Deep into the cloth

When I am deep into the cloth, in the light trance that comes from repetitive movement, my mind is free. Sometimes I think deeply; other times, not at all, just riding along on the cycle of movement.

Yesterday, I sat on the deck, weaving a narrow band in fine wool. Colorful stripes. It was difficult to get into the trance state, because I had to focus on keeping the band a consistent width.  This is more of a concern with fine yarn because the band heddle spreads it so wide. Then I broke a warp thread. There may be a rough spot on this band heddle. I have not used it before.

My thoughts were light, mostly on why some looms, such as band heddles, are nameless tools and other looms call for names. They are all weavers’ tools, like anything else in the studio. Didn’t I just read on a forum that there’s no shame in having a loom without a project on it. I’m not troubled when there’s no warp on the warping mill, or no quill on the bobbin winder. Why should I be concerned that there is no warp on one of my looms?

I don’t know. I need to carry the question with me for a while longer.

While I’ve made much mental progress on what needs to be done to fit the loom extension to my loom, and I have an elegant solution in mind where three modifications will correct all five issues, there has been no physical progress on it.

I am not ready to wind the linen warp for the drawloom. Not yet. Linen warps should not linger in a basket, waiting to be used. They get into all sorts of mischief. It’s just their nature.

One loom will be naked for a while longer. It’s just his nature.

 

Wicked productive

Said with my best approximation of a Massachusetts accent, of course. It is the place I call home now, so I might as well use the local idiom.

I have been wicked productive in the past few weeks. My winter study project in the Swedish art weaves of the Skåne region is off the loom. Yes, it ran long past winter, but I was having such fun with it. I am thrilled to see the fabric, because it was woven face down. It’s fabric for a tote bag. This is the front

IMG_6792The plainer design at the bottom is for the back of the tote.IMG_6790Another project from the winter is finally done. You may recall this shawl, called Opposites Attract. I’m going to appreciate its thickness and warmth on a cold winter’s day. Today, I am content to drape it over a chair in the library and enjoy the warmth of a fine June day.

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What’s happening in the studio?

I still have warp for more Swedish art weaves on the 4-shaft Julia. The other Julia is set up to weave the wide border for my Stjerne coverlet.  Three yards done, and four to go. Per, my big old Standard, is naked, as is often the case, but there is something very exciting in his future. I have purchased a ‘harnesk’  or single-unit drawloom! There are some minor technical difficulties in getting the loom extension set up.  Per is a non-standard Standard. There are loom parts all over the studio right now. It looks like a loom exploded in there.

I have fallen in love with weaving damask, and am so excited that I will be able to do it in my own studio. Here are two pieces that I wove at Vävstuga Weaving School a few weeks ago.

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Winter is over, but my project rolls on

I’m still weaving on my ‘winter’ project of Swedish art weaves. It’s been nearly impossible to share what I have woven, because these techniques are woven face down. I only had small glimpses of what my work looked like until it came so far over the beam that I could peer down at it.

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It is to be a small cushion cover, and I’m currently weaving a simple striped length for the back.

I’m not sure when this warp will be off the loom. If there will be enough left, I want to keep weaving. Halvkrabba pin cushions? Fabric for a small purse?

So glad you have caught up

You may recall that I didn’t set my clocks back when Daylight Savings ended last autumn. I kept going, deciding that I wanted to experience the slow progression of sunrise and sunset within the season, rather than being thrust abruptly into a different part of the day at the whim of some lawmakers.

Now, you’ve changed your clocks again.  I had no need to, and I never will again.

I hope the day finds you in good health. Moving the clock forward is hard on the body.  Take it easy. Sleep late if you can. Consider making this the last time you change your clock. Remember that there is statistical evidence that more auto accidents occur when the clocks change, and there is mounting evidence that the risk of heart attack and strokes increases when the clocks are set ahead in the spring.

For me, it will be nice to look at a public clock and not have to add an hour to what I see, or to be mistaken for a morning person, as I was all winter.

If you wonder why my standard time is actually now, and not in the winter, I made that decision to keep myself in sync with public time for as many months of the year as possible, and it seems natural for me to have my winter daylight at the end of my day.

Looking back at the winter,  I feel as if I was more productive and creative than usual, and I suffered less from feeling in disharmony with the season. November was a bit of a struggle, as I grappled with the practical details of being out of sync with everyone.

There is a rising interest in abolishing the time changes. No one makes a compelling argument for them, and we are a far less regimented society than we once were. Why not give it a try?

But what about the farmers? That’s always the excuse, right?  Well, I strongly support the idea that the farmers should set their working hours to take best advantage of the daylight. The only thing I ask is that they not expect the entire nation to follow.

 

A meter and a half

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Cross this one off my bucket list; my Stjerne coverlet is woven. Ever since I have been weaving at Vävstuga, I’ve wanted to weave the cloth for this small coverlet. I spent four days creating this, choosing colors, modifying the draft to create the wide multicolor stripes, and weaving as fast as I could, to produce the cloth that has been living in my dreams. It even looks the way I imagined, with the dark grey wool softening the pattern, and the black stripes erasing the rigid symmetry of overshot. Fårö wool comes in such beautiful colors, and I was able to select shades of yellow, blue, green and light red that play well together and have the look of indigo, goldenrod and madder dyes.

See the sample of charcoal grey sheepskin resting on the cloth? This is what I have chosen for the lining of the coverlet. I can’t wait to go for a sleigh ride with this coverlet to keep me warm. (Some assembly required. Snow not included).

But first, I must design, weave and sew on a mitered border, maybe 10cm. in width This will add a bit of interest and a bit of size to the coverlet. Then, the fabric will go to the leather worker to have the  lining made, and then back to me for sewing it all together.

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My own studio seems so quiet after four days of weaving at Vävstuga, where all the looms come together in a symphony of creaks and thumps. Weavers talk from loom to loom, in disjointed conversations punctuated by intense silence when the work demands it. I like to think that the improvisations in my weaving ( I won’t call them mistakes because they are all in the spirit of the pattern) were born of the good conversations.

If I had all the time in the world to weave the cloth, it might have been more perfect. I only had four days. But, would perfect cloth, woven slowly and meticulously, have been as lively as cloth woven at a breakneck pace?

When we are filled with joy and enthusiasm, perfection is far from mind. Meter upon meter of thread passed through my fingers, at least two kilometers, and maybe more. I am satisfied with my cloth, and proud that I was able to push through the fatigue and get it done. What kept me going at times was a silly rhyme that my mother taught me when I was a child.

I had to laugh

To see the calf

Go down the path

A mile and a half

In a minute and a half

To have a bath

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With certainty, yet open to what comes along

It’s January, and that means winter project time for me. Last year, I had no idea what I wanted to do, and ended up making my studio a more efficient work space. No wonder I wove so many things last year.

This year, I am very excited about my project. I am going to study Swedish art weaves: halvkrabba, krabbasnår, dukagång and rölakan. I am slightly familiar with rölakan, because it is interlocking tapestry, woven on a floor loom.

I have a sampler project from a back issue of Väv magazine as my starting point, If I like the experience and am pleased with what I’ve woven, I may mirror the sampler to create a long cushion for one of my weaving benches. If not, it could become a square cushion or a bag. I am open to all the possibilities.

The warp has been wound and is ready to beam on, and. I have ordered the yarn from Vävstuga. I am poised to begin.

All of this is possible because I am attuned to the rhythm of this place that is my home and studio. I know more about the person I am and the weaver that I’ve become. One of the strangest realizations is that I have absolutely no creative energy in November and December. The ever shortening daylight during that time sends me into a fog, and all I can do is wrap in a blanket, meditate and make gossamer plans. Now that the winter solstice is past, I can feel my energy returning and I am capable of a little more action.

In celebration of 2015

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A year of my life

I can see that I’ve found my way again as a weaver. Perhaps I was never really lost, but there were so many obstacles, whether real or perceived, for so many years, that I had begun to doubt.

In no particular order, this is what I wove

  • 3 small tapestries
  • 1 baby blanket
  • 4 placemats
  • 1 pillow cover
  • 3 mug rugs (and 9 more to be hemmed)
  • 3 tea towels
  • 3 potholders to match the tea towels
  • Assorted bands
  • 1 scarf
  • 2 baskets
  • 1 bowl
  • 1 doll
  • 1 amulet bag
  • 1 place setting bag

I also knit a pair of fingerless mitts. They count because the knitting class was at Vävstuga, my favorite weaving school.

This was also the year where I refined my herd of looms, giving Honey (Schacht Standard) a big hug and letting her set out on adventures of her own, and welcoming Juliet (Glimåkra Julia) to the studio. I also welcomed a new tapestry loom, band heddles, and a Norwegian cradle loom.

Wrapped in autumn’s quiet cloak, but still restless

Each new day at Buttonwood is a gift. Autumn is both a season of drawing inward and of expanded horizons. I love nothing more than to sit wrapped in a woolen blanket, enjoying the solitude of my own thoughts. Yet, this is also a time of people coming together, being festive, and anticipating the solstice. Contrasts are good. They make me appreciate the finer parts of each. Contrasts are not good. They distract me from the stillness.

Today’s solitude is one of those contrasts, because I am home from a long weekend in New York City, and what could be a greater contrast to my life here than the bustle of the city? I’ve left most of my city life far behind me, but I cherish visiting with a good friend, laughing ourselves silly and talking ourselves hoarse. This year we visited three holiday markets, and as always, found the Union Square market the most festive and beautiful.

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There is nothing more joyful than colorful lights on a dark night. It’s what we do best at this time of year.

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I have not had an easy time coming into inner stillness this year.  Have I been too restless to find the wisdom that lives deep within the heart? It’s always possible that the serenity of the stillness itself is the only gift.

Little did I imagine that wisdom would arrive with such clarity on a noisy and crowded subway platform.

There were three young men hanging out at the end of the platform, in the narrow section just before the stairs. They were not exactly blocking the way, but they were hanging out with a bit of attitude, in a way that didn’t give us room to pass. I didn’t say anything, but I looked right into the eyes of one of the young men and smiled.

He smiled back at me, and they rearranged themselves so that we could walk to the stairs.

Never underestimate the power of a smile.

With all the tension in the world right now, it is easy to become separated from each other.

A smile can bring us back together.

Celebrating the work of other artisans

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Everything on my kitchen table is handmade, and none of it by me. It feels good to appreciate and to support the work of others that I admire.

Highlighting what is new–a gorgeous block weave tablecloth by one of my favorite weavers, Beverly Bowman of Northampton. Beverly is a Vävstuga alumna and her work is just wonderful. The mug and muffin plate are by Leona Arthen of Triskele Design. I love the playful snowflakes in the blue glaze on the plate. Pottery is a very mysterious thing, and even the potter can be surprised by the transformations that happen in the kiln. In addition to being a potter, Leona is also a spinner, weaver, knitter and painter.

Hurry! You can make it to the Hilltown Artisans sale, which runs until 4PM today (Nov 14) and from 10-4 tomorrow. It’s at the Worthington Town Hall.

Not wasting the daylight

Most years, I complain about the return to Standard Time. This year, I decided to do something about it. I have chosen to keep Atlantic Standard Time, which means that I didn’t turn my clock back an hour.

There are a few more weeks of glorious late afternoon sun, and I don’t want to waste a minute of it.