It’s almost midnight, a few minutes away from a shiny new decade. I’m excited. I recall when I was a kid, 2010 seemed impossibly far away. The year where I’d turn *gasp* 40. I imagined that there would be flying cars and cloning, and all of humanity’s ills would be solved.
That didn’t happen. But there have been wonderful surprises along the way. Like the Internet. I didn’t see that one coming in my childhood musings. And my how that has changed the way people interact. I regularly exchange emails with people all over the globe; it’s amazing!
This just-past decade has been hard, bringing us 9/11, and not one but two major economic crises. But it’s also the decade I learned to weave, and had my son Kai, and started WeaveCast/WeaveZine, and met a whole bunch of wonderful weavers along the way.
I can’t wait to see what the new year and decade will bring!
And since this is a time of year to reflect on where we are and where we’re going, and for summoning up resolve to fix the errors of the past, I’m going to take a tour of projects currently stalled on my looms, how they got that way, and how to move forward.
Exhibit One: The Big Tea-Towel Warp
This humble project started off life with gusto and purpose. I pulled 8/2 and 10/2 cotton from my stash and roughly planned a set of tea-towels that would (a) use up odds and ends of yarn left over from a previous project, and (b) provide me with holiday and hostess gifts for the upcoming season. From this virtuous start, things quickly went horribly awry:
- I decided to use a trick I’d learned from Judith MacKenzie McCuin (and others) and wind a warp twice as long and half as wide and then fold it in half, thus magically enabling me to wind off all my odds and ends colors into random free-form stripes during warp-winding, and yet end up with two identical stripes in the finished cloth. And yet, I did not put a second thread-by-thread on the far end of the warp, alas.
- I had this vague idea of either using waffle weave or some twill points, or both in the stripes. I still haven’t decided which to do, creating design vapor lock.
- It’s sett at 30 epi, 21″ wide in the loom. That’s 630 threads, which is a lot of threads to be indecisive about.
New Year’s Resolution: Warp the brown sections in wafffle weave (4 shafts), the stripes in point twill (the other 4 shafts) changing the direction of the twill at the stripe color changes. Weave this soon, or it’ll be next year’s holiday gifts.
Exhibit Two: Tapestry Sampler Stall-Out
This past summer, at ANWG, I took a class from James Koehler, a wonderfully talented tapestry artist. When I got home, I wove on it for about three hours the first day, one hour the second, and then stalled out on it altogether.
- It is very easy to stay focused and on task when someone is walking around and stopping by to check on your progress from time-to-time. At home, with lots of other things calling my attention, it’s easy to put the tapestry loom in the corner and forget about it.
- Tapestry is slow. To steal a quote from Talladega Nights, “I wanna go fast.”
- The abstract design of the sampler is, while technically challenging, bores me silly. I want to weave a design that means something.
New Year’s Resolution: Set aside one hour every Tuesday after dinner to weave tapestry at the kitchen table. (Tapestry Tuesdays!) Embrace the slow. Give myself permission to call the sampler “done” and weave a design that makes me excited on the remaining warp.
Exhibit Three: Spaced Invaders and the Temple of Doom
This project started out as a sample-exchange for the Complex Weavers Fine Threads Study Group. I was tickled pink by the design process, in which I created my first taquete design (Lillian Whipple’s article inspired me) and found the perfect match of colors and yarns to make the design really glow.
- Because I so loved the project, I put 9 yards of warp on the loom, thinking I’d weave off the samples for the study group, and then weave myself a scarf.
- I did not realize that taquete was essentially a double-weave structure, and that in 140/2 silk, it would take 112 picks per inch to weave.
- I put an 8″ warp on a loom with a 48″ weaving width and a big heavy fly shuttle.
- I used a temple during weaving, and didn’t have one with fine teeth. Thinking that wouldn’t be a problem, that the reed marks would come out in the wash, I used a coarse temple. About 8″ into the cloth, I heard a huge riiiippp! sound and about 48 threads on the left side of the cloth broke and fell out of the reed and heddles. I don’t think I actually fainted, but I did have to go lie down on the floor for a bit.
New Year’s Resolution: Repair and re-warp those 48 threads. Build and use an alligator clip temple instead of a coarse traditional temple. (Dream about one day having a rotary temple.) Add bungie cords to the beater to make it easier to weave with. Weave on this project for hour each Wednesday evening (Weaving Wednesday!) until either (a) the warp is woven off or (b) I get so sick of this project that I cut off the warp and use it to weave kumihimo instead.
Exhibit Four: Cut-Pile Conundrum
This project was what I worked on at a weaving retreat with Judith MacKenzie McCuin (I get a lot of inspiration out of spending 5 days with Judith, let me tell you!) I wanted to learn cut-pile weaving and wanted to weave silk, since I had a whole pile of teensy skeins of silk from some natural-dyeing experiments. Judith showed me the basics, and I found that I really like the process of tying the knots. It reminds me a lot of the needlepoint my grandmother does, and makes me feel a connection to her. However…
- This project was trouble from the get-go. Don’t talk to me about string heddles, nylon, or 20/2 rayon that breaks.
- Again, slow. But this time I had drawn a design that I liked, tailored to the colors and to symbols that I’m drawn to (ala Mary Zicafoose.) Having a design you’re excited about really helps you get over the slow.
- I chose green spirals on a blue background for the background of the image. And the blue and green that I used (from my stash) were the same value. In the cut pile, this meant that you couldn’t see any difference between them. All that work putting in design with hundreds of teensy knots…that you couldn’t see. (Note: the camera’s flash actually brought out the colors a bit, under normal lighting you can’t see any difference between them.)
New Year’s Resolution: Purchase lighter-colored green silk that should show up better. Pull out the current green knots (trying not to weep too much over the lost silk, save for spinning noil?) and re-tie with the new color. The cool thing about knotted cut pile is that I should be able to do this without having to take out the blue knots or the plain-weave tie-down shots…I hope! This is a relaxing weave, so I’m going to do it on Sundays, in the evening for an hour. (Slow-weaving Sundays!)
So there you have it. My weaving resolutions for the coming year. Are you making any? If so, please leave a comment and let me know what they are.
And of course, if you have a magic-bullet fix for any of the above (or a source for fine-teeth temples) please do let me know!