Monday, April 26, 2010

Getting out of the Comfort Zone

I had two amazing days at a workshop this past weekend! It was my first workshop in some time and I loved what it did for me. It pushed my comfort boundaries! More on this a bit later. The picture above is my Jane loom getting her party clothes on. Its my second warp on this loom due in part to my preference for floor looms, my lack of workshop attendance, and the fact the levers on the loom were a problem. With the workshop 'looming' (ha!) I broke down and quit fighting trying to weave my huck lace diamonds on it. The levers would not return the shafts back down and it was a struggle. The Louet people mailed out new corrected levers and I installed those after making the big cut.... cutting off a fine bamboo warp and calling it quits. They are sure snappy now but it was not a good start to my time with this loom. My loom was part of the initial first batch made and all in that run received replacement levers so this problem appears resolved.

So my warp is 4/8 cotton, sett 24 epi, and designed as three sections: one is alternating light and dark ends, the second is a solid dark colour and the third is two light, then two dark. The threading is a blissfully simple 1,2,3,4 and is 9 1/4 inches in the 6 dent reed (sleyed in exact four thread groupings). The workshop is called 'A Good Deal More on Four' and the instructor is Alison Irwin. We will be looking at double weave pick up, Finn weave pick up, and mock satin damask.
{For my Canadian readers: Alison was the Studio 4 weaving exchange coordinator in the Guild of Canadian Weavers newsletter. She now travels and teaches her weaving classes around BC.} While I have done a simple double weaver sampler, I have never woven Finn weave, or mock satin damask or tried any pick up techniques before. As Alison said, this is like being thrown into the deep end of the pool!

I now realize that I had fallen into a comfortable pattern of weaving the same old, same old stuff all the time. When you are weaving with sales in mind, you tend to go to what works and go for guaranteed results. You slowly lose your spontaneity along the way. Well that seems to be what has happened to me. Do you find that this happens to you? How do you keep things fresh? I found myself thinking about how exciting everything is to a new weaver as they attend workshops. So the answer is to keep going to them! Even techniques you have tried before as every teacher is different in their approach and style.

Or, try teaching what you have learned as Lynnette is now doing. I imagine that the excitement in the room is contagious! While that might be in my future, I'm not ready for that step right now. I'm happy to share here!

So here is my set up at the workshop just under way. I took my stand along and glad I did as I could sit on a chair opposed to standing at the taller long tables that most halls have. This was not a round robin class and I used my own loom for the entire two days. This eliminated the pressure to quickly weave up a sample and move on. We had plenty of time to weave at our own pace.

Most weavers say they hate the round robin pressure as they really don't have time to really understand the theory or thread interplay as they weave. They find all the shifting looms distracting as well. Then trying to review the notes later to pick up on what they might have missed, they depend on the clarity of the teacher's handouts or their own hastily scribbled notes to fill in the blanks!

This is my first bit of double weave pick up! Alison provided the piano wire to do the pick up with and being fine, we could beat with it in place. Alternatively 1.25 mm knitting needles can be used, though they do get a curve in them eventually. I learned that double weave pick up produces completely reversible cloth except when it comes to numerals and letters. It also seems to work up in a more balanced way. You can choose to leave the sides open or close depending on your finished project. We left our sides open to eliminate an extra step in a hectic sequence!

Next was Finn weave: I discovered that the sequence is easier to remember but I can't say that I'm a big fan of this structure. Its not a balanced weave and crowding in the pick up areas bends or distorts the threads to produce the curved effects and the the surrounding areas tend to look too open and loose. A group discussion decided that perhaps using finer threads would reduce this problem. We are using 4/8 which is a tad bit thick! You can see the other two sections simply go along for the ride but produce some interesting colour effects.

Mock satin damask pick up was fun to do and was so reminiscent of draw loom textiles! Alison had some examples of linen done in this technique using two similar colours and it was the play of light that shows up the pattern. We looked at designs and charting and how literally any picture or image could be recreated by using one of the three pick up techniques. Just your preference and the finished project determine which one is best.

Here is Alison (seated) helping Sandy with her sampler. There was a lot of help needed around the room this weekend and Alison had no end of patience!

Some of Alison's display material and in this case, her Finn weave sampler woven in 2/8 cotton.

Double weave pick up scarab beetle and its chart. I believe its done in 4/8 cottons.

Mock satin damask bunny love!

Detail on a denim carry bag....

This piece is called is called Free Fall and I sure wish my camera did the colours justice as its simply lovely!
There were eight of us in the class, besides me:

Here's Lois concentrating very hard on the task at hand....

Barbara is hard at it behind a bevy of looms (all Louet's)

Dawn seemed to be enjoying herself.

Sally seemed to use tea breaks to aid her concentration. It appeared to work as she had a lovely sampler.

Sandy paused for a smile...

Els (left) and Cynthia provided light entertainment.... plus Els brought some great goodies!

We met at a little senior's hall in the waterfront in Crofton, with a wonderful view of Osborne Bay and Salt Spring Island. Here you can see the small ferry coming in to drop off and pick up traffic for the island. Across the water is Treenway Silks, Jane Stafford Textile Studio and many other goodies! So close... and so the moat around the temptation is a good thing!

I created a photoshare of the two days if you'd like to see more pictures. Click here
When I get home again, I plan to try my hand at the techniques again as I have lots of warp left to try a 'do-over' to help reinforce what we learned. Yes, I'm heading back to Vancouver to help with my Dad. He's improved, but still has some difficulties to work out and so has been transferred to another hospital that will suit his needs better. I'm crashing at my sister's place which should be a good way for us to reconnect again.
Meanwhile, my Spring loom is naked. Sad image huh? Scarves waiting to be fringed. Scarf project in mid weave on the Woolhouse CM. Good thing they are all so patient with me. Hubby is staying behind to move some of the final reno stuff forward.
Seems I'll possibly get a tile kitchen back splash while I'm gone! On the other side of the coin, all the carpet on the stairs must be replaced with new (don't ask...) We need a piece 12' x 12'.... and the store only has one small section of our carpet style and colour left that measures 7' 10" x 12'. Crap. This renovation is toughing it out right to the bitter end.
Well, so are we! Back soon.....

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Life is What Happens While You are Busy Making Other Plans

Meet my Grandparents: Reginald and Louisa on their wedding day 1929.

In 1930 my father Frank arrived. Here Dad and son are at the Tower of London, most likely 1931.

They had days at the seaside. This is at Hythe Beach approx 1933. Real cutie huh?

He started sports early and later became a cub.

He joined the Royal Navy as a boy seaman at age 16.

In his early 20's he became a Petty Officer in Her Majesty's Navy. Looks very smart in his uniform!

Then he married my mother Vivien. She's the one on the right. Her twin sister Beryl is on the left. They had me in the mid 50's and started the 60's by moving to Canada. Along came a brother and two more sisters.

This is Dad standing beside a very old, very large tree on the famous Malahat highway on Vancouver Island in 1964.

And here he is again standing by a large Ponderosa pine in the Okanagan in 1995. We were living there then and he came for a visit. It was a wonderful time!

This was taken by my brother last month. I haven't done any weaving since I last wrote as my father is sick right now with a bad blood infection and is in the hospital. I'm home long enough to get laundry done and I'll get to my workshop this weekend. I'll take some pictures there at the class to share with you next time. Then I'm heading back to help these two:
My brother Kent and sister Melinda! Yes, its stressful right now, but we're working together to get Dad well again.
Weaving will be there to help me unwind from this challenge as well!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

From Across the Pond

Last week, my normal daily trip to the mailbox ended in a lovely surprise! Does this shawl look familiar to you? It is nothing short of spectacular! The pattern is beautifully symmetrical, the colour bright and refreshing, the yarn, merino/ angora blend, is soft and cuddly. My difficulty is that we don't have a table for me to spread it out properly and so I had to wait for the work in the kitchen was done and get the pictures while we had a patch of sunshine today! The kitchen seems to be the best room for natural light here now. Dorothy says the pattern is called Girasole and she did tell me who designed it but I can't seem to find the name right now. Girasole is by Jared Flood from Brooklyn Tweed - a lovely pattern. Thanks DebbieB!

Here's a close up of what I like to call the sunflower centre. I think my flash has bleached out the colour unfortunately. The knitting is simply beautiful! I believe this is what Dorothy was knitting while her hubby was under going heart surgery. I'm not so sure I could have kept my mind on the pattern at a time like that! A most special birthday present....thank you.
We have had more progress in the kitchen and here's a picture of the wood surround on the centre island.

There is also a touch of the wood at the far end wall which we are calling the 'message centre'. Our phone and calendar will be set up there once the jack is installed. The far right of the island is to have some tall stools so it becomes a breakfast nook. So the search is on for the right look and colour for stools or tall chairs and so far, no luck. We're in no hurry though and the right ones will appear in due course.

I like the wine rack built in and my recipe book shelf directly above. Clearly I need more books! Around the corner and out of view in this picture is a large stainless steel rod set into the wood as a showcase spot for my handwoven towels! I'll set some up and take a snap or two for the next post.
So... what's left to do? Well the tile back splash needs to be installed and the window sill and new trim needs to be painted. The painter, Shawn, is coming tomorrow to paint all the additional trims and the new 'old-fashioned' paneling in the stairwell. I hope to show you the before and after pictures of that next post as well. Trust me, its a big change!  
I had hoped to have the silk warp off the Louet before now but our Easter weekend was taken up almost completely by this fellow:
Connor is a Lakeland Terrier, so 'from across the pond' as well. His sire was directly from the Lake District of England and Cruft's 1994 winning terrier. Well, Connor is 13 in May and has struggled with ulcerative bowel disease since he was diagnosed at age 2. He has taken a daily medicine combination to supress his auto-immune system since then and has had tried special diets since he's allergic to most proteins (beef, pork, fish and lamb) He has dined on canned rabbit (at $2.00 a can, 2 cans per day) for a time, vension and until recently he has eaten chicken, barley and raw veggies. Now this poor guy is down to rice and cottage cheese with a little chicken as the condition has become worse. He's lost weight and his tail isn't so perky anymore. The vet gave him some shots to settle his system and told us to consider euthanization as he's in pain. This past week and weekend we took turns staying up with him all night as he was so ill and we thought today would be his last, but he has somehow rallied again and seems more his usual self. We may have delayed the inevitable, but for now he's still our couch buddy at night and he plays hide the ball in my loom bench (whether I'm there or not.) Ever reach for a shuttle and get a soggy dog toy instead? Ya, it's great....
It seems my great expectations of getting a third scarf off the silk warp was a bit optimistic! So there will be samples after all... nice ones too with silk yak blend as weft. Not sure what is going onto Lilibet next as I have been a bit distracted. I received my draft and threading notes for a workshop with Alison Irwin called "A Good Deal More On Four" that I'm taking April 24th and 25th so I must warp up my Jane loom. The outline reads:
TITLE: A Good Deal More on Four
INSTRUCTOR: Alison Irwin
DESCRIPTION: Learn how to expand your 4-shaft loom's potential with a little pick-up! Alison has a passion for it and over two days she'll introduce you to three techniques: Doubleweave Pick-Up, Mock Satin Damask, and Finnweave. This is NOT a round robin class. The samplers you'll create of simple light/dark images will be woven on just one warp because you'll be working on just one loom -- yours. What makes each part of this project distinct is each technique's colour order and treadling sequence.
NUMBER OF STUDENTS: 8 minimum, 12 maximum.
LENGTH OF CLASS: Two days (9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with an hour break for lunch).
WHEN: Saturday/Sunday, April l 24/25, 2010.
Sounds just what I need right now to get me back on track! I'm looking forward to it...
So that's it for this time...