What is a Scroll? A Trilogy of Scrolls?

Introduction:

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.

A Weft-faced Twill: Actually, Weft Predominant Twill


Here is another piece I wove for a background for a scroll. You might recognize the warp from the “Three Faces of Karl” scroll in previous posts. I seemed to be wanting to use up things I’d been hoarding in my studio: this time, the black thin wool boucle. And I wanted to show off the boucle which I love and the rough silk as wefts.

Here is the back side which shows the warp dominating. This was the back when I was weaving and remained so.

Since there is a fat weft and the thin boucle weft, the selvedges naturally go in and out. Thick yarns don’t turn as easily as thin ones at the selvedges, but I didn’t want to lose the idea of the special silk so I let it stick out or turn at the selvedge as it wanted to.

This is a close-up of the warp face side (the back side). The thick weft is very rough being made of the waste part of silk cocoons. It’s called kibiso. It is very lumpy and sort of flat, and a little paper-like. I dyed it with black walnuts a year ago and kept looking at it until I finally decided to try it.

Today I finished the top and bottom and attached the silks I had dyed. So here is the finished scroll.

Three Faces of Karl (Karl is the name given to San Francisco’s fog)

Introduction:
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!

Three Scrolls: Almost Finished


I was determined to get 3 pieces ironed and the bamboo added today. Worked until 9:00. This is the original one all wrinkled. Thanks to all the advice I got about ironing and dampening.

This one my neighbor collaborated with me on the composition. She is just the right person for me.

This is another one. No rolling pin needed today, just hours of ironing. I enjoyed the day completely. A joy to see the linen iron out so flat.

Scroll Project Going Ahead

Introduction:
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.

Scroll Project Interruption


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.

Cut a Straight Line: Pull a Thread

Introduction:
While working on this linen scroll project I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to straighten a piece of fabric. I wonder, does everyone know this? I learned it in my first year of 4-H back in Ohio. Recently I learned that taking two threads together is safer in case one breaks.

Here it’s easy to see how a pulled thread can provide the cutting line to straighten the edge of this fabric.

For the gazar silk scroll I made months ago I needed to cut off a piece from the length of fabric I had on hand. This was a slow, tedious process but necessary.

Here’s how to get a thread started. Pick up a thread or snip a bit into the cloth to pick up one. Another way is seen in the first photo. Find the lowest point in an edge and select the thread at that point.

Then just cut on your line. Sometimes when a thread breaks, I cut up to the point where it broke and pick up the thread there and continue pulling and cutting, pulling and cutting.

You can see that for a twill weave it would be a big help to have a pulled thread to cut along.

The Scrolls: It’s the CLOTH that Counts – More First Drafts

Introduction:
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.

My Dyed Linen Scrolls Progress Report

Introduction:
Here is the center piece of my first dyed scroll. In previous posts recently I’ve told about dyeing linen fabrics with 3 tannins (myrobalan, Brugueira, and quebracho) before mordanting with alum before dyeing with onion skins or black walnut dye. Sometimes I only used the tannins after-mordanted with alum and no dye. Sometimes I used an iron or copper afterbath. That means with 9 different fabrics I ended up with a lot of swatches too good to just go into a notebook.

I featured the swatches on the background cloths I dyed a week or so ago for my scrolls. Here is the first one. The pieces are only based in place. They came from two dye baths: myrobalan, alum, walnut and myrobalan, alum, onion with iron afterbath. The different fabrics took the dye deliciously different I think.

Here is the whole scroll. The background is dyed with myrobalan, alum, and onion skins. The linen fabrics ironed beautifully but wrinkled when I manhandled it. When I’ve made final decisions, I’ll do a good ironing with my wrinkle releaser and it should be beautiful. As of now, I’m not exactly sure of the dimensions and exact placement. The swatches can be exchanged around, too.

Here’s how I handled the black marks made from the safety pins during dyeing. I folded the pieces anyway I could so the marks wouldn’t be on the right side. The seam could hit anywhere in the back or on a side. You can see the mark on this one on the upper right.

Wrinkle Releaser: A Miracle

Introduction:
When I visited my sisters in Ohio a year ago, I helped finish a couple of quilts. I did the ironing; none of the precise stuff. At the very end of the process I was given the job of ironing out any hard wrinkles found on the fabrics from when they were originally on the bolt. It was easy with the special spray they had just for that purpose. Now, a year later, I called to find out what that magic spray was.

This is one of my “scrolls”. Linen background with a felted piece I made in a workshop at Slow Fiber Studios.

This is what the linen looked like when I began working on the piece. I knew I could iron it flat if I dampened it thoroughly and ironed and ironed it dry. And then was careful not to wrinkle it while handling it to put on the felt piece.

Remember this lovely gazar silk in a previous post that took days to iron flat? After that post a friend who among other things has a dry cleaner license emailed me. And she said that dry cleaners use a “wrinkle releaser”. That made sense to me when I thought of them preserving wedding gowns after the wedding when the gown would come in terribly wrinkled.

I looked for wrinkle releasers on the web and found there were so many I really was confused. Besides none of them said they worked on silk particularly. I got the brilliant idea of calling my sister and finding out what her magic potion was. This is what she uses—and has for a long time, even ironing her husband’s shirts. It’s a spray starch. It works wonders by making ironing easy and fast. Use a fine spray and test it on the fabric before ironing the whole piece to see how it works. If you get too much on, it will wash out. My sister suggested using it on the wrong side but I found with a fine spray I could work on the right side. You spray and smooth it into the cloth, then iron and quickly it irons flat. It did wonders on that gazar silk—removing all the wrinkles and making it easy to handle without wrinkling it more.

Here’s how smooth and lovely the grey linen became. I bought a gallon of it!

Out of the Dyepot: Silks and a few Linens and Cottons

Introduction:
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.

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.