Tuesday, December 31, 2013

It was Christmas for my weaver's feet

Weaving in winter, even wearing socks, my feet can get a little chilly. Besides that, the treadles can start feeling a bit hard on the soles of my feet on longer treadling sessions.

Wearing my warm fuzzy slippers or regular shoes won't work; they don't fit between treadles and I'll push down more than one.
So look what my Secret Santa sent me this year!  These are driving moccasins.  They are narrow and have some traction bumps added on the sole.  They help keep my feet warm and protect them from the hard treadles.  I woudn't walk any distance in these, but I can pad around in the house between weaving sessions.  I think probably any mocs would work great; they wouldn't have to be the sort meant for driving.

Sunday, December 22, 2013


"Cranks live by theory, not by pure desire. They want votes, peace, nuts, liberty, and spinning-looms not because they love these things, as a child loves jam, but because they think they ought to have them. That is one element which makes the crank."
 — Dame Emilie Rose Macaulay

1. an oddity or peculiarity, as of conduct deviating from the recognized or customary character
2. a measure of the noncircularity of an elliptical orbit, the distance between the foci divided by the length of the major axis

I've been thinking about eccentricity as in #1 above lately, finding myself putting aside tasks on my should-do list to eke out time to repeat more and more versions of my weave/sprang structures.  I like the quote about cranks (eccentric people) from Rose Macaulay, not just for the sentiment but because it has the words "spinning" and "looms" in it.  I'm not quite sure what a spinning-loom is, but I'm sure I ought to have one.

Since eccentricity means also the non-round-ness of a curve as in #2, the term also fits this project.  Most of my fabrics so far have featured sprang areas each of whose width equals its height, the sprang therefore fitting within a square.  I've been wanting for some time now to experiment with sprang motifs where the aspect ratio of the height to width varies within a project, yielding various rectangles instead of just squares... so the shape of the curve formed by the edge of the sprang also varies.  This piece, in doubleweave/sprang, explores the resulting different eccentricites, as well as the effect of different sizes, textures and spacing of yarn.  I think my choice of varying textures in the light neutral scheme was influenced by Rosalie's scarf that she did in all-white with the different textures.

The photo shows the breadth of variation: from the skinniest 4-thread braid (in the foreground) to a sprang section wider than its height (in the background).  The warp is composed of various odds and ends from my yarn stash, all in neutral whites, off-whites, beige and silvery gray.  It has wool, rayon, cotton, silk and various blends.  It has sett (ends of warp per inch) varying from 12 to 32.  Surprisingly, it was fairly well-behaved to weave; I thought I'd have a lot of trouble with sticky sheds and varying take-up, but it was forgiving enough to get through well over a yard of weaving, a length long enough for me to be satisfied that I had explored the concept enough to call the piece done.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Butterflies, flutter-bys and more butterflies

The Designing Weavers show and sale was loads of fun.  There were so many beautiful garments for sale, and I had a good time modeling various pieces throughout both days.

I sold a couple of my "flutter-by" scarves, but I still have some left, so I've put them up for sale in my Etsy shop - go check them out!

I do have a new project on the loom; I've returned to the doubleweave plus sprang construct... but that will have to wait until the next post.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Springy sprang from hemp cord

Working with hemp again: my concept is maybe a shopping/produce bag.  But hemp has so much body to it, the rows don't really pack down evenly so it makes a very springy sprang.  When I worked with this fiber before, I liked the product after it had been boiled to soften it, so I'm hoping that will help this one behave too.
Here's the setup I am using for this sprang bag.  I wanted as long a warp as I could manage on this frame.  The warp goes up over the top PVC pipe and down to the holding stick.  When I complete a row of sprang, I am transferring the twist up over the pipe and down the the other end of the warp.

The stop-cord sticks (held together with rubber bands so they don't slip out) aren't really crooked.  That's just the energy of the twisted hemp causing the whole fabric to twist.

I will be demonstrating sprang technique on this setup next Saturday and Sunday November 23 & 24, at the Designing Weavers Exhibit and Holiday Sale.

Two of my wall pieces will be on exhibit, and several of my bags and Flutter-by scarves will be for sale, along with lots of other beautiful creations by this group of fiber artists.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Flutter-by scarves - Designing Weavers Exhibit & Sale

Here's one of my "flutter-by" scarves posing pretty for another picture.  I've made a few more of these - they're pretty fun!

I'm pleased to announce that this past summer I was accepted into Designing Weavers, a juried fiber guild.  This group of talented weavers and fiber artists holds a sale and exhibit in the fall.  I will have a few things for sale including some of these scarves, along with some of my wall pieces on exhibit.  I'll also be demonstrating sprang technique.

Below is the postcard for the show.  It will be held the Saturday and Sunday before Thanksgiving, Nov 23 & 24, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day, at the Women's Club of Sierra Madre, 550 West Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre, California.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Motif Metamorphosis

Some of my hourglass motifs have turned into butterflies... or dragonflies... well, some sort of flying insect anyway, just fluttering by.  Call it a "flutter-by".

The fabric surrounding the bug is a little 2/1 point twill.  The rectangle where the sprang warp leaves the fabric then becomes a 2/1 straight twill in that area.

They are fluttering around on these scarves, adorning them with their colorful wings.

I've been playing around with different yarns: some wool/rayon, some silks, even some metallics for a little sparkle for the holidays.  Some of these handwoven scarves will be available for purchase at SCHG's Weaving and Fiber Festival, Sunday November 3rd, 2013 at the Torrance Cultural Center in Torrance, California.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The jungle challenge - my answer titled: "Predator"

You are deep in a jungle. You look around and try to absorb this wondrous new world. Many colors, shapes and textures surround you, but you can only choose 3 of those colors to make up 75% of your piece. You must also use a weave structure to represent something you see in your jungle for 50% of the finished piece. The jungle does not care what size or shape you create, but your creation must be woven or knotted/interlaced/spun/felted, but not knitted or you may not make it out alive!

The above was the 2013 Challenge issued to members of the Southern California Handweavers' Guild.  On the right is my answer to the challenge.  I'm not sure I got all those percents right, but I'm sure there's a way to make it fit.

The surrounding fabric is what I showed in earlier posts, a 3/1 twill where the thick wool and thin cotton alternate in the warp.  In the middle section, the wool was left unwoven while the cotton made a plain weave background for the sprang.  The sprang this time is double-layered sprang, with holes or slits left so pieces of the layers could interchange and wrap around one another like vines in a jungle.  The striped vine-like bits represent a tiger prowling around in the foliage.

Last weekend was the big reveal at our guild meeting, and I was all set to show my answer here as well, but my camera and computer decided they weren't on speaking terms.  So I had to wait for a new cable to arrive before I could get the photo uploaded.

As usual it was really fun to see all the different ways that my fellow guild members had come up with to answer this puzzle or challenge, and their beautiful and creative results.  They will all be displayed at our annual Weaving and Fiber Festival, Sunday November 3rd at the Torrance Cultural Arts Center, Torrance, California.

How would you have solved this challenge?

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Serendipity strikes again

The green/orange/black weaving/sprang is off the loom.  I made quite a bit of warp because I wasn't sure whether I would have to make a second attempt at the sprang part.  It came out all right, so I just wove off the rest of the extra warp, and I really like the look of this fabric.

It looks almost like a warp-dominant or warp-faced plain weave, but structurally it is a 3/1 twill.  Every other warp is a dark green cotton that doesn't really show unless you look very closely.

I especially like the back side, where the black weft and the dark green warp make a tiny outline of each dot of color.

Funny thing is, I would never have set out to design and weave this fabric.  The colors, the stripe sequence, the very close sett... all were designed for a certain effect in the sprang portion of my piece.  The woven portion was just to be a border or frame.  But I might actually think to weave something like this again.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Wrong Way Warp

Got the latest project onto the loom.  I just had to start with a photo of my little helper.  No, he is not helping tension the warp.  He is being naughty and I think he knows it.  But I just had to shoot a picture before shooing him off.  Kitties lo-o-o-ove wool.

It seems that with each warp, there's always something.  With this one, I was so excited to get it onto the loom that I forgot to run the beamed (cotton) portion of the warp through the slot between the two warp beams, so that the weighted (wool) portion wouldn't sit on top of it.  Here I have some stick shuttles sitting between the two layers.  You can see the cotton warp coming up from the warp beam and going outside that additional back beam.  It's supposed to go between the two back beams in that slot, where the handle of the screwdriver is.

I thought I would be clever and just slide that beam out from under the cotton warp, and replace it between the cotton and the wool layers.  Alas, I could only get 3 of the 4 screws to budge.  (The loom is older than me, after all.)

So I ended up constructing an ugly and only partially effective separator from stick shuttles and masking tape.  Yes, masking tape makes many appearances in my weaving path.  Useful stuff.

And it seems to have worked well enough for it to weave, anyway.  Here's the work-in-progress shot.  I have woven a 3/1 twill using both the cotton and wool warp for a few inches, and now I am weaving just the cotton in a back layer of plain weave, leaving the wool warp unwoven to be worked in sprang, or double sprang to be exact.  There is a border of 3/1 twill on each side to frame it as well.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

I'm dyeing to start my next project

I did some more dyeing.  This time with wool.  I enjoy dyeing wool and silk because as long as you measure the dye for the fiber weight, the dyebath exhausts completely, or nearly completely, which makes rinsing a piece of cake.

This as opposed to dyeing cotton with fiber-reactive dyes, which also happens to bond with water, or maybe it's with the washing soda in the water... anyway, with me it's always a question of which will happen first:: will I get all the dye rinsed out of cotton, or will I get bored with all the rinsing.  But with this wool, it all rinsed out in 3 or 4 rinses, and a couple more for the black which had extra dye to make sure I got maximum depth of shade (DOS).

These are not skeins but rather some warp that I pre-measured.  I wanted several different colors but I didn't want to process them each one at a time, so I made the dyebath in several mason jars, and put the jars into a simmering bath to heat them.  Because the yarn was packed fairly densely in the jars, it did not have enough room for the dye to take evenly.  This splotchiness is especially evident with the green in the lower left of the photo.  If even dyeing was a requirement for this project, I wouldn't have done this, but the greens are supposed to represent foliage, so I'm okay with the result.

Oh, and for anyone keeping score, yes, the post title is a pun.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Attempting Double Sprang

All I can say is that this is not for the faint of heart.

This is my first trial at double-layered sprang.  It starts out with the black layer in ftont, and the lighter striped warp forming a layer in back, hidden by the black layer.
Keeping track of two layers was a new experience.  I tried using Peter Collingwood's method, and part of the way through switched to the method he describes as that used by E. Siewertsz van Reesema, which is to flip the work over and work the back row separately from the front.
Normally when working double sprang, you use these two layers, usually in contrasting colors, to form patterns of light vs. dark areas.  But I'm not really interested at this point in time in making patterns in flat fabric.  So I diverted from the normal method, and instead formed a slit in my front layer, and two slits in the back layer, so that I could bring a portion of the back warp through the slit to become part of the front layer.

This is the back side of the sample.  Part of the black front layer comes through the two slits to become part of the back layer.

At the top and bottom of the sample, see how the front and back are completely separate layers. 
They are also separate but different layers in the middle of the sample.  The layer on the left has a striped portion in the center, and the layer on the right has black in the center, where the two layers have changed places.

I'm hoping to use this interchange of layers in a sprang and woven piece, to have the portions of sprang twist around each other.  But I will have to figure out a method of working without flipping the piece over, since there will be a layer of weaving behind the sprang as well.

Thanks for reading!  How about you?  Have you worked in double sprang?  What was your experience?

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Guest spranger update - Rosalie's sprang inset scarf

Rosalie has finished her piece combining weaving with sprang.  It's a scarf she wove as a gift.  She used lots of different textured yarns in the weft, in addition to the sprang.  Isn't it lovely!

Here's a little more about the scarf and the process from Rosalie, included here with her permission:
How do you feel about it now that it's finished?  I'm really glad I'm done.  It was a slow go with up to 4 shuttles in a row.  Did it on the knitters loom.  And having to weight all the threads off the back of the loom was hard.  I retied the back every time I started a new sprang element cause those threads needed less tension and the position of the elements changed every time.
Did you enjoy the process?  Sometimes.  Using the crochet hook for the 2 rows was a pain in the %$& and took forever.
Do you feel that you got better at it with practice?   Yes, each one is different on purpose... I knew I'd never be able to have them all be uniform.  I had to start over several times for the first few, but didn't need to towards the end.
Would you do it again, or has it led to other things you'd like to try?  I will NEVER do this again.

...and there you have it!  Oh, well, I was hoping I'd have some company in this adventure, but I guess not.  That's okay, I'm still pressing on with my own developments in combining weaving with sprang.

How about you?  Is there anyone out there who has combined weaving with sprang before?  Please leave comments below.  Thanks!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Sprang and woven "Cartouche" Dress

Hmmm... maybe the reason I never found a published version of this sprang-and-woven dress after that 1979 Weaver's Journal article is that someone did try it and decided it didn't work so well.  I didn't exactly "fish what I wished" this time. It's not as I had envisioned it. The sprang part did not collapse as much as I'd hoped. So I have more of a bloused effect at the waist instead of fitted. Still, I think it's not unattractive and I'm pleased to have a new dress.

The colors in the warp, alternating between light and dark values, give the woven part of the fabric an almost iridescent character.

Here's a detail of the sprang part at the waist.  I made a drawstring cord and put that through the last interlinked row of the sprang.

What do you think?  Have you had a project not turn out the way it looked in your head?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Garment Experiment #1 - and the source

Well, I am still weaving and spranging (is that a word?) the "cartouche" piece, but I realized that I never posted a picture of the finished garment #1.  Here it is, a tunic top with sprang yoke/shoulders, and a sprang decorative hem feature.

It is in 10/2 cotton, plain weave pinstripes.  The hem sprang inset was done while the fabric was still on the floor loom.  The yoke portion uses only every other warp yarn.  The unused warps were woven into a little facing that I pressed back.  The sprang for the yoke had to be done after the piece was taken off the loom.

I did not originate the idea for this top, or the current piece I'm working on.  The concept came from an article in the January 1979 issue of The Weaver's Journal.  The cover features a sprang shrug.

This magazine, along with a gold mine of other old weaving-related publications, is available for free download at handweaving.net .
The article is titled "Sprang and Frame Plaiting for Garments", and at the end of the article there are some "other suggested uses of sprang and frame plaiting".  To my knowledge, any implementations of these suggestions were never published.  I think they go well with the other trials I've been doing combining loom-weaving with sprang, so I thought I would try them out.

My top is like the one labeled "dress with plaited shoulders" below.  The plan for my cartouche piece is for it to have a sprang waist like the drawing to the right.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The sprang & woven garment experiment progess report

I have finished the sprang part.  As I start the next woven section, this ripple effect is appearing where the draw-in of the sprang is much more than that of the plain weave.  It is only showing up at each edge of the fabric, but I am hoping that when the whole thing comes off the loom and gets wet-finished, it will do this across the entire width of the cloth.

Here is the finished sprang section.  The top and bottom are interlaced sprang, and the middle section is interlinked sprang, completing my "cartouche" shape.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Experimental sprang garment #2 continued

I have woven some of the fabric for this project, and now have started a section of interlaced sprang.  Here is a detail of the transition between the weaving and the sprang.  The point of the pink triangle is at the center of the warp, where I changed from light-dark-light-dark color sequence to dark-light-dark-light.  The light warps on the right half of the fabric are moving to the left in the sprang portion, and those on the left side move to the right, intersecting to form the light-colored triangle.

 Here's a view of the entire width of the project, showing the upper part of the sprang forming simultaneously with the lower part.  The pink shape in the center is echoed by two dark half-shapes at left and right selvedges.  (What do you call that shape?  I want to call it a cartouche.)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Experimenting with sprang in a garment - again

The previous project in plain weave and sprang was a tunic top with sprang forming the shoulders and yoke area of the top.  I am trying a different application now, putting the sprang at the waist of a garment.

The painted (dyed) silk noil shown in last week's post is now threaded on my 8-shaft loom, alternating the light and dark colors.  Here it is at the back of the loom, with afternoon dappled sun coming through the window.

Here it is as I am starting to weave.  I am using a natural-colored silk noil single-ply as the weft.  The warps look totally different from one half of the weaving to the other, because the alternating light-and-dark changes to dark-and-light at the center, so that the top of each plain-weave shed is half dark and half light.  This has no apparent effect in the woven colth, except for a tiny dark stripe at the center where two dark warps lie adjacent.

The effect of the warp order will become apparent when I start the sprang section, which I plan to show in my next post.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Thursday, July 18, 2013

My dyeing day

I had a fun day dyeing some silk noil for my next project.  I didn't calculate or measure the colors, just mixed the colors without a lot of planning.  I did have a concept in mind, however:  to have my dark, cool colors be more or less the color complement of my light, warm colors.

I am doing a "painted warp" to try combining plain weave and sprang in a finished piece.  I plan to alternate the dark and light colors in the weave to get a pattern effect in interlaced sprang.  Yes, I'm finally getting back to the sprang experiments.  Read about the sampling for this project here.

Here are the light colors right after "painting", and before steaming.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Summer & Winter baby blanket - finishing results

I've wet-finished the baby blanket.  I just put it in the washing machine like I normally do my laundry, and then in the dryer on cotton setting.

The top photo is what it looked like before it went into the wash.
And the bottom photo is after.  The yarns really migrated and fluffed up, making it a much nicer fabric, and better contrast between the light and dark areas in the design.

Overall, there was 8% shrinkage in the length, and 9% in the width.

I'll post a final photo of the whole blanket after I'm done hemming and pressing...

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Summer & Winter is a tied weave

Summer & Winter is a "tied" weave.  This class of weaves is called so because some of the warps act as "tie-downs" to keep the pattern wefts from forming "floats" that are too long over the surface of the cloth.

In this picture I've thrown a pattern weft without tie-down warps raised.  You can see the long floats that are formed.  This will not make a practical cloth; these floats would get caught and pull out of shape.

In this next photo, I've taken that "wrong" shot of weft back out, and thrown it again with tie-down warps raised correctly.  The pattern weft still sits on top of the lighter ground weave, but it is held nicely in place by the tie-down warps.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Summer & Winter creates a reversible fabric

Now that the fabric is starting to come down onto the cloth beam, I can give you a view of the other side of the fabric.  I am weaving it with the light, or "summer", side facing me as I weave.  Here you can see the dark, or "winter", side.

When woven in its tradtional manner, Summer & Winter typically has this characteristic, where one side is predominantly light, the other dark.  The white warp dominates in some places, forming the light areas.  Where the darker pattern colors float over the warp, the dark areas appear.

The dark/light feature is presumably where this weave structure gets its name.  Other structures can produce this reversible dark/light effect, but for some reason this one got the name "Summer & Winter".

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Guest spranger!

This photo is a detail of a piece by Rosalie, who took my workshop back in April and was inspired to give weaving and sprang together a try.

And look what a beautiful thing she's made!  I love how she has incorporated her talent for beading into the side stitching that is holding the sprang outstretched.

I can't wait to see the whole piece!

Madder - Rubia tinctorum

I did some dyeing last weekend with madder root.  I planted some a few years ago, and it has taken over the back yard like a weed, so I decided I need to learn to like reds and pinks.

The fabrics in the top of the photo were some samples I thought might be towels, but they are a little stiff, so I'm going to repurpose them into something else.  The photo is showing both faces of the fabric.  The warp was kind of a tan color and I think the overdye improved the color.

The bottom fabric is just some unbleached muslin I threw in the pot.  I had the pieces of root in the dyebath with the fabric.  The darker spots of red are where they made direct contact with the fabric. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Summer weaving - progress

More leaves (and hearts) are appearing on the blanket.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Summer weaving - no winter today

Finally!  Weaving is started on a baby blanket for a nursery with a woodland theme.  It has been hot ub Southern California, and I'm weaving this "summer & winter" blanket with the "summer" side up, which means the treadling is quite heavy.  Getting a workout while weaving isn't a bad thing, but if I do this structure with this many blocks again, hopefully I'll remember to do it the easier way.
I knew the leaf motif would be large, but its size still surprised me.  I may not get through all the different leaves I designed before I run out of blanket.