I’ve been weaving a lot of white lately, mostly silks that Iinherited from Ethel Aotoni when she died. I had the intention to dye them. The silk threads took the light differently whether you looked at them warps wise of weft wise. This fabric is a white 12-end satin. I tried to see if I could make it completely warp face with strong colored wefts. i.e white on one side and red or black on the other. When I had the fabric in hand I noticed that it changed color accoring to whether the warp or the weft was vertical. You can only see the borders and center when the light is just right. (You can see bits of white showing the warps peeking through on the edges of the squares I cut). These are works in progress, nothing is set yet. [ click to enlarge any photo ]
Here is what the red and white pieces look like when looking straight on–no borders or center color change.
This piece I dyed with black walnuts. Weaving the 12 end satin going in 11 stages from warp face to weft face. It didn’t look very interesting as a whole but I liked a lot of the sections. That is why I decided to cut the squares. Then I realized the light-play and came up with this design.
Another satin warp of silk dyed with black walnuts. I dyed the weft silk before weaving. Then I dyed the whole piece again in a light walnut dye with iron after bath. This photo shows how the light changes the darks and lights.
This was the first white warp satin I did and I couldn’t bear to dye it. It feels gorgeous, and I love the way the fabric takes the light.
Here is one of the lovely towns we’ll visit before the symposium. There are three parts of the trip and I am going on all three–one before the symposium (Shanghai and ancient villages nearby), one in Hangzhou during the BoND Symposium on Natural Dyes (where my piece will be in the exhibition), and the third after the symposium. On the first part we’ll visit Shanghai, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang with traditional highligts at Jin Ze Arts Centre.
The tour after the symposium will explore first-hand heritage provinces of minority group Yi in Sichuan, Guizhou, Yunnan and Yi Minority Aautonomous Prefecture. This area is most interesting and not so easily visited. These groups are ethnically different from the main Chinese people.
Another exhotic scene.
More from the last part.
Here is the website for Slow Fiber Studios China tour. Yoshiko’s trips are fantastic. She knows so many people and we visit textile people, not just tourist sites.
The Chinese National silk Museum is in a huge and beautiful building.
Here is one of the exhibition spaces. I wonder if our show will be there.
Now I have my business cards made–It is beginning to feel like it is really going to be.
I am going with my very favorite tour guide, Yoshiko Wada, with Slow Fiber Studios. There are two tours with her plus going to the BoND Symposium. The tour before is around the area of Shanghai and the tour after is to the Yi Minority Autonomous Region in Southwest Cina. Yoshiko’s trips are THE BEST. If you’ve folled my blog you know. I think registration is still open. Contact Slow Fiber Studios.
“Colorful World: Overview of Natural Dyes” The First Biennale of Natural Dyes
The advent of synthetic dyes in the 19th century has brought a steep decline in the centuries-old productions of natural dyes around the world. The beginning of the 21st century, however, saw a revival of interest in natural dyes as more people turn to nature for solace and harmonious living. Now, many international communities are advocating the use of natural dyes in modern practices and promoting researches on ancient dyeing techniques. In recognition for these artistic and scientific endeavors, the China National Silk Museum (CNSM) organizes the first biennale of natural dyes, with an aim to embrace the beauty of nature, as well as to explore the ancient wisdom and knowledge embodied in the traditional craft of dyeing.
I went to Windrush Farm in Petaluma to one of the “Lamb Days” and it was a glorious treat. The wool felt wonderful.and he was so cute. It was a treat to hold this baby lamb in my arms.
Out in the field there were lots more baby lambs with their moms staying close. So far there ar 30 lambs born this spring with one ewe left to give birth.
These twins were especially cute. The black and white is unusual.
Lambs of different types are bred for different types of fleece. This fleece is from a previous year’s shearing. The farm sells fleece and yarns –natural and dyed. They teach spinning too. Here is the link to Windrush Farm in Petaluma California.
Here are the needle cushions as they were woven, before cutting them apart. After sampling, I was happy with the way they looked. See below for some of the problems that needed solving.
I hated the spaces between the pattern threads as seen here. Read how I solved that below. I chose different colors of the pattern threads and doubled the number of threads to make them thicker. Then I was satisfied.
I went to my bible on Overshot techniques, Helene Bress’s book. On page 206 in the Overshot chapter was my answer! Her book has such depth with many ways to think about how one can design things. There must be thousands of images.
I wonder if I have a “thing” about needle books. The first one I had I made in 4-H when I was 10. I never saw the use of it and never used it. Then I saw one my friend Mary Rowe had when I was in New York. I think it was her mother’s in New Zealand. It was the cutest thing I ever saw so I made one for my best friend’s 40th birthday years ago. She still uses it a lot of years later. [ click photos to enlarge ]
Last month or so a weaver/friend died and I took care of finding homes for her loom and stash. I found the most wonderful needle “cushion” in with her things. (The colorful one full of her needles.) It now lives on my new dobby loom. I had to weave some of my own! I’ve been dyeing with black walnuts so I thought I would dye the cloth and the pattern threads–what whimsy and fun that was. I made a lot for gifts when I travel. On the rest of the warp I had fun designing 4 new fabrics without changing the threading.
These are needle books I have lying around–in my sewing box at home and near my looms in the studio. In 4-H I learned that one needed protein fiber for pins and needles so they won’t rust. So all the pages are wool fabrics. (The new needle cushions are made with silk).
The round yellow crocheted needle book is like the one I saw in New York and made for my friend. The inner “pages” are made from scraps of wool overshot fabic I wove when I was an apprentice with Jim Ahrens. The tiny heart shaped one I found in a sewing box at a thrift store–lovingly crocheted. The round, fat pin cushion with sashiko stitching I got in Japan and couldn’t resist it.
The last is a pin cushion I made and use now. We wove yards of this wool fabric in a production weaving class with Jim Ahrens at Pacific Basin School of Textile Arts in the 70’s. My inspiration was a pin cushion I got in Whales at a weaving mill made from their scraps. The red book came from there, too.
I learned that many people don’t buy DVD’s anymore—in fact computers often don’t have a drawer (or slot?) for them—and people don’t even own a DVD player. This reminds me of the VHS videos I used to sell that are now useless.
Now you can either purchase my “Warping the Loom Back to Front” as a real DVD or download it or stream it on demand from the Vimeo website. I am thrilled that I can offer all of these methods to my customers. To kick off this event, I have reduced the physical DVD price from $34.95 to $19.95. The Vimeo options are to buy it for $9.95 (stream or download anytime) or rent it for 48 hours for $4.99. See my Vimeo page HERE. I’m proud to say that after 14 years in production, people are still ordering the DVD.
For anyone who bought a DVD in the last year at the higher price, you can contact me HERE and we’ll make a settlement together—say a free book, another DVD or credit for a download or Weaving for Beginners.
I hope you’ll want this on all your devices. Always have it nearby–handy at the warping board, when beaming, or threading the heddles. Learn how to make great warps with perfect tension and to thread the heddles without mistakes. My mentor, Jim Ahrens said, warping is 50% of weaving and if done well, the weaving will be hassle free without tangles or broken threads.
We even made a real “trailer”. It feels almost like I’m in the movie business.
Remember: The only thread that can’t tangle is one under tension! Happy weaving!—-Peggy
My mobile is 9 feet tall. We had to rent a photo studio to be able to take pictures for the entry. All the pieces are dyed with natural dyes: indigo, green persimmons (kakishibu) and black walnutes.I dyed lots of different white fabrics to get so many shades of colors.
It was exciting to be in a real photo studio. The Image Flow Photographic Center has this studio is in Mill Valley. There was equipment all over the place and being there made it possible to get these great photos by my photographer, Bob Hemstock.
The bamboo structure on top is constructed like an Alexander Calder mobile. Until we got it permanently balanced and held in place, it got knocked down time and time again whenever anyone touched it to rotate the pieces. To have it change sides and rotate in the air currents we used 7 fishing gear swivles.
A detail with mostly green persimmon dye. The Japanesse word is kakishibu. I got many colors and shades with it. I have quite a stash now of white fabrics that take the dyes differently and I have figured out ways to get mottled looks. The transparent blue fabric peeking out from the back side was dyed in my indigo vat.
This detail shows how I took shiny silk and turned the pieces 90 deagrees so the light caught it in different ways–similar to nap. I liked the way the fabric looked when it wasn’t ironed completely flat. That makes it shimmer more I think. Wish me luck at getting accepted into the international show.
Lease sticks are important in my weaving at so many stages. Shown here they are holding the crosses in both a new warp and the old one in preparation for tying on a new warp. The illustration is from my book, Warping Your Loom & Tying On New Warps” which is no longer in print. (However it can be downloaded as a PDF.) This is the subject of my next eBook which will be coming soon. Then you can have the process on your devices right at the loom as you proceed. I found it more convienient when I was hemstitching to have my iPhone at the loom, rather than the whole book.
People mostly know of lease sticks used in threading the heddles. Do you know why they are called lease sticks? Because what we now call the “cross” is officially called the “lease”. So these are the sticks that hold the lease.This image is from my book Weaving for Beginners. I like THIN lease sticks–the thick ones are cumbersom and take up too much space in my opinion. Jim Ahrens (the “A” part of AVL) made lovely thin, narrow ones. They are now available at AVL Looms.
We just made the cover today. Remember it’s not available yet–but coming soon! This is always an exciting time of the process–seeing the cover!
I needed to hemstitch the other day and had to get out my big book, Weaving for Beginners, which was so big that it made it impossible to do the stitching. So I got out my Mini iPad and opened up my Kindle book on hemstitching. Perfect–then I taught myself again how to make the stitches. I was all thumbs at first but when I got it, it was quick and easy.
Then I got out my iPhone and it worked better than ever. What fun! I learned to hemstitch way late in my weaving life so on one piece I even forgot to use it.
So, I got it! Since this will be on the hem on the back of the piece, I didn’t need to be careful about having every group of threads the same size. The reason here is to keep the last wefts from unravelling. You should leave at least an inch of warp on the piece before cutting it off the loom.
You can get a copy of my Kindle Hemstitching booklet for just $2.99 HERE.
Next month I’ll publish my third booklet. This one will be about a unique way of “Tying On New Warps”. FYI: the second booklet is “Weaver’s Knots“.
Now my studio really looks like a weaving studio. My newest loom is in the center. All my looms except this new sweetie were built by Jim Ahrens. Now the new one was made by AVL looms—the “A” stands for Ahrens, so all the engineering is related. The ‘V’ stands for Jon Violette, who began the company with Jim and the ‘L’ stands for looms.
Are you wondering what the other looms are that circle the new one in the center? Starting with the loom on the left and going around clockwise: 10-shaft, side tie-up, 4-shaft loom, 40-shaft dobby built by Jim Ahrens in the 1940’s, and my love, the 4-shaft loom made of bird’s eye maple wood which I have used exclusively for years and years. Going to 12 is a giant and exciting step for me!
Here she is—a real sweetie. I’ve been trying to reduce and give away things but this loom from Jan Langdon I fell in love with years ago. When she decided to down size, she said I was the only person who had longed for it. It is a 12-shaft dobby about 36” wide. Note that in the photo, my 10-shaft loom with a side tie-up is back behind the new loom. Small in a way but the dobby will increase my capacity for new structures greatly. I’ve been wanting to weave a structure for years and finally decided to do it until I realized I would run out of treadles. The dobby solves that problem. Two treadles work the mechanism to raise the shafts. Notice it is on wheels—that has been very handy already. I just need a pillow on my bench.
Here’s the back of the loom. The dobby mechanism is on the left side in the photo.
This is the dobby mechanism. Each bar represents one shed or row of weaving.
A close-up shows the pegs in the bars. A special tool makes it easy to ‘peg’ each shed. The holes without pegs are the shafts that will go up. Since there are 12 shafts, there are 12 holes in each bar. When the right treadle is pressed, the mechanism raises the shafts for one bar—one shed. When the left treadle is pressed, the shed closes and the mechanism readies itself for the next shed. When all the holes are filled nothing will go up. It’s a way to mark the end of a repeat.
Here is the first thing I’ve woven! I wanted to shade the 12-shaft satin weave to go from only the warp showing graded to only the weft showing. The white warps are shiny spun silk (2 different yarns) and the weft is handspun silk from Bhutan that is not shiny.Then I dyed the piece lightly in black walnut dye. I was hoping the shades of the color would contrast more, to go in shades from light to dark–but that is what I’ll work on next. I thought the two yarns—one shiny and one mat would contrast more when in the dye. Lately I’ve been weaving cloth for the dye pot—really fun to weave and get my creative juices flowing.
Here I show the iron I used on this singles linen piece I made. I love the sheen on the linen.
Here is the iron stipped in its cradel to show the bottom with the holes for steaming. It has great steam and spray and holds its heat. I place it in the cradle when I shift the cloth. The cord to the cradle is plenty long and retracts easily. It can even steam or spray with the iron held vertically.
The carrying case is surprisingly handy. Sometimes I even carry it to my kitchen counter and iron a small piece on a towel.
I am reminded fondly of the special squeak my mother’s ironing board made.
Below you can see the link to the iron on Amazon.
Here is my current warp on my loom! Just what I taught my students to avoid–unevenly handspun singles yarns that are lumpy and sticky for warp threads. This is silk yarn I brought back from Bhutan–mainly to show the tour group what handspun yarn looked like. I did use plied threads for the 4 selvedge threads on the edges and weighted them separately. I used 5/2 cotton but a plied silk might have been a better idea.
From Linda Heinrich’s linen workshop at Convergence in 1994 and from her book on weaving linen I learned how easy it is to size a warp on the loom. Before now I’ve always been afraid to size anything. Her recipe is 1 tsp flax seed (any kind will do) to 1 cup of water. Simmer 15 minutes and strain. Refigerate and use within 2 weeks or freeze.I brush on the sizing then strum the threads and then open the shed to dry. Don’t apply too much–sort of like dry painting but pat the threads to get the sizing to go through to the bottom of the threads.
This is the yarn on the skein. I’ve shown it before to show the cross made in the skein. The threads are horribly sticky but with the cross the threads are coming off perfectly. There are plenty of soft-spun lumps and thin areas where it is twisted tighter. I knew from winding the yarn off the skein that the threads were strong–that’s what convinced me to try them for a warp. The stickyness would have prevented the sheds from opening without sizing I realized.
Here is the cloth off the loom and wet finished. I got the cloth really wet in the sink then blotted with a towel. And ironed until dry I love ironing and ironing until dry and I love the sheen I got with the totally mat yarns.
Here is the cloth I just dyed with black walnuts I collected last week. What frun all this is. I can’t wait for the warp to dry and begin weaving again.
Here are pictures I took at the fair over the weekend. Don’t miss it–rain or shine–it was glorious to be around a variety of crafts people. Most people don’t get to see this part of Petaluma–a real farm with animals in gorgeous countryside. The last day is this Sunday, Dec. 2 from 10:00-4:00 at 2263 Chileno Valley Road, Petaluma 94952. www.windrushfarm.wordpress.com
Yarns of course from the farm’s sheep as well as a booth with unusual yarns from Japan. The ball of yarn in the photo is made from fiddlehead fern fuzz and the brown skein is made from the stems of wild silk cocoons. This is a small sample of the unique things not found in yarn shops.
These fibers are hand dyed ready for spinning or making felt.
Here are a variety of goodies made by this happy woman.
Delicious pizza was made to order and baked in the outdoor oven. I had two!
Fun for the kids, too. These LEGO experts were having a grand and vigorous time on a bench where they found a box full of pieces.
These boys are having a great time on a wood structure.
Here’s a curious cow wanting to know what I was doing as I left for home.
The fine silk warp at 125 ends per inch stymied me and I walked away and left it on the loom for a year and a half. I thenbegan dyeing. I knew there were enough threads left unbroken to weave so I began weaving with some heavier handspun silk from Bhutan. When I took off the entire warp, This piece is what I found had already been woven–and I loved it. Originally I was weaving a tube but had decided to weave two separate layers–hence this piece was formed! [click photos to enlarge to see detail]
Here is the cloth woven with the silk from Bhutan. I decided just to weave off the warp with it so I could cut it up to dye later with the natural dyes I’ve been playing with.
You may remember the skein from Bhutan from another post. The skein was unusual because there was a cross in it. Even this extremely sticky thread came off the skein perfectly.
Here is my latest peice–5 yards to try the new silk/retted bamboo thread I saw in Handwoven Magazine. I love it. I the twill warp face on one side and weft faced on the other so when I dye it I’ll have two choices of tones of color.
They are beautiful in of themselves but to see them sewn into a long obi is mind boggling.
Here is a detail. Can you see some of the tiny stitches?
This is a fragment of an obi that was given to me years and years ago. I always thought it was from silk cocoons but could never figure out how. Now I see that it is also made of Minomushi.
A detail of the obi fragment.
Do not miss this show in Davis, California. It features textiles from the collection of my travel partner, Cathy Cerny. UC Davis Design Museum, Cruess Hall, September 24 to December 9, 2018. See hours on the invitation image. Closed on Saturday.
Here is Cathy in the entrance to the show featuring her textiles from Japan. The show is absolutely wonderful.
The show is about techniques used in Japanese textiles. It is beautiful.
Not only beautifully done but also informative with cases of samples and tools.
Here is Cathy with Alicia Decker, the curator (center) and Bronte Blanco, the designer of the show.
Here I am with Cathy and two friends that came from Japan just for the opening of the exhibition.
Last year we were surprised to find that my most popular weaving tip on my website was the hemstitching tip. To date out of 94,000 views of the list of tips, 47,000 are for hemstitching alone. That’s why about a year ago we published our first Kindle book called Hemstitching. It is really a reference/instructional booklet. We decided people were needing more on the basics.
Now we are about to publish our second Kindle book called, Weaver’s Knots. There are 6,000 words and 67 illustrations. showing every step in the tying of each knot. Of course there will be directions to tie a weaver’s knot, but did you know there are several different ways to tie it? How to tell you have made it correctly and equally important, how to undo them. There is also a double weaver’s knot included. Special knots are given for slippery threads, hanging and adjusting shafts, tying up treadles. There is a chart for different situations and what knots to use. I’m very excited about it. When my technical proof reader finished it she was amazed that even though she had a big fear of knots, she could do every one successfully. I’ll let you know when it is published.
In the mean time you can check out my Hemstitching book by clicking it’s cover below.
Today I started to weave again after over a year. It takes two swifts to hold the skein.
This skein of raw silk from Bhutan has a cross in the middle of it! I’d never seen such a skein before. However it really makes it easy to ball off the yarn because of the cross. This is definitely hand spun and sticky.
Here’s that hand spun yarn woven with my fine silk warp at 125 EPI.
I decided to try a fatter weft so the weaving would go faster. I may have a dog on the loom. I’ve spent so much time already with broken ends I can’t quite give it up yet. I think I’ll use the cloth to dye with my dyes I brought back from Japan. I’m weaving two layers at once. Well since I’m going slowly anyway, why not?
Japan 2018 Shibori Symposium – Post 19 (final) – This is to snow you how far north we were for the last half of the symposium. We were on the way to Tsuruoka where the stitching exhibit was.
One of the last images of the trip. At a museum was this exhibit of paper threads and cloth woven with paper threads still on the loom. I couldn’t resist including it.
The pond and garden In Tsuruoka. Our last serene moments.
We stayed an extra day in Tokyo and visited a fantastic shop called “Pigment”. This is a photo of this elegant fascinating and unusual architecture shop. All the colors came from pigments. A must see.
Our final dinner. It was sad to think of us all going separate ways. At the dinner there was a demonstration showing how the bow of this obi was tied. The dresser used several large clips to hold things during the 1/2 hour job. So interesting.
At our “last breakfast “ I took pictures of my new friends. The woman on the left is from Ohio near where I grew up ( in Copley) and her friend is from Korea.
The night after almost everyone had left a few of us met at the hotel restaurant for dinner. Here is one woman trying to teach the Japanese waitress how to make her favorite cocktail. It was a riot. After a few unsuccessful tries the bar tender brought over the bottles to be shown how to make the drink. When it still wasn’t right our friend said, “oh, maybe it should have been sweet vermouth !! I think this took about a half an hour of trying to explain “equal parts of …” to the poor flustered waitress only to find out it wasn’t what she’d said it should be. Seemed hilarious at the time but maybe we were wound up before catching our planes in the morning. Here is a sketch of the scene with the correct recipe for a “negroni”.
On the way to Narita airport we passed hundreds of huge and interesting buildings. This is was my last goodbye to Tokyo!
Japan 2018 Shibori Symposium – Post 18 – We took a 2-hour bus ride in the gorgeous mountains to the town of Tsuruoka to see a extraordinary fine exhibit of Japanese stitching. One type is called shashiko which is running stitching with white thread on indigo blue cloth using a regular pointed needle. The other type is Kogin done with a blunt needle that is worked between the threads. Again white patterns on dark indigo cloth. When the white gets dirty they over dyed the cloth in dark indigo.looks all dark blue but the stitching patterns can be seen. The show was moving to us all with so much “heart” stitched in every piece.
At the stitching exhibit.
More stitching. This is the back side of a sampler. So good that it was shown to show how good both sides look.
A futon cover or bedspread of different stitches.
A bit of humor.
Often done on clothes.
Interesting how she works the needle gathering the cloth ten smoothing it out.
Japan 2018 Shibori Symposium – Post 17 – This is woven with Linden bark and the cloth is called shinafu. Cathy and I had visited a shop so I knew what I was looking at. It was way too expensive for us to buy any because one had to buy a whole obi length at 5.3 meters at great expense. When my workshop teacher showed us this piece of his work I just had to have it. I told myself I would share it with others. If anyone is interested let me know. 5 centimeters would cost about $30 for a ballpark figure. It is rare cloth made of linden wood bark. A meter would be a nice length to appreciate the sumi ink painting as well as an example of the cloth itself.
If you can believe it, this cloth is woven with the fuzz on the fiddleheads of fiddlehead ferns. Again it was too rare and precious and only available for a whole length of an obi, 5.5 meters. The more I saw it in my workshop teacher studio, the more I just had to have some. So I have shared a bit with other trip people. The cloth looks boring perhaps but it has been very moving for several people besides myself. More information follows. This cloth is slightly less costly than the bark cloth and I do have some left to share.
The fuzz on these fiddleheads is what the cloth is woven with. Zenmai is what the cloth is called.
This is what I wove in the workshop on a small frame loom. The warp is hand spun silk and fiddleheads fuzz. Our teacher started us out weaving “Mt Fuji” at the bottom then we were on our own. He had some examples which gave us ideas for the hour we had to weave. The fuzz is so short it couldn’t be made into a thread so it had to be mixed with silk. We had silk fibers as well as the fuzz to work with and I experimented as I “wove” trying everything. The top is just the fuzz laid into the warp since it was impossible to weave it in. I found it interesting to handle the silk fibers and how hard it was to pull them apart to try to mix in the fuzz.
Here is the silk and fuzz fibers that I tried to mix together. The little brown spots are the fuzz alone. Again the cloth is called zenmai.
This close up of the zenmai cloth doesn’t quite do it justice but is is close. You can see the tiny bits of the fiber mixed with the silk. The warp is plain white thread. Silk?
Japan 2018 Shibori Symposium – Post 16 – Textile Student exhibition at Tohoku University of Design. The show was terrific. This is Raindrops by Sawai Miyou.
The Galaxy by GO Ryosetsu. A favorite.
“A Civilization” by Riddhi Jain. Follow her work on Instagram. I met her a few years ago on a trip to India. Her contemporary saris are fantastically gorgeous. She was on the trip and a lovely friend and wore a sari to the ending dinner that was more beautiful than any I have EVER seen. Do follow her. She has a business of designing original saris on commission.
BE SURE TI CHECK OUT THE DETAILS OF THIS LARGE PIECE. At first I thought this was an old Japanese screen when I saw it on the cement wall at the University of Art snd Design. Boy was I surprised when I walked up close.
Detail of big piece.
Japan 2018 Shibori Symposium – Post 15 – The whole purpose of having the symposium in hot Japan July was that the safflowers would be ready to pick for dyeing. We left the hotel at 5:20 am in the rain. These are pictures of the harvest and our dyeing.
Pounding the flowers after we got back to the campus.
Preparation for safflower dyeing.
More preparation. We are about to make little patties out of the pounded and strained petals.
Little patties to use for dyeing.
Two of the colors.
This is what we were after.