Monday, September 28, 2009

A Method to the Madness Workshop

I’ve been a very busy little bee creating a workshop that I’m instructing in my Studio in a couple of weeks. I’m calling it “A Method to the Madness” and it’s about using familiar weave structures in unfamiliar ways. It’s been an amazing learning experience creating all original drafts and the accompanying binder. Because this is the workshops ‘maiden voyage’ I’ve broken it down into two sessions with six weaves each to accommodate my space. To make it a great experience for all of us I have decided start with warped looms, so guess what daughter Ngaire and I have been doing! I plan to present the second six weaves in January and have it all tested out and working wonderfully by spring.

Sorry about the quality of the photos, I think my camera battery is telling me something.
This is the third Turned Taqueté scarf in the series I've been working on of late. I change the warp order to various gold/red/amber stripes rather than an A/B series with completmentary colours and have used black every other thread and have also used black weft. This is the same threading and tie up as the previous two scarves but I have simplified the treadling. It's still on eight shafts, but the colours are very dramatic and the pattern is jumping right off the loom!Here’s a close up so you can see the three thread floats which are a characteristics of the weave. September seems to have flown by! We have been having the most amazing days which are between 25 and 30 C and lovely cool nights that are plummeting toward frost. This has kept me away from the computer and out in the garden trying to preserve the last of my veggies. Last night the frost got the patty pan squash, but as you can see it’s still setting flowers! I have late season raspberries and they are still going nuts! Sorry about the quality of the photo, but the grass was wet and I didn't want walk any closer. Mea Culpa!And I don’t even want to talk about the cherry tomatoes which are still going strong. We made a new garden bed in the front yard this spring so today it’s time to populate it with bulbs for next year – I’m sticking to a pink, purple and white theme. Now to find the time to plant them...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Finnish Lace Scarf with Fishtail Braiding

A couple of days before the Salmon Arm Sheep to Shawl, I found out that I was going to be the weaver this year. I was excited and very, very nervous as I have never worked with wool before. In a happy coincidence I had an empty loom so Mum had the great idea to put on a wool warp using the same pattern so I could get in a little practice. This scarf is made with 2/10 Merino in a soft pink with muted orange strips in Finnish Lace. This isn’t the first time that I’ve done Finnish Lace; I did a table runner a while back. This is a very versatile pattern and very easy to weave, which is a great bonus, both as an introduction to wool and as a competition piece. I found wool a little tricky to use because it is so sprongy. My edges looked like a mouse has nibbled the sides but after it was washed a lot of the wonky edges smoothed out. To finish the scarf I did a somewhat different type of braid; it is one that I learned at forestry summer camp when I was small, called a fish tail. I don’t know if that is its real name or not. But it is really pretty, very soft and drapy and a perfect finish for this scarf.
The Sheep to Shawl was a little nerve racking as I found a sleying error after weaving about three inches, so I had to pull everything out and fix the mistake and re-hemstitch, this put our team about 40 minutes behind. Thankfully the team was really helpful and very understanding. I put my head down and my iPod onto some rock and just wove; amazingly we came in on time. I was able to weave with only a few joins as the spinners had lots of time to spin during my downtime so that I got nice fat full bobbins and that was the silver lining to the mistake! I had a great time and our team placed second! This is the competition shawl before it was washed. The warp is handspun coridale with baby camel stripes outlining the lace area.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Turned Taqueté Scarf Number Two

Starting with the Beyond part of my post, I've finally taken my second Turned Taqueté scarf off the loom mere minutes ago and these photos are before any finishing has been done. This scarf sat patiently waiting for weeks it seems. I found that my previous Turned Taqueté scarf was a little less drapey than I preferred, so before starting this scarf I resleyed to 36 epi from 40 epi and changed the floating selvedges to mirror the weft, dropping the black selvedges. Well, life, my garden and a lovely, but all too short visit from my best bud Susan came between us for a week or so. It took some serious thought and a session with Procion MX dye in Jade to finally give me a weft I could live with. What I created is a slightly slubby 2 ply silk in shades of clear kelly green. The weft was originally a very pale green and now it has some really interesting variegation and depth.
The downside has been that I sacrificed some contrast elements with this scarf using the green weft. Had I chosen to use a much stronger contrasting weft like black or dark blue, the pattern would have shown better. It was a real trade off and in the end I went with a more muted pattern and a colour I loved! This scarf has wonderful iridescence and luster and a really happy feel to it. I'm pleased with my choices overall.Susan, being the great friend she is, brought me these two treasures that she found second hand at a retiring weavers sale. I just know that Colour Works by Deb Menz will be a real boon in future projects, as I seem to be delving deeper into colour plays although I’m still a bit of a colour fraidy cat, but am pushing the envelope whenever I can. The Sharon Alderman book is lovely eye candy for the pattern weaver in me and is a complilation of her swatch collection from Handwoven magazine.My garden is one of the other things that have kept me busy of late. Among many other things we grew our own kidney beans and yesterday was harvest day. We have had amazingly hot weather and the beans were twisting and popping apart in my hands as I picked them! Lovely and vine dried, we ended up with about 8 pounds from a 4 foot square patch of land! I love knowing what went into them – OK it was horse poop, but really, really nice horse poop! Each perfect clean and shiney dried bean is destined to be used this winter in some of my favourite Tuscan recipes. Yum…

Monday, September 7, 2009

Digitized Huck Lace ~ or ~ What the Huck?

It’s Duck! What’s Duck you may well ask – well, it’s what happens when you take an eight harness Huck Lace and use the options that come with PCW weaving program. You know, it’s one of those options that you don’t know what they do or when to use them; well here is what could happen. So, if you take Huck and Digitzed it, you get Duck! To continue my weaving education Mum thought that I should do a fundamental weave structure, one that is much loved by weavers, Huck Lace. So I went looking for a pattern and I found one which was networked but it was on 16 shafts and it couldn’t be reduced to the 8 I have. So . . . we found an 8 harness Huck Lace and played with it. What we did with it I can’t really remember as we tried a lot of the options; some worked and some didn’t but what we ended up with is really cool! It has large medallions that are connected by trellis work. This is no longer a true Huck Lace, but it is in the spirit of Huck Lace. Because the pattern had large floats, Mum and I chose to use 2/18 mercerized cotton in a light clear coral colour. The floats are less then ¼ inch long, which make them structurally sound enough for a scarf, this pattern was designed for very fine yarn. Bravely, I think, we chose to use a magenta silk noil as the weft. This scarf is hot, hot, hot! The pattern is the most complicated I have done to date, but it was so rewarding to weave that I had no trouble keeping my interest. The magenta weft really changed the look of the coral warp, it has almost a coppery colour now, and is amazingly iridescent. The fringe was just plain coral and it really didn’t reference the scarf so I added extra magenta silk to the edges of the fringe. Adding the extra threads made a huge difference to the fringe. The photo below shows the front and the back side by side and as you can see, it’s a reversal, with one side slightly more weft faced than the other. It was great fun to experiment with PCW and Huck was a great structure to play with. I love the fact that this scarf is a one of a kind in so many ways.