Archive for July 17th, 2008

Catching my breath

A few days ago my beautiful new-to-me loom arrived. It’s former life was with Kaz, who created gorgeous textiles on it. Kaz did the most amazing job packing up the loom to make sure it arrived here safely – complete with lots of bubblewrap and foam and corrugated cardboard and numerous labels and photos. I’ve spent the last few evenings slowly piecing the loom together, pestering Kaz with questions and details, and was in the final stages with just a few little bits to finish off. I had the blog post all planned with before and after photos of my work area and was thinking about the first warp. Oops.

I was just taking a final look through Kaz’s photos, wanting a detail of the mount where the beater pivots. Something caught my eye. Something about the cloth beam. There’s the ratchet and pawl and … the handle. The handle that can only fitted as the cloth beam is put in, which is pretty much step one of putting together the loom. The handle which I thought fit the warp beam. The handle which was still sitting on my work table.

The whole thing has to come apart again and be rebuilt from scratch – this time including the cloth beam handle.

I knew I would make mistakes as I learnt to use this machine. I expected setbacks. I know that very soon this will be a funny story, a small blip.

Just at this moment, I’m catching my breath.

Ocean – Out of the Blue

I’m a member of the Australian Textile Arts & Surface Design Association, known as ATASDA (pronounced a-TAZ-dah, but work on the aussie accent). It’s a great group – but I would say that since currently I’m national president and acting webmaster.

ATASDA has an exhibition coming up in Sydney in a few weeks, Out of the Blue. I wanted to weave something reminiscent of the ocean, the changing colours, the movement of the water. Shadow weave was suggested to me as a possibility. I’d never heard of it, so went hunting on the internet and found on the Pioneer Valley Weavers’ Guild a great article including a draft which had just the look I wanted (see the September 2004 archive). I’m assuming that if people make a wif file available, they are happy to have people use the draft. Of course my next challenge was that I didn’t have weaving software and had never seen a wif before in my life. So I openned it in Notepad and tried to make sense of it. I played in Excel until I had something I understood and liked – and I really don’t know if I was actually able to recreate the original draft or not, but it worked for me.

Yarn is the wool/merino blend again, dyed using Lanaset dyes. 22.5 x 186 cm. I sampled at 15 epi but didn’t like it so went to 16 epi – I was amazed at the difference such a small change can make.

The original idea was to make the scarf as a large sample, then go on to make a wallhanging, being a bit more adventuresome with inclusions of extras in the weaving, maybe some clasped weft to really push the idea of the shifting currents and colours of the ocean… My final bit of playing at the end of the warp was fun, but convinced me that the wallhanging I envisaged wouldn’t work. Clicking on the small thumbnail will show the blocky look the scarf gets when flat, as for hanging. The extra “realism” I was intending, with flecks of foam on the waves (undyed, unspun fragments of silk hankies) just didn’t make sense in that formal structure.

I also need to learn to put time where it will make a difference. I mixed 8 blues/greens/purples for the dark yarn (warp and weft) and a different 8 for the light. Depth and complexity or minor variations invisible to the viewer? It doesn’t matter too much, I like my result and enjoyed the process, plus mission fulfilled – when I first wore the scarf to work a colleague (ex-Navy) took one look and said “Ocean!”.


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