Monday, March 13, 2017

Always More to Learn

"Life-long learning" and "Life-long learner" are oft-repeated catch phrases lately. Not so long ago it went without saying that a person gained knowledge over time. Although I don't disagree with those sayings, I wish it still went without saying. After all, don't wisdom and age go hand-in-hand? It does not hurt to go out of one's way to seek information, to digest it and to come to one's own conclusion.

Having promised to write about a Rep Weave workshop with Kelly Marshall, it is long past time to do so. Kelly came to speak to my guild and teach a workshop in January.

At the first opportunity I signed up for the workshop. Good thing too, because the roster filled immediately and the wait list was long. Demand was so great that Kelly agreed to teach a second group of students. Our enthusiasm was well founded. Kelly is a nice person, an accomplished weaver and an excellent teacher. Do make the most of any opportunity to learn from her.




Sample and Table Runner woven in Kelly Marshall's Rep Weave workshop

Here you see my workshop sample. I opted to use my own color choices for her design, mostly because there is little 5/2 perle cotton in my stash. Adding a single cone of Verdant Green, the other colors are bits and pieces left over from a previous project. The final result is not the best color-wise. The structure itself is far more satisfying.

If you look at the photos of my Yuletide Swirl rep runner in a previous post you will see one describing my dissatisfaction with the color breaks formed when I tried double-threading my heddles for a sett of 48 e.p.i. You may recall that I painstakingly rethreaded the whole thing with single ends per heddle because I did not like those spots. The result was a nice runner with near complete weft coverage. Weaving it was slightly problematic not in treadling but in advancing that dense warp. My three subsequent Swirl warps were sett a bit looser at 40 e.p.i. That was easier but still a tad dense. Still, the resulting runners are pleasing.

Threading two ends per heddle affords ample opportunity for color blending, something Kelly uses to great effect in her work. Two ends together in the heddle allows them to sometimes switch places. If the ends are two different colors interesting blending effects can occur. The possibilities are endless and exciting. 

Left - sample with mixed brown and cream-colored yarns for thick weft
Right - Rep Runner with all brown yarns for thick weft
Kelly won me over to her way of weaving Rep with two ends per heddle. The way she avoids those weft color spots peeking out is by carefully matching her thick weft color to her warp colors.

Being used to weaving on a more “open” sett and using the thick weft color as a design element, I wasn't expecting that as the solution. On the first class day I did not bring carefully matching weft yarns. Kelly directed us to use three strands of Sugar & Cream yarn as one for the thick weft. For my first day’s sample I used three different colors for the three strands: brown, cream, and variegated browns. On the left the photo shows the same problem that bothered me back with the Yuletide Swirl runner. The final runner on the right, with three strands of brown yarn together, is far better.

If you don’t have the chance to take a workshop or hear her speak, Kelly Marshall has written a lovely book about her design process and technique, “Custom Woven Interiors: Bringing color and design home with Rep weave”. Any or all of the three are highly recommended. Meeting her and learning from her was a thrill and a golden opportunity.

There is such a thing as an information overload but one can never know enough and learning is fun. I aim to learn more every day. Whether I manage to do so is another thing . . . I am a work in progress.

Warp On/Weave Off,

RepWeaver


Monday, February 13, 2017

Sweetheart Swirl and Signs of Spring

One week ago our Linden tree
bowed low beneath six inches of heavy snow.

It is said, “Time flies.”

I say, “Time accelerates!”

Heavy snowfall one week ago made it feel as if Winter would never end. But then these appeared. 

Yes, Spring really is on its way and here is proof. Yellow crocuses are always the first to bloom. Still they are a sure sign of warmth and sunshine just ahead. Hooray!



Today crocuses were in full bloom beneath the very same Linden tree.


















Sweetheart Swirl Rep Runners by RepWeaver
Sweetheart Swirl Rep Runners


If you guessed the next version of Rep Swirl would be red and white, you were right. Sweetheart Swirl seemed the best description for this color-way  The runner with an alternating block order suggests heart shapes to me. Only one runner is woven in the alternate way, but the others are perfectly evocative of Valentines and hearts, too. Red is great for any time of year because it is my favorite color.

Happy Valentine’s Day!
Sweetheart Swirl Rep Runners showing two different block arrangements
 and both front and reverse coloring

Warp On/Weave Off,

RepWeaver

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Starry Night Swirl

Starry Night Swirl Rep Runners



It’s always slightly sad when Christmas is over and our decorations are back in storage. Each year the whole process of “taking down Christmas” is a hurdle. At least getting a start on the process is tough. But then, once begun, I warm to the task.



After Christmas with all its red and green, I turn to blue for January. To me blue means cold weather, starry nights and Epiphany. In January we change our kitchen tablecloth to blue with sparkly blue snowflakes.



Planning my second rep swirl warp, I naturally turned to the color blue. The Yuletide Swirl runners seemed too tightly sett at 48 e.p.i. At least that was my opinion of them at the time. For the second warp I backed off and chose a sett of 40 e.p.i. Consequently, these runners are slightly wider than the previous ones, measuring 8” wide. You can see a slightly thicker and contrasting floating selvedge, a recent idea that still appeals to me.



January blue tablecloth with sparkly snowflakes
Starry Night Swirl Table Runner
The runners from this warp made me happy so I decided to weave the design again in another color way. Perhaps you can guess which colors I chose for the next warp. Look for details soon.


Detail of Starry Night Swirl showing red floating selvedge



Tatted snowflakes hang from antique fretwork

In keeping with the January theme, tatted snowflakes hang from a fretwork panel in our home. The fretwork came from my great grandparents’ Minnesota home where it once hung above the doorway between their dining room and parlor. But that was in the day before Mother was born and before the house was reconfigured. At least three generations occupied that house over the years. For my entire childhood the fretwork panel remained stuffed in the back of a storage shed. After my grandmother died, the fretwork came into my mother’s possession. When Mom and Dad moved into a retirement home a few years ago it came to us. I am so grateful to have this memento of generations past. After several nights' work to clean and refinish it, we hung it between our dining room and "parlor" where it fits perfectly and is the best place to hang tatted snowflakes.




My current tatting project


Most usually I have a tatting project in the works. As it is quite small and portable, tatting is the easiest kind of handwork to carry along to meetings. Here I am at work on a tatted bookmark with a center twist. I have a way to go on this one. You will find the pattern for it on the designer Jon Yusoff's blog here: https://tatsaway.blogspot.com
Ancient nub of sewing beeswax next to a new block








Do you remember my mention of the little bit of ancient beeswax I use when hemming? Here it is in all its glory. After 45 years of constant use it is now quite small. Once it was the size of the plastic holder on which it rests. That bright green rubber band keeps the slightly broken holder together. My sweet husband bought me a fresh bar of beeswax. But this little old nub of wax carries a lot of sentimental value. I wonder if it might last longer than I do.



A couple of weeks ago my husband brought the latest plague, an especially nasty cold, home from work. Naturally, he shared it with me. The timing was bad. Back in September I signed up for a workshop with Kelly Marshall. It was scheduled for this past week and for the 10 days prior, I’d been knocked off my game by the bug. Next time I’ll let you know how it went.

Stay warm out there on these cold, starry January nights. Soon it will be February!

Warp On/Weave Off,
RepWeaver

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Rep Swirl - Yuletide Swirl

Having woven all those Rep Weave coasters it occurred to me to try a denser sett using 8/4 cotton carpet warp. Over the years my favorite sett for carpet warp has been 24 e.p.i. For this first attempt I tried 48 e.p.i, two ends per heddle for a working sett of 24 e.p.i.


Yuletide Swirl Rep Runners
Inspiration for the design came from a larger design found in the book Rep by Catharina Carlstedt and Ylva Kongbäck. I adapted a small section from the draft called “Tiger Blue” (page 84) that caught my eye and made it into a table runner.


These colors are pleasing, reminding me of Christmas cards from a bygone era, the 1950’s perhaps. And while they are red and green, they don’t necessarily shout “Christmas”.


The first Yuletide Swirl runner, the one with plied fringe gave me trouble. The places where there are “breaks” in the pattern and the white rag peeks through did not please me. Color blending happened in an area of the smallest pattern blocks and made the colors look muddy. Maybe it would have helped if I’d stuck to blending either reds or greens right there but I’d done both. Then there was trouble with the tension. I found it difficult to beam the warp properly with that many ends and with two ends per heddle.


After weaving two runners with this set-up I found it impossible to continue. I cut the first two off the loom and rethreaded the entire width, maintaining the sett of 48 e.p.i. but switching to one end per heddle. This was essentially a return to the beginning since every single end was involved in the re-thread. While I was at it I rearranged the color order in a few places taking special care in the areas with smallest blocks. It was a lot of work but as they say, “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.”

Left side of photo - Sett: 48 e.p.i., 12 dent reed, 4 ends per dent, 2 ends per heddle
Right side of photo - Sett: 48 e.p.i., 12 dent reed, 4 ends per dent, 1 end per heddle


In the end, the rethreaded runners were a huge improvement and I was far happier with them than the earlier ones. Here you see the runner on our kitchen table. For each month of the year we use a specific tablecloth, placing it beneath a tabletop glass cover. Yuletide Swirl compliments the Christmas table theme nicely.

Yuletide Swirl runner atop our Christmas-themed table cloth

Even though the colors are fabulous, I wasn’t entirely satisfied with these runners. Check back to see what happens with my next Rep Swirl project.

Warp On/Weave Off,
RepWeaver

Monday, January 9, 2017

Coasting into 2017

Okay, that’s corny but good titles can be tough to write. Sliding into 2017 might be a better heading. Snow has been on the ground every day so far this year. That’s only eight days, I know, but very unusual for any winter where we live. It seems to have prolonged the Holiday season so we can’t complain.

Rep weave coasters from the final two warps


Here are additional photos of my Christmas coasters. In all, I wove six separate warps in six different color ways. It worked out beautifully since I was able to give gifts sets of coasters, one of each color. I hope friends and family enjoy using them. They certainly were fun to make.

Sets of six made Christmas gifts
In addition to coasters, I wove a few narrow table runners. The purple one was perfect to hold our Advent candles. Sadly, I put those away before I took a photo. We use votive candle cups: three purple, one pink and one white for Advent. The little purple runner worked so well because one candle fit on each of the middle five motifs. Next year I will try to remember to post a photo.

Already this year I have one warp of table runners off the loom and finished. Today another warp is freshly beamed and ready to go. Photos to follow.

I think it's time to put the kettle on and enjoy a warm mug.

Warp On/Weave Off,

RepWeaver
Narrow table runners to match the coasters
The purple one was especially nice for placing Advent candles