Friday, February 17, 2017

Beginning Weavers Learn about Weaving with Wool

Our beginning weavers joined the larger group to lean about "Weaving with Wool" at the monthly weavers meeting. Wool, like every fiber, come in different weights, twists and texture. It is recognized as a good insulator, dyeable, resistant to wear, is flexible, absorbent and elastic.
A handwoven vest with interplay of patterns

Woolen or Worsted, each having its own set of characteristics and which works best depends on the final purpose, the weave structures and finishing. Finishing in weaving is more about blocking and washing/misting of your woven product than just the completion. There are a lot of pre and post weaving decisions to make, especially so when the fiber is wool.
Finished vs Completed 

When fabric is handwoven, the finishing helps the fiber to bloom, to intertwine & fibers connect, thus determining the texture, strength and size of the completed fabric.  There are resources to facilitate your weaving with wool, check out the weavers' library.  This all seems complicated, however, like any learning experience you break it down into manageable pieces and focus on learning the simple before jumping into the complex experience.  We are all learning everyday...beginner, intermediate and expert weavers alike. 
Handwoven vest

Each fall, the weavers hold a beginners weaving class. Cathy, the primary course instructor determines the schedule, usually beginning in Mid-September after the Open House and finishing near the end of October. Sometime after the first of the year, there is usually a sample style workshop in which the new weavers get to experience multiple weaves while only warping one loom-a sampling of the complex while mastering the small piece.
Excited beginning weavers show their first fabulous runner. 
The instructor tries to link each new weaver with a mentor to reassure them that help is only a phone call away. I must admit back in the day I viewed it as a lifeline, a way to continue to learn the process without frustration.  Today 15 years later, I still pick up that phone and ask "Vicki, Are you busy, I have a question." Weaving is a dynamic experience, as you master one technique, there is always another one of interest.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Spinners Tools in Everyday Life.

The January gathering of the spinners choose to celebrate more than just their spinning prowess. The spinners were asked to share alternate uses for their spinning tools or household tools for spinning use.  We've all used those rake combs to detangle yarns ends, or the freezer to prevent moth infestation, but here are a few novel ideas that are simple to use and readily available.
Terry is demonstrating the use of a lazy susan to assist the    winding of your spun yarn. 

Greg has taken landscaping tape and a indelible marker to use as waterproof labeling of skeins of spun yards for dyeing.
Two different drop spindles are used to wind string for later use in bundle-tying of yarn prior to washing/dying.

And lastly we all struggle with tangled christmas lights, Colleen suggested try using a nitty-noddy to organize them.
It was a fun night of spinning, knitting, laughing and all those fun things that happen 
when spinners gather.  

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Krobragd Weaving

This season, our weaving study group topic is Scandinavian Weaving. Krobragd is a boundweave structure that is usually woven on 3 harnesses, using a point twill with pickup draft. This resulting weave has floats on one side and a tighter weave on the other.   Danish, Norwegian, Swedish versions are similar but there remains some distinct difference in the design patterns. Historically,  these weavings served a functional purpose, and only the wealthy used them exclusively for decoration. My limited knowledge is showing. All I really understand is they are awe inspiring, whether a wall hanging, a rug or a coverlet.  In early December, Dorothy, one of our weavers,  completed this marvelous piece of Krobragd.

She designed it using the patterns and colors of her ancestors as a gift to her son. She shared that it was a fun, rewarding and sometimes challenging project that took a little time (I believe that's an understatement), but so worth it to hear her son's appreciation in his  "Thanks, Mom."

Friday, December 9, 2016

Kitten Approved Quilting

Hmm, this was an interesting morning. The quilters gathered to share their latest work and to seek input from the group. Marilyn shows her almost completed mystery quilt and its wonderful machine quilting. However, looks like we have a little lady checking out Marilyn's handiwork up close and personal.  She seemed to voice her approval,  purring away as she nestled in for a a scratch behind her ears and a lap to nap on.
Thanksgiving is behind us; the true test of an Iowan is upon us. And yet, when those winter winds blow and snow envelops the landscape,  it is this love of fabric and fiber that keeps our minds and bodies happy.  A warm fire, friends around, a quilt in progress and a little love from a wee one...what more can we ask. Happy Quilting

Monday, November 21, 2016

What to do with sampling fleece?

Last year, the spinners group decided to study various British breeds. We each received a sample, took it home, spun and plied it, and thought,  Hmmmm, now what am I going to do with this small amount of yarn. 
Terry, one of our members, proceeded to envision clothing for an American Girl doll. She wove the fabric for the hooded cape, knitted the sweater, skirt, socks, tam, and felted the shoes. Each breed was highlighted in some piece of clothing.  Last Fall,  her creativity and handiwork was the focal point of the Coralville Library Display.  Outstanding, isn't it? 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Weaving Rag Rugs

Last Spring, in addition to our Tuesday evening study group, the weavers began a daytime Rug Study Group and began the first project: Rag Rugs/Runners

The 12 or so weavers involved selected a common pattern and color way. As a group we warped the two looms upstairs, one for runners using the same structure but on a differ scale, and the other for rugs.

Oh, my, what a adventure it has been. It was a challenging learning experience from the get-go. I really did learn a lot. I did learn to carefully count when using the warping wheel (that wheel goes around really fast), and to read and reread the threading count prior to winding day.  Selecting the fabrics to use lead us to discover that some color combinations don't work. The fabric weight and printing method(as with batik or silk screening) differs among fabrics and that difference impacts the compression of each strip.  Thus, the width of strips necessary may differ.  Hmmm, there's that nasty word...SAMPLING is essential. And NEVER, never, never precut all your strips. We learned how to repair a brake on the vintage Tricks of the Trade loom. We learned a temple is important and purchased a new type for the rug and learned how to use it.  And yet, with all the snafu's and challenges, we all completed our rug/runner project by the state fair time! Some even submitted their projects and two won ribbons.

All that being said, it was a wonderful experience, even to those of us who wove in the intense heat of last summer in the attic room that houses our looms. We're off and running again. This time we are warping and threading for Rosepath.  Each time I begin these projects, I think I have so much to learn. Experiential Learning is often the way to cement the process into the brain. Personally,  I just wish I didn't always learn it the hard way by messing up and having to unweave. Oh, well, Let's see what I can learn this time.

Just an FYI: Janet Meany's classic rug book, "Rug Weaving" and Tom Kinsey's "Weave a Good Rug" Video are great resources.

Anyone interested in Rug weaving, contact Cathy Willoughby at the guild for the specific information.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Spinners to study "Local" fleece.

Spinners gather with drop spindles and wheels to share their craft
 Exciting plans are underway for the spinners group. Greg announced that there will be two workshops and we will be studying "local" fleece this year. Local refers to fleece from animals raised within a two hour radius. He's so thrilled, he's already found quite a few. "My garage is full of fleeces,  I cannot wait to get my fingers into them." Similar to last year's breed study, he will distribute samples of each breed to "play with".  There will also be a spring workshops, April 8 & 9 at the Solon library, on the uniqueness of and the expectations for spinning specific crossbreeds and purebreds.  Each day is $110, and limited to the first 20 sign ups. Contact Greg if you weren't at the meeting if you'd like to be included in either of the workshops or the local breeds study.

Folks have been busy, spinning up last year's samples from the breeds study and other fleece found at the sheep and wool shows last summer. As we all know, spinning takes time and practice, yet amazingly, we see results. We do tend to be our own worst critics and fail to see the beauty and success of a not so perfect yarn. I often take my wheel camping. It sits proudly in the passenger seat, all buckled in, ready to ride to wherever our journey takes us. It doesn't care if it's raining, cold, or the campsite is less that ideal.  However, I do use a large mat under my wheel and basket after I absent-mindedly added leaves to my yarn.  It really wasn't a great disaster, just not fun picking out the leaves rather than spinning. Thankfully, spinning is an addictive and soothing activity in which perfection is not always the goal.