Thursday, April 30, 2009

Loom Waste?

One of the benefits of a counterbalanced loom is that you can force the shed. Since I was already using a stick shuttle I just kept on weaving, trying to get as much length woven out of the warp as I possibly could. :)

The loom waste on this warp was miniscule! If I'd known before I started weaving I would have lashed on and been more stingy about how much fringe I left on the first sash, but...I wound up with one sash at the original 112", one with an additional 16" and the last with an additional 12" in length. As it is I'll have to needleweave a couple of threads in because the shuttle skipped a few times in the last inch or so. Not surprising when you see the shed size! :)

And here they are off the loom. Not looking too bad, even if I say so myself. :)

Now for a break before I dress the loom for the last two. I'll be really careful about tying on, just leave exactly what I need for the fringe, weave the first one with an extra 16" in length (to match the longest one on the first warp) and the last one will be as long as it will be.

Today I also need to prepare for the Beginning Weaving workshop on the weekend. Two students for sure, possibly three. In between helping them I'll wind some more warps for the guild project loom. It will be nice to use up the last of that yarn. It's all profit for the guild now as the yarn was paid for several warps ago. :)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Inching Along

So I did as Barbara suggested - stopped for dinner, watched some tv, hemmed and knitted, and then went back down to the loom concentrating on getting that right selvedge a whole lot more consistent. :) This photo shows the first sash about 3/4's of the way done.

And here's a close up showing the selvedges.

Doesn't address the white showing, but I suspect I'm obsessing over something over which they won't really care all that much about. :}

For the most part I've stopped taking special orders unless I can just make something close and let the client decide whether or not to take it. But these sashes - well they need them before the end of May for a performance, and I knew I could weave them. Just didn't expect them to require so much physical effort. My neck is not happy after doing the first one. :( So I pilled up, will take a break and then start on number two.

Massage tomorrow, so hopefully I can book another appointment fairly soon to take care of the rest of the physical effort that is being required. It's been a long time since I've used a stick shuttle to carry the weft and used it as a beater - I'd forgotten just how much my neck disapproves when I do that. :(

Really wish I had asked for more than what I charged for them - although they weren't very happy about my price as it was. :( Oh well, at least I hope they will be happy that I delivered in a timely fashion. :D If my neck doesn't seize up entirely, I ought to be able to deliver by the weekend.

Going Slow to go.....Fast?

I am not a particularly happy camper. I'm not happy with the results I'm getting, and I'm not happy about how I'm having to go about getting even those results. :(

Notice anything odd in the photo above? Like, where's the reed?

Well, I was even less happy with the results while using a 6 dent reed, 8 ends per dent. I was getting definite reed streaks and in this textile, was highly doubtful the streaks would come out.

I'm not happy about using the white weft (see photo below) but since the density isn't quite warp faced, the brick red was showing through and muddying up the rest of the colours.

The white is better, but of course shows on the selvedge.

The only way I can weave this is with a stick shuttle, using the shuttle to beat the wefts into place. This is just the first 3 inches or so of weaving, and I need to work a lot harder on my right hand selvedge (my right hand is my dominant hand, so the left selvedge is much better.)

I'm also thinking I need to quadruple the brick red and try it again with the stick shuttle. The textile is about a 1/4 inch narrower, so the warp is providing better coverage without the reed. But not entirely, so I'm thinking that's a waste of time and effort.


This project is proving once again that I really am not all that happy about doing special orders that need to be absolutely precise.

Currently reading Shades of Blue by Bill Moody

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Four Boxes

Someone emailed me today asking if the four box fly shuttle was really useful or if it was 'overkill' as her friends were advising her. :)

When I ordered the loom originally (1983) I ordered it with the double box fly shuttle. Over the years, I found the double box useful even though I didn't use it all of the time.

When I ordered the air assist for the loom in the late 1990's, I was weaving for a fashion designer and quite often fiddling around with 3 and sometimes 4 shuttles. It made sense for me to upgrade to the four box fly shuttle to accomodate the designs I was weaving for my client so that I could weave them more efficiently.

After having AVL assure me it would be impossible to fit the four boxes to my loom, I ordered it anyway and Doug found a way to fit it on the underslung beater of my loom.

I then challenged him to come up with a way to change the boxes using the air assist system. Again he was assured by 'experts' that it would be impossible, and again he found a way. :D

Quite frankly I haven't been using the fly shuttle much for the last 3 years as I've been mostly weaving scarves and hand throwing. But that's the thing about tools. They wait very patiently for when they are needed again.

This project is using 7 shuttles. I'm winding the metallic by hand on the pirn because it won't work on the industrial pirn winder, so I have one AVL shuttle and 6 of the industrial shuttles. Four of the shuttles are in the boxes, the others are parked on the stool next to me and I change them out as required.

I expect that the yarns trailing toward the stool are visible in the enlarged picture. I stopped weaving tonight after the 8th headdress because I need to wind more of the metallic. Plus I'd made such good progress that it felt like time to quit and work on the transcription of WeaveCast episode 35. I've been wanting to listen to the interview with Tom Beaudet for a long time, but just haven't had the time to do that until now.

But to answer the question of whether or not the four boxes are useful? It depends. If you need them, you really need them. If you don't - well, they won't complain if you don't use them. :)


Here is the headdress fabric. Amazingly enough, I was quite happy with the very first one and didn't make any changes from the proto-type. How rare is that? :D

What I am weaving is no where near as fancy as the example given me, but I'm working under a very tight deadline here and keeping track of 7 shuttles and a complex colour sequence is taking long enough that I opted for simple in terms of weave structure. These are for dance costumes, so it's important that they look striking from a distance. I wound up using more metallic than originally planned on paper so that the headdresses will really sparkle on stage.

I also wove quite a bit more of the brick at the beginning and end than I anticipate will wind up being used in the actual headdress because the finished article will be lined and interlined and rather than leave too little for seam allowances, I wove a bit extra. Since I have lots of extra warp, more was easy, and it's not possible to make something longer if it is too short. :)

Just finished dinner so I'm going to head back down to the loom and see how far I can get tonight. It would be fantastic to get this warp all woven so that I can wet finish tomorrow and deliver with the skirts on Monday. :)

Currently reading Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry

Friday, April 24, 2009


The warp for the headdresses is beamed. Generally I wouldn't set up the AVL for such a short warp (5 yards including an 'extra' yard for sampling) but the warp is 32" wide so I can use the fly shuttle on it. Notice I've offset the warp 4" to the right to compensate for the longer travel distance the weft makes when it goes to the right side of the loom.

Since the weaving requires 7 colours (shuttles), the four box fly shuttle will help me keep the weft yarns in order. When I need to use that many different shuttles, I drag a tv tray over to park the ones not currently being used.

The headdresses are to co-ordinate with the sashes, so I took the colours and sequence from the sash and will need to do some proto-types before I can firmly decide on how many picks of each colour. The sash is about half the width of the headdress, so I may have to do some fiddling in order to get things set - hence the extra yard.

The dancers want some gold metallic in the headdress, so where the yellow appears in the sash will be replaced with metallic, plus I'll bracket some of the other colours to sparkle it up.

I'm listening to Leonard Cohen - Live in London, and cheerfullness keeps breaking out. ;)

Currently reading The Boy's Tale by Margaret Frazer

Thursday, April 23, 2009

'New' Loom

So above is the new loom. It looks a bit weird because the Leclerc Meko is folded up and shoved in front of it. I am seriously running out of room........

The new loom is a J-Made and needs a few minor repairs, but nothing that Doug can't handle. Once he's finished installing the insulation in the attic, gutted and re-done the bathroom, plus many other small jobs that have been sadly neglected around here the past few years. Now that we both have a little more energy, I'm hoping that he can get some maintenance on the house dealt with while I try to de-clutter.

I'm still trying to unload the van, and am seriously tempted to just leave all the yarn in the van for the next trip in May. Like I said, I am seriously running out of room. :(

But I did get the skirt fabric wet finished and will cut and serge it tomorrow. I promised to use orange thread but have to check first if I have any. May need to run to the store tomorrow to get some.

Also got some financial stuff dealt with and out of the way, so I do feel like I've made a little progress today.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ukrainian Skirts

This photo shows a greenish cast - the fabric is really much more orange than this.

But here it is - about 8.5 yards of cotton cloth, ready to go into the washing machine and dryer tomorrow. :)

I'm still scrambling trying to get myself organized after the trip home from Kelowna yesterday. Much of today was spent in appointments, getting orders packaged and shipped, banking, delivering inventory to the local arts council for a joint display of the tenant groups and finishing off a transcript I've been doing for a friend.

Once that is done I intend to work on the backlog of WeaveCast episodes that I've gotten so far behind in doing. :(

And I got the commission for the head dresses and sashes to go with the skirt fabric, so I also need to dress the loom tomorrow for the head dresses. The dancers still have to assemble and decorate them before their performance the end of May, so I'm going to be a tad busy for the next few days.

Which is why I'm not sure I did what I just did - signed up for Twitter! :}

Tweet, tweet! ;^)

Now to figure out (if I can) how to add Twitter updates to my blog?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Grand Forks, BC

The drive to Grand Forks was overcast and wet until I got past Beaverdell and nearly to Rock Creek, but after that the road was dry and the drive most pleasant. :)
I'd only ever driven through Grand Forks so I took the opportunity to walk around the town a little. Thought this building was particularly striking against the leaden sky.
The seminar Friday evening seemed to go well, with lots of questions. Of course I could talk about the topic of crafts as a business for days, but we only had about 90 minutes so only scratched the surface.
Saturday and Sunday the weavers wove their hearts out with many participants getting to all 12 looms, but most of them got more than half of the warps woven. We then got wet getting everything wet finished.
The best response was conveyed by Chris (Joybilee Farms) when she said that the members were excited to go home and dress their looms and get some weaving done. One person thanked me for filling in so many gaps and that she had no idea how much she needed to learn. :D
This aspect of weaving - that there is always so much more to learn - was the real thing that attracted me to weaving. Knowing that I could weave as a profession/career all my life and never exhaust the possibilites. :D

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Computer Spa Update

Laura posted, a couple of weeks ago, that she wasn't sure what happened at the "Computer Spa" when her computer is dropped off for a visit.

Well here is photographic proof of the hard work that goes on in Laura's absence. Wrapped in hand woven towel (Ann Rostrup) with a glass (Waterford) of moral support (Naramta Fosh - red), she compares recent events, virus encounters and top level design concepts with a former backup loom controller (to the right) and younger sister (one serial number less).

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Busy Day

It's been a rather busy day and a productive one, I think. :)

Here is the skirt fabric - all done! With barely two yards woven by 9:15 pm last night, that means I wove about 7 yards today. In between getting orders from Art Fire packed up and to the mail, coning off more of the wool/lycra, starting to load the van and gathering up the rest of the stuff necessary for the trip tomorrow. :}

Also phoned the list of names for the Beginning Weaving workshop May 2/3 and left messages. It will be interesting to see if there are sufficient numbers for a second class.

Have been mulling over ideas for an on-going study group and will have some suggestions for the 3 students from the March class when I get home.

Also got word that all of our income tax returns are ready to be sent in. We have until April 30 to deal with them so I'll take care of that particular piece of business when I get home.

And I see my Blackberry experiment worked, so I may be posting updates from the road. Can't figure out how to get photos in the email posts so they will just be text.

The technology available these days is simply amazing! This from someone who remembers wood heating by necessity not choice and telephones on party lines!!!! :D My, how times have changed..............


Just noticed today that blogger offers email posting so I am trying it with my blackberry. ;)
Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

Ukrainian Skirts

The skirts are more orange in real life, but this gives an impression of what the cloth looks like.

The skirts are 'railroaded' - in other words the warp will be horizontal and the selvedges can be used for waist and hem.

The fabric is a 3:1 twill - i.e. the face of the fabric has 3 threads of warp to 1 thread of weft showing. As usual, I'm weaving the cloth backside up so that I only have to lift the one thread. Now that I have air assist it isn't that big a deal, but I figure anything that is hard for my body to do will be hard for the loom to do.

So I content myself by looking at the back side of the cloth while weaving.

Last night I managed to get two yards woven by the time Doug got home at 9:15. Today I've carried boxes up the stairs in preparation to loading the van but for now I'm going to go weave and see if I can get another two yards done before lunch.

And then I'll head to town with some of the orders that arrived through my Art Fire store. :)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Ukrainian Skirts and Seconds

Ta-Daa! Here is the fabric for the skirts beamed. I've just started transferring the bouts to the long stick that I use to carry all the bouts together to just behind the heddles for threading.

This warp is relatively narrow at 32" in the reed, so it has been off set to the right by 4" in order to make sure the fly shuttle works properly.

I've been thinking a lot about seconds and as usual with weaving, the answer is 'it depends'.

Partly it depends on what the flaw is that makes a textile a 'second'. If the flaw is something that does not compromise the function of the fabric, I have no difficulty selling or giving it away - with a caveat that it *is* flawed.

Flaws that can be fixed are always fixed to the best of my ability, and once fixed may lift the textile from 'flawed' to perfectly able of being sold as a 'first'.

Threading errors can't be fixed once the fabric is woven and ultimately I don't mind selling those seconds to other weavers. Who better able to appreciate that - once again - I've proved myself all too human and made a mistake?

Dye lot differences are another 'flaw'. Sometimes dye lot differences are all but invisible on the loom and only pop out at your eye after wet finishing. Again, nothing that will detract from the function of the fabric, but something that can be a lot more obvious than a threading error.

It all depends............

So my conclusion is to judge each 'second' on a case by case basis. :}

In the meantime, a weaver has offered to buy some of my seconds. Thanks Barbara! And when I looked at the pile, there weren't as many as I'd feared. Just a couple left now.

As for the Special Promotion on Art Fire? I've come up with an idea for May 9-July 9 and will test drive that option when the time comes. Stay tuned!

Currently reading The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Book Review - A Joy Forever

A Joy Forever; Latvian Weaving by Jane A. Evans. Dos Tejedoras Fiber Arts Publications. 1991.
ISBN 0-932394-16-7 178 pages

A Joy Forever is now officially out of print. The good news is that Jane still has copies left for sale.

The book has copious black and white illustrations, index, glossary and a detailed table of contents.

Latvians, like other eastern Europeans, liked lots of patterning in their fabric. The more the merrier it would seem! Jane has documented some of the ways they were able to create these textiles using the least amount of equipment - split-shed, pick up sticks and so on.

After years of studying actual textiles, she used computer software - new on the market in the late 1980's - to record the weave structures used. The number of different weave structures and the various ways the weavers approached achieving them is awesome.

Jane also explains how the different weave structures work so that the reader can apply the techniques in order to weave the fabrics, be that pick up or loom controlled. (The best way to understand a weave structure is to weave it with a pick up stick, imho!)

This book contains a wealth of information for those weavers interested in achieving pattern through weave structure. Some of the weave structures covered: untied float structures, tied float structures, lace weaves, twills, supplemental wefts, and much, much more. If you have Madelyn van der Hoogt's book, this would make a great next step. Or just jump in. Jane makes it all sound so interesting.

To order:

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Full Sized Sample

Apparently this warp wasn't going slowly enough because I had a hare-brained idea to add some chenille to this one. Meaning two shuttles. :}

The weft I've been using is a high quality acrylic slub woven in twill. I added one pick of chenille for each two picks of the slub - again in twill.

Which may very well be a recipe for disaster because I haven't sampled to check for shrinkage compatibility. I'm actually suspicious that they will have very different rates so this afghan may well turn out to be some pet's blankie. :} Not to mention the possibility of the dreaded "worming" that chenille is so famous for!

The thing is, I've got loads and loads of chenille too, and thought it might be a good way to use some of it up. The challenge is, of course, stash reduction after all........

In spite of the slow going I managed to persevere and today got about 14 feet woven. (The meter counts in feet, not yards.) So nearly 5 yards. Given I estimated about 20 yards left on the loom, that means there ought to be just about 15 yards left to go. The warp beam is certainly looking much slimmer than before.

However I really need to do some prep work for the upcoming trip so I'm not sure I can get this warp woven before I leave, but I will try my best in the time left and see if I can't at least get close. :)

The Games We Play

I confess that I am getting tired of this warp already. Part of that tiredness is due to the looming deadline for the dance skirts. I'd really hoped to be done this warp by now but I'm only just barely half way through.

I'm tired of having to wind the pirns by hand, thereby needing to use the lighter weight AVL shuttles.

I'm tired of having the shuttle yanked off the shuttle race to go flying into the wild blue yonder. Well, into the wall, at any rate.

I'm tired of needing to walk around the entire loom to pick said shuttle up and re-insert it into the fly shuttle box.

I'm tired of just getting my zen mo-jo happening only to have the pirn run out.

I'm tired of having to adjust the cloth take up because it's picking in at 17, not 18 - and I'd rather beat a few extra times every couple of minutes than have a cloth that is too loosely woven (at my next option, which would be 16 picks per inch).

Since it's hard to keep track of how much I have actually accomplished - which would give me the illusion of being productive in spite of the above list of complaints - I installed the meter onto the cloth so that I can see exactly how much I have woven and therefore do a count down. Right now I am feeling a little bit in limbo because I don't know precisely how much is left to do.

Being able to see precisely what I have accomplished will help to keep me going back to the loom and continuing to weave so that I can see those numbers add up.

It's all an illusion, but it's one that works for me. Carrot and stick - smoke and mirrors. Whatever tricks that work............ :^)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Selling Seconds

Hmm - once again I seem to have achieved blurry - the photo looked fine on the camera. Oh well, this is just to show that I am making progress. Nearly at the half way mark on the warp. There are four green and 3 red with the fourth about at the one yard mark. That should make about 19 yards (out of 40) woven.

At the bottom of the photo you can see how I store my reeds - standing upright lengthwise, leaning against the base of the loom.

One of the seminars I'm teaching next week is The Business of Weaving (Crafts). One of the groups has invited other artisans to sit in on the seminar so we broadened the title.

Having chosen weaving as a career 30+ years ago, I very quickly had to come to grips with the business of running a business. Scheduling, motivation, costing items for pricing, general accounting etc., etc. Running a weaving business is far different from having weaving as a hobby and occassionally selling the odd item, hoping to recoup your material costs.

One policy I implemented very early was to not sell seconds. At first they got discarded (rag bag), or if I'd invested too much time in completing them before noticing they didn't pass, were given away.

A few years ago I had a 'disaster'. While sick with a really bad cold I was threading a very complicated pattern and didn't notice until I'd woven more than half of the warp (20 yards or so) that I'd made threading errors. Not something that was going to compromise the function of the cloth (tea towels), but definitely the pattern was wrong.

With the growth of the internet and chat groups, I posted to one that I belonged to explaining my predicament and offering the tea towels to other weavers at a cut rate price. Some of them that bought contacted me to say they couldn't see the error and would have offered them as 'firsts'.

But I knew the error was there. :}

Now I have a store on Art Fire and one of the things they offer is the ability to offer Special Promotions. So I'm thinking that I could take my collection of 'seconds' that are second by virture of flaws that won't in any way compromise the function of the textile and offer them as a Special Promotion on Art Fire.

But something in me baulks. I really don't like the idea of having textiles that I'm not happy with being purchased by the general public. :(

Currently reading Love Mercy by Earlene Fowler

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Spring Arrives!

So let me begin by explaining that Doug continues to work the closing shift; ergo waking up at the crack of dawn is not really our first choice. But that was exactly what happened this morning when the neighbourhood woodpecker announced his return to the 'hood by using the metal flange covering our chimney to sound his territorial clarion call. Not once, but several times. Until Doug shoo'd him away by tossing several snowballs his direction. :} (Yes, we still have snow aplenty.)

However, I can now state with impunity that Spring Has Arrived! Good hunting Mr. Woodpecker. Welcome home.

On the weaving front, I haven't managed as much on the AVL as I'd hoped. With the weekend workshop and other appointments and meetings, my days have been badly fractured in terms of concentrated studio time.

But I am making progress.

This is the view from the back of the loom showing the roll of cloth on the cloth storage beam. I did four of the green colour, and am well on my way through number two of the red. In this photo you can just see the solid black hem beginning to roll onto the beam, which means I'm about 3/4's done the next one.

Here is a better photo of the woven cloth. The weft is a fairly textured varigated acrylic that I got as a mill end from a mill that closed a few years ago. When I agreed to take a case, I should have looked at the size of the case. I assumed about 40 pounds. Silly me. They were closer to 100 pounds. Needless to say, I have more than enough of this yarn for a lifetime! (Of course I took a case of the white, a case of the green, a case of the brown/rust.......not to mention enough cases of various and sundry other yarns - to the tune of nearly 2000 pounds.........did I mention I have stash to last several lifetimes?????)

The weave structure is a simple 2:2 twill. The challenge for me is that since the weft is so thick it can't be wound on the industrial pirn winder. I have to wind all the pirns by hand and use the AVL fly shuttles (not my first choice). Since the yarn is thick I no sooner get into the zen of weaving - and the pirn empties. The yarn is also textured enough that it tends to get stuck in the tensioner of the shuttle yanking the shuttle off the race and I've spent far too much time playing Ring Around the Loom to fetch the shuttle. I can't access the right side of the loom from the front - I have to circum-navigate the entire loom to pick the shuttle up and re-insert into the fly box. :} And of course it is almost always the right hand side that the shuttle goes flying off into the wild blue yonder.

So all in all, this warp is going much more slowly than I'd like. I had hoped to get it off and at least beam the Ukrainian dance skirts before I leave next week, but right now it's looking doubtful.

One appointment has been postponed - I'll see the specialist on May 4 now, instead of April 14. That will take some of the deadline pressure off as I need to pack all my stuff for the trip to Grand Forks for the Business of Crafts seminar and Magic in the Water part I workshop, then load the van on the 15th for my departure for Kelowna on the 16th and arrival in GF on the 17th.

Here's hoping for good driving conditions as the van will be stuffed with looms (two table looms), serger, flat bed press, yarns for sale, and computers (which will visit the computer spa in Kelowna) not to mention a suitcase full of teaching samples. :)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Forging Ahead

While I haven't made it to the press as often as I'd hoped, today saw another 20 towels wet finished and 4 finished towels given their final press - ready to be tagged and sold.

This one is probably my current fav. The colours are brighter than all those pale pastel blues I wove so much of last fall/winter. Somehow the aqua seems to match my mood for spring?

Anyway, the four finished towels were posted to my store on Art Fire but if these ones don't sell, I can't say I'll be disappointed in having to keep them for myself. :D

I don't know where the days go. I always have such high hopes and never seem to get all I'd like done accomplished.

Oh well - there's always tomorrow.......

Currently reading My Great Big Supernatural Honeymoon (collection of short stories)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

New Weavers

This was the scene yesterday (Sat. April 4) around 2 pm. All 3 students were weaving their headers after beaming, theading and sleying their warps.

And this was the scene at 3:45 Sunday - all three had their samples woven, fixed any threading/sleying errors, and woven their scarves.

Kimberly (far right) had even managed to complete her fringe twisting. Lucille (far left) and Rhena had one end fringe twisted and were going to head for home and finish the other end, then wet finish.

I'm hoping that all three will bring their finished scarves to the guild meeting Wed. evening.

Guest Post - Jane Evans

I invited Jane Evans to talk a little bit about her research into Latvian textiles.

Jane was in the spotlight in the most recent issue of Handwoven and since her research resulted in a pretty amazing book, thought people would like to know a little bit more about it.

To see her own artistic statement in cloth, visit Jane's website:

A Joy Forever: Latvian Weaving - Traditional and Modified Uses
A Book by Jane A. Evans

"Occasionally people ask why I wrote a book about Latvian weaving when I am not Latvian. I explain that on encountering some woven blankets from Latvia I became captivated by the beauty and spirit evident in both the fabrics and the people who made them. In fact, I felt so intrigued that for the next 14 years I studied pre-1940 household textiles from Latvia.

In 1977, 2,000 miles from my Saskatchewan home, Peter Collingwood's famous knowledge drew me to my first major weaving conference. While in Toronto, Ontario, I also studied textiles briefly at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). There I encountered my first Latvian weavings and was so lucky as to have Dorothy Burnham show me how to analyze them. Although new to textile research I realized some of those household textiles used weave structures unfamiliar to weavers in North America.

Hearing in my classes of the research, weavers wanted more written information. So in 1985 I wrote about one particular weave structure for my Guild of Canadian Weavers’ Master Weaver research paper, “Tied Latvian Weave," now known as the "paired-tie" weave. Loads of other information was not included.

Fortunately in 1986, at Convergence in Toronto, the revolutionary new Patternland computer program arrived. It could analyze the fabric analysis diagrams I made of Latvian fabrics and reveal the drafting information! So that year began my computer dependency as I initiated writing a book with a PC and DOS.

Things rather mushroomed as Latvian people generously contributed fabrics, books, knowledge, stories, accommodations, encouragement, and friendship. Sometimes boxes arrived out of the blue, full of wonderful items. Latvians from Canada, the United States, and Australia desired to preserve their weaving heritage and urged me to help them record it in English. ("Print this soon, as Volume I, then write more.") I felt honored and strove to do justice to the wealth of valuable information.(I also felt inadequate and exhausted!)

Latvians tend to expect lots of themselves, nonetheless their English far surpassed my non-existent Latvian. Although I compiled a Latvian/English dictionary of basic weaving terms, I could not read general text. At home in Saskatoon I was very fortunate to locate a Latvian/Australian/Canadian who read English, Latvian, and German. She was not a weaver but was immensely capable and supportive. Together we spent months translating writings, and Vija and I are still close friends.

Research trips continued as did the seemingly endless weaving of samples, reading, writing, and proofing. Two small Canada Council for the Arts grants went toward my costs. Thrillingly, Dos Tejedoras press became the publisher.

At Christmas, 1991, A Joy Forever: Latvian Weaving - Traditional and Modified Uses finally was printed. Thanks to numerous sources it is an enduring record of the heritage of Latvian textiles, people, and stories. It also is, for me, an incomparable, life-altering experience. "

I will post a review of A Joy Forever in a couple of days......

Friday, April 3, 2009

Sley that Warp

I am always happy to learn a faster more ergonomic/efficient way to approach the various tasks related to weaving.

About 18 months or so ago I was visiting with Syne Mitchell and as we chatted she was sleying the reed on her loom. She was doing something completely different than I'd seen anyone else do so I asked her about it. She said she had learned the method from Peggy Ostercamp (a long time student of Jim Ahrens.)

What blew me away was that it was almost identical to the way I had been threading in terms of using minute hand movements and dealing with multiple ends at the same time. How come I never twigged that the reed could be sleyed the same way????

As soon as I got home I started practising the new (to me) method of sleying and have been happily using this method ever since. It took about 6 warps before I could accurately sley the reed. It was well worth taking the time to learn this method.

I use Harrisville's brass threading/sleying hook. For threading I use the small hook, but for sleying it gets turned over and the large hook is used. Notice the orientation of the hook - it's downwards, not up. It is being held as one would hold a pen.

I begin by finding the next dent I want to fill by inserting the hook into that dent near the bottom of the reed (so that I can more easily identify the correct dent by lining the hook up with the last dent filled.)

The hook is then inserted into the reed and lifted to about the half way point in the reed.

Here I am inserting and beginning to slide the hook upwards. I then reach for the group of ends desired and pull the loop through the dent as shown below. The entire loop is not drawn through, but left on the stem of the hook.

Using the hook as a sort of auto-denter, I leave the loop on the hook and slide it over the spline and re-insert it into the next dent to be filled. The next group of ends is then caught on the hook and pulled through to the front.
When all of the ends in the bout have been brought through to the front, all of the ends are brought through the reed at once in one movement and tied.

The groups are tied with a slip knot in amounts suitable for tying onto the apron rod.
Even if only one group is sleyed through one dent at a time, using the hook in this orientation means that a very small hand movement is all that is required, not the entire arm. When a wide warp with lots of ends is being prepared, reducing hand/arm movements as much as possible means that more work can be accomplished with less effort.
And that is A Good Thing to me. :)
Watch for a guest post in the next few days.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

As Far As I Got

Today was a bit scattered. Spent much of the morning balancing my ledger and doing my GST return, then ran down to the post office to mail a couple of orders from my Art Fire Store. :D

When I got home, I decided that it was way beyond time to wash the floor so I vacuumed and scraped with the mop getting the worst of the dirt off. When Doug reno's the bathroom I want to replace the flooring in the kitchen and hall, too. When we re-did the kitchen a few years ago, I chose a lino with texture. Bad choice! :(

While my 3rd student came and wound her warp I threaded some more, but at 20 epi a 60 inch wide warp has a lot of threading and after dinner I was still only about 2/3's done. However the yarn for the Ukrainian skirts arrived today, so I really need to power through the rest of the threading and get started weaving as soon as I can.

To thread the AVL I remove the sandpaper beam and the beater top and reed. I use a stool to sit on that gets me pretty close to eye level on the heddles and two lamps to provide light into the heddles. The bottom of the beater is used to support me (under the armpits) to reduce the load on my back.

And no, I don't particularly find a black warp difficult to thread. This warp used up a whole bunch of partial tubes of black and navy 2/16 cotton. Had to eek out the balance of the warp with some 2/20 merc. cotton, which I doubt very much will show once the cloth is woven using the textured acrylic.

Ultimately it's more stash reduction, and that is A Good Thing!

Gosh Me - Again!?

Twice in one day? Maybe I should buy a lottery ticket! :D

Thanks Tien. I wish I had your focus and determination!

So many blogs, but Sandra Rude's was probably the first one I actually subscribed to and always find of interest.

Gosh, ME?

Thanks Peg, I feel very blessed to be part of the weaving community.

This award is very touching:

"This blog invests and believes in the PROXIMITY-nearness in space, time and relationships. These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement! Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers!”

There are so many great blogs out there, but I think I have to pass this award along to Janet with her Scarf A Day and High Fibre Diet blogs.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Pressing Matter

I had every intention of threading the AVL today with the warp for the throws (afghans, whatever you call them) but realized that one of the piles threatening to topple over in the studio was the tea towels I've woven and that Karena has been diligently cutting apart ready to be wet finished.

Decided that I would really like to see a little floor in my studio, and one way would be to deal with the wet finishing. Unfortunately it isn't going to get done all in one go, so on the theory that doing a little bit every day (every other day?) will eventually see the pile in the studio disappear, I started with one load. It turned out that the aqua warp was exactly one washing machine load's worth so here they are on the drying rack after pressing.

Once those were done, I turned my hand to some of the towels that had been wet finished and hemmed and got a few of those pressed and ready to be tagged and priced, too.

I was a bad girl today and woke up feeling so muzzy headed I had a small cup of real coffee. Unfortunately my bp wasn't real happy about that and spiked, but it wasn't too high and since I knew what had caused it didn't cause much grief. But I did feel like I needed to do some exercise and wove one chenille scarf on the Fanny this evening. I'm hoping that the exercise and my evening dose of meds will bring things back to normal. And I promise to be good and not have any more real coffee. At least for a while. :}

The good news is that I finally got a phone call from the specialist's office today and I'll go in to see him April 14. I have some questions about what the future holds and what sort of treatment I should expect given the two other blockages.........