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.


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