Echo & Jin Workshop

As the HWSGV’s 4-shaft weaving course drew to an end the knowledge that there would be a gap of nearly six months to fill between the 4-shaft and 8-shaft course loomed over me. What could I do in that time? It’d be great if I could add to my weaving knowledge by doing workshops, though I should avoid weave structures I’d be tackling next year.

An interstate weaver friend mentioned that she was going to be doing a workshop organised by Complex Weavers, an organisation I hadn’t felt knowledgeable and experienced enough to join in the past. I was ready, I decided, to dip my toes in those waters. At least, I have half a chance of understanding some of what they do now! When I looked into it, I was delighted to learn that we have Australian representatives organising local communications and activities, including the workshop my friend was doing.

So I joined and had lovely email conversations with the two representatives. One was a close friend of Kay, so we exchanged sad and fond reminiscences. The other, the rep for my side of the country, organises the workshops with overseas teachers – all of which are now running online.

The workshop my friend was doing would be a bit hard on my sprained thumb, but one on Echo and Jin with Denise Kovnat looked within my abilities. I’ve admired and wanted to try Echo since the book Echo and Iris came out. Jin – turned taquete, is a structure I hadn’t woven yet, though I had woven taquete as part of a summer & winter sampler. Specific kinds of yarns were required, and thankfully I was able to order them from the rep. It was a tense wait for it to arrive, with Australia Post taking longer to deliver, but they eventually did and I got the loom warped up in time. The threading was intimidating at first as it looks random:

But once I realised that I was looking at sets of four odd shafts followed by four even shafts, and that once you have the first colour threaded the rest follow in order and always in the same direction, I found it much easier.

The workshop was divided into three Zoom days a week apart. Intros or show and tell first thing in the morning, a break, explanation of techniques next, another rest, then more explanation or show and tell.

Students chose a threading based on the number of shafts on their loom. I chose Cats Eyes because, well, cats! The colours I chose for the warp were denim blue, freesia yellow, green glow and coral red. The blue and red were much less saturated than Ashford’s web page shows – though that could be my screen, so the colours combined into a much more yellowy-orange blend than I expected:

The blue almost disappears.

The first week I wove Echo with a twill structure:

Purple weft – Venne 20/2 cotton.
Aqua weft – Venne 20/2 cotton.
Royal blue weft – Venne 20/2 cotton. I tried pistachio green first but it was a bit wishy washy.
Magenta pink weft – Venne 20/2 cotton – which produced the best iridescence of all the samples.

The second I wove jin:

Mid green weft – Venne 20/2 cotton – for the first section. Dark purple above.

There was only one Jin draft, so I added tabby to one of the twill ones to make it Jin:

Salmon pink weft – Venne 20/2 cotton.

Then made one up from scratch – an advancing extended broken twill with tabby:

Royal blue weft – Venne 20/2 cotton.

Denise suggested an alternative, non-broken twill based Jin, which was an easier weave:

Black weft – Venne 20/2 cotton.

Finally, I tried the doubleweave draft. I’d noticed that the treadling required 16 treadles, which the Lotas does not have. Tim’s Treadle Reducer couldn’t simplify it, but it said it’s calculations don’t allow for using multiple treadles. I decided to see if that could be done. To my surprise it could!

But it would mean pressing four treadles down at the same time. Though the treadles were next to each other, when I came to try it I found the shed was very messy. I expect there’s a technical explanation for this, but though the doubleweave was possible, it was so awkward it was unpleasant to weave, so I stopped after only a short section. I was having a very draining bad back day, so I didn’t think to weave the original tie-up then simply reverse when I got to the tenth treadle.

Denim blue and coral red weft.

Two days later I considered the last metre of warp left and I decided to play. I went back to the first Echo design and varied the weft, starting with a hemp/cotton blend (that shrank when I washed it), then a cm or so of metallic thread (that kept snagging in the shuttle so badly I eventually had to cut it), then a khaki cotton that I think was army surplus and wove very nicely.

You’ll have to trust me the metallic looks good. But it’s scratchy.

Next I played with treadling, reversing back and forth, using grey Venne cotton.

Cell division?

Then I tried using more than one colour in the weft, starting with magenta and pistachio, then adding aqua to the mix for a three-colour section.

I really like these. Slow weaving, though.

Thoughout the workshop we learned how to design our own echo pattern, how to deal with floats, how to select colour combinations, and different approaches to doubleweave. There was a wide range of age and experience in the students, and sophistication of looms, and you know you have a good group when there are lots of laughs. All via Zoom. Denise handled online teaching well, was an enthusiastic teacher, and was always willing to answer questions between classes via email. I’d do another class with her… in fact, I’ve booked another!

I’ll definitely weave Echo again. My favourite drafts were the twills, as they weave up with satisfying speed. I want to explore making them with my own design lines, and seeing if I can get an effect that’s more painterly – random rather than repetitive, with watercolour-like colour transitions.

Rainbow Rugs

These were a joy to weave. So bright and cheery.

The plan was to weave two 1x2m rugs, both using a spectrum of colours but with different approaches, so the recipient can choose which they want.

For the first rug, I wove neatly delineated stripes that form squares with the warp stripes. I used dark blue fabric for the blue stripe. For the second I wove a single sweep through the spectrum achieved by using two shuttles: creating a solid colour section for 20 rows then a mixed section of alternating stripes with the next colour for the following 20. I used a sky blue fabric for the blue stripe. I also had red on both ends, which made it longer than the planned 2 metres.

I wove hems rather than fringe because there are fringe-eating cats in the household.

The amount of preparation to weave these rugs is kind of crazy. A very rough calculation puts them at about 24 hours per rug. But the result is so good, and the use of a waste product so satisfying, that the time and effort is totally worth it.

There’s going to be a lot of rag strips left, so I foresee more brightly coloured rag rugs in my future. I’ve gone through the rest of the flannelette fabric and there are seven more rugs I want to make, not including the two in other kinds of fabric on the to-do list. Most require a different warp colour, so that’s going to bump up the hours per rug count. Still, the wide sett of a rug warp makes for very fast threading.

Now I’m just waiting for restrictions to be lifted so I can visit the recipient and let them choose which one they’ll keep.

Tablecloth Pants

But not what you’re probably imagining! No gingham or embroidery, though that could be awesome. Years ago I requested a black tablecloth for a birthday or Christmas. Mum couldn’t find black so she opted for this dark charcoal which kinda worked in our old place.

We live in a different house with a different colour scheme now so when I culled our table linens recently I decided the charcoal tablecloth should go. But where to? Op shop? I like the fabric, with it’s subtle textured grid pattern, though not so much as a tablecloth. It seemed more suited to clothing. So I popped it in my fabric stash.

I imagined it becomming a shorts jumpsuit at first, and when I found a pattern I snapped it up. But after my recent decision to retire and replace two pairs of summer cotton pants it was kinda obvious what the tablecloth needed to become.

After I made the Bed Sheet Pants I made some adjustments to the pattern. I also decided to put back pockets on this pair. The fabric was slightly stretchy, so I had to take care when sewing to avoid wobbly seams. I got the waistband right this time, too.

You’ll have to trust me that they look good on! It’s not the most flattering way to photographing grey pants, hanging them against a door, and these days I just don’t have the energy to set up a tripod or chase Paul in order to have a pic of me modelling clothes.

The sewing bug hasn’t been exhausted yet, so I am now making a new dress out of one of Late Lucy’s. Or I will be, if the test run of the pattern works out. And that has been interrupted by the start of a weaving workshop that I’m really enjoying. More on that later…

Back to Single Digits

In the last couple of weeks I’ve sold two looms. First the Voyageur 16 shaft table loom, which was just too big for the loom room, and was bought by a weaver in NSW who was very excited to have it. Then the Osbourne 4 shaft floor loom, which became redundant once I bought the 8 shaft Lotas, and was adopted by a new weaver to weave rugs from the fleece of her sheep – for which it will be very well suited.

I hadn’t used the Ozzie since the Lotas arrived, and what I missed about it the most was the removable castle shelf. Recently I asked Paul if he could make me one for the Lotas, and though it isn’t quite finished (the wood for the edges that prevent things rolling off is out of stock at Bunnings) it’s finished enough to be used and, oh my, am I delighted to have one again! I can put the project draft there, or an iPad while Zooming, and tools, and I don’t have to twist to the side for all those things any more.

So now I am down to 8 looms: two inkles, two Knitters Looms, two 8 shaft table looms, the Lotas and a 16 shaft table loom in the garage awaiting rebuilding. I could get that down to 7, since I don’t need two 8 shaft table looms. But part of me worries that while the Jane is reserved for the 8 shaft course next year I might need the Katie for one-off workshops.

Hmm.

On the other hand, if I get that 16 shaft loom rebuilt and it proves light enough to carry, I won’t need the Katie as my ‘spare’. Trouble is, my left hand is still very painful and I won’t be doing any woodwork for some time. I’ll be having a cortisone injection in a month’s time. Maybe, if it’s successful, I could get the loom fixed up by the end of the year. But I don’t want to undo any of the benefit of the injection by overdoing it. It’s not so much a matter of deciding whether to sell the Katie, but when, and that’s something I can’t predict yet.

Pants from Sheets

Finished yesterday. Wearing them today.

The pattern instructions lost me where the waistband attaches to the waist. I matched up the notches but there was no overlap for the button. I thought maybe I’d misinterpreted the zipper part, but it turns out the notches were wrong and the extra cinching in of the gathering thread would have got me the overlap. Which also explains why the pants were so big around the waist that I had to take them 2cm at the sides and add elastic across the back.

I didn’t discover the mistake until after I’d taken them in, so there could be no unpicking and regathering. So I just added an extra tab. The elastic will add a bit of room around the waist for varying girth.

The legs were about 5cm too short so I did as small a hem as I could manage. I noted all the adjustments on the pattern.

Though I’m kinda chuffed to be wearing a garment made from old sheets, I’m not a big fan of light coloured pants, so these will be dyed at some point. Natural dyed, if possible. It’s a pity I didn’t make these a few weeks ago, as all the windfall from recent stormy days has got a bit dried up now. Maybe the leaves still have dye potential, but I wouldn’t be able to do eco printing as they’re all curled up and brittle.

Now that the test pants are done I intend to make ‘actual’ pants from the pattern. They’ll be made from a dark grey cotton table cloth with an interesting grid texture that seems to be about the same weight of fabric.

I Know it’s Spring When…

… I start thinking about my wardrobe again.

Coming out of winter, I always feel a bit over my cool season clothes and eager to start wearing warm season ones, but that itch seems to amplify into wanting to shake up my whole wardrobe. Inevitably I open the Stylebook app and siphon off some of that energy playing there.

Every year the way I’ve used Stylebook has changed. Initially it was all about getting pics of my clothes and accessories into the app, and my head around what I own. I tackled one or two categories at a time, culling as I went. The next Spring, after having logged what I wore for a year, I concentrated more on what I didn’t wear.

This year it’s more about maintenance – what’s looking worn and whether I need to replace it. And instead of individual garments, I’m thinking more about outfits. Tim Gunn’s and observation in this books that separates are more versatile than dresses has got me thinking.

So I turned to the Looks feature of Stylebook. I had the looks divided into casual/neat casual/formal categories. That, at least, made two things apparent: I had half as many cold season Looks as warm, and I hadn’t entered oft-worn combinations like knitwear and pants/skirts/ts and jeans. Both are because there’s not much use in creating obvious Looks. The feature is better for coming up with matches I hadn’t thought of.

I decided to re-sort them into skirts/pants/dresses, then divided those into casual and dressy categories. Also, I’ve found it’s more efficient to include several tops to go with one bottom rather than create multiple Looks for that bottom, so I made that my general approach, aiming to have a Look for all skirts and pants.

Now it was obvious that Looks that felt sad were based on tired, old pants. No surprise, really. I’ve resist retiring them because it’s hard to find pants that are comfortable and look good. What to do, then? Hmm. It would be a whole lot easier if I had a casual pants pattern that fit well and was quick and easy to sew.

The last time I attempted to make pants I used a commercial pattern and it did not go well. But I have a shorts pattern I like, and the pattern for one of the pants that needs retiring. And it turns out I have a jumpsuit pattern I picked up somewhere. Maybe by laying them on top of each other I can come up with a pattern that’s worth adjusting, and eventually develop one that actually fits and looks good.

Hmm. I must be in a particularly optimistic mood!

Rainbow Rug Ready

For months now I’ve been creating a big pile of rags in the colours of the rainbow. Back in May I posted that I’d been cutting rag strips from the big bag of flanellette for weeks. I wove the Country Rug in June, as a test rug. Since then I’ve been preparing rags for the second rug.

Of the usual rainbow colours, I didn’t have much orange, yellow or green. Nor could I find much flannelette in those colours in online stores. So I bought solid colours of fabric and used fabric pens to add pattern. And then I dyed a pile of mostly white strips.

Several sessions followed of carefully laying out even sequences of pattern in each colour then and sewing them together with the overlocker.

And many hours of using a bias maker tool to fold over the edges of the strips so I could iron them flat. I now have a huge basket full of rag strips ready for weaving.

Next came winding the warp.

And finally, four months later, I’ve started weaving. But I’ll leave that to another post.

Bumps in the Road Scarf

Waay back at the Kay Plus Fun workshop, I dyed a pre-wound warp of 8/2 cotton in a gradient of green and purple.

I’ve always wanted to weave a deflected doubleweave scarf like this:

It’s the “Bumps in the Night” scarf by Madelyn van der Hoogt, published in Best of Handwoven: Deflected Doubleweave. The trouble was, finding a non-machine washable yarn for the black warp and weft wasn’t easy. Eventually I worked out that two of the cones I’d picked up at a sale were feltable, and if used doubled were close enough to the 8/2 cotton to suit.

I wish I’d taken a photo to show the efforts required to divide a black warp up into 4 x 2 thread batches, placing each batch between 8 thread batches of cotton that had every second batch reversed. It was… amazing it didn’t turn into an unusable tangle. Using the raddle as a comb to loop each batch over made it a little bit easier.

Once I overcame the weft colour issue mentioned a few posts ago, the weaving progressed steadily. It looked great and I knew I’d made the right decision.

Then it was just a matter of tossing it in the washing machine and hoping the black wool would shrink enough, but not too much, to produce the ‘bumps’.

Which it did. Which is a relief and very satisfying. I love it and will definitely play with deflected doubleweave again.

Craft Room Purge

Last week the urge to purge came over me like a roaring tornado and I turned my attention to the Craft Room. I was tired of having an unused floor loom taking up so much floor space. I was sure the cupboards were full of tools and materials I didn’t use or need. And I wanted to make it a sanctuary for making art.

My easel and painting stuff have been in Paul’s studio for some years now. They’ve moved from one end to the other, but aside from a few sessions and the Art Nights I used to hold, mostly it was just a convenient place to stow my art class paraphernalia.

When Paul expressed relief at the end of Art Nights I was surprised. It seemed he resented a little the intrusion into his space. I thought my urge to bring the art stuff inside had to do with it being winter and not wanting to heat the studio to use it. But to be honest, I didn’t feel like it was my space. And when I considered how I’d feel if I had a studio and Paul wanted a corner… I wouldn’t like it but I’d tolerate it.

So the loom and the art stuff exchanged locations. Hopefully the loom will find an owner once the lockdown is over, and Paul can have all the studio to himself.

The big bookcase went into the office and then the purging began. I went through almost everything, including some containers I hadn’t cleaned out since we moved. Most of what I purged went into the rubbish or recycling. I have such a habit of collecting little containers and other junk that “might come in handy one day”. I also had an old laptop I thought I might put Fibreworks on, but when I charged the battery the hard drive made an awful groan and died.

In the end, I didn’t get rid of as much as I thought I would. I really ought to get rid of two mini sewing machines, the Passap knitting machine, the Lincraft circular knitting machine, a cutting machine, some books and lots of decorative paper. But I have the space so they’re staying for now. It’s reassuring to know I could cut back more if, say, my Dad had to live with us or Paul wanted all the cupboards in the laundry for his photo processing gear.

And as an inevitable side effect… I’ve now got the urge to do a bit of jewellery-making. And calligraphy. And bookbinding. And machine knitting…