Wednesday, October 1, 2014

New Mexico Fiber Trail

New Mexico has been the home of generations of weavers and spinners, working to make blankets and rugs from homespun wool.  The state tourism office has identified handcrafters throughout the state and put together three separate Fiber Arts Trails, some of the sites follow the traditional methods and some produce more contemporary crafts.  I had a work trip planned for Santa Fe last month and flew in a day early to visit old friends and find a few of the sites on the Trail.

I flew into Albuquerque on Sunday and the first stop was Las Vegas, New Mexico.  My friends lived about twenty miles north of Las Vegas and there was a weaving shop listed in the Trail Guide in Las Vegas.  However, the guide was out of date and this shop was no longer a weaving studio, but instead a coffee shop that had a single loom and was also closed on Sunday.

However, the shop was located in the Las Vegas' Historic Plaza.  I walked around the plaza which had wonderful historic buildings facing the square, including the Plaza Hotel.  I learned later that the Longmire TV series is frequently filmed on the Plaza and the filming of the sheriff's office is in the second floor of one of the buildings on the Plaza.  Next stop, Canoncito de las Manuelitas.

Monday morning I headed out to see a few more spots on the Trail, first stop Mora, NM and the Tapetes de Lana spinning mill and retail shop in Mora.  Tapetes is a nonprofit in the area established to help folks in this very poor, very rural area with employment at their small spinning mill and through selling handwoven rugs and blankets in the store in Mora.  The wool comes from churro sheep, a breed that has been raised in this area for generations.  In Mora, I purchased 3 skeins of wool for a rug workshop I will be taking in a few weeks. The other great thing about Tapetes is they also have a coffee bar, so I could refuel for the trip over the mountain to Chimayo.

Next stop on the Trail was Chimayo, to visit Ortega's Weaving Shop.  This store and studio has been in business for over 100 years, weaving blankets, rugs and producing cloth that for vests and coats.

My last stop before heading to Santa Fe and the start of my meeting was in Espanola.  Espanola is known as the heroin capital of New Mexico, not a place that would likely house a very large weaving nonprofit.  The Espanola Valley Fiber Arts Center is located in an old retail store building and full of looms, yarn, a dyeing kitchen.  I would love to live close to this center, because it looks like the facility is frequently filled with weavers.  I purchased 4-5 pounds of Pendleton blanket selvages at EVFAC for making rag rugs.  I could buy these from Pendleton directly but I was able to pick colors and get the right amount for a rug and I didn't have to meet Pendleton's 30 pound minimum order.  I liked them so much I drove the 30 miles back to the Center at the end of the week to buy another 5 pounds in a different colorway.

Tom Knisely Boundweave Workshop

My weaving guild, Western North Carolina Fiber/Handweavers Guild (WNCFHG), is having a 3 day workshop next week in Asheville.  The instructor is Tom Knisely, teaching us techniques in Boundweave.  Tom was chosen Weaving Teacher of the Year by the readers of Handwoven magazine a few years ago.  He is the author of several books and videos and is a frequent contributor to Handwoven.  I am excited about the session and looking forward to learning new tools that will help with rug weaving.

I weave primarily with cottons, and plant based synthetics like tencel and bamboo, but we will be using a heavy weight wool yarn (800-1000 yds/lb.) for the weft for the workshop.  I didn't have any wool yarn so that required adding more yarn to my stash.  I ordered some from R & M Yarns in Tennessee, mostly in neutrals and browns.  To liven things up a bit, I found a few more colors in New Mexico last week along the New Mexico Fiber Trail.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Turned Twill Towels

I recently finished another run of 6 twill towels in a turned twill.  Twill towels seem to be my summer go to project in getting ready for holiday present giving.  However, these have only been off the loom a week and 3 are already gone.  Two for house gifts and one for a birthday present for our niece.  So much for getting Christmas presents done early this year.

I do not have a 12 dent reed in Montana and so used a 10 dent reed -2-2-3, to get close to 24 epi, resulted in a pretty good weight for the towels.   I used both 10/2 mercerized and 8/2 unmercerized in the weft and once I wet finished them, I like the look and feel of the 10/2 better than the 8/2. They still seem to be pretty absorbent due to the 8/2 cotton in the weft.

Date Finished    September 2014
Loom      Baby Wolf
Weave Structure  Turned Twill
Reed   10, 23 epi
Warp     Fiber  cotton
              Count  8/2
              Color  yellow
              Mfr   Valley
              Source    Webs
Warp     Width in Reed  21"
              Ends  484
              Length  6 yds
Weft      Fiber  cotton
              Count  8/2and 10/2
Beat                       50/50                     

Notes  I like the 10/2 cotton better

Monday, September 15, 2014

Shadow Weave in Bamboo

Georgia Yarns had a special on bamboo yarns and I couldn't resist.  The yarn is fairly heavy, comparable to a 3/2 or a 5/2.  I had some natural bamboo in my stash so weaving a two color cloth made sense.  The pattern was published in Handwoven March/April 2005 for a scarf and the larger yarn and the looser set meant the structure would work well for a shawl.

Date Finished  May 2014
Loom  Baby Wolf
Weave Structure  Shadow Weave
Warp     Fiber  Bamboo
              Count  5.2/4
              Color  blue
              Source  Georgia Yarn
Warp     Fiber  Bamboo
              Count  5/2
              Color  white  
              Source  WEBS

Warp     Width in Reed
              Ends  349
              Length  3 yds
Weft     Same as weft
Beat                       50/50                     

Saturday, May 24, 2014

More Handmade Weaving Tools

Weaver's can't resist the lure of new yarn, no matter how much yarn we have in our stash, it's never enough.  What we have may not be the right color, the right size, or have the right qualities for the project in mind.  Sometimes it's the fact that it is on sale, even though we don't have a clue what we will do with it.  My yarn stash had expanded to the point it was falling off the shelves and I needed a new system.  A yarn tree seemed to be a good solution.

At the same time, I was offered a couple of spinner racks from my dear friends at the local independent bookstore. They were replacing racks and were going to throw out these racks, one was an old card rack and the other held T-shirts.  The T-shirt rack already had oval slots on the sides and all that we needed to do was add 6" metal pegboard hooks to hold the cones.  The yarn tree holds 90 cones, and it's already full.

The other spinner rack was built on a base with great casters and a smooth spinning action, perfect to turn into a warping mill.  We removed the plastic slides that held the cards from the base.  DH set to work and put together this mill, it has a 2 yard circumference and has adjustable sliding pegs on 3 sides, which should give maximum flexibility in measuring out warps.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Crackle Weave Workshop

Teena Tuenge of Western North Carolina Fiber/Handweavers Guild recently taught a weekend workshop on crackle weave.  The workshop was a fundraiser for the Blue Ridge Fiber Show which will be held in the fall of 2014 at the WNC Arboretum.  The workshop was attended by about 20 participants in the auditorium of the Folk Art Center. This was a workshop where we all warped our looms in advance and then spent two days playing with weave structure, treadling, and color sampling.  Teena provided us with treadling and tie up instructions for about 20 different weave structures, all using the same crackle threading.

By the end of Sunday, I had woven over twenty different samples using the crackle threading, mostly crackle tie-up but a wide variety of treadlings.  Granted most of the samples were only a few inches long, but enough to tell how the different treadling affects the final cloth.  The crackle notebook that I created with the samples and treadling instructions, finally inspired me to wet finish the samples and finish the notebook for a class I took a year ago at Arrowmont on Turned Beiderwand.

After weaving the samples, I wove off the balance of the warp in the classic crackle treadling and created a lovely piece of cloth, 8" by 30 inches.  Once again, I am not sure what the future life of the is will be - a tablet cover, a small purse, or will it stay in place as an unfinished table runner.

Date Finished  March, 2014
Loom        Baby Wolf
Weave Structure  Crackle threading, many                                           treadlings
Reed  12, 24 epi
Warp     Fiber   Cotton
              Count    10/2
              Color    Pistachio, Avocado, Quarry and                              Yellow
              Mfr  Uki
              Source  Georgia Yarn Co and Yarn Barn
Warp     Width in Reed  9 in
              Ends 222
              Length  4 yards
Weft      Fiber  same
Beat       Weft Faced    

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

John C. Campbell Folk School 2014

Pat weaves kitchen towels in Swedish Weaves with Joanne Hall & Christie Rogers | Scandinavian Heritage Week at the John C. Campbell Folk School -

I absolutely love spending time at John C. Campbell Folk School.  Last month, Gary and I spent a week there immersing ourselves in all things handmade.  I took a weaving class with Joann Hall and Gary took a class in woodturning, making bark edged bowls.  The theme of the week was Scandinavian Heritage Week, so Swedish weaving was the topic for my week.  The class marketing materials described a class with a variety of projects, using fine threads and warping techniques.  However, the class project was learning a technique called Swedish Art Weaving, which is similar to tapestry weaving.  The class would be weaving a sampler during the week that looked something like the photo below.  The sampler uses a linen weft and 3 strands of wool for the pattern weft.  It is woven from the back, so you need a mirror to see the pattern as it emerges.

Most weaving workshops have at least one student who is "difficult".  Sometimes, it is an intermediate class and someone shows up who has never woven before.  Other times, it is a student that monopolizes the instructor's time, leaving the rest of the class floundering.  I was the difficult student during the week, not because I made demands on the instructor, but just because I was off doing my own thing throughout the week.  I warped the loom for the class project and then decided, I really didn't want to spend the week, weaving something that I didn't like and using a technique that I likely wouldn't use again.  So instead, I toddled off to another loom, picked a pattern and wove some towels.   No new techniques learned, but it was enjoyable to spend the week, planning a project, selecting yarns, throwing the shuttle and not thinking about anything beyond the walls of the Folk School.
Swedish Weaves with Joanne Hall & Christie Rogers | Scandinavian Heritage Week at the John C. Campbell Folk School -

I started the project on one of the Folk School's Macomber looms, which is a loom that I have thought might be in my future.  It is a substantial loom and can be used for rugs as well as very fine threads.  Large used Macombers, with a 48-60" weaving width and up to 16 shafts, can be found for reasonable prices around the country.  The one complaint is the hooks attaching the treadles to the lams on the Macombers.  They were cumbersome to change, but I did not have a problem with the hooks jumping off the treadles, of course I only wove about an inch, so not a good test.  But the warping was comfortable for this 100 end warp.

Bill brought his own Swedish loom to class! | Scandinavian Heritage Week at the John C. Campbell Folk School -
The class had a great group of weavers, from Michigan, New York, Tennessee, Kentucky, DC and of course North Carolina.  Bill, seen below, even brought his monstrous Glimakra with him.  There were several other Glimakra's in the studio and they are amazing looms.  All put together with pegs, so they can be assembled relatively easily.  Joann, our instructor, is the dealer for Glimakra in the US and she was very helpful to the students in the class with Glimakra looms.  I tried out the looms, since I had never woven on a countermarche loom or used a loom with texsolve heddles.

So instead of making a sample, I put on a 5 yard warp to make dish towels.  One of the joys of the Folk School is the yarn room.  The selection of colors and sizes of yarn is amazing.  I selected 6 shades of blue and green for the towels.  I used a summer and winter threading and a crackle treadling for the first two towels.  I liked them a lot, but it was a two shuttle pattern, so it progressed pretty slowly.  By Thursday, I knew I needed to speed things up, so I wove the two remaining towels with one shuttle in twill treadling with different size color blocks.

Date Finished  March 2014
Loom   Mighty Wolf
Weave Structure  Summer and winter, treadled as crackle
Reed   12 dent, 24 epi
Warp     Fiber  Cotton
              Count   8/2
              Color 6 shades of blue and green
              Source  John C. Campbell Folk School
Warp     Width in Reed  20 inches
              Ends 480
              Length 5 yds
Weft      Fiber same