Friday, August 23, 2013

Tapestry Night at Woven Art

A few tapestry lovers got together last night to talk about weaving. I brought my loom with me and demonstrated a little bit of technique. I also brought a box of some of my favorite yarns for both warp and weft.  Tina fell in love with my tiny hand loom from Hockett Would.

Currently, I am testing weft yarns that I have been spinning to use in Tapestries. Spinning with no plan. Well that's not true. I try to get at least four weaving size bobbins of each color that I spin. I am trying for consistency in yarn size and amount of twist so they can all play well together. But I have no composition in mind. This makes me very uneasy. It is quite likely that when I finally decide on a composition I won't have any of the colors that I need at the ready. That means my next tapestry could take years. It had better be good. Anyway. For our first gathering of weavers I gave myself the assignment of testing out my handspun yarns on an existing warp. This warp has been on my medium size Mirrix Loom for, oh, years. There was an idea in the beginning - but it got lost. Or buried. So that leaves me with several inches of warp to experiment with.

It is sett at 10 ends per inch. Playing around a bit, I found that weft bundles of 4 strands of singles seems to work pretty well.  I have my weft yarns divided into 3 baggies. Dark, medium and light. Without caring about the actual hue of each bobbin, I pulled out four from each bag and began winding up tapestry bobbins.  I divided my warp into five sections, and began to weave. I tend to enjoy weaving my tapestries line by line. I can see the advantages of shape by shape, maybe I will prefer that someday. But for now - line by line makes me happy. Until Tina pointed out that one medium value shape was growing more quickly that the others. I did a quick twist test - and it was clear that these four strands were indeed thicker. Pulling one strand out of the bundle solved the problem - but also tells me that consistency in my spinning is going to be critically important.
What was a surprise was how well the colors - randomly selected except for near value- looked. Each area has a deep complexity to it.  Interesting enough for me to keep on with my spinning experiment. Next step: A cartoon. By the next time the tapestry group meets. Wanna come? You are welcome to be there - just call Woven Art (517-203-4467) for details.

Friday, August 16, 2013

A Gathering of Weavers

I had the wonderful opportunity of attending the Michigan League of Handweaver's conference in Holland Michigan this past weekend, as an instructor. I was only there on Sunday, but how I wish I could have been there for more days! This year the conference coincided with a family vacation and the wedding celebration of a close friend.

I taught a Rigid Heddle class. We used pick up sticks and supplemental wefts to create pulled resist patterns for dying a shibori fabric. A few of my students had a chance to apply the technique to polyester weft threads, there by creating permanently pleated fabric.

This conference is a great place to connect with other Michigan Weavers. During our class lunch break I made a beeline to the exhibit hall. There is a lot of really good contemporary work going on here in Michigan in the field of Fiber Art. Here are just a few pictures of a few of my favorite pieces:

 Jenny Schu You Can't See the Forest for the Trees, Double weave pick up and beaded leaves. An award winner. Jenny also entered a hand knit dress with beaded straps. They were talking about it over lunch. I hope I get to see it on her someday.

Joyce LaVasseur  Reflections in the Woods, Summer and Winter Pick up. Another award winner. One of a series of three. All stunning.

Jill Ault  Markings: Flush Transparent Quilt of hand dyed silk Organza

There were many more, beautiful and technically amazing works of art on display. It is great to see Fiber Art such as this on display. 

If you are a weaver, or would like to become one, consider joining the Michigan League of Handweavers as a source of support and inspiration.