Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Winding and dyeing and dreaming of weaving

So I have maybe a yard of thread on the floss bobbin, of which I found I had a bunch, thanks to the downsizing.

 During its course, I not only found, but relocated, a lot of things where I can now find them with no irritated fumbling and tossing and fussing.

 To wit: the floss bobbins, exactly what I need to wind the paper yarn on, the silk dyes, which I needed instantly just now, and containers for the dyes. To name but a few.

Anyway, since it looks like I can do this thread, dyeing is up now. I took out the iris, pale green, in fact the residue from making iris paper, from the freezer, and the mix of turmeric, yellow onionskin and black walnut, too. Added in a lovely red/pink silk dye and a blue mix. The latter two are from silk dyeing days, prep for teaching freeform embroidery on silk.

I just dropped filters into containers to take up the color, then drained the excess dye all into one container and dropped more filters in there.

Here the color is spreading through the filters.

Then I needed a break, pot of tea, few cashews. And noticed the floss bobbin of blinding white thread just lying there. Clean thread, clean bobbin, the work of a moment to slip it onto a spoon and dip it into the teapot.

Seen here on a lovely homespun napkin, from a friend, don't know the weaver, or I'd credit them. Nice tint.

All in all a productive time was had by all. The containers are now in a warm place on top of the fridge to dry out. Stop me before I dye again.

This kind of art reminds you that the processing of your raw materials is part of making the art.

 The decision on how fine to make the thread, what colors to use, what to mix to get subtlety, how weaving miniature work needs the color miniaturized too.

 It's all artmaking, rather than just getting ready to make art. As warping the loom is the first part of the work, not just a process you have to get through in order to work. Or making the ink with the stick on the stone before you do Chinese brush painting. It's calming, meditative, vital.

About miniaturizing color: long ago I was a miniature needlework designer and maker, sold finished work to serious collectors, kits to keen makers.

 In the course of designing I realized that if you want to convey, say , black, as a rug background, if you use an actual black it looks toylike, not like a rug that you need comparison to realize it's not full-size. Red likewise. And so on. If the original full-size item was a solid color, the miniature version needed to be muted a bit to convey the illusion.

You can do this by mixing close shades in the needle if you're working with a plied floss, or by going into a finished work and seeding a lighter shade here and there.

This is where the craft, faithful perfect rendering in small scale, meets the art, deciding how to adjust that, so the eye sees it as a faithful rendition.  What Picasso called the lie that tells the truth.

Tomorrow I'll warp up ready for more weaving. You'll notice I'm not in a mad rush to do the finishing of the first group. Not a fan of finishing. It's like framing, you don't have to like it, you just have to do it.

First paper thread!

I learned a lot this morning from making this wonderful new thread.

I damped it and as I worked damped my thumbs and first fingers. Although you see it on my smallest spindle, I quickly realized the spindle would put too much stress on the fiber. So I spun with both thumbs and first fingers, spinning with the right hand, feeding the paper with the left.

And you see one coffee filter turned into a lovely yarn. It looks as if it stays spun, without having to set the twist, a nice bonus.

I found that as I filled the spindle, my hands were stressed. I needed the shaft resting on my hand. So next I think I'll spin onto a thin dowel.

Now I know I can do the spinning, I'll go ahead and dye some filters ready to work with.

This is great! Books coming up. And now I'm wondering about creating pages from coffee filters..

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Paper spinning prep under way

I'm going to experiment again with spinning paper for my Little Books. Warp with cotton, paper weft. This time I'm using coffee filters, strong, can tolerate damp and dyeing.

I'm learning this from the blessed Sarah Swett, whose blog, A Field Guide to Needlework I hugely recommend. She's a great weaver, spinner, artist, and person.

Anyway this is my first shot at making a long continuous strip from a coffee filter, following her instructions. It came out in a couple of strips owing to a couple of slips, but that's not a big problem.

Next I plan to dye, then spin. I have dyes in the freezer which I can use. Just need to choose colors.

If this looks like working I'll get more into it. So far as I know, the cutting worked okay. I need to try spinning next. Previous attempts at spinning  paper haven't met with great success, but that wasn't coffee filter paper, so hope springs eternal.

The reason I think this will work better is that paper spins best damp, and this paper, unlike the other ones I tried, doesn't lose tensile strength when damp.

However it's been a long day and I think I'll do it tomorrow.

Tonight I'll finish the big sweater frame, do the day's dishes, and it'll be about 9 on, so I'll take the rest of the day off.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Loom now freed up

I released the four weavings and steam pressed them. They need to rest before I do the finishing.

Meanwhile I can warp up again and use the cotton warping thread for weft as well.

I find I like the smaller book size better, so I think I'll go with that for a bit. I plan on some different techniques with the cotton weft.  I put my hand in the pix for proportional information, posh way to say how big,or small, the weavings are.

Right now I need to wait, tired, vision blurry. Eye doctor today, nothing ominous, nothing progressing, except I need new rx, different for each eye. He can get me to 20/30 with luck.  I'm recycling the frames, just too expensive to buy new. As it is, the lenses are north of $700. That's aside from the Medicare covered exam and testing.

He also wants me to wear safety goggles while I spin and weave because the microscopic fibers irritate my eyes. I guess I'll try it, but I'm liable to get irritated over wearing them. We'll see. I have them somewhere, but I used them mainly for drilling.  I  may have to get new ones.

All in all, I'm blessed. And eager to get on with the weaving.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Book cover two

The loom now has two Little Book covers on each side. I will need to take them off, steam, press and rest them before I get to the next adventure.

Latest book cover, clasped weft, leno

This one's smaller, as I realized it needed to be. So it's 2"x3". Still a nice ratio, and works better for some reason.

The gold insertion I did as a clasped weft, and ran into instant problems. The gold has no give, and it shrinks back from the edges, pulling them in. I had to remove and replace several times to get it fairly acceptable. And clasped weft pulls in anyway, so this was a bit of an extra challenge. I think it came out okay. I'll see how I like it once it's off the loom.

Clasped weft is a lovely technique where you use one weft thread to draw another behind it until it gets to the point you want. You can create great free designs as you go.

It was a bit over optimistic to try to do it with a combo of handspun wool and gold embroidery thread, though. Note to self. Better not mix materials for this process.

But when I get to the cotton warp thread weaving, soon, with the same fiber for the weft, it should work better. Also then I plan to learn and deploy leno, a nice lacy effect, which I studied in that great weaving book I reviewed recently.

Cotton has more definition than homespun wool, so it's better for fancy footwork. But spinning your own weaving yarn is great, and there's something to be said for the lovely softness and liveliness of the weaving.

I'm leaning more and more to making paper to size for the Little Books, rather than adapting what I have. Probably abaca/cotton linters rather than my own foliage. I just need to create a new small mold and deckle. Or maybe just a simple piece of screening.

Always looking far ahead and having to haul myself back to the present.

Friday, February 21, 2020

The Little Book Project continues

Tonight's spinning for tomorrow's weaving

 Today's output, and the process

The red ended up out of this pair. Good for tomorrow, probably

 One side of the cardboard loom, annnddd

 I carried the warp over the top, down the back and now have warps for four pieces, two pieces per side. A cool advantage of a simple, some would say primitive, loom.

Yesterday's output off the loom, steamed, and resting. This is where I remembered I can use both sides of the loom. Aka rush of brains to the head.

I also realized I can avoid a lot of ends to work in at the finishing process by spit splicing as I go, this being wool yarn after all.

A good day of remembering, realizing and doing, all in all.  My arm's tired from all the back-patting.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Miniature book covers, day one

A good studio day.

I found that the hokett loom on which I planned to work still had work on it. So I looked around for another small loom.   Since the books will be 4"x2.5", and I will need to accommodate two of them on a single warp, I realized that my bead loom will do fine.

It's a sturdy piece of matboard on which I've done a lot of beadweaving. Already marked off in inches, width fine for my purpose.

Then I foozled around a bit deciding on a warp thread. Ended up with a cotton one, which I dyed a while back probably with diluted black walnut. The idea is to make it less glaring white so it vanishes better under the weft.

Then I happily got into it. This small lightweight loom is easy on your hands, very maneuverable, and will bend slightly if you need to slide a finger behind the work to secure an end. It's as simple as can be.

So I just picked any newly spun yarn and started needleweaving.

 Just used a big blunt yarn needle.

Here you have two covers which will go to different books. The plan is for a series. So I'll weave a few, varying the colors and designs and later see which ones are happy together. I'm already mixing colors as I spin, so part of the design is accounted for.

 I'll separate them by cutting the warp threads between them, then weaving back the ends into the weft. Then do top and bottom similarly.  Then steam and rest them. Then warp up for the next two.

At that point,I when I've got the collection done, I'll decide if I need to make a new post (batch) of paper to size, or if I can use some of my current stock, torn to size. No need to know that yet.

As I expect you know, you don't cut handmade paper. You can wet a line then tear on it where the fibers are weaker. Or use a straightedge to secure then tear.

And later I'll decide what sort of stitching I'll do to bind the books.

Happy spinner/weaver/stitcher/bookie.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Finally art starts again, tapestry artist books

I spent the evening thinking about spinning, and spinning up some nice silk and other bits of roving while I planned tomorrow's weaving.

Miniature book, covers 4"×2.5", golden rectangle. The pages will be my handmade paper. Not sure what thread to bind with yet.

I'll warp the loom tomorrow, once I decide which one and which warp thread. At this scale I can work on front and back covers in one warping on a small loom.

They will be tapestries, meaning the weft will completely cover the warp. What I spun tonight will be weft yarn.  The dark yarn is shot through with sparkle, lovely. The light isn't good for pix right now but I'm too excited to wait for daylight.

It's so good to be making again.

And I'm planning on having another try at spinning handmade paper. And other things.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Aunt Maggie's slippers rule, also dogs and dolls

So I needed new slippers, since I wear them out, then the first pair

was in the laundry so I needed more, finished just now

These are easy, suitable for working on at my knitting group while I chat.

 You need two levels of knitting: one that needs thought and attention, one that doesn't! Lace and long rows and counting and

breed specific dogs are in the first category, making dishcloths, potholders, slippers, and

simple(r) dolls in the second.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Valentine's chic choc

So, moving right along, since I work with silk quite a bit, why not stay in character and make the Vday treat bags from silk?
Wrapped in parchment paper then enclosed in silk. Tied with gold thread.

No sooner said than did.

Tadaah!! I don't think any of the recipients read in here, so we're good. And I'm seeing them before the day, so I'm ready. There may be more, but this is now.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

So, maybe art can get a look in now?

The downsizing having subsided to a dull roar, it's time to create something. Anything.

And since I've made Valentine chocolate bark, see, l would like to be ready to give it to unsuspecting people.

But it needs suitable packaging. And origami comes to mind. Not that I'm a great origami practitioner. It challenges my sense of direction, which is pretty vestigial.

However, for my friends, only the best. Homemade bark in homecrafted  boxes.

So I set to work. YouTube. Several likely channels all in Japanese, no dialog, written instructions on screen in Japanese, very authentic. First muting the annoying music, I tried.

Again and again I tried. I reduced the playback speed to 50%.

And found that the bits where I got baffled, like how did he form those corners? How many turns did he just make?

 Those parts, after all the folds were done, is where the teacher starts to make assumptions, and is afraid of being boring.  He forgets he said it was easy, for beginners, and just assumes you will know how to do the vital manipulation you came in here to learn.

Well, reducing the speed showed me that the very bits a novice needs were edited out. Which certainly accounts for some of the noise I made in the course of this exciting adventure.

I was also slightly hampered by this

Not an origami injury, but a crack that opened up after that outdoor work in raw weather. It will open further if not kept muffled like a cartoon sore thumb. And it doesn't help.

But my own ineptitude does feature.

However, tomorrow is another day. And I shall return. No piece of paper is going to bring me down, no, no.

And I did do a little drawing on my thumb. Some days you takes what you gets.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Spinning returns, briefly

I've been hors de combat for a couple of days, after getting part one of the newish shingles shot. After seeking it for two years, finally the pharmacy had it in stock, and I seized the day.

Just as well I didn't have any commitments this weekend. When they say site pain and tiredness are common side effects, I am here to say, yes, yes.

My deltoid whined and complained, and I slept many hours. I suppose it means my system is working on it.

Up to now, none of the serious side effects I had  from the last flu shot, involving calls to the FDA etc. I survived and don't get flu shots any more.

I do encourage everyone else who can, to get them, though, for herd immunity. But the doctor and pharmacist both said the flu vaccine isn't similar to this one.  And a friend who has had both shingles and the shots says the shot is preferable. So there's that.

All this means I've been trying to occupy myself when awake, with something that didn't involve raising my arm or lifting stuff. Surprising how many things do require either or both.

I got desperate this morning and did a bit of spinning, very calming, felt really good. The yarn might become Izzy dolls eventually.

However spindle spinning if you sit, inevitably makes your shoulder go up as the yarn lengthens before you wind it on to the shaft. And I didn't feel too much like standing.

But I really enjoyed getting back into it. And here's the little bit I accomplished.  Much more cheerful now.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Downsizing and discoveries

One of the pitfalls of organizing art materials is that you suddenly want to work with them, right now.

It's different when you organize a kitchen. I don't feel a great urge to wash floors and scour sinks when I'm sorting there.

But, going through yarns and other fibers,  I just  realized I still had quite a bit of my lovely Goats Magosh roving, set aside when allergies struck last summer.

And oh well, there's a spindle started, and I'm just sayin'.

 I've knitted up quite a bit of my handspun making Izzy dolls. So clearly I need to keep up the supply. Don't I? Don't I?

Design by nature

Fleeting. By the time I uploaded and came in here, the shadows had changed.

The Jersey lilypad pitcher, no, not antique, the known examples are all in museums or private collections, always wonderful in morning sun. The shifting foliage, too, blurred because moving in the wind, lovely accompaniment to morning tea.

This pitcher is modern, craftsman made, using same materials and techniques as the early Jersey glass, pride of southern Jersey. I think it's Wheaton. If any blogista can correct this, please do.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

We vote cross-stitch completed

I just finished the get out the vote and tribute to the centennial of the US women's vote.

It's a multi purpose work. I'm not a cross-stitcher, though occasionally a cross stitcher, but this needed to be done.

Black thread on white evenweave.

Designed by Katie Woznick.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Izzy dolls, current kickline

Latest Izzy doll has joined the group of Most Wanted.

After  a few more, I'll ship a group to HPIC.  Canadian group of emergency healthcare professionals who deliver supplies and care in crisis areas and give the dolls to young children.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

The embroiderers guild meeting finally didn't conflict

I made it to the embroiderers guild meeting this afternoon, after months of conflicts with art commitments, but,  finally, no other meetings today, and I got there.

The program was created and presented by Lyna, a skilled researcher and historical stitching worker. She also has an academic career aside from her fiberart life. Manages everything with aplomb.

Today was a slide lecture on blue and white Deerfield embroidery.  Linen thread, stitched on linen, to reproduce a massive collection of colonial stitchwork. Which developed into a thriving business, in the Arts and Crafts period of the nineteenth century where craftsmanship had a resurgence and a ready audience.

Google on Deerfield, to learn about the town, its crafts and collectors. William Randolph Hearst's mother was a a keen collector of the embroidered hangings and domestic artworks.

And that was the main event. But wait, there's more.

Talented young designer Katie Woznick, has created a design honoring the hundredth anniversary this year of women's getting the vote. It's also a push to get out the vote in a critical year, at the same time.  Lyna translated the image into a cross-stitch project, distributed it today, and the guild is embarking on it, different sizes, different colors.

I heard that the designer's preference is black stitching, so I'm going with that. I know this because her grandmother is a stitcher in our chapter. We have the inside track on this one!

In the interest of protecting the image, I'm giving you just a glimpse, showing that I was so excited I dashed home to rush about my partly disassembled studio for thread, needle, hoop, and got right to work. That's my V started there.

This stitching speaks to my inner Get out the Vote activist, ready for post it posse again this year, and my inner stitcher. A harmonious convergence.

We'll be showing this project at the upcoming Stitch in Public event in February, when I hope to have mine done.

And, since I hadn't been at the guild meetings for a while, my friends caught up with presents, things I'd missed out on.

 So I came home with some fun loot.

Pretty good way to spend a cold damp winter afternoon. This post didn't start out as a guild report, but it sort of wrote

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Shout out to one of my knitting groups

Yesterday, a quiet moment in a pretty noisy meeting. Good noise. New members, good energy.

And completed art doll by Dina

I heart my knitting friends.

Some art has been happening, too, among the recycling

Here's the current state of the silk transparent hanging. Many more pieces to add and then probably join strips in some way.

I love transparency, and I have samples of silk from Dharma Trading in here as well as squares cut from those artworks I printed out on silk. And some other random silk bits from here and there. As usual it's handstitched.

I'm making varieties of color neighbors, then we'll see if they read well when I'm further along. And I'll know better what size this will end up as. And what its destination will be. TBA.

Just so's you know I'm still at work in art, though you might not have noticed recently.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Art and organizing intersect

Going through clothes, winnowing, selecting for upcycling, found this ancient t. My artwork. But an indelible black walnut stain.

So now it's dusters and a future phone purse.

Jacket done almost. A brisk walk down memory lane.

So here's the jacket, hemmed, pockets not yet attached, waiting a day to see if I still like the idea.

 I'm a happy camper with how this came out. It involved delving into dressmaking memory to figure out a few skills I'd forgotten.

And while I was pressing it, up in the studio, I started casually shoving stuff around for future organizing.

And came upon this tiny quilt. Made 50 years ago as a bed toy for Handsome Son, from bits of the coveralls I'd made for him. The turn-back shows the stripy crib sheet I first put him on as a newborn.

He played with this for ages. Since he recognized all the patches, he got a lot of pleasure with it.

I wrote a freelance article about it, which was published in one of the many mags I used to sell to. I used to write features regularly as a second income, back when there were many print magazines to submit to. I usually had about 20 pieces in circulation at any one time.

 I taught feature writing for years too, at the yw, for women going mad at home with kids,and needing to develop new skills for themselves.

Some of them got published, too, very proud teacher. It was a lot of fun, and as usual with the arts, a great revelation to students just how hard it is. But how wonderfully satisfying too.  Very similar to later when I taught art to adults.

I could always tell who wanted to "be" a writer or artist from the people who needed to write or make art.

Then back to the quilt, after that spring-loaded jaunt into the past: over the decades, it was chewed on by various dogs. Then it became the blanket under the litter box. All in all, it's earned its keep. It used to be stuffed with a piece of blanket, long since abstracted by pets.

And now it's washed and just sitting in the fabric scrap crate. That fabric really held up under years of onslaught. So did its owner!

And I guess its maker, too.