Dye Project Update Number One

Here are the results of the weekend’s work on my dye project. There are 4 bundles drying in the photo. All the pieces in a bundle were in the same dye pot. In other words, a bundle represents one dye process. The pieces on the string were in a bundle. On the rack are 3 bundle’s worth. All variations on cochineal. More on cochineal to follow.

The undyed bundles have been mordanted with alum and will be dyed later.

The status of my kitchen after the weekend.

Here I Go Again: Clearing the Decks

If you miss my posts, you can also see what I’m doing by following me on Instagram. Go to Instagram.com. Tap Sign up. Enter email address. Create a username and password. My Instagram name is peggyoster.

Here is the last view of my kitchen before the dye pots come in and my dish drainer goes on the floor. I’m working on a project to submit to a show in China. Deadline is June 16. YIKES!  However, now I’m loving the smell of the lilacs I found at the florist this week!

This is clearest this “counter” has been in a long while. Before long, it will be covered with dye notes, etc.

It’s taking a lot of organizing and I’m not finished yet. I have 48 envelopes for 48 bundles. Each bundle is designated for a different dye or dye process.

Each bundle has 15 different silks. That way, there will be 15 slightly different tones from a single dye pot. Organizing it all and getting all the ingredients and planning all the preparations is a big job and I’m still working on this stage. 48 x 15 = a lot of swatches.

Making the bundles took all of the surfaces in our lounge to collate.

I’m counting on this label maker and Tyvek and Sharpie pens for making 48 very specific labels. Some need some processes done before mordanting, during, or after dyeing.

I’m using old Chinese recipes along with the Boutrup/Ellis book.

The Cloth Behind My Fine Weaving Hanging

This is a hanging I bought in Okinawa in a shop that was all textiles. I loved it the minute I saw it at the far end of the shop.

The dyeing is so special; however, I can’t tell you much about it. It’s been hanging in my window for a year at least and the black is still as dark as ever.

You can see the careful placement of the colors and the ikat pattern. Planning this for the colors to hit precisely in the warp as well as the weft just right was skillfully done. Double ikat at it’s simplest and most beautiful. I also like the slight irregularities in the yarn.

Unwinding Skeins of Very Fine Threads

I bought a few skeins of fine silk in Japan a few years ago. I ran into all kinds of trouble. I finally asked the owner of Habu Textiles if she would unwind them on her machines. All but one skein she wound onto cones. The final skein she sent to Japan; it was so hard to undo. It came back on about 10-15 cones, each with small amounts wound on and some with threads flying about. Even they found it nearly impossible! I bought proper Japanese equipment but still decided it was worth it to pay to have them unwound. I’m unwinding a bunch of skeins now from Junco Sato Pollack and using my equipment. Many skeins come off beautifully. A few still gave me fits. It’s a joy to crank and wind a spool when all the threads come off easily. My advice is not to buy those skeins or to admire them and leave the threads in the skeins. I have cut a skein or two creating lengths of threads that I’ve laid into warps. Here are a few details.

Unwinding skeins of very, very fine threads can be an extremely tedious, and near impossible task. Special equipment can make a difference. The extra circumference of Japanese spools is important. Winding on small spools or cones can be impossible.

You also need a proper skein holder or skein maker. A common umbrella swift doesn’t hold the skein flat due to its X shape. If the skein isn’t held evenly the threads can fall down and tangle.

This is the winder that winds the Japanese spools. When a thread breaks, pat the skein from the inside and hopefully the broken end will fall out, and you can continue nicely. It’s imperative to open the skein properly. See below.

Here is the winder with an empty spool on it, ready to go. Notice the guide arm that guides the thread onto the spool. This is essential. I had an antique one, but the guider was gone. It was terrible trying to guide and crank. Another empty spool is shown alongside.

Open any skein CAREFULLY. You must find the precise place that is the center of the ring of threads in the skein. This is true for all skeins if you want them to unwind easily. Search for the ties that encircle the threads.

Look carefully for the ties that tie the skein so the exact center can be found.

You can’t check the ties too carefully. Really see that not a single thread is out of place. Often there are two ties that just tie the center of the skein and another one that does the same plus has the ends of the thread tied to it. Find which end unwinds easily and tuck the other end inside the skein holder. Also note that where the ties cross within the skein is not an exact place. It just keeps the ties from slipping.

My Own Fine Weaving

Now that life is getting busier, I’m planning to post less often. Maybe weekly or so. I want to get to my looms and experiment and do some fine weaving again. And I have a dye project I want to start. If you still need something to have breakfast with, try reading the posts I began a year ago when the pandemic began. I still love getting comments.

This is my 125 ends per inch silk weaving. I had big plans, but it was almost a “dog on the loom”. I wanted sheer fabric and I didn’t want to beat in the wefts too hard. I wove a double weave tube so there would be more resistance on the beater to prevent beating too hard and still be sheer. A tube meant only one shuttle, of course. I made so many threading errors, I thought I had lost my mind! It’s really not hard to thread so many ends when the cross is right there to guide you. Sometimes I crossed threads and sometimes it was in the heddles. I already had made several fine silk tubes before at 96 epi. This shouldn’t have been so difficult. I’ve got more  fine silk threads from Junco Sato Pollack so am eager to weave them up.

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The weaving went terribly with a huge number of stops and starts to correct broken or mis-threaded ends. I properly repaired many threads and replaced many warp threads with colored sewing threads so I could see what I was doing. I had to throw away a lot but managed to get 40” woven as a tube.

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After the 40” I decided to just weave off what I had left and not bother with corrections. I managed to get a hanging out of it. It hangs in front of an ikat hanging I got in Okinawa.

In the end, I gave up weaving the sheer cloth and decided to just weave off whatever I had left of the warp. Probably the warp was on the loom a few months before I made up my mind to get it off. I wove the layers separately.

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I used the handspun cotton from Bhutan for the weft.

I couldn’t snug up the wefts at the selvedges so just let the wefts all hang out.

The handspun cotton on the fine silk. I think it looks OK. I do like where the cloth splits into the two layers and divides to hang on either side of the “single layer” the tube.

Weaving that Almost Isn’t. April Fool!

Jan Hudson wove 2 scarves on a whim, and I asked her to make the April Fools Day post.

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I used a variegated rayon knitting yarn as warp on the orange and blue scarf. The weft is a very thin unidentified cotton yarn I had in my stash but sewing thread would work also.

The sett was “guesstimated” at 5 epi. I wove 3 pics, then placed a 2 cm spacer cardboard in the shed, and wove 3 more pics, repeating the process to the end of the scarf!

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The technique is used in Guatemala on textiles made on a backstrap loom. This time I wove a few more pics before leaving the spaces.

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It’s only plain weave, so only 2 shafts are required! Peggy adds: So what if the ends don’t end up the same length!

Lenore Tawney: her work “led to a whole revolution in weaving”

From Lenore Tawney: A Personal World, published by Brookfield Craft Center to accompany two showing of works by Lenore Tawney. 1978.text by Jean d’Autilia.

Photos from Lenore Tawney A Retrospective published in conjunction with the exhibition of the same name at the American Craft Museum 1990.

I seem to be getting too many ideas while looking for inspirations for my posts. I can’t settle on what I want to weave first. And I can’t possibly weave them all. One way to get around my dilemma is to post them, and hope others will be inspired to incorporate some of the ideas into their own work. Although this series is to be about art, I think the ideas could be made into a whole lot of kinds of projects.

Mask ca. 1967 Linen, pre-Columbian beads and shell, horsehair 19” x 6 ½”

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All the pieces in this post were woven by Lenore Tawney in 1966 and 67 with some finished not until 1985. These are all warp face plain weave with very dense, heavy linen warps. I just finished reading the little booklet mentioned in the title and was surprised she gave some weaving hints as well as her inspiration.

Shield. Begun ca. 1967, completed 1985 Linen, silk, feathers 20 x 16

What I love most about all of these pieces is the wonderful, surprising fringes. I assumed they were rep weave using alternating thick and thin warps and the fine fringes are the thins. From the photo in the catalog I have, I can’t see any evidence of the white silk in the weaving. Go figure. Isn’t the horsehair in the previous photo just fantastic?
Weaving tip: She always used a double weft, “I come in from both sides, so that the edges are beautifully even and thick.” Lenore Tawney, A Personal World.

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Sheild. Begun ca. 1967. Completed 1985 Linen, silk, feathers, whelk egg cases 15 ½ x 14

Another luxurious silk fringe. I visited her loft once and she had drawers and drawers of tiny shells, bones, seeds and things. That explains the whelk egg cases.

Sheild IV. 1966 Linen, pre-Columbian beads and shells 13 1/2 x 10 1/2

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I see how different the fine fringe looks being linen and not silk. Isn’t it interesting that she left some wefts to hang outside the selvedges? And maybe she got the idea for the center treatment from when she started a new weft?

Shield. Begun ca. 1967, completed 1989 Linen, feathers 15 1/2 x 6 ½

Her use of feathers, her “fringes”, her shapes: all inspiring to me. 

Cocoons: Part 3

The photos in this post came from my post when we were in Okinawa. You can search on my home page for: Japan Tour 2017. Then scroll to Day 5.

We visited the artist Michiko Uehara and her daughter in Naha Okinawa in May 2017. She has exhibited in New York as well as in Japan. Here her daughter is showing how light this cloth is. Michiko reels her silk threads and weaves very, very fine cloth.

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This cloth was woven with both warp and weft threads from single cocoons. In her catalog there is a photo of a cloth with threads of 3 denier. That means 1,5000,000 yards per pound. I’m not sure if that is this cloth or not, but you get the idea. That’s 1.5 million yards per pound!

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This piece is double woven in a tube!!!

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The Cocoons: Cocoon Scarf Part 2

This post is about the silkworm cocoons used in weaving this scarf that was also shown in the previous post.

In October of 2019, Cathy Cerny and I visited a farm in Japan where special breeds of silk that are too fine to raise and produce commercially were raised. Mr. Masakazu Akiuama is known for his fine silk. He is located outside of Miyazaki on Kyushu Island.

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Mr. Akiuama’s specialty cocoons are shown on his business card. They are smaller and a different shape from the commercially grown ones I have seen before. Commercial cocoons don’t have the dent in the center like these do. Along with his card was a little envelope with 3 of the cocoons.

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My scarf was woven out of threads made from single cocoons. The thicker threads came from another breed of silkworm. The larger cocoon provided those strands. The smaller one was what was used for the main part of the scarf. After I bought my scarf, he made sure to give me the two cocoons so that I would understand that the large cocoon was used for the thick wefts.

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I used the macro lens on my iPhone to show the single fibers from each of the cocoons. Getting both in focus wasn’t easy but I think you can see finer and thicker single strands coming off the cocoons. The silk would be unwound off each cocoon in one continuous thread. That process is called reeling.

Cocoon Scarf: Another Two-shaft Idea

This is my 834th post! I began them in November, 2010.  Before that on my original website I had posted over 100 weaving tips. They are still available and used today on this website. For the last year Bob, my tech guy and I have posted nearly every other day. I enjoy making the posts and still have ideas for more. I love getting comments! Any suggestions for posts are welcome, too.

I got this beautiful, fine silk scarf in Japan. We visited the silk grower who showed us his refrigerated storage shed for cocoons ready for making threads. Usually, silk threads are made up of several strands—that is from several cocoons. His breed of silkworms are not grown commercially and his processing is not done commercially. His weavers weave these scarves with threads of single cocoons. I treasure my scarf so here are several photos.

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My scarf is generous in size: 18” x 72” not including the fringe. In a pile about the size of a dinner plate, it is gossamer.

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I love the structure, too. There are two breads of silkworms used. I have a cocoon from each one. The thick threads are from a different breed from the thin ones.

Of course the selvedges are perfection. I’m inspired by the structure. Putting that little thicker thread in regularly makes it so you notice the fabric.  Another two-shaft idea which doesn’t have to use such fine threads, of course.

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A close-up. I find it looks really great close and at a distance. And, amazingly enough, it doesn’t snag on my sort-of-rough hands!

Here’s how the fringe was handled. Again perfection!

More Inspiration for Hand Manipulated Weaves – And another two-shaft weave

Mary Balzar Buskirk is the artist who wove the piece shown in the previous post, dated March 20, 2021.

I love textiles that interest me, especially ones that are weavable or peak my curiosity. This linen-like piece fits all of the criteria. Often when I come across a fabric I remember where I got it and have a nice memory or story behind it. This one I don’t remember at all. I’m getting back into my studio and doing a bit of sorting and somehow, this piece turned up. It is 14” wide so that means it probably came from Japan.

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The cloth is so simple. It is yardage so the groups of tassels repeat the entire length.

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So my curiosity took me to see what they did at the selvedges with the tassel wefts. The thick weft is carried up a little shy of ½”. That seems just right and not disfiguring. In fact, I think it adds a subtle bit of interest.

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I put my macro lens on my iPhone to see just what the wefts were doing. I needed to see how the tassel weft fit into the plain weave. The thick weft goes halfway across the fabric in its own shed. It’s interesting that the wefts before and after it are in the same shed with just the thick weft in the opposite shed and going only halfway across the width of the cloth.

Here we can see that the thick weft has its own shed—but we know that it only goes ½ way across the

Also interesting to see what makes up the thick weft. Several strands and not alike.

Often there are clues at the cut end of a cloth.

An Inspiration for a Hand Manipulated Weave: Another two shaft weave

This is a black and white photo I’ve saved for many years. In real life, it is very colorful with LOTS of color changes. If I remember correctly it was woven by Mary Balzar Buskirk. I googled her name and found she died in 1981 at the age of 52 and lived in Pennsylvania. It’s really hand manipulated and slow to weave, but has a lot of potential.

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Here is a detail of another area. I think it’s interesting that she left some modules unwoven. It looks like the warp threads were black and spaced as sections in the reed.

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Ghiordes Knot

This knot is one that is used for making pile rugs. It can also be used for texture and decoration.

Usually, a few strands of wool yarn are used together if you want to make pile as in rugs. Yarn or thread of any color or texture can be used if textures are desired. Use single strands or multiples to achieve the look you want.

Start with some rows of plain weave.

The shed is closed.

Cut the yarn in short pieces in your desired color(s)—approximately twice the length you want your pile to be plus a little extra. You want to cut them long enough, so it isn’t difficult to make the knots. You might cut the pile shorter after it is on the warp and waste some yarn, but it is well worth it so you can make many knots quickly. Experiment with different lengths (and different numbers of strands to use together) to determine what works best for you.

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Step 1: Lay a length of one pile yarn (or group of yarns) over 2 warp threads as shown in the illustration.

Step 2: Wrap the ends of the yarn around the 2 threads and bring them back up between the warp threads as shown.

Step 3: Pull on the tails gently to tighten the knot and slide it down snuggly against the previous row of plain weaving.

Step 4: Continue making knots around pairs of warp threads across the warp or where desired.

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Don’t worry if the pile yarns aren’t all equal in length or are too long because you will probably trim them later.

Step 5: Weave two rows of plain weave between rows of knots. This action is important because if you don’t, you won’t have any cloth, just vertical rows of pile knots that will be separate from each other. It’s the plain weave between the rows that integrates the knots into the cloth. The pile usually is long enough so these rows are hidden.

Step 6: Trim the pile to the length desired and for a tidier look.


This is how many pile carpets are woven. If you look carefully between the rows of pile you can see the plain weave rows. You can also tell where the weaver began and ended a carpet. Because of the way you slide the knots down snuggly in step 3, the pile lies in one direction. Pet the carpet as you would pet a cat. If it’s the smooth direction, you are petting the carpet from the end toward the beginning.

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If you think you’d like to make a real pile rug, consult books especially written for making rugs.

Also, there are special scissors available for cutting the pile evenly. Most pile rugs have designs in them made by using different colors for the knots. Geometric designs are easy to make using this technique. For more detailed designs, you would need a very fine scale with thin threads and hundreds of knots per square inch.


This technique can be used as an edge finish or in a contrasting color as a decorative stitch. It creates a flat, dashed line on the surface.

Weave some plain weave.

Use a separate weft in a matching or contrasting color.

Cut a length of weft as long as 3 times the width of the warp.

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The shed is closed.

Start at the right edge of the warp.

Fold the weft in half and center it on the right selvedge thread, one half of the weft goes over 2 warp threads, the other goes under the same 2 warp threads and then they swap places. Repeat across the warp.

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The number of warp threads in the groups can vary according to the look you like. You can experiment with this technique and invent different looks. The main thing is that the top and the bottom “threads” switch places.

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Danish Medallion

This makes a very nice decorative “stitch”. All the steps sound confusing, but it is clear what to do when you are at the loom and do as the directions say. You may be quite surprised that your work does look like the illustration. It is a lovely technique.

Wind the “medallion yarn” on a separate shuttle. Often this yarn is a contrasting color. If the same color as the warp is used, it makes a more subtle pattern, which is nice in silk.

You might want a small crochet hook for this technique. A tapestry needle might work for you just as well.

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Work on an open shed. See the instructions for working on an open shed at the end of the directions for the medallions, below.

Remember always to keep the plain weave order of the wefts.

Weave a plain weave heading and end with the shuttle on the left side such that the outside warp thread on the right edge of the warp is up in the completed row, as in the illustration.

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Step 1: Open the next plain weave shed. (Now, the right edge thread will be down.) Enter the medallion yarn into the shed and end with the shuttle on the right edge of the cloth.

Step 2: Follow with several rows of plain weave using the same yarn as in the heading. To make the pattern work out, weave an odd number of wefts between pattern rows. In the case of the illustration, three rows of plain weave are woven.

Step 3. Open the next shed. (This is the same as the one for the first medallion shed.) Enter the medallion yarn part way into the shed from the right. You will have carried the medallion yarn up at the selvedge from its first row. Note that in the illustration, this row of medallion yarn starts with a partial pattern so the staggered design will work out. In this case, when you begin the row, go under 1 thread as per the directions for working on an open shed, below.

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Step 4: Bring the medallion yarn to the surface.

Step 5: Here is an overview of the next step. In it you will do the preparation necessary to hook the second medallion weft into the first one below it. You will pass the shuttle through a loop you will make in the first medallion weft and then, take the shuttle up to the open shed to continue the stitch. After the shuttle has passed through the loop in the lower medallion weft, the lower weft will be straightened out, which will pull the second weft down, which makes the loop shown in the illustration. (After this step, the initial loop in the first weft will not exist anymore.)

Follow these directions. Trace the warp thread next to the one where the shuttle came out of the shed down to the first medallion weft. (It will be a warp from the bottom of the shed.) Using a small crochet hook or tapestry needle, pick up the first medallion weft yarn and make a loop on the hook or needle. In other words, where you hook the lower medallion weft should line up with the space where the upper weft came out.

Step 6: Enlarge the loop so that the shuttle can pass through it. In doing this job, you’ll be pulling on the bottom weft and distorting things a bit in order to make the loop large enough. Pass the shuttle through the loop.

Even with a cloth where the warp threads are close together, you can easily do this operation. You just push apart the warp threads.

Step 7: Straighten out the bottom row loop. Pull the bottom row straight again so it pulls the top row down to make its own loop.

Repeat the steps for more medallions in the row, now passing the yarn under 4 warp threads. (To make multiple rows of the pattern work out, you need to pass the shuttle under 4 threads from now on as you go across the row, as shown in the illustration.) Future rows should alternate where the loops are. See the illustration. Remember to make the design work out, take the shuttle under 4 threads in the open shed and use an odd number of wefts between medallion rows. It is important. You need to have a total of seven warp threads between the medallion loops. It matters because if you don’t, the shed sequence won’t work out and the staggering of the loops won’t be evenly spaced. For clarification on counting threads in an open shed, read below.

Working with an Open Shed: How to Count the Threads: (Repeated from the previous post on Spanish lace.)

See the photo and see that the shed is open, and the shuttle is passing part way across the warp before it is taken out of the shed. (Then it will be on the surface of the cloth.) I numbered the threads to show how to count the threads when the directions say go under a certain number of threads. I do it by counting the number of threads that are above the shuttle—that is, the threads the shuttle is passing under. In the illustration, the shuttle is going under 10 threads.

A Series of Hand Manipulated Weaves: Spanish Lace

The chapter, Hand-Manipulated Weaves is in the Appendix of my book, Weaving for Beginners. It was written by Tracy Kaestner who is the owner of Lone Star Loom Room. She suggested it when we met at a conference some years ago and agreed to produce it. The illustrations are by Ron Hildebrand, my illustrator.

Spanish Lace
With this technique, after washing, the fabric looks lacy because the weft curves and show up more.
You will always work with open sheds. This is an important point.

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Working with an Open Shed: How to Count the Threads:
See the photo and see that the shed is open, and the shuttle is passing part way across the warp before it is taken out of the shed. (Then it will be on the surface of the cloth.) I numbered the threads to show how to count the threads when the directions say go under a certain number of threads. I do it by counting the number of threads that are above the shuttle—that is, the threads the shuttle is passing under. In the illustration, the shuttle is going under 10 threads.

How to weave Spanish lace
You will always be taking your shuttle into open sheds as you normally would—except that you won’t go very far into the sheds, and you’ll be taking the shuttle back and forth. Say, the shuttle is going left in a shed then, when it goes to the right it is to be in a new shed. When it goes left again, it will go in a new shed as well. Every time you change directions of the shuttle, you will be changing the shed, too.

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Basically, this is what you’ll do to make Spanish lace: You’ll go back and forth with the shuttle (left and right) a bit, then, move on to a new group and go back and forth again and then, on to the next group, and so on, all across the warp.

To get the idea of how to make this stitch, I suggest you read the instructions as you follow along in the illustration. (Remember, when you go under threads, you are counting the upper threads in the shed only.

Weave a heading of plain weave, and end with the shuttle on the right edge of the cloth. Divide the width of the warp into groups of threads. You choose how big each unit of lace will be. The illustration shows two sizes of groups: 2 threads and 3 threads. You are the designer, and the groups can vary in size. Note there is one thread between each group.

You can weave it just like the illustration, or after you get the idea of how it works, you can start out with experiments. You can try out different sizes of the groups and how many times you want to go back and forth before moving on to a new group.

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Follow these instructions to make the pattern in the photo, which makes two rows of Spanish lace.

For the first group of threads:
Step 1:
Moving to the left, pass the shuttle under one thread (in this case warp #1), and come up out of the shed.

Step 2: Change the shed. Working toward the right, pass the shuttle under one thread, (warp #2) and come out.

Step 3: Change shed. Working to the left, pass the shuttle under 3 threads. You are now going to work on the next group of threads.

For the second group of threads:
Step 1:
Change the shed. Moving to the right, pass the shuttle under 2 threads. (In the illustration, notice that you have already made the first row in the group by going under 3 to the left.)

Step 2: Change the shed. Moving to the left, pass the shuttle under 3 threads to complete this group as well as to move on to the next group.

For the third group of threads:
Step 1:
Change the shed and pass the shuttle under 1 thread as you move to the right and make the second “row” in the group.

Step 2: Change the shed and pass the shuttle under 1 thread as you move toward the left.

Continue across the warp.

For the second row

A second row of pattern is worked from the left side towards the right side.

To start the second row: You’ll follow the same process, but you’ll be going from the left edge of the warp toward the right.

Here are the steps:

Step 1: Change the shed and pass the shuttle under one thread, moving to the right. This begins the first group in the second “row” (the one on the left in the illustration).

Step 2: Change the shed and pass the shuttle under 1 thread, moving to the left.

Step 3. Change the shed and pass the shuttle under 3 threads, moving to the right. This completes the first group and starts you on the middle group.

Step 4: Change the shed. Moving to the left, pass the shuttle under 1 thread.

Step 5: Change the shed. Moving to the right, pass the shuttle under 3 threads to finish that group and begin the next.

Step 6: Change the shed, and moving to the left, go under one thread.

Step 7: Change the shed, and moving to the right, go under one thread.

And you’re finished with two rows of “lace”! Read on.Note: You will go across the whole warp before beginning the second row of “lace”. When you’re back where you started, you can weave some tabby. Weave an odd number of rows before beginning to make more “lace”. If you want the counting and the placement of the groups to be the same.

A Counting String that Comes Out Fast

No matter what your warping method is, you often will need a counting string. When I first learned to make one, it was annoying to take it out when no longer needed. Jim Ahrens (A part of AVL) taught us to make this special crocheted chain that pulls out fast.

First: take a long string (maybe 3 feet for your first practices), fold it in half and slip the two tails through the loop at the fold around your first group of threads. This makes a lark’s head knot over these threads. The lark’s head is in the next photo.

With the tails of the lark’s head, you will begin to crochet around the bundles as you make them. Read on.

Measure out your next group of threads. Fold the tails between the first bundle and the new one, making a loop. Then put your right thumb and forefinger into the loop, while holding the tails with your left hand.

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Encircle the new bundle with a “crochet” by using your finger and thumb to draw up another loop from the tails. Holding onto the tail, pull on the loop to snug it up around the bundle. Leave that loop and the tails dangling (don’t pull the tails through the loop, as you’ll be tempted to do).

The lark’s head is the foundation. From now on, you’ll crochet-chain using your fingers like this. Measure the next group of threads. With thumb and forefinger, reach through the old loop, drawing up a new one from the dangling tails, and tighten to secure the new group of threads.

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After each crochet, both the loop and the tails should hang freely, ready for the next bundle.

This is taken from the Appendix in my book, Weaving for Beginners.

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Scraps and Patches Make for More Scrolls

I mounted this piece wrong-side-up because the mending was so interesting. Notice the ikat patterns and stripes in both the warp and weft.

Here is a close look at the patches on the wrong side of the silk fabric. Notice all the stitches on the big patch.

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Here is the right side. Up close, the pattern doesn’t match at all, but that wasn’t the point. A patch is a patch. I bought this fragment at a flea market. Probably it was part of a kimono that was taken apart and sold in fragments. I am lucky that someone cared to pass it along.

This is a scroll of my weaving and dyeing. I think I was wiping out the last drops of Japanese green persimmon (kakishibu) dye and liked how it turned out.

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Here is the piece up close. It’s small: 4” x 12”.

Remember this “fancy twill” from a previous post?

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This scroll has another scrap I saved from my persimmon dyeing period. The background silk was dyed with clamp board resist technique in Japan.

Detail of above. My piece is 4 ½” x 17”.

I just discovered another scroll with a persimmon dyed piece mounted on a piece of the same fabric as the first photos. It’s small, too 5 ½” x 7”.

Odd Scrolls but Interesting

I loved this little bag the minute I saw it in a tiny shop in a neighborhood in Japan (Tokyo?). While Cathy did her shopping in another shop, I went back and got it. I’m so glad I did. I put it on a scroll so I could look at it whenever I liked. It’s really small 6” x 7”.

I love the delicate weave of the cloth on top. The bottom is made up of the cocoons or skins of insects. More about them next.

I found a sheet that had these “skins” glued on which I had framed when I got home. I think the insects are a bit like tent worms, but I don’t know how these cocoons or skins are formed. They are like the paper in those big wasp’s nests. A friend in Japan said she had them in the trees in her yard as a child.

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Here is a close up of an obi I got at the same Japanese antique textile dealer’s shop in Tokyo. Imagine all the work trimming each one and then the piecing.

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My mother-in-law gave me her mother’s collection of baby caps she collected in Germany. There were two caps like this one in with some scraps of lace she gave me. They are covered with tiny stitches.

I took one apart and mounted the pieces on an indigo blue background. They aren’t impressive as a scroll but when you look closely at the stitches, you become impressed!

These two pieces were sewn together to form the sides and the top. It was a pleasure to unpick the teeny tiny stitches that seamed the pieces together and enjoy the designs stitched on the cloth.

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A Big Mistake Turned into a New Idea

On my last night of scroll making I was working with three fragments of cloth heavily coated with indigo. The cloths wouldn’t iron flat, so I got out my iron-on interfacing to keep them flat. It was late and my last piece of the night. I ironed the interfacing on the RIGHT SIDE of the fabric!! This was precious stuff each piece was different and this was the best one! Good Grief!!

I ran to my computer to see what to do on the internet to remove the interfacing. Steam and iron on to another fabric. I got some thin cotton and tried on an area. This is the result after pulling off the cloth.  It didn’t come off but left this interesting texture/pattern. So I scrunched up the cotton fabric and steamed the rest of the area and yanked it off. A new technique is born!

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Thankfully, I was using a scrap of interfacing so not all of the beautiful cloth was covered. This is what the original looked like. The dimensions of this scroll are 6” wide x 18” long.

This is one of the indigo pieces backed properly with the iron-on interfacing. The background is double ikat—ikat in both the warp and the weft. The long scroll is 5 ½” wide and 27 ½” long.

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The detail shows the heavy coating of indigo.

The third indigo coated piece with its interfacing on the correct side is the background for this small scroll. The scroll is 4” wide and 15” long.

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I made the felt pieces after a workshop at Slow Fiber Studios in Berkeley.

Scrolls Project Ending!


I began making scrolls a year ago. Now I’ve made 55 or more scrolls in four collections. The first was dyed linens, the other three about putting texties together. The first two collections were in two shows in the gallery where I live. The last two groups I’m photographing now and are in this and some future posts. I must admit everything in the last half of the project has its art pinned onto the background fabrics! It’s like they are the first drafts to me.

This is a shibori hankie I dyed and gave as gifts on one of my trips to Japan. One man immediately put it in his shirt pocket which was fun. The background is a piece of a kimono found at a flea market in Japan. The narrow width tells us it was part of the collar/borders on the front. It is precisely done double ikat. That’s why the pieces were saved.

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I folded the cloth then wrapped it on a pole for the resist. It was then dyed in indigo. The folding I did after taking a workshop in shadow folds with Chris Palmer at Slow Fiber Studios in Berkeley. I used silk handkerchiefs from Dharma Trading Co.

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I wove the background with a deflected double weave recipe some of my weaving friends were doing. It’s from the book, Double Weave with a Twist. The square you may remember from a Chines boutique. I love the stitching, so this is a way for me to get to enjoy it rather than have it stuck in a drawer or under a mug.

This shows the stitched piece. There are layers of cloth. Ms. He Haiyan, in her boutiques in Beijing and Shanghai, uses scraps for lots of lovely projects and keeps her sewers busy. You may remember the post, “More Ideas for Projects” November 15, 2020.

1. I did the shibori
2. I dyed the background black walnuts
3. Close up of bag on previous scroll. I love it. The squares are the skins of cocoons from tent worms or something similar from Japan. I also have an obi made of them. And a collection of them framed.
4. I dyed the scarf. The purple is an old piece. The dye precious.

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Both are felt pieces I made on cloths with heavy indigo coating (I think).

This is another felt piece on the indigo background. By mistake I ironed on the fusible lining on the front side late last night. I quick went to th internet for how to get it off. Steam and a press cloth. I was desperate. It didn’t come off but I decided it was interesting with the press cloth wrinkled up when I pulled it off. Thank goodness I was using a scrap of the interfacing so some of the original pattern of the indigo coated cloth was still visible. Whew!! If I had more cloth I might try it again. Or on something else. How ideas are born I guess.

Great Loom Needs a Home

This loom is available and looking for a good home. For someone who likes good engineering and production with pleasure. It was built by my mentor, Jim Ahrens in the 50’s.  Ahrens is the “A” in AVL.  My looms are either built by him or by AVL. It’s like my own loom: 10 shafts and 10 treadles. The side tie-up means you don’t have to get down on the floor to tie up the treadles. The height is 46,” Width 52,” Depth 27″  

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There’s a great warping mill—large and strong and stands on the floor. That could be separate. Other equipment like shuttles, etc. goes with it.

Go to this website which my apprentice and I made to see more features and how to use them. Ahrenslooms.com

Besides, it is made of beautiful birdseye maple and has been in a home so is in great condition. Probably all the cords and strings will need to be replaced. I used Texsolv cords and you can get Texsolv heddles, too.

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It is located in Rossmore, in the San Francisco Bay area. Call the grandchildren at 858-335-3524. Asking $200 or best offer.

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Double Weaver’s Knot

This is used when smooth yarns won’t hold with a regular weaver’s knot. Remember though, even this knot won’t hold very slippery yarns. Jim’s fisherman’s knot is for them. See “Warping Your Loom & Tying On New Warps” for the chapter on knots.

Note: The double can also be undone like the regular weaver’s knot.
Another Note: See my eBook, Weaver’s Knots on the website to order from Amazon.

The double weaver’s knot is a regular weaver’s knot with an additional step. One way to make it is to begin like the “ears” method.

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As soon as you have the thread between the ears, go to the next illustration.

As soon as you have the thread between the ears, take it once around the right-hand ear as well.

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Then do the same last steps: take the right-hand ear down under the thumb and…

Tighten by pulling on the right end.

How to Undo Any Weaver’s Knot: and know if you’ve tied it correctly.

The key to knowing you’ve tied the weaver’s knot correctly is to be able to release or undo it.

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To undo it, you want to straighten out the thread that makes the “U” in the completed knot. No matter which way you tie it, there is one thread in a U-shape and the other thread winding itself around the first.

Pull on both ends of that “U” thread—in opposite directions—to unbend it and straighten it out.

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The squiggly portion can be slipped right off, and even the squiggles relax so you have two fresh threads when you’re through.

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