Fall Colors in the Studio

This fall has been plenty busy. After a summer of travel, I’m finding great inspiration around home. The soft colors of sunrise or the brilliant leaves against a spectacular sunset are hard to capture in fabric but I’m giving it my best. I have found new yarn to help me and that’s a good thing since the 22nd annual Artisans Studio Tour is just around the corner. Below are pictured some of this year’s scarves. To view the complete collection, go to my current work page.

Silver Stream Scarf

Silver Stream Scarf

Pastel in Stars Scarf

Pastel in Stars Scarf

Earth and Sky With Turquoise Scarf

Earth and Sky With Turquoise Scarf

Turquoise Diamonds Scarf

Turquoise Diamonds Scarf

I will be in Mud Dauber Pottery again this year from 10-5 on November 12th and 13th. I hope to see you there.

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Artisans Studio Tour

One of the new scarves with hand-dyed warp.

One of the new scarves with hand-dyed warp.

 

This weekend is the big weekend for a talented group of artisan craftsmen who will be showing  and selling their work in and around Charlottesville, Virginia. I’m fortunate to be part of this group, Artisans Studio Tour. I will be showing my work at Mud Dauber Pottery.

This year I’ll have a new style of scarves, using hand-dyed thread from Kathrin Weber of Blazing Shuttles. Her color work is beautiful and I love the feel of the material she uses. I’ll still have some of my traditional scarves, too. Our central Virginia fall colors are still gorgeous so there will be beauty both inside and outside the local studios.

This is my big chance each year to meet customers face-to-face and talk about my process and what inspires me. I look forward to it each year and this year is no different. We’ll talk over food and cups of hot cider. I’ll have my demo loom there and people can throw the shuttle a few times if they want.

We have all been working hard to make the tour a success. Here’s hoping we have plenty of visitors and get to reconnect with people who love fine craft.

One of the new scarves with a hand-dyed warp

One of the new scarves with a hand-dyed warp

 

One the more traditional scarves

One the more traditional scarves

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Woven Shibori Experiments

Over a year ago I took a workshop with Su Butler called “You Did That on Four Shafts?”. Su’s an inspiring teacher with a wealth of experience. The workshop covered surface design and some dying techniques.

One technique she taught us was woven shibori. We used a natural colored thin thread to weave plain cloth (either plain weave or twill for you weavers). Every few weft shots, we lifted the shafts in a different pattern and wove in a sturdy, thicker thread (8/4 cotton warp). When we wove in the thick threads we left 3″ tails hanging out on each side of the fabric. After removing the fabric from the loom, we pulled on the tails of the thick thread to gather the fabric. This made it all puckery across the width of the fabric. Next we dyed the fabric, let it dry, then pulled out the gathering thick threads so the fabric spread back out. The fabric had taken the dye in some places but not others, because it had been gathered.

I had fun experimenting that weekend. When I came home, I wove some more using that technique and even tried it with a warp I had set up on the loom in an overshot pattern.  Since I’m not an experienced dyer, I just let them sit around until I got the gumption to attempt the dying portion.

Last month I finally took a deep breath, got out the dyepot and went to work. The colors aren’t expert, but the effect is fun.

The green thick threads will be gathered up when the cloth is off the loom.

The green thick threads will be gathered up when the cloth is off the loom.

You can see how the cloth has been gathered by pulling the thick threads tight.

You can see how the cloth has been gathered by pulling the thick threads tight.

Here's the dye set up. I used discarded water bottles to squeeze red onto some areas and blue onto others.

Here’s the dye set up. I used discarded water bottles to squeeze red onto some areas and blue onto others.

This pattern was an overshot pattern. Here's side A

This pattern was an overshot pattern. Here’s side A.

This is side B of the overshot pattern.

This is side B of the overshot pattern.

Here's a longer piece. The thin yarn wove one twill pattern and the thick yarn wove another twill pattern.

Here’s a longer piece. The thin yarn wove one twill pattern and the thick yarn wove another twill pattern.

Here's a close up of the longer piece.

Here’s a close up of the longer piece.

In this close up you can see the background twill pattern in thin thread.

In this close up you can see the background twill pattern in thin thread.

I learned a few things when I dyed on my own. First, I just need to do it more. Second, the horizontal stripes in the big piece were kind of distracting. Third, the most successful dying was when I dyed one side of a piece in color A and the other side in color B. That effect gave more interesting results.

I guess I have another area to explore now. There’s always something new to learn in weaving. How much fun is that?

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Blazing Shuttles, Summer Daze

After the Blazing Shuttles workshop, I purchased yarn from Kathrin Weber. It came in the form of a lovely painted warp called Summer Daze. Warp is the yarn I put on the loom to set it up for weaving. Setting up the loom is the most technically tricky part of weaving and can take hours.

The first set of Summer Daze scarves

The first set of Summer Daze scarves

 

The warp consisted of 400 threads and I used half of them at a time. First I set up the loom with 200 threads of Kathrin’s hand-dyed warp in the middle and about an inch of commercially dyed black on the outsides. After weaving 4 scarves I had gotten to the end of the first set of warp threads. I put on the last 200 warp threads and put an inch of bluish gray threads on the outside where the black had been before. I’m almost finished weaving off the second set of scarves.

Scarves with silver, taupe and black weft.

Scarves with silver, taupe and black weft.

Taupe weft on the left and black on the right.

Taupe weft on the left and black on the right.

Each scarf is different from the rest. I use different colors of weft, the thread that goes back and forth between the warp threads. I also wove some slightly different patterns. It is really fun to see how the colors combine.

Orange weft

Orange weft

Still on the loom

On the loom

Still on the loom, but it look luscious.

Still on the loom, but it looks luscious.

Purple weft scarf still on the loom.

Purple weft scarf still on the loom.

When I’m finished with them all, I’ll twist the fringe, wash, dry and iron them. At each step along the way they relax a bit and should give lovely, soft, shiny scarves.

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Blazing Shuttles Workshop, Part II

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Off the Loom

 

 

The fabric from the Blazing Shuttles workshop is off the loom and in my hands. It took longer than I had planned, but that’s because it’s summer and I love to play outside. When humidity or showers forced me back to the studio, the sunny colors of the warp on my loom greeted me.

 

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So Many Colors

 

What fun it was to weave the rep weave piece. I used Kathrin’s workshop suggestion number 3 and threaded blocks randomly throughout the warp. I wove blocks randomly, too. That’s different for me. I feel much more in control when I have my piece planned out ahead of time. This was fun.

Here’s a bit of technical information for you weavers. I combined two hand-dyed 8/2 warps with a black 8/2 warp and set the warp at 24 ends per inch. The warp was a bit sticky at times, but I learned to make accommodations by clearing the shed with the reed.

Next in line is to finish a 5-scarf warp I have on the big loom. When done I’ll dress the loom with a Blazing Shuttles 6/2 tencel warp and weave some scarves with that. In the meantime I’ll figure out what to do with the workshop fabric. I’m thinking bags and maybe a runner or two.

 

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Random Blocks

Weaving these warps is good summertime play. I can come into the studio from working in the garden to a whole new palette of colors.

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My Favorite Section

 

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Love the Movement

 

 

 

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Blazing Shuttles Workshop

We weavers spend a lot of time alone in our studios. This weekend, twelve of us got together to learn from Kathrin Weber of Blazing Shuttles. She brought her beautiful hand-dyed warps and taught us how to use them to their full advantage.

We each brought a loom already set up with a short warp. All we needed to do was tie the new warp on to the old, crank the knots through the reed and heddles, then wind the new warp around the back beam. That sounds fast and easy, but it took us all weekend.

First, on Friday night, we had to choose from all the colorful warps Kathrin had brought. Fortunately we’re a friendly bunch and no fights broke out. We each ended with colors we loved as she worked with us individually to find a couple of dyed warps that would go well together.

Saturday morning we arrived ready to come up with a design using stripes of our 2 or 3 different sets of warp threads. This was fun–seeing how everyone came up with a different design. Some of us counted threads meticulously. Some of us flew by the seat of our pants. Some measured and sketched and did math. We all anticipated how our color combinations would work.

 

Vicki thinks about stripes

Vicki thinks about stripes

Karen ties on.

Karen ties on.

 

By mid-morning we had begun to tie our new warp threads to the “dummy” warp threads we had set up on our loom before the workshop. Who knew tying 200-300 knots would be enjoyable? We chatted amiably as the day progressed. Most of the hard thinking was over and our fingers were moving busily. By the time we were done for the day we had most of our new warp tied to the old.

We arrived early on Sunday to begin the process of pulling the knots through the reed and the heddles. We had 4 yards of warp on the floor which meant lots of possibility for tangling. One of the advantages of weaving alone is that nobody hears you swearing when things don’t go well. We quickly learned each other’s favorite curse words. They ranged from polite to sailor-mouth. We tugged and sorted and strummed and beamed. But we DIDN’T COMB our tangled warps since Kathrin strictly forbade it. Instead, she taught us her methods for making our warps magically untangle. Since she is a great teacher, all did well and there were no tears.

 

I'm ready to pull the knots through the reed.

I’m ready to pull the knots through the reed.

Linda wrangles her warps.

Linda wrangles her warps.

My warp is spread over the back beam.

My warp is spread over the back beam.

Dee Dee starts to weave.

Dee Dee starts to weave.

 

Knotting the two warps.

Knotting the two warps.

 

Someone's twill gamp

A twill gamp.

By the end of the day we had beamed on, tied our new warps to the front of our looms, and woven enough to get us started.Throughout the weekend Kathrin kept us amused by her jokes, motivated by her vision, inspired by her passion. I’m eager to finish the warp I brought home with me and to explore using color boldly in my future projects.

My weaving is settling in. It's time to take it home and make fabric.

My weaving is settling in. It’s time to take it home and make fabric.

 

 

 

 

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Color Play

I love playing with color. It’s like painting but I use different colored threads instead of paints. My shelves are full of cones of 8/2 Tencel from WEBS. The yarns are my paint and the loom is my palette.

Usually I know what the results will be when I grab a couple of colors to put together. Sometimes, I’m surprised though. Two colors that I thought would blend perfectly may look awful together. Two colors I don’t like at all may look lovely as they blend with each other. That is part of the fun, the play, of weaving.

When I paint a sunset, I blend colors from orange through red to purple and then blue. I can do the same with my threads. In the scarf below I blended a brightly dyed, variegated warp–the vertical threads, with a muted variegated weft–the horizontal threads. Then I chose a to weave a pattern that sometimes showed more of the warp and sometimes more of the weft. When you see the scarf from across the room it has subtle vertical stripes from the warp and a circular pattern made by the weaving.

Photo by Stacey Evans

Color Play Scarf–Full Image (Photo by Stacey Evans)

When you come closer you can see more details of the pattern.

Photo by Stacey Evans

Close (Photo by Stacey Evans)

Looking more closely you can begin to see areas of bright threads and areas of muted threads.

Photo by Stacey Evans

Closer (Photo by Stacey Evans)

 

When you get right up close you begin to see individual threads. Sometime the the muted threads go over 3 or 4 brightly colored threads and sometimes the just go over one thread.

Photo by Stacey Evans

Color Play Scarf–Closest (Photo by Stacey Evans)

So painters aren’t the only ones that get to play around with color. Weavers do too, and boy is it fun.

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SCARVES, SCARVES, SCARVES

 

 It’s that time of year when the days become cooler. Leaving the house in the cool morning air is a bit easier with  a little something extra around your neck.

I’ve been working on the loom to fashion these scarves and now all I have left are the finishing touches. I love sitting in the evenings twisting the fringes on the scarves and sewing my labels on. The last touch is handwashing them and watching the threads relax around each other to create a supple fabric.

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Spring Has Sprung!!!

Hello sunshine. Hello noisy birds. Hello open windows. I think I have woken up after a long winter’s nap. The winter wasn’t even that hard, but I missed the longer days.

While house renovations and visits to parents have kept me from weaving as much, I’ve been teaching a lot. This winter I taught a series on applying block weaves. Once a month for four months we met and I introduced a new block weave. I taught about the weave structure itself and then how to apply it to a profile draft. The students helped each other as they analyzed and applied new techniques. Some were inspired enough to go home and weave projects using the information they learned. What a joy it has been. The last class will be on May 18, when we’ll wrap up what they’ve learned and consider how to continue to incorporate it into their weaving. We may even give birth to a study group.

I love teaching. I know I learn as much as my students. This series was especially fun as I watched the lights go on as students got the hang of profile drafting and block weaves. It’s so exciting to see them grow in their confidence as weavers.

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Fall Has Arrived

Wow, it was a busy weekend at the Fall Fiber Festival. I came as a vendor for my 2nd year after helping a friend for 3 years. The Fall Fiber Festival (hereafter called FFF) is held at Montpelier, James Madison’s home near Orange, Virginia, every year on the first weekend of October. In addition to fiber-ish activities and vendors FFF hosts an amazing 2 day sheep dog trial. Most attendees come looking for craft supplies, yarn and equipment rather than finished items. My work tends to be at the high end of what folks want to spend.

When I set up on Saturday morning I looked around at the other vendors with plenty of merchandise displayed on tables. They had cute props and lots of inventory at a variety of price points. I had a standing vertical rack on which I hung a couple of dozen scarves. I also had a card table (covered with a tablecloth) where I laid out my towels, business cards, a mirror for customers to use when trying on scarves, and a receipt book. When I looked around, my booth seemed pretty sparse and I figured I’d be lucky to sell a couple of scarves during the weekend. That would be okay, I always enjoy the crowd and have fun.

What I had forgotten is that last year I thought the same thing, yet managed to sell most of my scarves. This year was no different. Folks began to arrive. Many stopped in to admire my scarves. I got to talk about what inspires me, what my design process is, how I learned to weave, where I learned to weave, where my studio is, how long I’ve been weaving and answer countless other questions. I had the privilege of sharing my passion by describing how I liken weaving to painting, how I decide to match design and materials to function, how my trip to Maine inspired a series of scarves. I left without most of the scarves and towels I brought, but with a sense of satisfaction and pride in what I do.

What fun I had and what work I now have ahead of me as I prepare for the next show, The Artisans Studio Tour in November. I have some inventory to replace.

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