Monday, December 29, 2014

First gallery exhibit

Hello, friends. I hope that you have had a pleasant week. We were busy here with bell-ringing, singing, and cello playing around the Christmas holiday. It is a lovely time of year, but it is also nice when things settle down and become a little quieter.

I've been working on a special piece that will be on display at the League of NH Craftsmen gallery in Concord for a special exhibit, "Blue : The Sky's The Limit." The multi-media exhibition will take place in Concord, NH from January 9 - March 20, 2015. I'm weaving a woman's tartan shawl. The tartan is not historically accurate in terms of color selection (don't give me away!). I adapted the Clan Keith tartan to suit the direction of the exhibit guidelines. Here is a look at the shawl on the loom:

Clan Keith variation fabric

"Keith" is supposed to have green, black, and blue yarns, as found in this scarf that I wove earlier in the year:

Clan Keith tartan using traditional colors

but my wrap has ivory, "whipple blue" and navy alpaca/silk yarns. I really like the way it is coming together. I aim to weave about six feet of fabric and will twist the fringe on either end.

And now on to a new discussion...

I've been working hard to incorporate yoga practice into my weekly routine. I've been working on various poses that are particularly good for the back, core, arms and shoulders. I am hoping that continuing with the exercises will help counter some of the hunching that inevitably happens while working at the loom. No classes for me (there isn't really a good source for these locally), but there are lots of podcasts and DVDs out there that are helpful. I studied with various teachers many years ago and learned the basics. Do you, weaving friends, do any sort of activities/exercises to help allay the physical demands of weaving? Do share!

Have a safe and happy New Year.
Be well,

Monday, December 15, 2014

A new bookmark pattern draft!

Hello, friends. The holidays are upon us and in case any of my weaving friends are interested in a smashing project that (I PROMISE) won't take up too much time or precious yarn, I have a nice gift idea for you. Here is a peek at what awaits your friends and family!

Nice, right? The draft is loaded up here on this blog post as a picture file. But before you go and dash off to your yarn stash here is some general information:

1) This is an 8 shaft, 10 treadle design. If you have a 4 shaft loom, you can weave a very fine looking point twill similar to this but it won't be quite as intricate.

2) I used 10/2 mercerized cotton for warp and weft. You will need fewer than 80 ends to weave this project. I used black in the warp; ivory or white would also look nice.

3) I sett the threads at 24 epi (2 per dent in a 12 dent reed).

4) The weaving draft is coded for a jack-style loom.

5) You can adjust the sett to suit your prerences; if you use a sett of 24 ends per inch like I did, I found that a firm but light beat will help your pattern picks to stand out.

6) A 3 1/2 yard warp yielded 8 book marks; you might get more or less, depending on the amount of loom waste that is specific to your loom.

Here is the draft:

If you have any questions about the pattern, please drop me a note in the comments field right here. This pattern hasn't been "tech tested" by other weavers, but if I've omitted something, I'm sure that between the two of us we can hammer out the necessary details.

Happy weaving, friends!
Be well,
Kate K.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Why I will keep blogging

Hello, friends. I just cut off my final piece of weaving for gift-giving this morning and met with a lovely customer this morning who had requested a bespoke item. My next project will be a tartan ladie's shawl. I'm weaving this item for an exhibition at the League of NH Craftsmen gallery in Concord. It is a big project (for me) but the yarns are here and after a day or two off from the loom, I'm going to get going on the warp. The exhibit is in January.

Do you, dear readers, maintain a blog? Obviously I do, but one wonders sometimes if it is "worth" the time and energy involved. There are pictures to take and edit/resize and comments that sometimes need moderation and then there is the whole "what do I write about today" thing.

Well, I received a handwritten letter this week from a person who is not known to me. "Ann" wrote me a charming letter in which she shared her weaving story. Ann explained that she had been diagnosed with an illness and decided that she could a) feel sorry for herself or b) try something new. She decided to try handweaving and gathered up books and searched for blogs authored by weavers. Ann found my wee blog! And she shared with me that she wove a lace bookmark, which is a draft found here on my blog.

I was stunned by Ann's kindness in taking the time to pen a letter to me. I showed the letter to my husband and kids. It was so gratifying to know that I have been able to pass along a bit of what I have learned along the way - even via computer screen!

Ann's letter provided me with the resolve to do two things:

1) keep blogging about weaving
2) write more handwritten letters

Letter-writing is becoming a lost art, don't you think? While I love the convenience of email and text messaging, there is something really lovely about getting a letter in the mailbox and holding it in your hand to read it.

So long for now, friends, and happy blogging and weaving and letter-writing.
Be well,
Kate K. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

News from the loom room

Hello, friends. Well, seeing as it is November in New Hampshire I cannot justify ignoring my blog with excuses such as "I was working in the garden" or "it was a nice day so we went to the beach." I was slowed down a bit, though, as I was on a rigorous 3 week series of prescribed antibiotics to knock out Lyme disease (perhaps THE worse thing about living in New England). Either the Lyme or the antibiotics or a combination of the two really slowed me down for a while. Things are looking up now, however. While I can't really "catch up" on the weaving projects that I aspired to finish this fall in time for the holidays, I can at least resume and be satisfied that I'm able to weave more efficiently.

So, I've been working on scarves:

and I'm also working on dishtowels. I have had a couple of exciting opportunities come my way recently. A small selection of scarves and housewares are currently on display at DeCordova Sculpture Park & Museum in Lincoln, MA. And today I had an appointment with one of the League of NH Craftsmen retail galleries and will also have some items on display there. (More details on this soon - there are papers to sign and all sort of things like that).

So there you are. I do hope that my U.S. friends have a splendid Thanksgiving!
Be well,
Kate K.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

League of NH Craftsmen

Hello, friends. I am just about to pop at the seams with excitement. Yesterday I had my handwoven work adjudicated by weavers from the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen. I provided seven woven samples of my latest work (also, I wore one of my favorite pieces). Here are a few of the pieces that I took with me to Concord:

The jurors were very supportive and offered suggestions for continued development of my work, which is terribly exciting to think about. I need to learn about complying with truth in labeling laws for apparel before I can have my pieces available for sale at the League's retail shops. I'm making good headway here and will hopefully have everything ready within a few weeks.

The loom is currently being dressed for new waffleweave dishtowels. I have a warp on right now in a very jaunty grape purple cotton and plan to weave some colonial blue and sage towels as well. These have been customer favorites over the years, and I'm looking forward to having these available again.

Be well,

Monday, September 15, 2014

Hello, September

Hello, friends. With temperatures in the thirties this morning and my vegetable and flower gardens suffering from a serious case of the shaggies, there is a definite sense of fall in the air. I was pleased to issue in the season last weekend at the Apple Country Craft Fair here in Londonderry, where I sold my wares along with many other New Hampshire artisans and crafters. This year I was very happy to bring "Bug" along with me for demonstration purposes!

My booth at the Apple Country Craft Fair, Londonderry, NH

With the craft fair behind me, I am focusing on preparing for my jury session with the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen. The jury session will take place in late October. I'm to bring between 6-10 handwoven pieces with me for the panel to review. I will keep you posted!

With the advent of cooler temperatures and some upcoming exhibiting opportunities on my calendar, I have been working on some winter wearables. Here is my latest ladies' scarf, woven from a lovely alpaca and silk weaver's yarn. I kept this piece simple: just one color (this is a silver grey) and included regularly spaced lace squares throughout the scarf. I dabbled with a two color design (a sort of windowpane plaid that surrounded the lace squares) but didn't like the result (the scarf was reminiscent of a picnic blanket). Here's the scarf:

I'm thinking about another scarf using this pattern made from a raspberry pink -- a bold color for my otherwise subtle palette, but I figure it is good to keep things fresh, right?

Be well,
Kate K. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

DIY warp weights that really work

Hello, friends. As we all know, necessity is often the mother of invention. On Saturday I took "Bug," my 4 harness Harrisville Designs small loom, out for her first field trip to demonstrate weaving at Londonderry's Old Home Days event. There was a warp on the loom (rayon chenille) and after unfolding the loom and getting everything ready to weave, the first three threads on one side of the warp were really loose and the whole thing was just a big kerfuffle.

Since I was on the road and didn't have my hemostats handy (my preferred method of suspending, for example, floating selvedge threads), I had to fashion something that would work out of the items I had with me in my "artisan-show-disaster-kit," which includes things such as screwdrivers, scissors, and cup hooks (which I use for display purposes for signs, etc...).

Here is what I came up with on Saturday:

Supplies needed:
film canister
cup hook (mine have a threaded screw-like end, which is great)
pennies or other weights

I have to say, these work great. Here's a  photo of the weights on the loom:

I like the way that additional weight can be added to the film canister, and the cup hooks have shown to be securely anchored into the lid of the film canister. "S" hooks or even a paperclip can be fashioned to add a bit of length/distance between weights.

There are all sorts of ways to tension a misbehaving warp thread (I recently read filling milk jugs with water or using "plastic bags full of rocks"), but I think the film canister method is a bit more tidy and compact.

Let me know what you think! I only wish that there were more film canisters around the house!

Be well,
Kate K.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

For your sewing room

Hello, friends. I'm preparing for a small local show to be held in August (Old Home Days, Londonderry, NH) and in addition to taking "Bug" with me for demonstration purposes, I will bring along a few items that will be for sale. I've found that it is helpful to have items for sale at a variety of price points at craft shows, everything from handwoven lace notecards to dishtowels to handwoven scarves. I wanted a small, interesting yet utilitarian item to take with me for shows in August and September and came up with this new pincushion:

The weaving is a traditional overshot design, "Star of Bethlehem," and the bottom is made from 100% wool felt. I included a vintage button and worked an embroidery stitch around the edge. (Is the red too bright? I thought it seemed cheerful, but then again my tastes tend toward the whimsical).

I might try a square version, too, but will wait to see what sort of feedback I generate from this post and from my Facebook and Instagram pages. It is always good to test the waters before investing a lot of time and energy into a new project!

The shadow weave scarf is coming along; I am about half-way finished with it. I find that taking the weaving in small doses is a good strategy for me -- I need a break after about 12" of weaving the pattern!

Have a happy Thursday friends, and enjoy your day. Thanks for reading!
Be well,
Kate K.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Handmade rescue

Hello, friends. In between weaving and working in the garden, I've been doing a bit of redecorating at home. The guest room has a new coat of paint, new pillow shams and cases, and a few homey touches. I stopped at the local Goodwill to see if I could find a mirror in a nice frame that I could hang above the small dresser/bureau.

I'm not much of a thrift store shopper, so I don't know how commonly one finds pieces such as the one that I found languishing in the back corner of the store:

The embroidered piece is beautifully framed (check out the detail below) and has the maker's initials, "SW" and date (2000) stitched onto the fabric. The price: $4.99.

I can't even begin to guess how many hours the maker spent making this -- there are at least 20 different thread colors used and a variety of stitches. As an artisan, seeing this fine example of craftsmanship for sale at Goodwill made me a little bit sad. Did the person, "SW," who worked on this item pass away? Perhaps there was no friend or family member interested in her work. Or maybe a relationship went sour and whoever possessed the embroidery simply didn't have the need for it anymore.

Well, it has a new home with me, and I was proud of my 16 year old son who said, "Some people don't appreciate how much time it takes to make something like that." I cleaned up the glass, washed the frame with Murphy's Oil Soap (it was really dirty), and gave it a bit of polish.

Here it is in our guest room, where it seems right at home (I think I'll put it on the wall, above the dresser):

Do you ever wonder, dear readers, where your handmade items will end up someday? My experience at the Goodwill did give me pause. I hope that "SW", wherever she is, would be content knowing that her embroidered item is much appreciated and is a delightful addition to our home.

Be well,
Kate K.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Take me to the fair. Maybe.

Hello, friends. Here we are well into July and I have yet to write a post about my weaving activities. While I have been weaving quite a bit (especially on wee "Bug"), I tend to get distracted this time of year with gardening and other summertime activities. I've been especially intent on reducing the effects of the dreaded Asiatic Garden Beetle and His Fatty-ness, the resident woodchuck, on our vegetables and flowers.

My latest weaving project on the LeClerc is a four-shaft shadow weave scarf. It is warped and woven in alpaca and silk in black and lavender. I really like the way it is coming together. If you have seen my Facebook posts about the weaving, you are already familiar with the struggles I've had. (The pattern has a lengthy repeat - 48 ends - and it is hard to find a good rhythm). After some serious doubts about finishing the scarf, I decided for forge ahead. Progress is slow by steady. Here is the scarf as she stands today:

I love the way the scarf looks and feels. I'm thinking about keeping the scarf for myself or, possibly, saving it for a special gift. My experiences with the local artisan shows here tell me that this scarf, or perhaps any woven from this design and yarn, will garner attention but will most likely not find a buyer. Given the price of the yarns, the size of the scarf, the time invested in the design, warping, and most importantly, the painstakingly slow weaving of the piece, I can't price this item "attractively."

So, what to do with said piece? I think the item is a pretty good representation of my ability as a weaver. I'm thinking about entering the item in a popular local fair, The Deerfield Fair, which is held here in New Hampshire in September.

Have any of my lovely readers ever taken a handcrafted item (or, perhaps, a delightful lamb or bunny) to an agricultural fair? The particular fair I'm considering has been in existence for many years (138!) and is well-attended.

Perhaps I'll have good fortune, just like one of my all-time favorite movie characters, Esme Hoggett, who was a fierce competitor in the preserves/jams/jellies division of the country fair in the movie, "Babe. "

Esme Hoggett, champion
Do share your county fair entry experiences here! I always enjoy reading your posts! Thanks for reading.

Be well,
Kate K.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Should I give it a name?

Hello, friends. I took a road trip to Vermont earlier this week, and I brought home a new addition to the workshop on Monday. We have spent the last couple of days getting used to each other. I'm the proud owner of a new, well, really, "previously loved" Harrisville Designs loom:

I purchased the loom primarily for demonstration purposes at shows and our local "Londonderry Old Home Days" event in August, where I have done weaving and spinning demos for the last four years. After participating in several exhibits/shows over the last three years, I decided that having a loom as part of my display "package" could be potentially useful. By having a small loom "in action" in my booth, I can answer questions such as "how do you do that?" and "where did you buy your fabric?" (answer: I don't buy it, I make it) and "did you knit that?" I always bring photos of my loom with me to shows, but my small album just wasn't sufficient. I also think that having a working loom on site could help to draw people into the booth. (What do you think? Would having the loom clanging away be off-putting?)

The loom needed a few small adjustments (the third shaft was a bit off-kilter) and I still need to put on a couple of new washers, but I'm finding it to be very functional and useful. I did some sampling with a short warp (an experiment in trying to use a warping paddle) to determine loom waste and to just get used to working on the thing:

Overall, I'm really pleased with my purchase. I love the tool tray on the top, and I also like the simplicity of the direct tie loom. While the LeClerc Nilus II is still my primary loom, I think that the small Harrisville will earn her keep. And justify her footprint in the family room.

Have a happy day and thanks for reading!
Be well,
Kate K.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

It's May already?!

Hello, friends. Well. Where to begin. The garden is growing like mad. We had a few casualties in the yard, including my favorite butterfly bush and a magnolia. It was a hard winter. I plan to set the tomatoes and flowers in the ground this weekend; they have been staying out all night this week and seem to be managing the transition from cozy sunroom to the great outdoors just fine. Our youngest is in the middle of baseball season, so we spend a lot of time at the high school ball park.

My first outdoor show took place on May 17th right here in Londonderry, New Hampshire, and it was great fun. I always load up my vehicle the day prior to a show and this time I was very lucky to have a helper:

 Yes, this is our beloved Norwegian Elkhound, Ingrid, who at nearly 11 years old, decided to hop up into the back of our vehicle, which entailed no small amount of effort, as you might deduce.

It was the first time my husband and I had ever had to set up shop in the rain, but the skies cleared by late morning and people ventured out of doors. Here's a photo of my booth:

I brought a few new items with me for the show, including my huck lace / Brooks bouquet towels (the colonial blue was my best seller) and lace dress hangers.

The loom has been busy. I am in the middle of working on some custom requests right now - dishtowels and dishcloths. While these items don't use fancy yarns or complicated weaving structures, I still find great enjoyment in knowing that the finished items will be used - and reused! I really like having "old favorites" to weave:

What about you? What are some of your tried and true weaving projects or patterns that always seem to find their way back onto the loom? Do share.

In the meantime, have a happy weekend, wherever you are.
Be well,

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,

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,

Thursday, February 6, 2014

New handwoven kitchen tea towels

Hello, friends. We received MORE snow yesterday but my thoughts continue to dwell on warmer and sunnier days which are most surely ahead of us. While perusing my February blog posts from previous years, I noted a tendency to weave with bright colors that evoke Spring. This year is no different!

Sage green kitchen towel with lace border

As many of you know I really love lace weaves so I decided to design a sturdy kitchen towel with just a hint of delicate lace. There are two rows of Brooks bouquet (see my blog post from January to read more about this weaver-controlled accent) and a band of huck lace on this towel. I was really surprised at how much the Brooks bouquet rows draw in after wet-finishing (you have to zoom in on the photo to see the characteristic "windows") but given the intended use of this handwoven piece, this is not such a bad thing (read: fewer snags on fork tines and the like).

The loom has a warp of robins egg blue on it right now for sister towels in this lovely Springtime color:

Robins egg blue lace dishtowel on the loom

I did a Q & A on my facebook fan page and asked my lovely followers what colors they like to use in their kitchens. The answers were varied, but there were some colors that appealed to many readers: red, colonial blue, sage green, yellow, and "crisp" white. I'm using their input to help me create new kitchen textiles such as the ones photographed above. 

So here's to Spring, which will be most welcome this year!
Be well,
Kate K.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Turned Monk's Belt

Hello, friends. Happy Thursday to you!

I've been trying to make good on my promise to keep trying new weaving techniques and this week I attempted turned (sometimes called "threaded") monk's belt. Armed with several references, including Jean Scorgie's excellent issue (number 26) of "Weaver's Craft" which is devoted to turning drafts, I gave this intriguing pattern a go.

My loom is not equipped with a second/supplementary warp beam and I've never woven any project using a supplementary warp technique. So, I'm no expert on turned monk's belt -- just an interested beginner!

I followed Ms. Scorgie's weaving draft for her "holiday runner." I mixed up the colors a bit based on the 5/2 mercerized cotton colors that are in my stash. One thing that I'm still not sure about, given that I do not have a second warp beam, is how to bundle the warp threads when tying onto the back beam. I took a guess and decided to tie both the pattern/supplementary warp together with the ground warp. Maybe this was a mistake - I might revise this for my second attempt at turned monk's belt.

The weaving proceeded slowly thanks (or "no thanks") to the presence of "wiggles." Here is a wiggle:

Wiggle - an untamed and very uncooperative pattern warp thread. Be gone! 

The wiggles appear in the cloth since there is a tendency of the threads to reposition themselves; the threads are sett at a tight 32 ends per inch in the pattern area. I guess turned monk's belt threads are rather free spirits. However, the wiggles can be tamed a few ways:

Pick up stick helps to align the pattern warp threads properly

The pick up stick approach is time-consuming but it does work. I tried another approach to reduce the wiggly threads -- a rod placed under the pattern threads underneath the back beam. 

My tensioning rig for turned monk's belt

I think that the "rig" approach has a lot of potential but my rig is not really all that great. I used a 3/8" thick dowel (what I could find in the workshop); a thicker dowel will probably work better. And maybe some more weight. There is a lot of fussing around with weights.

All in all, though, I'm really pleased with my first attempt at turned monk's belt:

Turned monk's belt on the loom

The underside of the fabric looks pretty nifty, too:

Underside of the monk's belt fabric on the loom

I'll continue with another treadling variation tomorrow and would like to try another design and some other colors at a future date. At the very least I'd like to work up a better rig for weighting/tension.

Happy trails to you. And may you have very few wiggles should you attempt turned monk's belt.

Be well,

Friday, January 24, 2014

Brooks bouquet and huck lace

Hello, friends. Happy Friday to you.

I made a promise to myself to "keep learning" and to try new weaving techniques this year. We're a few weeks into 2014 but I did add something new to my weaving repetoire this week: Brooks bouquet.

My handweaving friends are probably very familiar with this technique but it was new for me. What is Brooks bouquet? Well, in layperson's terms, it is a way to make a lacy design in your handwoven fabric by just using a shuttle and weft thread. Here's a photo of what it looks like:

 The row of little "windows" is Brooks bouquet. There is a really good explanation of how to accomplish this effect on the Schacht Spindle blog. This is a nice technique that is also workable on a rigid heddle loom, from what I understand.

I designed the runner below to combine both weaver controlled lace (Brooks bouquet) and loom controlled huck lace. This runner is made from 5/2 mercerized cotton in ivory and might be more suited to dressing up a bureau or antique chest. It is sturdy but a lot of machine-washing might tax the open weave a bit. So, to be on the safe side, I'd probably handwash this piece or at least secure it in a lingerie bag if it finds its way into a washing machine. Here's a look at the runner when finished (confession: the runner was still damp after wet finishing when I took the photo!):

After I finish with a few more lace runners on this warp, the next project is ready to go. I'm going to take a stab at turned monk's belt. Such an adventure! I'm really excited about it.

Have a happy weekend, friends.
Be well,

Monday, January 20, 2014

Diamond huck lace

Hello, friends. Happy Monday to you.

The loom has been clanking away. I finished up some scarves in alpaca/silk and am now working on a table runner for a returning customer. The yarn is a lovely cayenne/paprika orange and the pattern is a six shaft huck lace treadled and threaded to create diamond shapes that are repeated throughout the cloth. Here's a close-up of the fabric:

It is coming along nicely. I plan to weave some additional table runners in ivory that are in this huck lace family after this piece is finished. I might try a different treadling pattern or two.

I've spent a lot of time trying to discern how to fulfill the requirements for the HGA "Certificate of Excellence" Level I and still manage to:
 a) weave for my customers and for my shop/shows
b) have time to work in my garden 
c) cook dinner for my family
d) sleep at least a few hours every night
e) read the occasional novel

So I've put this project on the back burner for a while. It was good to read through the curriculum, though, as it gave me a lot of food for thought and confirmed that really, after many years of weaving, I've got loads (BUCKET LOADS!) to learn.

Instead of the COE program, I've given serious thought to signing up for a jurying session with the League of NH Craftsmen within the calendar year. I like the idea of having the opportunity to meet the weavers who are jurors and also like the idea of (hopefully) being part of a regionally-based organization. So far I have organized my thoughts and have considered what sort of pieces would comprise a representative body of work. I will keep you posted!

Here is one more photo of a recent piece and then I'll be signing off to get dinner sorted.

Be well,

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Tartan shawl from Thistle Rose Weaving

Hello, friends. My wonderful husband presented me with a most thoughtful and beautiful gift this Christmas. He has heard me mention and has read some of my blog posts that highlight the handweaving of my friend, Martha Witcher (Metamora, Illinois) over the course of the past few years. Martha is the creative and talented force behind Thistle Rose Weaving.

Everything about this handwoven piece is exquisite. The yarn is lovely (and very, very fine) and the colors are rich and vibrant. The weaving is superb: edges are neat, beat is even throughout the entire piece, fringe is carefully done, hemstitching is perfect, the plaid design is even and without a flaw. And best of all, it just feels wonderful - as if Martha is here to wrap me in a big, warm hug even though she lives many, many miles from New Hampshire!

The handweaving community is such a friendly one, isn't it? It is wonderful to be a part of it. Stop in at Martha's shop or her blog, Thistle Rose Handweaving, and take a peek at her latest projects and her cozy home-based studio.

And, of course, a special thanks to my wonderful and supportive husband, Don, who made Christmas day so special. Life is good.

Be well,

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Hello, 2014

Hello, friends. Happy New Year to you. I've been neglecting my blog lately and was beginning to miss chatting about my latest projects and ideas.

Earlier this week I finished a rather sizable custom request for a good friends of mine in Iowa. Included in her order was a candy apple red and white plaid table runner, some dishcloths, and a set of white table napkins. Here is one of the table napkins from her set of 10:

I love weaving the table napkins; lace borders really dress up an item without being overly fussy.

Some dishcloths are ready for hemming and then these will be headed off to Missouri. They'll look like this:

There are a few more custom requests in the queue, and then I need to work on some dishtowels. I try to keep a reasonable supply of towels ready to ship but alas, my stock is a bit low. I'm going to try some solid colors in waffleweave (red and colonial blue) and then will work up some more farmhouse plaid towels.

In addition to working on custom requests, I've been doing a lot of reading and am trying to decide which techniques I want to learn this year. My ideas keep changing -- last month I was all excited about diversified plain weave. Now I'm keen on learning about weaving with a supplementary warp and weaving more with wool.

I guess the upside of all of this is that there is always something new to learn and getting bored with weaving is inconceivable!

Oh, and the gardening bug has hit. Hard. I am growing some rather anemic looking arugula seeds in a styrofoam box to try to sustain me until I can begin seed starting in earnest. It is a bit early for us yet, here in balmy Zone 5b, but in about 6 weeks I'll be up to my elbows in dirt -- at least indoors. Pure bliss.

Be well,