Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Hanging on by a thread

At long last, the weaving pictures. I've been wanting to post about this new excitement since I started it last August, but couldn't easily get all the pictures until I was ready to take things off the loom, and that wasn't going to happen until I finished the warp that was on there, or took it off because something else took precedence. I finally finished the warp last week.

The highlight of last Pennsic for me was the rigid heddle weaving classes taught by The Dread Viscountess Seelie. Three samplers from three classes, and I am hooked. Needless to say, I came home with a 20" Beka rigid heddle loom. I'm big on portability.

My loom, and the three samplers

The thing I most appreciated about these classes was that we started the first day by taking the new looms out of their boxes and assembling them - no pre-warped looms here. We learned to measure a warp and warp the looms, which is, frankly, one of the most daunting and crucial things to learn from an experienced weaver. It also sometimes takes as long or longer than the actual weaving, if you're only weaving a little sampler.

With more people than looms, we teamed up on warping looms to make it go faster. This provided several perfect hours of chatting and making friends with people while working across a loom from them, pulling and catching up warp threads, the strains of morning musical warm-ups providing a soundtrack. We all felt very much like we were doing something that women have been doing for centuries: "This morning we'll warp your loom, tomorrow we'll do mine..." I find that kind of connection deeply comforting.

The warps were long enough for a couple people to make samplers. This meant many people didn't finish their samplers before the (half to full-day) classes were over, so the instructor had a work table set up at her shop for people to continue working that day or later in the week.

In the first class, we made a simple even-weave colour sampler.

Second class was another even-weave sampler, this time learning to manipulate the warp with various types of open-work and inlay techniques. It was not unlike doing hardanger, which I have some experience with. I confirmed that I am not exactly a natural at wrapped thread work - I fight with it, screw it up several times, cuss profusely and in several languages... but it is so very pretty in the end.

Finally, the third class, which was the one I was really looking forward to, though the first two were absolutely necessary before tackling this. We learned to warp up a loom with three heddles and a fourth set of warp threads that float. It's possible, using combinations of raising or lowering heddles together, to weave four-harness patterns on the rigid heddle loom. So we did a couple twills (3/1, 2/2), tabby weave with moorman inlay, and various double weaves (tube, open on one side, open both sides).

This is seriously cool. I've become particularly enamoured with the double weaves. Weave two pieces of fabric at the same time, or a double-width piece? I am all over that. The double weave samples are the blue section at the top. You'll just have to trust me that the top is two separate pieces, the next couple inches down are open on one side, and the bottom couple inches are an enclosed tube.

While I "finished" the third sampler at Pennsic, I didn't finish tying it off with... whatever that stitch it called, I can never remember. So I technically only finished the third sampler last week. And since it's a shame to waste perfectly good warp, I used the last foot or so to do some more tube double-weave. The idea was that this would become a draw-string bag or something, but I don't think it's tall enough, and I ran out of warp. Whatever. It was good practice. Maybe some day I'll enter it into one of those "seemed like a good idea at the time: failed A&S projects" displays, those are fun.

The lovely rosewood comb sticking out is a multi-use weaving accessory. The husband of the weaving teacher makes and sells them in their merchant tent, 'Stitch, Weave and Burn (and Some Crap My Husband Made).' Everyone agrees, he makes good crap.

My plan this year is to take whatever classes she offers - she mentioned that she was hoping to do a class on recreating a some archeological textile patterns. I would be all over that, if she does it. In the coming months, I will have a not-so-secret project on the loom, but we're still working out all the details. As in, the wool still needs to be dyed, carded and spun, and we've been waiting for spring, which is finally beginning to show itself, to do the dyeing outside.

I was down at my parents' last weekend, so I made the short detour down Currie Road, ten minutes from home and on the way to and from the highway. I had wanted to drive up to the top of Mt. Eislinn, across the road from the campground (which is closed until May), and take some quick pictures while there were still no leaves on the trees to block the view. I decided against that - we had several preceding days of rain and I'm not yet comfortable enough in my new-to-me car to know how it would handle on the muddy dirt road up the hill. There were also three people on horseback coming down the hill, so I decided not to bother them or the horses by ungracefully trumbling by them in the car. Perhaps next time, if the weather is nicer, Dad will take me up on the motorcycle.

In the meantime, I did snap this picture of the (Shadowclans?) cathedral facade from the road (this is approximately outside the north gate, if you're familiar with the area). I knew it was was stored on-site, but I didn't realize it would still be up. I guess it's usually been hidden behind foilage when I've been by in the past. Right now it looks like a beautiful old ruin standing in a lonely field in the modern world.

There's a new Pilot truck stop at the intersection of I-79 and 422. It wasn't there when I was last down in the fall. It has a McDonald's and a Subway, among the other truck stop normalities (showers, supplies, gas). Civilization continues to encroach upon my childhood. I'll take fries with that.


spider said...

Hello Bridget,
I found your blog on Ravelry's "blog train." And what a nice find it is!! Grand fun to read about your adventures with weaving. Very neat about the Pennsic event, where you took your classes.

I used to live in Toronto in the 90's. Worked as a historical interpreter at Black Creek Pioneer Village. Spent half my shift spinning and natural dyeing and the other half in the Weaver's shop cranking out rag rugs.

I scrolled down and found your lovely spinning, as well! Thanks for all you share.
Cheers, Jenny (jennyspider on Ravelry)

Monica Silva said...

Hi Bridget,
I found your blog on the Ravelry 'blog comment train.' I saw in your profile that you like Broadway Sountracks! I love Broadway showtunes. One of my favorites is 'Some People' in Gypsy. Which ones are your favorites?
Have a great week,