Friday, March 30, 2012

End of March Goings On

Sandra's Log Cabin cotton dishtowels

Lambswool houndstooth check for hunting jackets

Stevie's Pinwheel wool/silk scarves

threading up for some fine wool serge 

Rose's rayon spot weave

starting dishtowel production again

Susan O's fine cotton for napkins

It's a quiet end to winter/beginning of spring this week, and we're back to more seasonable cold temperatures. There's no snow on the ground after our heat wave the weeks previous, but we've been having dustings of snow overnight that vanish during the day, and it's been too raw outdoors to dispense with heating the barn.

We've been quietly and busily finishing up projects and starting new ones this week. I made the rounds of the looms to check in with what's being worked on right now.

Sandra's been working on two long log cabin warps for dishtowels in 8/2 cotton. They're really beautiful! But she's been getting tired of weaving the same pattern at home and here at the studio, so she's started weaving up the remainders in a 2/2 twill to change what she's looking at.

I just made a warp of fine lambswool to weave nine yards of checked houndstooth for a client who wants some jackets made. It was a great warping exercise for me...24 spools on the skarne in this springy delicate was such a good opportunity to practice picking a cross with more warps than I've ever attempted before, and to refine my hand technique to manipulate the tension in the least possible way.

Stevie's weaving another run of pinwheel scarves in wool/silk...this time a very elegant combination of navy blue and a golden curry color. The sett is more open on these, which flattens out the pinwheel shapes in the weave, but they're really great-looking.

After much back-and-forth getting the dye color right, we've just put on a warp of fine worsted to weave a run of serge for another client. It's very bouncy yarn...lots of fun to thread!

Rose has been working on a spot weave piece with some rayon yarn we've had kicking around here. It's an old pattern of roses and diamonds that's apparently traditional to Vermont. She's been having a good time learning about weaving with fine slippery stuff, and about how the weft color can change so much about the appearance of her pattern.

Of course, we have more dishtowel warps going on to start producing for the holiday is never too early to do that, it seems, and in addition, many of the away students buy these finished towels to take home while they're here taking a course.

Susan O has got another fine cotton warp on for more napkins...her color choices are so beautiful for spring, I think.

Susan W is warping to weave up more linen cloth. Her last project, which was a 5-harness satin weave in white linen with hand-dyed blue stripes washed up with some of that blue running into the white. But she managed to figure out how to clear those stains out of the white...she applied straight bleach to dry fabric, in the white areas, not the blue, and then neutralized the bleach with hydrogen peroxide. All the stains came right out and her white is snowy once more.

Well, that's all for this week...

Friday, March 23, 2012

Workshop and Presentation at New Hampshire Weavers Guild

the carriage house at the Kimball-Jenkins Estate

checking in before the morning programs

sample looms at our morning workshop on warping stripes

Kate presented a slideshow about the school in the afternoon

samples of our work were on display in the gallery

On Wednesday, March 21st a group of us traveled to Concord, NH to the March meeting of the New Hampshire Weavers Guild. It was one of those flukey, ultra-warm sunny days we've been having recently...a great day to get up before dawn and be on the road by sunrise to go on a road trip.

Lynnette and I presented a workshop in the morning about the use of stripes in traditional weaving, with a hands-on portion so everyone could dive right in and try their hand at the technique of warping with multiple strands of yarn to quickly build a striped warp. We brought a couple of sample looms too, one set up with 8/2 cotton stripes and the other with a 5-harness satin weave in a fine 2's/20 worsted, so participants would have the opportunity to try colors with different weave structures and have a taste of the concepts we introduced in our presentation. We had 21 people sign up for this, so it was a busy morning.

After a pleasant lunch break outdoors in the shade, Kate gave an hour-long talk and slideshow about the history of the Marshfield School of Weaving, and her involvement with the early days of the school, through various subsequent incarnations, including a segment on the historical textile research that she has pursued throughout her years as a producer of some of the finest handwoven reproduction textiles in the country.

Afterwards, guild members had opportunity to look at, touch, and examine a large selection of the textiles we produce here at MSW and Eaton Hill Textile Works.

It was such a lovely day...although I'll admit I almost fell asleep driving home...a warm afternoon, the 3-5pm slump that always seems to affect all of us here at the studio, and an early start all contributed to that, I'm sure. We had a great time working as a team to put this whole thing together.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Harnesses to Sidesticks Tie-Up

Finally a post about the harness to sidestick tie-up, as a reminder for everyone who might find this confusing to remember from set-up to set-up...begin by setting up the sidesticks so that the ties are between the lease sticks and the harnesses. The lease sticks should be between the ties and the warp beam. These photographs are all taken from the right side of the loom, so the warp beam is on my right and the beater and breast beam are on my left. This will demonstrate the tie-up on the right side. To tie up the left side of the harnesses, simply perform the same process heading in the the opposite direction.

The first movement is to bring up a loop of the tie on the inside of the sidestick with the tail of the tie hanging down towards the left.

Next, pull the loop towards you, across the top of the sidestick, and slip the loop underneath the end of the No.4 harness, taking care not to twist the loop, and keeping the tail end on the left side of the loop, right next to the harness.

The next movement is to lift the end of the harness slightly and slip the tail end of the loop underneath the harness, so the tail is now between the No.3 and the No.4 harnesses, with the loop now going over the top of the No.4 on the inside of the sidestick.

Now, pulling on the tail of the tie, just cinch up the slack in the loop, so the tie is snug over the top of the No.4 harness, on the inside of the sidestick. Pull the tail of the tie underneath the sidestick towards you, and towards the right of the No.4.

The next movement is to make another loop with the tie that begins coming up on the outside of the sidestick to the right of the No.4 harness, goes over the top of the No.4, and has the tail hanging down between the No.3 and the No.4.

Then just cinch up the loop over the outside of the top of the No.4 by pulling the tail of the tie.

Now you'll just be repeating the same sequence of movements for each of the remaining harnesses, and to abbreviate this list of photographs I'll only do the next two movements in the sequence and leave the rest for you to work out the logic of on your own. So bring the tie under the sidestick to the inside and bring up another loop with the tail hanging towards the left (or the front of the loom).

And then once again, draw that loop over the top of the sidestick towards you, keeping the tail end next to the No.3 harness. And repeat all the steps to tie down the No.3.

Now we've come to the end of the tie-downs, so how to neatly and effectively finish this off without making a rat's nest?
We'll be finishing it off with a Clove Hitch in a Bight. So bring up another loop on the inside of the sidestick with the tail hanging to the front of the loom (just to keep in the habit of doing that).

Bring the loop over the top of the side stick towards you, but open up that last loop you made on the outside of the No.1 and feed the loop through that. You can pull out a length of loop, because you'll need it to execute the rest of the clove hitch. What you've just tied is a Half Hitch, which is half of a Clove Hitch. The bight is the loop you are tieing it with, which, like the slip knot we use in so many places, makes this whole thing easy to take out when you go to untie it.

The photo above shows how I've make another Half Hitch, to complete the Clove Hitch.

Cinch it up, and...

...VOILA! I'm done.

To tie up the other side of the harnesses, simply repeat this sequence, but go in the opposite direction.
Good luck!

Friday, March 9, 2012

A Bit of Mary Hays' Recent Work

the rust/purple throw

the blue shawl

the blue shawl on a body

Mary Hays just sent us a few photographs of a few things she's been working on...the first is a lovely twill plaid throw in rust and purple that she wove for one of her daughters. She says that she ran out of weft on that one because she didn't realize how high her pick count had been while she was weaving away, which always seems to be one of those things that Kate reminds all of us to attend to, both in our project planning and in the weaving. It can seem like a nuisance to have to keep track of while I'm weaving, but doing that over time has helped me to become more consistent and aware in my weaving. Such a gorgeous throw, Mary! I love your color and design choices here. {Lucky daughter you have.}

The second piece is a blue shawl, made for a tall woman {at 32" x 81" plus fringe, it's long and voluminous on petite Mary, who donned it so we could see the drape and the overall size of the work}. It sounds like she's been experimenting with different shuttles...she used an end-delivery shuttle for the blue shawl and found it worked very well with a light and airy beat, to make a fabric with a nice "hand" that would drape well on the body. We use end-delivery shuttles here at the school because it's possible to regulate the tension on the yarn as it pays out of the shuttle, which is a great help in keeping tidy selvedges and even filler. They are expensive, but they seem to be an indispensable tool to us in our quest for economy in handweaving.

Beautiful work, Mary...are you coming to lunch soon?

Friday, March 2, 2012

Two Pretty Throws

Sandra's wool and alpaca throw

Stevie's alpaca throw

There are a couple of sweet things that have come off the looms lately.

Sandra had a throw to weave for a teenaged relative who requested the colors pink, purple, and green in a wool and alpaca throw (wool warp, alpaca filler). She had quite a time figuring out how to design with the guidelines given. Since the color choices from our yarn supplier in this narrow range were somewhat unsuitable, she opted for choosing colors as close to those as seemed to work well together for her warp, with lots of input from everyone else in the studio, including Norman. It's one of the benefits of working with everyone will never run out of opinions or other points of view!

Her next conundrum appeared when she tried to use a white filler, and realized that it just didn't work. The vibrant colors of the warp were just too washed out by the white, and because of the high contrast with the warp colors, every slight imperfection of beat was revealed. What to do?!?

So we put out heads together and came up with using a filler of hand-dyed alpaca in a warm salmon orange. worked. The slight variegation of the hand-dyeing helped to deepen the overall effect of the way this color interacted with all the other warp enhanced and made them rich and luscious, and created this subtle impression of a warm glow suffusing the whole. It was a very interesting exercise in applying color theory for all of us, and the end result was really a stunning piece!

Stevie has a great love of tackling complex, multi-harness projects out of the weaving magazines. She has a mind that simply adores the challenge of understanding and setting up a complex countermarche tie-up, and she has the skill and persistence to execute these projects beautifully.

This throw was woven in alpaca. It's an 8-harness tie-up and the pattern is called Pinwheel. Stevie's also weaving a run of fine scarves using the same pattern, and I know that one of our Vermont students, Beth Balon, won a blue ribbon for her entry woven in Pinwheel, last fall at the Tunbridge Fair. It's a really spectacular pattern. We'll try and post a photo of Stevie's scarves next time.