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!
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!!!
Here's how the prototype baby wrap turned out, modeled by the lovely lady that was the inspiration for the project. Is that not just the most adorable baby ever??
Now that word has gotten around that I can do custom wraps, my project list has rather exploded. Given an estimated time to complete a project of two weeks, I'm booked until...lets see...some time in April currently. Time to get to weaving!! Next up on my to-do list is to figure out how to squeeze in more time in the studio, around family, day job, other projects, and my historical recreation activities.
"Just keep weaving...just keep weaving...."
This is the wrap that is currently on the loom. The client picked out 4 colors of grey fiber reactive Procion dye, and requested warp painted stripes that alternated the grey and white, set off by thin stripes of black. When you dye your own yarn however, you're never quite sure what you're
going to end up with. In the hand painting
process, the greys diluted down a bit and their undertones really came
through. Also, the dye wicked down the way unexpectedly in some places, and didn't take up in others. So we have green, blue, teal, etc versions of grey, with
sparkles of the original white left to shine through. I not sure it was what exactly she had in mind, but I love it! (I'll be writing her in just a bit here to get her opinion.) I'm crossing this
wrap with black weft, to leave the colors intact. I should have enough
yarn on the loom for a second wrap. I'm thinking of a teal weft for
that one, to pop out the unexpected gift of color. And now, back to the loom.
I've had a request to weave a baby wrap, so it is time to work on a new project! I had the recipient choose four colors of 10/2 cotton yarn from Webs. (http://www.yarn.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/product.detail/categoryID/3D03DC12-64EF-4CFA-BA1E-65F9D62C685D/productID/CD455D1D-4394-4515-B549-064F2A93BEA9/) She chose Lizard Green, Mosstone, Nautical Blue, and Burnt Sienna. The yarn got here today.
And now, time to decide on the color order. She'd like the colors to gradually fade one into the other as they go across the warp, with none of the colors repeating. The two sides of the warp will end up different colors, which evidently makes it easier to use the baby wrap without twisting the fabric as you put it on.
So, I took pictures of the cones of yarn in different orders:
Here are the two greens separated, one with the Burnt Sienna on the end, and one with the Nautical Blue on the end.
Here are the two greens separated, appearing on the ends with the other two colors in the middle.
Here are the two greens in the middle of the wrap.
And here are the two greens to one side, one with blue on the other end, and one with burnt sienna on the other end.
Now, the two greens are much closer in tone than I expected, given the picture on the yarn company's web site. So I rummaged around my stash of matching yarn, and came up with a couple of other options to offer.
I have a lighter blue to swap out for one of the greens. There should be enough left on there from the previous project for a good warp stripe.
Another option is a light brown.
And, just to make it interesting, here's what happens if I swap out one of the greens and the nautical blue.
I actually think that last one is my favorite of the bunch, with the colors in just that order.
So, what do you think?
EDIT: Oooh...I had limited myself to 4 colors, for cost purposes. But, I do have these other colors available. So, what do you think about all 6 thrown in there, like this?
I have a batch of fall themed warp-painted and hand woven cotton ruanas finally done!
Earlier this summer, I went on a week long camping trip with my historical recreation group. We were up in the mountains of Arizona, among the high pine trees. I brought my floor loom along with me, with a batch of yarn that I had already dyed up the previous week. I spent much of that week sitting in the shade, gazing at the distant mountains, weaving away. It was gorgeous!!
The first picture there is the view from my spot at the loom. My husband is there, working on a hand built bench. He started with going and harvesting a downed log from the forest, and ended up with a lovely sitting bench. We had fun working side by side on our various projects that week.
The second picture is the work on the loom, where I was switching warp colors. I had enough thread on the loom for three different garments. I used a different warp color for each garment, so the finished pieces are truly one of a kind. It is fascinating to see the difference that just changing the color of one element can make.
Anyway, I finished up the fabric, packed up, brought it all home, wet finished it...and then got totally sidetracked by other events in my life. (A new partner moved in with us, and life got crazy wonderful. And both of my kids got ready for and then left for college. Also a strange but good transition.) So, it wasn't until this past little while that I drug out the fabric and got to cutting and sewing.
But I have in fact finished up all of the garments. And today I took the three Autumn themed ruanas, as well as the two previous blue and maroon ruanas, and headed out to the White Tank Moutains with my husband for a photo shoot. And then, I spent this evening editing the shots, and getting the listings up in the Etsy shop.
Yes, I know. I haven't posted anything here since last May. Good grief, where did the summer go? Well, I was in Texas, and San Diego, CA, and up camping outside of Alpine, AZ, and took several trips to Flagstaff, AZ, and...and... This summer was the last one before both of my kids left for college and I hit the whole 'empty nest' thing. I took the time to pack the summer with family things instead of crafting things. And, I added a new relationship in there as well, so I've been decidedly distracted with the whole New Relationship Energy thing going on. (My life rocks. Seriously.)
But, the kids are off at school now. The semester has started, so my life drawing modeling is kicking back into gear. My loves are busy at their own works and school endeavors. So, this is my obligatory, "I'm back!" post indicating that I intend to get back into the studio and back at the keyboard.
So...what is up next project wise for me?
Time to brainstorm...
I have the materials on hand for another batch of 3 warp painted, hand woven ruanas. This warp will be done in greens, and blue greens.
I still want to weave some cotton dress fabric for myself, for the historical recreation hobby I'm part of. The batch I did for Their Aten Majesties went over very well, and was a good proof of concept with this particular yarn. Now I have a more intricate twill pattern that I want to try, in blue and green yarn.
I need to do a batch or three of hand dyed silk scarves, to re-fill the Etsy shop. I also owe a scarf to a friend of mine, to complete a trade.
I got a Good Deal on some wool blend fabric that will work well for SCA garb. In fact, it was such a good deal that I picked up 40 yards of it, which should be enough to outfit the whole family. I've got some serious sewing ahead of me.
I've still got bunches of sock yarn that needs to be cranked into socks on my antique circular sock knitting machine. The leftover bits of sock yarn then go to my mother, to be knitted into baby caps for charity. (My mother rocks.)
I have a couple of almost done Viking wire woven necklaces, that just need me to fabricate the clasps.
And I've got another necklace already started, in copper craft wire with a black coating. The coating chips off pretty easily, which I'm going to turn into a feature by sanding down the outside of the finished chain. That way the outside will glint copper, and the inside of the weaving will stay black, for a two tone necklace. Should be interesting.
I picked up a batch of silk fan blanks last year, that are calling for some experimentation in silk painting techniques.
I've got an idea for another extended historical recreation project. This time I want to spin a batch of wool singles. In fact, I've already picked up 5 pounds of wool roving for just this purpose. And then, I want to play with the natural dyes that would have been available in Medieval times, and weave a color gamp. In other words, I want to warp the loom with stripes of different colors, and then weave the same colors in stripes going across them to make lots of different colored squares. That would show not only the range of colors available in history, but what those colors looked like when combined into cloth.
I have one more of the already woven ruanas to sew up into a garment. Then, I need to take pictures and get the 5 finished garments up in the Etsy shop. Fall is coming, and folks will be looking for wraps. Also, Christmas is coming and I need to stock the shop.
Huh. I think I have quite enough to get me started!! Now, where to begin?