Spring has sprung, the grass (or, in our case, the weeds) are green and growing like ….. well, let’s be honest, weeds, the trees are bursting with buds and it sleeted this morning. Yip – nothing like good ole Spring weather.
It has been a quiet month as Leonard has been really unwell. Numerous medical appointments, pushing, prodding, pricking and draining of various bodily fluids (hmmmmm – maybe too much information?), we head up to Sydney next month to see another Neurosurgeon, so I have my fingers crossed.
I had been hoping to get more work done for the exhibition but life had other ideas.
At the end of last month I received an e-mail from a lady who wanted a cotton table runner woven, sounds easy yes? She happily sent through two photographs of runners she had seen on the internet and which she wanted reproduced. Well, there were a couple of hiccups: 1. I don’t like reproducing someone’s work because lets face it – it is their work and there are enough draft possibilities to keep a weaver entertained for a dozen life times. 2. If you are going to get another weaver to try reproduce someone’s work, it will never look the same.
Having a look at the photos sent through, I posted them on FB because I was intrigued by the descriptions “Twill Rib” and “Textured Twill” – to my eye they were lace based.
Anyhoo I thought it would be fairly simple and it would be nice to bring some money into the house, so I said yes. I spent hours trying to work out drafts which would give a similar result to the photos sent through without being the same. I had the cotton aspect of this project covered – I have 3/2, 5/2, 8/2, 10/2, 20/2 cotton, organic, non organic, Egyptian, Georgian, dyed and undyed. So I was safe on the cotton front ……. yeah, well …..
The lovely lady came to visit. I had set out examples of my work for her to have a look at. I had even cleaned off the loom room table and put out samples of all the cottons I had on hand, there were dozens of books for her to look through, and numerous drafts which I had spent the nights creating.
Well dag nabbit !!! She never even managed to get close to the loom room, she looked to the left and saw a tatty, old huck lace runner that was my first weaving project, laying on one of my tables and said “I want one like that” !!! It looked NOTHING like the images she sent through and it had been badly woven using 4 ply knitting cotton.
Knock me down with a feather, she started moving my items off of it so that she could pick it up ….. please God don’t let all the dust come flying out of it. She held it, stroked it, repositioned it in different areas of the house and said “this is it”. Well NO !!! That is not it !!!
I tried to show her my “nicer” weaving and she kept putting that old blasted runner up against my beautiful 60/2 silk and tencel weavings and saying that she preferred it. And she would not look at the other cottons ……. doomed, people, doomed !
Okay – so I am happy to weave huck, in fact I am happiest when weaving huck, but can’t we change out the 4 ply knitting cotton for something just a little finer, and nicer looking. Nope – it was the 4 ply she wanted.
So, for this $ 85 commission, I spent $ 175 on getting 4 ply cotton, eight hours weaving samples, because, let me warn y’all, this 4 ply knitting cotton shrinks, and it shrinks badly. To get the 35 cm width the lady wanted, I had to have 47 cms in the reed. It took me five samples to actually get the shrinkage ratio right. By then, I was willing to turn to hard liquor.
Eventually the cotton runner was woven, finished and pressed. The lady was very happy and she made me cry when she came to pick it up, because she brought Fleegle ( our brain damaged dog) a new chew toy for her to play with. That act of kindness nearly made all the angst worthwhile :0)
May I say here and now – the runner she ended up with – looks nothing like the original pictures.
Now, where was I, yes, telling you how this runner was making me turn to hard liquor – well the only liquor in my life is the weaving liquor Jin aka Taquete. This weave structure is still swimming around in my head and strikes when I least expect it.
Thinking of the exhibition, I thought it might be nice to display the items in colour groups as seen on the colour wheels. Thinking about this, I decided that I needed something gold. Perfect, weave structure, Jin.
Whilst procrastinating and surfing the net in wetsuit, goggles and snorkel, I came across a photograph which made me pause to think. It was quite a dark photo, mostly blacks and golds. Knowing that I wanted to have something gold in the exhibition I decided to try and replicate it in some weaving. Unfortunately I was not brave enough to use the right amount of black, but that will be rectified in the very near future. ‘Liquid gold’ was started on the 27th of August and the weaving God’s were with me for this one. My tension was true and my shuttle ran straight :0)
I had put enough on for two scarves, changing the threading and treadling after the first, but I was too eager to get the first one off. Once it was finished, I totally forgot about the pesky pixies who inhabit my loom room, and I rushed away to wet finish scarf number one.
Well, y’all know there is going to be some kind of disaster, and, true enough, this time it came in the form of a cranky feline who got his pantaloons into a knot and worked his magic on the remaining warp ends. I had cut the first scarf away at the front of the reed, thinking I could keep the ends threaded in the heddles, then, one thread at a time, rethread them into the right heddles. Nope – Chi (feline) decided that it would not only be better for half of the threads to be ripped from the heddles, but to make sure they bunched up on the floor behind the loom !!! Blasted cat !!! Now there were 736 ends, sett at 40 epi in 8/2 tencel, just over 300 ends remain in their heddles, the rest, tangled behind the loom – bad Chi 1, Billie 0, pesky pixies 1000 +.
Laying out each single strand behind the loom, after unknotting a gazillion knots, I remembered to close all doors leading into the loom room so that neither feline, canine nor husband could get in to undo my good work. Totally forgot about these threads the next morning when I went in to open the shutters ….. sigh …. no one to blame by myself !
I totally love the first of the two scarves I love the geometric shapes. The warp is 8/2 tencel in white and gold, with a black 20/2 cotton weft. The drape is beautiful, and, once again, Jin has me at the final product. I love this weave structure.
Wanting to add a few more curves to the exhibition, I played with FibreWorks and information supplied by Margaret Coe’s book, Bonnie Inouye’s tutorials and Eva Stossel’s blog and personal input, and, after much chocolate consumption, I came up with this. I had been trying to get a “sort of” celtic looking knot in the centre of the cloth. If you close your eyes, tweak your nose, stick your tongue out to the left a quarter inch and hold your breath – just before you pass out, it might look a bit celtic “knotish” ;0)
Again, this was the gold and white 8/2 tencel warp, but the weft was a hand dyed 60/2 silk.
After taking it off the loom, I was super excited and really happy with the result. I washed it, and whilst ironing it, I realised that as I was trying to squeeze out that extra 4 inches of warp, some of the shafts must have been really unhappy, because there are floats where there should be none !!! So disappointing. So it will not be seeing the light of day, except as a table runner.
Well, lovely people out there in ‘blog’ land, till next time, respect the warp and happy weaving y’all :0)