Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Flutter & sprout

Hello, friends. Spring has arrived here in our little corner of New England, and I've finally been able to begin working outside. Look who greeted me the other morning:


Very nice to see flowers and leaves popping up outside, no? But, like many gardeners, my season begins well before the snow melts. Here's a snapshot of my indoor garden:


Here I have some of our peppers, tomatoes, parsley, and broccoli. I got carried away with the flowers this year. (Who can honestly resist pansies, French marigolds, petunias, or lavender?)

With a number of rugosa roses throughout our gardens, my Felco pruners receive a lot of use. Pruning is something that I am always hesitant to do, even though I know that it is supposed to be a great and wonderful thing for the plant's overall health and shape. Here's Dortman rose after her Spring haircut (I told her it will grow back, richer and fuller than ever):


The loom has been busy, too, despite my forays into the yard. I've been working on a few new items for my first 2014 show (May 17th, see my calendar for more information). Here's something that just happened to flutter by for Spring:


These notecards are so much fun to make and I love being able to use up bits and pieces of handwoven fabric. The butterfly motif is new for me this year; I think it will be a nice addition.

Before I sign off, I will leave you with one hard lesson learned while I was working outside earlier this week:

Do NOT try to prune a rose on a very windy day -- they will snap back at you! Ouch!

If you have any pearls of weaving or gardening wisdom to offer, please do include them in the comments section below!

Be well,
Kate

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

"Practice your scales!" and plain weave

Hello, friends. I've been away from the computer for a while. Last week I took a lovely break from the cold, snowy New England weather and visited my parents in Florida. It was sunny and warm and very refreshing.

I'm back at the loom now and continuing to work on my new lace-y tea towels. This week I completed the red version of my design:

Red tea towel with lace border

I've got a warp of colonial blue on the loom right now. I like the border design, which is huck lace & Brooks bouquet; the rest of the cloth is plain weave. So, in short, I'm weaving a lot of plain weave these days. At first I found the repetition to be rather tiresome. But then the repetition started to grow on me, and it reminded me of practicing scales on the cello. The simple treadling helped me to think about different things: throwing the shuttle thoughtfully in an effort to get a good edges; advancing the warp at regular intervals so that the shed is consistent. I think that weaving plain weave is not so very "plain," and I aspire to work at plain weave in an effort to improve my weaving technique -- sort of like how revisiting a four octave scale can refocus one's music practice.

So, my weaving friends, what are your thoughts on plain weave? Have you found that plain weave has offered you particular insights into your work? How does tabby weaving affect your designs?

Off to weave more tabby. And I'm thinking about dusting off my scales book when I practice my cello this afternoon.

Be well,
Kate K. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Are two looms too much?

Hello, friends. I wondered how many of my fellow weavers have two looms. Technically I have two looms, a LeClerc table loom (four shafts, quite old, purchased used) and the LeClerc Nilus II. I work at the Nilus II just about every day. The table loom was my first loom, purchased second-hand (possibly third-hand) after a beginning weaving class. I still have it, although I use it rarely. Honestly, old Dorothy lives in my husband's workshop and is a resting place for things that haven't quite found their way into the dustbin (like parts of Halloween costumes and gift boxes). Guilty as charged!

The table loom hasn't gotten much use since the LeClerc Nilus II found her way into the house, but I'm still rather attached to it. It doesn't seem as efficient to use (fiddling with those levers instead of stepping on a treadle) and feels awkward overall. There are advantages, though, such as a small amount of loom waste and I believe that the table loom really forces a weaver (especially a novice weaver) to understand the principles of lifting harnesses, etc...

I'm wondering if, should I exchange the table loom for a smaller floor loom (like a LeClerc Compact or Harrisville 20" 4 harness, 4 treadle loom), overall weaving output increases? It seems appealing to have a loom always available for weaving/warping. But is this a real possibility? After all, I only have one set of hands and feet and there are only so many hours in the day during which I can weave.

If you have two looms of comparable utility, do you find this to be advantageous? Please share your insights. As you know, floor looms are a commitment to space and to household finances. And with a husband in graduate school and two teenagers at home, one does not make these sorts of decisions casually!

I hope to hear from you! Please feel free to discuss your opinion in the comment section below.

Happy Friday, all!
Be well,
Kate