More Inspiration for Hand Manipulated Weaves – And another two-shaft weave

Mary Balzar Buskirk is the artist who wove the piece shown in the previous post, dated March 20, 2021.

I love textiles that interest me, especially ones that are weavable or peak my curiosity. This linen-like piece fits all of the criteria. Often when I come across a fabric I remember where I got it and have a nice memory or story behind it. This one I don’t remember at all. I’m getting back into my studio and doing a bit of sorting and somehow, this piece turned up. It is 14” wide so that means it probably came from Japan.

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The cloth is so simple. It is yardage so the groups of tassels repeat the entire length.

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So my curiosity took me to see what they did at the selvedges with the tassel wefts. The thick weft is carried up a little shy of ½”. That seems just right and not disfiguring. In fact, I think it adds a subtle bit of interest.

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I put my macro lens on my iPhone to see just what the wefts were doing. I needed to see how the tassel weft fit into the plain weave. The thick weft goes halfway across the fabric in its own shed. It’s interesting that the wefts before and after it are in the same shed with just the thick weft in the opposite shed and going only halfway across the width of the cloth.

Here we can see that the thick weft has its own shed—but we know that it only goes ½ way across the

Also interesting to see what makes up the thick weft. Several strands and not alike.

Often there are clues at the cut end of a cloth.

An Inspiration for a Hand Manipulated Weave: Another two shaft weave

This is a black and white photo I’ve saved for many years. In real life, it is very colorful with LOTS of color changes. If I remember correctly it was woven by Mary Balzar Buskirk. I googled her name and found she died in 1981 at the age of 52 and lived in Pennsylvania. It’s really hand manipulated and slow to weave, but has a lot of potential.

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Here is a detail of another area. I think it’s interesting that she left some modules unwoven. It looks like the warp threads were black and spaced as sections in the reed.

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Ghiordes Knot

This knot is one that is used for making pile rugs. It can also be used for texture and decoration.

Usually, a few strands of wool yarn are used together if you want to make pile as in rugs. Yarn or thread of any color or texture can be used if textures are desired. Use single strands or multiples to achieve the look you want.

Start with some rows of plain weave.

The shed is closed.

Cut the yarn in short pieces in your desired color(s)—approximately twice the length you want your pile to be plus a little extra. You want to cut them long enough, so it isn’t difficult to make the knots. You might cut the pile shorter after it is on the warp and waste some yarn, but it is well worth it so you can make many knots quickly. Experiment with different lengths (and different numbers of strands to use together) to determine what works best for you.

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Step 1: Lay a length of one pile yarn (or group of yarns) over 2 warp threads as shown in the illustration.

Step 2: Wrap the ends of the yarn around the 2 threads and bring them back up between the warp threads as shown.

Step 3: Pull on the tails gently to tighten the knot and slide it down snuggly against the previous row of plain weaving.

Step 4: Continue making knots around pairs of warp threads across the warp or where desired.

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Don’t worry if the pile yarns aren’t all equal in length or are too long because you will probably trim them later.

Step 5: Weave two rows of plain weave between rows of knots. This action is important because if you don’t, you won’t have any cloth, just vertical rows of pile knots that will be separate from each other. It’s the plain weave between the rows that integrates the knots into the cloth. The pile usually is long enough so these rows are hidden.

Step 6: Trim the pile to the length desired and for a tidier look.


This is how many pile carpets are woven. If you look carefully between the rows of pile you can see the plain weave rows. You can also tell where the weaver began and ended a carpet. Because of the way you slide the knots down snuggly in step 3, the pile lies in one direction. Pet the carpet as you would pet a cat. If it’s the smooth direction, you are petting the carpet from the end toward the beginning.

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If you think you’d like to make a real pile rug, consult books especially written for making rugs.

Also, there are special scissors available for cutting the pile evenly. Most pile rugs have designs in them made by using different colors for the knots. Geometric designs are easy to make using this technique. For more detailed designs, you would need a very fine scale with thin threads and hundreds of knots per square inch.


This technique can be used as an edge finish or in a contrasting color as a decorative stitch. It creates a flat, dashed line on the surface.

Weave some plain weave.

Use a separate weft in a matching or contrasting color.

Cut a length of weft as long as 3 times the width of the warp.

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The shed is closed.

Start at the right edge of the warp.

Fold the weft in half and center it on the right selvedge thread, one half of the weft goes over 2 warp threads, the other goes under the same 2 warp threads and then they swap places. Repeat across the warp.

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The number of warp threads in the groups can vary according to the look you like. You can experiment with this technique and invent different looks. The main thing is that the top and the bottom “threads” switch places.

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Danish Medallion

This makes a very nice decorative “stitch”. All the steps sound confusing, but it is clear what to do when you are at the loom and do as the directions say. You may be quite surprised that your work does look like the illustration. It is a lovely technique.

Wind the “medallion yarn” on a separate shuttle. Often this yarn is a contrasting color. If the same color as the warp is used, it makes a more subtle pattern, which is nice in silk.

You might want a small crochet hook for this technique. A tapestry needle might work for you just as well.

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Work on an open shed. See the instructions for working on an open shed at the end of the directions for the medallions, below.

Remember always to keep the plain weave order of the wefts.

Weave a plain weave heading and end with the shuttle on the left side such that the outside warp thread on the right edge of the warp is up in the completed row, as in the illustration.

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Step 1: Open the next plain weave shed. (Now, the right edge thread will be down.) Enter the medallion yarn into the shed and end with the shuttle on the right edge of the cloth.

Step 2: Follow with several rows of plain weave using the same yarn as in the heading. To make the pattern work out, weave an odd number of wefts between pattern rows. In the case of the illustration, three rows of plain weave are woven.

Step 3. Open the next shed. (This is the same as the one for the first medallion shed.) Enter the medallion yarn part way into the shed from the right. You will have carried the medallion yarn up at the selvedge from its first row. Note that in the illustration, this row of medallion yarn starts with a partial pattern so the staggered design will work out. In this case, when you begin the row, go under 1 thread as per the directions for working on an open shed, below.

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Step 4: Bring the medallion yarn to the surface.

Step 5: Here is an overview of the next step. In it you will do the preparation necessary to hook the second medallion weft into the first one below it. You will pass the shuttle through a loop you will make in the first medallion weft and then, take the shuttle up to the open shed to continue the stitch. After the shuttle has passed through the loop in the lower medallion weft, the lower weft will be straightened out, which will pull the second weft down, which makes the loop shown in the illustration. (After this step, the initial loop in the first weft will not exist anymore.)

Follow these directions. Trace the warp thread next to the one where the shuttle came out of the shed down to the first medallion weft. (It will be a warp from the bottom of the shed.) Using a small crochet hook or tapestry needle, pick up the first medallion weft yarn and make a loop on the hook or needle. In other words, where you hook the lower medallion weft should line up with the space where the upper weft came out.

Step 6: Enlarge the loop so that the shuttle can pass through it. In doing this job, you’ll be pulling on the bottom weft and distorting things a bit in order to make the loop large enough. Pass the shuttle through the loop.

Even with a cloth where the warp threads are close together, you can easily do this operation. You just push apart the warp threads.

Step 7: Straighten out the bottom row loop. Pull the bottom row straight again so it pulls the top row down to make its own loop.

Repeat the steps for more medallions in the row, now passing the yarn under 4 warp threads. (To make multiple rows of the pattern work out, you need to pass the shuttle under 4 threads from now on as you go across the row, as shown in the illustration.) Future rows should alternate where the loops are. See the illustration. Remember to make the design work out, take the shuttle under 4 threads in the open shed and use an odd number of wefts between medallion rows. It is important. You need to have a total of seven warp threads between the medallion loops. It matters because if you don’t, the shed sequence won’t work out and the staggering of the loops won’t be evenly spaced. For clarification on counting threads in an open shed, read below.

Working with an Open Shed: How to Count the Threads: (Repeated from the previous post on Spanish lace.)

See the photo and see that the shed is open, and the shuttle is passing part way across the warp before it is taken out of the shed. (Then it will be on the surface of the cloth.) I numbered the threads to show how to count the threads when the directions say go under a certain number of threads. I do it by counting the number of threads that are above the shuttle—that is, the threads the shuttle is passing under. In the illustration, the shuttle is going under 10 threads.

A Series of Hand Manipulated Weaves: Spanish Lace

The chapter, Hand-Manipulated Weaves is in the Appendix of my book, Weaving for Beginners. It was written by Tracy Kaestner who is the owner of Lone Star Loom Room. She suggested it when we met at a conference some years ago and agreed to produce it. The illustrations are by Ron Hildebrand, my illustrator.

Spanish Lace
With this technique, after washing, the fabric looks lacy because the weft curves and show up more.
You will always work with open sheds. This is an important point.

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Working with an Open Shed: How to Count the Threads:
See the photo and see that the shed is open, and the shuttle is passing part way across the warp before it is taken out of the shed. (Then it will be on the surface of the cloth.) I numbered the threads to show how to count the threads when the directions say go under a certain number of threads. I do it by counting the number of threads that are above the shuttle—that is, the threads the shuttle is passing under. In the illustration, the shuttle is going under 10 threads.

How to weave Spanish lace
You will always be taking your shuttle into open sheds as you normally would—except that you won’t go very far into the sheds, and you’ll be taking the shuttle back and forth. Say, the shuttle is going left in a shed then, when it goes to the right it is to be in a new shed. When it goes left again, it will go in a new shed as well. Every time you change directions of the shuttle, you will be changing the shed, too.

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Basically, this is what you’ll do to make Spanish lace: You’ll go back and forth with the shuttle (left and right) a bit, then, move on to a new group and go back and forth again and then, on to the next group, and so on, all across the warp.

To get the idea of how to make this stitch, I suggest you read the instructions as you follow along in the illustration. (Remember, when you go under threads, you are counting the upper threads in the shed only.

Weave a heading of plain weave, and end with the shuttle on the right edge of the cloth. Divide the width of the warp into groups of threads. You choose how big each unit of lace will be. The illustration shows two sizes of groups: 2 threads and 3 threads. You are the designer, and the groups can vary in size. Note there is one thread between each group.

You can weave it just like the illustration, or after you get the idea of how it works, you can start out with experiments. You can try out different sizes of the groups and how many times you want to go back and forth before moving on to a new group.

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Follow these instructions to make the pattern in the photo, which makes two rows of Spanish lace.

For the first group of threads:
Step 1:
Moving to the left, pass the shuttle under one thread (in this case warp #1), and come up out of the shed.

Step 2: Change the shed. Working toward the right, pass the shuttle under one thread, (warp #2) and come out.

Step 3: Change shed. Working to the left, pass the shuttle under 3 threads. You are now going to work on the next group of threads.

For the second group of threads:
Step 1:
Change the shed. Moving to the right, pass the shuttle under 2 threads. (In the illustration, notice that you have already made the first row in the group by going under 3 to the left.)

Step 2: Change the shed. Moving to the left, pass the shuttle under 3 threads to complete this group as well as to move on to the next group.

For the third group of threads:
Step 1:
Change the shed and pass the shuttle under 1 thread as you move to the right and make the second “row” in the group.

Step 2: Change the shed and pass the shuttle under 1 thread as you move toward the left.

Continue across the warp.

For the second row

A second row of pattern is worked from the left side towards the right side.

To start the second row: You’ll follow the same process, but you’ll be going from the left edge of the warp toward the right.

Here are the steps:

Step 1: Change the shed and pass the shuttle under one thread, moving to the right. This begins the first group in the second “row” (the one on the left in the illustration).

Step 2: Change the shed and pass the shuttle under 1 thread, moving to the left.

Step 3. Change the shed and pass the shuttle under 3 threads, moving to the right. This completes the first group and starts you on the middle group.

Step 4: Change the shed. Moving to the left, pass the shuttle under 1 thread.

Step 5: Change the shed. Moving to the right, pass the shuttle under 3 threads to finish that group and begin the next.

Step 6: Change the shed, and moving to the left, go under one thread.

Step 7: Change the shed, and moving to the right, go under one thread.

And you’re finished with two rows of “lace”! Read on.Note: You will go across the whole warp before beginning the second row of “lace”. When you’re back where you started, you can weave some tabby. Weave an odd number of rows before beginning to make more “lace”. If you want the counting and the placement of the groups to be the same.

A Counting String that Comes Out Fast

No matter what your warping method is, you often will need a counting string. When I first learned to make one, it was annoying to take it out when no longer needed. Jim Ahrens (A part of AVL) taught us to make this special crocheted chain that pulls out fast.

First: take a long string (maybe 3 feet for your first practices), fold it in half and slip the two tails through the loop at the fold around your first group of threads. This makes a lark’s head knot over these threads. The lark’s head is in the next photo.

With the tails of the lark’s head, you will begin to crochet around the bundles as you make them. Read on.

Measure out your next group of threads. Fold the tails between the first bundle and the new one, making a loop. Then put your right thumb and forefinger into the loop, while holding the tails with your left hand.

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Encircle the new bundle with a “crochet” by using your finger and thumb to draw up another loop from the tails. Holding onto the tail, pull on the loop to snug it up around the bundle. Leave that loop and the tails dangling (don’t pull the tails through the loop, as you’ll be tempted to do).

The lark’s head is the foundation. From now on, you’ll crochet-chain using your fingers like this. Measure the next group of threads. With thumb and forefinger, reach through the old loop, drawing up a new one from the dangling tails, and tighten to secure the new group of threads.

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After each crochet, both the loop and the tails should hang freely, ready for the next bundle.

This is taken from the Appendix in my book, Weaving for Beginners.

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Scraps and Patches Make for More Scrolls

I mounted this piece wrong-side-up because the mending was so interesting. Notice the ikat patterns and stripes in both the warp and weft.

Here is a close look at the patches on the wrong side of the silk fabric. Notice all the stitches on the big patch.

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Here is the right side. Up close, the pattern doesn’t match at all, but that wasn’t the point. A patch is a patch. I bought this fragment at a flea market. Probably it was part of a kimono that was taken apart and sold in fragments. I am lucky that someone cared to pass it along.

This is a scroll of my weaving and dyeing. I think I was wiping out the last drops of Japanese green persimmon (kakishibu) dye and liked how it turned out.

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Here is the piece up close. It’s small: 4” x 12”.

Remember this “fancy twill” from a previous post?

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This scroll has another scrap I saved from my persimmon dyeing period. The background silk was dyed with clamp board resist technique in Japan.

Detail of above. My piece is 4 ½” x 17”.

I just discovered another scroll with a persimmon dyed piece mounted on a piece of the same fabric as the first photos. It’s small, too 5 ½” x 7”.

Odd Scrolls but Interesting

I loved this little bag the minute I saw it in a tiny shop in a neighborhood in Japan (Tokyo?). While Cathy did her shopping in another shop, I went back and got it. I’m so glad I did. I put it on a scroll so I could look at it whenever I liked. It’s really small 6” x 7”.

I love the delicate weave of the cloth on top. The bottom is made up of the cocoons or skins of insects. More about them next.

I found a sheet that had these “skins” glued on which I had framed when I got home. I think the insects are a bit like tent worms, but I don’t know how these cocoons or skins are formed. They are like the paper in those big wasp’s nests. A friend in Japan said she had them in the trees in her yard as a child.

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Here is a close up of an obi I got at the same Japanese antique textile dealer’s shop in Tokyo. Imagine all the work trimming each one and then the piecing.

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My mother-in-law gave me her mother’s collection of baby caps she collected in Germany. There were two caps like this one in with some scraps of lace she gave me. They are covered with tiny stitches.

I took one apart and mounted the pieces on an indigo blue background. They aren’t impressive as a scroll but when you look closely at the stitches, you become impressed!

These two pieces were sewn together to form the sides and the top. It was a pleasure to unpick the teeny tiny stitches that seamed the pieces together and enjoy the designs stitched on the cloth.

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A Big Mistake Turned into a New Idea

On my last night of scroll making I was working with three fragments of cloth heavily coated with indigo. The cloths wouldn’t iron flat, so I got out my iron-on interfacing to keep them flat. It was late and my last piece of the night. I ironed the interfacing on the RIGHT SIDE of the fabric!! This was precious stuff each piece was different and this was the best one! Good Grief!!

I ran to my computer to see what to do on the internet to remove the interfacing. Steam and iron on to another fabric. I got some thin cotton and tried on an area. This is the result after pulling off the cloth.  It didn’t come off but left this interesting texture/pattern. So I scrunched up the cotton fabric and steamed the rest of the area and yanked it off. A new technique is born!

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Thankfully, I was using a scrap of interfacing so not all of the beautiful cloth was covered. This is what the original looked like. The dimensions of this scroll are 6” wide x 18” long.

This is one of the indigo pieces backed properly with the iron-on interfacing. The background is double ikat—ikat in both the warp and the weft. The long scroll is 5 ½” wide and 27 ½” long.

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The detail shows the heavy coating of indigo.

The third indigo coated piece with its interfacing on the correct side is the background for this small scroll. The scroll is 4” wide and 15” long.

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I made the felt pieces after a workshop at Slow Fiber Studios in Berkeley.

Scrolls Project Ending!


I began making scrolls a year ago. Now I’ve made 55 or more scrolls in four collections. The first was dyed linens, the other three about putting texties together. The first two collections were in two shows in the gallery where I live. The last two groups I’m photographing now and are in this and some future posts. I must admit everything in the last half of the project has its art pinned onto the background fabrics! It’s like they are the first drafts to me.

This is a shibori hankie I dyed and gave as gifts on one of my trips to Japan. One man immediately put it in his shirt pocket which was fun. The background is a piece of a kimono found at a flea market in Japan. The narrow width tells us it was part of the collar/borders on the front. It is precisely done double ikat. That’s why the pieces were saved.

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I folded the cloth then wrapped it on a pole for the resist. It was then dyed in indigo. The folding I did after taking a workshop in shadow folds with Chris Palmer at Slow Fiber Studios in Berkeley. I used silk handkerchiefs from Dharma Trading Co.

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I wove the background with a deflected double weave recipe some of my weaving friends were doing. It’s from the book, Double Weave with a Twist. The square you may remember from a Chines boutique. I love the stitching, so this is a way for me to get to enjoy it rather than have it stuck in a drawer or under a mug.

This shows the stitched piece. There are layers of cloth. Ms. He Haiyan, in her boutiques in Beijing and Shanghai, uses scraps for lots of lovely projects and keeps her sewers busy. You may remember the post, “More Ideas for Projects” November 15, 2020.

1. I did the shibori
2. I dyed the background black walnuts
3. Close up of bag on previous scroll. I love it. The squares are the skins of cocoons from tent worms or something similar from Japan. I also have an obi made of them. And a collection of them framed.
4. I dyed the scarf. The purple is an old piece. The dye precious.

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Both are felt pieces I made on cloths with heavy indigo coating (I think).

This is another felt piece on the indigo background. By mistake I ironed on the fusible lining on the front side late last night. I quick went to th internet for how to get it off. Steam and a press cloth. I was desperate. It didn’t come off but I decided it was interesting with the press cloth wrinkled up when I pulled it off. Thank goodness I was using a scrap of the interfacing so some of the original pattern of the indigo coated cloth was still visible. Whew!! If I had more cloth I might try it again. Or on something else. How ideas are born I guess.

Great Loom Needs a Home

This loom is available and looking for a good home. For someone who likes good engineering and production with pleasure. It was built by my mentor, Jim Ahrens in the 50’s.  Ahrens is the “A” in AVL.  My looms are either built by him or by AVL. It’s like my own loom: 10 shafts and 10 treadles. The side tie-up means you don’t have to get down on the floor to tie up the treadles. The height is 46,” Width 52,” Depth 27″  

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There’s a great warping mill—large and strong and stands on the floor. That could be separate. Other equipment like shuttles, etc. goes with it.

Go to this website which my apprentice and I made to see more features and how to use them.

Besides, it is made of beautiful birdseye maple and has been in a home so is in great condition. Probably all the cords and strings will need to be replaced. I used Texsolv cords and you can get Texsolv heddles, too.

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It is located in Rossmore, in the San Francisco Bay area. Call the grandchildren at 858-335-3524. Asking $200 or best offer.

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Double Weaver’s Knot

This is used when smooth yarns won’t hold with a regular weaver’s knot. Remember though, even this knot won’t hold very slippery yarns. Jim’s fisherman’s knot is for them. See “Warping Your Loom & Tying On New Warps” for the chapter on knots.

Note: The double can also be undone like the regular weaver’s knot.
Another Note: See my eBook, Weaver’s Knots on the website to order from Amazon.

The double weaver’s knot is a regular weaver’s knot with an additional step. One way to make it is to begin like the “ears” method.

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As soon as you have the thread between the ears, go to the next illustration.

As soon as you have the thread between the ears, take it once around the right-hand ear as well.

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Then do the same last steps: take the right-hand ear down under the thumb and…

Tighten by pulling on the right end.

How to Undo Any Weaver’s Knot: and know if you’ve tied it correctly.

The key to knowing you’ve tied the weaver’s knot correctly is to be able to release or undo it.

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To undo it, you want to straighten out the thread that makes the “U” in the completed knot. No matter which way you tie it, there is one thread in a U-shape and the other thread winding itself around the first.

Pull on both ends of that “U” thread—in opposite directions—to unbend it and straighten it out.

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The squiggly portion can be slipped right off, and even the squiggles relax so you have two fresh threads when you’re through.

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One Way to Tie a Weaver’s Knot: with “ears”

The weaver’s knot’s characteristics—non-slip and a quick release—are valued not only by weavers but by climbers and sailors, too. The knot can be used whenever two cords are tied together or to fasten one cord to a loom part. Because it can’t be tied under tension, it is a good knot when measuring the warp when you have a slack thread to work with. It can be tied with short ends, but not with very slippery threads, such as silk. It’s slower to work than a square knot, but more secure and smaller. So, if a square knot doesn’t hold, try a weaver’s or double weaver’s. Even so, some threads aren’t compatible enough with each other or are too slippery to tie either a square or a weaver’s knot.

There are several names associated with the weaver’s knot, such as bowline and sheet bend. I found five different methods for tying it, not including the double weaver’s knot. The method here I call the weaver’s knot with “ears”.

Check future posts for how to undo the knot and for the Double Weaver’s Knot!

This is the way Jim Ahrens taught and is in many books. The worker thread should be the longer of the two. If you are using this knot to tie on new warps, the worker thread is the new warp. In repairing a broken warp, the new thread (being longer) would be the worker and the existing end would be the non-worker.
Step 1. Cross the two tails, left over right, and hold the crossing part between the thumb and first finger of the left hand. The “ears” are the ends of the tails that should stand up straight. Make the ears long enough but not so long as they bend over.

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Step 2. The right end is the worker thread. Take it around over the thumb and pass it behind the left-hand ear—just the left one—and bring it to the front between the two ears.

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Drop the worker. Take the right-hand ear, bend it down into the circle, and place it under the thumb so it is pinched by the thumb along with the thread already under the thumb. The bent thread is actually bending on itself and held to itself in the pinch.

To tighten, continue holding the thread bent on itself in the pinch between the thumb and index finger of the left hand WHILE pulling on the remaining end with the right hand.

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Tying a Weaver’s Knot when One End is Very Short

With warp threads likely to break at any place, you might need to tie a weaver’s knot with one end very short. Another time might be when tying on new warps if the old warp behind the heddles is very, very short. Here are the steps and a word of caution.

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1. Make a slip knot in the long thread—that will be the worker thread.
2. Slip the loop over at least 3/8” of the short warp thread.

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3. Pull the tail and the standing end of the worker thread away from each other (in opposite directions from each other). This capsizes or flips the knot inside out.
4. Tighten by holding the tail and standing end of the short thread between the thumb and forefinger of one hand; pull on the remaining standing end with the other hand.

One word of caution from Vince Webers of Wilmington, Delaware: If you make the slip knot too tight to start with, this weaver’s knot won’t “upset” (capsize) in Step 3. He says you soon learn how much you should pull on the two threads. If you want to test this, try it with two ropes.

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Ironing in India

We had a free day in Chennai in southeast India at the end of our trip. We rode in another took-took to two fabric stores. One is where I bought my 21 different silks (a Meter each or so) and the other, for linens (only 7 different ones. On the way back to the hotel we saw something on the sidewalk and our driver said it was a woman ironing. Of course we stopped and I’ll never forget the “ironing lady”. I especially was interested in the hot coals in the iron!

She was working in this cart set up on the sidewalk. I assume the man was her husband.

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Here is the view on the street that caused us to stop. In one photo I saw another woman ironing outside the cart-shanty. You can see the work done and what is waiting to be ironed on the table.

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Here we are together. We were on a photography trip and had been told that the people were very friendly and willing to be photographed. By the end of the trip, we weren’t bashful about approaching anyone.

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Angavasthram Part 3

I thought it would be a good idea to show several Angavasthrams and to make sure you could see the length of them. And to emphasize the narrow width when they are all pleated and ironed. I have 7 and they are all gorgeous fine white cotton. Some have gold thread warp brocade for the outside fancy part and the red and black ones seem to have a red or black silk warp stripe with gold brocade.

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Here you can see the outsides of them again. The middle one on the hanger measures a full 47 inches wide when opened out. It is 1 ½” wide when worn. I haven’t found anything about these narrow ones on the web so if anyone has any information, please send it in a comment or email me. Next time the subject will be: IRONING!

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Angavasthram Part Two

My angavasthram textiles are priceless and national treasures. Bob remembered the man at the weaving shop told us. At any rate, I, too, treasure them and am hoping to find out more about them.

I thought the inside was so beautiful and interesting that it needed a second post. I think the inside might be that famous Indian muslin that’s thin enough so the cloth would go through a wedding ring. At any rate, it is beautiful. One of the wider ones was 2 ¼” when folded and opened out to a full 45”! I assume servants did the ironing.

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This pattern was woven in near the ends on several but not all of them.

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Here is how I saw them. I had no idea what was inside or at the ends.

Three of them were 2-sided—black on one side and red on the other. The others are white with gold patterning. Some were wide and some narrower when folded. I think if I ever show them, I’ll let them hang as they are folded in a group with one opened?? Now, I hate to get them mussed up.

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A “Find” in a Junk Shop in SE India: Angavasthram

On the wall at The Bangala Hotel (A Traditional Chettinad Home), Tamil Nadu State, Southern India

A year ago I went with my tech guy on a photography tour to SE India—an area called Tamil Nadu. Up until then I had only used point-and-shoot cameras on my travels. I had a lot to learn; it was for serious photographers. I was the only textile person; however, we did visit a silk weaving business that had jacquard looms weaving silk saris. I bought a simple one that is wonderfully iridescent.
One day we had free time and Bob and I hired a “took-took” to take us to a village to look in the antique shops—more like junk shops—so they were interesting. In a cabinet with a glass door, I saw what looked to me like a bunch of decorative tapes or ribbons. There was a lot of gold patterning on these very long things. I asked to see them and thought they would be great for my scrolls that I was going to make when I got home. There was a large, framed photograph showing how they used to be worn which interested me mildly. Bob did the bargaining, and I came home with 7 different ones.
When we got to the hotel, a woman told me that they were called angavasthram. I wrote down the word and that was it.
The owner of the little weaving factory knew more and said that they were special, and I could not cut them up. That was that.
At the hotel outside our room were a few old photographs of men wearing the angavasthram! We took pictures of the photos in their frames, so they aren’t very clear but enough to see how important men wore them. I haven’t found much on the internet, except that it seems that this was unique to this area of India and worn by Brahmin.

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This is what I saw in the junk shop.

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So, I did make a scroll after all. I discovered that the inside was as interesting as the outside.

On the wall at The Bangala Hotel (A Traditional Chettinad Home), Tamil Nadu State, Southern India

This photo looked like a family photo with only the men wearing the anvagasthram.

On the wall at The Bangala Hotel (A Traditional Chettinad Home), Tamil Nadu State, Southern India

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Another family photo I presume. I wonder if the different arrangements mean anything other than “taste”.  I also wonder about the bands on the foreheads, shoulders, arms and chest.

On the wall at The Bangala Hotel (A Traditional Chettinad Home), Tamil Nadu State, Southern India

Even this little boy gets to wear one. Notice that it is dragging on the floor in the back.

A Very Old Double Ikat that I Treasure

This is a fragment of a cotton Japanese summer kimono called a Yukata. I must have gotten it at a flea market in Japan. The cloth is 13” wide, selvedge to selvedge—the common width for many Japanese textiles. The length of the piece is 48”. It is so soft to handle that I’m loving handling it again for this post.

The reason I’m thinking is it a piece of a Yukata is there is an area where the cloth hasn’t faded over time. It probably was inside the area around the front opening.

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It is so soft because it is extremely worn. In fact it has holes in it where the cloth wore out. It is almost tissue paper thin. This cloth was salvaged and re-useable because another fabric was added as a backing.

The indigo dyed cotton backing is also what makes it have a lovely body as well as being so soft.

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The entire piece and I assume the entire yukata was stitched to attach the backing and back the holes. The rows of stitching are consistently ¼” apart. The stitching and the ikat pattern work beautifully together, I think, which is another reason I love the piece.

I was showing it to a friend and she immediately thought it was a lovely piece even though she is not a textile person. The more I looked and talked with her, I began to think about the double ikat pattern. It isn’t precise like in my previous posts. I think the cloth was dyed, woven, and re-purposed by a farmer’s wife. Cathy and I visited maybe the last farmer’s wife to grow and dye her own indigo in Japan. Traditionally, the women would grow the indigo and weave the family’s cloth while the farmers tended the fields—could be rice paddies.

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I love the hit and miss of the warp and weft pattern yet the tiny areas of the threads in the pattern cross exactly in the right places throughout. Once in awhile I could find where the weft ikat pattern really crossed the warp in the right place. This close-but-not- exact gives a real soul to the cloth, I think. It made me think of the woman planting and growing the indigo plants. Then making her vat not with heat, but with cold water. Her son told us that to make the ash for the alkali, they burned the wood for two months which kept them home. Then she tied the warp threads and the weft threads in the ikat pattern. Then the threads would be dyed in the indigo vat and finally woven. I doubt that she minded that the pattern wasn’t precise and thought it was fine the way the threads hit pretty much perfectly. I wonder if the original cloth was a futon cover—a larger piece—or was it always meant to be fabric for a yukata. After the weaving, would be the hand sewing. When washing, the pieces would be taken apart and then put back together again. Probably there were many washings before the cloth was stitched so carefully to the handwoven backing cloth.

I’m making a scroll with the fabric so that I can have it out to look at. The soul of it touches me. I’ve pinned the pieces on top of the fabric for now, but I think I’ll move them up higher.

Changing 2-shaft Weaves to 4 Shafts

All but two illustrations are from my book, Weaving for Beginners. The 2-shaft drafts come from the book shown in a previous post, Adventures in Weaving on a 2-harness loom. NOTE: harness is a common word used for shafts. Shaft is the more correct word and is used here and in my books.

The book, Adventures in Weaving on a 2-harness loom” shows the threading for 2 shafts like in the illustration. (Shafts are often called harnesses.) The two rows represent the 2 shafts. Dots show every other thread on the bottom line and the alternate threads on the top line. And, to show a different color of threads for a stripe, the squares of the graph paper are filled in. In other words, for one color area, both shafts are that color and for another area, both shafts are threaded with another color. The first shaft is always indicated on the bottom line and shaft #2 is on the line above it in American books.

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To change from 2 shafts to 4 shafts we often think of odd and even numbers. With a threading on 2 shafts, you could think of shafts 1 & 2 alternating as “odd, even, odd, even, etc. rather than 1,2,1,2,1,2. You would use that idea to switch to 4 shafts. The odd shafts are 1 & 3 and evens are 2 & 4.  Then you would use the rows in the threading draft 1 & 3 instead of the bottom row (shaft #1) and 2 & 4 for shaft #2. In the illustration the sequence of 1,2,3,4 is shown for the threading.  When weaving, you would raise shafts 1 & 3 for a row and 2 & 4 for the alternate rows. Then you would be getting the same plain weave (or “tabby”) as though you were weaving on only 2 shafts, alternating rows with shafts 1 & 2.

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In weaving drafts for more than 2 shafts, the American convention is always to show shaft #1 on the bottom line and each additional shaft on the lines going upwards from the bottom. The illustration shows how the threading for 4 shafts would work. If there were 8 shafts, shaft #1 would still be on the bottom line, but there would be 7 more lines above that to indicate 8 shafts. The same principle would be for 12, 16, or 32 shafts, etc.

In my previous post on January 27, 2021, Log Cabin patterns were the subject. That particular pattern depends on threading alternate threads in light and dark. The illustration shows an example of a threading and some patterns on 2 shafts. In the illustration, dots represent light threads and solid squares, dark threads. Note that in the area on the left the lights (dots) are on shaft #1 with darks on #2. In the right area of the draft, it is the reverse with darks on shaft #1 and lights on shaft #2.

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To change from 2 shafts to 4 shafts, think again of odds and evens. What was shaft #1 becomes #1 & # 3 –both odd numbers. What was on shaft #2 becomes #2 & #4 –even numbers. And notice carefully that in the illustration, the lights are on the odd shafts on the 4 threads at the ends of the draft and the darks are on the odd shafts for the center 8 threads.

The illustration shows that by switching the placing of the lights and darks, the pattern changes. Note too, that the WEFTS also alternate dark and light to create the patterns and the changes. This is typical log cabin. Often the blocks are all the same size, but they don’t have to be. The widths in the threading determine the widths of the blocks. The height of the blocks is determined by the number of rows woven in a light/dark sequence.

This illustration shows a different way to think of 2-shaft weaves. With 4 shafts you can think of 2 looms: 2 shafts (1 and 2) for one loom. And shafts 3 & 4 can be thought of another 2-shaft loom. That means you could have two different things going on at once. For example, log cabin on shafts 1 & 2 and what every you might like on 3 & 4 for example solid areas or stripes. We call the different “looms” block A and Block B. With more shafts and different patterns, you can have more blocks, say C and D.

Another illustration of 2 blocks. This would be a good idea when using thick and thin WEFTS like in my post on January 29, 2021. You decide what you want to show in Block A, (e.g., lights) and in Block B: lights as well, or darks. Because the blocks are on different shafts they can act independently. See the next illustration.

Thick and thin wefts are woven in this variation of rep weave. Notice that the 2 blocks can be alike (at the top) or different when weaving. The threading can never change, but which shafts you choose to have showing at any one time is up to the weaver. More information about this weave is in Weaving for Beginners. Here I just want to show how 4 shafts can be thought of as 2 looms with 2 shafts each.

Here’s a draft showing an example of the shaft numbers for a two-block design: a center field with borders on the edges.

Plaids On Two Shafts: They Don’t Have to Look Plaid

This picture is from the book: Adventures and Weaving on a 2Harness Loom by Alice K. Cripps

These ideas take “plaids” to different levels. I just realized that all of these projects must have been made on the same warp! The same warp stripe system is in all of them. Cleverly, the tote bag has the pattern turned 90 degrees for another idea and look. What the wefts do make very different designs.
I think of setting up a little system when making a plaid. Here a medium tone (value) color has a narrower light stripe on either side of it.

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You want to be sure to think about the edges of the design and often, as in this case, want to end with the same width stripe that you began with. Or another way to put it is to have matching borders on each side with your plaid system between them.
I’ve seen directions that say at the end after all the repeats: add some threads ”to balance”. That way you have matching borders on both sides.

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Two-Shafts Again: Stripes and More Stripes

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These stripes inspired me to thinking. When I thought of stripes, I usually only thought of warp or weft stripes. Just look at these ideas to set you off to designing lots of things no matter how many shafts you have.

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Weft Ikat Revisited

One way of making weft ikat seen here is to stretch out a guide thread and paint or stencil the design for the weft on it. Then it would be stretched out along beside a long bundle of yarns needed for the weft for the entire warp. Where the dark pattern hits the bundle is where the bundle would be tied to resist the dye. I would die to have one of these weft frames with a weft pattern on it.

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This shows the areas on the weft where the pattern was to be tied to resist the dye. (The resisted areas resisted the dye and remained white.) Here the wefts are woven on a traditional dark warp.

Here the same wefts woven on a white warp.

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Remember this tote bag from a previous post? The egret could have been put on a frame like in the first photo and that pattern thread used to mark the weft for tying and dyeing. Note that white wefts were woven on the dark warp for the light area where there was no pattern.

Remember this pocket I made from an earlier post? Did you see the horses?

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Here are the horses! The stencil for the horses was made by the creative young weaver in the previous post. Note that she chose to use a white warp with the stencil for the ikat weft. Her name is Butsusaka Kanako.