressing from a week in Visalia at the ASCH [Association of Southern California Handweavers] conference which had the theme 'wildflowers of the Sierras'. I'll post some items about the conference over the next week or so.

Our Guild created a booth for the occasion. Here's a picture of it all set up in the exhibit hall. Almost all of our Guild participated.

The concept was fairly was a painters' studio in the mountains.

The painters had gone for a walk and picked some wildflowers that you can see out the window. The window is a tapestry that I wove.

The painters created a still life arrangement of those wildflowers sitting in a blue vase on a blue and lavender runner. The flowers were all made of woven fiber or crocheted yarns. It's in the center of the booth.

The painters then created a variety of pieces which were their interpretations of the the still life flower arrangement. They were all painted in fiber...woven, knitted, quilted, embroidered, glued...all done in the conference colors. All quite different but all most interestingly similar.

Overall it came out quite nicely. Looking at the photo again, the booth could have used a blue rug. But never the less, the booth won two awards - - Best Interpretation of Theme and Best Use of Booth Space.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Weekend in Review

Here is my little sample from the workshop I took last weekend on Color Blending in Tapestry with Tricia Golberg. I think I will call the piece Sailor's Delight. I reminds me of a reddish sky at sunset while sailing...

The workshop was interesting, the instructor charming and the participants a hoot. A great combination for a weekend class.

I did several things I had never done before. I wove this tapestry from the back. I wove dots and I used bobbins. I really liked the bobbins better than the standard butterflies which always seem to come apart when I use them for awhile. It seems so neat and tidy to have those bobbins hanging down from the tapestry when not in use. I will look for those in Visalia.

Weaving from the back was new. A new habit I picked up while weaving from the back was tidying up the warp ends which would be facing me all the time. I hate a messy foreground while working. Plus, much less clean up at the end of the tapestry. Whenever I wanted to see what the tapestry actually looked like I had to turn the loom around, walk around to the front or peek into a mirror. It was an interesting feeling...not sure if I like or dislike it. I may try a couple of my next weavings from the back and see how they turn out. At times it was difficult to see where I was in my weaving or where I would want to put a specific dot but otherwise it seemed OK.

We did three types of color blending as you can see working from the bottom up. First was hatching were we mimicked an outline of a barn like structure. Then I did a blending with four bobbins with different combinations of colors. And the last was using dots to blend from light to dark to light. All in all quite useful and will use all in future weavings.

We started our weaving with twining. Since I wasn't going to hem my piece I decided to braid the ends. I left the twining on the bottom of the piece and twined with five threads. I braided the top the same but without twining. I wanted to have a sampler that would remind me of how each looks. To me each is a bit different - but neither is something to write home about. [Note to self: its tough to twine with 12/12 Finnish cotton warp.]

My weft yarn was quite interesting. It is a 100% silk that I dyed. I wove with five threads at a time using a 10 epi. I beat solidly about every other round trip. Once off the loom, it was almost stiff as card board. I've never had anything as stiff as that. If I bend it a bit - the piece will stand up on its own! This gives me all sorts of ideas....

Great weekend...and I am ready to start weaving tapestry again.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Weekend Workshop

I am packed and ready to roll...weave that is..loom is warped at 10 epi, I found an awl as well as a mirror. Yarn is dyed and and packed in value order. Yup. Ready to roll. I am taking a tapestry workshop this weekend on Color Blending with Tapestry with Tricia Goldberg.

We are to:

learn how to achieve certain effects in tapestry by combining colors that can be subtle or high contrast. Colors can be blended by combining different colors on a bobbin or with weaving techniques and patterns. Beginning students will learn full pass techniques, while more advanced students can use half pass techniques and begin experimentation. Students can try also try interesting things with color using eccentric weft, weaving that varies from the horizontal line...

Sounds like fun! I will, of course, let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Half a Bug

I started weaving my new warp yesterday morning as planned. So far, I have half a bug; half an aristobia beetle from Thailand. The shiny copper metallic thread combined with the rust color in rayon is coming out quite nicely on the green.

This is the shake down cruise for both the loom and the warp so things are going slowly. This is the first warp I have done on this loom with fine threads. Fine threads is the reason I bought this particular loom - an ashford sixteen harness table loom with a 24 inch weaving width and a hanging beater. I must say that hanging beater is heavenly - easily provides a perfect consistent beat.

I have re-adjusted how the shafts were hung. The loom directions suggested hanging them in such a manner that each one is slightly higher than the previous. That was fairly impossible for me to achieve given the spacings on the texsolvv and the space available on the loom. It would probably work with eight harnesses - not sixteen. And anyway, it was giving me an odd shed which kept catching some I went back to a more level hanging. It's better.

I also saw a couple of twisted heddles in the back...I figure I will fix those when I take this first piece off the loom or when the thread might break.

In the photo you can easily see the two toned warp at the top where it is waiting to be woven. The impact is quite subtle in the weaving.

Sunday, March 04, 2007


The sixteen harness table loom is finally warped.

Since I will be experimenting with a new loom and trying to come up with a design for the yardage exhibit I decided to weave bookmarks. They are small, contained and make nice gifts. I can do lots of design modifications and still end up with something useful. I had originally intended to weave two bookmarks at a time - one would have yellow warp and one mint green. In the end, it turns out I will be weaving one not two bookmarks at a time. So we will forget the 'one for me and one for you' mantra for the next month or so.

I may need to modify those warping rules a bit...31 x 4 is indeed still 124. But for some reason, both with and without a glass of wine, I divided by 2 instead of ... ahh no need to go into the math. Anyway, it turned out I ran out of yellow warp half way through warping the first bookmark and considering I had already started over once before and since was now warping back to front I decided to punt. I'd just use the remaining mint yarn for the rest of the bookmark. So now my piece will be half lemon yellow warp and half a minty green. It will be interesting to see how noticeable the color shift will be.

To summarize, the loom is warped. The initial pattern ready. The weft threads are chosen and in their respective shuttles ready to roll. The supplemental warps for the fringe are attached, all heddle errors fixed and the initial hem completed. Finally ready to weave - except for warping rule 6.

Rule 6. Newly warped looms need rest - always begin weaving to the morning sun.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Warping Rules

Please add these to my list of warping rules - -

Rule 1: When you get a new loom measure the distance from the front to the back in order to place the cross in the right position for front to back warping. Moving the cross with fine threads is problematic.

Rule 2: Do not use a warping board after a glass of wine.

Rule 3
: 31 times 4 is 124.

Rule 4: The more you pet the warp the more it turns into a dog.

Rule 5: When in doubt - throw it out and start again.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Great Service!

Gosh! I ordered these extra heddles from Village Spinning Tuesday morning...and got them in the mail today at noon! Seems to be about 48 hour turnaround! That sure is fast!

So now I can move forward on my taquete project.

Hmmm...warping with polyester sewing thread with those white cloth heddles is not one of my favorite things. At least the thread is not quite's a lemon yellow and a light mint green. Perhaps, I will add this to my to-do list and work a different project. On the other hand, there are only 128 ends.