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.

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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


February 2017 Part 2

March 2, 2017

In this post, I separate what is going on in the studio and my trip to Laos and Cambodia. Both are so different that they deserve their own space.

Two days after my arrival home from the trip to Laos and Cambodia, I held another Linen and Lace workshop in the studio. Four weavers attended. We explore many lace weaves (Canvas weaves, Spot Bronson, Bronson Lace, Swedish Lace, Huck). Nine warps were woven off so they went home with quite a collection. The following are some images taken over the five days.

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Four weavers with some of the warps being cut off.

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Experimenting with finishing using a modified mangling process: glass bottles filled with cold water. A marble rolling pin on a tile or a piece of glass would be a preferred option.

Then two days later I had Joan, a weaver from Hawaii who combined a tourist trip to Australia with an opportunity to weave in my studio. She decided to explore weaving on a draw loom. But first, there was a minor problem. I had a warp on this loom. It had only been there for about nine months waiting for me to eventually get around to weaving it. There’s nothing like someone wanting to weave on a loom to get you to actually weave. This warp was designed to explore 4 shaft ground weaves. Using just 4 shafts how many basic structures can be woven? But before I show what I wove, I’ll outline the parameters that I’d set. The design was to be basically the same with only variation being in the frame in one corner. I wanted to have a fairly restricted design so that I didn’t spend too much time thinking and moving around pattern shafts (time was of the essence after all). Yet to prevent boredom I allowed myself a small restricted area to play in. You will see the overall standard design with variation.

How many structures can be done on 4 shafts? This many!

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Let’s take a closer look. There’s a 1/3 and 3/1 combination. The direction of the twill line is the same.

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There’s a 1/3 and 3/1 twill with opposite directions. This is a very common effect employed in 8 shaft twill blocks.

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Instead of straight twills, how about warp and weft faced broken twills?

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In the High Court judges’ robes I employed “network drafting” of warp faced straight twill with weft faced broken twill. Here I repeat the effect on a draw loom.

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Moving away from twills, a three end lace weave is possible. This followed very nicely from the previous week’s Linen and Lace.

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A standard 4 shaft straight threading can also be used for pick up Summer and Winter (2 tie unit weave).

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And of course 4 shafts can also be used for doubleweave. Normally the sett would be twice as dense and alternate colours would be used. Instead here I have compensated by using alternate colours in thicker yarns. Obviously by the size of the same I ran out of time before Joan arrived.

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Joan got to pull cords and look at how the loom worked before even getting to wind a warp and thread by playing on the tail end of my warp.

Joan had come with a prepared design based on a photograph of a tiled floor. After planning her project/s, drafting her design, and winding the warp prior to learning about setting up the loom, she got to weave that design. The next challenge was to alter the set up of the pattern shafts to interpret a new design. This one was a simple modification.

This image shows both her first and second design.

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The last challenge required her to use as many pattern shafts as possible threaded individually with the exclusion of a border and design a motif across the full width. She enjoyed the freedom of dropping off all the pattern shafts, rearranging them in a different configuration to allow for total freedom of pattern design. The following images shows Joan cutting off her warp and the different patterns she had designed and woven.

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This is what I love about drawloom weaving: the freedom of developing “block” designs using the pattern shafts of a drawloom. The design potential is so much greater than what can be achieved on any multi-shaft loom (even one with the most number of shafts available on a computer assist loom). The only other loom that has greater potential is a jacquard. It however involves computers. This is the “slow food” equivalent of weaving where there is a much greater “hands on” experience.

 


October 2016

November 6, 2016

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This has been pretty much my focus for this month. Here I am throwing the shuttle to weave the next row. I have spent many hours continuing to weave black wool and silk for the High Court judge’s robes. You’ll see more later on.

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A different view: At the back of the loom, the top section shows how much warp is left to weave while underneath is the woven fabric. The actual weaving happens on the other side of the loom.

The Gold Coast weavers had another very successful 2 day workshop. This time it was held at their club rooms. This group of weavers is very active and keen to learn new techniques.

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This workshop focused on finger manipulated techniques. This topic was more inclusive for this group. Those with rigid heddles/knitter’s looms were able to participate as well as shaft loom weavers.

These techniques as the students found out can be used for an entire project or just used to add an accent to another piece of hand weaving. Here are some of their results.

 

Sally continues to weave tartan. This time she had put on a very long warp. First she wove two more twill scarves.

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Then she resleyed to achieve a sett appropriate for plain weave, dropped off some of the outside warp threads to achieve the width she wanted and then wove some kerchiefs and another scarf. These are hot off the loom today. She has managed to use the majority of the silk she had dyed. Now all she has to do is finish them all off. She’s promised to bring back her collection when they are totally finished.

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More on the High Court judges robes.

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Finally I have thrown the last row in the weaving of the black wool and silk for the sleeves. There is now enough for their immediate and short term future needs. Thank heavens the pattern was constantly changing. One pattern repeat is 150cm long. In the fullness of time there will be a Grand Cutting Off Ceremony. I am planning for all who were involved in the project to be here. Then I will need to spend time finishing the fabric ready to be handed over. So while I might have finished weaving, I can’t say I’m finished yet.

The media has picked up on the fact that Australia has new High Court judges’ robes. A number of newspapers have reported on the new robes. The Sydney Morning Herald ran an article in their paper, a longer version on line and this film on Bill Haycock as the designer. While the film doesn’t mention any of Margaret’s or my involvement, it does show detail of the new robes and what they used to weave. You will have to watch through the advertisement to get to the film. I’m unsure how long this will be available.

http://www.smh.com.au/video/video-news/video-national-news/justices-new-desi

However is a copy of the Sydney Morning Herald article: the whole page.

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And a close up of the words.

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This black fabric has been all consuming. However I do need to get busy on other fronts.

I am about to launch the next 6 months’ 5 day studio program. Here is advanced notice of the overview. Full details will be found under “My School”.

5-9th December Special/Open project

6-10 February   Linen and Lace

13-17th March   Beginning Weaving.

27-31st March    Beyond the Basics.

24-28th April       Parallels and networks.

29th May – 2nd June    Handwoven Rugs.

12-16th June.      Special/ Open Project

Classes are also available as 5 days over a 3 week period. Topics vary according to student requirements.

Studio access is also available for individuals or groups. This allows for independent or supervised projects.

Remember you do not have to bring looms or equipment.

 


July 2016

July 28, 2016

My touring exhibition is having another showing. This time it’s at Gatakers Artspace in Maryborough. It is very interesting seeing how the exhibition interacts with different spaces. Gallery 4 at Gatakers is a large open space with exposed beams. That beam provided the perfect place to hang The Hand. Here are some general views of the exhibition. The staff at Gatakers and in particular Anne Brown who helped hang it were great to work with.

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In conjunction with the exhibition was a 5 day workshop. Three students, Pat, Isobel and Karen took advantage weaving for the full time, while Ann could only come for four. It was a great place for a workshop: plenty of light and plenty of room. It was great to work with them. As well as preparing warps, they achieved a lot of weaving.

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Ann explored double weave in a sampler. Both layers were the same colour so it was challenging to keep track of what layer was where without reference to colour. Here’s her sample.

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Then Ann decided to use the rest of the warp for a scarf. But first sections of warp were removed to make a more interesting textile. There will be warp and weft floats as well as double weave layers.

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Karen explored 8 shaft twills. She’s got some interesting colour combinations and structures happening and some that she’s designed herself.

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Pat also explored 8 shaft twills. As a beginner weaver she’s having a lot of fun exploring colour and pattern.

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Isobel is also a beginner weaver. She’s working with four shaft twills.

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Pat, Isobel, a friend and Karen celebrate the week’s achievements.

In addition there was an opportunity for people who had never woven before to come and weave for a day on pre-warped looms. All three are keen to continue. Here are these new weavers with what they wove in one day.

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Gloria

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Stephanie

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Susan.

It was a wonderful week where much was achieved as well as being delightful to spend time with weavers, both beginners and the more experienced.

Queensland Spinners Weavers and Fibre Artists ran a beginner weaving workshop over a weekend. There were three participants. They learnt how to wind a warp, dress a loom and weave. Just look at how much they produced in two days. They certainly went home with beautiful scarves; all very different.

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Tegan, Sally and Leonie with their scarves.

My friend Helen came for a visit. Of course she was going to weave. There was a spare morning so she had the opportunity to try out a draw loom. She did have fun!

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Sally stated weaving last month. For her third warp she decided to weave a tartan silk scarf as a ‘proper project’. In three and a half days she completed a beautiful scarf.

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My exhibition will come down in a few days. It is quite amazing to think how quickly this month has flown.

Finally I’ll share this image. One of the bonuses of having the workshop and exhibition at Gatakers was the opportunity to stay at one of my favourite places. Here’s a sunset at Burrum Heads.

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April 2016

May 1, 2016

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This scarves came off the loom at the start of the month. It’s one of a pair.  Woven in 20/2 silk they combine some weaving structures that are used in South East Asia but with are woven on a 24 shaft loom as opposed to a back strap loom.

Contextart is an annual 6 day textile event run in the Blue Mts of NSW at Easter. Firstly however, on the drive down to Contextart, I stopped off in Tamworth and was lucky to see the retrospective of Vivian Chan Shaw’s work.

At this year’s Contextart, my class focused on Ties: Functional, Decorative and Unconventional. The students did extensive sampling exploring many design approaches. They were a very diverse group of 10 which certainly added to the experience for all. Here’s a snapshot of what they did.

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They calculated, wove and analysed.

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Here’s some of the work on the loom

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And finally, the class collection. What a lot of weaving was done in 6 days… and what a lot of theory. I am delighted at what was achieved. Well done everyone!

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For next year’s event visit http://www.contextart.com.au

Kaz Madigan joined me for a very exclusive class. She spent 5 days in the studio exploring warp faced weave structures inspired by South East Asia. As well as covering a lot of ground, it was a very enjoyable week.

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There are two other highlights this month.

Firstly, Trood Newman’s 16 shaft Noble loom is finally working. I acquired the loom while at Sturt in the expectation that my students would be able to have the experience of weaving on a computer assist loom. Till that point it had left Trood’s place in a horse float, stayed with Pat for a while and then to Sturt. It was dead and I contemplated and tried various solutions. Eventually it came home. I still hadn’t given up. 18 months later, then a visit to Ian, a wizard with a soldering iron and hey presto the electronics worked. He’d resoldered all the connections. I then came home put the loom together, connected it all up and “Trood’s Loom” is functioning beautifully.

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Who would believe a little bit of plain weave could bring such joy!

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With the plaque added. It was done 18 months ago when I started attaching plaques to all the looms in the studio. I had faith!

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Paw Nay Thah came to the studio. The visit was arranged by Meredith, the youth Settlement Co-ordinator with MDA Qld. Paw Nay and her family have been granted asylum from a refugee camp on the border of Burma and Thailand. She is from the Karen, an ethnic minority group from Burma (Myanmar). Meredith had asked “What would make you happy?” Her reply: to weave traditional fabric.  Meredith had no experience of weaving so she came here to see what was involved and if it could happen. Paw Nay arrived with the biggest grin. I got shown some traditional cloths and we discussed back strap looms and what is required to make them. It’s very fortuitous that I brought one back from Bhutan. It’s much easier to explain if there’s one to look at. The result: Meredith knows what is needed and Paw Ney will weave. It was such a fun and heart-warming experience.

Meredith and Paw Nay examine some of the textile’s in Meredith’s collection. She had been given them by some of the Karen ladies. Paw Nay can weave these.

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Here’s a close up look.

An unmarried woman’s blouse. Note the fringing and the supplementary weft and twill weave structure. The fringing may be added in. In this case it has been added above the hem.

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The reverse side. This was interesting because the yarn is carried from one motif to the next.

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More detail

Another unmarried woman’s shirt and detail.

A married woman’s shirt and detail. It is much plainer. The reverse side doesn’t show as much pattern. This had a double row of fringe: one a the end of the warp, the other a couple of cm above and inserted in the weft.

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Thank you Meredith for coming, bringing Paw Nay and a wonderful experience. Long may she weave!

 

 

 

 

 


February 2016

March 1, 2016

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I am currently working on a series of sotis inspired pieces. This is just one of the techniques that will be covered in the workshop here in the studio (East Meets West 25-29 April) and at Convergence.

At the start of the month, The Gold Coast Weavers hosted another weaving camp at Bornhoffen. It’s a great destination but this time it would have had to have been the hottest days of the entire Summer. In spite of the heat, everyone did great work.

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In the late afternoon, it was delightful to relax out on the deck and watch the sun go down.

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The workshop explored twill and the potential of the twill threading. Here’s a selection of completed work. No one wanted to cut off as they all were going to go home and finish the warps for tea towels. It is interesting to see the colour choices: from the subtle and classic though to the more contrasting. Everyone was fascinated how the different design approaches affected the treading sequences. While all did great work, I’ve limited the images to 6, purely from a colourway perspective.

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At the end of the Linen and Lace workshop from January, I was left with 2 warps to be finished. On the Huck Lace one I managed to weave a tea towel and then a length for a different project. The second was woven in plain weave to be used in conjunction with the other. The first warp came off and I washed it. The yellow ran and no matter what I tried, I have not managed to get rid of it all. The fabric length is now a very pale yellow. Here you can see, the yellow tea towel (the culprit), the dyed fabric and a natural finished item used here for comparison.

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So what about the other plain weave piece? Well, using the same source of dye ( a hank of yarn), I washed it and yes managed to get the same colour with a couple of tries. I also had to go through the same trying to remove process as the first. I wonder if they will wear out at the same rate? Eventually the project will be completed. Here are the two together (with something out of focus behind). I don’t think I could get much closer.

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I have been having an interesting read. This book was written in 1947 from a 1920’s reprint. It’s interesting from a historical perspective. Here’s a couple of quotes:

From the Editors Preface (W. R. Lethaby)

It is desirable in every way that men of good education should be brought back into the productive crafts: there are more than enough of us “in the City,” and it is probable that more consideration will be given in this century than in the last to Design and Workmanship. 

From Author’s preface. This will give you a guide of what is in the book.

The object of the present volume is to inform the student of hand loom weaving of the best methods of preparing warps, fitting up looms and making or acquiring the various appliances necessary for the work, as well as inventing, planning and weaving plain and ornamental webs.

 And from the concluding note by Luther Hooper

This ending, although somewhat abrupt is not unintentional, for it was just at that time that weaving, to a great extent, ceased to be an artistic craft. It was then that the loom ceased to be a tool, more or less complicated, which the weaver himself could keep in order and cunningly adjust, alter, and adapt to any particular work he might have in hand.

On the jacquard loom:… resulted in the multiplication of patterns; patterns for the most part inferior to the traditional ones already in use. The Jacquard machine is also responsible, to a great extent, for the separation of the art of designing from the craft of weaving.

Referring to power looms and the Jacquard. There can be no question that the best weaving was done before these innovations…. It would therefore seem, that the right road to improvement in weaving, as in all crafts, can only be found by those who are willing to return to the traditional methods and simpler ideals of the earlier masters of craftsmanship.

From here in 2016, I wonder what they would make of the direction of weaving now and of their comments in retrospect. This certainly gives a bit of food for thought and even a touch of wry amusement. To finish though these images were real gems. I have woven velvet in the past so this image of the velvet loom and cloth storage is a real find.

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November 2015

December 12, 2015

 

I know that it is now well into December but the fates have conspired against my posting a blog at the normal time. Well a thunderstorm resulted in a power surge which resulted in a blown modem + Optus…. and 3 weeks later I’m back on line.

It’s actually interesting now going back to the start of November and seeing what happened then. It was a very exciting month with the start of the conversion of what was my exposed patio into this great new space that I now have. Here’s some images of the conversion.

Looms covered and the boxing starts.

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All the windows and insect screens have arrived. The old gate is off.

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The frame for the big sliding doors. It nearly looks bigger than the space it’s going to fill.

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Windows and doors are in. The walls are finished. Only the insect screens left to do.

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The first celebration of this new space with Helen, Trood and Sheila. Look… no mosquitoes! Now all that has to happen is for it to be painted and tiled but that has to wait just a little longer.

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In amongst the building I had Sharon and Vilasa come and weave rugs. In 5 days they both designed and wove a beautiful floor rug each. It was great having them back in the studio.

Sharon chose to weave a very bold design.

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Vilasa uses predominantly hand spun yarn with frequent colour change and a great use of colour blending.

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The finished rugs. I even got to weave another loom bench rug.

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My weekly students finished off their projects.

Fleur has finished her beautiful warp dyed silk scarf.

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Paula finishes firstly a series of hand towels. This is her first time on a floor loom.

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And then a small hand spun wrap for her daughter.

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Karen, a new weaver, finishes her series of tea towels.

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I also acquired another loom. Ngarita and Mike West help me dismantle it.

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It was assembled very quickly in the studio. This is the loom that Sharon used.

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Finally, I managed to finish off the warp on the draw loom. This small hanging is another Laos inspired piece. It combines the Laos pattern I used last month with some 4 shaft supplementary weft pattern.

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It is now into December. I will not share what has happened so far this month. It can wait. I am very much aware that coming at a rush is the Festive Season. Enjoy!

 

 

 


October 2015

November 4, 2015

Firstly as usual, student work and then there’s more on the Laos project.

This month I travelled to Go Create, halfway between Walcha and Uralla in the New England region of NSW. It is a stunning destination. They are offering a wide range of predominantly textile related classes. www.gocreatenewengland.com

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The six students explored weaving with recycled materials. Two were absolute new weavers, two had limited experience and two were more experienced. By the end of the first day, you couldn’t tell the difference in technique between the beginners and more experienced. I was delighted! I was also delighted by how enthusiastically they embraced using a wide range of materials, exploring methods of incorporating them into the woven structure. Three sessions explored specific techniques with the last allowing for individual exploration. The following shows the group and what was accomplished. This is followed by an image of individual students’ work. It was a great weekend.

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In the studio: Fleur finishes her scarf. This project was of her own design, using an aspect of the sampling from her first project.

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And she begins her third project. Fleur has acquired some silk to weave a scarf and wanted to do some warp painting. It’s also her first attempt at dyeing. She’s on an exciting journey.

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Now for the continuing Laos loom experiment.

Last month I got to the point of having the pattern stored. It is a relatively simple matter to transfer the stored design to weave the supplementary weft pattern.

Here’s a brief movie of a traditional weaver (Laos and Thailand) How to use a vertical storage system using bamboo memory rods. www.youtube.com/vNxPTl0sWVM

The process that I used: Remove the pattern stick from its support.

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Lower it closer to the warp. Swish it front to back till there’s a cleared gap.

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I put an extra stick in which is not as flexible to move the heddles at the front well forward, though traditionally this isn’t done. That extra stick is also insurance so that I can move the pattern stick to its next position: either above or below the warp and know that I’ll not have picked up or lost any of the stored design: in this case it is moved to below the warp line.

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With the pattern heddles moved well towards the front, it is a simple process to raise the selected heddles by pulling on them so that the sword can be inserted.

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When turned on its side the pattern row is ready to weave. This image shows the sword turned on its side behind the plain weave shafts and beater with the pattern shuttle in the shed.

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There are two pattern rows woven for each lift with plain weave between. You do not need to take the sword out. If it is pushed back, having the sword in has no effect on compromising the shed for the plain weave.

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I have used this basic process to also weave the brocade or discontinuous weft pattern. A pattern weft is required for each motif.

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When I saw the ladies in Laos weaving I enquired if they only used one foot. No one used two. Now I know why. It is much easier to control these free hanging treadles if a heel and toe action is used. The one foot controls the position of the treadles. They don’t move as much as the foot is always connected to both, all be it in a very minor way when not using one of them. It is all very motion efficient.

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As each pattern area is woven, the pattern sticks are moved above and below the warp line. When they are below, there’s no need for any support.

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Another pattern area is woven.

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The weaving is completed.

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Now to separate the scarf while making sure I retain the stored pattern. I may want to reuse this at a later date and with the Laos system, this is possible. I want to keep the vertical storage system threaded and able to be reused but without the stored pattern. Firstly, I reinsert the lease sticks as I want to be able to rethread this warp later for plain weave and using a more western set of shafts and further experimentation. These are moved to behind the vertical storage system and can be moved to the front when I’m ready.

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Then, I transfer the vertically stored pattern to the horizontal. In essence I use a similar method to when I was weaving, however keeping in the sticks in the warp. They are positioned as close to the plain weave shafts as possible.

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Once all the pattern sticks have been transferred, I carefully cut the warp between the storage system and the series of sticks, knotting on both sides.

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Once the knots have been undone, the entire collection of stored pattern, shafts, reed and woven scarf can be removed from the loom.

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Now to separate the stored pattern and scarf. Once the scarf is cut off, the warp in front of the reed is secured. I can now put the stored pattern to one side to be used at a later date if required.

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Finally I have completed the project. Some detail:

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This image shows my scarf with the original source of inspiration.

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Now that I have completed the project there are some points I want to explore. This loom has many similarities to a western drawloom in that both have two sets of heddles. One is to weave the plain weave base fabric, the other to select the supplementary pattern. One of the questions I have is: How do they compare and is there any difference in efficiency? This image shows the two sets of heddles on a drawloom. On the left are the shafts which will be used for plain weave. On the left are those for the supplementary weft pattern.

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For this project I have used the same warp though it has been threaded at a more open sett (density of the warp threads) to allow for the same warp and weft yarn to be used this time. I have also decided to keep to the original basic design although on a narrower width. The design for the pattern stripes is based on this scarf that uses the basic motif in an all over design and with some different stripe patterns.

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I have also decided to simplify the border and transition. The original requires about 40 pattern shafts. This simplified version, just 14 . Here’s the draft. For optimal weaving to provide distance between the plain weave and pattern shafts, I have chosen to start threading the pattern shafts on shaft 3.

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This is the process that I used to weave the pattern: The loom is threaded so that each thread that works in the same way will be on the same shaft. To weave a pattern row the warp threads on each shaft that makes up the pattern are selected. So for the first pattern row (the one at the top), I need to pull shafts 4, 5, 8, 11 and 13. This process needs to be done after every plain weave row. It is very labour intensive with multiple shafts being pulled for each pattern row every time one is required. There’s no stored design option here.

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The scarf nearly finished. All I have to do is weave 12 cm of plain weave.

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How did they compare?

Setting up to weave: On the drawloom, the warp was beamed and then threaded through firstly the pattern shafts and then the front plain weave shafts. I much preferred the other loom where I just knotted and tied on and then beamed the warp (after of course experimenting with the traditional method of handling a warp).

Using the pattern shafts to store the pattern: On the Laos loom, it was extremely slow to pick up and store the pattern on the sticks. Initially I did wonder about have the equivalent of these sticks on each pattern shaft on the drawloom. That would have meant that I could just pull one cord and the appropriate row be selected. However, the number of long eyed heddles would have been huge as each pattern repeat would have required 105 long short eyed heddles. There are 7 repeats. I just didn’t have them. So instead, I threaded it in a point threading on 12 shafts.

Using the pattern shafts to weave the pattern: See the descriptions above. On the drawloom, I had to select several pull cords to achieve the right combination for the pattern whereas there was just one bamboo stick for the Laos pattern row. Where the pattern was repeated a number of times, the Laos loom was the most efficient; it just needed the sword to be turned on its side after each plain weave row. The pattern sword stayed in place. The drawloom required a number of cords to be pulled each time. Because the Laos system was new, I got up for each pattern change. The ladies who do this normally just change from the seated position. If I didn’t do this, they would probably take about the same length of time. The pulling of the cords probably allows for a greater incidence of mistake as the Laos pattern is preselected.

Storing the pattern for another time: On the Laos loom, the pattern, plain weave and reed has been stored and can be reused to duplicate the next project. It would be possible to change the sett by rethreading. I’ll have to set up the drawloom from the beginning for another project.

As the drawloom has a number of pattern shafts there is more loom waste than on the Laos loom in its current format with all the pattern ‘shafts’ stored vertically.

By the way, I’m finding the Laos loom much lighter to weave plain weave than the countermarched action of the drawloom in spite of treadles that are not fixed.

Here’s a look at what I have just completed. The woven scarf with the original.

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My working collection: two original scarves with two that I’ve woven.

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There’s an exciting development in the studio. I have decided that I’m enjoying weaving “in the garden” very much but I do not enjoy being exposed to the wind and rain. I am now in the process of achieving the best of both worlds with the patio being weatherproofed.

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September 2015

October 2, 2015

As last month’s post extended into this months, there appears to be not as much happening as usual. Firstly I’ll report on a beginner weaver’s completed projects, a road trip that included teaching for the Canberra Weavers guild and of course the ongoing Laotian loom project.

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Last month Fleur finished her first warp. Here are the washed and finished series of handtowels.

The end of the second week this month saw me set off on a road trip. The first major stop was the Canberra Weavers where they did a 3 day workshop on East Meets West. It was only on the final day when everyone was packing up that I remembered the camera. It was a very busy workshop with many techniques being explored. The guild own their own building and the facilities are terrific. They obviously take great and well deserved pride in their home: from the gardens to the actual space. It was a great venue to work in.

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Here packing up has commenced as there are cleared tables while others just want to keep working.

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It’s certainly a sign of their dedication and interest to want to keep working right up till the last possible moment. The following shows some of the work that was accomplished. It’s unfortunate that some escaped before I remembered the camera.

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My hostess, Pam (who really did spoil me) took me to the Arboretum where I enjoyed this sculpture. I love the flow of the metal form and then how it transforms into script.

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On leaving Canberra, I headed north. An examination of a map shows that by heading straight up on a map, you’ll eventually run into Blackwater. I was headed there primarily to collect my Pattern exhibition that had been in storage there for some months. Along the way, I had a morning off and went hiking in the Warrumbungle National Park. The spring flowers were out and it was very beautiful. I also did a 6 km hike. It seems to me that 2 of those were straight up and of course 2km straight down, but the view was spectacular.

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Another couple of day’s drive saw me in Blackwater. Not far away is another wonderful destination: The Carnarvon Gorge. I’d been there before and have been inspired by the aboriginal rock art in my work. I took time to revisit these ancient sites.

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Total distance covered: 5,171km and home to a garden that in a matter of less than 3 weeks has embraced Spring.  Now to the delight of the rainbow lorikeets there is great abundance of bottlebrush flowers. This is just outside my kitchen window..

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There has not been much time tis month to work on the Laos Project. However when I left, I was very aware of the advantage of the original set up where the warp was tensioned by a knot at the front of the loom and the warp being free of the loom. If I hadn’t wound it onto a cloth beam, I could have removed the whole lot very easily from the loom and put it in storage for the time I was away, safe from the elements. As it was, I just walked away and left it on the patio and hoped that the weather would be kind.

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I have completed the pick up of the graphed design. (see previous month)

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There’s the full stored pattern.

Hopefully this month, I may be able to have a good block of time to start weaving the stored pattern.


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.