Sunday, March 24, 2019

The Reveal

So I removed the jig, after an interval for lunch and recuperation from warping.

And to my joy, the warps did not all leap about and knot up and generally get in an uproar. And the tensioning worked a treat.

There's irregularity in the warps, partly because of the wonky jig, partly the inexperience of the warping lady.

But considering that two weeks  ago this whole process was a total mystery, and now I know how to do it, I'd say overall it's pretty good.  I know how to improve, and which bits I didn't know enough about.

And I am hugely grateful to Sarah Swett whose blog entry on this topic was right on point. Her blog,  Field Guide to Needlework, is a treat to read.

Yet another Good Thing Quinn Piper, of  Comptonia blog fame, has brought into my life. She dm'd me recently about Field Guide, and it's become a big deal in my art life.  Her own blog, Comptonia, is well worth a visit, too.

Meanwhile back in the studio, I would like to use this setup even with the warp issues, so I'm thinking about this. I'll make them a design feature, you'll see!

Warped up and ready for next stage

After a pretty strenuous morning, discovering that the jig went lopsided because I applied too much tension, and I had to straighten it up and retighten everything, and that the warping thread tended to jump into knots, which I had to unravel one handed, while holding onto the warp to keep the tension, and various other ills, I did get the warping completed.

The jig has to be removed next, once I recover from warping.

But now you see how it works. More or less.

Those blue warp threads are slotted through the yellow warps, so that once the jig is removed, they will stay put, looped together.

This may or may not work, depending on how well the tensioning works. We'll see. The warps will all go slack when the jig's out, and I hope i can tighten them enough to work on.

But this is not bad for starters.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Thrills and spills in the studio

After several unsuccessful attempts with the first jig, involving bits flying about, and sudden dramatic unwindings, I ended up using the frame you see here. Tied firmly with tape and rubber bands.

Not ideal, but I don't have the drill bit needed to make a better jig. If this doesn't work I'll get my contractor friend to help.

Meanwhile, here it is warped up, so far so good. It's not a solid frame, just stretchers I can separate to remove it when warping is complete. The drawback is that it's a bit big, which means a lot of slack when it's removed.  That's ze moment of trrruth for the tensioning mechanism. And the weaver.

This is part one of the warping. Next the supplemental warps go in, stretching from the top of the jig to the top of the loom, and from the bottom of the jig to the bottom of the loom, looping at every turn with the warp on the jig.

This will enable me to remove the jig, leaving the warp in place, supported top and bottom by the supplemental warp threads. You'll see what this all means when I do it tomorrow.

But meanwhile, back at the ranch,  hope springs eternal, and, as you see, I pulled out a few old paintings as wildly optimistic design ideas. I can dream. The finished piece will be 8"x5", a great Fibonacci shape.

At least, that's the plan.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Tiny tapestry done, new loom assembled

So the tiny tapestry is done, 5.5"x 2"

 and I noted some technical issues with using the s hooks. They worked a treat with keeping an even warp and tension.

However,  as you see, when using this fine floss, the nearest you can weave to the hooks still leaves loops at the end.

So I had to try weaving through them after the tapestry was off the loom.  I turned the loom so that the working area was flat on the worktop, the support hanging down in front of me. This was great for bringing the work near enough for close stitching. Another benefit of building your own tools.

There's another way to go, using paperclips instead of s hooks, so for fine thread, maybe that's next time's idea. You need to weave tight up to the warp ends for four selvedge work.

Meanwhile, I'm happy with the improvement over my previous work.

And here comes the new loom. Tensioning device in place. Ready for action. This is the same loom, but I replaced the sides as you see.

The short pieces at the top of the sides had  rounded feet on them from a previous incarnation, which were firmly in place. So I wielded a giant pipe wrench and got them off. Slip joint pliers would have done it, but they were two floors down. You go to work with the tools at hand.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Floss weaving to date

So far so good. A lot of learning ahead, but technically getting better.  Finished size will be 5.5in by 2in.

I need to finish this before I can build in the tensioning device for which I have the parts. I may need to cut a bit more pipe.

Then I can start using my homespun. I need a less fluffy warp yarn. The warp I'm using here is crochet cotton, just had it to hand.

So that's all, as late HP used to say, in plan!

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Loom in action, small experiment with embroidery floss

The loom I'm building is moving along, and I learned quite a bit about threads and nuts. After a trip to the saintly staff of Smith's Ace hardware, I came home with a replacement couple of rods, plus hexnuts that fit.

Turns out there's nothing on the market to fit a metric left handed threaded rod. And their attempts to find, anywhere in the system, a couple of rods to size, having failed, they cut down a bigger one.

Huge effort for a small sale on their part. But I am very grateful. And I shipped back the rods that didn't work out.

Meanwhile. I'm testing the s hook loom with a little tapestry in embroidery floss.

It's working fine so far. Most regular weaving I've done up to now. And as you see, the s hooks are staying put.

On nonweaving subjects, yesterday I entered four artworks into the Preserve Annual Exhibit, involving handmade artist's book, painting, drawing, printmaking. I'll find out next week if I get anything in.

They were very interested in my offering possible weaving entries next year, so that presents me with a future goal.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Weaving without a loom aka leap and the net will appear

Just in case anyone is sort of interested in exploring a bit of weaving, and wonders if you need a complicated and beautiful loom, well, see this:

Weaving Without a Loom, by Veronica Burningham

It's a wonderful, exciting book which just opens up this whole part of the fiberarts world, and you can learn to make lovely things with simple tools.

The bag under the book in the picture is one I made following her instructions; the handle and the bookmark are stick- woven, also learned here.  I have weaving sticks, but you can use drinking straws just as well.

She doesn't plunge into the shed and reed and epi and heddle language beloved of the traditional loom weaver. You can leave that till much later without missing much, though it's fun to study.

The book is out of print but still available used. It has been issued in editions with different cover art, but the same contents, so don't go just by the cover.

I've woven on pvc pipes, picture frames, sheets of cardboard, circular saw blades, twigs, an old clock face frame, all fun. Now I'm building a more conventional tapestry loom.

I weave with donated yarn or floss, or fabric strips, beads, wire, and spin my own yarn.

So I'm just saying, don't wait till you have a "real" loom, or even a real budget!  just leap, and the net will appear.

Not that I'm enabling or anything. Anyway I have to stop now and do a bit of spinning..

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Spinning a yarn

Here, for once, I'm planning ahead. Most of my weaving is done spontaneously, no planned design. So this is a departure. Little landscape, colors suggested, and there's roving in the colors I need.

In weaving terms, this drawing is called a cartoon, and it will be set up behind the warp as a guide. It's a golden rectangle, 5×8

Just have to spin it now. By the time I've got the new loom tensioner set up, I'll have enough yarn to work with.

At least, that's the plan.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Coupling adventures, with PVC pipe that is.

I've built several items with PVC pipe, looms, a niddy noddy, a couple of embroidery frames, and the joy of the pipes and couplings is that you can take them apart and reassemble them for the next project. 

Same old parts and couplings from previous incarnations. They never wear out, I can attach them without tools, definitely my speed.

I need a tapestry loom, so I put together this starter, with another experiment seen in the background, but that one's not on. It did give me the idea for the PVC pipe one, so it served its purpose.

The stand can come off if it works better in practice without it, but I like the upright approach to seeing design.

Then I tried to figure out how to create a tensioning device, needed to do the four selvedge tapestry technique I'm pursuing. Tried several ideas but none worked.

Then a YouTube video showed me how to apply threaded rods and hex nuts between sections of pipe on the sides. Brilliant. It led to a merry online chase to find the right size of rod and nut, not yet settled.

Online it's metric and I don't know if m12 is right or only close. Similarly, will the hex nut thread pitch work.. probably better consult local hardware store. I learned quite a bit in the search.

So that's part of tomorrow decided. My inner engineer is all fired up about this.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Tiny tapestry done, some finishing to do

The first tiny tapestry is off the loom, warp threads tamed at the back. Design is ok, execution rusty.

The flaws I see will be remedied by the upgrade of the loom with nails. And by remembering to put in rows of stay stitches, which I forgot, so eager to get into the design.

Tomorrow that will happen. And I'll see about fibers for the next.

Meanwhile, in true oh look, a bird, fashion, while I was up in the studio pressing and stretching the tapestry, I noticed a little watercolor lying about, cropped it and shoved it into a frame also lying about.

I like it much better now.  I also saw a nice weaving I did, and exhibited, years ago, which will do well in a box frame. So that might happen tomorrow, too.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Tiny tapestry on its way

I'm quite liking how this is going. Instead of gold, I decided copper metallic thread would work with the colors.

Once this is done and off the loom, I'm going to put a series of finishing nails top and bottom, for easier warping.

I'm thinking of the next piece, maybe a different color range, and maybe gold will get in there.

But meanwhile more decisions on this one. It's about three quarters done. It's helpful to look at it through the camera, surprising what you learn that way.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Tiny tapestry under way

I warped up a set of embroiderers' stretcher bars, using some cotton crochet, I think, thread. Warping  is like framing: you don't have to like it, you just have to do it.

The bars are 8in square, interior 7in square. I warped up an area within which I'm working a tapestry 4.4 in by 2.75 in,

which, alert readers will have noted, is a golden rectangle. The golden ratio is a great help to design, since the proportions already work. I may not use the shed sticks you see improvised there. Long needle probably working fine.

So here we are. I spun up some yarn already, and found some spun red alpaca, I think, and used that first, along with variegated floss.

Anyway, the color scheme is in the hot part of the spectrum, with some white to be spun in. And who knows, a bit of gold or silver might happen.

I'm thinking of a series of three. Or these little works might become book covers. We'll see what emerges. The original concept is never what happens in the doing, so you have to hang loose and observe as much as design.

And now my brain has asked for a break, specifying pot of tea and a Barbara Pym.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Goats Magosh comes through again

I've been thinking about small weaving again, and spinning the fiber for it. Still working on that undyed merino I got years ago, and have spun and dyed.

But ready made colors, in ends of roving and top, from Goats Magosh, no big investment, is a good addition. Here's what arrived today, packed into a tiny bag, which exploded into a lot of fiber. Lovely clear colors.

Also, since these are really scraps, good quality but small amounts, there's  a variety of different fibers, interesting experience to work with them.

Some practically spin themselves, unlike the merino which I think is good fiber, but a bit resistant for beginner drafting. That's where you draw out the fiber from the supply in your hand, ready to spin it.

I love, because she responds fast with lovely clean product, very reasonable price, and she rescues goats. Also she's a small business owner in Puerto Rico, still recovering from Maria.  I will buy directly from her in future when I need serious fiber.

I found her through Amazon, but no need for a middleman. She has no idea I'm saying this, no business arrangement, I just like how she works.

And this weekend may be a spinageddon.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Danger, Spinster at Work

Last evening and today were a learning curve in spinning. Totally rusty skills, coupled with undimmed ambition, not a great combo.

I noticed last night that my whole left hand kept freezing, it's like trigger finger, except all of them. I can work it back into use, but I had to stop. And I noticed the spindle was hardly spinning, just a lazy revolution or two. Hmm. Maybe we were both tired.

Took a look at all three spindles, realized that the whorl, the wide bit, had slid up the shaft a bit. Pushed it down half an inch, and today it's spinning merrily. So for once it wasn't user error. The center of gravity needed to be adjusted.

If you want a totally scholarly insight into the physics of spinning, go right to Abby Franquemont, Respect the Spindle.

There's a reason she's so respected herself. Knowledgeable, nondogmatic, great spinner and teacher. You can see her teaching on YouTube, too.

I tried spinning two colors together, not bad for starters.

Then tried plying them, and you see the hopeful little heaps in the pic. It was about spinning z and plying s, just for practice.  It looks humble but there's a good bit of learning since yesterday. And this lumpy, I mean artisanal, yarn, will work in weaving or maybe Tunisian crochet.

I also, to continue now that I'm back from signing a petition at the door to get my dems on the ballot again, watched a few videos last night about the Turkish spindle, and I really fancy a  try.

There are the classic wooden ones, works of art, and there are 3D printed ones in all sorts of colors.

And yes I am reading a book club choice, Spinster by Kate Bolick. Spinning doesn't come into it, but her female inspirational women do.

We all need a bit of inspiration now and then.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Tunisian handwarmers, done

Finished my latest Tunisian crochet caper, handwarmers.

Just a rectangle, suggested by Fearless Knitting Group Leader, Meg, cast-on measured against my hand, length likewise, openings for thumbs decided as I stitched.

Mainly using up yarn. The red stripes are from Shepherd Susie, hand dyed, the yellow ones largely my handspun, the mixed colors knitpicks gradient.

I spun some roving in colors like the ones I was using, and added it in right off the spindle. It seems to have worked okay.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Spinning, clockwise, that is

Spinning has worked its way back to my days, and yesterday for a change,  I tried using my left hand to spin, right hand  to hold the roving. Cramp ensued very fast, so I went back to my Tunisian crochet.

Being in a lazy frame of mind, not up to taking the yarn off the spindle, setting the twist, all that. So I crocheted straight off the spindle.

Today I resumed right handed spindling. But in the course of wandering about spinning blogs and tutorials, I realized I was doing the S counterclockwise twist, not the traditional Z clockwise twist.

Not wrong exactly, but the snap I was doing to spin the spindle was more laborious than the flick that spinners usually do. So I switched and the yarn likes it.

One small drawback is  forgetting the direction, and spinning counterclockwise, which causes a mass unraveling. Then a bit of cursing, then respinning.

I still have a supply of undyed merino roving to spin. And to dye.  So, further adventures are lurking.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

The future crowds in on the current work

So, looking for a new project, at the knitting group, and Fearless Leader Meg suggested handwarmers, because I had a small amount of yarn, and a need to do more Tunisian crochet.

Started already, and was looking around for more yarn, found some handspun, then some roving in the same color family.

I've been wanting to spin a bit, so it seems to have inserted itself into the present.

Top of the pic, lying on the yarn is the started handwarmer. Foreground is the roving and a spindle  ready for action.

No pattern, just rectangles with thumb places left open when I do the finishing.

I'm also wanting to weave.  But that has to take its turn.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Good-bye to Lauragami

Laura Kruskal died a few days ago, famous origami artist and teacher, email lauragami.

She lived to 95 and was teaching up to recently. As she said to me a few years ago, "I always accept teaching invitations because if I don't people might not ask again!" She was about 90 at that time. She was on YouTube a couple of years ago doing a rap she wrote.

Google on her name for some lovely reading. Make origami in her honor.

I didn't know her through art, in fact, but through music. We both played with a local Recorder Society group and had a fine time. I should dust off my recorders and play a bit in her honor.

She was a force of nature!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The Reveal, the neck gaiter

Just finished the third Dorset button, all different patterns, and thought I'd better stitch them on before the impulse left me.

So here's the finished item. I made it to allow for different ways of wearing it, depending on the weather.

Completely buttoned, it goes right up over your nose, very warm, then you can play with it, using two or one, whichever way you like. See the loops in the top pic I added at the end, to slip over the buttons.

Very pleased with the results, if I say it myself. Not only a warm item, but a toy, too!

If you fancy making one: 7x19 inches, size J Tunisian hook, two strands of fingering worked together, different shades for a heathery look, 37 stitches to allow for the lace stitch. It's a multiple of four plus one. The loops are regular crochet still using the same hook. I just worked random rows of the stitches I know, as the spirit moved me, lace, knit, purl, simple.

That's it. If you do try, be sure and let me know, complete with pix.

Monday, February 11, 2019

The Joy of Framing

Not. Least favorite of all art related requirements, framing.

Here in the throes. Or as my Twitter feeders sometimes say, the throws. Makes me wonder what they think it means. Throwing your energy into it? 

Anyway there's a juried show coming up, run by the Preserve. Theme NJ nature. Prizes,awards, one for Preserve related subject matter. Four pieces per artist, reasonable fee if you go for all four. Juried meaning competitive entrance. Mebbe you get in, mebbe you don't.

Soooo went through my framed and other items, moaning and polishing glass and spiffing up and reframing and generally having an awful time. Nearly done.

Of course it involved making more art for background, but I've managed to dodge the worst -- mat cutting. Just as well, because the mat cutter is at a friend's house. He's had it so long he probably thinks he owns it and is lending it to me.

Certainly different from wielding needles and hooks, though there's crochet and embroidery as well as dyeing and painting in the four selected.

And then there's The Filling of the Forms, bureaucracy collides with free spirit.

This too shall pass.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Lunar New year exhibit

This month at the Plainsboro Library Gallery is a world-class exhibit of watercolors by Jun Zhan, famous in China, not seen much in the USA.

It's dynamite. He understands watercolor, how to use space in the Chinese tradition, and is simply a master talent. Very glad this show is here in our little town.

Portraits of Uygher elders

The reflections were a challenge. Ceremonial lion and other figures from the Forbidden City.

Artists working today demonstrating paintings, calligraphy, woodburning

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Filet crochet phone purse

I used to make dishcloths or facecloths or potholders to try out new stitches, but now my default seems to be phone purses. The first filet crochet adventure is here unveiled in action. On the right is the granny square version.

Next,  on to the Dorset buttons, to finish my neck gaiter, before I make more adventurous filet. This was a simple checkerboard, to get the feel of the counting without referring to a tutorial. Next on to a finer thread, smaller hook and more ambitious design.

Filet crochet without tears

So last night, last thing, such timing, I decided to make a start on filet crochet. I'd watched a few tutorials, most of which were terminally confusing, and finally found a couple of lessons where the presenter didn't tie himself in knots over the math of it.

Turns out it's not so complicated after all, and I copied one row from a lesson, got the hang, and started to make a simple design. I used a fairly fine thread, not liking the yarn examples I saw online. But the teacher has to use a big enough fiber and hook to show up on video.

So here's where I am, a bit wobbly, but getting there.  I'm a bit counting challenged, those eleven meshes in row one first came out as nine, then twelve, then finally settled on the right number for the purpose.

I have some ideas for images, combining drawing and crochet. So this is step one on what might be a new obsession, I mean interest.

It has some aspects in common with printmaking, too, using additive or reductive techniques. Sounds pretty highfalutin coming from someone who's been doing it for about an hour, and who just learned to get the right numbers.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Neck gaiter almost done

Here's the latest in Ladies' Neckwear. The gaiter is almost done. It has two sides and I think both are fine.

I ended with three loops crocheted onto the body, ready for their Dorset buttons, to be worked in the same yarn.

Here are the rings for the buttons, showing how they'll slip through the loops.

The pattern is random stripes of my repertoire of stitches, seen vertically when worn. I expect we'll get more weather suitable for wearing it.

I think it's all an excuse to make more Dorset buttons, really.

And just when I thought it was safe, I find myself deep in choosing art to enter into an interesting juried show coming up soon. More framing. Oh, goody..

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Back to the stitching guild

For the first time in months, I didn't have another event in conflict with the Embroiderers' Guild, so I went to the membership meeting.

The project was a kit of a detail from the Bayeux Tapestry, which features the Bayeux stitch, a very cool mixture of long stitches, with anchoring stitches holding them in place. Outlined in stem stitch, it's a great filling for narrative embroidery.

Carol P taught the workshop, and brought in a wonderful stitching she had done of a segment from the Tapestry. She provided the kits and backup information, and created an engrossing program

And members showed other work; here's Florence K, with a beaded felt applique and

a special artwork finished since  I last saw her

Saasha showed me this amazing work in progress

The afternoon, during which I was crocheting, may have rekindled my interest in stitching!

Nice to be back in the group again.