Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Little News About Jerry Osterman

Jerry using his spindle

using the great wheel for long-draw spinning

knitting socks with his handspun, hand-dyed wool

a skein of Jerry's beautiful 2-ply yarn

Susan baking sugar cookies in her Vermont kitchen

Jerry Osterman is the husband of Susan, one of our weekly students here at the weaving studio. In November of 2009, Jerry decided he'd like to learn how to spin, and took a week-end-long class with Norman Kennedy, where he learned first to spin with a spindle, and then on a great wheel, with Norman's unique method of traditional long-draw spinning.

He went home and began practicing everything he'd learned, encountering over time the necessity of training himself to spin consistently in differing yarn sizes. After some time he was building up quite a stash of yarn, and one day at the studio, Norman inquired with Susan about how Jerry was doing with his spinning, and when she replied that he was spinning up a storm, Norman said, "And what is he doing with all that yarn? He should be knitting!" So Susan taught Jerry the basics of knitting. And Jerry started knitting hats, and more hats, and even more hats. And he liked it, that knitting, just as much as all the spinning.

Feeling the need to broaden his horizons, Jerry then took a knitting class at The Knitting Studio in Montpelier, where he started knitting his first sweater. And then he branched out into making socks, and designing his own hats. And kept knitting, and spinning, and knitting some more...

He gives everything away to friends or enthusiastic admirers of his work because he just loves doing this. He even takes his knitting projects to work (he's one of the partners at Osterman & Burke, an accounting firm in Barre), and can be found busily knitting away while taking a lunch or coffee break. His work is wonderful and earthy and creative, and we love it that he enjoys his spinning and the fruit of it so very much.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

In Her Own Words...

Mary Margaret at the loom

her beautiful summer blanket/winter sheet

finishing up the indigo dyeing for an upcoming project

It does not seem like I have been in Vermont for nearly two weeks!  I am enjoying every minute I spend in the studio. I am currently weaving a summer blanket/winter sheet.  Because it is so much wider than the dishtowels I have previously done, it has been a bit challenging, but I really like the way it is coming along.

Yesterday we started dyeing the wool for my next blanket. I am so excited to learn about natural dyes!  I love the indigo vat and I can't wait to see how the pomegranate turns out.

After each day in the studio I get to come home and look through the books Kate has lent me from her library. I have never seen such an extensive collection of books dedicated to historical textiles!  Right now I am working on one book all about coverlets woven in Tennessee and another about textiles and equipment used in early Canadian settlements.

There is such a vast wealth of knowledge at the Marshfield School of Weaving. I hope to soak up as much as I possible can during my time here!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Carpets for Winter

Silas Burton carpets

Silas Burton carpet woven by Kate Smith

warp-faced carpet woven by Susan Osterman

a run of small carpets woven by Lynnette for our holiday studio sale

indigo venetian carpet woven by Lynnette for one of our Eaton Hill clients

detail of the indigo carpet still on the loom - very luscious underfoot

Izzy helping Deb Livingston measure her hand-dyed ikat stair runner, fresh off the loom

Warp-faced carpeting is one of the favorite projects woven by students here at the school, and because it is a plain weave it is one that beginning students can weave without too much difficulty. The most complicated part of the process is actually in the design work and warping but once it's on the loom the weaving is pretty straightforward. Most of our carpets these days are all hand-dyed from a beautiful custom spun 2 ply English long wool yarn. Our friends at Jagger Brothers in Maine did the spinning of this yarn from imported English wool and the result is a yarn that takes the dye well and holds up famously for carpets.  We use either a cotton or linen filler for the weft.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Winter Intensive Study

Summer Blanket/Winter Sheet

Overshot and Summer Winter

Checked Blanketing

Linens - pillowcases and sheets

Fancy Bedcover Weaves

Linen Towels

Checked Linen

Tow Linen Bags

Kate Smith (left) and Mary Margaret Kirkpatrick (right)
work up a draft in the studio

Welcome to our opening post for 2011. We are excited to be starting our first long-term study program this month with a young college student from Memphis, Tennessee, Mary Margaret Kirkpatrick.

She is going to be here for the winter, studying and weaving the textiles that would have been included in a 19th C. woman's wedding dowry - blankets, linens for the kitchen and bedstead, and a fancy bedcover.

She will learn natural dyeing, spinning, and all the appropriate finishing techniques for each piece. There will be a strong historic element to her study of these textiles, and she will have access to our vast library of books and collection of antique textiles.

She will keep you posted on her progress in upcoming posts.

We are currently in the process of developing a curriculum for continuing intensive studies in historic textiles. Here is an outline of what we're going to be offering:

CLOTHING FABRICS      8 week intensive
    Scottish Tweed
    Linen Checked Shirting
    Worsted Drugget Skirting
    Silk Twill
    Cotton Stripes
    Singles Wool Shawls

19th C. DOWRY TEXTILES      8 week intensive
    Summer Blanket/Winter Sheet
    Checked Wool Blanketing
    Linen Towels
    Linen Pillowcases
    Fancy Bedcover

LINEN INTENSIVE       10 weeks
    Linen Towels - Huck & M's & O's
    Linen Tablecloth - Spot Weave
    Linen Shirting - Singles Plain Weave
    Linen Sheets
    Linen Pillowcases in Bird's Eye
    Checked Linen Napkins

    Shaker Rag Rugs
    Swedish Krokbrog
    French Canadian Warp-Faced Jaspe
    Scottish Ingrain
    Kilim Tapestry Weft-Faced
    19th C. Venetian Carpets