Thursday, November 12, 2009

Number 9

And so we turn Jacque's colorful old bed sheet to ribbons...

...and start Rug # 9 using our new twill tie up.

This is going to be one gorgeous rug ladies & gentlemen. And the weaving is easy, the new treadle arrangement works great and even Fred can count to 4 to make the twill pattern.

Major "Duh" Moment

I was crawling around under the loom, getting ready to try a different treadle tie up for our next rug when I was struck by a lightning bolt - could it be that our loom was put together wrong. We had been quietly cursing our clunky old loom for almost a year now because it was so hard to treadle. Well, duh, it was because the treadles should have been hinged on the back side of the loom. Something about the the sharpest knife in the drawer and all of that.

Four bolts and 15 minutes later...

I'm able to do the new tie up with out having to crawl around under the loom anymore.

The treadles now stand tall and are going be so much easier to weave with.

Another teachable and laughable moment in the life of a museum weaver.

Homespun & Huck Lace

I got some homegrown and homespun yarn from Mary & Bubba at the Farmers Market a couple of weeks ago. Bottom is sheep, top is a Llama/Sheep blend.

The Llama/Sheep blend makes a handsome warp, but I was pretty anxious about the slubby parts going through the reed & heddles.

Went through the reed just fine. Maybe I was up a little past my bedtime, but I thought my feet were just too funny.

All's well that ends well. I learned a lot about weaving home spun and huck lace weave structure.

Rug # 8 On The Floor

I think were on to something here.
Still need to hem the edges, but this is a good tight rug.

Friday, October 30, 2009

How do you get to Carnage Hall?

Sample, sample, sample!
This is my fourth series of samples sneaking up
on a Huck lace scarf made with a silk/bamboo blend.
It's an all day sucker, but it may be worth the effort.

Double Weave

I had a break through last night at the Art Center.
My first attempt at double weave.
Clearly not my last. I'm excited.

Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair

HB and Me had an incredible time at the Southeastern Animal
Fiber Fair (SAFF) last weekend. Tons of wonderful yarn and goodies.
But the best part was getting to be with the animals.

A full grown male llama can be pretty intimidating...

Until you get to really know him.

Some are sort of strange looking.
Like something out of Star Wars....

Some are just plain handsome.

Some are a little dorky.

This young guy is just too cute for words.

This young girl's coat feels like air.

The fleece competition was pretty impressive.

And the finished product is total eye candy.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


A couple of weeks ago my fairy weaving god mother gave me a book - Looking at Twills by Leslie Voiers. It has some of the most effective graphic illustrations I've ever seen, including over 3o swatches of real fabric glued to the pages. Needless to say I've been thinking more about weaving twills recently.

This is a prototype sample for any number of possible projects - placemats, table runners, pillows, tote bags... Christmas is right around the corner - better go get warped.

Rug # 8 Work in progress

We made great progress this morning. The Scandinavian inspired design using thinner rag strips is weaving tighter and faster than other rugs to date and the selvedges are much easier to control. I think this is going to be our best rug to date from a technical perspective.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cut off the first foot!

Do you inkle?
I didn't until my fairy weaving god mother gifted me with 3 inkle looms, all warped and ready to go. I just finished my (her) first warp and ended up with about 9 feet of a great inkle band, more like a jumbo ribbon - most of it's usable.
Can you tell which end I wove first?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Rug Number 7

I cut another handsome rug off the loom at the museum yesterday and we tied up the warp fringes. We also had the pleasure of a visit from Ulrike, the weaving instructor at the Gertrude Herbert Institute in Augusta, and her husband Dieter. She was incredibly gracious and congratulated us on how far we had progressed in the short time we've been weaving at the museum.

I also gave Ulrike and Dieter a tour of the Aiken Center for the Arts and our budding weaving studio. I am encouraged by Ulrike's response to what she saw. They also showed me a "popsickle stick" loom that they have had great success with in the GHI kid's weaving program - I can't wait to make my own prototype. All in all, it was a pretty great day.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Go fly a kite

It's hard to get back into whatever blogging rhythm I had after being gone for so long. So what have I/we been up to?

HB & Me learned to fly a kite that Mary C. gave us. Tricky little beast has two strings and seemingly a mind of it's own.

Poor old fishing boat got too close to the shore on a stormy night.

We participated in a beach clean up project at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. Interestingly, the most frequently encountered litter on the beaches these days are party balloons and ribbons.

We spent a lot of time just walking on the beach and looking more closely at things.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Rug #7 Work in Progress

Rug # 7 is the result of a blend of techniques used in the Red, White & Blue rug (#5) and the Water Lily Collaboration (#6) and the use of a warmer color pallet. As you may recall the RW&B rug was a rather rigid pattern repeat where we tightly controlled the length and order of the three colors of rag strips. It was also the first rug in which all of the strips were shorter than the width of the rug (ie, no full width horizontal stripes. We retained the short strip approach for the Water Lily rug, but totally abandoned any pattern, in favor of a "hand-painted" abstract tapestry approach.

With our latest collaborative effort we reintroduced the repetitive pattern offered by looped rag strips, but adopted a much more laid back approach to length and order of colored strips. A somewhat longer length of red rag is followed by a shorter length of light or mid-toned rag, followed by a dark toned rag, followed by a light or mid-toned rag. That sequence is then joined with others to form a continuous length of rag ready for weaving.

The result is largely a hit & miss abstract with pools of color and lines of movement. Lots of room for exploration in subsequent endeavors. We'll have to see what direction the rag bag points us next time around - sort of like reading tea leaves.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Mini Rugs & more

Many things going on:
  • To help promote the new weaving class, I down-sized the Kentucky Mountain Pattern Rug from Rag Rug Weaving Handbook (Meany & Pfaff) and wove it on one of ACA's 8" looms. I'm quite pleased with the outcome. One of the best pieces I've woven to date, and the pattern is fully reversible.
  • To keep my stream monitoring certification up to date, I spent 4 hours yesterday with friends counting bugs that live in Hollow Creek. I saw this amazing spider having lunch. Catching the young girls playing (unaware) on a log in the background was sort of surreal and way creepy - straight out of a scifi horror movie. Cue the soundtrack from Psycho. Scree, scree, scree...
  • HB & Me saw Julie & Julia at the Saturday Matinee. Really sweet movie with some deeper sub-stories about the importance of setting and achieving goals, becoming one with your muse and blogging faithfully. As one of my favorite George Harrison lyrics says, "If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there." I'm not exactly sure where I'm going, but I'm pretty sure this is the right road.
  • I'll be weaving in public this Saturday at ACA during their Arts Alive Festivities from 11 to 2. I need to decide what to work on while I'm there. It will be a great opportunity to catch the attention of a few prospective students for the new class.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

New Weaving Class at ACA

I can hardly believe it. I'm going to be teaching a weaving class at the Aiken Center for the Arts!

The ACA staff and I both had a great time this summer introducing weaving to the Summer Art Camp kids. The kids couldn't get enough of it - Can I just do one more, please? We couldn't give them enough of it.

We thought there might also be some adults in the community that would enjoy the opportunity to learn to weave and decided to set up a class. We made our decision too late to get the information published in the latest class schedule, but we'll be distributing a class description something like the following to help get the word out.


Intro to Weaving (#7647)

Have you every thought you might enjoy weaving, but were put off by the initial sticker shock of buying a loom or uncertainty about what kind of loom would be right for you? Take our looms for a test drive and find out if you like weaving enough to take the plunge. You'll learn all the basic information and techniques needed to go from a weaving draft (pattern) to finished fabric. You'll set up one of our 4 harness table looms and weave small projects of your own. We'll go over the various types of looms and which are best suited to your interests and budget.

  • No prior knowledge of weaving is required.
  • All "learning" supplies are provided (BYO silk/cashmere & hi-end yarns).
  • 4 Thursdays, October 1, 8, 22 & 29 (6:30 to 8:30), $90
  • Class size is currently limited to 4 students.


We're actively seeking additional (used or donated) 4 harness table (or small floor) looms. If you have a loom or know of one that's collecting dust, please send me an email.

If you have any interest in learning to weave or dusting off dormant weaving inclinations, call the ACA (803-641-9094) and register for Class #7647.

Hope to see you in October.

Two Water Lilies

We worked collaboratively, each with our own vision of what a Monet water lily should be and ended up with something remarkably close to one of the original works. I'm impressed with our results and very grateful to have been a part of such a magical process. Thank you all.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Water Lily Collaboration (cont.)

Still on the loom, our vision is fulfilled, our rug nearly completed.

Four of us took turns at the loom Thursday morning laying in the final twenty few inches of our Monet inspired fabric pallet. During the course of our weaving, another dozen or so folks visiting or working at the museum dropped by to look over our shoulders and see what we were up to, hear our story.

By now, the physical act of weaving is beginning to run on auto pilot and we can spend our quiet time between visitors pleasantly sharing life experiences and diverse interests ranging from archeological digs, mineral, fossil and book collections to fabric clearance sales and the benefits of pinching back mint and basil plants to promote foliage growth.

I've been pondering lately that our original charter from Elliott to "do live weaving demonstrations at the museum" is evolving into something more like demonstrating that the museum is a good place to weave lives together. It really is all about people's lives, past and present.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Water Lily Collaboration

Something magical happened this morning. Five of our museum weavers did something approaching a Mr. Spock Vulcan Mind Meld and worked as one toward a common vision. As we pondered our freshly laid out, Monet inspired, pallet of rag strips, we silently concluded that significant modifications would be needed in our "planned" technical approach. We did this pretty much on the fly, without significant discussion and without fault or flinch. We "painted" in our warp rags one (brush stroke) at a time instead of sewing together long color sequences that could have be woven more quickly, but with less control. We studied our work in progress, a suggestion, eye contact, a nod, a small red highlight would be good here, a deep blue pool there. Everyone contributed, no one dominated, everyone supported. It was a incredibly fascinating and stimulating experience. Our work-in-progress rug is already a work of art.

Lorraine mixing our paints, Tom applying the brush strokes.
This rug seriously challenges traditional weaving terminology.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Summer Art Camp Kids

Seriously focused and/or just having fun.
Either way, a good time was had by all.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Are we having fun or what!?!

We welcomed two new smiling faces yesterday, bring our growing group of museum weavers-in-training to nine (myself included). Regena is on staff at the museum and has been looking over our shoulders ever since we set up the loom in January. We told her to be careful around us, we might be contagious - and then, there she was tying off fringe knots like a confident pro. She must have been watching more closely than we thought.

Jacque had mentioned she was interested in what we were doing months ago. I kept her on my contact list.... and, there she was yesterday morning, all smiles and ready to get started. Besides being one of the Master Gardeners helping to enhance the museum grounds, Jacque is a serious artist and brings a refreshing artistic vision and inspiring color sense to the group. Where I saw inadequately planned rag/color distribution in our first rug, she saw an intricate landscape with a distant horizon and wispy clouds. Wow. Thanks Jacque, I needed that!

Jacque and Melissa came up with the design vision for our next rug. I started by suggesting we repeat the same technical approach as used for our Red, White & Blue (#5) Rug but go back into our box of donated rags for resource materials. They surveyed our wealth of light blues, greens and immediately saw Monet's pallet for Water Lilies. How cool is that! I can see a collision between the soft shapes of water lilies and the harder geometric pattern that will evolve from my suggested approach, so my design challenge is to think through how we can make the pattern lines arc and flow more gracefully across our 'canvas'. Very exciting!

Museum Quality Rug # 5, finished and on the floor. This one could easily be a wall rug.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

It worked, it really worked!

Rug #5 created quite a stir last night when I unrolled it during the Ice Cream Social at the museum. Even had a picture on page 2 of the local paper this morning. It was quite a confidence booster to actually see a complex design evolve as envisioned. Especially considering there were four of us tearing and assembling rags and three of us weaving - truly an amazing team effort.

We'll cut #5 off the loom and start tying off the fringes and preparing the loom for rug #6 this Thursday (7/16) morning from 9 am to noon.

There are seven Museum weavers in training now, but there's plenty of fun to go around. Drop by if you can and I'll show you the ropes (so to speak).

Friday, July 10, 2009

Museum Quality Rug #5

This is very exciting!
When I posted pictures of Rug #4, I said it had a lot of potential.
For sure!

We'll be finishing Rug #5 on Saturday morning at the County Museum starting about 10 am during our third Rag Rug Weaving Workshop. It's fun and it's free. We should be able to finish our rug and have it on display before the Ice Cream Social on Saturday evening. Call the Museum (642 2015) for details. Hope to see you there.

Tech Notes
Warp: Maysville 8/2 Cotton Warp at 8 epi, 29" in reed.
Weft: Cotton fabric strips, three solid colors, 2.5" X 21", end slit and looped end to end, R-W-B... (experimentation revealed that three 21" strips 'almost' exactly matched 2x the weaving width and hence the pattern repeat drift.)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Shadows from the Archives

The winter sun feels pretty good today, quite refreshing.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Dori's Jelly Roll Rug

HB & Me hoped we could do something special with some of Dori's old doggy towels.
I rolled a couple of the most colorful ones, sliced them with an electric carving knife and made these interesting little jelly rolls.
The jelly rolls wove up nicely into a pretty special bath mat.

Tech Specs
Warp: 8/4 cotton, 8 epi
Weft: terry cloth towels, 2" wide strips, 1.7 ppi
Ends finished w/ 2" web of 2x warp thread, machine sewn, folded, sewn again, folded and hand stitched.
Finished Size 27"x36"

Thursday, July 2, 2009

"Museum Quality" Rugs

A week ago Thursday at the museum, I showed a group of Parks & Recreation program kids how to weave a rag rug. We all had fun tearing up old bed sheets into strips and looping them together to make the rag weft. Then they took turns pushing and pulling the shuttle through the shed as I wove about 18 inches of Museum Rug #4. After the kids left, there were piles of torn rags more or less ready to weave so Fred & I finished the rug and cut Rugs #3 & 4 off the loom and called it a very good day. (I was having so much fun I completely forgot that I had a camera in my pocket - oh well.)

Last Thursday, Tom, Fred joined my and we were able to tie off the fringes of the two new rugs and get the loom tied up and ready for Rug 5. We'll probably start Rug #5 this coming Thursday around 9 am (see a routine emerging here?) should be able to finish it during our next Rag Rug Workshop on July 11 (10 to noon). Call the museum (642 2015) to sigh up - it's free and fun.

Tom, being a retired surgeon, ties a pretty neat knotted fringe.

Fred is pretty meticulous about his knots also.

Museum Quality Rug # 3 is a "Hit & Miss" design with a blue belly that could have used a few more hits.

Museum Quality Rug #4, our first experiment with a "planned" design, has considerable potential. This design uses two floral fabrics (one darker than the other) cut into 2" strips and equal to the length of the finished woven piece (28"). The strips are slit near each end and looped together in an alternating sequence to make the weft.

In future efforts I will try to get the contrasting areas to pool a little more and mix a little less. If I could only decide if I need to make the strips shorter or longer....

The old 'museum quality' loom is tied, tensioned and ready to go. Join me on Thursday morning (July 9th ~9~12) and we'll see what Rug #5 is going to look like.