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.

A Gorgeous Textile, A Dilemma, and Suggestions Wanted

Introduction:
A friend mentioned she is thinking of moving to a smaller place. I asked: “What about George’s blanket?” I noticed it years ago when it covered his bed—a gorgeous handwoven textile made with handspun goat hair(?). She called back to say she found it but the “moths had gotten to it”. I told her I’d like to have it and would put it in my freezer. Just fragments of it would be enough for me. Today was the first I could get a look at it after the freezer treatment to kill any moths and eggs. Now I need help in what to do next.

The blanket came from Elazig, Turkey, a village in Eastern Anatolia. All the women wore shawls similar to this blanket according to my friend.

I hope you can see that this is a beautiful textile. It is hand spun and handwoven of fine, singles threads at about 30 warps and wefts per inch. The goat hair makes it a little coarse but soft. It is very light weight and supple. I want to enjoy it but what should I do? Cut the good parts out and make a collage of them? Back the whole thing with a cloth and keep it intact? I would like any suggestions. I really don’t want to keep it in the large piece, I want to be able to look at the lovely fabric up close.

There is slight tracking of the plain weave—letting you know the warps and wefts were fine singles yarns. (To avoid tracking, one could weave twill or have the cloth dry cleaned. Jim Ahrens said it’s the water in washing that make the tracking in plain weave.)

I put it in the freezer for two days, then out for two days, and finally 2 more days in the freezer to kill the moth larvae and eggs. Thankfully I didn’t see any live larvae but I didn’t look inside the package.

There were white moth casings scattered all over the blanket. I spent an hour picking them off today after I’d opened the package.

Holes, holes, holes, large and small. The blanket had been folded so they just ate through the layers in places.

Stitched Shibori Part Two – Figuring out how a scarf was made

Introduction:
In a previous post: “Changing My Mind and a Dilemma” I showed a curious sampler and a beautiful black scarf or shawl with stitching patterns. A weaver asked how the patterning was done. I spent a day figuring it out. I pulled out a long roll of stitched shibori paper which was a big help. That needed its own post (Part One). Here is Part Two which builds on the information in Stitched Shibori  Part One.

One of the things I liked about both the sample and the scarf was that the intensity of the stitching pattern went from distinct gradually to blurry. I especially liked that the ends of the scarf were black with hardly any of the stitching pattern showing at all. That told me that the black ends were inside where the resist was the faintest. And the stitched patterns were most distinct in the middle of the scarf. Then the pattern gradually faded and got more and more blurry until at the ends it barely showed. How the strips were accordion folded to make this happen was an issue. Another thing I noticed that the fabric was quite thin. That would make stitching through many layers doable. I took a strip of paper to experiment with the folding steps. I hope it is understandable.

Almost immediately I noticed that the scarf was made in narrow strips sewn together with generous seam allowances showing on the wrong side. Again, this related directly to the design of the sampler. And narrow strips would be easier to work with. The seams were interesting in themselves. There was space between the cloths sewn together yet it looked like regular sewing machine stitching. Was a card or something sewn in with the seam and then removed??

Step One is to get the ends of the strips to be INSIDE so they won’t show the stitch resist or barely hint at it. Fold the strip in half and make the ends together. Then the other folds will be more and more on the outer sides of the bundle to make the stitching pattern less and less blurry–or more distinct depending on how you think of it. I penciled in shading on my paper strip to make sure the ends were inside the bundle.

Step two. Prepare to fold the strip.

Step Three: Make the first fold of the fabric.

Step Four: Continue folding each half of the strip in accordion pleats. You will need to figure out the dimensions of the folds.

Step Five: Fold the last time on separate sides of the bundle as shown.

A close-up of the folds.

Another close-up showing dashes to simulate the stitching for the resist.

Stitched Shibori: Part One – How one artisan created his stitch resist shibori fabric

Introduction:
Some years ago Yoshiko Wada’s Japan Textile tour took us to a quaint town of Arimatsu (near Nagoya). We went there because it is known for making shibori patterned fabrics. Shibori is a little like tie dye and can be very complex. One small factory used stitching on a sewing machine to create the resist patterns. I imagine the fabric was a supple white silk. Long (11 yards) strips of paper like pellon were clamped on top of accordion-pleated fabric. Then the long, thick bundle was stitched in a pattern on the sewing machine. After stitching, the bundle was dyed. When the paper and stitching were removed the pattern remained white where the stitching had been and resisted the dye. I became more interested in the technique than the result and asked if there were any of the discarded papers around. And a carton of them was brought down from a high shelf.

This post relates to a previous post with stitching as the resist.

I brought home a roll of the stitched paper that was discarded after dyeing.  The paper was folded lengthwise for strength then clamped to the cloth. You can see that one half is darker and more distinct because that was the side on the outside of the fold. And that is where the stitching and dye were the most prominent.

The holes where the machine stitching was are clearly visible.

This was a traditional design. The white spot is where one of the clips held the paper to the fabric. Since the paper is 11 yards long, that would be the length of the cloth that was stitched and then dyed. The fabric had been accordion-pleated down to the narrow width of the folded paper to 1 ¾” wide.

Here is a simulation of the paper on white fabric and shows where the stitching had been before dyeing.

A little fan was made with some “discarded” paper.

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!

Weaver’s Block? Try a color blanket

Introduction:
While I was taking my first classes at Pacific Basin School of Textiles in Berkeley, I took a class at the College of Marin. I wanted to make a color blanket which I thought would be a nice shawl. My teacher, Nancy Soper, picked out the yarns for me. I didn’t appreciate her wisdom at the time but liked what she chose. Instead of taking each color from the Color Wheel like the samplers we usually see, she chose colors that were related. And they ranged in steps from yellow to purple using colors in ½ of the color wheel. She used an interesting array of yarn types to get the right color shades in the warp. The edges were quite uneven given fat and thinner yarns but for a shawl that wasn’t a problem then. Usually all of the colors in the warp are then used as wefts to see how they act when crossed with one another.

Choose colors you like or are likely to use. For example, you might like olive green and use that instead of a harsh pure green or yellow-green. Most color blankets I’ve seen are made with pure colors from the color wheel. Colors that I will never use in real life. A color blanket can be for reference or for a project, such as a scarf, table runner, or actual blanket. Watch out for yellow if you want to make something for its looks. Yellow is so light and that makes it show up much more than other colors. Use less of it than the others and you will be happier with the overall look of the finished project.
Here is a color blanket made for reference. A business in India needed to know how the threads they were going to use blended or not. It was made primarily for reference only. However, some thought went into the organization where the warm and cool colors showed up. Thus, a scarf was made as well. I suggest using colors in your stash that you are likely to use—NOT every color there is, but ones you relate to and like.

In my case, this color blanket was basically made for reference it turns out. Because of this, the color chosen was more important than the type of yarn. Woolen, chenille, worsted, mohair, and novelty yarns were used. These differences resulted in the edges bowing in and out and the cloth being somewhat puckered.

I wove half the blanket/shawl in plain weave. I discovered the colors blended quite well with this structure. The closer the colors are on the color wheel, the more they blend. The edge colors (yellow and purple) are farther apart on the color wheel and don’t blend as well. That’s why I made those warp stripes narrower, especially I used less yellow than the other colors both in the warp and weft.

The twill half was a disaster in my opinion, especially where the light yarns crossed contrasting dark yarns. (I had just learned to draft some twills as you can see.) Compare this with the same yarns crossing in plain weave above. This was an important lesson I learned. Structures with floats don’t blend as well as plain weave where every other thread is woven in.

The shawl was a disappointment as a shawl, but I hated to just throw it out or bury it in a drawer. A good friend suggested I use it on my bed. I look at different sections and don’t worry about the uneven edges or chenille yarns that are worming.

Weaver’s Block? Try a Sampler: Sample or Sampler?

Introduction:
The answer to the question in the title is answered at the end of the post. I was thinking of a quick and easy project for a post the other day. Besides quick and easy, I thought it also should not be precious. Because when something is precious it takes extra time, planning and fussing and worrying whether it will turn out ok. Or a big investment in time and materials. What came to mind was a beginner’s sampler. If you made one years ago or never before, it can be freeing.  A little bit like a musician doing scales. Practice, information, but not precious. Also, when I think of the sampler I made when I got started there are a lot of structures in it that I never wove again. While weaving it you don’t even need to think much, just do as you are told. With your mind free, I’ll bet ideas come without any effort. I used to tell my students to only show their sampler to people who will understand. It’s really like something a mother would put up on the refrigerator in the minds of most people. However, a sampler can be something such as a scarf or table runner, etc. It could even be black and white or something for a man in your life. Even if you have lots of shafts, a simple 4-shaft sampler can give you basic information for later on.

My students made this sampler. It is the first project in my book for beginners. This one was made by my mentor and friend, Helen Pope. She was well over 85 and a very experienced weaver when she made it.  I suggest using 2 contrasting colors in the warp. They could be high or low contrast.  Even though you aren’t making something precious, please use yarns that you like. Using up ugly yarns is a bad idea; you won’t have pleasure while weaving or when it’s finished. You can use anything you want for your sampler, of course. (And you could even put borders on the edges.) (Pardon the blurry photos—the sampler is at the studio where I cannot get at it. The photos are from the back cover of my beginner book.)

Maybe you didn’t “get” the concept of warp dominance or weft dominance the first go around. There’s a lot to explore with this idea.

You can do a lot with plain weave itself. Contrast, mix, or blend colors. Even the same yarn for both warp and weft can be interesting. And alternating colors 1 row (or two, or three) makes a variety of cloths.

Don’t forget basket weave! It is the perfect weave to go along with twills. With both being “over 2, under 2” the width of the cloth will remain the same. If you used plain weave sections and twill sections, the cloth will be wider in the plain weave areas. That could be disfiguring unless you wanted wider and narrower edges.

Sample or Sampler? It’s important to sample on the same warp as your project. A narrow sample for a wide project won’t give the information you need. You can easily cut off the sample to look at it, feel it, and wash it. Then you know you have the right sett, reed, and peace of mind. If you make a two-stick heading you will use only a short amount of your warp to get the warp back on tension. Click this link for more about the two-stick heading:   https://peggyosterkamp.com/2020/04/cutting-off-some-of-the-cloth-before-the-warp-is-finished-the-two-stick-heading/

A Little Slide Show of My Samples

Introduction:
I spent the day processing photos of the samples one more time. While being confined, I find it nice to do things I could never find time for, none the less almost repeating something I’d already done in another way. I want to keep practicing my photography skills I learned for the India trip, mainly working more with the program, LightRoom. It’s like Photo Shop. Years ago, my tech guy said I should learn to use it. I retorted, “Do you want to learn to weave?” I’m eating my words and he’s still helping with the posts and everything technical and otherwise. He can use ‘warp’ in a sentence and knows quite a lot just from osmosis. That’s enough for me.


To view slideshow click the first image below then use the right arrow key on your keyboard to advance to the next photo (or swipe on phone or tablet).

Peg Plan Mistake Yields Another Surprise

Introduction:
I started weaving on this 8-yard warp on March 5 my records show. For the last year I’ve been making silk warps with yarns and threads I inherited from a wonderful weaver, Ethel Aotoni from Hawaii who moved into my building a few years ago. They are mostly white because I think she was planning to dye them. That is just fine because I have wanted to do the same. Before the lock down, I wove as many samples as I could to bring home for dyeing. Besides the silks as wefts, I have used the odd yarns that I pulled out now and then that interested me.  Out of the 8 yards, I have only 40” left. I’ve liked so many of the weaves I got, that it will be hard to choose just one to repeat. This is an old problem, hence many samples. It’s really what I like to do best—make something out of nothing and make as many different things as I can on one warp. As I look at the samples, I am getting ideas for more things to try!

I was trying for this pattern but it turned out to show up on the wrong side of the cloth. I didn’t see it until I checked the wrong side because I wasn’t seeing what I was expecting on the top when I was weaving. How did that happen, I wondered. I checked the introduction at the beginning of the book  (8-Shaft Patterns by Carol Strickler) to see if I was reading the tie-up drafts wrong. No, I was reading them as I expected as “bubbles rise” meaning the circles indicated lifted shafts. Then I realized I’d transferred the tie up incorrectly to the peg plan. Oh my! Turns out each VERTICAL column in a normal tie up is written as a HORIZONTAL line in a peg plan. Very sobering. I hadn’t used the dobby in awhile and didn’t look again at the instructions because I thought I knew what to do. What a good lesson.

Here is what I saw while I was weaving. Turns out I love the black part woven with a thin black wool boucle yarn. I’ve had the cone for a long time, loving it but not finding a way to use it. I love the mysterious texture. I definitely plan to weave more of this—a lot more! Again, my good fortune with a big mistake!

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.

When a Tube is not a Double Weave Tube: a Confession, a Correction, and a Mystery Unsolved

Introduction:
I almost always look at any textile with the warp going vertically—it’s just natural. So when I saw the sample in the previous post I did the same. I saw it had two layers; it looked like it had a join in the middle of one of the layers. So I thought it must be double weave and some clever way of joining where the slit would naturally be for a “Kleenex-box-type” tube. When I was questioned about it by an expert weaver, I guessed I’d better look at it again so I could explain it to her. Well, I was very wrong.

I discovered the cloth should be looked at the other with the warps going sideways—horizontally– because there was a selvedge at one end. And this was made from a single layer of a wide piece of silk!

This is what the other side looked like. Remember it from the previous post? I thought it was woven as  a double weave cloth.

A length of fabric about 25” long was folded in half, horizontally. That means the selvedges were on each end resulting in a short, wide piece with the raw edges together to make a seam. This was done first, before any folding and stitching for the resist. This is how the tube was formed. It was NOT a slit cleverly disguised. It was a seam cleverly disguised.

I discovered a lot when I looked at the seam itself. There were about 8 rows of stitching that had been made before the seam was sewn. 4 of the rows would be in the seam allowance to prevent unravelling. The other 4 rows would provide stability on the other side of the seam I suspected. Also, probably some of the wefts were pulled out to make the short fringe at that time. Then the raw edges were put together and the seam sewn. You can see the rows of stitching and the one row of stitching that was actually to join the pieces.

After the seam made and pressed open, the resulting tube was flattened and ironed with 2 hard creases. And you can see the rows of stitching disguising the seam.

A row of stitching through both layers at one point kept the tube together. That stitching I had seen before as a double-weave-stitcher row but indeed it was just 2 rows of regular machine stitching close to one another.

Then, finally the tube was ready for the stitch resist. The mystery remains how the stitching for the resist was done so that on one side the stitches resisted the black dye making light dots but on the light side the stitch marks are black.

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.

A Weave That Was a Surprise! (Mistake?) (Using a treadling draft for a completely different threading draft.)

Introduction:
I made this post just after we were told to stay at home—over a month ago. I can hardly believe that much time has passed. Actually I have treasured the time locked in at home. I live in a life care place and feel very safe and protected. Meals and mail are delivered to our doors. I go out of my apartment to do my laundry down the hall, mail out books, exercise while reading and walking in my hall, and going for daily walks with my camera outside around our building in our gardens. Inside my apartment, I have been working creatively putting together fabrics to make my scrolls and processing the photographs from my garden strolls. My teaching brain has been activated so I make posts on my blog almost every other night. Culturally, I have been playing many operas streamed daily by the Metropolitan Opera on my laptop. Socially, besides keeping in touch with other residents, Zoom has kept me in good contact with friends outside and with my tech guy.

I love this 8-shaft braided twill (or plaited twill) pattern. I’m embarrassed to admit that I wove a treadling from a pattern when I didn’t realize that I hadn’t threaded the loom for that treadling! I was mystified why my cloth had an obscure texture on the back and not the definite braided twill I thought I was weaving on top.

The pattern for the braided twill I love is #380 in Carol Strickler’s book. I have woven it several times but completely forgot it needed a very special threading. As well as treadling.

Here is the 24-pick treadling draft. Using my dobby loom is a life saver for such a complicated treadling.

Here’s what I got when weaving this 24-shed pattern on an 8-shaft straight threading.
I like the white textured side a lot and am thinking strongly of weaving more of it. I especially like how it takes advantage of the shiny plied silk warp threads—especially after wet finishing with hard pressing (ironing).

DO NOT TRY THIS! Besides the above huge mistake, I pegged the draft wrong as well! I’m glad I made only a sample and looked at it carefully. And finally realized both of my great big mistakes. (And glad I like the result enough to weave more.)

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!

Making Good Selvedges– One, Two then Three “Throw, Beat THEN Change Your Feet”

Introduction:
This post was also inspired by Linda Doggett who said how important it is to her to beat on an open shed to make good selvedges. I enjoy the connections with other weavers. If you have an absolute favorite tip or process, let me know and perhaps it can go out into the weaving world in a blog post.

I’ve been pretty proud of my selvedges over time using the process Jim Ahrens taught that is the same that industry uses. If industry uses it, it must be pretty good, I thought. This is meant for most weave structures and yarns, but not for weft faced weaving. (eg. Tapestry or Collingwood’s rugs). Jim also said that often for right handers, the left selvedge is better. I think it is because that’s the one where the right hand is catching the shuttle. I never thought to ask him why. Mine are slightly better but both are good. The other thing he said was “the best selvedges come when you don’t pay attention to them.” (that is if you use this technique.) The photo is one of a series of color studies I wove with good line linen.

Step One: Throw the shuttle on the shuttle race or close to the reed. The shuttle race is a big help and the shed is larger, close to the reed. A diagonal should form naturally from the edge of the woven cloth to the shuttle race. The edge of the cloth is close enough so that the diagonal from it to the reed should be enough. This diagonal prevents the cloth from drawing in. (Remember that it’s important to advance the warp often, about every 2-3”.)

Snug up the weft against the outside warp thread, neither pulling that thread in, nor leaving a loop on the outside of it. I like to snug the weft up until it barely moves that outside thread—just grazes it. I don’t touch the selvedges but I press the weft thread onto the shuttle or bobbin and pull on the shuttle to snug the weft into place.

Step Two: Beat while the shed is still open. The illustration shows receiving the shuttle and a hand on the reed, ready to beat. This is crucial since this is where the warp is held out to its full width so that you are getting enough weft into the shed. This keeps the cloth from drawing in too much. (Expect a little bit of draw-in that is natural.)

Step Three: Change the shed as soon as you have beaten in the weft. The illustration shows the weft beaten in and the beater back near the heddles and the shuttle going into the new shed. This is especially important, too, because it is trapping the weft out at that widest point so the cloth cannot draw in. That’s it: “Throw, beat, change your feet”. With practice, it will become automatic but at first, I’ve seen students struggle to change the shed quickly after beating. Often, they want to change the shed after the beater is back at the heddles.

Knots, Knots and More Knots

Introduction:
“Linda Doggett’s knot” in my previous post led me to this post on more knots. A couple of years ago my tech guy suggested we make a Kindle booklet on hemstitching since it was the number one inquiry in my weaving tips section on my website. I use it at my loom every time I do hemstitching. The second booklet is on knots—something I thought really would be useful right next to the loom on an iPhone, or other devices.

The slip knot is my absolute favorite knot. I can remember the days when how to tie it was so elusive. It was shown to me over and over but I just didn’t “get” it for a long time.  I guess I learned it by trial and error until it became as familiar as my right hand; my hands knew how to tie it.  It was a big part of the motivation to include a knots chapter in my book, Warping Your Loom & Tying On New Warps.  I wanted to SHOW how it was tied so others could learn it. I’ve included it below. (The whole knots chapter is in the Kindle booklet. See below.)

Slip knot
A slip knot is a temporary knot that secures a single thread or groups of threads. Its  reatest asset is that it can be quickly untied with a jerk with one hand. It’s often used to tie groups of warp ends after they have been threaded in the heddles so they won’t slip out. Every weaver should know the slip knot because it is used so often—whenever you want to secure something temporarily. It’s my favorite knot, and it’s the one I almost  always automatically tie—just in case I’ll need to undo it.

To make a slip knot: To make the first loop, you can use either the tail or the standing end, whichever seems easier to tie in the situation. In this example I’m using the standing end, but you could just as easily make the loop with the tail and proceed as follows.

  1. Make a loop. (I take the standing end over the back of my left hand or over a few fingers and cross the standing end on top of the tail of the string.) Hold where the  hreads cross in a pinch between your thumb and forefinger.
  1. Reach through the loop with the right forefinger and thumb and grasp the standing end and pull it through the loop, so that it makes a loop within the first loop. (If you were to begin the knot with the tail making the first loop, and the tail were being drawn through as the second loop, make sure you pull the tail only part way through, not completely through. If you pulled the tail through, you wouldn’t have the second loop.)
  1. Be sure to tighten the knot until you feel it bite. To do that you pull the loop and the tail in opposite directions.

To release the knot: Just jerk on the end you made the loops with, in this case the standing end.

I made this little booklet so you could have it on your iPhone or other devices. Want to know how to tie a weaver’s knot? There are 3 ways shown as well as “how to undo a weaver’s knot. Of course, square and granny knots are included, as is the lark’s head knot, and other knots for weavers. I like it because you can have it at the loom up close when you need it. The cost is $2.99 and you can order from Amazon.

Knots, Knots and More Knots

Introduction:
“Linda Doggett’s knot” in my previous post led me to this post on more knots. A couple of years ago my tech guy suggested we make a Kindle booklet on hemstitching since it was the number one inquiry in my weaving tips section on my website. I use it at my loom every time I do hemstitching. The second booklet is on knots—something I thought really would be useful right next to the loom on an iPhone, or other devices.

The slip knot is my absolute favorite knot. I can remember the days when how to tie it was so elusive. It was shown to me over and over but I just didn’t “get” it for a long time.  I guess I learned it by trial and error until it became as familiar as my right hand; my hands knew how to tie it.  It was a big part of the motivation to include a knots chapter in my book, Warping Your Loom & Tying On New Warps.  I wanted to SHOW how it was tied so others could learn it. I’ve included it below. (The whole knots chapter is in the Kindle booklet. See below.)

Slip knot
A slip knot is a temporary knot that secures a single thread or groups of threads. Its  reatest asset is that it can be quickly untied with a jerk with one hand. It’s often used to tie groups of warp ends after they have been threaded in the heddles so they won’t slip out. Every weaver should know the slip knot because it is used so often—whenever you want to secure something temporarily. It’s my favorite knot, and it’s the one I almost  always automatically tie—just in case I’ll need to undo it.

To make a slip knot: To make the first loop, you can use either the tail or the standing end, whichever seems easier to tie in the situation. In this example I’m using the standing end, but you could just as easily make the loop with the tail and proceed as follows.

  1. Make a loop. (I take the standing end over the back of my left hand or over a few fingers and cross the standing end on top of the tail of the string.) Hold where the  hreads cross in a pinch between your thumb and forefinger.
  1. Reach through the loop with the right forefinger and thumb and grasp the standing end and pull it through the loop, so that it makes a loop within the first loop. (If you were to begin the knot with the tail making the first loop, and the tail were being drawn through as the second loop, make sure you pull the tail only part way through, not completely through. If you pulled the tail through, you wouldn’t have the second loop.)
  1. Be sure to tighten the knot until you feel it bite. To do that you pull the loop and the tail in opposite directions.

To release the knot: Just jerk on the end you made the loops with, in this case the standing end.

I made this little booklet so you could have it on your iPhone or other devices. Want to know how to tie a weaver’s knot? There are 3 ways shown as well as “how to undo a weaver’s knot. Of course, square and granny knots are included, as is the lark’s head knot, and other knots for weavers. I like it because you can have it at the loom up close when you need it. The cost is $2.99 and you can order from my website. 

Comments and Connections: Beyond the Two-Stick Heading Post

Introduction: I have been enjoying immensely preparing and sending out the frequent posts during the COVID 19 times. But I enjoy even more the comments and being connected to weavers who have responded.  The pandemic has connected us all—not only in the US but all over the world. That’s a lovely thing. The two comments below followed my previous post “Cutting off Some of the Cloth Before the Warp is Finished (the Two-Stick Heading)”.

“Dear Peggy,
The timing of this post is perfect! I’m a fairly new weaver and just finishing the first of a pair of bedside rugs. I so wanted to take it off the loom but wary of wasting the linen warp. I now have a solution. Many thanks and Happy Easter from isolation on the other side of the pond.”Ruth Morrell, South Devon, England

This comment from Linda Doggett from Dayton, Ohio, caught my attention. I know her name from her frequent posts on Facebook in the Four Shaft Weaving group:
“This wonderful tip has been printed and kept near my loom because I use it so often! I also have a printout of one of the knots from your book taped to the table next to the loom. You are pretty much indispensable, Peggy. 🙂”

Cutting off Some of the Cloth Before the Warp is Finished:  The Two-Stick Heading

Introduction:
While I still could be at my studio, I wove as much as I could so I could dye it while sequestered  at home.   Since I wasn’t able to finish weaving the entire warp and I wanted to cut off what was woven, I used the technique in this post. I’ve written about this “2-stick heading” so much that I wonder if people are getting tired of seeing it. It is such a useful technique I want everyone who weaves to know about it. I learned it from my mentor, Jim Ahrens, who used industry techniques for his production weaving business. What I learned from him is the basis of all my books and the reason I wrote them. His techniques from industry needed to be passed on to future generations of  handweavers.

I almost always use this because I often want to cut off samples before weaving my “projects”. With this method you don’t lose as much of the warp as when you make knots to tie on again to the apron rod. And you retain perfect tension when you start weaving again. Before cutting off some cloth, weave this heading first.
1. What you do is first weave an inch or so of plain weave (or close to plain weave as possible).
2. Weave in two sticks (thinner the better or use rods or dowels).
3. Weave another inch. In the photo I wove a little more than one inch because plain weave wasn’t possible with this weave structure and my warp was slippery.

This close-up shows clearly how the two sticks are woven in.

This shows where you cut off your cloth, LEAVING THE HEADING ON THE LOOM.

The complete heading remains on the loom. Your cloth has been cut off.

Fold the sticks together and tie them to the apron rod. Now you can start weaving again with the perfect tension you had all along!

Here is a close-up of the knots tying the apron rod to the two sticks which have been folded together.

Keeping Track of What is Left of a Warp

Introduction:
The record sheet for this post looks homemade, and it is. And since I can’t get out to my studio these days, I have only my working one to show which is rather messy. (as they usually get). I wish now I’d had a professional one made to go with the many work sheets my book designer made for my beginning weaving book.

I know how much warp is left because I keep track of what I’ve woven as I go along. I use a record sheet I made long ago. I use it for every single warp I make. It works like an old-fashioned check book register in that the last column shows the “balance” of what is left.
As soon as I’ve entered the length of the section I’ve measured on the record sheet, I put a marker thread at one selvedge to show where the measurement ended.  Then later if I need to check for sure, I have all the markers on the selvedge as well as all the entries on the record sheet. I make sure that I ender all headings, or separators and the back loom waste. Also, I usually enter what I have allowed for “take-up”. Usually I use 10% for ordinary cloth weaving, just to be sure.

Record Sheet “Warp Use Record Sheet”.

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.