Red Onion Skin Dye: Post #690 (My post # 1 was published on November 19, 2010)

Introduction:
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!

Sampler or Sample?

Introduction:
Someone commented about my previous post on making a sampler: “Sample or Sampler”. I think most of us know about samplers but the difference between that and sample needs some thinking about. What do I mean by “sample”? I mean trying out your ideas on the ACTUAL WARP before weaving a project. That means making your warp long enough to “sample” as well as weave your project(s). Here are some of my examples I wove long ago.

“African Thoughts” was my sampler when I was a student for the class in Supplementary Warp. I was inspired by a picture of a textile with lots of triangles in a book on African textiles. I made my triangles first then tried many other tie-ups. I think that was my first experience of realizing how different designs could be made with one threading by changes in the tie-up. I ended the sampler similar to the beginning to turn the sampler into a wall hanging.

This box was my project after the  African Thoughts sampler in the supplementary warp class. It is linen, double weave, with the supplementary warp in between the layers. It was all loom controlled. Putting the box together after it was woven took hours. But it gave me a chance to get to handle and get to know the textile.

Here is a sample cut from a sampler in fine silk. This was my first attempt at fine threads. A friend saw it on the loom and offered me the name of a good therapist! I had trouble with the selvedges. The reason is a lesson I really learned. The end delivery shuttle was too long for the narrow warp.

I made several pieces on the fine silk warp. And dealt with the bad selvedges by folding the edges around foam core board. I call this “Cloud Tiles”. I was inspired by an exhibition of tiles I saw in a museum.

Now, this is a real sampler! I wove off a warp I’d made for a class and tried warp face and weft twills on the 4-shafts. I found out later this is called damask. I got the inspiration, then, to make a third level: warp face twill, balanced twill, and weft faced twill. I made little compositions within the sampler thinking about pages in a book. It is still in tack.  I call it my “Clown Sampler” and it has never left my studio.

This color blanket taught me how important to make a SAMPLE on the actual warp of the project. My sampler was narrow (5” wide or so). I used the same sett (epi) for the big warp that was about 36” wide. The wefts didn’t pack down enough for a balanced weave that is required for a color blanket. In other words, the warp dominated over the weft in all the colors. Now I know that for a wider warp I need to open up the sett to accommodate the more friction there is in the reed.

“Red Squares” is another supplementary warp piece. I sampled on the warp first. Then wove this piece. I still like supplementary warp a lot. You don’t have wefts mucking up your ideas.

This little piece I cut from a Lampas sampler. I am remembering that the black yarn was the same boucle I wove in the sampler just before the lockdown. That was my favorite part of the sampler and I plan to use it in the final project with what is left on the loom. Next year??

From an Easy Way to Thread a Needle to The Magic of Kaketsugi Restoration

Everyone may know this technique for threading a needle. Beate Schauble’s comment about my moth-eaten blanket sent me to this fascinating YouTube video: “The Magic of Kaketsugi Restoration”. I wanted to make a post about it so that I could have an excuse to try it. I have a lot of patience but I can’t conceive of the idea that I would even do one tiny patch the Kaketsugi way! I’m still thinking about what I’ll do with the blanket and appreciate all the suggestions people have sent.

Kaketsugi is a method of mending that takes a patch from a hidden part of a garment and pulls threads from the patch into the cloth to be mended. You need the patch to be the same fabric so the threads can match thread-for-thread. I found pieces of a cloth that were dyed and undyed to give contrasting colors with the same thread count for my experiment. I was startled to see how big the patch had to be to give enough for the fringes on all 4 sides. I used a rather fine tapestry (blunt) needle.

The first 3 photos show the method of threading a needle using a loop of thread. This technique is used in Kaketsugi mending.

The thread is inserted in the thread loop.

You pull on the loop and that draws the thread right through the eye of the needle!

For Kaketsugi you thread a needle with a loop. Then isolate the thread you will work into the cloth. Hold the other threads back with the thumb so you can see where to insert the needle.

Weave the needle in and out of the cloth in the place where the thread is to go. Only pick up a thread or 2 on the right side of the cloth so it doesn’t show.

Insert the patch-thread into the loop in the needle.

Pull the needle out of the cloth, pulling the loop and patch-thread through the path the needle took and come out to the surface.

When you pull the needle with the loop thread out of the cloth it pulls the patch-thread along the path like magic. Note at first I wove the needled in and out too coarsely so it shows too much. As I got better you can barely see the path of the repair thread. In the video you can see that the fringes are brought to the wrong side and a patch is ironed over the threads.

Is It Time to Dye Again? What is the universe telling me?

Introduction:
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.

Making “Scrolls”

Introduction:
First of all, I want to say that everyone here is safe and no one has the dreaded virus. (I live in a Continuing Care place.) I feel very safe and am overwhelmingly grateful to our staff and administration. Our director made me VERY happy on Sunday when he said the kitchen could save onion skins for me. Immediately the chef called and wanted to know if I wanted them cooked or pureed!! I can’t wait to get a dye post going and dye some of the fabrics I brought back from India. What’s been keeping my creative mind going these weeks is making “scrolls” by putting fabrics together. Some from trips, some from my weaving, and some of my dyeing. This post is about my scroll-making process.

I have pulled out lots of fabrics. I see one I like—either the foreground or background. Then I fuss around to see what I like together. I hope this checkerboard will work with the gold-leaf-on-paper wefts.

After I’ve chosen the centerpiece, I iron it and crop if necessary, etc. This piece we got in Japan on the island of Amami Oshima. It is ikat. The resist was done by first weaving the warps and wefts on a loom. (For double ikat!) Where these warp threads bind the bundles of then-wefts, is where the resist takes place during dyeing. Then, that weaving is unwoven and the resisted threads are put on the loom or on shuttles!  It is amazing and a thrill to see it being done. I chose this piece because of the fine detail and lovely image. It is a contemporary piece—not anything like the traditional styles woven there. The process is called Orijimi. Silk is what is done with the process in this area and is the finest. Sometimes it is known as Oshima fabric. And is expensive. We were lucky to be able to buy pieces.

Then the background must be ironed. And the proportion of the two areas decided upon. This is where I am with this piece at the moment. I love the background—glorious slub linen threads in an open plain weave. I will double it and hope the moire that I see now will dazzle people when it’s hung. I’m hoping to have a scroll show someday.

Finally the last step is to center the piece and attach it to the background. The “art” is a fragment I dyed with persimmon dye and the ground is a fancy twill I woven just before the pandemic. It has a hard- plied silk warp and a thin black boucle weft. I’ve had the boucle for years but never found a good place for it until now. I’m happy I have a large cone of it.

Sometimes Hemstitching Isn’t Right, a ‘Design Feature’, and Decisions Made

Introduction:
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.”

One Tie up for 4-Shaft Weavers: Never Tie Up Your Treadles Again

Introduction:
I began to think more about sampling after suggesting a sampler in my previous post. You can be very free if you don’t have to change the tie-up every time you weave something different—that is, if you are using 4 shafts. And the weaving often is faster and you can “walk the treadles”.  Weaving is more efficient when you can alternate your feet. Try practicing the tie up below with a common twill. Imagine the sequence and move your feet. 12, 23, 34, and 41. Soon you will be dancing. Note that you will be pressing more than one treadle at a time. If you have more treadles, just don’t tie them up at all. One weaver proudly said she then added two more treadles for tabby. That misses the point—the fewer treadles the easier for your feet to find them.

I wove all these variations without re-tying the treadles. And I kept getting new ideas to try. The warp was set up to weave the needle pillows. You can see one in the photo. When you can weave plain weave you can make cloth to dye later. And handwoven plain weave can be attractive.  My warp was handspun cotton I got in Bhutan. You can try an “almost plain weave”. Because you can’t get a true plain weave. Then see what you think.

Here is the special tie-up. And the way to weave tabby is to use two treadles at a time. You press your feet between the treadles to get 1 & 3 and 2 & 4. You can create/invent from there!

French Knots, Tailors’ Tacks, Pins, and Clothes Pins

Introduction:
I finished a few of my scrolls lately. And the last touch was to attach the art to the backgrounds. For a year or so I’ve been using straight pins. Now, I used different techniques to fit the situations. I included at the end of the post directions for French knots and tailors’ tacks.
This was the piece that started the revolution away from straight pins. I centered the top piece and then as soon as I moved it, it floated off any old which way. I decided French knots on some of the spots would hold it in place. And they worked. I dyed both the fabrics with indigo and black walnuts. They started out white. The thin one is organza which dyes wonderfully well. I think the spots were a gift. Clothes pins are good hanging devices I’ve discovered. I do plan to replace the hanger.

I tacked the organza piece on the top with French knots.

Here the French knots are where there were white spots on the cloth. I just did a few randomly.

Then, I decided the satin piece I’ve been working on should have French knots. I wanted them to be fairly invisible. They are attaching the top to the background fabric I got in the Philippines.

I used tailors’ tacks on this piece from a previous post.

Pins hold this piece.
Directions for making French knots from an embroidery book.

Directions for making tailors’ tacks from a sewing book.

Changing My Mind and a Dilemma

Introduction:
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”!

A Beautiful, Unusual Silk: Gazar

Introduction:
I’ve been gathering interesting fabrics for a few years when I’m traveling and at home in San Francisco at Britex Fabrics—a fantastic place. I’ve had the idea of dyeing them with easy-to-use natural dyes. Even though my stash was pretty big, I bought quite a lot on my last trip to India. My tech guy had an eye opener when he saw how I shopped: “a meter of this, ½ meter of that, do you have anything really special, etc. etc.” We went to a shop that only had linen that I’d heard had fantastic prices and then to another large shop that had everything including ribbon and trim. By that time, I was thinking of making my scrolls as well as dyeing. (All those fabrics are still in the bag I brought them home in.) This fabric I discovered at a huge fabric store in New York where designers go. I was nosing around the silk area and someone pointed out that this particular silk once creased could never be ironed out. It is quite stiff and has a lovely sheen and complicated twill lines in the structure.

Today was my third attempt at ironing out the creases and gentle folds of my Gazar silk. Even though I asked the clerk not to fold it and put it in its own shopping bag, there were lines that had to be removed. While ironing today I saw how beautiful it was in the light as it draped off the ironing board.

Another look at it falling off the ironing board made me think of gorgeous wedding gown silk.

Here was my view while ironing. I often take the communal ironing board to the window in our 8th floor lounge. Today it was not only for the view, but for the morning light.

Here’s an example of tiny creases I was ironing out. The photo also gives a glimpse of the weave structure. I didn’t think of photographing the more obvious creases and gentle fold lines, but this is an example when I was almost finished.

This was the equipment I used. On my first attempt I only used a dry iron, with low, med and high heat which didn’t do the job. A neighbor down my hall suggested the technique I used last night and again today. Medium heat and a thin press cloth that I spritzed then tapped the iron on the cloth gently—tap, tap, tap over the spots that needed work. Then I ironed the little area I was working on without the cloth. I love my cordless iron. I think a regular cord would just muss up the cloth as I worked along. I kept spritzing, tapping, and ironing all over the “bad” places I’d marked with safety pins.

Now it’s hanging in my hallway with clothes pins on hangers. In the morning I’ll check if there are any more spots to work on.

For fun I’m showing you more of my hall outside my apartment door.

Making Art Out of a Beautiful Silk Taffeta Shawl – That was Much Too Big and Slippery to Wear

Introduction:
I’ve been wildly putting together fabrics the last few days. Seems every time I turn around I get out more fragments and not-so-fragments that I’ve stored away. I find them exciting and then excitedly look around for background fabrics for them. Last night I was getting ready for bed at midnight and I kept getting more and more ideas that it was 1:00 before I turned out the light. For example, I found places on a table mat from Japan for the tiny velvet pieces that I had left. The most exciting idea was to put together a white wool felt pleated cape from China and a handwoven skirt also from China that had woven strips for fringe. I thought to put the fringe at the top of the cape instead of at the bottom where fringe normally is! It will take a good while to get all the pieces made up. I’m also in the throes of writing another Kindle book. The days are not long enough!!

A closeup look at the gorgeous silk taffeta shows fine ikat detail where the borders begin. I bought this “dupatta”in a shop in India years ago. I loved the fabric because of the edges of the borders. I thought it was to be worn over the chest for modesty sake. The internet says they are 2 meters long and can be worn over one shoulder. For years I’ve tried wearing it in a variety of ways. Finally I asked a well-dressed Indian woman what to do and she said, “That isn’t for the body.” What a relief, but a disappointment that I couldn’t have it to feel and look at. I got the inspiration to make it smaller but save the borders for a wall hanging (scroll). I pleated it vertically then horizontally and made small tailor tacks to hold the folds in place. It took a few more iterations to come to what it is now—an official scroll.

Here is a view of the middle section of the wall hanging/scroll. When friends saw me working on it (took a good while over the past week) they thought it was 2 pieces of cloth—not one single fabric.

The bottom. More border. The whole fabric is ikat—warp and weft wise. Looking at the tiny red dashes, I can’t imagine doing the tying for the ikat. Ikat means that the THREADS were tie dyed BEFORE the cloth was woven! Such precision and the care in making the tiny blurry edges of the borders!

Here is the top again and I hope you can see the ruffles that happened when I pleated up the middle section. One neighbor thought the ruffles very elegant and feminine. I think I love the black ruffles as much as the ikat blurry edges. And the center part seems to really set off the very black borders. It is very white with the red dashes.

Here is the result. It started out 98” long plus fringe and 24” wide. Now it is 50” long and 13” wide plus fringe.

Velvet Revisited

Introduction:
I have been looking at fabrics lying on my table and around that I’ve pulled out for possible scrolls. A few are coming together now after “marinating” awhile. Here are the results from my velvet pieces.

The previous version using this lovely little piece of velvet just never looked right. Now, the background is a piece of cotton I dyed with indigo. (I work at it to make my dyed things mottled.) Then, I pulled out the silk also dyed with indigo to check the color. (I often like to leave the wrinkles in just like I like the colors to be mottled.) When I threw it across the piece I knew that was it!

I adored this white velvet I brought back from Italy. It was exceptionally soft. What to do with a piece about 4” x 6”?? I decided to cut it into squares and mount them like a mosaic. I spent a lot of time working with the nap so the border would stand out from the center. Since the nap was so short, the pieces all look pretty much alike. The blue velvet that I cut up for the borders was about 6” x 3”. The nap is different on the top and bottom but doesn’t show up.

While fiddling with this piece, I noticed that the velvet was much lighter in a certain light.

Looking at it from another angle, the velvet turned dark. That’s what I had been working toward in the white and blue piece!

Make a Hem That’s Invisible on the Right Side

Introduction:
RE: Filters for masks
3M 2200 best for virus protection


I’d been wondering about the so-called filters that were to go into the masks and finally Bob, my tech guy, did some research and found out that furnace and air conditioner filters could be cut up for inserting in the masks. I couldn’t imagine how that would be, especially when he bought one at the hardware store and brought it to me. So, I checked the web and found just what I needed: the package, how to open it, what to use and what to throw away. Then it showed how to cut out the pieces for the filters to insert. Here is the LINK to that YouTube video.



For the top of this white cotton piece I wanted a finished edge but I wanted the cloth to just stop or end without any sign of how.

In preparation for making the hem, I protected the last weft by pulling warps periodically back into the cloth just like in a previous post. (This prevents the raw edge from unravelling.)

I turned the hem to the wrong side and ironed only on the fold to make a crease there. Note that I didn’t iron the cut edge so as not to make an impression on the right side.

I used this iron-on adhesive rather than sewing the hem down. This type in the red package is meant to iron in place and make a permanent bond. It used to come by the yard but I’ve only seen it in these smaller packages lately. It is available from fabric stores and Amazon. Be sure the package says  Ultrahold” and not “Lite”. It was not in the interfacing area of the fabric store, but in an aisle where applique supplies were located.

This shows the adhesive ironed paper-side up in place inside where the hem is to be. Since you won’t be ironing on the raw edge, place the adhesive near the crease where the hem will be turned to the wrong side.

Peel off the paper in preparation for the final ironing.

Turn the hem under, enclosing the adhesive and iron. Remember to only iron on the fold –not on the edge of the hem to prevent an impression that would show on the right side.

Note that there is a purple package (Lite) that isn’t meant for ironing permanently but requires stitching down. The adhesive just holds a piece in place in preparation for stitching to hold it permanently in place. It comes by the yard or in packages with larger amount than the Ultrahold in the red package.

Finishing, Finishing, Finished!

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.

Look What I Found Waiting for Attention!

I am working on unfinished projects while staying home. I have a lot of work ahead to “mine”. So far, I’m happily keeping busy and staying well. I get to see people on my hall and on walks in our gardens outside the building so am not lonesome. I sure hope our isolation is effective.

Years ago I went on a trip to Italy to visit velvet weavers. It was a wonderful experience visiting so many wonderful places in Italy as well. Velvets are very expensive so it wasn’t easy to bring home pieces. Occasionally we had an opportunity to purchase some scraps. This little piece is 7 ½” x 4” but I love it and am thinking of mounting it so I can have it out to enjoy. The velvets were costly because of all the silk pile threads in the warps. They always were woven on jacquard looms.

Look closely and you can see the tiny cut velvet threads.

This tiny sample is 1” x 1” and has a lot to see. Some areas are “regular velvet” meaning the woven loops are cut. Other areas you can see where the loops were uncut. In the areas where there is no velvet showing on the right side, all the velvet warps are woven into the ground weave. These areas are called voided velvet. So, in this piece we have cut, uncut, and voided velvet.

A few of us were given a chance to weave on a jacquard velvet loom and this is my part of the piece we wove. There wasn’t enough time to even think about cutting the loops. This piece measures 3” x 3 ¼” and I treasure it. How nice to find it again.

Here is the place where we were able to learn how the jacquard loom works and to punch our cards for the pattern above that we wove. We lived on the little campus during the 2 or 3-day workshop.

I brought home this big piece because there is an error in the weaving and couldn’t be sold at full price. I chose it because there was so much voided area which meant that the dark magenta velvet threads were carried along in the foundation invisibly. It is 20” long and 25” high. Can you see the error very close to the bottom?

Here is the error. I love it. It shows the evidence of the weaver (or a glitch in the jacquard mechanism).

Here is the wrong side. I had it framed with plexi on the front and back to remind me that all those dark threads were carried on the back and invisible on the front.

Getting the 40-Shaft Dobby Working


Getting the 40-shaft mechanical dobby going. Jim Ahrens built this loom in the 40’s. Beside the dobby shafts are 4 more made for a ground weave. You can see a small practice warp ready to see that the dobby mechanism works after replacing all the cords. A big project.

Here are the dobby bars I pegged for a design some years ago next to the mechanism. There is a single wide treadle to activate the dobby which is what makes the sheds. Next week we should see if all the adjustments and knots work like they should.

Here is a close up of the bars and pegs. Each bar represents one shed or row of weaving. The pegs tell the dooby which shafts to lift and lower to make the sheds.

The big pedal operates the dobby. The 4 regular pedals are meant to operate a ground weave which we aren’t using for our trial. Each press of the big pedal changes the shed (dobby bar with pegs).

For the trial only 4 shafts will be used.

Here are the completed 4 shafts with their individual weights at the bottom of each shaft. The cords for the remainder of the shafts are bunched up out of the way.

I Got Accepted into the China Show!!


The Chinese National silk Museum is in a huge and beautiful building.

Here is one of the exhibition spaces. I wonder if our show will be there.

Now I have my business cards made–It is beginning to feel like it is really going to be.

I am going with my very favorite tour guide, Yoshiko Wada, with Slow Fiber Studios. There are two tours with her plus going to the BoND Symposium. The tour before is around the area of Shanghai and the tour after is to the Yi Minority Autonomous Region in Southwest Cina. Yoshiko’s trips are THE BEST. If you’ve folled my blog you know. I think registration is still open. Contact Slow Fiber Studios.

“Colorful World: Overview of Natural Dyes” The First Biennale of Natural Dyes 
The advent of synthetic dyes in the 19th century has brought a steep decline in the centuries-old productions of natural dyes around the world. The beginning of the 21st century, however, saw a revival of interest in natural dyes as more people turn to nature for solace and harmonious living. Now, many international communities are advocating the use of natural dyes in modern practices and promoting researches on ancient dyeing techniques. In recognition for these artistic and scientific endeavors, the China National Silk Museum (CNSM) organizes the first biennale of natural dyes, with an aim to embrace the beauty of nature, as well as to explore the ancient wisdom and knowledge embodied in the traditional craft of dyeing.

Neddle Cushion Details


Here are the needle cushions as they were woven, before cutting them apart. After sampling, I was happy with the way they looked. See below for some of the problems that needed solving.

I hated the spaces between the pattern threads as seen here. Read how I solved that below. I chose different colors of the pattern threads and doubled the number of threads to make them thicker. Then I was satisfied.

I went to my bible on Overshot techniques, Helene Bress’s book. On page 206 in the Overshot chapter was my answer! Her book has such depth with many ways to think about how one can design things. There must be thousands of images.

© 1981 Helene Bress

 

 

Needle Book Mania??


I wonder if I have a “thing” about needle books. The first one I had I made in 4-H when I was 10. I never saw the use of it and never used it. Then I saw one my friend Mary Rowe had when I was in New York. I think it was her mother’s in New Zealand. It was the cutest thing I ever saw so I made one for my best friend’s 40th birthday years ago. She still uses it a lot of years later. [ click photos to enlarge ]

Last month or so a weaver/friend died and I took care of finding homes for her loom and stash. I found the most wonderful needle “cushion” in with her things. (The colorful one full of her needles.) It now lives on my new dobby loom. I had to weave some of my own! I’ve been dyeing with black walnuts so I thought I would dye the cloth and the pattern threads–what whimsy and fun that was. I made a lot for gifts when I travel. On the rest of the warp I had fun designing 4 new fabrics without changing the threading.

These are needle books I have lying around–in my sewing box at home and near my looms in the studio. In 4-H I learned that one needed protein fiber for pins and needles so they won’t rust. So all the pages are wool fabrics. (The new needle cushions are made with silk).

The round yellow crocheted needle book is like the one I saw in New York and made for my friend. The inner “pages” are made from scraps of wool overshot fabic I wove when I was an apprentice with Jim Ahrens.  The tiny heart shaped one I found in a sewing box at a thrift store–lovingly crocheted. The round, fat pin cushion with sashiko stitching I got in Japan and couldn’t resist it.

The last is a pin cushion I made and use now. We wove yards of this wool fabric in a production weaving class with Jim Ahrens at Pacific Basin School of Textile Arts in the 70’s. My inspiration was a pin cushion I got in Whales at a weaving mill  made from their scraps. The red book came from there, too.

Photographing My Entry for an Exhibition

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.

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?