First project ON the drawloom

While the assembly of the drawloom consumed most of my summer and early autumn, I am now completely consumed by weaving the first project on my Myrehed single unit drawloom.

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There is something so satisfying about pulling draw cords according to the charted design that I drew. I feel like I have finally found an outlet for my somewhat primitive drawing skills. And, should I not feel like drawing, there are so many sources for charted traditional folk art motifs.

One of my uncles kept bees, and I have given serious thought to getting a hive. Bees are a threatened resource because of the pesticides used in industrial farming. I shudder to think of a world without bees, for it would be a world without fruits and vegetables.

What stopped me from getting a hive is that it would produce 40-50 pounds of honey a year. I probably use a pound of honey in a good year.

Instead, I shall weave my hive and bees, and buy my honey and beeswax from a local farm.

This is the  beginning of a pair of casual napkins for the kitchen table, woven in broken twill using 8/2 cotton. They will be perfect for the breakfast table, especially when serving toast with honey.

Weavers with Blogs

Aside

I’ve updated the list of Weavers with Blogs to include my current reading choices, and also kept a few perennial favorites who I still read on occasion. The site looks much less dusty now, I think.

It’s also time for some new banner images.

 

A good harvest

My garden is metaphorical, but the harvest has been very real. What becomes of winter studies and grand projects that leave me crumpled and worn down by the hot days of summer? They come back to life in autumn, when I am refreshed and once again excited.

img_7089 My winter study in Swedish art weaves is now my favorite shoulder bag. Something about the shape is familiar from my student days. I can feel my hand resting on that bag, but I cannot see it in my mind. The memory is based completely on touch and hand position. It is also familiar from more distant lives, a different bag holding the worldly goods of the barefoot gipsy girl that the gaj called Wild Blue, or another holding the few scraps of sacred text and the begging bowl of an old Buddhist nun.

img_7185The band for my Stjerne coverlet is off the loom, and I played with the ribbon swirls for a while before settling down to sew the band into a mitered border. Despite the three sewing machines in my studio, my hand reaches instinctively for needle and thread. Hand-woven fabric deserves hand-sewn seams. I can backstitch along at a good rate, and I enjoy the contrast between the cool linen border and the complex surface of cotton and linen overshot by woolen pattern threads.

Even the drawloom project is coming along. The first warp is neatly wound around the warp beam and threaded through the pattern heddles at the back of the loom. Now, the long-eyed ground heddle are hanging on their shafts and I am threading a simple broken twill for the first project.

The house and studio have been caught up in enthusiasm of the harvest. I donated three bags of clothing and one large bag of yarn, and have discarded several bags of useless stuff. It feels good to be free of things that no longer bring me joy.

I still marvel at the turns of fate that have brought me to this present moment, and especially at the inner calm that arises when I weave cloth.

 

You can live with someone for years

You can live with someone for years and think you know them. Then one day, you realize that you don’t know them at all.

Per, the big loom that I’ve always called a Glimakra Standard, has had his paternity called into question. When I was adding the extension for the drawloom, there were too many things didn’t fit correctly. His warp beam did not fit into the bolsters. The extension was 10cm. shorter than expected. Had I been able to insert the back beam, It would have been too low.

Why did I ever think he was a Glimakra? That’s what the logo on the beater says. But beaters do not a loom make. The rest of the parts are similar enough to the Glimakra Standards I’ve woven on at Vavstuga. Who notices 10cm when the looms are not side by side and the benches are different. The beater is old, based on the logo and the lack of hardware at the bottom. I just assumed that the whole loom was an old Glimakra.

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Then there was the bench; the one that came with was not a typical Glimakra bench. But benches do not a loom make. I sit on an Oxaback bench by choice, but that does not turn Per into an Oxaback Cyrus.

So, who is this loom I’ve been living with for the past two years? The bench might be a Gesta. But, it bears repeating that a bench does not a loom make. For now, I’ll just call him Per and describe him as a large Scandinavian loom. He’s my big countermarch loom, 135cm, with 10 shafts and treadles, and I still love him, quirks and all.

We managed to customize the loom extension so that it would fit. Everyone at Vavstuga was so accommodating in making this happen. We made up solutions as we went along, adding blocks to the bottom of the extension uprights, and inserting a spacer between the uprights and the bolsters. Everything fits, and the add-ons are almost imperceptible. I even got into the act and cobbled together longer bolts for the bolsters, using threaded rods and locking hex nuts.

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.