My New Baby is a Cutie!

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.

I Love My Cordless Iron


Here I show the iron I used on this singles linen piece I made. I love the sheen on the linen.

Here is the iron stipped in its cradel to show the bottom with the holes for steaming. It has great steam and spray and holds its heat. I place it in the cradle when I shift the cloth. The cord to the cradle is plenty long and retracts easily. It can even steam or spray with the iron held vertically.

The carrying case is surprisingly handy. Sometimes I even carry it to my kitchen counter and iron a small piece on a towel.

I am reminded fondly of the special squeak my mother’s ironing board made.
Below you can see the link to the iron on Amazon.

Panasonic PAN-NI-WL600 360 Degree Freestyle Cordless Iron

I’m Bending the Rules


Here is my current warp on my loom! Just what I taught my students to avoid–unevenly handspun singles yarns that are lumpy and sticky for warp threads. This is silk yarn I brought back from Bhutan–mainly to show the tour group what handspun yarn looked like. I did use plied threads for the 4 selvedge threads on the edges and weighted them separately. I used 5/2 cotton but a plied silk might have been a better idea.

From Linda Heinrich’s linen workshop at Convergence in 1994 and from her book on weaving linen I learned how easy it is to size a warp on the loom. Before now I’ve always been afraid to size anything. Her recipe is 1 tsp flax seed (any kind will do) to 1 cup of water. Simmer 15 minutes and strain. Refigerate and use within 2 weeks or freeze.I brush on the sizing then strum the threads and then open the shed to dry. Don’t apply too much–sort of like dry painting but pat the threads to get the sizing to go through to the bottom of the threads.

This is the yarn on the skein. I’ve shown it before to show the cross  made in the skein. The threads are horribly sticky but with the cross the threads are coming off perfectly. There are plenty of soft-spun lumps and thin areas where it is twisted tighter. I knew from winding the yarn off the skein that the threads were strong–that’s what convinced me to try them for a warp. The stickyness would have prevented the sheds from opening without sizing I realized.

Here is the cloth off the loom and wet finished. I got the cloth really wet in the sink then blotted with a towel. And ironed until dry I love ironing and ironing until dry and I love the sheen I got with the totally mat yarns.

Here is the cloth I just dyed with black walnuts I collected last week. What frun all this is. I can’t wait for the warp to dry and begin weaving again.

I’m Weaving Again!


The fine silk warp at 125 ends per inch stymied me and I walked away and left it on the loom for a year and a half. I thenbegan dyeing. I knew there were enough threads left unbroken to weave so I began weaving with some heavier handspun silk from Bhutan. When I took off the entire warp, This piece is what I found had already been woven–and I loved it. Originally I was weaving a tube but had decided to weave two separate layers–hence this piece was formed! [click photos to enlarge to see detail]

Here is the cloth woven with the silk from Bhutan. I decided just to weave off the warp with it so I could cut it up to dye later with the natural dyes I’ve been playing with.

You may remember the skein from Bhutan from another post. The skein was unusual because there was a cross in it. Even this extremely sticky thread came off the skein perfectly.

Here is my latest peice–5 yards to try the new silk/retted bamboo thread I saw in Handwoven Magazine. I love it. I the twill warp face on one side and weft faced on the other so when I dye it I’ll have two choices of tones of color.

Weaving Again!


Today I started to weave again after over a year. It takes two swifts to hold the skein.

This skein of raw silk from Bhutan has a cross in the middle of it! I’d never seen such a skein before. However it really makes it easy to ball off the yarn because of the cross. This is definitely hand spun and sticky.

Here’s that hand spun yarn woven with my fine silk warp at 125 EPI.

I decided to try a fatter weft so the weaving would go faster. I may have a dog on the loom. I’ve spent so much time already with broken ends I can’t quite give it up yet. I think I’ll use the cloth to dye with my dyes I brought back from Japan. I’m weaving two layers at once. Well since I’m going slowly anyway, why not?

Organizing My Fabrics By Value


I had accumulated a large pile of fabrics I collected for collages and it was growing uncontrollably. I decided to organize them by value. That was too foreboding at first so I sorted them by color (hue) then I took each pile and took out the light ones for the box of light-values.

Next I pulled out the darkest value ones for the dark box. That made it easier to fill the medium box.

The fourth box was for larger pieces of cloth.

What fun. But I sure had a backache after all that working with piles on the floor.

My New Work

“Shiny” by Peggy Osterkamp – silks dyed with black walnuts [click to enlarge]

 

I was busy over the holidays making this piece. All the fabrics were dyed with black walnuts I collected in early December. Some I put in iron water for a short time to “sadden” or grey the colors. There were two different fabrics which were shiny  so I could play with the color differences when I turned them 90 degrees. I cut the squares and turned them 90 degrees from each other to get the same effect as changing the nap in corduroy or velvet.  I mounted the pieces on cotton fabric strips and moved them around to make the composition. Then I mounted all the strips on black fabric. Everything was joined with long straight pins. Some time ago I realized the straight pins in my pin cushion were too fat for silk fabrics so I got “Extra-Long Satin Pins”.

Last night when only one light was on in the room, the pins themselves shimmered for further effect.

When I got started I wanted to know what fiber my fabrics were made of. I went to my files to look up “burn test” and there was a page from my own book! I’m still not exactly sure of what I have—it came from a warehouse sale I went to in November. I think they are silk. Here is the chart from my book, “Weaving & Drafting Your Own Cloth“.

My Sampler Turned into a Coat!


Many years ago I took a class in damask and learned about satins and I focused on warp face and weft face and color. I don’t know why I thought I needed 11 yards, but I made the warp that long. I would say it was about 15” wide. The warp was blue and grey out of 20/2 pearl cotton. The threading was 2 blocks and then I played with how colors mixed and looked next to each other. I still have a large stash of a lot of colors and shades of sewing thread which I used for wefts.

Since I was playing, sometimes the “right side” was on top and sometimes the “wrong side”. Of course there was no repeat!

When I showed it to my students one day Antione Alexander said he could make a coat out of it. The next week he had a muslin and the next week the completed coat! WOW! Later I had a seamstress put in interfacing and a lining. I wore it to the symphony a few weeks ago and have gotten nice compliments every time I wear it. I really feel I lucked out! I think he did a great job.

My Travel Vest


After each trip I seem to need to patch worn places and last time, a 3-corner tear. (I learned the name for that kind of tear in 4-H as a kid). When we took this photo, I realized that I’d sewn one of the pockets shut!! Another job to do before the next trip. Here is the current version after the trip to Japan in May. It felt so good when I put it on for the photos–nice and clean. At the end of a trip it is limp from sweat and constant wearing every day! I love it because of the pockets: for my camera, purse, train tickets, hotel key pad and pen. This is a Safekeeper vest made by Marion Gartler in Seattle. She brought them to Berkeley for a trunk show a few years ago.

More Dyed Pieces


I took a workshop with Yoshiko Wada’s Slow Fiber Studios in Berkeley, California recently. We learned to fold cloth in origami-like ways and then we did arashi shibori (pole wrapping shibori) with the cloth and got these lovely simple patterns. The teacher was Chris Palmer and his book is called Shadow folds: Surprisingly Easy-to-Make Geometric Designs in Fabric by Jeffrey Rutzky and Chris K. Palmer.

I folded and dyed 11” silk squares I got already hemmed from Dharma Trading Company. This was my first attempt at arashi shibori and I used my own indigo vat. I am proud of the results for such a novice. They can be used singly or as a group as pieces for the wall or gifts.

I took small pieces I’ve dyed and made little collage compositions and mounted them on squares of dark indigo linen I got in India a few years ago.  We went to see the Matisse and Diebenkorn show yesterday and I decided to call these pieces “My Little Diebenkorns”!  They can be used singly or in a group, too. I have put similar pieces in CD cases to present them! They also could be little coasters or gifts.

My Collages Full Size

I had really nice responses to my previous post which showed details of my new collage wall hangings with my dyed fabrics. Now you can see what they are like in reality. There are seven–all 11″ wide and 36″ long.  Now if you want to see details again, you can go back to the first post. Click on these thumbnails to see them full size then click again to see the detail.

Weaving with Fine Silk Threads

Finally! I wove a record of 7 1/2 inches the other day–in a 2-hour session. I think most of the repairs are done now and I can weave along. You can see how it is going on the video.

Here is a close up of the cloth with only one broken thread repair–hooray! I think I am finally on my way now. I make the repairs with colored sewing thread so I can see what I’m doing. Usually those threads will continue until the end of the warp so it will be a bit of a surprise to see what it looks like off the loom. I have about a yard done so far with the previous sessions averaging an inch or so each because of all the repairs that needed to be done. For each repair, I have to find the missing heddle and route the repair thread in the exact position where the broken thread was. I join the sewing thread to the silk one and weight it at the back of the loom. See a previous post of my set-up to weight the threads and keep them in order–keeping them in order is crucial so I have a cross on the stand where the weighted threads are.

Collages of My Dyed Fabrics


Each composition is made up of fabrics that were in the same dye pot. The differences in the tones are due to the different fabrics I put into the pot. I love these subtle “colors”. The yellows were from woad plants. The browns were from green persimmons over dyed with indigo. I especially find myself liking things that have almost no color at all. One of these is from oak galls. I can’t remember all the specifics but I like to put dyed fabrics in a bath of iron water to “sadden” the color.




My Dyeing Marathon – Experiments with a Variety of Silks and Cottons


Over the holidays I dyed a lot in my very first indigo vat. Lots and lots of dips were necessary to get the different shades. I always used a variety of silks and cottons in each dye bath to get a variety of close tones. I’m thrilled with the results and all the “colors” I could get just by using different cloths.  Then I did similar experiments with saffron, henna and turmeric. It has been fun seeing what I could get. My next post will show some of the art pieces I made using these small pieces. 




Broken Threads Disaster–My Solution

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I’m weaving 125 fine threads per inch so I can weave another ruffle (see my gallery) which I will shibori dye with indigo. Then the ruffle will disappear and appear in the dyed and un-dyed areas.   [click any photo to enlarge]
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I’m trying to weave with finer-than-ever silk threads. I should have starched them first but didn’t because I didn’t realize it would be necessary. That would have made the threads stronger.  There are 125 threads per inch and I made more threading errors than I’ve ever made in my life. I have spent hours correcting these almost invisible threads and have lost a few and a few have broken –there are 16 threads to date that are hanging off the back of my loom and I expect I’ll have more as I weave along. Here is a close up of the weaving and one broken thread pinned in. (I’ve been mending the threads with sewing thread so I can see them.)
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I used this stand which I’d used when I was weaving velvet to rig up a way to keep all the threads from tangling. Knowing that the only thread that can’t tangle is one under  tension this is what I did.
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I took the threads as they came from the warp beam and made a cross to keep them in order. 
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 Here is a close-up of the cross I made to keep the threads in order.
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To further keep them in order they went through this grid.

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Here is how I tensioned the threads. These are fish net shuttles I used when weaving velvet.

Learning New Things with Yoshiko Wada and Elisa Ligon

Straight Persimmon Dye1

Yoshiko Wada and Elisa Ligon


I took a workshop called Shibori and Sublimation Printing on the weekend. It was really inspiring. We were dying on polyester using shibori techniques and dying by sublimation using disperse dyes and a heat press. I hope to use the ideas with my persimmon dyes on silk and cotton.
Straight Persimmon Dye2

Straight Persimmon Dye3
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Dying with Kakishibu–Green Persimmons

persimmon dye with iron modifier on various fabrics [click to enlarge]

persimmon dye with iron modifier on various fabrics [click to enlarge]


I’ve been interested that I could dye with green persimmons for awhile and I have a friend with persimmon trees. But when I got Chris Conrad’s book, “Kakishibu: Traditional Persimmon Dye of Japan”” and found I could buy the dye already made I was hooked. These are some of my first experiments. I love them and have more pictures for an album we’ll make later. Her book told me all I needed to know to get started.  Visit her website : http://kakishibui.com/

persimmon dye with no iron modifier on various fabrics except for the dark piece in the center [click to enlarge]

persimmon dye with no iron modifier on various fabrics except for the dark piece in the center [click to enlarge]

 

Camp Season Almost Here

Table Looms for Camp
Here are my Structo table looms all ready for the campers later in June. Last year we had great creativity from the 6-11 year-olds. Finally a use for my looms that have been gathering dust n my studio. Last year was a great success so we are going to do it again this year. I always wonder before hand how it will go over. The kids last year were so eager. I made the warps–2 1/2″ wide and then cut cut them off when they are all done and glue the cut ends.

Here Are My Knitted Yarn People

Dolls

Peggy Osterkamp’s Knitted Yarn People – click to enlarge

I stayed up late Christmas Eve to make these yarn figures–had one more to do Christmas morning. They were so much fun and I’m glad I can keep the doll clothes for myself for awhile. I stuffed them with little bean bags I made out of old socks. The stuffing came from old pillows –one with grains of rice and the other, rice hulls. I had a mess to clean up when one or another tipped over in the making.

When is a Present Not a Present? Knitted Doll Sculptures!

Knitted Doll Schulptures > Peggy Osterkamp - [click to enlarge]

Knitted Doll Sculptures > Peggy Osterkamp – [click to enlarge]


I intended these doll clothes I have knitted over the year or so to be Christmas presents. When they turned into art sculptures I knew they needed to be in a group and that meant as of two days before Christmas all of a sudden I didn’t have my gifts anymore! I had planned to make one of the dresses into a paper weight for one gift but when it became a sculpture and I was out of that present. Another dress was a gift, too. I was out two at the last minute.  I won’t say how I resolved my dilemma but the next post will show my little people standing upright in a group.

Little Pieces in “Caskets”

Little Pieces in Caskets - 37
I dyed several pieces I’d woven out of the sheer silk threads that collapse and was thrilled with the results. There are a few more but since they are a dark indigo, they don’t show up as well as in person. I’d woven the pieces in various ways to encourage or control the collapse areas. However, that was a few years ago. When I put them in the indigo dye vat, they all were flat. What wonderful surprises I got.

The reason I call them caskets is the mounting I’ve done. One of them shows the piece in a frame—the frame is made of very thick foam core board for the depth and covered with a frame of mat board with beveled edges on the window. The pieces themselves are stitched to a backing piece of mat board. Then I put a sheet of Mylar over the top and held it in place with a few stitches in the corners. Thus the pieces are protected and encased but in a simple way. They could be framed  more properly later. I plan to show them this way in my show at the Tiburon Library for the month of November.

Note: I had a professional framer cut the foam core frames and the top mats.  I stitched the pieces themselves to the mat board on the backs and cut and stitched on the Mylar myself.

If you click on the images to enlarge them you can really see the loops and textures better.

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Little Pieces in Caskets - 35 Little Pieces in Caskets - 39
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Preparing for Weaving at Camp

Kids Warping Board

Kids Weaving 4

The counsellors and a few of the campers and a parent came to my studio to set up the looms before the camp started. The day of these photos a counsellor made a warp and she and I threaded one of the 7 Structo looms together. Her little brother and his friend came, too, and had fun weaving while we were having fun ourselves setting up the loom. It was a lovely afternoon. [click photos to enlarge]
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