Saturday, March 30, 2019

Thinking about the new designs

While the four selvedge tapestry goes on up in the studio, I'm thinking about the design for the two upcoming pieces I'm planning for the Hokett.

I painted a watercolor a while back which stayed on my mind to do some accompanying pieces. This may be when.

I scanned and printed it, so as to use the printouts as guides. The plan is two 3x5in golden rectangles, side by side, each doing a part of the painting. Each is a separate work, though. And I've changed the orientation if one of the sections.

So here, along with handy shed sticks, also known as craft sticks, is the setup. At this scale, I decided that embroidery floss is the way to go.  Yarn will be too coarse.

Also I have a much better range of floss colors, and want to try out a bit of gradation. The basic shapes are simple, and colors will matter.

Hot tip!

So here's the stand light clipped in place and working fine. Took no time to get used to it.

I like simple solutions.

And, two floors down, here's the Hokett loom warped and ready for action.

I'm planning on creating a couple of works side by side, like a woven diptych.  Seems like economy of effort to see them together, for design as well as size. And avoids the Second Weaving Syndrome.

I already studied and discarded the step by step lessons I'd been considering, but I will refer to the book where I need a technical assist.

This loom's portable, and I already have a request to bring it to the next knitting meeting, since it's a mystery to the members, and they are interested in seeing what my excitement is all about.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Hokett loom and warping yarn arrived together

Ordered from different sources, different dates, they arrived together just now.

The loom is signed so I've written to ask who. Also what wood was used. It's lovely.

Little tapestry to date

Here's where we are.

I can see where I will make changes in future. I need to be working with warp thread designed for the purpose, and I have some on the way. I will cover the yellow warp. The blue warp is supplemental, and I will remove it when the tapestry is complete.

But I am glad I departed from the literal photo, since in terms of the color and texture this design is working okay.

I also need to reorganize the studio to get better light on the work. In the morning the sun comes in the skylight and silhouettes the loom. The ceiling lights cast my own shadow as I work.

However, moving means shifting a tectonic mass of artworks, materials, frames, a lot of stuff. 

Or -- I just realized I have a stand light, that I clip to my music stand and can bend and aim. For tapestries this small, maybe that's the best solution. Economy of effort, the watchword. I'll try clipping it on the loom and let you know if it works.

I was a bit slow getting to this, but laziness and reluctance to do a lot of moving triggered the thought. So there's that.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Updates, and my glam loom collection

This is where the tapestry is, about a third done.

My own thoughts about the design have now started, so I discarded the image.

And I happened to discover that Noreen Crone-Findlay, as well as having a really entertaining YouTube weaving channel, and being a true DIYer, has written books. The only one in my library system is this,

and it's an eBook. No use for real study, but great for the gist. So I have ordered a used copy, because I just had to.

She has ideas for working on all sorts of small looms, and that reminded me of my potholder loom.

Searching for that, I unearthed a collection of equipment I've made or adapted, for weaving. Including a little cardboard Family Circle one;  I have no idea where I got it. I noticed a couple of experiments under way there, too.

Some fiber artists have looms like beautiful antique furniture, and they often are handed down.

Mine are donated saw blades, frames, and random cardboard pieces. The weaving sticks are there, too, in case you were wondering what weaving sticks look like. These really are lovely, artisan-made, friendly to hold. Aside from them, my weaving life is mainly DIY.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Hot news

All four of my artworks were accepted into the juried Preserve show!

So, if you're local, there's an opening reception at the Plainsboro Recreation department building on Sunday March 31, 3-5 pm. Please come!

The rec building is open many hours a week, so for the month the exhibit is up, you can just walk in.

Now I have to do a little victory dance.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Under way. More or less.

So here's the hopeful start of a small tapestry.  The image taped up behind the warps is a pic I took of Brainerd Lake in Cranbury, selected after a lengthy search among my collection of pics and works on paper. I had to find something that would translate into fiber and be worth trying.

The main interests, aside from the general composition, which is okay, are the sparkles on the water surface. It's possible that beads may get involved in this piece.

The pic is a reference rather than a pattern, so we'll see. At worst it will be a great learning experience (!)

I'm using yarn I've spun, which is harder than using commercial yarn, technically, since my spinning is a bit, um, artisanal.
Pinning all my hopes on steaming after it's finished, to disguise a lot of slips.

Meanwhile I finally broke down and ordered one of the last of the Hokett looms. Mr H has retired from making these, so there are very few still available. People don't sell them off much. They're hand held, and will be portable. Mine is about the size of a regular sheet of paper, plenty big enough for this weaver.

And, since I'm still making elementary mistakes, I've hauled out my ancient Nancy Harvey guidebook to tapestry, which I now understand much better than years ago when I first encountered it.

When the new loom arrives, and the warping thread I finally got around to buying, I'm going to weave some lessons from her book and improve my chances. Might use commercial yarn for the purpose, even.

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.