What sort of publication would you be interested in?

Friday, April 24, 2015

Lovely Lace

Don't forget to biggify for a larger picture...

A friend came over one day, early in my career, looked around my house and wondered where all my weaving was.  I told her I couldn't afford my own weaving...

Over the years I have made a few things especially for me but I have kept very little.  Many of the hand woven textiles I have in my home were actually woven by friends - mostly tea towels.  I always recognize who made the towel du jour and I feel they are close to me, even though physically they may be very far away.

I did keep most of the textiles woven for the master weaver certificate, although even those in some instances have found other homes.

The silk scarf pictured above is one of the things I have kept.  It was woven from 2/60 silk in Huck Lace.  The butterflies (or moths - I can never keep them straight in my mind), flutter across the cloth as they will.  The cloth has areas of spots, lace and plain weave.  It isn't perfect, but it's pretty close.

It was a nice ramble down memory lane as I pulled examples for the workshop this weekend...and for the contract...more news on that once everything is settled.

I know, I'm such a tease!  :^)

Thursday, April 23, 2015


I know I've posted about this before but thought that it is time to revisit it because it is just so darned clever!

First learned this from Kerstin Fro:berg...

Although I try to remove knots from the yarn as I wind a warp, sometimes they aren't obvious, or sometimes, as with this very textured yarn, the problem is not a knot, per se, but a a flaw in the spinning which creates a large lump.  So it was with this warp...a large clump that snuck into the warp and which was not happy in the reed.  The only solution was to 'cut it out'.

What Kerstin does is thread a repair end into the same heddle as the culprit, weave for 2-3 cm, then cut out the bad end and continue weaving with just the repair end until the original is long enough to be brought back through the heddle, reed and pinned to the woven cloth.

The beauty of this technique is that no needle weaving is required after the cloth is removed from the loom and with a yarn this textured, that is a real bonus!

My contribution to the technique is what I do if I have the yarn on cones:

I purposefully kept the dregs left over from warp winding just in case I had to do any repairs and only on the 15th warp did I need to do this, but because I had it was a piece of cake to fix the problem.

Check the video clip but essentially I take the loose end of the yarn, pass it up through the bottom of the cone and through the top.  The weight of the cone is usually enough although weight can be added if you are weaving with higher tension than the cone provides.  To lengthen the yarn when the cone rises to the back beam, it is a very simple matter to grab the yarn at the base and pull more yarn off the cone from the bottom.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Fund Raising

Our guild is extremely fortunate in that we have had our own room almost since we started.  Unfortunately our membership roster is much smaller than it used to be, and the rent for the guild room never seems to go down, only up.

Over the years we have done all sorts of things to raise funds for the rent...without continuously dipping into members pockets by raising membership fees.

This year is the centenary of the city and the mascot of the city is a 'wooden' man, Mr. PG.  He wears a hard hat in honour of all the people involved in the lumber industry.

One of our guild members designed a knitted Mr. PG and various members made some which we are trying to sell in order to keep the roof over our head.

They come as lapel pins or with a loop for hanging on your Christmas tree, loom, spinning wheel, whatever.

They range in size from 1.5 to 2.5 inches, all are hand knitted with face and "PG" stitched by hand.  We have about a dozen left and we would love to send them off to new homes.

They are in the guild room and available for purchase for $20 during drop ins and Spring Fest aka the Great Chili Cook-off.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

In Praise of Limitations and Deadlines

Calvin and Hobbs

Talking to someone from F&W Media yesterday I mentioned that I loved deadlines.  She laughed and said she would send a schedule of deadlines related to the contract* we were discussing so that I would know when they needed my support materials.

Thing is, deadlines and creative limitations can be extremely useful tools in the creative person's toolbox.

Deadlines let me know how focused my attention and energy needs to be in order to get the job done when it needs doing.

Creative limitations do the same sort of job but in a different way.

When the sky is the limit in terms of possibilities, it can be overwhelming.  Where to start?  I remember that feeling of being overcome with the sheer number of possibilities when it comes to the creation of cloth.  I rather suspect it is the same with all crafts.

So, creative limitations.  Some people don't like the concept of limitations because they feel it stifles their creativity.  I am not that person.  Rather than feeling stifled, I feel that the use of boundaries actually helps sharpen my focus in order to get me where I want to go.  Sort of like Alice in Wonderland - if you don't know where you are going, any road will do.

What do I mean by creative limitations?

When deciding on what to make, the first question is...what am I going to make?  As a 'form follows function' weaver, I need to know where I want to end up.  By deciding on what function my desired textile is to fulfill, I now have a destination.  Every decision I make from now on will - hopefully - get me there.

Once I have decided what it is I want to make, I can now decide on dimensions.  A functional textile will have an optimal size, within a spectrum - plus or minus x inches/centimeters long and wide.

Then I have to decide on which fibre to use...cotton?  linen?  etc.  After the fibre has been chosen, what grist (thickness) of yarn?  Then how dense (epi/ppi)?

Gradually, through a process of working within a set of boundaries, I begin to zero in on exactly what I am going to do.

Once I have the technical issues sorted out I can begin working on the appearance of the cloth.  What weave structure?  Asymmetrical or symmetrical design?  Charted out to the last thread or freeform?

Colours?  I may suddenly discover I don't have the colours I want to work with in my stash and need to order more yarn (tragedy! need to buy more yarn!) or I may set myself the challenge of working only with the yarns I have on hand.  Usually a learning experience.

So I welcome deadlines and I welcome creative limitations.

*another webinar is in the works - stay tuned for details.  In the meantime, there is the webinar I did two years ago A Good Yarn still available as a download...and of course the dvds...one thing I noticed is that all the reviews for the dvds disappeared from their website...Anita is trying to find out what happened to them but in the meantime, if you feel like posting a review, I'd appreciate it.  The dvds look very lonely without their gold stars.  :(

Currently reading Tracker by C. J. Cherryh

Sunday, April 19, 2015


Since I have only woven one shawl (one third of the warp) I'm only saying that the collar is looking promising.  In order to determine if it is going to work the way I want it to, I need to finish this warp and see if it works well, right to the very end.  I also need to put another warp on that requires higher tension.  With a special order of six place mats needing to go on as soon as these shawls are complete, I should know fairly soon.

When I looked at photos of older looms with the live weight tension system, they all seemed to have this much larger diameter collar for the cord to run around.  I think it is because a better ratio between where the cord is holding tension and the diameter of the warp is required.

The larger collar accomplishes a couple of things.  One, it's round, not hexagonal so the cord has a smooth surface to slip on, not the hexagonal planes of the beam.  Two, the much larger diameter means the cord has a lot more surface to grip and I think that is why so much less weight is needed.

With the cord just wrapped around the beam, I was using 3 pounds on the 'light' end of the cord, 25 pounds on the 'heavy' end.  With the collar, I've got 3 pounds on the 'light' end, but just 13 pounds on the heavy end.  The result?  Less effort required to advance the warp.

I'm sure my neck/shoulder will thank me!

But I need to finish this warp and see how the tension holds right from the beginning to the end.  Plus how it works on a warp requiring much higher tension.  The collar is actually larger than the diameter of the shawl warp which is 9 meters long, so it should allow my maximum warp length of 11 meters with no problems.

Testing proceeds...

Saturday, April 18, 2015


It's not actually Thursday, but here's a throwback...

click on the photo to biggify...

The photos were taken at a conference in Victoria BC.  When I was paging through the album - one of several I sorted through this morning at the guild room - I thought it was an ANWG conference, but now I'm thinking it was Victoria guild's 50th celebration or something.  If anyone remembers, it would be fun to put a date to the photo.

Anyway, sometime in the 80's near as I can recall.  After all, I was obviously much younger, thinner and...a brunette...which I haven't been for a very long time.

The garments were woven from Treenway's silk, 2/60.  The butterfly jacket also had turquoise mylar as weft.  The dress had mylar in one inch stripes.  The top also had some mylar in it.  Not a lot, mostly just on the edge of the cloth that became the neck/shoulder part.

I sewed all the garments myself.  I'm not a great seamstress, though and it's not my favourite thing to be doing.  I'd much rather be weaving!  The dress was a bit of a challenge because I sewed one inch pleats for the bodice which then opened up into the skirt.  The dry cleaning bill about killed the household budget every time I wore it.  Now it doesn't fit anymore, so it languishes in the back of my closet.  One of these days I will recycle it - or give it to someone else to recyle.  It's mostly silk, after all.

Thursday, April 16, 2015


The other day someone referred to me as being a 'traditional' weaver.  That description took me aback because for so many years of my career 'traditional' weavers refused me acceptance into the tribe based on my equipment choices and focus on efficiency.

I was, after all, using a loom with dobby and fly shuttle and according to them, I could no longer call my textiles hand woven.

It was the same when I added the computer interface, and again when I added air assist to the loom.

So to be called 'traditional'?  I had to think about that for a while.

Eventually I realized that the word traditional, like most words, is open to interpretation by the person who is using it.

On the one hand, my approach to weaving is to make cloth that will serve it's function well.  I aim for consistent beat, tidy selvedges and a density that is appropriate for that cloth's purpose.

On the other hand, I prefer to design my own drafts, not dip into the 'traditional' well - unless I do something 'different' like the overshot designs I turned into 4 block 16 shaft twill.  Not the traditional approach, and one that is made easy for me because of my non-traditional equipment.

I'm not adverse to free form design done 'well', it just isn't my personal approach to design.  I do prefer loom controlled patterning because it is faster.  I prefer finer, thinner threads because I like to make cloth that is finer...because thinner cloth will often perform it's intended function 'better' imho.  Using finer threads allows me to have longer floats to create different designs.  Having more shafts gives me more options for patterning, too, as in the heart design above.  Woven in 2/16 or 2/20 cotton at 32 or 36 ends per inch, those 5 end floats are not a problem where they might be more of a problem at 8 ends per inch.

And so on.

So, yes, I am a 'traditional' weaver if the definition is that I want to make cloth that serves it's purpose well.  I don't expect 'perfection' from anyone, not my students nor myself.  But I do expect that people will at least try to make cloth that has structural integrity.

But in the end?  That's just my opinion, just my approach.  Everyone is entitled to their own approach, their own definition.  And when that definition doesn't match mine?  Well, that's my problem, not theirs.