Saturday, January 7, 2017

Weaving Rag Rugs with Tee Shirts Jan Gendreau

The first step in weaving a rag rug from tee shirts is to figure out what you want to do and how to do it! I nearly wore out the books I borrowed from Lois.  Lots of ideas—so difficult to choose! When I showed my favor- ites to Kate at Marshfield Weaving, she said, “Jan, you never do choose the easy ones!” I still haven’t woven my favorite examples—maybe someday!
Sorted clean t-shirts (these have been waiting for 5 yrs!) Instead of giving Don’s shirts to the thrift shop I decided they should be a bath mat for the kids. I included some of my shirts that I shouldn’t have been seen wearing outside the house. See the yellow in the foreground? I wore that for 23 yrs, painted in it, etc. as you can see. The darn thing wouldn’t wear out—too much polyester.

Cutting...I cut off the sleeves and the hem at the bottom, folded shirt almost in half (to w/in 2” of the other side), got out my rotary cutter and cut across the body from the bottom up to the arm holes in 1.5” strips. Don’t cut all the way across.
Can you see where I stopped cutting? That’s about 1.5” before the other side. There are 10 strips that will turn out to be 1 long strip!
Here’s the uncut side of the shirt. I cut diagonally starting at my index finger, slanting over to the op-
posite slit on the left. I found I could get 15-20 yard strips this way. The jags in the fabric dis- appear. The black lines are where I cut.
The next step was to stretch the strip.
I was curious to see how much length was gained by stretching—not as much as I expected! But see how nice and neat that reformed strip is? Because it curls to the front w/inside show- ing on the outside—no stains, paint, fading, etc! Nice new colors exposed. Look at those beautiful balls of “yarn”!!!
This is a mock-up of my first rug, made of all the pieces cut across the chest and back of the shirts. I
guess I was saving those 20 yard pieces for last! These were 18” long +/- DO NOT stretch strips before sewing together! It was a bear to uncurl all those ends and sew diagonally to join them!! I showed up at Marshfield with a ball of “yarn” the size of a basketball, ready to weave! Of course, I had to cut it into smaller lengths to fit on the shuttle!
It’s beginning to look like a unit! It took 1 day to weave the first rug. Then I spent the evening at home trying to figure out what to do with #2. I was hoping for wedge shapes traveling up the sides!!
Almost, but not quite. I’m going to try again in the near future. And there’s my yellow t-shirt!!
And what little was left of my warp turned into this. I liked this a lot. It was easiest to do: weave with long lengths of 1 color and beat in little scraps for sparkle. And NO curled strips to sew together!! Another future project!
Weaver’s info:
6 epi of rug warp (8/4 cotton) in a 6 dent reed
27” wide in the reed
Hems woven w/ double warp thread, wound on ski shuttle instead of bobbin Approx. 2# of shirts/rug

Friday, December 30, 2016

The gift from the American Textile History Museum.

Sometime around the end of the summer the school received an email from Karen Herbaugh, curator at the American Textile History Museum, telling us of the museum's closing and the consequent need to divest itself of their vast collection. They were contacting us, since it was known that the school had recently become a non-profit institution,  and we were now eligible to receive some of their de-accessioned equipment. This news was greeted by our staff and Board of Directors with both awe and sadness as this museum was a landmark in the history of textile technology and their collection one of the finest. Once we agreed to this proposal there was much work to do and Kate immediately began construction on a section of her barn where the bulk of the equipment would be stored until it was needed for classes at the school. Once the site was ready, we began the first of three trips down to Lowell with an amazing crew of volunteers and their vehicles. For the first two trips we rented a 26' UHaul - driven by Jim Colgan, truck driver extraordinare - and had the loan of many other small truck and cars. Special thanks for all of their help go to Linda and Jeff Gabrielson, Patty Lewis, Alan Castonguay, Nelly Detra, Elena Hovey, Robert Almodovar, Lauren Walker, Brittany Lewis, Sue Carpenter, Ellie Blachly, Heidi Beilenberg, Justin Squizzero, Craig Evans, Norman Kennedy, Kate Smith, Dosia Sanford, and Elkin! Now that some of the equipment is here we are looking forward to sharing some of these treasures with our students via a set of new classes. We feel a great responsibility to keep these artifacts safe and sound but to also use them in the manner that they were intended and to allow them to be seen and used by many!
The museum was housed in an old mill building in Lowell, MA.

Museum Entrance.

New Storage Area in Kate's Barn.
The trucks arrive at Dracut Storage.
The storage area in Dracut.
Sue and Brittany moving a loom.
Al getting ready to dismantle one of the looms.
Sue loading the box of spinning wheels.
Al, Sue and Jim unloading one of the barn looms.
Some of the new barn looms in Kate's barn.
Lunch in one of the museums conference rooms.
Norman in the storage area at the museum.
Our hero, Jim Colgan.
Elkin, Ellie and Alan unloading the last barn loom.
Pizza for the tired crew!
Some of the treasures.....
Three double handed spinning wheels.
An incredibly carved tenterhook and a signed and dated rigid heddle.
An iron holder for teasles to raise the nap of wool cloth.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Three Musketeers....our fall work study students!

This fall we were fortunate to have three long term students here to weave with us....Nelly from VT, Eva from Paris, and Annick from the Netherlands. They were all incredibly enthusiastic and full of energy and some beautiful fabrics were woven while they were here. Because our fall weather was so mild this year, we were able to do lots of natural dyeing still outside and the colors that they achieved were phenomenal. I have only included a small portion of what they each wove during their stay....but you'll get the idea!

Our Three Musketeers!
Nelly from VT, Eva from Paris, and Annick from the Netherlands
enjoying our perfect fall weather.

Nelly's first project was a hand spun, hand dyed Scottish Arisaid.

Norman leading the waulking of Nelly's Arisaid.

Annick weaving Scottish Tweed.

Eva weaving the classic French white with red
stripes for dishtowels.
Eva's hand dyed indigo Alpaca Throw.
Annick grinding our home grown madder to dye reds and oranges
for her Calimanco.
Some of the finished colors.
Annick planning her Calimanco.
On the loom and ready to weave.
Eva dyeing the blues and greens for her Scottish Tartan.
Eva's yarn all ready for warping.
Nelly beaming on her hand dyed wool/mohair yarn
for a Sias Burton carpet.
The finished carpet.
The finished tartan.....with Arlo.
The finished Calimanco.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Summer 2016 Highlights

We had a very exciting and full summer this year with incredible weather for all of our outdoor workshops but a bit too much heat for our indoor ones! At any rate, here is a small showing of some of our more memorable moments!
Jolie Lerner's beautiful Alpaca rugs from locally grown Alpaca.

Caroline Ridout took a week off from being the head chef on the
Maine Schooner - Stephen Taber - to come weave dishtowels.

Jill & Jonny Magi came all the way from the United Arab Emirates
to learn to weave so that they could go back and teach their
Jonny with his cotton sampler.
Elena Hovey was back for a third time this year to weave a wool throw.

Melissa Goetz proudly showing the processed flax from
the Flax Intensive.

Collecting Japanese Indigo for Joann Darlings - Meadows and
Hedgerows dye class.

Mary Lycan's wool throw.
Kathryn Wojciechowski working on overshot.

From our Indigo and Madder Intensive -
Red & Blue
Jane Quimby - Shibori Instructor
Some of the indigo shibori
Some of the madder printing.
Happy weavers from the 19th c. Household Textiles workshop.
The happy dyers from Joann Darlings Mushroom class.

Deborah Livingston Lowe tying up the Draw loom.
Justin unloading the Jacquard head.

Jim Colgan raising the head to rest on the supporting beams.

Marina Contro and Dosia Sanford attaching the harness.