Introduction: My angavasthram textiles are priceless and national treasures. Bob remembered the man at the weaving shop told us. At any rate, I, too, treasure them and am hoping to find out more about them.
I thought the inside was so beautiful and interesting that it needed a second post. I think the inside might be that famous Indian muslin that’s thin enough so the cloth would go through a wedding ring. At any rate, it is beautiful. One of the wider ones was 2 ¼” when folded and opened out to a full 45”! I assume servants did the ironing.
This pattern was woven in near the ends on several but not all of them.
Here is how I saw them. I had no idea what was inside or at the ends.
Three of them were 2-sided—black on one side and red on the other. The others are white with gold patterning. Some were wide and some narrower when folded. I think if I ever show them, I’ll let them hang as they are folded in a group with one opened?? Now, I hate to get them mussed up.
A year ago I went with my tech guy on a photography tour to SE India—an area called Tamil Nadu. Up until then I had only used point-and-shoot cameras on my travels. I had a lot to learn; it was for serious photographers. I was the only textile person; however, we did visit a silk weaving business that had jacquard looms weaving silk saris. I bought a simple one that is wonderfully iridescent. One day we had free time and Bob and I hired a “took-took” to take us to a village to look in the antique shops—more like junk shops—so they were interesting. In a cabinet with a glass door, I saw what looked to me like a bunch of decorative tapes or ribbons. There was a lot of gold patterning on these very long things. I asked to see them and thought they would be great for my scrolls that I was going to make when I got home. There was a large, framed photograph showing how they used to be worn which interested me mildly. Bob did the bargaining, and I came home with 7 different ones. When we got to the hotel, a woman told me that they were called angavasthram. I wrote down the word and that was it. The owner of the little weaving factory knew more and said that they were special, and I could not cut them up. That was that. At the hotel outside our room were a few old photographs of men wearing the angavasthram! We took pictures of the photos in their frames, so they aren’t very clear but enough to see how important men wore them. I haven’t found much on the internet, except that it seems that this was unique to this area of India and worn by Brahmin.
This is what I saw in the junk shop.
So, I did make a scroll after all. I discovered that the inside was as interesting as the outside.
This photo looked like a family photo with only the men wearing the anvagasthram.
Another family photo I presume. I wonder if the different arrangements mean anything other than “taste”. I also wonder about the bands on the foreheads, shoulders, arms and chest.
Even this little boy gets to wear one. Notice that it is dragging on the floor in the back.
This is a fragment of a cotton Japanese summer kimono called a Yukata. I must have gotten it at a flea market in Japan. The cloth is 13” wide, selvedge to selvedge—the common width for many Japanese textiles. The length of the piece is 48”. It is so soft to handle that I’m loving handling it again for this post.
The reason I’m thinking is it a piece of a Yukata is there is an area where the cloth hasn’t faded over time. It probably was inside the area around the front opening.
It is so soft because it is extremely worn. In fact it has holes in it where the cloth wore out. It is almost tissue paper thin. This cloth was salvaged and re-useable because another fabric was added as a backing.
The indigo dyed cotton backing is also what makes it have a lovely body as well as being so soft.
The entire piece and I assume the entire yukata was stitched to attach the backing and back the holes. The rows of stitching are consistently ¼” apart. The stitching and the ikat pattern work beautifully together, I think, which is another reason I love the piece.
I was showing it to a friend and she immediately thought it was a lovely piece even though she is not a textile person. The more I looked and talked with her, I began to think about the double ikat pattern. It isn’t precise like in my previous posts. I think the cloth was dyed, woven, and re-purposed by a farmer’s wife. Cathy and I visited maybe the last farmer’s wife to grow and dye her own indigo in Japan. Traditionally, the women would grow the indigo and weave the family’s cloth while the farmers tended the fields—could be rice paddies.
I love the hit and miss of the warp and weft pattern yet the tiny areas of the threads in the pattern cross exactly in the right places throughout. Once in awhile I could find where the weft ikat pattern really crossed the warp in the right place. This close-but-not- exact gives a real soul to the cloth, I think. It made me think of the woman planting and growing the indigo plants. Then making her vat not with heat, but with cold water. Her son told us that to make the ash for the alkali, they burned the wood for two months which kept them home. Then she tied the warp threads and the weft threads in the ikat pattern. Then the threads would be dyed in the indigo vat and finally woven. I doubt that she minded that the pattern wasn’t precise and thought it was fine the way the threads hit pretty much perfectly. I wonder if the original cloth was a futon cover—a larger piece—or was it always meant to be fabric for a yukata. After the weaving, would be the hand sewing. When washing, the pieces would be taken apart and then put back together again. Probably there were many washings before the cloth was stitched so carefully to the handwoven backing cloth.
I’m making a scroll with the fabric so that I can have it out to look at. The soul of it touches me. I’ve pinned the pieces on top of the fabric for now, but I think I’ll move them up higher.
Last night while working with my dyed silks in our lounge down the hall, a clothes moth happened to fly by. I couldn’t belief it! It had the nerve to fly over my worktable and I dropped my needle and gave it a lethal swat. Then I took its photo: front and back. I was looking for the golden whiskers mentioned in the previous post! I saved it until I got back home and photographed it again with a penny for scale. Now I think it’s time to throw it in the garbage.
A few more responses came in for my last moth report. One person wanted people to know the important fact that moths don’t like light and certainly don’t fly around a light bulb like other moths. That fact reminds me not to let clothes hang in dark closets without wearing them, or shaking them out, or airing in the sun on occasion. Several places on the web say if you want to store things, do in plastic and seal the seams. Moths can eat through a cloth bag.
They like body oils and oils in fleeces. I once (in the 70’s) hung a couple of fleeces in my loom room because I thought it looked neat. When I took them down and looked inside, it was awful. One year I didn’t wash my main sweater in the spring and left it in the drawer. The next fall, it was crawling, too. And a cashmere bathrobe from my mother-in-law languished in the back of the closet when I stopped wearing it and a mess as was on the dress next to it.
One person suggested they put trimmings of cedar in with the wools when they pruned the trees. A word of warning: cedar only kills young larvae, not older ones or eggs! And the effect fades as the scent dies.
One person wrote from the Philippines that they were battling termites.
I got comments with more moth advice and I spent a very few minutes on the web.
If you get moth traps, be sure to get the type for cloth moths, not for food moths. This is a cloth moth. I love the description maybe from Wikipedia. “The adult moth is gold with reddish-golden hairs on the top of its head. A row of golden hairs fringes its wings, which have a span of about inch.” When I’ve swatted one of those tiny things, I’ve never noticed the golden hairs! They are tiny but “swat-able.”
What the traps do is attract the males and then they get stuck to the sticky surface inside.
Be sure to date the moth traps and replace every six months. If that doesn’t seem to work, you could consider contacting a pest company like https://www.pestcontrolexperts.com/ to remove these pests from your home. That will be a quicker process and should remove more of the moths.
I tried to find a picture of the debris often seen around where moths have been found. It is white sort of silky and web like. That may be why the moths are called webbing clothes moths. This shows the larvae and eggs, too.
Another comment: “I had a ton of clothes moths in the house; they started from the dog hair under the dish cabinet and spread out around the house. I vacuumed all the wool rugs, both sides each week for a year, vacuumed everywhere else (threw out the vacuum cleaner bag after each vacuuming), sealed all the woolens in plastic bags, and double-bagged my fleeces with the thickest plastic bags I could find. It took 2 years of constant work, but I did it. During the summer I still place the indicators in various areas of the house to find early problems. After several moth-free years I got stupid and brought in a fleece with 12″ locks that I didn’t quarantine and got moths again last year. Sigh…”
You can even buy an iPhone case with moths pictured on it.
I noticed my fruit bowl today and thought not many people have balls of yarn mixed with their apples and oranges. The balls of yarn were there waiting to go into my freezer. The reason: To stop moths from multiplying and eating holes in my wool things. To prevent that: do the following: Put the wool item in the freezer for two days. Take it out for two days. Put it back into the freezer for two more days. The time out allows any eggs to hatch and the freezer zaps them with the second incarceration. This is serious advice used by serious textile people. When they bring home something, it goes straight into the freezer.
I noticed a moth flying around when I was at the computer the other day. I ordered moth traps immediately. I set one up near some other wool yarn that I was suspicious of.
I looked tonight and saw I’d caught one. It’s the larvae that do the harm but flying moths make eggs which make larvae and then turn into more moths. Catching the moths stops the cycle.
I have had this moth trap hanging over my closet for a long time and I can see it’s doing its job. What this means is that I haven’t been religious about the freezer treatment. I discovered a couple of wool garments from trips that had a hole or two –or worse—larvae casings! Then they went to the freezer for sure.
This is a scroll I made with the handspun yarn from Bhutan that I unwound from the skeins with a cross. It measures 8” x 27. That makes the warp 8” wide; a width I often do. It was on my small 4-shaft loom.
Here is a close-up of the center pieces I dyed with black walnuts. My original plan was to weave white cloth and dye it. However, I’m really liking the whites I wove and don’t know if I’ll dye any more of them or not.
This piece is very supple with thick and thin wefts in plain weave. It’s surprising how lovely the singles yarn wove up. Singles for warps finish up flatter than plied yarns which makes a nice cloth. Then for the selvedges you use 4 plied yarns. I might use sewing thread or 5/2 pearl cotton or something else like the warp yarn.
Here is a close-up showing the different wefts.
Here, the warp and weft are both the handspun yarn.
The warp is the one I wove the needle cushions on. Here I just used one block for the whole cloth. I hard pressed it then to flatten the floats. That means when it was damp from wet finishing (light hand washing) I ironed it hard.
Here, I used a very fine thread for the weft. I had made a warp of it at 125 epi so you know it is fine. Since I knew it was fragile, I didn’t snug up the wefts at the selvedges and just let them splay out a good bit. The reason for the fine weft was to see how the handspun yarn looked without any weft showing.
Introduction: I brought back this handspun, overspun, tangled skein from Bhutan. I bought it to show the others in the group what handspun yarn was like. I bought two enormous skeins—one was the most tangled I could find. I balled the yarn for a few nights in my apartment when things were calm and peaceful—before I got on to another creative binge.
I stayed back in my room one afternoon to unwind one skein to show the group. Was I flabbergasted when I couldn’t open the skein from either end, and found A CROSS in the skein!
I can’t say how many wonderfully peaceful hours I’ve spent balling these skeins. In a shop I saw a woman unwinding a skein using two swifts. Then I realized how I could unwind my skeins.
With the cross in the middle it’s been a pleasure. Never a tangle and every thread came off in perfect order.
Making it more interesting is that each yarn is made up of two singles. They weren’t plied, but doubled and sometimes one was longer than the other. That meant I got to keep two balls going as I unwound the skein. Besides, the yarns were sticky.
Here are the two balls. One yarn was definitely thinner. Part two will show how they made the cross in the skein.
New Year’s Day. 14” x 23” Background: Commercial cotton I dyed in indigo. Center: Silk Velvet I got in Italy from the weavers. This piece represents my hope for the new year for me. Simple, clear, and calm; but interesting.
The original idea was to turn the nap of the white velvet 90 degrees to make the border show. If one stands at exactly this spot you can see it. The velvet pile is so short there is almost no difference in the direction of the nap.
You can see I didn’t catch that one square was turned the wrong way when I put it together. It only shows up when you stand in that certain place. When I was working on it, I kept trying to get them all lined up correctly.
I bought this small piece of white velvet and loved it because it was so silky-soft, but I could never find a way to use it. I think cutting it into squares helped make it more than just a scrap. I’m glad I didn’t lose it! I chose the blue velvet because it looked contemporary to me. I used every millimeter I had.
17” x 54” This began as what I thought was a “scarf” that Indian women wear over their chest for modesty sake. I planned to wear it as a scarf. However, it was huge, and the silk taffeta was slippery and not crushable. I tried to wear it but was always swallowed up in it; or it was slipping off. I later found out it was a scarf to be worn over an outstretched arm. It would look nice that way, but I wonder how one would do anything but pose with it.
I loved it so decided to make it narrower and shorter by making some wide pleats. I tacked them down with red tailor’s tacks. As it progressed, more and more pleats were made until it came to scroll size. I discovered the back side had these nice ruffles.
Here you can see why I had to have it. Think of all the tying for the ikat to make the border.
The border all the way around was ikat-tied as well as the red parts!
A Needle Weaves Gauze! 36” x 22” (doubled). Background: The background is the main feature. Mentor, Milton Sonday, at the Copper Hewitt Museum in New York needle-wove this gauze piece (it was 22” long) long ago I assume! It’s unbelievable. He told me he had a frame set up somehow. Center: A silk kimono fragment from Japan. I think this was a piece where they stenciled the design on the warp. First a warp is extremely loosely woven with a weft that zigzags up and across the warp to hold the warp threads in place. Then that “cloth” is taken off and stretched and stenciled. Then that warp is put back on the loom and woven as beautiful silk cloth. The designs were bold and a cheaper way to imitate ikat. The term for silk woven this way is: Mason. We visited the workshop and were blown away. Both Cathy and I ended up getting a piece of the stenciled warp threads, plus at least one gossamer silk scarf.
Fragments Worked into Felt. 37” x 20” Background: Commercial linen I dyed. Center: I marked old cotton kimono ikat fabrics I got in flea markets in Japan with sumi kink. Then these pieces were laid on wool fiber and felted. I love how the cloth shrank into the felt. The cloth is OK to do this if you can feel your breath through it. (That means the cloth is open enough to work– we were told by Jorie Johnson.) I learned these in a workshop at Slow Fiber Studios in Berkeley where I’ve had amazing experiences.
A Fancy Twill Meets Peggy’s Mottled Cloth. 8” x 18” Background: I’ve woven this twill many times and I always like it. It was labeled “fancy twill” so I kept the name. It’s 3,2,/1,2. I think. I like the thick and thin ridges. Center: A cotton fragment from wiping the bowl of kakishibu dye (green persimmon dye). The dye came from Japan. It has to be fermented for some years. I tried it for two years and didn’t get anything. I just liked the way some of the small pieces turned out.
Trying to Get Away with Something. 11” x 32” Background: Plain weave cotton shawl from the Philippines. Slash pattern due to random ikat weft threads. Center: Satin weave silk dip dyed in black walnut dye. Notice where I ran out of silk warp yarn and substituted with another yarn and thought no one would know the difference. It makes me chuckle when I see how the left side did everything different: shorter on top and shorter on the bottom. I couldn’t resist keeping it anyhow. I think it adds character. At least I don’t think it’s disfiguring. Or as a friend once said, “It doesn’t insult me.”
This is a pocket I bought in SW China. I’ve been practicing using it and it has worked well. The needle holder is on the top. I watched Yoshiko Wada and Ana Lisa Hedstrom’s lecture this afternoon and got inspired to make pockets. I had planned to post them as little purses as good project ideas. Inspiration made them all into pockets for my winter pocktless pants.
This was a little bag I bought in Japan. Can you see the ikat horses? I first got the idea to make a pocket when I noticed it on my work table this afternoon. The long loop is a good length so it hangs well when sitting, too.
This pocket was a bag from India. So simple.
This is a favorite little bag from Uzbekistan. Pieces of their traditional ikat and card weaving. I will enjoy using it as a pocket I know because I’ve always loved it.
I bought this from our White Elephant sale—It’s from Guatemala.
Introduction: I began this project maybe 1 ½ years ago. Had the inspiration, almost finished it. Then it got buried on my worktable. I had just gotten my 12-shaft dobby from my dear friend, Jan Langdon, before she died of ALS. I wanted to use all the shafts to make a 12-shaft satin. Then I wanted to gradually in steps go from weft face satin to warp face. That would be 1/11 (1shaft up and 11 down=warp face on one side and weft face on the other) to 2/10, to 3/9, to 4/8, etc. ending with 11/1 (11 shafts up and 1 down). It was interesting but didn’t turn out to be attractive. I’d been playing with dyed silks, cutting squares and playing with how the light affected them whether they were oriented with the warp direction up or turned 90 degrees. So I decided to cut up my fabric into squares and see what I could do.
Depending on how you look at this, the border is darker or lighter. I put the warp faced squares on the border with the warp going horizontally. All the middle squares were oriented with warp wise going vertically.
Here the same piece when I walked to the other side of it to take the picture.
These were on white warp working sequentially from weft face to warp face. I started with canvases I bought at an art supply store. They are 16” x 20”. I covered them with a gray linen that I had. I do love the surface of a nice linen.
I couldn’t bear to throw out the scraps! For a long time I’ve toyed with the idea of making a mosaic out of small pieces.
Now my dilemma: what shall I do with the leftover squares?
Before cutting anything, I ironed this double stick adhesive on the back. Then I cut the strips using a rotary cutter, and finally cut the strips into squares. To adhere them to the backing, you pull off the paper backing to expose the adhesive and iron the pieces down.
Introduction: I thought I would tell a bit about each of my books and maybe some of the back story about how I came to write them. If you like, just skip to my website: www.peggyosterkamp.com for details of the Holiday Sale. Buy One book and Get One Free!
My annual Holiday Sale begins today on Black Friday. “Buy one, get one free with your order”. You can request a free book with every item you buy. The website: WWW.PeggyOsterkamp.com has all the details.
Book #1:Winding a Warp & Using a Paddle was first published in 1992 and was revised and enlarged in 1998 and reprinted for the Third Edition in 2005. While we were still living in Greenwich Village in New York Carol Hillestad, one of my students was an aspiring writer and offered to write a book for me. I gave her the information and she did the writing (not just editing but really writing). She had an office high up in one of the twin towers which made it a thrill to go there. We also passed manuscripts over the turnstiles in the subway. We moved to California and a fellow weaver in the local guild offered to design the book. Since we had to pay for each illustration, Carol and I decided that we’d only have an illustration when words couldn’t wouldn’t suffice. After the first edition, another weaver scolded me and said “Weavers are VISUAL people [she shouted] and we want more illustrations”. That was good advice, and I found a fine illustrator after 2 people didn’t work out. I really wanted a big book like Peter Collingwood’s bible but I knew it would never get done that way so decided to only do the winding the warp part of setting up the loom for the first book. I added the paddle part because I thought everyone would be hot for that. (It wasn’t the case). The sett charts in the back I use a lot: there are several pages of them for different yarns and again for twill as well as plain weave.
This book guides you through every step of planning a project and measuring the warp threads. I see that I got a testimonial from Peter Collingwood: “It is wonderful that these books put today’s weavers in touch with well-tried European methods and so keep alive a tradition of real textile craftsmanship.” (WOW!)
Book #2: Warping Your Loom & Tying On New Warps came out in1995 and the second and third editions, in 1997 and 2002. Now it’s out of print but available as a pdf. The reason for writing the books is that the information Jim Ahrens taught us at Pacific Basin School of Textile Arts was revolutionary. That is, American handweavers were not using this information that production weavers in Europe and around the world were using. In his class, Production Weaving, he taught us those techniques and I felt the information must be passed along to future weavers. I apprenticed with him for a year and I kept a folder with all the things he taught us that year. We called it the “Chairman Jim File.”
This book guides you through every step of beaming your warp and threading the loom. Plus, comprehensive chapters: Adjusting Looms, Tying On New Warps, Sectional Beaming, Knots, and more.
Again, I was afraid I wouldn’t get more books written so I put a lot more in it that the title indicates—just in case. On the title page, I wrote: “A guide that makes weaving fun with new techniques from European handweavers and the textile industry.
Book #3: Weaving & Drafting Your Own Cloth, came out in its third printing in 2005. I’m not sure when the first edition was printed. Finally, I got to the weaving and drafting part of the process. In all three of these books I put in everything I knew and what Jim taught us. I call them tomes because I wrote why about everything and much more than many weavers need to know.
This book guides you through every step from weaving motions, shuttles and selvedges to finishing your cloth. When problems come your way there’s an extensive chapter on trouble shooting. The drafting chapter explains how to create your own designs as well as to use drafts in books and magazines. I wanted it to be for those weavers who think that they will never understand drafting. Also included: Drafting for Analyzing Fabric and Drafting for Multi-shaft Weaving.
Book #4: Weaving for Beginners. It came out in 2010 with the Second Edition in 2014 and just now, the Third Edition. This time I put in all the steps and left out a lot of the “whys” and had the illustrator make over 600 illustrations. I taught Beginning Weaving at our junior college for 10 or so years and this is what I taught them—all using the same efficient techniques. I hoped that someone could teach themselves with only the book. I also hoped teachers would use it for themselves to plan their classes as well as use it for a text for students. They could demonstrate something for the whole class and say what page it was on. Students could follow along as well as come back and refer to it when they got to that stage.
Jim’s techniques did not cover warping “Front-to-Back” so I asked an expert to write that chapter and I helped edit it so that I could understand it. Front-to-back is like standing on my head for me. Other experts wrote the chapter on computers. And others did chapters on hand-manipulated weaves and a beginning chapter: Rigid Heddle Weaving.
This time Jason Collingwood wrote a testimonial. “Clear, concise and well presented information, her books on warping are a valuable addition to any weavers library and are, as such, thoroughly recommended.” (I was thrilled for this.) Also Syne Mitchel who I greatly admire wrote: “Peggy Osterkamp’s books are wonderfully thorough. They were my go-to references when I was learning to weave.” (I’m remembering when I got up the courage to ask for those testimonials).
The DVD: Warping the Loom Back to Front, (2005) was also demanded by a workshop student I had from West Virginia. I thought it was the hardest thing I’d ever done at the time. The producer said I should not tell “why” about anything. I asked, “Why?”. She said, “People don’t want to know.” It was hard making the script and harder yet to stick to it. They did a great job of editing. I’m pleased with it because it exactly follows the process I describe in my books.
Then I was told that people weren’t going to have DVD players in the future so Bob, my tech dude, helped me get video on demand. People still seem to want DVDs and I’m glad I can offer it “on demand”, too.
Footnote: I took these pictures in my studio this morning. I have to say it took some doing not to show the messes all around! I never know when a project/idea is finished and then I begin something new right on top of the old ones. When I need to find something, sometimes it’s like an archeological dig to get to the bottom layers. I wish I had more on the looms today, but what is, is, right?
He Haiyan uses scraps and keeps her employees busy while not making unique fashions. This shawl is generous in size and still light weight. The cotton warps and wefts are approximately the size of 20/2. Silk rags are narrow with black rags alternating with colorful rags. It looks to me like the rags are about 3/8” wide. It measures 16 ½” x 87” including fringe. I hope it inspires some weavers.
It is so supple and can be bunched up or flat. It wasn’t easy to take the selfies, but this is the best I could do. It’s so long that just hanging around my neck it reaches a bit below my knees. One would think it would be too bulky when wrapped, but it bunches up nicely. It weighs only 8 ½ oz.
Notice how nice the selvedges are. Each rag was individually cut AND folded back at the selvedges. I could barely make out that the rags were folded back about 1 1/2”at each edge! This makes the edges nice and he rags don’t work themselves out. Pains were taken to weave it so beautifully .
Another selfie to show how flexible.
Here’s another close-up of the fabric. Carefully designed and woven and yet so casual and comfortable. And the cotton isn’t slippery, so it stays put on my shoulders.
Introduction: My obsession with needle books is here again. This time with more details about what’s inside.
I crocheted this needlebook having copied it from a friend. It had been her mother’s I think, in New Zealand. My first one was a 40th birthday present some 30 or so years ago. The outside is 5/2 pearl cotton. Since it doesn’t touch the needles, cotton is OK to use. The diameter is 3 ¾”.
The inside layers were scraps from a wool overshot project I did in my apprenticeship with Jim Ahrens in the 70’s. Yes, I keep left over pieces for a long time! I always think I’ll make collages or something.
This one is also cotton on the outside. It came from a famous fabric shop in London, Liberty of London. I just liked the fabric so bought a tenth of a meter. I made them as favors for a lunch party for my weaving friends I gave on my 70th birthday. That was also when I moved into my retirement place—10 years ago. I’m so glad I made that decision.
The inside pages are pieces of wool fabric. It measures about 4” square. This I use all the time. The turquoise twill also came from Liberty’s.
These came from Wales. The block weave is a common double weave pattern woven there. It is wool. The striped one is smaller (2 ½” x 3 ½”). It’s handy to hang on the loom, etc.
The insides are simple but functional.
This is a tiny one—only as wide as the needles. I found it in a little chest in a secondhand store.
Here is the back! You can see how much the top faded over years of use.
This was my first 4-H project. Made of wool felt. I’ve never used it. I never knew what it was made for. At 10 (and beyond) I never questioned much about things.
The inside. The measurements are 5 ¼” x 7” or so. I learned about using animal fibers for needles and pins with this project.
Introduction: This is the 10th anniversary of our blog. My tech guy (he likes to be called my tech dude) made the website and got me started on things I had no idea how to do in 2010. I remember telling him when he first began proposing a website that I wanted to weave and I didn’t want to spend all my time at the computer. Also, whenever I have said no to an idea, I soon come around to say yes! During the pandemic we’ve put up posts on the blog every other night except for 2 nights. I do the photos and text and he makes them look great in the posts. It’s a good working relationship and I’m so lucky to be able to get computer help when I need/want it. Thanks, Bob! The pin cushions were his idea.
This little sewing cabinet I brought back in my suitcase from Okinawa. Of course, I bought it on the first day of our trip and it barely fit diagonally in my suitcase. I was determined and prepared to lug it in a shopping bag all around if I had to. It was in a tiny, dusty antique shop.
This pin cushion I made to fit in the little box with the lid on the top of the sewing cabinet. I knew from my 4-H days in Ohio that only animal fibers should be used for pins and needles. That was to keep the pins from rusting. I had a piece of wool fabric we made in a class for the outside and cut up wool into tiny pieces for the stuffing. It couldn’t be any thicker than would fit into the little box and close the lid. That means that the pins need to go in at angles or they would poke out the bottom.
This one was my inspiration for the one above. I like the fringe showing the warp and weft threads. This one my mother brought back for me from Dearborn, Michigan, from Greenfield Village. It’s been my right-hand pin cushion for a long time. I like the thickness so the pins can go in straight or not. I have a few needles that I put in on one corner. I think the handwoven fabric had a cotton warp and wool wefts. Anyhow, I never had any rusty pins. Bob suggested that it might be a great grandmother-grandchild gift to make for the holidays.
This one I dearly loved when I saw it in a shop in Japan owned by a Sashiko artist. It was $40 so I chose a smaller version but kept my dyes on it anyhow. After I bought a few more things and probably gave her one of my handmade gifts, I asked if I could trade the small one for the big one. She hesitated but said OK. I love thinking of her when I see it. Notice I didn’t say I use it. My pins rusted in it! I know the outside is cotton, but no idea what is inside—not an animal fiber for sure. What I love is that it’s almost hard because it is stuffed so tightly and I like the ball shape. (With a flat bottom, however).
All these sure beat a pin box. However, that’s where my finer pins are only because I haven’t gotten around to making another cushion…yet.
This placemat came from the boutique in Shanghai where I found the square mats in the previous post. This is another way the designer, He Haiyan, used scraps of fabrics. It uses scraps cut into strips for wefts. The weave structure is a variation of rep weave. It alternates with every other weft being thick and the alternate wefts are thin. This is explained in my book Weaving for Beginners, in the Future Assignments chapter. I can imagine lots of projects: mug rugs, floor rug, vests, bags, totes, pot holders perhaps…on and on. The back of the mat is nice, too. I just remembered that I also got a shawl from the shop—that will be for another post.
Here is a close-up of the weave. If you look closely you can see both the thick and the thin wefts. I’ve eaten many meals during the pandemic on this mat—sometimes one side is up and sometimes the other.
This is a placemat I brought back from Japan MANY years ago—on my first trip, I think. That would have been around 1969! Since the pandemic, our meals are brought to our apartments, and I’ve been using this one and enjoying looking at the weave for a while now. Something must have been sitting on it for a long time because one can see how gracefully it has faded over the years.
A closer look at the weave and the subtle little floats.
I bought these 3 pieces at a boutique in Shanghai. (Doesn’t that sound exotic these days!) I treasure them and consider them art pieces. They are around 5 ½” square. The shop sells women’s designer clothes. The owner also makes one-of-a kind and bespoke fashions. She keeps her sewers busy and uses the scraps to reduce waste.
You can see that the stitches are random which I love. The many layers are fringed on the edges which makes wonderful borders.
This one is even thicker than the white one and the fringed borders are really dense. The back is shown in the next photo.
This is the back. There are many layers. Some of the inner pieces seem to be of different dye lots. This starts me thinking about possibilities!
I couldn’t resist the third one while in the shop. These were lying on a table and I nabbed them while everyone else was looking at the clothes (which I thought wouldn’t be for me). While the others were looking at everything, I found a top that I adore. I think I was the only one in our small group who bought clothes.
Here is the back of the sweetest one. The blanket stitches on the edges make good borders. It’s only 2 or 3 layers thick. It feels like a pad but not nearly as thick as the others.
This post may help explain how my needle pillow cloth was woven. These pieces were made on the same warp. I had made a dozen or so pillow fronts and backs (in plain weave or tabby). Then I got creative and played with ideas of what else could be woven on the same warp. This is a scroll I made. I used the fabric I wove on the needle pillow warp for the background. It measures 7 ¾” x 26” including fringe.
I wove some samples and decided to make this for my scroll. The warp was handspun singles from Bouton. I wanted to see if I could use this fragile cotton for a warp. I used a sizing for the first time in my weaving life. The pattern weft is silk and shows up nicely against the matt cotton.
Here is a piece with two samples. The I used silk chenille that I’ve been hording dyed with black walnuts. In one part I used the chenille as the pattern weft. It looks similar to the needle pillows except I used only 1 block. The tabby was black sewing thread, I believe. For the flat sample, I used the reverse: the chenille for the tabby weft and the sewing thread for the pattern weft. Again I only used one of the blocks.
For this sample I used all sewing thread (easier with only one shuttle.) Again I used only one block and the pattern and tabby wefts were sewing thread. I do love to try things. Notice at the bottom where the warp floats are is where the two-stick heading was.
Warning! Sometimes the floating wefts don’t seem to meld together. See how the floats snug up to each other in the needle pillows and in the Chenille sample above? Read below.
This illustration and quote are in The Weaving Book by Helen Bress and is the only place I’ve seen this addressed. “Inadvertently, the tabby does another thing. It makes some pattern threads pair together and separates others. On the draw-down [draft], all pattern threads look equidistant from each other. Actually, within any block, the floats will often look more like this: [see illustration]. With some yarns and setts, this pairing is hardly noticeable. If you don’t like the way the floats are pairing, try changing the order of the tabby shots. …and be consistent when treadling mirror-imaged blocks.”
Here is a needle pillow I made which I use quite often. (I made quite a few to give as gifts when traveling.) The technique can be called Monk’s Belt, Overshot, or Overshot on Opposites. I think the definitive book about all of this is The Weaving Book by Helene Bress. I call it Overshot on Opposites. It’s similar to what we normally think overshot is but the blocks are clear with no half-tones. I was asked for the draft. A weaving draft has 4 parts. This photo represents the drawdown draft. I’ll address each of the separate drafts below. I hope beginners can make needle pillows and learn a little about drafting as well.
Here is a close-up of the weave. The threading draft is next.
Here is the threading draft. The alternate blocks are threaded on shafts 1 & 2 and 3 & 4. How many threads in each block depends upon how many warp threads are in an inch (epi). In my case I think I had 16 ends per inch and the blocks had 4 warps in each block to measure about ¼” wide.
The treadling draft for overshot is always special in that every other weft is plain weave (also called tabby). In between the tabby rows are the pattern rows which have the floats that make up the blocks. To make the floats in the pattern, you have to raise the shafts for the block you don’t want to show. So, when you want the wefts to show where shafts 3 & 4 are threaded, you lift shafts 1 & 2. When you want the floats in the 1 & 2 threaded blocks, you treadle to lift the threads in the 3 & 4 shaft areas.
Treadling drafts only show the pattern wefts and use the words “Use Tabby” to indicate that you treadle tabby rows in between the pattern rows.
For the tie-up draft, this is a great way to tie up the treadles on 4-shaft looms. Once the treadles are arranged this way, you’ll never have to change the tie-up again. For most overshot patterns, the two tabby wefts are: lift 1 & 3 and 2 & 4. See how you can “walk” the treadles to accomplish that by pressing both the 1 & 3 treadles with the left foot and then the right foot treadles the other tabby: 2 & 4? I always like to walk the treadles whenever I weave if it is at all possible for more efficiency and ease.
Look at the treadle tie-up and the finished pillow. Can you see what treadles to press to lift shafts 3 & 4 (for floats in 1 & 2 areas)? And what treadles to lift 1 & 2 to make the weft float over the 3 & 4 areas? Then remember to “Use Tabby” between these pattern rows. A trick to remember which tabby to use is to have the shuttle be on the side of the cloth that your tabby foot will be used next. Weave drafts are explained in my book, Weaving for Beginners in the chapter on weaving a sampler. It is available on my website: peggyosterkamp.com
I inherited this needle case pillow from a weaver who died. I love it and have made many to give away and to have at home with my sewing things. I’m amazed at how often I need a tapestry needle. And having different sizes has come in handy many times.
This beautiful pin cushion was with Ethel’s things when she died. It so represents her aesthetic.
This is my first attempt at making something to hang from my castle. I probably made it when I first got my loom from Jim Ahrens. I’m sure the idea came from him: I must have seen one on his own loom. Mine isn’t pretty but I can jam in pins, scissors, and notes. I should make something better as a gift to myself…sometime.
Jim Ahrens built looms and on his own he had a holder like this. Jim is the “A” part of AVL and was my mentor. What I learned from him is the basis of my books. He was a production weaver, a mechanical engineer, and an inventor. This is on my 12-shaft early AVL dobby loom. I wonder if they still are on the new looms today. I love it.