Sunday, September 30, 2012

Colors of fall, pure Michigan

Found these mini peppers in the Evergreen market just north of Acme on US31. Roasted them along side a butter nut squash, and enjoyed their deep smokey flavor.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Taiten on a rigid heddle loom

According to Catherine Ellis, Taiten was practiced in Japan in the early 20th century. The word refers to gifts made to the Emperor Taisho.

Taiten is a plain weave cloth with a heavy thread placed at regular intervals
in the warp. After weaving , the heavier threads are used to gather the fabric tightly before dyeing. After dying, the heavy warp threads are removed, leaving lacey spaces in regular intervals.

Here is a series of pictures illustrating my process on a rigid heddle loom, plus the end result.

Disclaimer; I am trying out blogger on my iPad. I believe I will blog more if I can do it on this device. And, so far that is true. However, I seem to have no control over the placement or order. Please do your best to relate the random pictures to my narrative. Now back to our story.

Step one: measure a warp of treadsoft super wash wool sock weight yarn at ten ends per inch. This warp was about 80 inches long. Every 7th and 8th thread was a heavier weight hemp yarn. Next time I do this I will use a mercerized cotton, the hemp was not at all slippery, especially when wet.

Step two: plain weave using a fingering weight bamboo silk blended yarn, finished length of the woven price was 62".

Step three: remove from loom. Pull the hemp warp threads from each end, gathering the fabric as tightly as possible. This can cause blisters, so you may want to wear rubber gloves or have bandaids nearby. I was able to gather the entire price down to 9".

Step three: soak the fabric in a vinegar solution for half an hour to prepare the fibers for dying.

Step four: using an acid dye such as lanaset, paint one side of the fabric one color. Paint the other side a contrasting color.

Step five: steam it for 45 minutes.

Step six: this is the hardest part; let it dry.

Step seven: remove heavy warp threads. The resulting fabric will be very springy and will retain the pleats. These pleats are not permanent. For permanent pleats you must use a polyester yarn for the main warp.

Step eight: press fabric, sew into desired shape. I sewed one end of the long rectangle to the side of the other end of the rectangle. There are many ways to do this, so play around with different methods of draping.

I am really happy with this piece, and wear it a lot.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Third Coast Fiber Fest was just the best!

I had an absolute blast! The festival took place on the campus of Wayne State University. I got to hang out with Sarah Peasley, Sally Melville, Candace Eisner-Strick, Judy Pascale, Sheryl Theis, Ellen Taylor, some old friends and some new friends.

Sandra, owner of Artisan Knitworks and Mother of the festival made sure I had everything I needed for my classes and personal comfort. I was well fed and slept in the most comfortable bed at the Inns on Ferry street.

I taught a beginning rigid heddle weaving class all day on Friday. I had 7 terrific students. They stayed very focused, got their looms warped. They took to weaving like warp to weft, so we were able to play around with pick up sticks in the afternoon. This really means creating textures and patterns on our otherwise plain weave fabric. Not tossing sticks into the air to see where they land. Not on purpose anyway.

After a full day of teaching weaving, I was pretty spent, and desperate to knit. But! I had left my knitting project in my room. I was forced to go into the market to buy some yarn. It really was beyond my control. There were a LOT of really interesting vendors. I finally settled on a big ball of silk
Merino yarn from Twisted. I cast on my five stitches for Whippoorwill, and it was time for Sally's talk. She encourages knitting during her lecture, so I was able to cast on three more times before I got it right. By the end of the lecture I has finished about twelve rows.

Saturday I taught another day long class: color theory. We delved into color harmonies, value keys, simultaneous contrast and more. It was a discussion based class. The students were very insightful, and we all learned from each other. The event wrapped up with a jazz serenade, munchies and wine. The best news would be the words I heard over and over on Saturday: "next year... " Be there!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

I love new weavers

Puppies, kittens, the beginning of the school year, new weavers. I love helping people fall in love with the possibilities of over, under, over, under. From this simple starting place possibilities are endless. Tomorrow, at the first Third Coast Fiber Festival, I will have the privilege of introducing 8 new weavers to warp and weft.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Trip to the third coast

I am headed off tomorrow for the Third Coast. Fiber Festival that is. This is the first year for this  two day event on the campus of Wayne State U iversity. Organized by the good folks at Artisan Knits Works, they have assembled a hall full of very interesting vendors, and  "A" list teachers. The teacher list includes  Sally Melville, Sheri Theis, Candace Eisner Strick, Sarah Peasley, Molly Fletcher, and hey, look, me! Nancy McRay! I am very proud to be included. My list here is not exhaustive, so I do encourage you to head over to the Third Coast Fiber Festival website for more.

I will be teaching beginning rigid heddle weaving on Friday, and color theory on Saurday.