Welcome to the crafty side of my life. Here I'll be musing about projects I'm working on, and the creative process around them. Oh, and there will be occasional bouts of cooking, photography, and poetry, too.
Spinner, weaver, felter, beader...don't you love how seemingly simple ingredients can come together to make something surprisingly whole and inspiring? I am a textile artist, living in the desert southwest US. For the last many years, my audience has been the historical recreation community. These days I am branching out, following where my muse takes me. It is a fun journey!
Woo Hoo!! It is working!!! This has been an adventure. This is only the second time I've used the dobby loom--and the first was years ago, and I forgot most of the details between then and now. And, this is the first time I've ever woven something with a 12 shaft pattern. 8 has been my limit up until now. It took a bit to get this one on the loom, but I'm really pleased with the way it is turning out. This is 8/2 unmercerized UKI cotton, and the threading draft is from here: http://weeverwoman.blogspot.ca/2011/07/i-havent-fallen-off-planet-i-had-week.html . I set it up tromp as writ, rather than the extended pattern that she shows.
I'm thinking my pattern is a little elongated. I kind of like it, but I'd also like to see what happens if I use 10/2 weft instead of the matching 8/2 that I'm using here for the test. I've got quite a few lovely colors of 10/2 left over from making baby wraps. Hmmm... what to use...
I've got enough warp on here for I think a dozen tea towels. I'll keep a couple, and a couple will go to my physical therapist as a thank you gift for getting my shoulder back into weaving shape.
How did I spend Superbowl Sunday? Sitting around laughing with friends and family, enjoying their enjoyment of the game, and programming my loom.
These are bars for the dobby loom. When you're weaving, you get the pattern by raising up some but not all of the warp threads, and throwing the shuttle with the weft thread across the loom in the space between the raised and stationary threads. (That is one 'pick'.) Then, you change which threads are up, and throw the shuttle back again for another pick. On my usual loom, I choose which threads to raise up by stepping on the various treadles under the loom. On the dobby loom, I pre-program in the pattern. Each wooden bar here represents the choice of which threads to raise for one pick. It was kind of time consuming to put all those pegs in the right spots (no peg for raise a shaft, peg for leave it down), but it will make the weaving go much easier! I won't have to remember where I am in the 48 pick repeat, because I've already told the loom what I want to have happen.
So. It turns out that if you (and by you I mean I) spend a year ramping up and weaving at a frantic pace to try to make a living with your hand work, and if you don't pay attention to the height of your weaving bench and hunch up your shoulders, you can end up wiggling your right shoulder joint out of place. Yup. I was deranged. That was the technical term. Ow.
I started having issues in November of 2014, and in the beginning of 2015 I started looking for solutions. I hurt. And I was scared that I wasn't going to be well again. Physical therapy wasn't working, and the doctors didn't have much idea as to what was going on yet.
In August of 2015 I finally saw a specialist, got an MRI, and was referred to a new physical therapist. And wow, the difference between the experiences was night and day. This guy was good. He could tell me what the MRI was going to say without looking at it, just by watching my shoulder move. I got to work. He had me doing exercises on my own every two waking hours, and I went in for an hour long session twice a week. It has taken me months of work, but I can move now without fear of pain. And I can even sleep on my right side again, at least for small stretches at a time. And, he slowly had me weaving again. I took videos of the motions, so he could target exercises specifically to my movement.
And now? These blue napkins are my first finished project since I returned to weaving. My shoulder isn't 100%, and I need to be careful still, but I'm cleared to work again. With the proper height on the bench this time, so my shoulders aren't strained. And with more breaks. And I'm not going to weave at such a marathon level slog again, which means I'm probably not going to be going back into the custom baby wrap biz, at least not at that level. I loved making dreams for people, but I paid for it in my health.
So, here is my return triumph. I brought these napkins upstairs, and have been using them for dinners this past week. Each meal is a celebration, and a reminder to take better care of myself.
Tonight's new thing in weaving: Blessing Threads. (No, I didn't coin the term.) These are threads of a contrasting color that are inlaid into the weaving to mark the midpoint of a baby wrap. I'll trim those ends off after I wash the finished fabric, so everything has a chance to shrink and shift into its final position first. Evidently this is a pretty popular design touch. Ok, I'm game!
This yarn is the new-to-me 8/2 Valley unmercerized cotton from Webs. So far, I'm really pleased with it. It is strong enough that I've warped and woven without a single broken thread, but still soft to the touch. There were a few knots and slubs in the yarn, but I was able to eliminate most of them while I was measuring out the warp. It will be interesting to see how well it turns out after I get it through that first wash after weaving.
I was given a commission for a woven baby wrap recently. My client's color choices were inspired by a picture of a sunrise from her front yard. I had fun picking colors to try to match the feel of the picture. Here's a shot of the yarn after I got it all measured out. You can see how I'm planning on blending from one color into the next one.
I tried an experiment on this project: tying directly from the old warp on the loom onto the new one. That way, I don't have to sley the reed or thread the heddles again. It did shave about an hour off of the total project, but I had several snapped threads when I was beaming on the warp. I suspect they twisted around each other in ways that I didn't expect. I'll do more reading on the process, but as it stands I don't think the time savings was worth the extra hassle. That might be different if the pattern threading was challenging to get right, but I'm just using plain weave here, so it isn't an issue.
My next step was to choose which color weft yarn I wanted to use. I sampled these colors, plus black. I do love playing in the colors!
Here's the sample bit at the beginning, showing the effects of the different weft colors. In addition to giving me a sampler to see color interactions, this also has the benefit of evening out the weaving tension and draw in before I start on the actual fabric.
I put enough yarn on my loom for three different baby wraps. They each have a different weft color, so everyone gets a unique piece of wearable art.
Here's all three finished wraps. Yes, I'm standing on my weaving bench, looking down to take this picture. Evidently I really should crop my toes out of the shot. Oops.
And here is one of the wraps in use! This one had the maroon weft color, which warmed up the feel of the whole piece. I really love seeing the mothers and children using my handiwork. I always get this goofy smile on my face, and it tempts me right back to my loom again. Are they not both gorgeous??
Isn't it fascinating, the difference the weft color can make in a weaving project? I've been weaving baby wraps. I can fit more than one wrap on the same warp on the loom, but I like to make each finished product a bit unique. So, unless requested otherwise, I will change weft colors from one wrap to the next. (The weft is the thread that goes crosswise. The warp threads go longways.) In this case, I used a black weft for the fabric in the top part of this picture, and a teal blue for the fabric in the bottom. When I got the fabric off of the loom, I washed it and then cut the two projects apart. The finished wraps are obviously related, but still different from each other. I'm just not sure which one I like better!
Speaking of weaving baby wraps...I've been getting custom orders for wraps in the last few weeks. Lots of orders. Which is awesomely exciting, and still rather overwhelming. At the rate I'm going, I have custom requests backed up through the end of November of next year! That won't do at all. I have to find a way to speed up my process. Which means I need to squeeze more hours of studio time into my week. Which means...
...Which means I'm putting my best foot forward, and going full time in the studio. Yes, I put notice in today at the local community college that I won't be back next semester to model for their life drawing classes. I just don't have time to do that, and to still make the deadlines I've set at the loom.
I'm scared. I'm excited. I'm overwhelmed. I'm nervous. I'm thrilled. I'm.....I'm behind on my current weaving project because I modeled this week. Back to work!!!