Saturday, March 11, 2017

"L'Amour de Maman" - by Thomas Whitmore, workshop participant

"Melissa Weaver Dunning's January 2017 workshop at Marshfield titled "L'Amour de Maman: 2-Harness Weavings of the Acadians and French Canadians" was enjoyable and a great learning experience for my wife Melanie and me.  More than we anticipated, studying at Marshfield School of Weaving was rewarding and transformative.  Marshfield is a unique facility with an amazing diversity of historic looms, spinning wheels, and related equipment, and the instructors share the knowledge and skills that allow workshop participants to continue the legacy of traditional weaving heritages.  We were hesitant about travelling from Florida to Vermont in January, but Marshfield offered a warm and welcoming environment that made our trip worthwhile.  Walking in the door was like stepping into the past, and we were inspired by all facets of weaving work around us.  There was an impressive reference collection of dyed yarns at the entrance, and a large collection of historic spinning wheels was undergoing restoration in a workshop. 

Comaraderie among instructors and participants was wonderful.  The current owner of Marshfield, Kate Smith, was accommodating and had all activities well organized.  We were very fortunate on this occasion because our instructor Melissa was joined by Norman Kennedy, the school's original founder and a Master Weaver who has studied weaving traditions around the world.
Melissa began with a lecture about the history of weaving in French Canada, and how it travelled to the Acadian culture of Louisiana.  She demonstrated distinctive aspects of weaving traditions of both cultures. 

Gladys Clark, who Norman new personally, was one of the great
Acadian spinners and weavers in Louisiana.
Norman returned from lunch one afternoon with a collection of his fine work from years past, which he shared with participants.  It was truly inspiring.  
Traditional weavings of French Canada are a particular interest of mine, and learning techniques on a historic, 2-shaft loom, such as my Canadian ancestors would have used, was a special experience.
L'Amour 2017 instructors and participants.

We learned a great deal, and our time at Marshfield was richly rewarding and inspiring.  I waited 8 years to take a workshop at Marshfield because I thought my weaving skills needed to be more advanced, but I was mistaken.  Beginners were made welcome and comfortable, and were quickly brought up to speed.  I missed opportunities by hesitating in taking Marshfield workshops in the past, but I will not do that again.  We sincerely encourage others to seek their own great experiences at Marshfield.

-Tom Whitmore
St. Petersburg, Florida

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