Saturday, May 22, 2010

Things are looking up

After several weeks of whining and wimping around about the difficulty of warping the small loom in my usual way, and being partway into the process so I couldn’t back out of it, I talked yesterday with my friend Janis Saunders (The Braider’s Hand) about her technique of getting a warp onto her AVL production looms.  Front to back.

(It should be noted here that I’m a self-taught weaver, have always warped my looms FTB because it seems logical to me, and am extraordinarily reluctant – as long as I’m working with a plain, not a sectional, warp beam – to change this practice at which I’m quite proficient.)

(It should also be noted that the reason I can’t do the warping in my “normal” way is not because I’ve suddenly become incompetent but because of the structure of the loom itself.

Janis gave me a description of how she does the job, and we discussed some further variations, and I laughed a lot and felt more than a little foolish and embarrassed.

AND ~ now I can see how to do what I want to do, in much the same way I have previously, though I’ll need to make a few adjustments to my technique which is not necessarily A Bad Thing.  Even at this stage of my weaving life (nearly thirty years in), it’s helpful, even sensible, to be flexible about certain elements of the work.

So Monday I’m going to blast away on that warp and make substantial progress.  Really.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Photo information

It occurred to me that readers might be curious about those two scarves -- fiber content, process, and the like. So here 'tis ~

The warp is a hand-dyed bombyx silk from The Drop Spindle (in California); the warp was 7.5 yards long, enough to produce three scarves each six feet long (plus approximately two inches of fringe at each end) by about ten inches wide. The first scarf above is woven with a fine hand-dyed silk noil, the second with tencel. The patterns are my own design, created using WeavePoint software. The threading is a 16-shaft point twill; the first treadling is a variation on an advancing point twill, as is the second but with a shorter repeat.

After the weaving is done, the finished scarves go home with me for washing and partial drying, then back to the studio for "detailing" -- ironing, trimming of threads and fringes, and making hang-tag labels.

That's it. Simple.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Making Progress

After a number of warm sunny true-Spring days, today we're back to a quintessential Pacific Northwest pattern of cool, breezy, drippy morning morphing into a windy, sunny afternoon. Two days in one -- it's a good way to enjoy the idea of living twice as long.

Progress on several fronts last week -- with my friend Marcia-the-woodworker I worked out the design and most details of wall-mounted racks here in my studio to hang finished pieces, as well as free-standing, portable ones to take elsewhere for shows. Made the decision to name my business "RainShadow Textiles" instead of merely using my name which says nothing about what's involved or what I do. Now I need to attach that name to my website, and get the site itself updated almost entirely. Beginning that this week, which entails substantial re-writing of text and selection of new images.

Loom work itself seems to be on hold while I complain mightily about probably having to change my warping process for the new loom. Front-to-back isn't going to work, due to the structure of the loom. I've always done it this way, and am feeling whiney and petulant at the likelihood that I'm going to have to learn a whole new process (back-to-front) that seems quite frankly illogical to me. My only hope right now is a friend here on Whidbey who I believe mentioned some time ago a front-to-back method she uses which I vaguely remember was different from mine. I'll phone her tomorrow and find out.

I'm going to emulate Laura Fry's practice of noting in her blog books she's reading; it's given me interesting things to track down. My hope is that mine will do the same for others.

Right now, I'm either reading or have just finished:

The World Without Us -- Alan Weisman

Claiming Ground -- Laura Bell

Listening Below the Noise -- Anne LeClaire

Somewhere Towards the End -- Diana Athill

The photo is another Peacock series scarf. Both images by Michael Stadler.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Now Spring . . . . fresh beginning

Four months have slithered by since I wrote here. It turned out that with internet service only at home, being able to sit and write in the evening with distractions, interruptions, and fatigue to impede my thoughts, nothing happened. It was simply too challenging. But NOW I have internet service here at my studio (yup, extra cost), and writing in this blog, messing around with, and doing business research and correspondence can all be accomplished as part of my work day. Much better!

I'm coming out of a creative slump, aka "fallow period". Not an unfamiliar situation, but one that I am not fond of while it's in process. The best part is this phase, when the slump is shifting and I'm suddenly (it seems) full of fresh ideas and a renewed sense of direction and goals. Already I'm mostly unable to conjure up the internal sense of the slump-time, for which thank goodness. Truth be told, I've gotten a lot of reading done -- some good, some pure lightweight -- and I've spent many hours happily knitting on a number of complicated large lace shawls, some of which are finished. Eventually, I'll have some photos of some of them here and on my website.

The new reconditioned loom I referred to previously is up and running, with a handsome scarf warp going onto it -- a five-scarf series I'll call African Savannah, which should indicate the kinds of colors. Rayon and cotton, hand-dyed by The Drop Spindle. The Big Loom is still sitting with a light teal rayon scarf warp partly woven; I think I'm bored with the colors, which merely means it's been there too long and I need to get it woven off. Both looms are threaded to 16-shaft twills, and each scarf is woven with a different pattern and a different weft, so each piece in the series is unique. (In nearly thirty years of weaving, I have never done the same thing twice.)

In January, I took a three-day workshop (sponsored by my Whidbey Weavers' Guild) taught by Bonnie Inouye, whose work I've admired for years. I spent most of the time working at my computer using her information to develop a lot of new advancing twill patterns. They're all stored in this computer, which is the one that runs my Big Loom, and gradually they'll be used in a wave of new work, some of it luxury fabrics for clothing.

The photo is one of the ones taken in late December; it's a hand-dyed silk scarf, in the Peacock series.