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

Friday, June 7, 2013

The New Kids on the Block!

Its been a crazy-busy few weeks for us in the Loom Lounge - but at this point, that seems to be the State of the Union for Erin and I in 2013.  I'm loving it and being this busy has me sleeping really well at night.

As Erin mentioned, we spent Memorial day weekend on a whirlwind road trip all the way up to PA and then back in 24 hours.

On the way up, we got to visit the Mannings Studio  where in my nerdy way, I felt compelled to hug a giant antique barn loom.

The loom was from between 1800 and 1830 and had about 99% of its original pieces still intact and functional. The reed had been replaced as well as a few of the joining pegs. But considering our modern looms lose parts like kids lose teeth, I think that this loom's condition continues to impress upon me the value of antiques and quality craftsmanship.

Obviously if a 180 year old loom is still going strong, those guys knew what they were doing.

My new loom (currently dubbed "Niles") is a 4 harness 6 treadle Nilus by LeClerc with a 36inch weaving width.

(That's Erin in the corner. She's reading the instructions for her new loom, a giant Macomber Loom --currently dubbed "Mac" or "May" depending on how cheeky we're being.)

On the floor in front of my loom you see several cones of cotton. I ordered cotton directly from Supreme down in NC - great customer service and phenomenal pricing and shipping times.

These aren't quite the colors I expected so - lesson learned: Buy a color card. Its worth the $10. :-/ However that did not stop me from winding a warp and beaming some towels.  I'm using a draft which is similar to a honeycomb. Its from the 7th or 8th Century and was found by historians/archaeologists near York England. Historically, these would have been made from linen instead of the cotton I'm using. I love the tie to history in these towels. This is a 4 yard warp. Some of these towels will be gifted as a wedding gift to a childhood friend. The rest I will sell.

Erin's new loom is pretty bad-ass.

She currently has 4 harnesses on the loom, but it is expandable up to 12 harnesses. The thing is massive and heavy. By the time we rolled up to the driveway at 2 am, I barely was able to haul MYSELF up the stairs to her house, so carrying her loom up was nearly impossible.

I'm still not sure how we would have gotten it into Erin's house had her hubby not been home and kind enough to help us. YEAH for Kent!

I am sad to say, however, that I failed in my friend-duties and didn't get a photo of  Mac. I did, however, get a great photo of her sleying her new loom with it's first project :)

And here's Erin's rescued and rehabbed older loom, BamBam. She's currently beamed with an overshot warp we're using as samples for our Fall teaching course. Erin's beamed with 5/2 cotton and using sock-yarn as weft. This was a really cool test weave for her as she had an "Ah Ha!" moment when the overshot just didn't look right to her. After some reading, she found out that the pattern weft (sock yarn) was just not the right weight. She ended up doing a little stash-busting to double-up her threads and the problem was solved.

We're going to wind a second of these warps to test the 8/2 cotton with sock yarn as pattern weft and see if that's a better fit for our class. :) Here's hoping!

And since I'd like to prove that I DO, In Fact, Spin:

This is a photo of the bobbin on my Canadian Production Wheel, Millie. I'm spinning white Shetland (with grey tips) from the lock. The locks are scoured, but I'm not even flick carding them open. I'm getting a semi woolen spin and its just sooo pretty. :)  I've since plied this into a 2 ply - hopefully photos to come. This yarn is not yet destined for anything in particular.

While on our road-trip, I convinced Erin to pull over at a local antique mall called Old Sled Works . It was a good place to stretch our legs, but would have been more fun if we weren't on such a time crunch.

Erin picked up a hand woven table runner.

And I saw this lovely tag:

The tag read "Old Loom $400."  I walked away laughing so loudly, Erin came over to inspect my mental health.  *Sigh* Muggles. :-/

The store was cool, though. They did have a corner in the back set up with a neat old fashioned soda fountain which was, sadly, closed.

So that's pretty much the state of the union around here.

Our Spring class is winding down -our students have done wonderfully and we'll say goodbye to them in just 2 days! But we've got some weaving demos and workshops this summer to keep us busy and in the teaching mindset.

I'll be participating in the Tour de Fleece here in just a few weeks. I hope to stash bust some of my embarrassing amount of Fiber.

And, meanwhile, Erin and I have enough projects to keep the looms going non stop. Darned that work and spinning and knitting getting in the way!!