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,