July 2017: Ballarat and the USA

August 4, 2017

This has been a very busy month teaching away from the studio firstly in Ballarat and then for MAFA in the USA.

At the Ballarat Fibre Arts Australia event, the title of the workshop was Play +1. Each of the students chose a different topic to explore – in other words, play. They could choose an aspect of double weave or mixed warps or a technique of their own choice. There was as a result total diversity. After exploring their topic for 3 ½ days they added an extra component in an extra shaft to achieve a more complex cloth.

But before we started the workshop, there was the matter of a decoration for the top table. I took the opportunity to produce this in the “meet the tutor” afternoon slot. This was a fun activity: a bit of stitching and needle weaving into gutter guard. Everyone got to do whatever they wanted and using whatever yarn they wanted. It was also a great opportunity to meet new and catch up with past students in a very relaxed manner.

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Elizabeth started with an unfinished scarf as her project. It was colour and weave on a 4 shaft twill. After finishing her scarf she explored colour and structure variations, including removing and replacing a few warp colours before adding in an extra shaft for a supplementary warp.

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Jeanette explored combining lace and summer and winter. This provided the opportunity to explore both structures and some creative approaches to a block of warp threads that didn’t weave. Her extra shaft was used to fix a threading mistake.

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Trudi explored double weave with Summer and Winter as one layer. There were lots of variables here.

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Jillian explored double weave and rotational blocks. (Colonial overshot) and then introduced an extra warp thread on her extra shaft- one that she moved around changing it from one position in the reed across the weft and to a second position.

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Di came with a sample of double weave that we then interpreted into a 12 shaft draft. The draft combines blocks of twill and plain weave.

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Michael arrived mid workshop and luckily there was a loom set up. It was destined to be rag mug rugs. However, this was used to explore variations of plain weave and then by adding in an extra shaft, it was possible to achieve a 3 end twill.

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At the end of the week, the class puts on a display of their work. This is what was achieved. Unfortunately I had to leave early but I was delighted and privileged to spend this time with them. I must also acknowledge the great team that organises the event: Noni, Glenys and the Golden Team. Check out Fibre Arts Australia for details of the next Ballarat event and others run by this organisation. http://www.fibrearts.jigsy.com/ event.

Jeanette table

Later in the month saw me at Millersville in the USA for the MAFA conference. The class was East Meets West where various back strap structures and techniques are interpreted for a western shaft loom. It was a great class of 11 students and everyone accomplished much in 2 ½ days. Here’s an overview of what was woven with each student choosing their favourite section.

 

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Apart from the workshop, there was such a lot to do: catching up with friends and the market place and various structured activities including a fashion parade. Those who were involved in the organisation put on a great conference.

After the conference I had the opportunity to visit with my friend Judith Krone in Atlanta. On one day we got to see these two exhibitions at Lyndon House Art Centre in Athens.

The first one was Time Warp….and Weft, an exhibition by 6 artists.

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This is the artist statement followed by an overview of the gallery and work by Geri Forkner that could be walked through.

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The second exhibition was Fold Unfold.

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About 50 weavers/ university faculties created coverlets. Each of these were folded and placed in a pile. They will be opened at an “unfolding” event. It would have been great to have seen at least one of them unfolded and displayed. Accompanying the exhibition is a movie of each individual work unfolded with a detailed view. This of course can’t replace seeing the actual work.

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The other very important activity at Judith’s was our dyeing day. Judith and I have established a tradition of weaving a joint project over a two year period. The first year we each wind our warps of 2 scarves each warp, dye and swap. The second year we weave two scarves with the grand unveiling of the project occurring where we exchange scarves. Each of us ends up with two scarves (one of each other’s dyeing and the other of each other’s weaving). You may have seen previous results of our collaboration. Anyway this is the start of our 5th project (10 years). This time we dyed the two warps together and have swapped. What colour? Well you will just have to wait and see when all will be revealed next year.

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Coming up- a 2 day workshop at Go Create (www.gocreatenewengland.com) on the 9-10 September and workshops in the studio.

21-25th August                 Special (2 places left)

18-22nd September         Doubleweave and Friends (2 places left)

16-20th October               Two extremes: Choose between weft faced rugs and warp faced textiles                                                    including rep or textiles inspired by SE Asia. (2 places for rep/warp faced                                         textiles only)

13-17th November          Woven shibori (2 places left)

4-8th December               Special

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May 2017 #2 In the studio

June 10, 2017

The past few blogs have been exclusively about my textile trip to Laos/Cambodia earlier this year. Just because I haven’t been talking about what has been happening in the studio, doesn’t mean that nothing has been happening. The following are some of the highlights over the past few months.

Back in the February blog # 2, I wrote about Joan who was visiting Australia from Hawaii and extended a holiday to explore waving on a draw loom. She managed to get totally fascinated by the process and has since acquired her own loom. Now that is a great result!

I’m mentioning that because it also gave me the perfect opportunity to explore an idea.

Beside the draw loom (on right), I set up a countermarche loom so that it was a cross between a draw loom having long eyed short heddles at the front and a Laos loom with vertical storage at the back. Having the two looms side by side was an interesting juxtaposition. I did like the potential of weaving similar cloth on both looms. Over a period of time, I had noticed many similarities between the functioning of the Laotian (or any S.E.Asian loom) and the draw loom. This was my opportunity to explore what a hybrid loom could do.

Damask is being woven on the hybrid loom. I have 6 shafts set up for a 6end damask on the front and the stored pattern operating as the pattern shafts at the back.

As in conventional Laotian weaving, the pattern is picked up and stored. In this case however the block patterns are being stored. The stored pattern is then used in much the same way as a pattern shaft on the draw loom – raised for the 6 rows of a 6 shaft satin.

And just because I could do it, I also wove a supplementary weft pattern on the same warp. All the patterns that I have used are from “Lao Motif”.

I will return to this as there’s much potential and it’s such a fun challenge to do. However a group was arriving in the studio.

Every two years a group of like-minded weaving mates get together with the challenge of playing and exploring any technique or structure or in reality anything relating to weaving. There’s discussion and a whole lot of fun to go with it! It’s a highlight of a diary and something to look forward to. It’s been going on quite some time and we’ve had several. Sometimes everyone can come, other times there are fewer. This time it was my turn to play host. (Normally I have to go to USA or Canada). Three weavers came to Australia: Kathy, Jette and Bev. By chance they all decided that they needed to play with my Laos equipment. So there was one traditional Laos style loom and two countermarche looms with Laos vertical storage units.

Weaving mates from three countries: USA, Canada and Australia.

We all wove. Here are three “Lao” looms in action.

There was much group problem solving…..

….and fun. Part of the experience was the duet. They’re chalking up how many places (Towns, States and Countries) they can play together in.

Detail of some of the weaving

I got to play i.e. get around to doing, something that I’d been wanting to do for some time. Keeping in the theme of bands of pattern, I explored structures on my 24 shaft computer assist loom.

And at the end of their stay, I have even more potential for play as now I have three looms with warps for me to weave on. I can go back to my damask/supplementary weft (the original hybrid loom).

I also have the original Laos loom. I decided it could do with an adventure with a saw. As I am not using it any more with a warp in a bag at the front of a loom, I don’t need all that length.  I am using a western style back warp beam to store the warp. I have found that it is much easier to achieve even tension. All I need is a length to allow movement between the vertical storage and the front plain weave/ground shafts.

So saw in hand, it is now shorter and taking up much less floor space in the studio.

But I also have a loom with a ground of overshot. That was a careful bit of planning as now it’s so conveniently set up in time for a 5 day workshop: Beyond the Basics.

Ronda and Jan came to explore profile drafting and converting it into basic weave structures: 4 and 8 shaft forms of Overshot, Crackle, M’s and O’s and a combination of Summer and Winter and a simple lace. It was a very productive week and as well as going home with a whole lot of samples, they’d woven on several different styles of looms including the 16 shaft computer assist and had a portfolio of drafts.Here are some of their samples.

And I still had a bit of warp left on the Overshot/Laos loom. I have plans! I can weave a border with both a finer supplementary weft design in the style of Laos patterning and a larger overshot one.

Here it is with the pattern being developed. It is being woven upside down with these long floats to be on the back.

In addition to weavers working in the studio, I have had a bit of life on the road. My touring exhibition Pattern; A Universal Phenomenon had an outing to Moranbah. The exhibition looked fabulous and was extremely well received.

We even had journal making workshops with hand woven fabric covers in Dysart, Clermont and Moranbah. (Unfortunately I don’t have images from Moranbah)

But then Cyclone Debbie came and Central Queensland was flooded. Demounting couldn’t happen. The town was cut off. Eventually the roads got reopened and life returned to ‘normal’ for that community. I am pleased to report that while the town was flooded, no one was hurt. The upside was that the exhibition had an extended life of an extra month. Pattern has one last showing to complete the touring program. It will be in the Childers Art Space from 15 July to 3 September.

Coming up is another exhibition: Stitched up. I was delighted to be invited to be part of this exhibition. I will report on that process of producing that work and the background behind my concept for the work on the next blog. In the meantime here’s a link to the exhibition.

http://www.thelockup.org.au/whats-on/stitched-up


June 2016

July 3, 2016

This month there’s activity in the studio with two new weavers and a wonderful week with some old friends. I’ve also got some weaving to share

Rosemary continued with her next project. She brought her finished hand towels,

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and is getting one step closer to weaving a proper project using her hand spun mohair. Here she has put on a quick test warp to evaluate both how her spun mohair performs and to calculate shrinkage. She also wished to try out a table loom as she thinks that will fit her space requirements when she gets her own loom.

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Sally is also a beginner weaver. She is obviously having a great time learning to weave. Here she has finished her first warp: a collection of handtowels.

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Then very quickly there was a series of tea towels: to explore both how to weave her MacPhee tartan (colour sequence) and to explore various twills.

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Then even before she had finished off those she was planning her next project: a tartan scarf. As she says who would believe just a short time ago that she’d now be weaving and dyeing.

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In the meantime, I worked on a couple of scarves in double weave with supplementary warps. But then I decided to turn one of these sections into another narrow band of double weave. But how was I going to do that? Well it’s simple really: just add in a couple of temporary shafts, Laos style. What I did discover was that they were so easy to use.

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Then at the end of the month three friends from my time at Sturt arrived for a 5 day intensive. Each had their own project.

Sue wanted to explore lace weaves but more than that wanted to understand the relationship between design, profile and drafting. She wove and initial sample.

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Then after working on theory and developing a design wove a second warp.

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Helen came knowing that she wanted to weave lampshade fabric to compliment an oriental lamp base. She’s requiring both fabric and accent braid. As the braid was the more complex she decided to start with that.

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Gillian came knowing that she wanted to weave curves and explore network drafting. We worked on several design approaches. One was selected to weave into a scarf with additional sampling as time allowed. What was an interesting experience for her was going from her usual table loom to weaving on a computer assist loom.

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It was great having such a diverse range of requirements as each learnt from each other. In addition there was time to spend together.

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Eventually the weather turned and those Southerners got to experience glorious Queensland winter. We even took time out to have lunch and play at Wellington Point.

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 While they were here, I got to start threading my draw loom. Eventually I’ll get to weave on it though it will be some time till I can. In the meantime I’ll get it set up.

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What I do like about drawloom weaving is the flexibility in deciding what to do with pattern shafts. They can be rearranged so easily. I’ll just get the loom ready to weave and  decide later what I’m going to do. I do have 126 pattern blocks to play with.

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December 2015

December 31, 2015

 

My studio is nearly finished. What a very nice way to end the year. I am so looking forward to working in this space. To do is some tiling and then to move looms. It should be finished for the first class in the New Year. Here’s progress this month.

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The painting gets done. I say goodbye to the purple wall. I need light in here to work.

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The painting is finished.

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And the very next day, we had heavy rain. The gutters overflowed but there I was dry inside.

Kathryn, Barb, Ann and Maggie were in the studio at the start of the month. They worked on independent projects with great results.

Kathryn experimented with 4 layers of weaving, swapping the layers around to achieve different effects.

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Ann explored different 4 shaft twills.

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Barb explored twills on 8 shafts.

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Maggie explored woven shibori  with shirts that had been cut up.

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Here she is pulling out the resist threads to reveal the dyed pattern.

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Fabrics washed and hung out to dry.

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A very important part of any workshop is time out.

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In this Festive Season, I’ve had a lovely few days weaving in the new space. I’ve got that warp to finish off.

For this next experiment, I had rethreaded the original warp on 4 shafts as I wanted to see how it would perform. The loom action for those of a technical bent is counterbalance (when two shafts go up the opposite two go down linked by a pulley system) I’d also increased the spacing of the warp. I also wanted to explore was the effectiveness of using normal treadles on this loom. Two sticks of wood as treadles were very floating and of course have a tendency to move. Maybe fixed treadles would make for more effective weaving. I have taken bits from a couple of looms to rig up these treadles. The original ones were very heavy. I knew I would have issues working the vertical storage component if it were too heavy. Of course it was much easier to weave. By the way the extra horizontal bars will be necessary if I’m to do any sort of patterned four shaft weaving.

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I got to weave about 30 cm of plain weave before I came to the pattern area. OOPS! These treadles even though they are as light as possible make moving the picked up pattern to behind the shafts just way too difficult. There’s just too much weight. So back to the drawing board and I have put back on the bits of wood. Four shafts tied directly to the treadles. It works!

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A comment would be though that it is much easier to transfer the picked up pattern when there are only 2 shafts. Having 4 shafts would have meant that I could do some extra patterning similar to what I had done on the draw loom. What I’ve tried here with the treadles and their inherent weight problems will mean that I’ll need to find an alternative to make that possible. Some features of a western style loom are not as efficient in this case as the original Laos loom.

Here’s my 46 stick pattern. This is a much more complex pattern than I have previously used. The piece of paper attached to the beater makes seeing the threads much easier. The purple against the dark wood is really hard to see.

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Note the series of pattern sticks storing the design.

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Here’s a quick preview of some of the classes starting in the New Year. Full details of these and others will be posted under “My School” soon.

18-22 January. Linen and Lace.

22-26 February (5 days) or the weekends of 20/22 and 27/28 (4 days)    From profile to structure

25-29 April         East Meets West and more

23-27 May          Networked Twills.

27 June – 1 July               Special

19 – 23 September         From Parallel Threadings

This time last year I was in Canada experiencing snow. I have my own snowflakes. They seem appropriate for here.

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July 2015

July 30, 2015

The major event this month has been the launch of my school with a five day workshop. Students came from far afield: Bowral, Wollongong, Northern NSW, Mt Tamborine. They were a very diverse group with a range of experience, all coming together for a great week of weaving fellowship and fun.

Note! I have updated the list of classes available till the end of January. Please check out the page at the top under “Kay’s Weaving School”.

Day 1 saw us gathering, discussing projects and preparing warps. Some used warping boards, others mills. Some prepared inside, others outside. It was suddenly a hive of activity that never let up till the very last moment of the very last day.

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Day 2: They threaded the looms.

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And by the end of day 3 they were weaving.

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Day 4: By late afternoon both Bronwyn and Joan had finished their projects. It was pretty much a dead heat in who finished first.

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Joan cuts off her fabric for a vest.

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Joan’s fabric has a mixed coloured warp woven in an 8 shaft twill. This photo is of it after it was laundered the following day.  There was much discussion which was to be the “right” side.

7Bronwyn cuts off her silk scarf. It has an interesting progression of pattern from a plain end to a more heavily patterned one. That night she twisted the fringe as she wanted to dye it.

So what were they going to do the next day? That night I set both of them a challenge by rethreading their looms with warps similar in threading to what they had been working on. The challenge would be for them the next day  to experiment with pattern diversity using the same treadle tie up as they used for their project.

Day 5: Bronwyn dyed her silk scarf using a clamped shibori technique.

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And wove with the same twill threading, this time experimenting with woven shibori. She gets to take home the piece to pull up and dye. She used fishing line as the supplementary thread which is why it is difficult to see.

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Joan wove on another mixed coloured warp this time in shades of pink cotton, experimenting with variations of the same treadle tie up.

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Sharon finished her knee rugs by mid day and spent the rest of the time plying fringes. She has two beautiful and very different knee rugs from the same warp, one in plain weave, the other in twill.

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Vilasa’s goal was to learn about countermarche looms as she had one at home that hadn’t been used. As well as going home with a greater understanding of the loom she has a very nice collection of 4 tea towels in different effects.

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Belinda completes a long series of ten linen napkins. They will be beautiful when they are washed and the lace weave opens up.

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It was an amazing 5 days. I am so very pleased with how much each of them achieved. It really was a lot of fun! The diversity of projects allowed for learning covering a wide range of techniques and design considerations. I thought I’d share some comments. They perhaps explain what made the week so “Special” and for me lived up to the title I’d given it.

So Kay Faulkner is not only a master weaver but also a superb teacher who can keep 5 different students on 5 different looms energised and learning over a week long class. Each of us crossed our own personal hurdles: weaving yardage for fabric, learning how to set up a loom, how to blend yarns in the warp and or weft, how to change the patterns woven part way through a length, how to do clamped resist shibori.   I wove 10 table napkins in linen, in two different huck-lace patterns, finishing on time on Friday afternoon, despite a stressful moment on Wednesday when I discovered many flaws in my threading through the heddles and reed. Kay showed me how to fix them, and set me the target of 5 napkins a day. So I completed a major project ( for me) in a week! We were a great group, funny and lighthearted in the breaks and in earnest at the looms. Kay is a generous and organised teacher, with the resources to take each of us up a step in skill levels despite not all starting at the same level.

 It was a great week, one I highly recommend to any weaver wanting to improve existing skills or acquire new ones.

Belinda Stafford

 

Thankyou Kay  for your patience in passing on your knowledge and for making weaving so”understandable” and enjoyable and not being afraid of.

Sharon .

 

Many thanks for accepting me in your inaugural ‘Special School’ week of weaving. From the moment you opened the front door of your studio with such a welcoming hello! and a large smile I knew I was going to have a wonderful experience. Your range of floor looms is nothing short of amazing and the studio space airy, large and very pleasant to work in. This was my first experience using a floor loom. The self-contained kitchen facilities for preparing lunch and dinner were much appreciated as this enabled me to have meals without leaving the studio thus enabling extra time for weaving. Your experience running weaving workshops certainly shone through with all 5 participants finishing their projects in ample time to sit back and discuss the finished project in depth with you. For me personally I cannot believe I actually wove 3.5 m of a beautiful twill fabric for a vest. Not only was my finished fabric beautiful on and off the loom it blossomed once it was washed and steam ironed at the studio. I cannot thank you enough for your guidance in selection of yarn and structure for my chosen project. Your teaching skills, knowledge and patience were exactly what I required to advance my weaving skills. I am now confident for the first time to wind a warp, dress a loom, select structures and yarns suitable for an end use and weave a finished project on a floor loom. Your home cooked treats for morning and afternoon tea just topped the whole experience off for me. Last but not least many thanks for adjusting my vest pattern for me.

 I have spent the day since my return home searching the internet for the best floor loom for me and I will run my findings past you when we next meet at your weaving studio in the near future. Once again so many thanks. PS I have just completed putting a warp on my table loom and just now sampling structures in twill.

Joan Roberts

 

What can I say! A fabulous week weaving with Kay at her inaugural weaving school! Kay is a fantastic teacher of weaving. Nothing is too much trouble for her. She is methodical, diligent, hard working and certainly a master weaver. Met some great ladies from the Gold Coast Spinners & Weavers group. Also renewed acquaintance with Belinda from Bowral, New South Wales.

Bronwyn Hutchins, Wollongong, Australia

And then I had to come down from the high of that week. Right in the middle of that week, the local paper came and photographed what was happening. The article appeared in the paper.

26And there was a flying trip to Emerald to take down my Pattern: A Universal Phenomenon exhibition. From this….

24to this and in the car in 75 minutes. I think I broke all records.

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I would like to express my thanks to all who were involved in hosting this exhibition at the Emerald Regional Art Gallery. This is a beautiful space.

I have had some opportunity to continue exploring weaving on the Laos loom project. There is great enjoyment and in some ways it is a liberating experience to weave in the great outdoors. BUT it is winter and there were some days when it was just way too cold to play. And then it blew and no way was I going out in that. And then it rained. I did go and have a look but everything was damp. So I have also been discovering the down side of weaving on the patio. However, there were a couple of glorious days. So the story for this month….

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Yes I have woven! The tension knot (from last month’s blog) works fine. The improvised light treadles of a couple of lengths of pine function quite well though I discovered that they needed to be attached so that one was slightly off centre to the left and the other to the right so that they stayed separated. I was relieved to see that the shafts still stayed level and the swinging free beater works just fine. I can even weave parallel to the front beam!

I was intrigued by the swinging beater and so had a go at setting one up on the countermarche loom. That’s easy as it has an overhead beater and I just removed the reed and strung it up with a couple of cords. Here it is just after I’d taken the reed out of the beater and before I removed the frame. I’m considering applications. It is remarkably light to weave with. There’s no way you could beat heavily with just this. It moves. I’ve found the one from the traditional Laos loom with it’s frame to be much heavier and easier to control.

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On a jack loom, I had to construct some sort of side support for an overhead rod. A trapeze that I use for warping, a couple of stockings to hold it tightly in position and a rod to suspend the reed from work just fine. Yes I’m playing , proving that it can be done and one never knows what comes out of a bit of play. A wider reed makes for easier parallel weaving.

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Back to the Laos loom and real weaving. I have discovered some facts. I have discovered that there is a lot of loom waste. The tension knot takes well over 50 cm of warp just to do the knot. Unless there is some means of spreading a warp, there needs to be quite a length from the front of the loom to the back to enable this to occur. In Laos I only saw 2 instances of a weaver employing a ‘spacer’ at the top of the loom to do this. This explains why the looms are so long. I have inserted two sticks behind the vertical storage to help spread the warp. Because the loom is so long it has little effect on the height of the shed when weaving. I’m calculating that the amount of loom waste as it is now is probably at least 2 meters.

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So after weaving 5 cm or so, I considered my options. I would soon run out of warp if I continued. I do want to maximize the experience of using that vertical storage system.  I had proved that I could weave on it as is. This amount of loom waste and the time it takes to set up the loom even without setting up any vertical storage, sure makes sense to wind very long warps. How to minimize loom waste? I got out the trusty drill and moved a few bars at the back and converted to using long ties and the warp beam that I’d left on the loom. Now I have a more conventional loom waste and can weave right up to behind the vertical storage.

31The loom now looks more like something Western weavers are used to seeing. At the same time I thought I’d reconstruct the beater and put the reed into it. Note the stockings securing it in place. I had to move the vertical storage forward to be able to use the warp beam where it was. The loom is now a mix of East and West. Of course in all the process of winding the warp onto the back beam without cutting off the original weaving, there was some difference in tension, though much less than one might expect. So after retying the knots the loom is again ready to weave. The original weaving is still there but of course now distorted. The second pink line will be the beginning of the next adventure. Next step will be leaning about vertical storage systems.

32Lastly: Joan’s pink warp needed to be woven off. I wanted to be able to show students (and I will be seeing Joan in a couple of weeks) that there is a wide range of diversity achievable from using a given set of parameters. I have used the same treadle tie up (8 shaft twill sequence) as Joan had with the addition of plain weave to weave this collection of towels, placemats and serviettes. Apart from a huge diversity of twills achieved simply by using the treadles in different sequences, the twill sequence can be combined with plain weave as a supplementary weft in various styles. All have elements of Joan’s original treadle tie up.33

One day a week classes have started on Tuesdays. There are 3 students with one totally new weaver and two “beginners”. After 2 weeks the looms are threaded and in one case weaving is well underway. It is always exciting seeing weaving happening.


June 2015

July 7, 2015

The primary focus this month has been getting ready for the opening of my weaving school. Occasionally I have taken time out to work some more on the Laos loom project.

Firstly the school.1The space comprises of two rooms. One was full to overcrowding with looms. I am not sharing that mess. This other space had been occupied by my friend Marilyn who looked after my place while I was away. It is now empty. I get to take from the other space and rearrange here.

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The first loom is up. It’s the one that I collected from Maureen not so long ago. Each loom has it’s own floor rug. It’s a great excuse to weave some rugs. As they are not huge, it’s a quick and interesting project..

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This room is now ready.

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And so is the other one. I am so pleased to now have space!

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I’ve had brass plates made to celebrate my ‘friends’ and their looms. Kati’s loom will always be Katie’s loom (the draw loom) as will all the rest. All I have to do is attach them.

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And friends have come and visited. Pat was one of my very early weaving friends. Marg and Mike used to own a ‘friend’ in my studio. In fact Mike made it; a 16 shaft computer assist countermarche beauty.

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And the Weavers Interest Group came from Qld Spinners Weavers and Fibre Artists.

I can hardly wait till my first week’s class.

I haven’t had a great deal of time to work on the Laos loom project. At the end of last month, I had knotted the new warp onto the dummy warp.

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Now to get it on the loom.

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Step 1: Sort out what goes where. Suspend the beater and shafts.

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Another view. I’ve used a set of pulleys on the plain weave shafts. When one shaft goes down, the other will go up. Note at this stage there has been no effort to get either the beater or plain weave or pattern shafts at the correct level.

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Step 2: pull the knotted warp through firstly the vertical storage pattern heddles and then the plain weave heddles.

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Now it is very easy to see how the heddles are made: two interlocking loops with the warp thread passing through the junction.

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Step 3: Pull the knotted warp through the reed/beater. Then tie the warp onto the front bar of the cloth storage beam.

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Step 4: Level the heddles and beater making sure the warp threads are centred. The warp needs to be under tension. I have it secured with the ikat clamp I used previously when knotting the two warps together.

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Step 5. Now to attach the treadles. These are the original treadles. They would be way too heavy for this project.

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I’ve attached two lengths of pine. They are not anchored at the front in the style of what I saw in Laos. They are attached to the bottom of the plain weave shafts. I’ve centred them on the shafts so that they will pull evenly down. This has resulted in the treadles being very close together. I may make both slightly off centre: one to the right, the other to the left to give some foot space. Notice the loom is on blocks. We’ve had rain and a bit of water came through here. I’ll take it off the blocks when I come to weave.

Step 6. Now for the biggest challenge: to provide tension to the warp. I was very pleased that I took videos of the knot that is used in several perspectives. I watched it over and over working out how it is done. Here’s a link so that you can see it.: youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3skR6eZB3J0

When it is time to advance the warp, the weaver undoes the knot, winds the warp on and then re-tensions with this knot.

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Here’s an image of it loosely formed.

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And of the real thing. And it works! The warp is under beautiful tension. Next month maybe I’ll get to weave. My aim is to do plain weave first and just get a feel for weaving on this loom. You’ll notice that the vertical storage system is set well back and will not play a part.

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All ready to weave.

 


May 2015

June 12, 2015

For this month the primary focus has been on getting two solo exhibitions up and running and a workshop with the Gold Coast Weavers. In between times I managed to work a bit more on the Laos information.

Firstly the commitments before I share the play.

Interlacement was on show at Gatakers, Maryborough. It was a last minute invited exhibition to fill in a space on their exhibition schedule and was a collection of handwovens in a variety of styles and techniques: more of an exposure to hand weaving for the community. Here are a couple of views of the gallery.

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The exhibition came down at the end of the month. I’ve heard that the community gave it great reviews. I have now been invited to show Pattern: A Universal Phenomenon there next February.

What a wonderful venue for the workshop. Bonhoffen run by PCYC is tucked away in the Gold Coast hinterland and is situated in the valley between two national parks. The group explored ikat; both warp and weft. One of the very exciting aspects of this workshop was that this topic allowed for 4 new/returning weavers.

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Here are some images of the workshop. My apologies to those that attended that I need to be selective in the number of images that I’ve shown so you all can’t be included. This post otherwise will be extremely long.

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On the first afternoon they wound a warp and dyed it that evening. It managed to dry overnight thanks to a line strung in front of a wood fire.

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The next day they threaded the loom, started weaving and did the calculations for the weft ikat. Some did ikat for their sample while others tied small bundles to get a shift of pattern. The fire helped again.

Images of weaving as progress was made.

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At the end of May, I drove my Pattern: A Universal Phenomenon to Emerald Regional Gallery. Opening was 5th June. By the way, I had forgotten to take one set of cables with me: the ones for my lap top so of course this is now a late blog. Isn’t it amazing how many extras you have to remember to bring: cords for the phone, the camera, the e reader and of course the computer?

This Regional Gallery is a lovely space. The exhibition looks great and will be up till the 17th July. It is always interesting how the same exhibition sits in a different space.

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The opening: from the outside looking into the gallery.

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Preparations for my school continues. Maureen has decided that she can no longer weave. I collect another loom. Yarn fills in all the gaps and prevent any movement.

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Now to what is an interesting project. This has been an ongoing project whenever I can find the odd spare minute. I had decided that I’d like to set up a loom similar to what I’d seen in Laos. Why? Apart from because I was interested to see whether I could do it, it is only by actually doing a thing that you really understand all the intricacies of doing it, whether making or weaving.

I had also decided that because floor space in my studio is at a premium with the looms already there, that like those in Laos, this loom could be on my back patio with some exposure to the weather. It is an experimental loom after all and I think I’ll really enjoy the freedom of weaving outside.

I had bought the system consisting of reed, shafts with heddles and storage system. Now all I need is the loom to go with it and make it work.

On that trip I noticed that no matter whether the loom used with either a vertical or horizontal storage system, the basic framework was the same. I had taken measurements. The basic rectangular framework was 99cm wide, 160 cm high and 220 cm long. In theory: The width is of course important for the width of what you want to weave. The height is important to accommodate the height at which you are comfortable weaving, the length of the vertical storage system (suspended vertically) and the height at which it is comfortable to reach the warp to tension as it passes over the top of the loom. The depth is necessary to accommodate movement of the warp threads in either the vertical or horizontal storage systems. I decided that as far as possible I would stick to the traditional size. Once I had made this first one then I could work out any modifications.

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This is the image of a traditional loom that has appeared in a previous blog. I have included it here again as a point of reference. On this loom the warp slants down to the weaver. Mostly I had noticed that the warp was horizontal.

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I had examined the loom and the basic construction is easy. But then I considered the cost of wood. There was a very old loom being sold. (Who ever thought I’d be interested in acquiring a loom similar to the oldest of those poorly functioning ones at Sturt that I’d been working at replacing.) I had decided back in March that it was cheaper to buy this loom and then the extra wood to extend it. (the treadles are stuck out the back out of the way because even then I knew I wouldn’t be using them. It does make for a strange looking loom!) The cost of the loom actually equalled the extra bits I needed for the extension.

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This basic framework is now 125 cm wide, 145 cm high and 220 cm long. The only important discrepancy is in the height. If required, I can always increase the height by putting it up on blocks. That may not be a bad idea anyway as the patio is not necessarily waterproof and if it rains heavily the water may come through.

It was mid- month and I realised that there was a lot of decision making happening as to the choices I was making. So unusually for me I decided to record step by step rather than waiting till the end of the month and trying to remember. This way you’ll get to share in my decision making as it happens.

So I have the frame constructed by early May. But what about beater, cloth and warp storage beams, treadles?

It is my intention that to start with I am going to keep the mechanics the same as the traditional in as much as it is possible.

So the reed will be suspended from a pole by rope and not be in a frame. Won’t that take a bit of getting use to when I come to weave? There’ll be no frame work to keep everything square.

The warp storage I’ll attempt to work with it as they do: knotted over a front bar with the warp in a plastic bag. I wonder how much of a mess I’ll get into. I’m predicting that I’ll change over to what I’m used to pretty quickly, but I’ll give it a go.

The cloth storage I’ve decided will be on a beam as normal. I’d love to have one of those front beams with a peg and hole mechanism (see previous post) but I decided there was no real reason to do so. Now if I had acquired one of those carved front cloth beams over there, I’d be more tempted. It is such a simple mechanism.

What about the treadles for the plain weave shafts? The shafts on the system I’d acquired will be tied to these. I had taken some video of the traditional looms working. It appears that to enable the shafts and storage systems to work efficiently, the treadles need to be kept as light as possible. So I have got rid of the heavy treadles that came with this loom and I’ll add in something lighter later.

Note my innovation of a plumber’s pipe over the beam at the back. That beam needs to be smooth as the warp will pass over this. The traditional ones had rounded edges and in one case the beam was wrapped in fabric. I decided that my wood working skills were minimal and if I could find an alternative to make it round then that was ok. I have taken the original back beam from the centre of the loom and just repositioned it at the back of the loom. The bottom height of this beam equals the top height of the beam at the front so that the warp will be parallel to the floor when weaving. It is basically at this stage a frame ready to receive the storage systems that I’d acquired.

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Now to organise the warp (12th May). I am constrained by the system that I’d acquired. I have got two. The one shown here has a stainless steel reed, the other bamboo. Both are the same. I’ll be using the bamboo when I get to start.

The sett is predetermined by the existing reed. The width is also predetermined. I had previously commented that the scarves that we’d seen in the market place had basic characteristics because of the yarn available and that it was very limited. Of course the reed that they used matched the yarn that they were using and only one size was available because of this. So while I have a variety of yarns in my cupboard, to use this reed I am also having similar constraints. So I used two points of reference, the reed and a scarf I’d bought. On close examination I realised that there were two threads per dent (slot). The sett of the reed was 9 epcm. This reed was 42 cm. It was interesting to have confirmed that the warp is also used double in the storage system but singly on the plain weave shafts.

What yarn will I use?

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The plain weave sett needs to be 18 epcm (approximately 45epi). In my cupboard I have some fine cotton and two sizes of fine silk. The cotton and finest of the silk is finer than the yarn used in the scarf, the 60/2 silk is a bit thicker. The fine yarns will be more likely to break and I am a bit concerned about feeding a warp out of a plastic bag. I’d prefer the sett for the 60/2 silk to be more open than 18epcm. I decided to start with the 60/2 silk because it is stronger, smooth (and will hopefully any tangles if there are any will slide out) and the sett while tight can be accommodated. If it is a major problem, I will change the reed to one of my own once I have seen how weaving progresses.

I wound the warp. It is only 6m, not the 90m that the weavers of Laos use. I have no intention of doing that sort of repetitive weaving and 6 m will surely give me enough to play with. I have tied it up very well with a number of choke ties. (I’m not trusting myself to use their loosely coiled system that I saw in a bag). This warp isn’t going places and in addition I’ve used my ikat clamp to guarantee no movement.

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16th May: Now I have to knot my warp onto that of the bundle: all 756 ends (I wish I hadn’t done that math.) Oh well, there’s no rush. This is play time and I’ll do a bit each day for a while. Because I will be suspending the warp and I really don’t want to mess with it too much, I am knotting behind the storage system. There’s all those loops! This isn’t like my heddles as there’s no defined central hole. Carefully does it. I select a pair of silk warp threads, identify the next loop coming through the storage system and then cut it. Then I knot these two before repeating for the next pair. I don’t want to mess this up. It would be so easy to drop a thread though one of those loops. Maybe I should have wound a longer warp just to take advantage of all this effort.

17th May. I have discovered an interesting side fact. The diagram below identifies how the bundle is threaded. I have noticed that there are loops where I am working i.e. behind the pattern storage heddle and there are loops at the front of the reed. This has to mean that the system was set up by winding a continuous thread (for the dummy warp). Later on the proper warp will be knotted onto this. This also means that the reed is constructed after the dummy warp is threaded. It also means that all heddles whether for the shafts or storage system are constructed as the dummy warp is prepared.

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I’ve also decided that a cup of coffee = a chain in the dummy warp. The dummy warp is chained in sections behind the storage system and in front of the reed to keep everything in place. Today I have 8 chains to go.

27th May Just one day before I have to leave, the tying on is finished. I’m pleased as when I return I’ll get to start the next step of actually putting it on the loom and finishing setting up the loom.

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I discovered another interesting fact: there were more heddles threaded than through the reed i.e. there were some left over. You can see these at the top. This means that while the dummy warp is made in two sections: that for the heddles (plain weave and storage system) and then through the reed. The pairs of loops at the back are different to the pairs at the front. This allows for the reed to be added later. I have noticed to accommodate this at both sides there are 3 warp ends per dent.

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Some technical info: Deb McClintock has done extensive research on the looms of Laos. (She and I ravelled through Northern Vietnam together) The following are her definitions of parts of the storage system of the Laotian looms. She also does some great natural dyes. http://debmcclintock.me

Khao tam huuk = ‘the bundle’. By the way I think I’ll continue to use the bundle as I wonder about the use of language when it crosses borders and languages. It’s also easier to get my tongue around. It consists of reed, plain weave heddles and vertical storage system.

Feum = beater.

Khao Noi= set of two shafts. Each shaft has two clasped heddles/dill/diu

Khao Nyai= the pattern ‘shaft’ consisting of two clasped heddles (long).

On occasion the term feum also is used to describe the entire ‘bundle’- no wonder that I’ll stick with ‘bundle’.

So I have this loom on my patio. This is one of the benefits of weaving plein air. I wonder how much of a distraction all this activity was while I was making all those knots. The rainbow lorikeets are real characters.

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