What is a scroll? My inspiration is Japanese scrolls. They are narrow “wall hangings” that hang in little niches where art is displayed–usually a flower arrangement. Usually they are long and have a nice background with a piece of art mounted on it. I went to an exhibit in Japan a couple of years ago and the artist’s scrolls were many shapes and sizes–all with a background she chose for the art displayed on it. So that is what I’m calling MY scrolls. I’ve been matching up backgrounds and art. Sometimes parts are made by me –woven and/or dyed or things I’ve brought home from many trips. I’ve been under lock down since March 8 and can’t get to my studio where my looms are. I’ve been enjoying looking at what I have in my apartment and using what I have on hand.
Another background cloth from the striped warp in previous posts.
The background this time is plain weave. The warp threads are DMC 6-strand embroidery cotton. Someone gave me two cartons of cones of the stuff we usually see as little tiny skeins. The colors are wonderful and can be subtle. I took some light ones and some dark ones for the stripes.
Here is a close up of the art. They are shiny silk squares I cut from fabrics I dyed all with black walnuts a year ago or so. I attached them to pieces of cotton fabric (also black walnut dyed) with a museum-quality double stick tape. I love this tape and use it a lot. I got it from a bookbinding supply place in Brooklyn. The name is Talas. They have an extensive catalog and do online orders. I then attached these pieces to a flannel cloth for just the right amount of body for the hanging.
I’m thinking I have a trilogy—not a triptych; but they might hang together.
Here is a close-up of one section. In all the sections I turned the shiny squares 90 degrees so the way the light catches them makes the checkerboard pattern.
The fabric for the squares in this section was an upholstery fabric, I think. One side is silk, the other is cotton. The squares didn’t like to stay flat with time! However, it shows you how I mounted them with tiny bits of the tape in the middle of the tops of the squares.
I think maybe people would like a break from my linen scroll project. Life has suddenly gotten in my way so I don’t have any pictures ready of the latest and last ones.
This is one of the first scrolls I made at the beginning of the pandemic. I wove the ground fabric just before the lock down.
I used butcher’s twine for the weft. It’s what Lia Cook used long ago in her pressed pieces. I’d been wanting to use it for a long time. When I wet the fringe to straighten it, some of the cloth got wet, too, so it shrank—dah—butcher’s twin is supposed to shrink when it gets wet. So, I spread it out on the counter and wet the whole piece. The selvedges tightened up nicely.
This is the top piece. No fog, the City (San Francisco?) is clear.
The little pieces I wove with the handspun cotton I got in Bhutan. It’s fun to think about where some of the pieces or yarns came from. The warp was that fine silk at 125 ends per inch of long ago. I was determined to weave it off even after I lost a huge number of threads to threading errors and breakage. Fog is coming in.
The silk threads for the warps are going horizontally. I dipped the pieces into black walnut dye. The wefts are the vertical threads in these pieces with the “selvedges” on the top and bottom.
Fog completely obliterates the City!
I got several good suggestions about ironing my linen fabric. They all seemed to remind me of things I’d known but not thought about. The main thing is that linen likes water and it should be damp then ironed dry. One recommendation was to take it from the machine and iron it then. I’ve done that with great success—but this time I was worried that the spinning in the machine might put in permanent wrinkles. Read on.
I ironed it at midnight then hung it in the shower overnight. It is beautiful.
One person suggested sprinkling it with water and rolling in a towel overnight to evenly moisten the cloth. That is what I did but did it after lunch and waited until bedtime to iron it.
Around midnight was when I got to the ironing board. The cloth was nicely and evenly damp. One suggestion I received was to roll the cloth with a rolling pin like the way they use a mangle with pressure to iron linens in Scandinavia—Sweden? I used to do that years ago with linen and forgotten completely, however finding a rolling pin was an issue. I looked in the back of my drawers and there was none. So I called our kitchen and was able to borrow a big, heavy one—4 pounds. I ironed a portion on the front, then on the back, then used the rolling pin on the board on the area. It looks beautiful. The cloth is seamed so there are two layers and all worked out fine. Yea! Now I’m rolling ahead again—what a good feeling it is.
A close-up of a portion of the cloth. Next is to hem the ends, put on the swatches and the lovely piece of bamboo I have for the top. Then the first one will be DONE. I’m glad not all of them need such treatment, but I think they will be beautiful hanging together.
This is the first scroll in the linen project and I decided that it was too long given the size of the dyed pieces section.
Here I folded some back at the top and bottom and decided I liked this proportion better. So I was all excited to cut off the extra and have a beautiful finished piece instead of a first draft. I cut off the piece and finished the top and bottom and was all ready for the beautiful ironing part.
I practiced some on the cutoff piece with my wonderful wrinkle releaser and decided to go to the main piece. On the main piece some blotches appeared where the releaser was and they didn’t iron out! Oh dear.
So I decided to spray on my fingers and pat an area that had a wrinkle for a more gentle approach. If you look carefully, you can see my palm and fingers on the cloth! I knew that wouldn’t do but also knew that it would wash out. So I soaked it in a basin of warm water with some Dawn liquid detergent and sloshed it up and down, wrinsed it, and hung it to dry. Beautiful. Now I’m at square one again! I am thinking that I’ll just dampen it with plain water and iron it like the olden days. But I should make some more trials on my practice piece probably first. The issue is that the cloth is double–can I get both the front and back ironed nice. Or, must I take out the seam and start over but be very careful not to manhandle the cloth and get more wrinkles when I redo the seam and finish the ends. Any advice or thoughts are welcome. I’m letting the project marinate for a few days, but a bit sad that the oomph I had last week has died down a bit.
I think the reason I’m enjoying this project so much is that I get to enjoy so many textiles close up, over and over and over. The woven linens just speak to me; even the selvedges. I’m afraid my photographs aren’t doing them justice. (I need some encouragement.)
This piece is short and wide. I have been inspired by a show of unique scrolls in Japan a year or so ago. There were a couple that were short and wide like this one that I can’t get out of my mind. I began with cloths that were different sizes and that determined the size I had to work with for each scroll.
The black marks from the safety pins during dying dictated the shape for this one. But when I saw the shape, I knew it was right.
This was my favorite dye outcome—wouldn’t you know, it was the smallest piece I bought. I think it might be silk and it probably was expensive. In all the samples I made with it, it came out darker than all the others. It’s an open weave and looks like linen and I treated it that way, so it stays in the linen collection.
This is another short one. The cloth wasn’t wide enough to double so it and the black one is only one layer of cloth. I matched up each bundle from a dye bath to its background. When all 12 are finished, I may rearrange them and make my final decisions on dimensions. Part of the excitement is that I know this is only the first draft.
This is the most I’ve ever dyed all by myself! And I love looking at the pieces all together on the shower rod. (Couldn’t bear to take them down this morning to take a shower.) These are the dyes and the linens I chose from my samples; the first time I ever made anything from sampling. I’m thinking of using them for the backgrounds of scrolls.
I love to see the fabrics after they’ve been ironed. I was up until 2:15 last night ironing them all. I just hung each one up after I finished and I like the arrangement a lot.
The black and grey textured ones I just ironed with a hot iron. The black came from putting the cloth in an after bath of iron.
For the smooth ones I used the wrinkle releaser spray I mentioned in a previous post. I am in love with the cloths and colors I got.
Look what my safety pins did! I guess I will have to sew tags on if I need to keep track. The label is cut from a US Mail plastic mailer or a plastic Amazon mailer.
Is wasn’t bad enough that just where the pins were made marks but where other fabrics’ safety pins hit the good fabrics, they left a few marks here and there. I learned a good lesson. Not sure how I’ll deal with the smudges. Maybe add some of my own? Anyhow, I won’t use safety pins again.
Over a month ago was when I got my first batch of onion skins from Danny, our Chef and I said maybe I’d start “next week”. Now I’ve been at it for 2 ½ weeks. The apartment is more of a mess than ever with fabrics everywhere, dye samples, and bundles of dyes. I was excited with my results until one day when Yoshiko Wada called and said I must use a mordant with onion skins as a dye. We mordanted in dye classes I took, but I’d never done it at home, only choosing dyes that don’t need mordants (which I thought was the case with onion skins). I did have alum but never used it, so I guessed I’d better try it. A mordant is a metal salt that is used to fix a dye in a fiber. The word comes from the French word mordre, which means “to bite”. Usually it is done before the fiber is dyed, but not always.
Here are two bundles of silks; the stiff ones (undegummed) are on the left and the silky silks on the right. Boy, does silk dye deeply and easily. There were all mordanted in alum. It wasn’t such a bother as I thought.
I put a small batch of unmordanted silk in with the mordanted into my pot of onion skin dye.
This book became my bible. It is so user friendly. It does refer you to another page often, but the organization makes it easy to use. And I took notes for what I needed. I took a class with the author; Catharine Ellis last fall and it was wonderful. I just hadn’t looked into the book until now. I knew that my linens would be the next challenge and really appreciated everything she wrote about dyeing (and mordanting) cellulose fibers as well as silks.
Because I’ve promised myself that I am going to dye the fabrics I brought back from India, I knew I needed samples first to determine which fabrics would do what. It was fun organizing this swatch chart and it took a good bit of time. The 11 degummed silks are in the left 2 columns and the 10 stiff silks (undegummed) in the right two, for a total of 21 different silk fabrics. The unmordanted ones are the left ones in the pairs. Looks like there is very little difference in the colors with the mordanted ones. However, Yoshiko said mordanting made them more color fast. Since mordanting wasn’t so onerous, I guess I can entertain the idea of mordanting a lot more (or not??).
What was I thinking?? That is how I felt when I opened the big bag with the fabrics I bought in India for dyeing. The silks are gorgeous—each one more luscious than the previous one. But I got “a meter of this, a meter of that, 2 meters of this”. That’s a lot of fabric. But they are so-o-o wonderful. And I’m deciding that they are more and more wonderful dyed in red or yellow onion skins I got from our kitchen. My first samples were about 2” square because I only have a little bit of red skins. I made much larger pieces in my first yellow onion skin dyepot. I’m not sure what will come next, but I’m thinking about it. I know I don’t want to make something to wear because I have too much already from trips and I don’t sew well enough. Besides, I don’t make anything useful.
Just off the drying rack—how exciting. These are from the second red onion skin batch. And I know they will look much better than this when ironed. You can see that the silks dye easier than the linens. All of these were in the same dye bath.
Here is a bundle of the undegummed silks. I like them undyed, too.
Here are the silk fabrics I have to work with stacked on a chair with a yardstick for scale.
Here are some of the small samples on the drying rack.
These are the “silky” ones—in a previous post I only showed the undegummed ones. I dyed those stiff ones first because I has such a little amount of red skins, I knew I’d get the most color with them. I’m glad there was enough color for the silky ones. Interesting to get a yellow one.
Here are the linens and cottons. They aren’t so dramatic. I think I’ll save them for my black walnut dye. I haven’t done any mordanting. That seems more than I want to get into. I’m too impatient.
Here are the fabrics that came out of the yellow onion skin dye. No mordant.
One of my mentors, Helen Pope, wove gorgeous afghans while warping “front-to-back”. My students know that I prefer the other way, “back-to-front” but in this case, she is using the better technique. I realized that I would never have thought of designing such a project with my back-to-front mentality. It would be nearly impossible to wind the warp with all the yarn changes going back-to-front. Her afghans proved that even something that isn’t very efficient, can be done and can be lovely—and the effect is worth the effort. (Read at the end for the pattern for knitting her fringes.)
Helen made two very different afghans on each warp and gave them to family members and special friends for over thirty years. (She made mine to go with my sofa at the time.) She had one loom devoted to them. Mohair was always in the warp (and weft, I think.) and she brushed one side to raise the nap.
The weave structure was double weave in three blocks so threading was complicated.
Helen carefully chose and dyed her textured yarns. She often combined more than one thread to make up a warp yarn.
There were many warp threads per dent. She tied each new warp onto the end of old ones so she never had to thread the heddles again.
I saw her beam on a warp one day—there must have been 6 or 8 warp chains! It was a tedious business untangling the yarns while beaming—but was worth the work. Threads in each dye bath were in separate chains. She had baby bathtubs as dye pots.
Helen was very particular about her fringes. In this afghan, she kept the warp threads from each layer separate. Often the fringe color was so changed by the wefts she used that the fringe no longer worked with the woven part. In those cases, she knitted the fringes in appropriate colors and sewed them on to hide the original threads.
From Mary Thomas’s Knitting Book:
“Knitted Fringe: Any yarn can be used. This can be used doubled, trebled, or quadrupled, according to the yarn used and the weight of fringe desired. A cotton fringe is better quadrupled, which necessitates the simultaneous use of four balls of cotton, the four stands being held together and knitted as one.
“Cast -on a number of stitches divisible by three. (Helen cast-on 9 stitches for a 5” fringe with 1” braid. I think her notes on the page meant that she knitted 2 1/6 yards for 5” fringe with 1” braid.)
“With 6 stitches on the needle, cast-off three only, and finish. Unravel the remaining three stitches, unravelling the entire length of the knitted strip, until one side presents a fringe of even loops, while the opposite side has the appearance of a knitted braid. This is then attached to the fabric with an overcast stitch. To straighten the fringe, dampen it, and allow it to hang straight, and dry.” From Mary Thomas’s Knitting Book, page 128. 1938. Printed in Great Britain for Hoddder and Stoughton Limited, St. Paul’s House, Warwick Lane, London, E.C.4 by Cox & Wyman Ltd., London, Reading and Fakenbam.
Today I got up excited to face the day! I am going to send out some photos of my recent scrolls to friends, make more red onion skin dye, check the scales (-8#!) and it’s a POST DAY! I am loving reaching out and hearing back.
How could this not bring joy: peonies, coffee ready, and more red onion skins to dye!
This is what got me so excited yesterday. These are the first samples in red onion skin dye! All of the fabrics are silks that I got in India. They are all stiff like organza. That means they are not silky because they are undegummed (the sericin hasn’t been removed). I have noticed that this type of silk dyes way stronger than the silky kind so that’s what I especially looked for in the large shop in Chennai. I got 10 different types of the raw silk (undegummed)!
I love the range I got. Since so far, I only have a small amount of red skins my samples are small—about 1 ½” on a side and only silks. Ida Grae in her book Nature’s Colors, wrote: “Depth of color depends upon a large concentration of onion skins in proportion to a small amount of textile”. I’m taking that to heart. I saved the dye and hope to get more out of it. Our chef has brought me the onion skins and I’m now begging for more red ones. I’ve got a lot of the yellow ones.
I love the moire in the sheer fabrics.
One more arrangement while playing around. I am so happy!
I have been enjoying Instagram a lot lately. (look for peggyoster) It’s a way to show photographs from my daily and now evening walks around my building. I haven’t missed a day since the lockdown and the same walk requires (allows?) me to really look for interesting things, and to watch the progress of the roses. Also, I see a lot of things other people are doing on Instagram. There was a photograph of a piece dyed with onion skins that caught my attention. Then, I thought OMG I see a lot of onions in the salads from our kitchen! They must use onions in a lot of things. The result is that for the last three evenings, a big container of onion scraps has been delivered to my door. A treasure! I strip off the skins of the cut-off tops and bottoms and collect all the regular skins. Maybe it’s time to start dyeing again.
One morning last week I found this sight when I walked into my kitchen. Something was leaking! OMG What is going on underneath the table? I’d covered the table down to the floor with a piece of cloth from Bali so wasn’t sure just what I would see under there. The jugs were full of black walnut dye from a year ago that I couldn’t throw away. Maybe it IS time to think about dyeing again.
I now have 3 dishpans full of beautiful onion skins from the kitchen. Maybe it’s time…
My dye pots live on my tiny patio. Maybe it is time to get them out.
I have to think of upsetting my tiny kitchen. I guess it’s possible again.
The dish drainer will have to go down on the floor again so I can use the burners. Well, maybe next week.
In a previous post: “Changing My Mind and a Dilemma” I showed a curious sampler and a beautiful black scarf or shawl with stitching patterns. A weaver asked how the patterning was done. I spent a day figuring it out. I pulled out a long roll of stitched shibori paper which was a big help. That needed its own post (Part One). Here is Part Two which builds on the information in Stitched Shibori Part One.
One of the things I liked about both the sample and the scarf was that the intensity of the stitching pattern went from distinct gradually to blurry. I especially liked that the ends of the scarf were black with hardly any of the stitching pattern showing at all. That told me that the black ends were inside where the resist was the faintest. And the stitched patterns were most distinct in the middle of the scarf. Then the pattern gradually faded and got more and more blurry until at the ends it barely showed. How the strips were accordion folded to make this happen was an issue. Another thing I noticed that the fabric was quite thin. That would make stitching through many layers doable. I took a strip of paper to experiment with the folding steps. I hope it is understandable.
Almost immediately I noticed that the scarf was made in narrow strips sewn together with generous seam allowances showing on the wrong side. Again, this related directly to the design of the sampler. And narrow strips would be easier to work with. The seams were interesting in themselves. There was space between the cloths sewn together yet it looked like regular sewing machine stitching. Was a card or something sewn in with the seam and then removed??
Step One is to get the ends of the strips to be INSIDE so they won’t show the stitch resist or barely hint at it. Fold the strip in half and make the ends together. Then the other folds will be more and more on the outer sides of the bundle to make the stitching pattern less and less blurry–or more distinct depending on how you think of it. I penciled in shading on my paper strip to make sure the ends were inside the bundle.
Step two. Prepare to fold the strip.
Step Three: Make the first fold of the fabric.
Step Four: Continue folding each half of the strip in accordion pleats. You will need to figure out the dimensions of the folds.
Step Five: Fold the last time on separate sides of the bundle as shown.
A close-up of the folds.
Another close-up showing dashes to simulate the stitching for the resist.
Some years ago Yoshiko Wada’s Japan Textile tour took us to a quaint town of Arimatsu (near Nagoya). We went there because it is known for making shibori patterned fabrics. Shibori is a little like tie dye and can be very complex. One small factory used stitching on a sewing machine to create the resist patterns. I imagine the fabric was a supple white silk. Long (11 yards) strips of paper like pellon were clamped on top of accordion-pleated fabric. Then the long, thick bundle was stitched in a pattern on the sewing machine. After stitching, the bundle was dyed. When the paper and stitching were removed the pattern remained white where the stitching had been and resisted the dye. I became more interested in the technique than the result and asked if there were any of the discarded papers around. And a carton of them was brought down from a high shelf.
This post relates to a previous post with stitching as the resist.
I brought home a roll of the stitched paper that was discarded after dyeing. The paper was folded lengthwise for strength then clamped to the cloth. You can see that one half is darker and more distinct because that was the side on the outside of the fold. And that is where the stitching and dye were the most prominent.
The holes where the machine stitching was are clearly visible.
This was a traditional design. The white spot is where one of the clips held the paper to the fabric. Since the paper is 11 yards long, that would be the length of the cloth that was stitched and then dyed. The fabric had been accordion-pleated down to the narrow width of the folded paper to 1 ¾” wide.
Here is a simulation of the paper on white fabric and shows where the stitching had been before dyeing.
A little fan was made with some “discarded” paper.
All I wanted when I began planning this project was a thick and satiny cloth. I was using a silk that I inherited—the yarn was thick and certainly was expensive. And I wanted to use the new-to-me 12 shaft dobby loom for a 12-shaft satin. (11 threads up and one down, so very warp face). The fact that I ran out of the silk so soon didn’t bother me; I just picked up another skein that looked almost as thick and continued warping. Then I forgot about it. That is, until I took it off the loom. Well, that didn’t matter, either I thought, I’ll just cut the ends straight. And that didn’t work either because all the wefts weren’t straight and no straight line could be made This is a piece of the silk satin cloth that I wove and dyed with black walnuts. I love the feel of the soft silk and the subtle movement of the dye. And I’ve decided that I like the “design feature” that happened when I used two different silk threads for the warp. I tried mounting it on a variety of fabrics until I came to the one in in the photo. I think everything shows off with this background: the uneven cloth, the luxurious silk, and subtle color. Finally, I’m happy with it. The fabric is an irregular ikat cotton shawl from the Philippines. I hemstitched the ends in a quick and dirty way just to keep the cloth intact. Then when I began really looking at it, I thought the hemstitching was disfiguring. It interrupted the smooth surface. Oh, “hemstitching isn’t always the answer.” I’ll just remove it. Before removing the hemstitching, I overcast on the back so I wouldn’t lose any weft threads. I wished later that I hadn’t pierced the threads when I did the overcasting. After I removed the hemstitching, I had the tedious job of pushing the warp threads together to close up the gaps between the hemstitched bundles. I had to take out some of the overcast stitches in places where the thread pierced the weft. Then I could slide the warp threads across to fill in the spaces. The spaces didn’t want to fill in so I spritzed and tried to hold them in place by tapping with the iron. It would have been better to remove the hemstitching before washing and dyeing then the warps would be easier to fill in. But, as is said, “What is, is.”
I almost always look at any textile with the warp going vertically—it’s just natural. So when I saw the sample in the previous post I did the same. I saw it had two layers; it looked like it had a join in the middle of one of the layers. So I thought it must be double weave and some clever way of joining where the slit would naturally be for a “Kleenex-box-type” tube. When I was questioned about it by an expert weaver, I guessed I’d better look at it again so I could explain it to her. Well, I was very wrong.
I discovered the cloth should be looked at the other with the warps going sideways—horizontally– because there was a selvedge at one end. And this was made from a single layer of a wide piece of silk!
This is what the other side looked like. Remember it from the previous post? I thought it was woven as a double weave cloth.
A length of fabric about 25” long was folded in half, horizontally. That means the selvedges were on each end resulting in a short, wide piece with the raw edges together to make a seam. This was done first, before any folding and stitching for the resist. This is how the tube was formed. It was NOT a slit cleverly disguised. It was a seam cleverly disguised.
I discovered a lot when I looked at the seam itself. There were about 8 rows of stitching that had been made before the seam was sewn. 4 of the rows would be in the seam allowance to prevent unravelling. The other 4 rows would provide stability on the other side of the seam I suspected. Also, probably some of the wefts were pulled out to make the short fringe at that time. Then the raw edges were put together and the seam sewn. You can see the rows of stitching and the one row of stitching that was actually to join the pieces.
After the seam made and pressed open, the resulting tube was flattened and ironed with 2 hard creases. And you can see the rows of stitching disguising the seam.
A row of stitching through both layers at one point kept the tube together. That stitching I had seen before as a double-weave-stitcher row but indeed it was just 2 rows of regular machine stitching close to one another.
Then, finally the tube was ready for the stitch resist. The mystery remains how the stitching for the resist was done so that on one side the stitches resisted the black dye making light dots but on the light side the stitch marks are black.
I was all ready to pin down a little satin piece I’d woven and dyed onto a small piece of cloth I brought back from a trip to India. I’ve loved the piece. We visited a studio where the woman made very contemporary fashions using traditional dyeing and resist techniques used by the local artisans. I think I begged for her to sell the piece to me. She wanted to keep it as a sample. Many of you know I love samples so it really resonated with me. It is 12” x 27”. Yesterday when I ironed the piece, I discovered the “back” side and then came the dilemma. It was fantastic—an astonishment to any weaver. There was no way I could ignore that side and use the other side for my small simple piece. The dilemma was what to do with the original satin. More about that when I decide what to do. This piece is so unusual and inventive I had to show several views. The last photos are of a real scarf/shawl that resulted from the sample.
Here is a close-up showing a bit of both sides. The black side is what I’d planned to use and the light side is the discovery I made.
Here is more of the side I discovered.
This is the whole piece. It’s made of a rather thin, soft silk. This is the side I had always remembered.
This was the next SURPRISE! It is double woven in a tube—with the edges in the middle rather than at a selvedge.
Here is a detail of a full-size scarf or shawl.
This is the “back” side. Hard to say which is the front or back. It looks great as a scarf bunched up.
Did you notice the seams on the “front”? I especially love them here on the “back”!
“It’s not finished until it’s finished” a quote from my teachers
When our teachers told us this, it always meant that the woven cloth needed to be washed so the threads would relax and settle into the weave. I do wash or at least wet my fabrics and usually give them a hard press. That means when they are very damp, I iron and iron until they are dry or practically dry. I love this process and I do it as soon as I bring home the cloth if I can. I get to really see what my cloth looks and feels like. And it is always transformed into something much different from the “raw” cloth.
I have realized that a cloth needs to be made into something to be really finished. I am working at getting some of my woven pieces to be art. My basic idea is to make “scrolls” with fragments and background cloths. Sometimes a piece is for a background and sometimes it’s for the “art” to be mounted on the background. They don’t necessarily need to be long and narrow like traditional scrolls. I’m trying to match the background and the “show pieces”. I want the viewer to enjoy the textiles themselves as well as the overall “scroll”. And, I’m enjoying handling the pieces again and remembering how they came about. [click photos to enlarge]
This scroll sort of came together by itself. The top 2 pieces were lying on my table together like they are here. The background fabric I wove with the idea of dyeing it someday. I liked how they didn’t match up at the edges, too. It is 8” x 26”.
The background cloth is from the warp I designed to make the needle pillows in a previous post. The slubby warp and weft are of handspun singles cotton from Bhutan. The skeins were horribly snarled and I spent a whole afternoon in the hotel trying to unwind one and finally discovered that there was a cross in the skein! I’d never heard of such a thing. Then I saw a woman unwinding a skein using two swifts—one at each end. When I tried this at home, the skein unwound beautifully and perfectly. I spent a lovely afternoon balling the yarn! I unwound one of the skeins and part of the second—the rest is still on the swifts waiting to be wound into a ball. I never thought of it as a warp but wanted to try it. I used some sizing for the first time. It was so easy to make with flax seed and brush on, I don’t know why I’ve always been afraid to use it. I brushed it on the loom—what was unwoven at the end of a weaving session. Then I left it to dry with the shed open. The dyed pieces are also from that warp. I dyed the various cloths I got from that warp with black walnuts. I really like to see what different cloths I can make from one warp. I like the white one so much that I’m loath to dye it. I think it really shows off the yarns.
Here is a start at a little scroll using the satin and velvet cloths from previous posts. I hope it works but am not sure. Any thoughts? It’s just pinned in place now.
Here are all the places we plan to visit together. I am going again with my friend Cathy Cerny. She has done all the planning just like in many previous trips. I counted 9 hotels in 21 days so we’ll be moving right along. I hope I can do a post every day! – Click photos to enlarge –
Our first trip is a flight to Amami Island to the town of Oshima. (it is way south and off my map.) We want to see a particular type of ikat called orijimi. The resist is done on a loom forming a mat with the ikat warps or wefts to be woven in. Then the mat is unwoven to reveal the resisted places (dots) where the warps on the original weaving resisted the dye. The dye is also a special mud dye from the area. Oshima fabrics are expensive and have been imitated. We will look at the selvedges to see the tiny white dots to be sure we are getting the true orijimi technique. A friend and expert sent me this precious fragment so we would know what to look for.
This was forwarded to me by Yoshiko Wada–my textile guru who I adore. I’ve been on several of her trips to Japan and taken wonderful workshops at her studio in Berkeley. Slow Fibers Studio is her website. Her trips anywhere are fabulous and she is enormously knowledgeable about so many things and people where ever she goes. She gives classes on many of the techniques you see on the video. I took one by this master in Japan in the town of Arimatsuwhere the video is located. The town is a lovely town with traditional Japanese architecture everywhere. It is south of Nagoya. Nagoya itself has a fantastic museum: the Toyota Museum–Toyota first was a loom manufacturing company and there are wonderful old and modern looms working on display. There also is a huge and wonderful automobile section.
I’m already to meet people on the trip to China. there will be three parts: 1 week around Shanghai before the symposium. One week at the symposium in Hangzhou: BoND natural dye symposiium. And one week in Yunan Province, the Yi Minority Autonomous Prefecture in Guizhou Province. > click photos to enlarge <
Here’s the map we made for you to keep up. I’ll be sending posts everyday, I hope.
I’ve been weaving a lot of white lately, mostly silks that Iinherited from Ethel Aotoni when she died. I had the intention to dye them. The silk threads took the light differently whether you looked at them warps wise of weft wise. This fabric is a white 12-end satin. I tried to see if I could make it completely warp face with strong colored wefts. i.e white on one side and red or black on the other. When I had the fabric in hand I noticed that it changed color accoring to whether the warp or the weft was vertical. You can only see the borders and center when the light is just right. (You can see bits of white showing the warps peeking through on the edges of the squares I cut). These are works in progress, nothing is set yet. [ click to enlarge any photo ]
Here is what the red and white pieces look like when looking straight on–no borders or center color change.
This piece I dyed with black walnuts. Weaving the 12 end satin going in 11 stages from warp face to weft face. It didn’t look very interesting as a whole but I liked a lot of the sections. That is why I decided to cut the squares. Then I realized the light-play and came up with this design.
Another satin warp of silk dyed with black walnuts. I dyed the weft silk before weaving. Then I dyed the whole piece again in a light walnut dye with iron after bath. This photo shows how the light changes the darks and lights.
This was the first white warp satin I did and I couldn’t bear to dye it. It feels gorgeous, and I love the way the fabric takes the light.
Here is one of the lovely towns we’ll visit before the symposium. There are three parts of the trip and I am going on all three–one before the symposium (Shanghai and ancient villages nearby), one in Hangzhou during the BoND Symposium on Natural Dyes (where my piece will be in the exhibition), and the third after the symposium. On the first part we’ll visit Shanghai, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang with traditional highligts at Jin Ze Arts Centre.
The tour after the symposium will explore first-hand heritage provinces of minority group Yi in Sichuan, Guizhou, Yunnan and Yi Minority Aautonomous Prefecture. This area is most interesting and not so easily visited. These groups are ethnically different from the main Chinese people.
Another exhotic scene.
More from the last part.
Here is the website for Slow Fiber Studios China tour. Yoshiko’s trips are fantastic. She knows so many people and we visit textile people, not just tourist sites.
I went to Windrush Farm in Petaluma to one of the “Lamb Days” and it was a glorious treat. The wool felt wonderful.and he was so cute. It was a treat to hold this baby lamb in my arms.
Out in the field there were lots more baby lambs with their moms staying close. So far there ar 30 lambs born this spring with one ewe left to give birth.
These twins were especially cute. The black and white is unusual.
Lambs of different types are bred for different types of fleece. This fleece is from a previous year’s shearing. The farm sells fleece and yarns –natural and dyed. They teach spinning too. Here is the link to Windrush Farm in Petaluma California.
My mobile is 9 feet tall. We had to rent a photo studio to be able to take pictures for the entry. All the pieces are dyed with natural dyes: indigo, green persimmons (kakishibu) and black walnutes.I dyed lots of different white fabrics to get so many shades of colors.
It was exciting to be in a real photo studio. The Image Flow Photographic Center has this studio is in Mill Valley. There was equipment all over the place and being there made it possible to get these great photos by my photographer, Bob Hemstock.
The bamboo structure on top is constructed like an Alexander Calder mobile. Until we got it permanently balanced and held in place, it got knocked down time and time again whenever anyone touched it to rotate the pieces. To have it change sides and rotate in the air currents we used 7 fishing gear swivles.
A detail with mostly green persimmon dye. The Japanesse word is kakishibu. I got many colors and shades with it. I have quite a stash now of white fabrics that take the dyes differently and I have figured out ways to get mottled looks. The transparent blue fabric peeking out from the back side was dyed in my indigo vat.
This detail shows how I took shiny silk and turned the pieces 90 deagrees so the light caught it in different ways–similar to nap. I liked the way the fabric looked when it wasn’t ironed completely flat. That makes it shimmer more I think. Wish me luck at getting accepted into the international show.
Now my studio really looks like a weaving studio. My newest loom is in the center. All my looms except this new sweetie were built by Jim Ahrens. Now the new one was made by AVL looms—the “A” stands for Ahrens, so all the engineering is related. The ‘V’ stands for Jon Violette, who began the company with Jim and the ‘L’ stands for looms. Are you wondering what the other looms are that circle the new one in the center? Starting with the loom on the left and going around clockwise: 10-shaft, side tie-up, 4-shaft loom, 40-shaft dobby built by Jim Ahrens in the 1940’s, and my love, the 4-shaft loom made of bird’s eye maple wood which I have used exclusively for years and years. Going to 12 is a giant and exciting step for me!
Here she is—a real sweetie. I’ve been trying to reduce and give away things but this loom from Jan Langdon I fell in love with years ago. When she decided to down size, she said I was the only person who had longed for it. It is a 12-shaft dobby about 36” wide. Note that in the photo, my 10-shaft loom with a side tie-up is back behind the new loom. Small in a way but the dobby will increase my capacity for new structures greatly. I’ve been wanting to weave a structure for years and finally decided to do it until I realized I would run out of treadles. The dobby solves that problem. Two treadles work the mechanism to raise the shafts. Notice it is on wheels—that has been very handy already. I just need a pillow on my bench.
Here’s the back of the loom. The dobby mechanism is on the left side in the photo.
This is the dobby mechanism. Each bar represents one shed or row of weaving.
A close-up shows the pegs in the bars. A special tool makes it easy to ‘peg’ each shed. The holes without pegs are the shafts that will go up. Since there are 12 shafts, there are 12 holes in each bar. When the right treadle is pressed, the mechanism raises the shafts for one bar—one shed. When the left treadle is pressed, the shed closes and the mechanism readies itself for the next shed. When all the holes are filled nothing will go up. It’s a way to mark the end of a repeat.
Here is the first thing I’ve woven! I wanted to shade the 12-shaft satin weave to go from only the warp showing graded to only the weft showing. The white warps are shiny spun silk (2 different yarns) and the weft is handspun silk from Bhutan that is not shiny.Then I dyed the piece lightly in black walnut dye. I was hoping the shades of the color would contrast more, to go in shades from light to dark–but that is what I’ll work on next. I thought the two yarns—one shiny and one mat would contrast more when in the dye. Lately I’ve been weaving cloth for the dye pot—really fun to weave and get my creative juices flowing.