Up and Weaving

I found a wicker chair that fits into the front of the loom, and was able to thread the loom in total comfort.

This time, I threaded a very simple monk’s belt pattern. It can be woven a variety of ways: stripes, checkerboard or intermittent ribbons.

When I weave freestyle over the framework of a traditional pattern, I am reminded of a palimpsest, a manuscript that was mostly erased and then overwritten. The shadows of the past are seen in glimpses and they color the image in subtle ways.

20130805-104459.jpg

A leg on each corner

Aside

I was all set to re-thread the long black warp for I Am HOME, until I was about to sit down and start threading. I looked around the room and wondered: sit on what? The dining chairs I used to use, with legs slender enough to stand between the treadles, are long gone, purposefully left behind when I moved. This is going to be interesting. The dining room chairs at Sparrow Hill came with the house, and are of the wrong type, with the metal shaped into sides rather than individual legs. Maybe, just maybe, my slipper chair can be trundled downstairs. Hidden beneath the upholstery skirt, it has short but slender legs.

When studio and home blend seamlessly together, it’s easy to forget that something like a dining room chair is an essential part of the weaving process.

All in good time, because there’s a new loom in the house…

Fog on Sparrow Hill

The mornings have been very foggy on Sparrow Hill. I love the muted colors that emerge from the swirls of mist, and I realize that there is more grey and taupe than I had remembered. The Misted Hills coat was colored by longing. This collection of yarn is colored by the view out my window. Some difference.

For a change, I am not working in wool, and I probably will not use much handspun in this piece. That’s the promise I made to myself—that projects featuring wool and silk should be mostly hand spun, but not when I am working in cotton and other plant fibers. I do have a scant bobbin’s worth of handspun cotton, soft and a bit fragile, that can be inlaid over a sturdier thread.

Over the weekend, I had a chance to hang out with a lot of weavers, first at the New England Weavers’ Seminar(NEWS) and later at a Ravelry weavers’ gathering at WEBS. It was interesting to see how the other half weaves. I saw some incredible pieces woven on 12, 16 or 24 shafts, amazingly complex designs. I respect the knowledge and talent that goes into these projects, but I also realized that I couldn’t live with such smooth and regularly patterned cloth. I am wondering, though, if I could bring a little bit of woven pattern into my work, perhaps an occasional stripe of pattern , treating it just like another color and texture?

I also had fun pulling the weft colors together at WEBS, with Jeen suggesting accent colors. She had not even seen the warp, just the three cones of yarn that I selected as the principal colors. I was working from memory because I didn’t have any of the warp colors with me. I was wearing a t-shirt that has the same grays and mauves in it, so that was my reference point. It all came together quite well, and we had fun choosing the yarn.

20130715-103759.jpg

Next, I will expand on these core colors, going lighter or darker, rougher or smoother, more matte or more shiny, until I have the twenty or thirty different yarns that make up a project . What if I take some fabric and cut very narrow strips? That technique is called sakiori.

Just in case you were wondering, there’s a reason I didn’t select any taupe for the weft. There is a lot of taupe in the warp, and I want to avoid large flat areas of plain taupe. By using grey woven across the taupe, these areas will have a subtle vibration.

I have a lot of projects ahead of me right now, so it may be quite some time until Fog on Sparrow Hill comes to the loom. There’s ten wonderful yards of black warp ahead of me.

Lightly woven

I couldn’t end the day under the weight of just plain words. Instead, have a breeze. A zephyr. A bit of lightly woven fabric to float past your eyes, tickle your nose, and flow into your heart.

IMG_0634I am particularly tickled by the streamers of sari silk ribbon. It’s important for cloth to flutter like the tail of a kite. Like a banner in the wind.

 

First threads of a Dream

And so, I began to fill in the weft. Dreaming Myself Awake has been a basket full of yarn for a long time, since a hot summer day in 2011 when I realized that a half dozen balls and skeins of leftover yarn had a purpose and a name. I know I gave away a year along the way, in service to Occupy Wall St. and in Being There for two beloved cats.  It doesn’t matter, this is the Now where the fabric takes shape.

It’s going to be an unruly fabric to photograph as a work in progress.  I am weaving a slightly gauzy fabric at 10 ends per inch, with the warp being beat according to my mood and the needs of the thread that is in hand. The colors are nuanced, and the camera wants to make them garish and strange, with a honeyed undertone from the old maple loom.

It looks like this, kind of. Let’s say it feels like this.

IMG_0605

Well, almost like this. The threading error down the middle has been painstakingly fixed. Usually I leave such things in place, as part of the whim of freestyle weaving.  Sometimes I create dense stripes on purpose, by doubling the sett for just a little area.  Or gauzy stripes by spreading the warp further apart.  I don’t know.  This looked too centered. It interfered with the lively purple stripe, and dragged it down into an unhealthy stasis. It had to go.

Don’t you love the heathery blue/purple/burgundy section?  It’s a balanced single that I spun from a Loop Spontaneous Spinning Cloud. These clouds spin like an absolute dream, especially because I would rather spin woolen than worsted, and create a fine, lofty yarn rather than a ‘stainless steel wire’, as Judith Mackenzie describes worsted spun yarn.

I am giddy with the joy of creating new fabric. I am keeping mum about what the finished garment will look like.  Let’s just say that you could call it a tunic or a jumper (American usage, not British), and that it will look stunning over a turtleneck and leggings.

All weaving is a meditation

I am ready to throw the shuttle…after a peace-filled day of winding the last chain of warp and finally Knowing how it is supposed to go.

40 ends of purple were supposed to come together with 160 ends of black, but I wasn’t sure how.

Sometimes I’ve rolled dice to tell me how many ends of each color make up a stripe.  Other times I’ve used a a progression that evenly faded one color into the next. Today, I tried something new.  This is a gradual fade, based on the Fibonacci series. It’s actually two Fibonacci series going in opposite directions.

Life is like that sometimes, going in opposite directions at the same time. Meditation is like that, too, especially the part about where the colors merge into a natural and wonderful progression.  Wonderful moment, this present moment.

IMG_2656

Sleying, threading the heddles and beaming on went very quickly.  Isn’t that the way it is–Knowing how to go can be more difficult than just going.

the stuff of dreams

Remember, weaving cloth does not begin with the first throw of the shuttle. It begins with the first glimmer of an idea. I collect a laundry basket full of yarn. Bits and bobs. This and that. If it looks like part of the story, I throw it in.

From time to time, I dump out the basket to see what I have. How has the story grown? Some colors have shown up because they have much to say. Others scuttle through, muttering to themselves.

It’s time. The story is ready to tell itself. I am winding the last of the warp. It’s mostly black, with a purple stripe. The black yarn ran out in a fortuitous way. Would I have considered a single stripe otherwise?

It is meant to be.

Reflections and ripples in the pond of thought

What if…

What if I did combine handwoven wool and cloth-woven silk? Maybe not these exact pieces, but the contrasts of directionality and scale are exciting.  Meta weaving juxtaposed with weaving…

Depending on the direction that Dreaming Myself Awake takes (that’s the project that’s slowly gathering in my planning basket), I might be able to use the Gypsy Cloth as part of it.

By the way, that’s Indigo Sapphire, my adorable Birman kitten.  She and Amber get along very well, and I am hoping that Amber will explain to her that “Weaver ALWAYS does that fabric thing and there’s no reason to get so excited about it.”  Until then, life moves at kitten speed, with lots of movement and excitement. Everything is a cat toy, including me.