Tuesday, October 23, 2007

My latest warp! Patricia saw my work in our shop back in May and ordered a blanket. She has a somewhat eclectic combination of styles and patterns in her bedroom, so chose a number of colours to tie them all together. It was the teal colour (oddly named "grey heather") that she fell in love with in the shop, so I emphasized that for her. This angle shows the wide white and multicoloured stripe off to nice effect:

The second photo shows a close up of the white and multi-coloured stripe. It's the first time in a long while that I've done narrow stripes of regularly arranged colours, and I like it! As you can see, the multi stripe is half meadow green, one quarter yellow and one quarter copper. Since there's less of the yellow and copper in the warp than anything else, those are the colours I've emphasized in the weft stripes, which I've done in alternating plain and basket weave.

The last angle shows the ratio of white/multi to teal a bit better. Really, about 2/3rds of the warp is teal and the rest is the off-centre stripe. I based stripe width and placement on the Fibonacci series.

Friday, April 20, 2007

WebCam 20.04.07

First, I should introduce my looms. I have two: Mabel, a 60" Glimakra-clone 4 shaft counter balance with brand spankin' new DIY sectional beam, and Maybe Joey, a LeClerc Minerva 22" 8 shaft double back beam jack. Mabel was so named because I thought at the time that she was made of maple. Good job I didn't know then that she's actually made of birch! Maybe Joey was so named because I wasn't really sure what to call him. Seven years later I'm still not.

At the moment, Mabel is wearing a lovely 100% cotton warp threaded in the unplain weave I use for quite a bit of my production. I've got two blankets done so far - the first in vieux bleu and the second (at left, and in the pillow pic in previous post) in orange pale. There's enough left on for some pillow fabric or maybe a baby blanket. This is an experimental warp in many ways: it's my first full sized (i.e. 50" wide) heavy cotton production blanket warp, it's a new colour palette and, apart from a short 16"x 3 yd tester warp, it's the first time I've used my DIY sectional beam. (More on this later.) I am happy to report that the experiment is a success! I love the colour palette (which Mom has dubbed "Seaside"), nothing that might've gone wrong with the sectional system has, and the fabric weight promises to be quite lovely for blankets once it's wet finished - which will happen just as soon as the delivery guys bring my new washing machine tomorrow!

Joey, on the other hand, is sporting a more au naturel look - I wove off his last warp a few days ago (the fabric in my Very First Pillow, in fact!) and haven't put anything new on him yet. He's not completely bereft of company, however, which is very au naturel for both looms in a house with four cats, I assure you.

To rectangles and beyond!

Ironically, the project I'm working on right now that's most exciting isn't weaving, it's sewing. I'm going to dedicate my very first post to it just the same, because today marks a major milestone for me. (Besides, it's sewing with my handwoven fabric.)

A bit of history: my dear ol' mum (Hi, Mom!) tried more than once to teach me to sew when I was a girl but my attention span just wasn't up to the task. Fast forward 20 years and now I'm a weaver who makes beautiful fabrics and can't do much with them. I'm tired of trying to answer the question, "What's hot in rectangles this year?" - there's a limit to what a person can do with rectangles, let me tell you - and I haven't had much luck finding a seamstress who can read my mind and knows exactly what I want even though I can't explain it, has nothing better to do than wait for my call, and is happy to work for peanuts. Really, the only solution was to learn to sew myself - I don't meet the last two criteria either but at least I know my own mind. Usually.

What better time to learn to sew than when the year's biggest deadline is looming? (Ha! A pun!) Dear ol' mum came to the rescue and very obligingly agreed to help me prepare for a big show that I'm going to next week with my artisans co-operative (www.mixedmediaartisans.com, www.saltscapesexpo.com) - never mind that she had to fly across the continent and an international border to do so. Everyone should be so lucky! Not only is Mom refurbishing a fair number of half started and poorly finished projects so I can sell them, she's teaching me how to sew as she goes, letting me take gobs of pictures of every step, writing down instructions for me, and then watching with endless patience as I try each bit myself. Amazingly, the intervening 20 years has made a difference, or perhaps motivation is the difference - whatever the reason, I'm actually getting it.

The proof is in the pudd...er, pillow. After she went to bed tonight, I stayed up and made my first pillow from start to finish without adult supervision. I told myself I would keep working until it was done or until I hit the first problem I couldn't sort out without having a tantrum (it was 3:00 a.m., you realize, and tantrums were a definite possibility). And - oh happy day! - I didn't have to stop or throw anything, tantrums or otherwise! The thread didn't gather up into any huge snarls under the fabric. Nothing got stuck or cut off or sewn on where it wasn't meant to. I even remembered to open the zipper so I could turn the pillow right side out - without having to refer to Mom's notes! And, as an added bonus, the pillow cover fits and matches the other two that Mom and I made earlier. I feel like I've finally arrived.

It may not look like much but this, my very first unsupervised pillow, is a major milestone for me. (It's the one in the back - there's nothing wrong with it, really there isn't! I just liked this picture of a pair of pillows best.)

I'm just trying to overlook the fact that the pillow is rectangular...

That's natural fibres, you understand...

... like wool, silk or cotton. Those of you looking for whole grains had best surf right on by as you shan't find any here. Not that I have anything against whole grains, mind you - I simply don't consume them in the same quantities as wool or cotton, which I go through by the kilo. Can you imagine eating that much bran in one sitting? The mind reels.

Now that the dieters have moved on to grainier pastures, I shall explain myself: I'm a handweaver and this is meant to be an account of all things textile in which I'm involved. I was going to call it my WebLog (woven fabric is called a web, you see - as in "oh what a tangled web we weave...") but I figured I'd tire of the pun pretty quickly. WebCam is almost certain to make a regular appearance, however! (See the first installment above.)

Mostly this will consist of warps on my looms and textile projects underway so that people who're interested in what I'm up to can keep tabs on me (Hi, Mom!) and those who've promised to pester me into productivity can see how well they're succeeding (or not). There will also be a smattering of other weavers' projects, stuff related to my local weavers' guild or the classes I teach, weaving drafts I want to share, etc. etc.

So... welcome! I hope you enjoy this blog more than a bowl full of bran. I know I will!

- Janet