Tag: loom

My love of cotton

One of the advantages of developing your own style with one specific technique is really spending quality time with your materials – learning them inside and out. 

I’ve been weaving for about 12 years now and somewhere in the first 3-4 years, I did a placemat project that called for carpet warp (sometimes known as rug warp). It’s a tough cotton typically used for rugs. I loved it! 

This type of yarn comes in a million colors and won’t break the bank. And as an added bonus, I have a great resource close by in Kalamazoo, Michigan! Great Northern Weaving offers lots of options for me and in a pinch, I can get in the car to drive the hour & a half to see the yarn in person. It’s a great arrangement! 

Working with the same fiber for so long has given me an appreciation for what it can and can’t do. Carpet warp is a work horse! I think in the many, many projects I’ve done, I have had a yarn break once. It’s so durable and sturdy – perfect for handbags! 

On the flip side, I’ve discovered that because of its sturdiness, it’s not ideal for wearables. It just doesn’t drape well or soften up enough. It’s also not ideal for fringe – it doesn’t keep its shape. If I am weaving a table runner, I either hem the fabric or twist the ends. That keeps the finishing work looking clean. 

One of the other considerations is the amount of shrinkage. For a plain weave/twill weave structure, it can easily shrink 10% in both directions. What is crazy is when you do a little Rep weave (Ripsmata), it can go as high as 20-25% for the length! I don’t find this to be a pro or con, it’s just the nature of the beast. 

I tend to use carpet warp for all my warps. The wefts will vary, depending on the desired end result. But I’ve found it to be very versatile and crazy colorful, which works perfectly for me! 

What are some of your favorite fibers or materials? 

Navigating the weaving obstacle course 

I am starting a new project – yay! Yesterday, I jotted down my pattern, pulled out the yarn, measured everything at the warping board, and sleyed the reed. And just when I was feeling really good about myself, I realized I forgot to measure an entire repeat of the pattern (since 9 goes into 36 4 times – not 3)! 

This got me thinking about all the variables and ways a weaving project can go awry. Right off the bat you are working with a loom and all its moving parts. You truly need to be part mechanic to keep up! I have had multiple bits fall apart, fall off, bend, break, fray, and who knows what else! I currently am holding together part of the loom with a twist tie! (You know – the little guys used to keep your bread closed? So far, its working! Keep your fingers crossed for me, would ya?) 

Thankfully, parts of the loom tend to wreak havoc in stages, not all at once! I’m fortunate to have been able to simply repair or easily replace parts thus far. No serious surgery has been necessary. I’ve been lucky!

As a weaver, you not only have to navigate all the moving parts of the equipment, but also the many stages of a project! I feel pretty confident that in my 11 years of weaving, I’ve hit all of the major mistakes & lots of minor ones! Forgetting to mark the cross on the warping board so I have no clue what order my 200+ threads are supposed to be in. Not having enough heddles in the loom when you have already laid in nearly all the yarns. Making a threading error an inch off center in the project. Ah, the list goes on and on! 

But I feel like this obstacle course every weaver runs through with each project makes us a very patient & persistent lot! Some might say crazy… and that might not be wrong, either! There is certainly a reason not everyone weaves. But to those who do, I wish you all the best jumping, swinging and dodging your way through your next project! 

What is your best story about a project gone wrong? 

This is the moment I realized I was missing something – like 9″ of yarn supposed to fill in the right side of the reed!

It's a democracy… mostly

Before each art fair, I have certain rituals I go through – check the money, charge the credit card reader, pack water/snacks, and last but not least, set up the demonstration loom. A few years back, I thought, “Why not let the FB fans choose the colors of my project?” Since then, each Tuesday before a show, I post yarn combinations and let people vote! It’s always entertaining to see the results! Typically, the crowd leans towards brighter colors, purple nearly ALWAYS wins, and my sweet friends Lisa & Pam cancel each other out. 

My rule of thumb is to propose 2 options that I like, so it doesn’t matter which one wins. Seems very logical, doesn’t it? Well, last week was the first time I seriously considered throwing the vote! Blue was the common color between the pair of fiber foursomes. (See the choices below.) Yet, one was distinctly spring-ier colors and the other one screamed fall! Warm, dark, earthy – all my favorites! And I’m counting on the crowd to be in the mood for sweater weather and vote the same direction I’m leaning! 

As the votes begin trickling in, nearly all of them are for spring (you should know that when I say, “nearly all”,  that’s about 5…) For the first time ever, I start strategizing how I can sway the vote! Not very diplomatic of me, I know! But, I talked myself off the ledge and decided to wait. Sure enough, by the end of the day, the crowd had planted themselves firmly in the fall camp (and by “crowd”, I mean 8…). Whew! Big sigh of relief. And after all the drama, a beautiful piece of fabric was born! (Not that I couldn’t have woven something cool with the other colors! I just wasn’t feeling it… we’ll call it an artist’s prerogative…) 

Which brings me to this week! Of which I have NO idea… better think of something soon…

Zen weaving…

Over the years, I’ve had a number of folks watch me weave and comment on how meditative it must be. My response is usually, “Yes, it’s very zen… until I mess up!” That’s sort of how life is, right? It’s going along swimmingly, until it isn’t. And that’s your weaving philosophy for the day!

Here we are, in a sea of cream!
Here we are, in a sea of cream!
Moving right along!
Moving right along!

We are coming down the final stretch for the project, which is great news! I’ve found over the years that sometimes shorter projects are better. So, I have it spaced such that about the time I’m ready for something new, the knots come around the bend! It’s wonderful when things work out that way!

Let's dust in a little brown...
Let’s dust in a little brown…
See the necktie making an appearance?
See the necktie making an appearance?

I love some of the warm, caramel colors in this section of the fabric! Reminds me of baked chocolate cookies – homemade, of course! (Mind you, not baked by me, but by my brilliant sister and Ma – who can completely rock some homemade cookies!)

In a caramel haze!
In a caramel haze!

And what do we have here? The knots have stealthily worked their way up to the mid-section of the loom! I have no more space for weaving – meaning it’s time to pull out the scissors!

We're at the knots! Woohoo!
We’re at the knots! Woohoo!
Start snippin'!
Start snippin’!

I like to start in the middle of the project, cutting close to the knots in the back. Then, I shorten up the tails once I’ve made a knot at the fabric. Snip, knot and repeat until the fabric is free of the loom!

Working my way out from the middle.
Working my way out from the middle.
Release the fabric!
Release the fabric!

Ahhhh… the fabric is almost completely off the loom! Next up, I’ll release the knots from the front and lay it out to see what we have! (I always forget how the project started by the time it’s done. So, it’ll be fun to check it out!) Talk to you soon…

Run 14 Weaving 76

 

It's not easy, being green…

(How many of you are currently imagining Kermit singing with his banjo? Yeah, me too!) Hello! The project is progressing beautifully! I never know exactly how things will come together. So, I’m always surprised! It’s part of the fun!

Rag shuttle to the rescue!
Rag shuttle to the rescue!
A tunnel for the shuttle!
A tunnel for the shuttle!

I started with really dark greens and now I am firmly in the apple green colors! There are very few greens that I don’t enjoy. Some of the really yellowish versions aren’t my favorite. But, they still trump peach most days!

Coming around the bend!
Coming around the bend!
Mixing in a little necktie action!
Mixing in a little necktie action!

All throughout the fabric, I am mixing in strips of neckties to add a little color, texture and recycled-ness! (Hmmm… not so graceful for a made-up word. But, it might catch on!)

Easing out of green, into the neutrals.
Easing out of green, into the neutrals.
The tie provides a little splash of color!
The tie provides a little splash of color!

With the strips of ties, instead of sewing or knotting the ends together, I simply layer the ends. I don’t want to add any additional bulk to the fabric. And, once the ties are trapped in the yarns, it will be very challenging to remove them!

Overhead view!
Overhead view!
It's coming together!
It’s coming together!

For this particular fabric, I am laying in the necktie strips over the yarn – which I’ve found makes it a little bulky in some instances. Next time, I may try something a little different to avoid that. I have to give it a little thought… weaving is a lot of problem solving, let me tell you!

Making fabric!
Making fabric!

And the weaving continues! There is still a bit more to do before the fabric comes off the loom. But, I’m getting there! Have a good one and I’ll talk to you soon…

Run 14 Weaving 51