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.