Sunday, July 1, 2018

The Skirt, Part 1

This story is as much about sewing as it is about weaving. It is possibly even more about project planning. The things I learned, since I am not an expert sewist, were decidedly in the planning and sewing stages. I found the weaving to be easiest with one glaring exception (the beat) and which I didn’t especially appreciate until it was too late.

This project was driven by a long-standing desire to construct my own clothing. I wasn’t interested in making any political statements or return to some mythic “simpler time” but rather more practical reasons: I’m 5’1” with bust, waist, and hips, and finding well-fitted clothing is a challenge from both a height and shape perspective. As every woman who is shaped outside the normal distribution knows, the off-the-rack clothing industry doesn’t design garments for curvy women.

I was first seduced by a sexy deflected doubleweave (DDW) pattern I found in a back edition of Handwoven. I had to try it but it was a few years before the stars aligned and I had enough nerve to potentially waste some of my precious Jaggerspun Zephyr wool/silk blend fiber. My first attempt went brilliantly right up until I sent it through my front-loading washer, thinking it was gentle enough. The result was beyond disappointing: it shrunk from 7’ x 11” scarf size to 3’ x 6”cravat size. It’s a very warm cravat and I actually do wear it on the very coldest days of the year. Lessons learned! But, I knew what to do – and what not to do – to wet finish this piece of work. I played with color combinations and generally had a lot of fun with discovery.

A year or two before this first experiment with DDW, a very close friend and the woman who played Robin to my Batman -- let’s call her Kerry because that is her real name -- one day tossed four cones of 20/2 cashmere in I my direction and commanded me to weave her something beautiful in dark blue, dark green, burgundy, and ivory. At the time, more than two colors scared me and I promptly parked that beautiful fiber in the stash. The cones followed me on a move to England where they sat in a project box for 18 months.

Back to the future: You get a lot of time to think while you are weaving and I just knew that the DDW pattern would be the right one for her and something she wouldn’t weave for herself. In part because it’s too fiddly and in part because I have more shafts at my disposal and my pattern requires eight. In a moment of inspiration I drew a fifth color from my stash, a BFL/silk blend, hand-dyed by Cheryl at Sonoran Desert Dyed Fiber and I found a way to mix the yarns into a plaid-ish DDW. That first DDW was only three colors. Now I had five!!

Fast forward a few weeks and voila: I was cutting off an beautiful DDW scarf from the loom which I vigorously wet finished by hand. It was fine enough to double over as a scarf without creating bulk. I road tested it around town and took an action picture of it near Tower Bridge.

I was satisfied that as a scarf it was brilliant. I wanted one of my own.  Nonetheless, the scarf went to Kerry, the majority owner of the fiber content; an 18” sample went to Cheryl so she can show off what her fiber could do. We even entered that scarf in competition at Maryland Sheep & Wool and got second prize in the category, and I agreed with the judges comment that it was still a little flimsy. It needed a closer sett and another round of hand-fulling.

Next time: Part 2, Planning the yardage and selecting a skirt pattern

Sunday, May 15, 2016

A MDSW adventure 2 years in the making

Erin standing out front of our former weaving studio.
...It only took two years for the blog to be updated.

In that two years, Erin has been having tons of fun exploring London, new weaving projects, new jobs, and new running adventures.

I've been having tons of fun spinning, knitting, rehabbing my horse, and having new riding adventures.

Unfortunately in fall of 2014, not long after Erin left for London, the Museum at which our Weaving Studio was housed underwent some renovations and our weaving space was no longer safe or appropriate for class. The program has been mothballed pending new space.

In the meanwhile, my big 4 shaft loom is in storage I've inherited a tiny table top 2 shaft loom which is the only way my weaving-urge gets satisfied.

A scarf being woven on my tiny tabletop counterbalance loom. Please ignore the threading error.

Erin's got her 8 shaft Leclerc Minerva with her in London and doing AMAZING things with it (more on that later.)
The amazing collapse weave scarf Erin Wove for me as a gift!!

I've started regularly rescuing wayward antique wheels and refurbishing them and then selling them on to new homes.

Until this past weekend, we haven't seen each other since her jaunt across the pond but we speak almost daily thanks to technology.

Somehow or another the Collins family managed to finagle a trip for Erin back to the States last weekend for the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival!!!

We made it through the entire weekend without any photos of us together (WTH?!) but it did happen!

Friday through Sunday we spent the entire weekend with fiber-friends and sheep and wheels and looms galore.

Sunday afternoon we stood and watched the Sheep-to-Shawl competition for a bit and Erin and I are both convinced we could totally win with the help of her fast weaving skills and my super-speedy antique Canadian Production Wheels (CPWs). She's now trying to devise a plan to rent a truck, locate a loom, and figure out how to get all of said accouterments to 2017 MDSW so our (currently imaginary) team can compete.

I shepherded four wheels back home to Tidewater Virginia. Two reproduction Estonian Saxony wheels- one for our beloved LYS owner  - and two antique wheels - a Super-Slanty and a Lateral Treadle.

Post-MDSW. My car packed with 2 antique wheels, 2 moderns, and our fiber-haul. Still room for suitcases and snacks. If you're thinking about buying a Scion, they have AMAZING storage capacity in the hatch!!
(Please disregard the remnants of hay bales. I didn't have time to vacuum the hatch. FYI you can fit 4 bales into a Scion) 
Sadly the lateral treadle has suffered greatly at the teeth of wood-worm. There are a few usable parts. But the future of this particular old gal will be as a pattern while I try my overly enthusiastic hand at wheel-making. The metal pieces will be reused in whatever wheel I create so they won't go to waste.

*shrug* Worst case scenario, I have really pretty fire-wood. Best case scenario, I end up with something that might actually spin! Either way, it will be a fun project and I'll learn something about myself and about the craft.

Hazel with her coned-yarn score from the
stash in the back of my car.
ITW "Odds and Ends" which I bought but
ended up going to London with Erin. 

I spent almost all of my MDSW fiber budget at the "Into the Whirled" booth. They're my absolute favorite fiber vendor / indie dyer and just all around nice folks.  They're products never fail to amaze me with consistent quality and color.

Almost every project I've made (spun, woven or knit) in the last year has had ITW fiber in it and I have zero regrets.

I also bought a beautiful wooden stick-shuttle to use on my table-top loom. The graining in the wood is delicious and the feel of the shuttle in my hand is perfect!

Erin and Hazel both got sent home with a ton of fiber from my stash so they could each weave something lovely.

This year's MDSW trip also included a visit from our dear friend Cathy who heads our Sister Guild in Nova Scotia. (Notes about All Things Canadian will be saved for another day.) Cathy and her partner in crime, Gillian, were down in the US at the same time as MDSW and after much cajoling, I convinced her to drive down for a day or two and join us in wool-land! I hope they had as much fun as we did.  They were both a delight and such wonderful folks.

Note: If you need a loom, go to Canada. They give them away. (Hopefully Cathy can blog about the resale value of looms in the US vs Nova Scotia.)

And HEY!!! PAY ATTENTION! Our amazing Erin won a pretty Ribbon in the MDSW Skein and Garment Competition!

Erin with her 2nd place ribbon at MDSW 2016. 

The same beautiful Collapse Weave scarf she wove for me as a gift won Second Place at MDSW and the judge said it was the best example of Collapse Weave she had ever seen. AMAZING!! I'm so honored to have learned from this wonderful weaver. 

Erin, can you tell us more about Collapse Weave and the project in general?  

It was absolutely a wonderful weekend though all together too short. Our time with each other is so precious now that we're so far away and I'm thankful for the jet-lag-inducing trip she took just for some fiber time (and friend time!) and to grace US soil again.

Come home soon, Erin! We've missed you!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Fair Winds...

It started with a driveband and the want of a lighter.

July 2011, I was at a fiber meetup at a local yarn store. And the poly drive band on my then-wheel decided to snap. Of course, as a non-smoker, I didn't have a lighter and neither did anyone in the group.

As my disappointment at a spinning-day cut short became evident, a voice from my left piped up with "I can totally fix that."

And this bubbly stranger with beautifully salted hair scooted over, tied cotton string on my wheel for a drive band and then mentally thought through other tactics when the cotton string didn't quite solve the problem.

There was a look on her face that I would grow to know well over the years; the "I'm too stubborn to let this win" face. ((I have my own version which she can easily identify.))

We didn't solve the drive-band issue that day, but we did end up pissing off the owner of the LYS due to a spilled coffee tumbler (a whole different story!)  and as I packed up the car, Erin bravely asked me to join her and a mutual friend on a road trip to a Fiber Festival.  My first fiber festival? Heck yeah!  So plans were made.

Somewhere between that invite and our road trip, Erin ordered a loom and taught herself to weave. I remember her telling us this at the Fiber Festival. She showed us the scarf she bought as an inspiration piece; and I rolled my eyes so hard my brain hurt.

You taught yourself to what? You bought a what???

But damned if she didn't do it. No doubt, she devoured every single book, web article and online video she could.  And she managed to produce some of her most beautiful wovens to-date on that loom.

In May of 2012, a friend asked me to demo spinning and fiber prep at a local teeny tiny Ren Faire.

When I asked Erin, her reply was "I don't do Ren Faires."

But with a little pushiness on my part, her tune changed and our Ren Faire tradition was born.

Pictured above with her rigid heddle loom, weaving the scarf that EVERYONE still drools over. I'm spinning some Cotswold on Erin's Nees wheel, and our friend Stephanie on her Kromski. 

It was one utterly gorgeous orange, red and yellow tartan scarf that made my brain finally scream "I want to do that!" (while simultaneously trying to figure out a way to Bogart the scarf.)

So I started scouring the internet for cheap rigid heddle looms. My budget was beyond tight and somehow I managed to buy not just one, not just two, but three rigid heddle looms which were completely and utterly useless when assembled.  I finally scored a deal; an older loom which was a twin of Erin's, but in dire need of some TLC.

And that's how my weaving journey began. My first project? A pair of mostly-cotton placemats for some friends of mine.  With random cotton yarns from Tuesday morning and some donated silk remnants from our friend Stephanie, my hodge-podge of weaving took shape.

I still remember the "What the hell is wrong with you?" Look Erin gave me when I told her I wanted to do plaid and no, I didn't find multiple colors to be intimidating for my first project.

I got used to that look. ;-) 

And since I always think things are less challenging than they really are, what was my next project which also garnered the "What the hell is wrong with you?" look?

A twelve yard warp.  Yep. You got it. 12 yards.

It was, as Erin says, a challenge.

Lesson 1. We ran out of packing paper. That crap is important. The amount of tension related issues due to this one oversight - I cannot even tell you.

Dec 16, 2012. I MADE FABRIC!
Lesson 2. Twelve yards of warp is a pain in the ass to beam. Period.

Lesson 3. Your 2nd real weaving project should probably not be "Teach yourself and your teacher how to do overshot." Although, to be fair, I kinda did rock at that. 

Lesson 4: (And this one is a repeat-occurrence that neither one of us has yet to master) Count your friggin heddles.  I am now the self-proclaimed master at string heddles. This one project, my second project, is why, folks. Because I'm stupid and didn't count my damned heddles. I think I tied 100 on one shaft alone. No joke.

Between the two of us, we learned overshot. And Erin provided encouragement and support when I got burned out and decided to change my threading half-way through the project and weave waffle-weave towels.

She honed her teaching chops on me that month. And only she will understand the agony and delight that was The Twelve Yard Warp.

We were invited by a mutual friend to sell our fibery wares at the Hermitage Museum's Holiday event. So we set up a little booth. I packed my wheel, Erin her loom, lots of fiber and finished goods, and photos were snapped and published. It was Erin's sunny smile from behind her loom which prompted a donation of looms to the Hermitage and the birth of the Weaving program and our very own "fiber studio."

Another Ren Faire was attended. I spun. Erin wove. (Again: Duh) We camped. I froze. Erin brought her own personal sleeping-bag warmer in the form of Sarah the Vintage Dog. Sarah developed a fan club.

My favorite moment was here:
Get used to it, Collins. You're just awesome
. I have photographic evidence. :-P
This is Erin standing at her loom providing patient, kind, steady instruction to a severely autistic teen who found peace and success behind Erin's loom.

The pattern and rhythm, the structure and logic, and the instant gratification provided by weaving struck a cord with this young lady that her large family had never witnessed before.

She took instruction, she listened and was not destructive, she sat in one place for extended periods of time, she focused.

Erin, who is a self-proclaimed introvert, who says she's not so great at teaching folks, who is not always confident about her interactions with folks with disabilities... Erin changed this girl's weekend.

In Octobers, Maker Faires were attended. We brought looms, wheels, fibers, hand carders, knitting needles, crochet hooks, nalbinding, and knowledge and caffeine.  No matter how hard we prepared each year, we were utterly exhausted, sporting swollen feet, and barely able to speak due to our raw voices.  

Our most recent maker faire allowed us the opportunity to invite our weaving students to a 'field trip' where they wove at the faire in public. They answered questions and demo'd their skills and made Erin and I so unbelievably proud.

Having a full team of fiber artists was such a different feeling than our very first fiber-demo at that very first Ren Faire. It was amazing to know that we had participated in fueling our student's love of fiber-arts.

In the fall, we started a new adventure, trying to get our 8 week weaving classes down to a 2 week project. We made it work and successfully cranked through several 2-week sessions before the holidays. 

And somewhere around there, Erin dropped the bomb that her family had received an amazing opportunity to move to London for 2 years. 

Being who I am, I got angry. She was leaving me. My friend was abandoning me to go off with some stupid boy (read: her husband) to another COUNTRY!? This was massively uncool.

((Eh. To be perfectly honest, I'm still not entirely over that feeling.))

The opportunity for the Collins clan was too good to pass up and decisions and preparations had been made. This was going to happen. When I saw Erin for the first time after getting the news, I saw the "OMG" on her face and realized my role was to be as supportive as I could muster (which often times was 'not at all!').   No matter how much I tried, my friend was still leaving. LEAVING. This was still very much "Not Ok." I'm positive I didn't hide that well. And I make no apologies for that - it was the way I could show her how she'd be missed since I don't do sappy too well (this post aside.) 

We wrapped up our final joint weaving class just a few weeks ago. It was the perfect weaving class at the perfect time. Our students were all repeat customers and Erin and I were lucky enough to spend the eight week session with students we thoroughly enjoy, projects we loved, and alot of time to relax and chat- which we both sorely needed considering the big changes ahead.

Last Wednesday I had a wonderful dinner with the Collins clan, inherited some goodies from their house due to their down sizing, and got a giant hug from a teary Erin. (I didn't get misty till I was driving down her street. Shh. Don't tell.) 

So, it is with utter sincerity that I offer my deepest thanks to my drive band.

Thank you for breaking that day.

Thank you for giving that woman with the beautifully salted hair the chance to pop out of her seat, spill a coffee tumbler, and try to fix my wheel. Thank you for giving her a reason to help me load stuff in my car and poke at my introvert boundaries by inviting me, a stranger, on a road trip.

A really long friendship was birthed that day. Right there. In the parking lot of that LYS. Thanks for being brave enough to make the first step, Erin. As a strong introvert, I never would have. And it would have been my loss. 

While the Collins clan indicates that their overseas adventure may extend past their original two-year-plan, I refuse to allow that to be a possibility.

She'll be back in two years. And then it will be my turn to go on a big adventure while she holds down the weaving fort.

In the meanwhile, I'll keep the class going as long as I can. I promise to try not to punch students. I promise to try to not trade all the looms for antique wheels; it'll be hard, but I'll make the effort.

The guild is still alive and well, of course. We are just now weaving a bit further away from each other. Though I can happily wind her warps and mail them, we've yet to figure out how she will beam my warp while in the UK.

We should expect to lots of photos and blog updates over the next few weeks as Erin goes on fiber-y adventures in London. She's keeping us abreast of this part of her weaving journey and I can't wait to see what she discovers!!

So, fair winds and following seas to my dear friend(s) as they start their new journey across the pond.

Its been an honor and a pleasure and lots of giggles.

See you in two years. :) 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Winter passes into Spring passes into Summer

Has it been so long? Really? Goodness gracious. Five months. You must think we've abandoned this blog.

We haven't, but it has not been at the top of our list of priorities. For me (Erin), priorities have been around work, work, and work, and moving to the UK. For Kerry, it has been work, work, and work. And for both it's been growing a new crop of weavers, and watering our seedling weavers, at the Hermitage.

Can you tell I've been playing Farm Heroes on my tablet?

I wrote an email the other day to four local weavers and my heart grew ten times bigger as I did so because, a year ago, these four weren't weavers and I knew I had a small hand in introducing them to this wonderful craft.

Kerry went to the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival (MDSW), a very large (not THE largest but close) fiber festival on the East Coast. Rhinebeck is larger and someday I'd like to attend. For us here in Hampton Roads, though, MDSW is easy driving distance. I stayed back and managed class. I'll let Kerry talk about her wonderful adventure. She brought back four skeins of Just Our Yarn that I begged for. Equally if not more special, though, was a signed book by Tom Kniseley. Tom is my rag weaving hero. He has a lovely writing voice, and a gentle but firm approach in his videos. We had visited The Mannings in Pennsylvania on our legendary loom road trip to northern Virginia and State College, PA. Mr. Knisely wasn't present that day - he was in the process of writing said book and we saw several of the rugs, in progress, that were to be photographed. It isn't often that the store owner is available to give us a tour around the (massive!!) weaving space and it was an incredibly special treat. THAT book, signed by Tom, in my hands. WOW!

In the introduction of his wonderful book, Weaving Rag Rugs, he provides some history about rag rugs. Now, you have to understand that I love the concept of reusing materials. I don't do nearly enough and rag rugs are my way to evening up the score. He mentions a type of rag weaving called sakiori. Sakiori is a technique of taking worn our kimonos and cutting them into very narrows strips of cloth and then weaving that as weft on a new warp.  Yes, it sounds just like rag weaving, but with very narrow strips - 1/4" to 1/3" or so. So I've been thinking about this ever since, all of a couple of weeks. The fabric made using this narrow cloth weft has interesting possibilities beyond rugs. What I've read implies that finer fabric can be woven, and I can see the possibilities of using something lighter than 8/2 or 8/4 cotton carpet warp. It seems so obvious, doesn't it? Hand to forehead. Repeat as necessary.

Friday I looked at a blue and green and purple (and some white) floral scarf that had belonged to my grandmother. The dogs had managed to rip a great giant hole in it. It was a lighter than air scarf made in India, about 36"x36" square with beads on the corners - probably to keep it from floating away. And I thought, I can honor my grandmother, who passed away a couple of years ago, by cutting it up for sakiori weaving. I couldn't bare to throw it away. Reuse, recycle. That really was the long way 'round to get to this story but it all connects. Loom advendure to The Mannings to MDSW to Sakiori...

I'm not exactly certain the form this will ultimately assume but it will become something woven. The beads will likely be incorporated in some clever way, too. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, currently on Erin's loom...

...a brown and pink fancy twill in wool. Oooh, you know how I love twill and I love this pattern. On the left side is the washed sample that made me rethread an entire section. What a pain but worth it in the end.  The sample also told me that the elongated diamonds would in fact squish down and become more squared.  I used 36" of this for my Complex Weavers Fine Threads Study Group sample this year. The remainder will either be a scarf or a runner. Or a piece of fabric to do something with. It's about 18" wide. The pink warp is 26/2, and the brown weft is undefined but I'm guessing around 18/2. No, they don't match but I loved the colors together. The brown didn't soften up much in the wash but it goes so perfectly with a long brown vintage wool/cashmere coat I have that I don't much care. So it'll probably be an outer shawl of some kind.


Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Use Tabby

Have we talked about the phrase/term "use tabby"? It is not unique overshot. I've seen it elsewhere but for now let's assume it occurs with overshot. It means: between every treadled pattern shot/pick/pass, treadle a row of plain weave to tie down the pattern threads. It gets more complicated than that, though. It means you have to set up two treadles that can be treadled as plain weave. On a four shaft loom with a straight draw threading and six treadles, this is means tying a treadle to shafts 1,3 and another to 2,4, leaving treadles the remaining four treadles handle pattern. All overshot patterns I've ever run across are configured so that they can be treadled in plain weave - or pretty close to plain weave.

pass 1: pattern
pass 2: tabby
pass 3: pattern
pass 4: tabby

This concept confounded me when I first started weaving. Less so when I understood it intellectually, and the mystery was completely eliminated when I actually did it. Sort of like double weave.

Almost immediately the next question comes up: which treadles should I use for tabby?

Kerry likes using treadles 1 and 6. When her shuttle is on the left, she uses treadle 1; when her shuttle is on the right, she uses treadle 6. For some this is completely intuitive.

I like putting the tabby treadles on the right hand side. I can slide one foot back and forth between the two tabby treadles (left-most when my shuttle is on the left, right-most when my shuttle is on the right) and my left foot operates the other four. If you have any music training, this might feel alot like playing the piano but with the bass line on the right instead of the left. That analogy falls apart pretty quickly if you go much further so let's not. In any case, I'm more comfortable handling the pattern treadles with my left leg.

Still, though, sometimes I miss the correct treadle. They are so close together! This was a constant problem for me with the Minerva. Slightly less of a problem on the new Tools of the Trade loom. Even less so on MayMac (my Macomber) but...sill an issue...until I remembered that I can shift my treadles! Bwahahaha!

Not everyone has this advantage. I do and I am using it. I increased the gap between treadles 4 and 5 from an inch to 5 inches. It's simply a matter of loosening the screw bolts and scooting the treadles (and their connectors) over.

There's no difference in the shed or the integrity of the lift of the shafts. That gap has made ALL the difference for me and I'm loving it for my latest overshot runner.

Not all looms have a long bar for the treadles but if yours does and there is an extra few inches available, give it a try. You could create a gap between treadles 1 and 2, and between 5 and 6.

Happy Weaving!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Finishing Up Fall?

It seems as if Autumn has barely begun and we're already finishing up our Fall Weaving Session at the Hermitage Museum & Gardens Visual Arts Studio. Our overshot projects have created a frenzy of weaving and imagination and challenge. We're VERY proud of our students for rising to the challenge and tackling it with gusto despite vacations, family challenges, and sleying errors.

After October 28 we have a couple weeks off to catch our breath and then we begin the Holiday Session. We've split Holiday Session into two mini-sessions for beginning weavers, and the project is a warm winter scarf. Students who choose their colors via two or more skeins in wool/wool-blend yarn from the fabulous inventory at Baa Baa Sheep in Ghent receive a 5% discount. We are really excited to partner with Roz and her team at Baa Baa Sheep. To say we are thrilled to have a yarn shop in Ghent would be an understatement. I swear, if she ever goes out of business I'm going to take over!


Kerry is wildly weaving  __________s (ahem, no spoilers) and is on the last 10% and wishing someone else would take over. It's a long warp. Almost everyone in class and nearly everyone who has visited has taken a spin on Niles, who is right now living at The Herm. We've decided that we DEFINITELY like having an easy work in progress on a long warp and it's like a loom tasting. We should definitely have a Wine & Weft Tasting this winter. Something to chase away the chilly January blues.

Kerry is VERY good at winding long warps. I need to barter with her to finish winding my 12-yd warp in 20/2 bamboo.

I acquired a third loom. Because I'm a weaver and that's what insane weavers do. It's a Tools of the Trade loom (ToTT for short) whom we are calling Tutti. I'm not very good with names. Anyway, I cut this sample off Tuttie yesterday.

I love this little 4-shaft loom. Well, not little, it is a floor loom after all, and weaves at about 32" I think. I want to find another just like it so I can bolt the castles together and create an instant 8-shaft loom. The price was perfect - cheap even - so I could NOT pass this up. And my pay from the Herm basically paid for it. The only downside was transporting it 90 minutes from Richmond in the rain. With the eight miles of green tarp we have even that wasn't a problem.  

Because this is a gift I want it to be well done without any really obvious threading goofs. Except that I treadled my sample incorrectly. However, I know that the pattern weft is a good color, and i know that I missed an 8-thread repeat on the right border. So I'll remove eight from the left side to bring it symmetrical and treadle the next sample correctly. I like how it finished, too. I'll actually press the hem before I sew it next time, too. The warp is 8/2 Tencel in Mountain Stream colorway, the tabby is 14/2 unmercerized cotton in dark hunter green and the pattern weft is 8/2 Tencel in a golden peachy color (referred to as Straw) combined with some leftover .Bambu 12 in Golden Wheat. These are all colors I already had on hand, and I obtained the 14/2 from a source on eBay and I don't know where it originally came from. The pattern is based on BGH #40, Peggy's Choice, and adding 2" borders along the length, and an inch on the ends for the hem.

Share your projects with us!!


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Getting ready for Rags, Dyes, and Overshot

A whole host of classes coming up, all of them at the wonderful Hermitage Museum & Gardens in Norfolk, VA. The Visual Arts Studio is located in the old stable and it is such a treat to use the space for reintroducing  Hampton Roads to the addictive craft of hand weaving on a traditional floor loom.

BUT: to butcher a famous Saturday Night Live line...send us your looms! Seriously, we need more looms. We have five, but we can accommodate more. Know someone with a loom that they haven't used in 20 years? Suggest they donate it to the Hermitage, a 503c designated organization - which means the a tax write-off for the giver. Got your own loom that is up in the attic/gathering dust in the little used parlor/sitting in the garage or basement and waiting for a yard sale? Do you have one too many looms? Does it need a little TLC? A lot of TLC? We'll  take looms in pretty much any condition and we have the means to pick it up (e.g., a pickup truck) and refurbish it for use. PLEASE contact Truly Matthews at the Hermitage at 757-423-2052. Kerry and I can travel up to about 300 +/- miles to pick up looms, and we have done so in the past. Or you can drop it off. Don't hesitate to call Truly, or even contact Kerry or myself, Erin, via the comments on this blog.

So enough with the begging, on with the show.


This fall we will be teaching an overshot class at the Visual Arts Center in the old stables at the Hermitage Museum & Gardens. It is an open class, meaning that beginners and non-beginners can register. Experienced weavers will be able to more or less work at their own pace, while beginners will learn how to weave using the overshot technique. It could be argued that that's too complicated for a newbie. We agree that it takes some focus but we think it is achievable.

The key to success for the fall class is to be present. The class is held Monday and Saturday, and both nights are class nights. I point this out strongly because there was some confusion last session. Anyhow, Wednesday nights were Open Studio nights during the spring session.  While Open Studio was entirely optional, we found that the students needed/wanted the additional time. We will make a couple of the Open Studio nights required this fall. The overshot threading is more complex than a straight twill and we'll need the extra time to get it done.

Details: Two sessions per week with optional Open Studio. Saturdays 10:30 am to 12:30 pm and Mondays 6:00 to 8:00pm. Open Studio is Wednesdays from 6 to 9pm. The first THREE Open Studio sessions are required. There are five looms, so the class limit is 5, but if bring your own loom and we can expand the class!


Fun rugs for new weavers! This class is a day of weaving on workshop looms that have been set up for rag rugs. All you need to do is show up, pick your colors, and we'll show you how to weave. No experience necessary!

Details: Saturday, July 13, 10:30 to 3:30 pm. Bring fabric shears!


Kerry is a super awesome kettle dyer and is always coming to the party with some new never-to-be-reproduced-again yarn colorway. Hand her a set of ingredients and a skein of wool yarn and she'll come up with something wonderful, no recipe required. Erin is a more deliberate dyer and likes to paint the yarn with sponge brushes and "wrap it and zap it."  We'll both be on hand to walk you through the dye process using food-safe dyes and common kitchen equipment.

A special bonus: the yarn you dye in this class can be used for your overshot project in the fall, should you decide to register for both classes.

Details: Saturday, July 27, 1:30 to 4:30 pm

You can register for all these classes at the Hermitage Museum and Gardens Visual Arts Studio web page. The overshot class isn't listed yet but will be soon - keep watching this and their site for updates.

Happy Weaving