Thursday, January 31, 2008

Crackle Treadled as Summer and Winter Continued

Here is some more of the crackle threading treadled as Summer and Winter:

Both halves are treadled identically. Both halves use the same colors. And both halves use 10/2 pearl cotton for the pattern weft and 20/2 pearl cotton for the binder weft. What is different between the two is how I handled the colors of the pattern weft.

In the bottom half (really a tiny bit more than half) I used a greened blue as one pattern weft and red as the second pattern weft. Then I also used red for the binder thread. I didn't care for all that red. I think what I didn't care for was the dullness of the greened blue. It might have worked had I used a very bright greened blue which could have carried its own against the heaviness of all that red.

In the top half I continued to use red for the binder weft but this time I used the greened blue for both pattern wefts. I'm still not crazy about the effect, but the relationship between the two colors seems more balanced. Too balanced.

Balancing is not necessarily what it is about. Something has to dominate. There is no color dominating in the top half and so, quite frankly, it is boring.

What might have been effective is the very bright greened blue I suggested for the lower fabric. There would have been still a predominant amount of red, but the blue would have been a nice spark.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Some Bloggers Who Help Make My Day

I got tagged by Bonnie with the You Made My Day Award. Wow!

There are definitely ten bloggers who make my day, and since Bonnie is one of them, she is first on my list. The rest are in no particular order.

Weaving Spirit Bonnie's site which I try to check out daily, since she posts almost daily about her latest adventures in weaving and workshops.

Travelling Tiger This is a new-to-me blog that I have only just begun to read. It is written by Tien. Tien has always had fascinating things to say on the various fiber lists I have seen her on and it looks like her blog is going to be equally fascinating.

T'Katch Cally is now in fast pursuit of clasped weft honeycomb. This has been a fascinating trip to follow!

Sandra's Loom Blog Sandra weaves fantastically complex silk and beautiful scarves, often with hand dyed yarns. I find it a privilege to follow her weaving journey.

Curious Weaver Karen's curiosity about weaving matters makes for fascinating reading

Woven Thoughts Sara Lamb is a multi-talented fiber artist who wrote a piece about why weavers ought to blog.

Dot's Fibre to Fabric Dorothy is a new weaver who is amazingly quickly becoming an experienced weavers. She is keeping a wonderful record of her journey.

Lelgh's Fiber Journal Leigh's blog, besides being a well written account of her fiber joys and trials, is always an inspiration to try to raise my own blogging skills.

Unravelling The subtitle of Meg's blog says it all: "Thoughts on weaving and other threads unravelling in my head."

Linda's Fiber Weblog Linda doesn't post nearly often enough, but when she does, it is always worth the wait.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Crackle Treadled as Summer and Winter

I am done, for now anyway, treadling the crackle sample as overshot. I am now playing with Summer and Winter treadlings.

Summer and Winter treadling means that each treadling block consists of two pattern blocks. The pattern treadles raise two shafts, but the second set of shafts are not opposite the first set of shafts.

This means, for example, if I treadle to raise shafts 1 and 2 for the first pattern weft, I do not treadle to raise shafts 3 and 4 for the second pattern weft. Instead, I treadle to raise shafts 2 and 3 for the second pattern weft.

Each time pattern shafts are raised and the pattern weft passed through, then binder shafts are raised and the binder weft passed through. In this case, the binder treadle raises shafts opposite to the shafts in the pattern treadle just raised.

For example. I might raise shafts 1 and 2, throw the pattern weft, then raise shafts 3 and 4 (the opposite shafts) throw the binder weft. Then I might raise shafts 2 and 3 and throw the second pattern weft, followed by raising the opposite shafts (1 and 4) to throw the second binder weft.

A series of four treadlings thus completes one row of the block. This is repeated until the block is as high as I want it. I then move on to the next row of blocks which will consist of a different set of pattern treadles and a different set of binder treadles.

What I have just described. is what I have done in the following photo:

Here can be seen eight treadling blocks. But there are only four different treadling blocks. Treadling blocks five through eight are simply a repeat of the first four treadling blocks. The only difference is the pattern color order. In the first pattern treadle in each of the first four blocks I threw brown weft. In the second pattern treadle I threw blue thread. In blocks five through eight I reversed the order, first throwing blue weft and then throwing the brown pattern weft.

All the binder wefts are yellow.

These blocks form a nice diagonal line. This happens because the threading slants that way and I treadled in the same order as the treadling. That is, I treadled 1,2 and 2,3; then 2,3 and 3,4; then 3,4 and 4,1; and finally 4,1 and 1,2. Each of these treadling sets I repeated until each block was as tall as I wanted it.

Remember, by the way, the the warp is red..............

And, for those who are eager to find treadling errors, click on the photo.............

Monday, January 28, 2008

Photographing Textiles

A year ago I received a digital camera for Christmas from our children. I had wanted one for a long time, despite having a good SLR camera. But there was no real way I could blog without a digital camera. So that gift was one of the precipitating factors in starting this blog.

I have now gotten pretty comfortable with the very basic mechanics of taking pictures with everything on automatic. And I have gotten pretty comfortable with PaintShopPro, the software program I use. And my photography is improving, but I still have a long way ago.

I had looked at some books but they were pretty much Greek to me. Then a friend suggested a book which I think is going to turn out to be pivotal in my photography learning. This is a book she has been using in her self-study in photography improvement with her digital camera. The book is by Scott Kelby and the name of the book is The Digital Photography Book: The Step-by-Step Secrets for How to Make Your Photos Look Like the Pros. It turns out he has some really expensive books for more experienced photographers, but this is for the raw beginniner and it is not expensive.

Two of his first topics are "Getting 'Tack Sharp with a Tripod' and "A Ballhead Will Make Your Life Easier." He tells you why and he even gives you recommendations at three price levels for each. Last week by monohead and and easy off-and-on ballhead.

It took me a while, well, quite a while, to figure out how to get the part of the ballhead that screws into the camera base back onto the ballhead itself. I thought I had watched carefully when I undid it. Nope. An hour or so later it was back on and attached to the monopad, which I then had to figure out how to use.

The whole thing works much less clumsily than I thought and, while it is not yet child's play to separate the camera from the ballhead, it is coming more easily. And I can see the results in the pictures. They jay jot be quite "tack sharp" but they sure are sharper than my earlier pictures. Except for those, of course where the exposure is a problem........... Which leads to............

I then discovered another book. It is a book just for Canon Power Shot Users called Canon Power Shot Digital Field Guide. I spent the day glazing my eyes with the opening chapters' information about all the settings. Some of this stuff I think, in all honesty, out to have been included with the camera. This kind of information was certainly included with my SLR camera when I purchased it. Anyway, now I have it and I am grateful.

Now that I have got the monopad up and working, I am ready to start working on the innards of this camera! It will take a long time to learn the stuff. But as I gradually learn it, more and more of what Kelby talks about in his book should become helpful.

There is nothing about photographing textiles in these two books. But at least I will get some grounding that will help me photographing my own textiles.

Overshot Treadling Serendipity

I have always thought of the plain weave portions, the accidental blocks, and so forth that occur in structures like overshot and crackle as some kind of disfigurements. If only I could get rid of those and have nothing but sequences of perfect, solid blocks with none of this extraneous stuff. But now something has happened to start me thinking of those so-called extraneous bits as full of possibilities.

I started weaving once more with overshot treadling. I had liked the idea of using three colors, one for warp, and two for weft. I had tried this with the third method of binder treadling. This time, however, instead of blue pattern weft, I used purple. And instead of the third method of binder treadling I decided to do the second. I wanted to see what kind of difference the two created visually.

I had meant to begin with the last group of blocks and go in reverse order. This way I wouldn't have identical blocks next to each other. Since the block I had finished with had been the first block, if I started had the beginning I would have a set of two blocks treadled the same.

As luck would have it, I had not written a note to myself about this (thinking, of course, that I would remember.........) and I forgot. Yes, I forgot. But then I saw what was happening when I was weaving and I saw how interesting this was looking. So interesting that I decided to continue to weave with a block of blue pattern weft with the third binder treadling followed by the same block in purple with the second binder treadling.

Looking at the photo, in the middle is where I started with the purple. There it is clear that the purple overshots lay right over the overshots in the previous block, because I am treadling the same treadles. Then in the next group above, the purple blocks lie in the same place as the blue blocks because, though I have moved to a different treadling, I have used the same treadling for both the blue and the purple.

But I have not used quite the same treadling. The treadling for the pattern wefts with the blue and purple is the same for each set of blocks. But the treadling for the binder threads is different for the purple and the blue. Looking at those non-pattern areas shows that different things happen there when I change the binder treadling. I find this very interesting and I hope to explore this. Someday, but not now. I am continually being surprised about the possibilities in the crackle structure.

To see this whole thing greatly magnified, click on the photo.,

The alert will notice some treadling errors, but for this sampling I simply do not care. I am too delighted with what I see going on.

Friday, January 25, 2008

More on Fiberart International 2007

One of the weavers represented at the Fiberart International show was someone I actually know: Jennifer Sargent. Probably I shouldn't say that I know her. But I did take a workshop on warp ikat from her a few years back at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in North Carolina. I had read about warp ikat. But in this workshop she gave me the hands-on experience I needed in order to explore it on my own. She also gifted me with the the realization that I really could do this if and when I should decide to try.

Her piece in this show was was woven in three panels. She used thin strips for the weft. My guess is that the fabric or paper she had used for the weft had been printed and then cut up to use for weft. But she cut it up in such a way that the design of the printing emerged. And the design appeared as a whole, across all three panels. A tour de force in my book!

To read a bit about Jennifer and see some of her work, go here.

I have seen this idea of grouped woven panels used quite a bit and have never quite understood the rationale for it. I understand paired paintings such as those of Adam and Eve. I can understand the implications of painting them as separate beings. The paintings, like Adam and Eve, stand alone yet belong together.

There is no real temptation to read these panels separately. There is a middle panel which is clearly the center and then the framing side panels. The side panels is in part mirror images of each other, but only in part. It is the differences that provide the interest.

I can also understand creating an idea in panels if for some reason (such as size) that idea cannot be created in one piece. And I understand that there could then also be significance in not joining the separate pieces. The panels in Jennifer's piece could stand alone. Each panel needed the other two. Technically it was a tour de force, but otherwise I could not understand this.

There was another woven piece in the show that was presented in panels. Hillary L. Steel wove her piece in two long thin strips. Hillary's piece was very straight lined, unlike Jennifer's which produced an image of curves. And Jennifer's piece produced this image despite the clear grid created by warp and weft. At least at a distance, the power of the screen printing dominates over the power of the weaving grid.

Hillary's piece also used applique. The material for the appliques seems to have been woven from the same warp she had used for the foundation panels. And the panels were not quite identical. Close, but not quite. Indeed, it was this "not quite identical" aspect of the panels which held my attention. And it held my attention more than the "not quite identical" aspect of Jennifer's piece because I could not quite see what she was trying to do. Probably I did not look for a long enough period of time.

There was a weaver by the name of Robin L Haller who wove what to me was an extraordinarily beautful ikat piece using a computerized loom. I am extraordinarily frustrated in not being able to find out more about her. She is in her late 30's, but based on the awards and shows listed in the catalog, she was still a student in 2005 and is listed in the show catalog as currently an instructor in the School of Art Textiles at Kent Sate University in Ohio. On the Kent State faculty she is listed as adjunct faculty. In any case, I look forward to hearing more of her work in the future.

Finally, despite the fact that there was very little weaving in the show, and despite the fact that I don't care for "computer assisted jacquard" weaving, that was what won the Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh (the hosting group) Best of Show. It, too, was woven in strips...... The piece was by Kelly Thompson who was born in California, but currently lives in London, England. More information, including a snippet of one of her weavings (not the weaving in Fiberart International), can be found here.

To see an example of a piece of computer assisted jacquard weaving by another weaver, go here.
As a picture I think it is fine. What I don't like is the appearance of it when seen in real life. Perhaps it is that the overall appearance is too mechanical for my taste. And I don't like the thickness of the fabric that is created. But it has become very popular. Indeed, AVL has just come out with an "affordable" jacquard loom, "affordable," of course, being a relative term! To learn about this loom, go here.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Crackle Treadled as Overshot

I have started weaving the crackle threading as overshot. This is the first time I have ever tried this and I am not totally unhappy with it. I still prefer other treadlings, but I can see some possibilities. Here are three different interpretations:

Each of the three uses 10/2 pearl cotton thrown twice with each shot for the pattern weft and 20/2 pearl cotton for the binder thread. Each of the three uses different colors. And each of the three uses a different technique for the binders.

Reading from the bottom up (as if you were at the loom), the first one (blue and red) uses all the remaining treadles for the binder, one at a time. For example, if treadle 3 is the pattern, as it is in the first block, then I treadled 4 for the first binder, 5 (after the next pattern shot on 3) for the next binder, 6 (after the next pattern shot), and so on. I thought this treadling would be the easiest to keep track of, but actually it proved to be the most difficult.

With the middle blocks (light khaki and red), for the binders I used treadles which raised opposite shafts, but never the pattern treadle. In other words, for the first binder treadle I selected one which raised shafts which were not opposite to the pattern shafts. But for the second binder treadle I selected one which raised shafts which were opposite to the first binder treadle. This treadling turned out to be the easiest to keep track of.

For the last I used three different treadles for binders. The first time I threw the binder weft (after having thrown the pattern weft), I treadled the pedal which raised the shafts opposite to those raised by the pattern weft. The second time I threw the binder weft (again, after having again thrown the pattern weft), I treadled a different pedal. The third time I threw the binder weft, I again treadled the pedal which raised the shafts opposite to those raised by the pattern weft. The fourth time, I treadled the pedal which raised the shafts opposite to the shafts raised which I treadled for the second binder weft.

This last sampling intrigues me. The warp is red, but I used two different colors for the weft: blue for the pattern weft and gold for the tabby weft. I rather like the effect this has on the areas where there are no pattern blocks. For me, this creates a bit more interest.

These three treadlings are those recommended by Zielinski. And, he says, the weaver needs to try each one and see what works best for what he is trying to accomplish.

The question is: why didn't I just take the simple way and treadle pattern and then binder, using always for the binder the pedal which raised the shafts opposite to the pattern? This is what I would do with regular four-shaft crackle. But with this kind of threading, doing that would create a curved kind of M's and O's effect.

By the way, looking not too closely reveals a treadling error where I got the binder wefts wrong. It occurs in the middle sample, the fifth treadling group from the bottom. In case that is kind of hard to see, here is a blow up with arrows where the error is most clearly visible:

At the arrows in particular, you can see where the fabric just kind of collapses because the binding thread did not interact with the warp threads there.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Fiberart International 2007

Last weekend in Charlotte, NC, I went to fiber show called Fiberart International 2007 One of the pieces there caught my attention: "Summer's Honey Breath" by Katherine K. Allen. It was not weaving; it was a quilt. Not a quilt for the bed however. Definitely an art quilt for the wall. In fact, there was so little quilting visible that the piece is not easily recognizable as a quilt. The techniques used included mono-printing on the cotton duck fabric, a small amount of applique, hand-embroidery and machine stitchery.

Katherine is an independent studio artist who currently lives in Florida. On her website, she describes her work as "soft paintings." I think on the basis of the one piece I have actually seen, that is a good description. That description would not fit my work. Crackle is straight--edged, hard.

The colors drew my eye because they were used in a way similar to how I hope to weave the next crackle pieces, both the scarf and the yardage for the Blue Ridge show. I was drawn to the piece despite the hard-edged effect of crackle in contrast with the soft effect of Katherine's work. Reflecting on the fabric I am thinking about weaving for the fall show, I thought, why not? Why weave fabric? Why not weave an art piece.

Katherine's was 55" long x 31" wide. I could weave something approximately that size. That would be a good size for the size yarn and blocks I plan on doing. She also had bound the quilt with very fine binding. She had to bind it, because the cotton was backed with silk batting and another layer of cotton. Still, I was intrigued with binding the edges of my weaving. It seemed like such a nice, polished frame.

Actually, I was intrigued as well by the idea of some embroidery and also by the possibility of using silk batting on my piece. Then I might use a piece of silk behind the batting. I would hand-dye that silk. I don't know about these last ideas, but I find them intrigueing enough to investigate them.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Recording Ideas

Leigh had this to say about writing down ideas:

"I need to do what Dorothy suggests as my problem with ideas is that I don't seem to write them all down in the same spot. They are scattered throughout several notebooks. Of course, I rarely seem to go back and look at them again anyway ...... so maybe I'm just amusing myself. "

I can definitely feel Leigh's pain here. I solved my problem with a software program called Info Select. One of the things I can do with this program is to create topics. Here is a screen shot of what part of the left side of the screen looks like when I have the list of topics closed.

The strange little rectangles with different colored backgrounds to the right are links to notes within a topic that I don't want to forget about.

And here is a screen shot with the list of notes for the topic "Current Projects" open:

What is now visible are the various notes I have accumulated. When I click on one of them, the right side of the screen shows what the information for that note actually is.

When I have an idea or a group of ideas, if at all possible, I get right to the computer to type it out. I try very hard to bypass pencil and paper. That's the easiest. If I'm in the midst of something else or if I'm somewhere else, I write the thought down on whatever is handy. I put it in front of the computer monitor as soon as I get there. At night I don't write anything down. I just go to the computer in the morning.

The software was quite cheap when I first purchased it years ago. Now it is very expensive. It also is a far more powerful program now than I need. There are, however, other much less expensive note-card kinds of programs that one can get. I do have another one that I use for saving information rather than ideas. It is called Jot Notes. Also, Googling note card software brings up some interesting stuff.

Like Leigh, I rarely look at most of these ideas. But with the system I have, it is much easier to do that when I have the urge. That does not diminish the value of putting ideas down in writing. Writing thoughts down puts them a bit more firmly in the brain, gives them a bit more importance, and confirms to myself that my ideas, at least in my own eyes, are "brilliant." Well, not brilliant perhaps, but definitely worthy enough to be written down even if no one else ever And I think this last is perhaps the most important reason for writing down one's ideas, and writing them down somewhere where they can be easily gotten to.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Designing Issues and Weaving Shows

Thursday last week I received the information for the Blue Ridge Handweaving Show being held this fall in Asheville, NC. It is a show that happens every other year and I have entered stuff the last two times. I put the notice on my bulletin board so as not to lose/forget it.

That night I had a lot of trouble going to sleep. The information had raised my anxiety level. There was no question that if it turned out, one of my submissions would be the jacket I am going to weave from the crackle fabric I just finished weaving. But I wanted to submit a second item. Yardage? Not really, but that seemed to be the only thing I could do given my current weaving trials. I decided that I could just take either the red polychrome or the blue polychrome treadlings and weave one of them as yardage. No big deal. And that is when anxiety struck.

Simply taking a sample and weaving it up as yardage with no changes, just doing it, simply did not feel right for me. Did I really want to take a good part of my weaving time to make nothing but an enlarged copy? All that I would gain, personally, would be a bit more in weaving skills, perhaps. Is this what I wanted? I tossed and turned and fretted. I got up and spun for awhile.

I returned to bed, was relaxed and almost asleep. Then the show came back to haunt me. But this time an idea appeared. I could gradate the warp gradually from reds to golds, maybe back again, maybe repeating the gradation. I smiled.

Then all at once, I realized my solution for the next crackle scarf. I have been struggling with the handling of the colors for a long time now. And I could simply do the same thing with the scarf that I planned for the yardage, but with blues and neutrals. Start at the bottom with a bit of all blue, gradually move to the neutrals, do those for a fair amount of space and then move back to the blues. Maybe have a bit of blue somewhere in the middle. As for the warps, I will dye some different neutrals to wind the warp with. I then plan to dip dye parts of the warp blue.

This next scarf I will weave while making weft choices and probably block length choices as well. I will be trying to work out my vision as I weave. I love to weave this way! Hopefully in this way I will also work out, at least partially some of the issues I will face with the yardage. I smiled again. I slept.

Of course there will be more changes between now and then, but at least I'm getting closer.........

Polychrome Crackle with Blue Weft

I have come up with another polychrome I really like, really really like. It is

woven much like an earlier part of this warp, with very short blocks alternating with taller blocks. In that sample, I was using blues and browns. In this sample I have used only blues. The fact that the right side appears darker is not real, but only a result of the lighting.

I like this so much thatI would like to weave as much of it as I did the red polychrome and make something out of it. Alas, I do not have enough warp left to do that and also do some other treadling samples that I absolutely must try. These next treadling samplings are important because I have never treadled any crackle this way before, it is one of the traditional ways to treadle crackle, and doing this treadling possibly could cause me to change my mind about the treadling for the next silk crackle scarf.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

"Cut Back On Distractions"

I have pulled the title of this post from the framed list weaving inspirations currently sitting on top of my loom. Distractions are a great problem for me. And one of my potential distractions is actually weaving related. I can easily be distracted by all the ideas that pop into my head for future projects. These are not ideas for the project that is going to go on the loom next, a project that may be fairly settled but still fluid enough to allow of some changes. Rather, these are ideas that have nothing to do with the current three projects on which I am focusing. And that is why they are distracting.

Of ideas like this, Meg in Nelson had to say this in one of her her recent comments:

"...sometimes I have about 7 or 8 [ideas] that I'm thinking about, some of the[m] unconsciously for a long time. I decided a while back not to police this, as I don't want to stifle any possibility."

I certainly agree about not stifling possibilities. To this end I keep a page on the computer for making notes about possible projects for the future. I started doing this early on in my playing with weaving. I did this, quite frankly, because I regarded every idea as pure gold. At least potentially pure gold. I know better now.

Indeed, I have learned that all these ideas can be distractions to the real work that I must do.

Still, I do put them down on paper (well, on the computer, which, for me, is better) even though I know many/most will probably never make it off the page for all sorts of reasons. But I do know that a hidden gem may lie there as well.

Most of all, however, putting these (currently) distracting ideas somewhere where I can get at them when I want to means that I know where they are, but I don't have to focus on them right now. They do not have to distract from my currently active projects. I'm not sure I would call this "policing" but it certainly is a kind of discipline.

Now if I could only deal with other kinds of distractions...............

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Mending is Done

I have spent the last two days with a heavy focus on examining the crackle fabric for flaws. Actually, there were not really many of them. There were three shots (each in a different place) where the entire length weft had to be rewoven. That took a fair amount of time. But the result is that there are no doubled weft ends. That I like.

Then scattered around there were a few places where the weft thread had skipped over some warp ends it shouldn't have. Though there were only a few, it took concentrated time to find them. There were two small ones I left as they were. I decided that the mending would look worse than the error because of the doubled weft threads on either side of the skip.

I suppose that in the case of these short skips I could just have rewoven the whole row. If I were submitting this to a juried show, I would have had to have done just that. I think that the garment I make out of this fabric will be just fine without having done that.

There was another error that happened with some frequency which has not happened to me before. I found little loops of weft thread. I had used end-feed shuttles so that should not have happened. And as it clearly did not happen all the time, I must have had the tension right. So I am not sure what caused them.

To correct them, though, all I had to do with those was to draw the offending thread tight with a blunt needle, pulling and tightening till I brought the loop to the selvedge. This is tedious to do but the result is that there is no flaw in the fabric. When mending isolated overshots, I may be correcting an error, but I still have a flaw which I will have to try to avoid when I cut the pattern out.

I am so delighted and relieved to have this part of the finishing done.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Organizing Projects: Part Two

The project in the planning stages is usually the most fun, if only simply because it is the newest kid on the block. This is one reason I choose to sit at the loom first. If I didn't do that, the part of my day devoted to weaving might focus exclusively on that newest kid.

But after sitting at the loom, the temptation, of course, is always to turn to that planning-stage project. Witness, for example, how long it is taking me to get to finishing up the mending on the last crackle fabric. And this despite the fact that I have not been sitting at the loom this week in order to give my back plenty of time to heal. This is the one I have to work at moving along. This is the one, as I plan my day when I wake up, that I am most likely to shove into the background.

Ultimately I do get that finishing done. It may be simply because of the psychological need for closure. It may also be because the project in the wings is moving closer to the loom and I am beginning to sense another idea about to become a project in the wings. This is what is happening to me now. So I am going to try hard to put my energies into finishing that crackle fabric sooner rather than later.

The project in the wings is also the most complex, so in addition to all the notes I make and accumulate, I keep a very short to-do list. This consists of 3 or 4 items that need to be done next. I put only a small number of items on the list so that I don't look at it and throw my hands up in desperation. I also try to make the individual items small enough that it does not take a tremendous amount of effort to gear myself up to do them. For example, here is my current to-do-list for the next crackle project:

1.Wash out old dye containers
2.Make 1 liter of SAB Yellow 1% Stock solution (throw out old stock solution)
3. Make an additional 400 ml of Mustard Yellow

The first to-do item is the hardest and the one I most dislike. These are the dyes I mixed for the last project which I did not throw out because I thought I just might use them. I never do use them, so I don't know why I always pretend that I am going to. I am simply trying to avoid the cleaning up. The second two I will do at the same time, since once I have everything ready to make stock solutions, I might as well make all that I need. It just looks so much easier to write them out as two different items. Besides, when I am done, I can tick off two items, not just one! And then I can just delete these items and add the next few.

As for Dorothy's comment about a second loom. Yes, I can see that happening to me. But since I can sit at only one loom I have no reason for getting a second loom. Were I to get a second loom it would probably be a table room which I could take to workshops. When I was in Georgia, CHG workshop participants could rent looms for the workshops. That was really nice. Here, however, I am not close to a guild offering workshops I would be interested in. So I suspect a table loom would probably gather a bit of dust.

There is a time when I do covet a second loom: when I am taking part in a swap of some sort. Then it would be so nice not to have to worry about weaving off what is currently on the loom so I can put on the warp for the swap. But that is a luxury I cannot afford!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Organizing Projects: Part One

Dorothy made the following observations on my post "Weaving for a Living...........or Not":

"Hmm. I think I manage two weaving projects at a time. One on the loom, one I'm designing, or finishing off. But really, I prefer one at a time. I was thinking the other day that if I had more than one loom I'd have more than one project, and I'd like one better, or just find it more interesting, and then the other wouldn't happen.

"So, if you have three projects, how do you organise them? What happens if one is a big favourite, do you still keep a couple of others moving along?"

Back in the dark ages of my youth I firmly adhered to one project at a time. Then sewing projects were my major projects. Indeed, I would not buy the fabric and pattern for my next project until I was almost done with the current project. Part of this was not wanting to end up with a fabric stash, most of which would never be used. Part of this was just my one nature.

When I came to weaving I was in my early to mid 50's. I could weave for fairly long periods once I figured how to strengthen and stretch my quads and hamstrings in order to protect my knees when treadling. Then it was mental fatigue which got to me. But after entering my 60's the rest of my body started to argue a bit as well. Exercise helped enormously. But still it was clear that I just had to come up with a way that I could spend the majority of my free time weaving but only a part of it at my loom. Over time, the current process of having three projects at different stages grew.

I don't have a specific plan for organizing all this activity other than making my first priority to work at the loom each day. That is my first priority. That done, I try very hard to get at least something accomplished on one of the other two projects, depending on time available, my mood, the weather..........

Friday, January 11, 2008

Weaving for a Living...........or Not

This Christmas our children gifted me with an MP3 player. One of the great pleasures of this gift is that I can now listen to episodes of WeaveCast without being tethered to the computer. I have subscribed to this podcast and synched it to my MP3 player. Now I can walk or ride my stationary bike and listen.

Yesterday I listened to episode 12, called "Weaving Resolutions." It was produced in January of 2007 and was as fresh today as it would have been a year ago. And while resolutions take up a small part of the episode, its heart is a wonderful interview with weaver and fiber artist Anita Luvera Mayer.

I responded to many things things in the interview, including the fact that she is in her 70's, still incredibly active and enthusiastic about her work. But I especially appreciated her explanation of how she organizes her work.

At any given time she has only three projects going. Each project is at a different stage. She has one project which she is finishing up. One project which she is actively engaged with. And then there is one project waiting in the wings.

I was so surprised (and delighted!) to hear this, for that is just how I organize my weaving life. I had stumbled upon this way of organizing my efforts because my body simply will not let me do one thing continuously for any period of time. Having things organized this way gives me the variety in my day that my body needs. But perhaps it gives me mental variety as well and allows creative seepage among the projects. I had not thought of these possibilities.

One other thing in particular that I appreciated was her response to the frequently asked question: could she support herself with her weaving. The answer was a definite no. The money she earns from things like workshops is merely a nice addition. She explained that she is lucky that she has an "angel"---a supportive husband. So it doesn't matter to her how long it takes her to finish any given project. It can take as long as three years. She does not sell her items. She makes them for herself or for good friends or to show. What I really liked is that she expressed her gratitude for being so privileged but never apologized for it. I too am privileged, but I always feel like apologizing for it.

In reality, there is no need to apologize. It is a privilege, too, to be able to weave to support oneself. It is very difficult to do that and those who do it have enormous strengths and abilities as well as the creative ability to handle all of this that I do not come near to possessing. They too are gifted. They may well wish for more chances to slow down. I sometimes daydream about would it might have been like to try to support myself by my weaving. But I know that I do not have within me what doing that would have demanded.

I am happy where I am. I shall be grateful. And, thanks to Anita Luvera Mayer, I shall not apologize.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Heidi Lichterman, Silk Weaver

Last week I ran across an interesting weaver, born in the United States but now living in England. Her name is Heidi Lichterman. She weaves both clothing and large wall hangings, using hand dyed silk yarns. In 2002 she began experimenting on using wire to weave in her large silk hangings.

Many of her pieces can be viewed on her website gallery. She also has a page where she briefly explains a bit about her dyeing techniques. Go here and click on the link in the left column called "About Me."

I was especially interested in her work when I learned that her hangings are based on ikat and dip dyeing. She does not explain her weaving process, but if I understand correctly what she is doing, her hangings seem to be either warp dominant or warp faced, probably warp faced. This is a quick summary of what I understand her to be saying: when you see the dip-dyed warps stretched out on the loom, you see her design. For her design then to be visible in the woven fabric, that warp would have to be at least dominant.

I have occasionally thought about setting up a crackle warp so that it is warp dominant (not warp faced). Looking at the pieces on her website have brought these thoughts back to the surface. If I turned the draft so that the warp became the weft and vice versa, I could uses a larger yarn for the warp and a fine yarn for the weft. That way I could achieve the kind of thing I had thought about achieving when I talked about ikat dyed wefts. And the process would seem to be easier.

I would have no problem turning the current draft I am using. I say this, having never actually turned a draft myself. I have only read how to turn drafts. From what I remember and perhaps understand, since my current crackle draft uses six treadles, that is how many shafts the turned draft would require. And since I actually have eight shafts, the number of shafts should not be a problem. But, as I have never actually gone through the turning process, I have no idea what hidden, sneaky problems there might be lying in wait!

Zielinski talks about turning crackle drafts in the Master Weaver volume (8) that I am using. So I will read that first. He is not talking then about the kind of thing I am weaving now, but about normal crackle drafts. Nevertheless he may have some tips.

I find it interesting that Lichterman generally does not use ikat ties. She prefers the blurred effect that dip dyeing yields. I really enjoyed going through her web pages. They have given me much to think about.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

End-of-Loom Sampling

I found this in a recent email newsletter from Robert Genn:

"Regarding order by size, small field sketches and studio
thumbnails have traditionally preceded larger, more ambitious
work. A valuable exercise is to make sketches as postscripts to
majors. This second look, perhaps an inconsequential toss-off,
rethinks previous commitments and becomes its own unique
personality. Funnily, afterthoughts are often superior to the
main thought."

Genn is talking about painters, but I immediately thought of sampling for weaving. The samples a weaver makes before weaving the actual items function very much like artists' sketches and thumbnails. The order for both the artist and the weaver, of course, is to sample and then to produce the final piece based on what was learned from the sampling process.

But what about sampling after I am done with a weaving project? This is why I try to put on extra warp. Other weavers do this as well. But for me the problem often is battle fatigue. "Battle fatigue" is probably not quite the right phrase; I usually do not feel I am doing battle with the loom as I weave. Unless the loom or the warp is misbehaving............. But the phrase does suggest how really tired I can be of that warp by the time I get to the end of the project. The thought of weaving samples on this same warp is sometimes more than I can bear. Yet I do feel guilt if I don't. There is still a bit of the Depression child in me who cannot waste things. The guilt trip, however, is not the point. I would like to figure out a way to combat this battle fatigue.

Often as I am weaving on a project other possibilities come to mind. If these possibilities include trying some different treadlings, it is not that hard to push through the fatigue. But often it is not that easy.

When end-of-warp sampling is not so simple, and if I still have a fair amount of warp left, I could just let it sit. Fatigue needs time and space to diminish. If, however, I simply must remove the woven fabric and I have enough extra warp, I can always do that and then reattach the rest of the warp. Then I can get away from the loom and get on with the more mundane business of finishing the piece.

When I am done with a piece, I am always really eager, however, not only to get the warp off the loom, but to get everything cleaned up, dusted, vacuumed, have my weaving space returned to its original pristine nature. Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration. I am not exactly a pristine housekeeper. But have the space returned to that point where the loom is ready for the next warp. I really like that. That makes me feel good. I think that might even make me feel good about thinking what to do with the remaining warp.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Mending Fabric

I've learned not to waste time sobbing. Well, maybe I do sob for a moment or two.... I have finally gotten to that large swath of crackle fabric that came off the loom more than a month ago. I am now in the process of examining it and, where necessary, mending it.

Yes, there is mending to be done. It looked like there was none at all to be done when I looked at the top of the fabric, the fabric that I saw when I was weaving. But when I looked at the other side, the side that was pretty much invisible when I was sitting at the loom, there I saw some long overshots. Not a lot. My weaving technique with crackle has much improved over the past years. But few or not, they were there. And they needed to be tended to. Here is a closeup view of two of them.

Here you can see the two long pinkish threads that need to be corrected.These two are part of a whole row that I have to mend. Because this is not an isolated overshot but extends (here and there) over the entire row, I have used one correcting thread for the whole row. I start at the selvedge, weave in and out to the first overshot. This part is easy, for I simply follow the thre thread that is in there correctly.

When I get to the first overshot, I cut the offending thread. Then, following the pattern I have been using, and also using the pattern established in the rows above and below, I weave in the new thread. Then I pull out the original thread that begins at the selvedge.

Then I continue weaving along following the original weft thread until I get to the next offense. I then cut it, weave with the new yarn till it is right, cut off the original weft thread where I have just rewoven, and continue onward until the row is finished. The advantage of this is that I end up with no doubled threads anywhere. The disadvantage, of course, is the time involved.

When there is only an isolated error in a given row, then there is going to be some doubling of thread on either side. I don't much like that, but after washing and pressing it is not particularly noticeable.

To do this I use a small tapestry needle. The needle is blunt. That way I am very unlikely to pierce threads as I move the needle in and out of the fabric. I also use something called MagEyes. This is a magnification lens which is fitted on a headpiece so that my hands are free. For more information, go to their website here.

What I need to figure out now is how better to avoid the overshots that appear on the bottom side of the fabric. They occur when warp yarns do not rise as they should in the shed. My mirror system has really worked very well for picking up sheds that are not clear. What that system does not pick up, however, are threads that lie absolutely flat on the shuttle rest. The system picks up only threads that are neither up nor down or are at an angle.

Possibilities. First, after I weave a sample, I could remove it from the loom and check the underside. If there are overshots, are there any consistencies? For example, are they always on the same shaft or shafts? Do they always occur with the same warp threads?

Second possibility is to use a mirror to look at the underside of what I have woven. But I find that difficult if not impossible. This just doesn't work for me, at least with a small, handheld mirror.

A third possibility is to wind the woven part down over the front beam and to the space where it is starting to move towards the cloth beam. There the woven fabric actually is upside down and I might be able to see it better. I might actually be able to see it standing at the front of the loom because all that would be on the top would be warp ends. A flashlight might also help.

It is really important that I figure this out because weaving at 60 epi or finer creates a fabric that is next to impossible for me to mend. It is not that mending is a difficult task in and of itself. It is tedious. But not difficult. When I am working with really fine yarns, however, I simply have so much trouble seeing that I just sob.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Progress on Sample Warp

I have made some progress with the blue and brown wefts on the sample warp.

These are definitely not my favorite colors. Nevertheless weaving with them is producing some interesting results.

One of the new things I have tried here is having some of the blocks shorter. In the three groups near the bottom, the blues predominate. But in between are two shorter groups of blocks where the browns dominate.

Above that, there are three groups of blocks where the browns dominate. In between are two shorter groups where the blues dominate.

More information to put into my think tank!

Unfortunately, I pulled a muscle on the side of my lower back. It is healing more rapidly than I have any right to expect. But my focus for the next few days will be on heat, stretching, walking, and resting. Not on sitting at the loom. Fortunately I have many weaving activities I need to get done which have nothing at all to do with sitting at the loom.

And here is a gratuitous photo of my cat Button at the loom.

She is an American Shorthair and the most doglike cat we have ever had. We love her dearly. And in the years we have had her, she has never created a serious problem with my fiber pursuits.

The taped mirror on the left is one of the mirrors I use to check my sheds as I weave. One side of the mirror broke in the course of our move from Georgia. Hence the brown tape across it. Fortunately the broken side was the magnifying side.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Next Warp, Dye, Dip Dye, or Paint?

In all my color dreaming and planning for the next warp, I have pretty much thought of the warp as consisting of neutral colors. Notice on the last post that I had even decided which neutrals I planned to use, including the formulas for them. I had also thought about occasionally including some blue ends. But the color plans for the warp were basically neutrals.

On the other hand, I have been so tempted to paint the warp. There had been an aside on a WeaveTech Yahoo group email about how excited someone's students got about weaving off a painted warp. It filled me with nostalgic memories about painted warps I have done. How exciting it was to weave them. How hard it is to stop and how eager I always am to get back to the weaving.

Those warps, however were either plain weave or twill so the changing of the colors in the warps created the major focus for the finished textile. Such would not be the case in the crackle warps. They would simply provide another element of interest. The result could be confusion. This is what has really scared me away from painting the warps. However, if I don't get too fancy with the painting, I think it might work. I think I should try it.

Moreover, I do not really want to paint the warps. I want to dye them. I believe that I would get better results with the neutrals if I dip dyed those parts of the warp instead of painting them. But for the parts of the warp that are to be blue, or blue related, I am not so sure. I have never dip dyed warps, so fear brought on by inexperience holds me back. Inexperience, however, only means that I should start simply. The design should be very simple and the areas of color should be fairly long rather than short and many.

One possibility that might work is to dip dye the neutral areas but paint the blue areas. I think, however, that if I make the areas of color fairly long, that will be simple enough to have a go. I think I could get the neutrals on in one go with three dye pots on the stove. And if I used only two or three pots of blues, I might be able to finish that in another go.

If I tie crosses at both ends of the warps I could, if I wanted to, put some warp bouts on the loom beginning with one end of the warp. And the other bouts I could put on the loom beginning from the opposite end.

I have also been wondering to what extent could I rearrange groups in the raddle, and then in the threading without making a mess?

But I need to stop thinking about these rearrangement possibilities. As a beginning dip dyer, I would be getting into too much complexity without having the foggiest notion of how this would work out in the final result. Foreign as this notion is to me, I must think simple!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Next Crackle Project: Dyeing Plans Begun

The threading plans for the next crackle warp may have changed, but not the plans for the colors. The color plan, brilliant blues against dominant neutrals with flashes of gold and orange, has not changed despite the fact that I absolutely love the deep reds and violets I wove with
in the first part of the current sample.

I know the colors in that photo do not look all that rich and deep, but they are. I had not yet learned how to play with my software to get the photos to show the real thing, to make up for my unskillful photography, in other words! I know that I need to get a tripod so I can stop using automatic settings on the camera, but until I get one, I am grateful for PaintShopPro.

Anyway, whenever I glance at the reds and purples going on to the cloth beam, I am so tempted to throw out my original notion of blues and neutrals. But I am not going to. I am hoping against hope to get a similar rich effect. But instead of the total fabric being rich, I will have the rich, brilliant blues set against the neutrals. Are rich and brilliant contradictory? I don't know.

In any case, I have decided on the colors and the formulas for the colors. As it now stands, I have three different neutrals for the warp: a gray, a brown, and a slightly golden brown, all three in the medium range. What would happen if I used intense colors here? I love intense colors. Should I go with what I love? I might get more the same kind of richness I got on this warp with the reds and purples.

It is so tempting to go with the familiar, with what I love. But staying there will not help me explore new things, discover new possibilities that I might love equally well. So I will continue with the original plan.

For the weft yarns I have these same three neutrals I am planning for the warp plus four more. Also five different blues. For the occasional sparks, I have three red-oranges, two reds and one gold.

These are a lot of variations of colors! This is what I like to do. And having been exposed once again to Randy Darwall's ideas on color, I am strongly motivated to go ahead and do this. It helps that I also love to dye.....

Now I must figure out the amounts I need for each color. To do that, I have to figure out how much warp and weft I will need. Right now these only need to be educated guesses. I intend tol make larger amounts of the dye solutions than I will actually use just to make sure that I do not run out.