Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Loaded With Possibility

Box Loaded With Possibility

My friend Khris has been reorganizing his studio space and decided this box had to go. It came to him years ago from a friend who was an avid collector of any number of things, sewing thread among them. Now it has come to me in similar fashion and I couldn't be more pleased. It is difficult to say what will happen next. As both a sewer and a weaver, I will enjoy contemplating the possibilities.


By way of thanking Khris I tatted him a bookmark using some of the variegated thread from the collection. It isn't thanks enough for the huge box of beautiful threads but it does take up a lot less space and he appreciated the gesture. Thank you, Khris!

Two Tatted Bookmarks

Here you see the sewing thread bookmark beside one previously shown in progress. This white one is tatted using DMC Cecelia size 30. The pattern is a favorite designed by Jon Yusoff with an ingenious plaited center. These bookmarks are fun to make and fun to use. Here you see them posing atop my current read, Bleak House by Charles Dickens. This particular book is one of a complete Dickens set once owned by my mother who also loved his stories. When she moved to a retirement home, these books came to me. Reading from them makes me happy.


Youngest Grandchild Napping 'Neath Wee Swedish Coverlet

This is my youngest grandchild putting her Wee Swedish Coverlet to use. Though she lives too far away for arms to reach, she is wrapped in my love. I am a happy Grandmama.


Another Pine Tree warp is woven, off the loom and finished. Photos will have to wait for a bit while I prepare to lead a workshop this weekend. More about both later.

Warp On/Weave Off,
RepWeaver


Saturday, April 8, 2017

Lost in the Woods

Pine Tree Towel
8H Summer & Winter

According to the calendar, spring is here but still we wait for sunshine and warm days. It was a tough winter for a lot of reasons including but not entirely due to severe weather. Instead of feeling blue while suspended between situations and seasons I decided to try my hand at weaving Summer & Winter.

So I headed for the woods and searched for a nice pine tree border in several books. My loom is limited to eight harnesses and ten treadles allowing me to weave six blocks in Summer & Winter. In order to achieve a nice branch effect I wanted to find a draft using all six possible blocks. I was particular that the trees appear as realistic as I could make them.

This draft seemed to best fit my requirements. You will find it on pages 27-28 of the Shuttle Craft Guild Monograph #19: Summer and Winter and Other Two-Tie Unit Weaves by Harriet Tidball.


Pine Tree Towel showing front and back sides
8H Summer & Winter




Summer & Winter has long been on my "to-do" list because it took time for me to get over being intimidated it. Most worrisome was the necessity of using a skeleton tie-up on my countermarch loom. I studied and sampled and discovered it was not as difficult as I had feared. It is possible to use the countermarch action using a skeleton tie-up but instead of tying only rising or falling sheds to every treadle, one ties only selected harnesses on each treadle to be paired. Yes, two countermarch treadles can be tromped at once when tied up this way.

Weaving with the skeleton tie-up requires half again as many treadle steps as otherwise therefore many more opportunities to go wrong. But with careful attention a rhythm establishes itself.

There are several methods of treadling Summer & Winter. I attempted to illustrate the three I chose to weave with these photographs. They produce similar but different results. It is tough to say which I like the best.

Click on Photo to better see results of three treading methods.
Lower Left: Paired X's
Lower Center: Singles
Lower Right: Paired O's
Treadling Variations:
Black: Paired X's
Dark Green: Singles
Medium Green: Paired O's (this towel shows reverse side)

In my usual fashion, I added color to the warp and tabby threads. To make the tree trunks seem more real, I used brown warp ends and in the very center of the brown trunks is one subtly variegated thread. I hadn't considered how the added color would play throughout the center of the warp. The result made me very happy. Variety is, after all, the spice of life!

8H Summer & Winter Pine Tree Towel
Hem details
After a while I grew tired of weaving with only green and gave black a try with pleasing results. Dark brown would work well, too. Take a close look at the hems on the black towel. I began with the hem on the right. By the time the ending came I'd decided to add two extra shots of black to close off the block design. This seems to make for a more finished look.


Summer & Winter opens exciting possibilities for further design exploration. But for now I am working to rethread my loom with another warp based on this draft. At 15x19 inches these towels are rather small so now I am working on something a bit wider.


Will I find my way with Summer & Winter or stay lost in the woods? Actually, being lost in these particular woods isn't so bad.

Warp On/Weave Off,

RepWeaver
8H Summer & Winter Towels
The towel at upper left showing the reverse side

Friday, March 31, 2017

The Beat Goes On . . .

Heat-seeker Dot lending a paw to my fringe-twisting efforts
She loves the lime light and thinks she is a tiger.
Putting together colors for this fourth and last Rep Swirl warp, I kept picturing tigers. It wasn’t until the runners came off my loom that I wondered which side should be the “right” side. Technically, rep weave is reversible. Both sides seemed appealing so I hemmed some of them one way and some the other.

Tiger Swirl Rep Runners
Warp: 8/4 Cotton Carpet Warp
Thick Weft: ¾" Wide strips of Tee Shirt Knit


Is the tiger black with orange stripes?


Later I began thinking, really thinking, about tigers. Are they orange with black stripes? Or are they black with orange stripes? Hum . . . Better take a closer look next time I see one.

Or is the tiger orange with black stripes?

Following my workshop experience with Kelly Marshall, I knew these would require black for the thick weft. On hand, the only black I had available for rags was a pile of old black tee shirts. Tee shirt knit is messy to cut but makes for soft, well-packed Rep weave.



For extra interest I added three small blocks of brown in the border. This was careless, as they could have been better thought out beforehand. As they are, they are slightly reminiscent of paw prints. Also evocative is the contrasting lime-green floating selvedge. Those seem like tiger eyes peeking out at me, a happy result.


Christmas-Turned-Easter Outfits





Sewing has kept me busy lately, too. Here are a few outfits for my grandchildren. The dresses have yet to be hemmed. My daughter had hoped to sew the dresses as Christmas outfits but ran out of time. Caring for three little ones, it is hard to imagine her actually finding the time. So I volunteered to take on the project. Once the two dresses were as finished as I could make them without trying them on my far-away granddaughters, I decided my grandson should have something to match. So I sewed the little shirt for him as a surprise. He was thrilled. The too-late-for-Christmas outfits worked out just in time to serve as Easter outfits.

Isn't it interesting how the colors of sewing and weaving projects match? Even at a far distance, my daughter and I think a lot alike.



Summer & Winter Sampler
Bottom - Paired X's treadling
Center - Paired O's treadling
Top - "Plain" treading


Next up on my weaving agenda is Summer & Winter, a structure long on my to-do list. There is much to do and much to learn.

Here is a small sample of current explorations. The draft is from Shuttle Craft Guild Monograph #19, "Summer and Winter and Other Two-Tie Weaves" by Harriet Tidball. The warp is 20/2 cotton with pattern weft of 10/2 cotton. A perfectly balanced plain weave is essential for this design. I think the sett of 24 e.p.i worked okay.

Adding color through the center of the tree trunks  created extra interest with a checked effect in the middle, a happy result. Experimentation will continue.

The beat goes on . . .



Warp On/Weave Off,
RepWeaver

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