in love with fabric.
Made or modified,
knit or woven
hand spun --or not,
opaque or translucent,
all fill me with joy.
Cloth in the raw
can be as compelling as fragments that have done their time
Once, I think, I assumed a hierarchy--
accepting this object to be more valuable/ compelling/ worthy than that.
not so much.
Well, sort of.
I'll probably have to put down the Hepty when the berries start ripening fast.
Last night I wound a warp.
This morning I added weft.
I normally finger pick my sheds
so string heddles feel unexpectedly welcoming.
This yarn it was flat when I bought it,
the linen a paper tape and the silk an almost invisible strand at its side -- scarcely twisted.
Ball winding, however, and failed attempts to knit with it (which resulted in more ball winding), added twist which made it difficult to decide on a sett.
Measuring the warp twisted it even more
and for the first few inches I couldn't get comfortable.
As I wove however, the warp untwisted, relaxed, flattened,
and by the end
the warp/ weft relationship made more sense,
at least to me.
Weaver Sarah deplores my casual beat and uneven selvedges.
Artist Sarah finds it beautiful.
Wonder what it'll do when I wash it?
are cool, relaxed and forgiving.
But when a gal spends a lot of time sitting on her butt,
shifting from one comfy position to another,
there invariably comes a moment when the sound of ripping interrupts the quiet.
and decisions must be made.
Does the patch belong on the inside, or the outside?
Does it matter if it (the patch), shows through the tear?
What color thread would be best? What weight?
Is it worth reinforcing the other cheek?
And how much effort am I willing to put in
to secure the disintegrating waistband stitching?
The answers, at least today, are as follows
4. The thread I have:
Güttermann cotton thread and brown pearl cotton (leftovers from making the pants)
6. Restitch but don't bother removing the old green hand spun silk that clearly didn't hold up.
Gotta draw the line somewhere...
I hoped, this morning,
to write an elegantly illustrated post
about the wonder and delight
of my exhibition
which opened last Thursday.
Alas, most of the photos were unsatisfactory for one reason or another.
In the upstairs gallery in particular
my phone camera refused to focus
so the pictures of all of my thrilling recent work
(embroideries, tiny tapestries and mobiles)
But oh well.
The exhibition is up until the end of July,
and all the work, (including the pieces already sold),
will remain until then.
Plenty of time to go back another day
with a different camera
and try again.
And THAT means
after posting this,
I can card a few more rolags,
go outside with my new spindle,
at the same time.
I slipped off to the canyon
and with me I brought:
a very old dog,
and a pocket knife.
In the decrepit orchard I found some straitish apple branches.
In a drawer I found some chute cord.
On the way to the outhouse I found a rattlesnake basking in the yarrow.
This last is neither unusual nor an essential part of this story,
but it did serve as a reminder to watch my step--
and to start weaving inside where I could keep my eyes on the task at hand,
rather than outside among the sun soaked grasses.
I'd not woven on a backstrap loom before,
but since tapestry is what I know best,
II started with that.
The new position
(horizontal instead of vertical warp
and sitting on the floor leaning against the backstrap),
was astonishingly comfortable--
so pleasant that when the first warp was done,
I put on another.
Finer yarn and a closer sett led to a tidy surface.
My ever-so-slightly increased proficiency led to straighter selvedges.
Soon, however, I wanted to see what else this amazing little loom could do.
I turned it around,
shoved the warp closer together,
and tried a balanced plain weave.
Turns out I'm better at keeping my beat even
and my selvedges straight
with a weft faced structure.
No surprise there -- I haven't woven a balanced plain weave in over 20 years.
A little more practice time is definitely in order.
A few days ago, Summer Larson just wrote a thought provoking blog post about time.
"How," she asks, "will you spend yours?"
Making cloth, methinks.
High and Low
Hill and Valley
Full and Hollow
All names for the same thing:
that every half pass of weft is like a wave,
seeming to rise up and sink down as it crosses the fell
going over and under alternate warp ends.
Over = high/hill/full
Under = low/valley/hollow.
"So what?" you might well say.
"The hills and valleys will switch position with the next half pass!"
That is true.
But when building curves on our beloved grid, taking advantage of (or ignoring), the hills and valleys can drastically effect the appearance and structure of shapes
In the image above you can see that for the steepest part of the curve on the far left I turned once on every warp.
Then, to gradually flatten out the curve, I turned on alternate, then every fourth warp, making sure to turn over a valley/ low spot, rather than a hill.
The turns snuggle down into the valleys, smoothing out the steps between passes.
For Knitters, think short rows.
Below you can see this packed down.
To smooth it still further (and to keep the yarn from getting trapped at the right selvedge
I made one half pass of eccentric weft,
The subsequent shape uses the same techniques.
Curved letters rely heavily on highs and lows to get the most out of every warp.
Landscapes, dots, trees -- all are improved by working with the grid in this way.
There is much more I could say about shape building
but those things, whatever they are, will have to wait for another day.
Today is Hill and Valley Day.
I love them so much that they get a blog post of their own.
OH! And one last thing!
If you weave from the back
a hill on 'your' side of the loom
will be a valley on the other.
Since I weave from the front, my curves are smoothest on the side facing me, more stair-stepped on the back. which is why, though my tapestries appear to be two sided, they are not.
Not that I don't pretend that they are.
It's just a thing that is true.
My dream is coming true!
First it was blue.
Now it is white.
Something else might happen.
But so far, it hasn't.
So back and forth I go.
Left to right.
Right to Left.
Tap, tap, tap.
Wind a bobbin.
Left to right again.
I might be doing this for a while.
And that's fine with me.
Sarah C Swett