What's weavin'

My latest project du jour is a hybrid fabric – part traditional yarns, part recycled neckties. I started off the bolt with a custom portion. I really love the challenge of custom work! “Here are 12 of my husband’s ties – create something!” It’s like a puzzle! What common colors run through each tie or will pull it all together? 

In this case, I decided on a red/blue mix for the warp yarns (yarns running through the loom). They will provide a very cheerful platform for the unique variety of ties – hopefully without looking too patriotic! 

Then once I clear the number of inches needed for the custom bit, I’m off and running with my own portion! I’ve become a bit of a spontaneous weaver, which surprises no one more than me! I’ve gotten in the habit of carefully planning the beginning of a project and when it comes time to weave, letting the wind blow me wherever it pleases! And so far, it has served me really well! 

For my portion of the fabric, I’ve been working with black & gray ties, keeping the colors simple. Then little by little, I am tweaking the weft yarns (yarns in the shuttle) underneath them. I gotta say, it’s coming together well up to this point! There’s still a lot of inches to go and there’s no telling how it will play out! But, I’m happy to share my progress to date! 

Handwoven
Handwoven
Handwoven
Handwoven
Handwoven

(I’m having technical issues with my captions, but the top 3 are the custom portion & the bottom ones are my portion. The string is what I used to measure the correct number of inches and the shuttle image is a reminder of what not to do – that is, overstuff the shuttle!) 

What are you working on this week? 

What's weavin'? 

When I first started the blog, I only focused on my weaving projects. And these days, I’m branching out to include “day in the life of an artist” types of stories. But, I don’t want to cut out all the fun weaving going on simultaneously! So, I think the plan will be to sprinkle projects in randomly, providing much needed color/pattern/texture into our lives. Yay! 

Last week, I wrapped up my green project on the demonstration loom. I had originally set it up for the American Craft Council Show in Atlanta in March. But, it’s been sitting around looking pretty ever since! So, I finally finished it! 

Birdseye view of green project
Cutting off the project

I am about halfway through dressing the floor loom with a new project, which is always exciting! It’s a little red & sky blue action this time! 
Red project on the warping board
Adding choke ties before I take it off the warping board
Sleying the reed
Ready to go into the floor loom

And that, my friends, is what’s weavin’! I’ll keep you posted on how things progress! 

How are your projects going? 

At last!

You know when you are eating pasta and it seems like no matter how much you eat, there’s still a bowlful left? This project was just like that! But finally, FINALLY it is off the loom! 

So, in light of completing this challenging weaving feat, I thought I would share a few things I learned along the way! 

1. Life & weaving projects don’t always go as planned. This may sound obvious, but weavers are notoriously great planners! So, when the project goes off the rails, we don’t always handle it well! (And when I say “we”, I mean me!) Because this one had a real life of its own, it helped me be more flexible – and creative! 

2. There’s a place for every color – it just depends on the context. I am not a pastel girl. (Honestly, my friends might say that was an understatement.) But while the idea of lavender makes me break out in hives, when the color is next to something stronger (maybe a warm chocolate or a slate gray), it can really work well! For this project, I ended up in a tight spot with the color peach. With the help of a solid blue, the story had a happy ending! (Whew! It was a close call, though…)

3. Weaving or anything creative is good for your head! The process of weaving – that repetitive motion – really encourages my mind to settle and just be. I can do some impressive brainstorming while tossing my boat shuttle back and forth thousands of times! The trick is to keep my thoughts moving in a positive direction because once they spiral somewhere else, they tend to get stuck there. With this project, the timing was perfect considering it is a new year & I am reworking parts of the business! 

I haven’t added up my hours for this project yet, but ultimately every minute was worth it! (I have no doubt that 2 weeks ago I was singing a different tune!) But, each project leads me to something new & how can that be bad? 

What have you learned from a recent project? 

Blue is the answer…

“I’m stuck in the middle of a project!” Haven’t we all said that at some point? Well, that’s been my mantra this week.  And truth be told, I’ve been stalled for a few weeks now but have been politely ignoring it. I don’t know about you, but I have a series of steps I go through whenever a project doesn’t follow my master plan! 

Step 1 – There’s usually pouting like a 6 year old when things originally go off the rails. 

Step 2 – While still pouting & being generally ornery, there is a period of reviewing where I went wrong in the project. This is the shoulda-woulda-coulda stage. 

Step 3 – Pretending it’s not there (which takes skill, since there’s a 36″ floor loom in the way every time I enter the basement)! 

Step 4 – Actually looking at it again with fresh eyes, thinking outside the box, asking “what if”?

Step 5 – Working on a solution – any solution! Giving it my best answer at the time to finish it up. 

Now in the past, it has taken me anywhere from 4 hours to 6 months to get from original pissiness to completed fabric. In this instance, I used the holidays as my excuse to let it all stew. 

But this is the week to wrap it up! Here are a few details so you get the picture. I have a necktie project on the loom where I have simple cotton for the warp yarns (running through the loom) and strips of recycled neckties as the weft (going the other direction). Kind of a rag rug technique, if you will. It takes awhile to prep the ties & I prepped a TON! The project is all oranges & yellows – beautiful! 

Until I get to the end of my plan & I still have probably an entire yard of warp left on the loom! And to make matters worse, I’ve ended with a peachy color! This may not sound like a big deal to you. And in the universe of real problems, it isn’t. But, I don’t have other peach-colored ties to continue with. AND, I kind of seriously dislike the color – just adding insult to injury! 

So here I am. Staring at a project I have to finish before I can do new, fun things. Deciding how to gracefully move from peach (ugh!) to yellow (because those are the color ties I have left). Then, an idea started to form – blue! Blue will be the bridge. 

Now, finally, I have a plan of attack. Weave blue ties intermittently with the peach I have left, gradually work in blue & yellow ties, then only yellow. Whew! It was a close one! It may not be a perfect solution, but it’s good enough to finish it! And most days, that’ll work! 

Thank you for commiserating with me! How do you get yourself out of these situations? I’m always up for suggestions! 

The end is in sight!

Hello friends! Let’s wrap this up today, shall we?

Moving right along!
Moving right along!
Coming around the bend!
Coming around the bend!

The knots are coming up quickly, signaling the end of the fabric! I started the project with lots of blues, moved into some purples and now am solidly living in magenta-land! (I know many folks who could live quite happily in magenta-land without complaints!)

Love those rich colors!
Love those rich colors!
Peeking over the edge...
Peeking over the edge…

I’m still incorporating a strip of necktie every so often to give it a beautiful change in texture. I love the subtlety! But, I may make the ties more prominent next time. We’ll see…

Check out the fun necktie! Little pink, little gray, little yellow!
Check out the fun necktie! Little pink, little gray, little yellow!
The last few inches!
The last few inches!

If you remember from the beginning of the project, I wound in a number of yardsticks to keep the yarns even. Now, all the yardsticks have fallen out of the back and they’ve been moved to the front, keeping the fabric consistent. What would the world do without yardsticks? Honestly, most folks wouldn’t miss them. But, I’d like to think weavers everywhere would! (Or, it could just be me. I’m OK with that!)

Ready for scissors!
Ready for scissors!
Snip, snip!
Snip, snip!

Time to begin cutting! I like to start in the middle and work my way out to the edges, knotting as I go. I had a friend who asked me about using toilet paper at the project end since I use it at the beginning. And what I’ve discovered is that I’ll need to remove it before I transfer it to my seamstress anyways. So, at the end of the project, I don’t bother. You certainly could use some sort of spacer between the fabric and the knots. But for this type of project, it’s not critical. (In my humble opinion, of course!)

Pulling away from the loom!
Pulling away from the loom!

Once all the yarn has been cut and knotted, the fabric flops itself down towards the floor and with the help of gravity, begins unwinding itself! It’s so fun to see the colorful fabric mixed in with a mess of sticks!

It's free!!!
It’s free!!!

Once everything is completely off the loom, I just remove the TP from the beginning of the project (remember when everything was blue?). Then, it’s ready to travel on to the magic seamstress! I don’t have photos handy of the entire bolt of fabric, but I’ll include a few next time so you can see the progression from start to finish! And then, something new! What is better than that? Starting and finishing – they are the best! Talk to you soon…

Run 15 Weaving 76