Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Treasure

I found this little handcarved shuttle in an antique shop in the Baltimore area. It was on a table full of treenware, and my eye clapped on it immediately. As I picked it up, my heart started beating faster. It felt warm and silky in my hand, and I knew I was taking it home no matter the cost. There was no tag, so I took it to the counter and asked the price. The clerk looked at it blankly and said "What is it?". "A shuttle," I replied. The clerk shrugged his shoulders and said, "I'll have to call the owner."

As I shifted nervously from foot to foot, the clerk said into the phone, "It's this weird wooden shoe thing." "Five dollars," he said to me. I handed him the money and he gave me a look that said "what kind of nut would pay five bucks for a weird wooden shoe thing?"

It nestles in my palm as if it was made for me. The finish is silky smooth from years of weaving. I can still see the marks from the carving tool in the inside. The carver wanted it to be beautiful as well as functional and decorated it with a diamond pattern on the top. It was obviously a well loved shuttle as the eye the yarn comes out is completely worn with grooves on both sides.

I have been production weaving for 26 years, and none of my shuttles show this kind of wear, so I imagine it may have been used for more than one generation. Because I know nothing about the origin of this shuttle, I get to imagine a whole story around it. I see a young man lovingly carving this shuttle for the young woman he is courting. She is already a talented weaver with a love for the craft, so the young man knows that a beautiful shuttle will be a path to her heart. They are married, and the young woman weaves yard after yard of cloth for her home and family. She teaches her children to weave, and they carry on weaving cloth for clothing and towels and sheets and table linens. The grandchildren learn to weave, but now cloth can be bought cheaply in stores and the loom is stored in the barn. The shuttle is still treasured, though, because they know the story about how Grandpa courted Nana by carving her a shuttle. It passes down a few more generations until one day, a niece or nephew is cleaning out their old Auntie's house for an estate sale, and see this "weird wooden shoe thing" and throw it in a box with all the other wooden spoons and potato mashers and butter paddles. It makes its way to an antique shop in a jumble of wooden ware, until another weaver finds it and can read the story in its worn finish. It has found a good home and has a place of honor and is loved again.

Friday, December 5, 2008


Do you ever make a really stupid mistake, and when you discover it, you realize you had lots of signs on the way? I hate it when that happens!
I make a line of scarves that are one of my "bread and butter" products. They are a simple product, somewhat boring for me to make, but they sell very well. I use a "dummy warp" and weave warp after warp in different colorways, until I have a nice selection.

I just wound on a warp (using the yarn I dyed in Carol Soderlund's class), and I found it was missing 12 warp threads! I can replace one or two or three warp threads by hanging them off the back of the loom on weighted spools, but 12 would surely be a tangled disaster.

I realized then that I ignored plenty of signs along the way that I was making a mistake. Did I pay attention? Noooooooo..... I have done this at least 100 times and I usually do it by rote.
First sign was when I had 4 empty cardboard spools. I have been using up some of my leftover spools, so just passed it off as some of those I emptied.
Second sign was when I was threading the tension box. The front reed in the box does not have enough dents for all of the ends in the section, so I have to double up some of the threads. When I was threading the dents, I even said to myself,"hmmm, there's enough dents", but didn't stop to consider what that meant.

It wasn't until I had all of the new warp tied to the old warp that I realized there were not enough ends. To fix it,I had to pull each section separately off the beam and chain it. I then rethreaded the ends of each chain through the tension box again with the 4 extra threads added. Feh.... It took two extra hours to put on this warp because of my inattention.

The warp is on, and almost woven off. Here are two scarves woven on the warp- the wefts are two different colors of rayon chenille.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

How will CPSIA Requirements affect textile artists?

I have been reading about the new regulations regarding product safety testing for manufacturers.
Here is some information from the Fashion Incubator blog that boggles and frightens me:

I know that the government considers me, a weaver and textile artist, a manufacturer.
How and where will I get the certificates of safety for my yarns, beads, fabrics and dyes? What about materials that have been in my stash for years or that I have purchased on eBay? What about fabrics that I have dyed and painted and discharged myself? Will I have to send each piece out to be tested individually? Aaaaaccckkkkk!!!!!

I can't understand the legal gobbledygook in the regulations, and it seems that the regulators themselves are unsure what it all means. From what I can see, unless they exempt the little people like me, I am out of business.

What is your take on all this?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dyeing Results

As you may remember, I organized a workshop, "Color Mixing for Dyers I", taught by Carol Soderlund in September. It was held at a fabulous location, Glacier Camp on the shore of Flathead Lake.

First, I must say, if you have the opportunity to take a class with Carol, jump at the chance. I have taken a lot of workshops in my time, and Carol was the most organized and most generous teacher I have ever had. There was so much information given to us, the workshop was really a master's level class. I have never really understood the "color wheel" and how analogous colors and complements and split complements worked. Carol's method of teaching the "Cubic Color Theory" made it all fall in to place for me. And the hands-on dyeing experiments were wonderful.

Secondly, if you have a class, or family reunion, or wedding to organize and you are looking for an amazing location, I can highly recommend Glacier Camp . The location is wonderful, the lodge building is new and immaculately clean, but most of all the staff is helpful, and as accomodating as can be.

I have just finished my sample book with over a 1,000 one-inch sample squares. Before the class, I really doubted I would have the patience to stick down that many little squares of fabric. Instead, I found myself contemplating each color individually and really enjoying how they all worked together. (photo courtesy of Carol Soderlund)

Here is a skein of rayon boucle' I dyed while at the workshop. (sorry about the poorly cropped picture, it shows up full size in my blog editor, but cut off when its published) This was dyed with a low water immersion technique using three dye solutions- a pure dye(in this case,yellow), and two complementary colors. I can't find my notes on what I did with this skein, so I can't tell you how I mixed the dyes. Basically, I mixed up a green and a russet color using the yellow dye and either blue or red dye. In addition to Carol's goal for us to work with low water immersion, and to use her formulas for mixing color, I also wanted to push myself to use earth tones. You know, those colors I am so traumatized by....
I crammed the yarn skein in a 16 oz. cottage cheese container, poured the russet and green dyes down opposite sides of the container, and then poured the pure yellow on top of the skein.

I am really pleased with the results! I was surprised by the black- I thought I would have a dark brown where the green and russet mixed. I love the surprises you get where the dyes interact together. Carol described this as "and then magic happens". And this was the perfect black for the other colors. I always fuss over the black MX dye mixes. You have to consider whether they have a blue or green or rust cast and how that will go with the colors you are dyeing. By mixing your own, it is always correct.

Friday, November 7, 2008

What have I been doing?

I have been neglecting you, Dear Reader! I am sorry! You are in my thoughts as I scurry around taking care of life. We are having magnificent, sunny weather, which beckons me outside.

I have been working in the garden, digging potatoes and carrots, picking apples, cleaning up the old plants, and generally putting everything in order for the winter.
I am still working on the manure pile that was delivered last spring. I have been spreading it on fruit trees and bushes, and tilling it into the empty beds. I won't really be done in the garden until the snow falls and the ground freezes. I am always of mixed emotions about the end of gardening season; glad that all the work is finished for awhile, but missing the connection with the earth and the fresh food.

Then there is this little project:

Happiness is a full woodshed! A wood stove is the only heat source for our house, and we need about 5 cords of wood for the year. We are actually gathering next year's supply, as the wood needs to dry for a year to burn well. Our wood shed is divided in two- one side is the pile we stacked last year, and are using now. The other side is being filled for next year. I try to split and stack a few big rounds every day. At the very least, I try to put as much in the "green" side as I am taking out of the dry side.

The last big fall project is filling the freezer with venison. Hunting season is open until the weekend after Thanksgiving. We are committed to growing and gathering as much of our food as possible, and with abundant deer on our land,it makes it possible for us to eat healthy, low fat, organic meat. We have also purchased a quarter of a buffalo grown on a nearby ranch. Supplemented with chickens grown at a nearby Hutterite colony, and brook trout caught in the irrigation ditch that runs through our property, our meat supply is complete.

Sometimes, I think how nice it would be to have a bigger, fancier new (fill in the, car, clothes, gadgets,etc.) Then, something like rising gas prices, melt down of the financial markets, or the mortgage crisis happens, and I am so grateful our house is paid for, we can grow almost all of our own food, and heat the house with wood from our property. Choosing to live a simple life was the right choice for us.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Congratulations America!

I have never in my life felt such jubilation and hope from the results of an election! My thoughts and prayers are with Barack Obama and his family as he takes on the biggest job in the world.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Back in the swing of things

Where has the time gone! It's fall here in Montana, my favorite time of year. I am finally getting back to a regular routine after a very busy summer and month of September.
The workshop with Carol Soderlund was AMAZING!! I am still processing all the information and samples we made. I will post soon.
I sat down at my loom for the first time since June. It felt like coming home. Even though my beat is terrible and the selvages are a little wobbly, it is sooo good to be weaving again.
More soon! Thanks for hanging with me after so long without posting!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

While I was sleeping.....

I love it when my brain solves creative problems while I am sleeping. Often, I get ideas right as I am falling asleep or as I am waking. I read that Thomas Edison used to take a nap while holding a spoon over a pie tin. As he fell asleep, his hand relaxed, the spoon dropped in the tin, waking him up, so he could pay attention to the ideas flowing through his head.

I just received this box of costume jewelry from my favorite Aunt. She is in the process of unloading clutter. Most of it is outdated-lots of huge 80's earrings. They weigh a ton. They must drag your earlobes down to your shoulders when you wear them. Not being much into torture in the name of fashion, I'm afraid to try them on! OUCH! I have been wondering what to do with it all. I can see deconstructing alot of it and using it as trim on tassels, or on greeting cards. How about something really outrageous, like a breastplate, formed over my body with plaster casting material, then embellished with jewels! I'm having a hard time deciding which jewels should cover the nipples.

AHEM....where was I!
Oh,yes,.... as I was waking this morning, I remembered this garage sale find.

I am intrigued by images of shrines, and gates, and portals, and open doors. I always wonder what is on the other side. I have wanted to make a shrine or portal with this "find" since I first laid eyes on it. I now have the materials necessary!
I do have to ask myself, though, about absorbing all of this jewlry into The Endless Stash. Aren't I supposed to be reducing the ES?

Monday, August 11, 2008

AVL Fly Shuttle Springs

Someone on the WeaveTech list is having some pain in her arms from using AVL's fly shuttle. Before I explain my modifications, you need to know that I have been rudely chastised in the past for modifying my loom. I shined it on, because my loom is not a fancy piece of furniture in my living room. It is a tool I have used to make my living. I only have one body, so my priority has been to minimize the damage to it. That means there is wear and tear on my loom. It has served me well over the last 15 years. For many of those years, I cranked out 50 yards of fabric a week. Maybe my modifications won't work for you, or maybe you don't want to change the set up of your loom. Whatever...hopefully you can use the information, or it may give you an idea of your own.

I used to have a Newcomb "Weavers Delight". It's a heavy duty rug loom, in which everything is mechanical. You only have to pull the beater bar back and forth to make it work. One day, the spring broke on the picker strap, so I took it off and tried to weave without it, thinking it didn't do much work anyway. Huh! I could barely get the shuttle across the web. That got me thinking about the fly shuttle on my AVL. Springs could minimize the shock in my arms from snapping the shuttle back and forth. It turned out to work great!

I found springs at the local auto supply. They are quite stiff, 2" long and 3/8" in diameter, (not counting the loops on the ends).

I cut the fly shuttle cord and tied in the springs. They are about 9" from the intersection of the cord that comes from the beater supports (I have an overhead beater) and the shuttle fly box. The loops on the ends of the spring sometimes get caught on the warp, and sometimes on the cables that support the harnesses. By wrapping the ends of the springs with masking tape, there is no longer a problem:

Here is what the assembly looks like:

Note the duct tape on the beater support. The spring sometimes hits there, too, and the duct tape protects the wood. You might also notice the masking tape on the cord closer to the beater support. I am parsimonious, and I think the dacron cord is very expensive when buying it from AVL, so this fly shuttle cord is cobbled together from several other broken ones. The tape covers a knot where two small pieces were tied together.

I also wax the fly shuttle race, the shuttle itself, and the grooves the fly shuttle picker runs in before each day's weaving. That really helps to reduce friction, and effort needed to throw the shuttle. I wear wrist braces, too. Mostly, they serve to remind me to keep my wrists straight in line with my hands, to prevent carpal tunnel damage. Added together, these adjustments mean I can weave for long periods with no pain at all.

I am not using a fly shuttle on the narrow warp that is on the loom in the picture. I just tied up the fly shuttle assembly for this post.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Fun Pillowcase

I taught my first sewing class, and the students are at many different levels, some haven't even begun to sew yet. To get all of us on the same page and to assess skills, I have decided to take everyone back to basics. The first project will be a simple pillowcase with piping and a separate band. It's so basic that I hope I can keep the more experienced sewers interested with really fun fabric choices.

I sewed the sample from some of my own fun fabrics from the Endless Stash. The orange and yellow check for the piping was already cut to the perfect size! The green fabric has hot pink and orange hands and yellow stars.

Because the Endless Stash is so huge, I have been on a fabric purchase moratorium for a year or so. (Okay, okay, maybe I cheated once or twice when there was a sale or a fabric I just couldn't resist.) I got to live vicariously on Friday, when I went fabric shopping for the pillowcase project. I found some really fun cotton prints. At least I hope they're "fun" fabrics. I am somewhat removed from what teens think is "cool" these days. I am sure my students will quickly bring me up to speed on that subject!

The pillowcase was so quick and easy to sew, and came out so well, I think I will make some more to give as gifts. I don't sew as much as I used to as when my kids were at home; and I am always pleasantly surprised how much I enjoy it when I do.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Honey, I'm Home!

And have been for a week. Between exhaustion from travel, getting started in my new job (yay, I got the sewing teacher job!!), and catching up on 2 weeks of weeding, mowing and laundry, there has been little time for other things.

I spent a week in Munising, Michigan, my home town, seeing family and friends. I haven't been back in almost 13 years. That was for my Dad's funeral, in January, in a blizzard, so I didn't see many people then. Before that, it was 1989, my brother's wedding. The most striking thing for me, was how small things are compared to my memory of them. My brother lives in the house we grew up in, so I got to stay in my childhood bedroom. It was MUCH smaller than I remember! It was fun to see old classmates and aunts and uncles and cousins. I even had a "date" with my high school boyfriend!

Munising is the gateway to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and the scenery is magnificent. My brother took me out in his new boat for a tour around Grand Island. The landscape is pressed deeply into my memory, but this time I was looking at it as a textile artist. Inspiration was everywhere. Here are a few of the many pictures I took:

This is a view of the west side of Grand Island. The sandstone cliffs are eroding and providing sand for new beaches, recycling on a grand scale of millions of years. The red sand is lighter than the tan, so when it washes up on the beaches it gets thrown high, in bands on top of the tan. Beautiful!
Here's a closeup of the banding in the rock:

I can see dyeing these colors, or shibori.....

This is a formation on the east side of Grand Island. It reminded me of a petroglyph, but is natural coloration, and is huge. Those are full size trees and shrubs around it.

Here's a closeup:

I can see some kind of sea monster, fish, turtle, or even just a bold design, either for carving in a vinyl block, or as a silk screen.....

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Wisconsin Bound

I leave on Wednesday to visit my favorite aunt, who lives in Milwaukee. We will then travel together to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to visit our home town and myriad family and friends.
I will try to post while travelling.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Carol Soderlund coming to Montana

Sophia Center of Montana is hosting Carol Soderlund's "Color Mixing for Dyers I" in September, so I have Google alert me whenever someone mentions Carol in their blog. Today, Carol Morrisey wrote about her experience in Carol's class at QSDS. Everyone gives Carol's classes rave reviews. Here are a few more:
Russ Little
Tommy the Material Girl
Going to Pieces

I am getting so excited to take this class! As I wrote in another post , this is a dream come true. I am sort of stuck in my dyeing career. I tend to repeat the same color combinations, and have trouble creating the colors I see in my head. I mix colors using the "by the seat of my pants" method, so when I stumble on a color I really like, I rarely can recreate it. I think Carol's class will jump my dyeing skills up by many levels.

We have rented a wonderful log lodge at Glacier Camp on Flathead Lake. The view from the front deck has to be one of the most beautiful in Montana. I know this class will be intense with a lot of material covered in a short amount of time, but when we are ready for a break, we'll be able to just step out the door. Carol's classes usually sell out. She is only teaching "Color Mixing for Dyers I" a few more times this year, and there are only a few places left in them. We still have a couple of openings for students, I hope you will join us!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Connie Rose’s blog post, No Frills, mirrored several things I have been thinking about lately. I, too, am a “no frills” gal.
On the weaving front, I do have a fancy-shmancy loom- it’s a 1993, 60 inch, 16-shaft production dobby AVL loom. I have the manual, pegged dobby, not a computerized dobby. I dream of switching to a computer dobby, and then stop myself, because I find myself weaving simple twills and plain weave. When I first bought the loom, I played with all sorts of weave structures, trying everything I could think of, and it was fun and interesting. However, I keep coming back to simple weave structures, and find my real enjoyment playing with texture and color. I especially enjoy creating color by dyeing and then seeing how it weaves up.
I am mostly self-taught with books and experimentation, and I like a new challenge. The trouble is, I set up a new color or weave structure warp that is a challenge, weave 6 or 8 inches and see that I have met the challenge, the new color combination or structure works well, and I am done. I want to go on to the next project. I wish I had a mindless, dutiful clone that would sit and weave off the rest of the warp, while I go play with something new. This tendency has resulted in a closet full of UFO's (UnFinished Objects).

I am “no frills” when it comes to my clothing. I imagine myself in all sorts of arty, handwoven, complex cloth garments and jewelry, but the reality is, I spend my life in jeans, a T-shirt and hiking boots. There isn’t anywhere to wear those fancy clothes in the back woods of Montana anyway. I made myself a lovely, hand dyed chenille shawl, and it sat in my closet for several years, waiting for an “occasion”. Not many of those in my life, so now I wear it in the evening, over my nightgown, and it pleases me.

I have had conversations with several people lately about how unprepared for “real life” young people just out of college seem to be. I hate the fact that I sound like my parents, and all the preceding generations, when I say that the younger generation seems to be going to hell in a handbasket. It’s a broad generalization, but it seems to me, many young people don’t have the basic skills of managing their money or have any work skills. I, too, am coming to the realization I am a sort of “folk hero”. (Thanks, for the label, Connie, I didn’t know what to call myself.) My husband, Steve, is included in the “folk hero” designation. We moved out West shortly after I graduated from college and we married. We traveled for months, all over the western states looking for a place we would like to live. We found ourselves in love with western Montana and northern Idaho, found a job and settled in. In a year, we saved enough to put a down payment on 20 acres, built a shell of a house, and had a son. We moved into our house with plastic sheeting for windows, a Pendleton blanket for a door, a wood stove for heat, kerosene for lights, and a bucket for water. But it was ours and paid for with cash. It took us 4 years to get running water, (gravity flow from a spring on the mountainside) and 18 years to get hooked up to the electrical grid.
I milked cows, raised chickens and a huge garden and made as much of our food as I could. Steve worked in a sawmill, built our house, and hunted for food. It was a good life for us- we lived within our means and loved the place we live in. It was very good for our kids. They were (and still are) voracious readers- no tv to warp their little minds. There were some funny consequences. When my son was two, we visited his grandparents, and he spent the visit flushing the toilet and flipping light switches. The high point of his first trip to kindergarten was that he got “store-bought” bread for lunch.
Looking back on it now, it seems a little crazy. Some of it was awful; scraping poopy diapers in the outhouse comes to mind as an example. It didn’t seem exceptional when we were doing it, and only lately, when comparing young adults to where we were at the same age, does it seem special and amazing.
I just had an interview for a job teaching high school age kids sewing, with the possibility of expanding into more textile arts. It seems so right and exciting to have the opportunity to pass on some of my knowledge. I hope I get the job!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I caught this guy hunting in front of our house. I shot these pictures through my studio window and the flash bounced off the glass, so they are not the best quality.
Minutes after I took these pictures, he snatched a newborn fawn out of the deep grass. Last I saw of him, he was heading out at full speed with a screaming fawn and 4 does hot on his heels. I don't know if the does got the fawn back. It's sort of sad that the cute baby fawn is gone, but the cute baby coyotes have to eat, too. I generally side with the predators, they have to work hard for their meals.

Tomorrow, I have two job interviews. I've been looking for part time work for months, and suddenly I have two offers. When it rains, it pours.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Wardrobe Sewing

I have not done any weaving lately. I need to apply myself more. When I was weaving for others, I had deadlines and I wove almost every day. Now that I have no deadlines, I am completely distractable. I can easily justify these distractions: gardening, lawn mowing.... the list is endless. Yes, all these chores need to be done, but so does the weaving.
My latest distraction is sewing. I am visiting friends and family in Michigan and Wisconsin soon, and I have nothing to wear! The Endless Stash is full of beautiful fabrics just waiting for me to sew into wonderful garments. Unfortunately, commercial sewing patterns do not fit my body and I have to do major alterations. I don't really understand alterations, I just wing it with help from the fitting articles in Threads magazine and these two books:

Fantastic Fit for Every Body by Gail Grigg Hazen
This book has many of my specific fit problems illustrated with the alterations necessary.

Fast Fit by Sandra Betzina
This book has more fitting problems and their alterations than the Fantastic Fit book.

Even with the references, it is a struggle. I am on my third muslin iteration of a pair of pants. I use old sheets for the muslins. When the pants are perfected, I hope to work out a pattern for a simple, short sleeve shell, and a simple jacket. I hope I have enough time to sew the garments before the trip!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Yardage Counter

Kimberly asked about my yardage counter.
Here are 2 photos of it. The yarn passes from the cone, through the front eyelet, around the wooden wheel, through the back eyelet and then onto the spool. My spool and pirn winder and the yardage counter are made by AVL.

I have read on several weaving lists that you can use a line counter that fisherman use to measure fishing line on a reel. Your local sporting goods or Cabelas probably has them.

Spool Rack

My spool rack for sectional warping was built by my husband. It is made of 1" X 2" lumber for the frame and 1" x 6" boards for the "feet". Also needed are two 1/4" x 3" carriage bolts, two nails, 26 welding rods and 18 drywall screws.

(the top photo doesn't show the "feet" well, but this side view is on a table and the far side is unsupported, but at least you can see the shape of the feet.)

The frame height is 42", the width is 23", and the depth of the feet is 24". The corners are rabbited and screwed together with drywall screws.
The wire supports for the spools are welding rods driven through very tight holes in the center pieces. The wires are 3" apart, which fits my 2-3/4" paper spools perfectly.

The two center supports for the welding rods sit in dadoes cut in the bottom frame piece. The bottom pivot is a nail driven through the bottom piece and up into the support. The top pivot is a carriage bolt that goes through a hole drilled in the top frame crossbar, and then is screwed into the top of the center support. There is enough room between the wire support piece and the top frame piece to lift the whole wire setup and twist it. That opens it up to allow spools to slide on and off.

When the spools are loaded, just lift and twist the wire support until it lines up with the dado in the bottom frame and slips into it.

I now have great respect for those who write assembly directions! I don't think I did a very good job, but I will answer any questions you have to help make it more clear.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Sectional Warping

There have been some discussions on the weaving lists about warping reels to make long warps. They seem enormous and must take up a lot of studio space. I almost always warp using a sectional beam, tension box, and spool or cone rack. I thought I'd post some pictures of my equipment.
My sectional beam has 2" sections, so I must prepare a spool for each end in 2" of the warp width. In this example, I am preparing a 6" wide warp, 14 ends per inch.
Therefore, I need 28 ends per section (so 28 spools), 3 sections total. The warp is 10 yards long, so I must wind on at least 30 yards per spool. I make sure I have enough by winding 2 yards extra per spool. Here are the spools ready to go. (my husband built the spool rack)

Here are the yarns threaded through the tension box, and then attached to the sectional beam, ready to be wound on. The tension box is made by AVL. The two little metal harnesses with heddles on the inside left makes the cross. I think it's called a "heck block".

Here is what is left after the warp is wound--less than 1 yard per spool. I wanted to show this picture, because I have heard the argument that sectional warping is "wasteful". Sectional warping is so much quicker than winding a warp on a warping board, that the cost of a few extra yards left over is peanuts. I wound the spools, threaded the tension box, wound 3 ten-yard sections on the beam, tied the new warp ends to the ends of the last warp, pulled the warp ends through the heddles and reed, and tied up ready to weave in less than an hour. I always have lots of uses for short pieces of the warp: fix a broken warp thread; use as supplementary weft for woven shibori; supplementary fringe; gift wrap; or tassels. I never throw it away, it gets used for something.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Painted Shoes

In my quest for a new artist's identity, I have decided to bring art to as much of my whole life as possible.
These shoes began their life as a drab, khaki-colored eBay find.
They are painted with Lumiere paints. The spiral and diamond wingding are handcarved vinyl block stamps.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


No weaving or dyeing is happening. Instead, I have been gardening. We have had a prolonged wet, cool spring, but the last few days have been lovely! I am at least a month behind in planting the cool weather crops like peas, carrots, and lettuce. My usual date for planting those is April 10th. There was still 6 inches of snow covering the beds then. It may be too late and may be too hot before it's all ready to harvest. I planted anyway.
Seeds in the ground: lettuce, spinach (will probably bolt before it gets big enough to eat), mesclun mix, broccoli, peas, 3 varieties of potatoes, carrots, and onion sets. We seldom have a long enough summer to grow tomatoes in the garden, but I have 6 plants in five-gallon buckets. I still have corn, beans and annual flowers to put in.

Our garden fruit trees and the wild fruit trees are all in bloom. The scent in the air is heavenly!

We are eating the first vegetables from our garden- asparagus and rhubarb. Dinner was wild Alaskan salmon grilled on a cedar plank, basmati rice, asparagus picked 10 minutes before dinner, and rhubarb pie. It's a good life!

I have also been busy mixing sugar water for the hummingbirds. The first babies have fledged, and we have at least two dozen birds at the feeders at any given moment. They're guzzling a gallon of sugar water a day! There are 3 species in the picture: Calliope, Black Chinned and Rufous. They're like flying jewels. Soon the wild honeysuckle will start blooming, and nary a bird will be at the feeder for at least a month.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Shibori Samples

These samples were dyed last fall. My dye studio (aka: the front yard) is only seasonal, so I have to get the year's worth of dyeing done in the summer and warm fall weather.
I put 1/4" of Procion MX dye solution in a container, and laid the gathered fabric in it. I then painted a second color on the top of the folds, covered the container with plastic wrap, and batched overnight.
The first sample is black dye on the bottom. Warm brown painted on top. I love how the black haloed (or bled) the navy blue color! There is actually more black in the sample than the photo shows. I have a heck of a time getting color right in my pics.

The next two photos are different sides of the same sample. Red dye on the bottom, brown painted on top. This is a good example of the pattern being too regular for my taste, which I spoke about in my last post. I really like the color on the side of the fabric shown in the first pic. I would love a jacket out of this fabric (if the patterning was a little more irregular).
I hate the flip side! I dislike the pink haloing, and all of the tan is dyed pinky red. Yuck! I know that different color dyes bleed worse than others. Do you think making an alginate paste of the red dye would help control the bleeding?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Loom Controlled Shibori

Woven Shibori by Catherine Ellis is the book I am working with now.

I love the patterning Catherine achieves on her handwoven cloth. I want to do the same, but I don't have the facilities to do vat dyes. I am fairly fluent with Procion MX dyes, so I am trying to replicate the look of fiber-reactive dyes discharged and overdyed with vat dyes using only the fiber-reactive dyes.

I like Catherine's fabric that has several colors. I decided to start with a commercially dyed chenille (tan), and overdye it with other colors after it is gathered.

Here's the fabric on the loom:
The fabric is rayon chenille warp and weft with 10/2 cotton supplementary weft. The white threads will be gathered up to form the shibori pleats for dyeing. In the photo, the supplementary warp is the simple Monk's Belt pattern. I weave four shots of rayon chenille in plain weave, then a shot of white cotton.
On the first samples I wove, I used the plain weave and Monk's Belt in a regular pattern: 4 shots of chenille between a shot of the supplementary pattern, repeated 4 times. The dyed pattern turned out too regular for me.
On the sample warp I have pictured, I varied the length of the supplementary pattern randomly. I haven't dyed these samples yet, but I am assuming the dyed pattern will be a little more irregular.
Here are the samples gathered:
The gathering threads pictured are green because I am using up small amounts of odds and ends for the supplementary wefts.