Friday, July 24, 2009

First Tapestry started, Dino rug and Red Woven Bag

Pente Ifan, Wales

I have started my first tapestry weaving this week. I'm using a photo of Pente Ifan near Cardigan, Wales as my model. I got to actually touch this massive, incredible monolith while I was in Wales. It vibrates, and you can just feel the age to it. I felt like I was in a super sacred place, very holy, very mystical and cosmic. I went alone to see it while my friend Sue stayed in the car. It was a short walk through a pasture with sheep on both sides of the fence. It sits on one of the high rolling hills and isn't too far from the Neolithic Village I also got to visit. It was late afternoon, very quiet and still, with a light, cold misting rain. Some people have said that when they have looked through the opening in the center they have seen other places and times. I can sort of believe it as there as so much energy surrounding this simple structure. I still can't figure how they managed to balance the rocks the way they are to construct them with no heavy machinery to lift these huge stones. My ancestors must have been supermen. I stayed for about 15 minutes and left as it was getting on dinner time.

My tapestry is being done of a 12 x 12 frame loom that I had already warped and put headers on maybe a year or so ago and never got any actual weaving done on. The yarns are pulled from all my stashes and I am using hand dyed homespun, DMC Medici tapestry, Jameison yarns, rug yarns and assorted knitting and sock yarns--whichever have the right colors I need for this. I've gotten 4 or so inches done so far doing simple tabby and interlock tapestry. I'm trying to avoid doing slits to sew in as much as possible. The warp is not tensioned which I will correct in future weavings. Still having problems keeping even sides. I really have to figure out how to do sides. My tools are naalbinding needles, yarn needles, and a plastic hair pick.

I can't remember what I used to warp this thing but it looks like thin Medici type wool as it isn't cotton thread or linen and is thicker than quilting thread but not as thick as Peaches and Cream cotton yarns. I think my rocks and foreground grass is coming along okay. I think it's close enough to the original colors and shading. I'm doing a lot of color blending of threads using 2-3 strands of Medici as I weave when I'm not using thicker handspun, and even with it sometimes I am adding a stand of the Medici to make it blend better. Designing xstitch, needlepoint, my own yarns, and rug hooking has helped a lot in learning how to optically mix colors in yarn and fibers also the rag weaving of rugs and bags has helped too to see how colors interact and blend. I am studying a lot of the tapestries on line in progress to see how other people handle their colors and problem areas of their designs. I'm learning at lot that way than I have from my less than helpful books. I'm going to try to get into the monolith rocks today and see how far I get.

I got the red rag bag done. This was all on 2 cardboard looms, one for the bag and the other for the handle. It used red Peaches and Cream yarn for the warp and assorted cotton quilting fabrics for the weft cut in 1" strips using both my hands and one of the larger naalbinding wooden needles to weave with. I had to weave the bottom together with extra yarn, then sewed the handles to the upper header band. It's 15 x 18 which makes a nice large project bag or a bag where you need extra height for items so they won't fall out. My tapestry loom would fit in it with not problem.

I've also gotten some work done of my dino rug when I wasn't working on the tapestry or something else. I got the stegosaurus done and am putting in the background before I move on to another area. I think it's coming along okay. For those just tuning in, This rug was deliberately designed to look like a child drew the dinos. Very primitive, very simple--at least for me artwork so I could use leftover 6's, 8's and other wide cut leftovers. The figures remind me of the tail end credits on Ice Age 3. I love the artwork on the credits, it's darling and gave me ideas for other work along this and that lines.

You are probably wondering why this interest in yet another fiber art, tapestry and weaving-- it's just something I have been trying to do off and on for years. It's the only fiber art that generally frustrates me and I never seem to be any good at. Ever since I started spinning I've had this thing in my head to weave enough cloth to make a garment with using a primitive loom like a warp weighed one like my lost ago ancestors somewhere did just to see if I could do it and how long it would take me to do it. I've gotten a pretty good idea of how long it takes now to spin up enough fine yarn to make a sweater, blanket, or shawl out of on spindles and a wheel but how long did it take a poor lone housewife back in the past to weave enough simple cloth for her family? That's something I really want to know for myself knowledge and to having the satisfaction of doing it.

Previous attempts at weaving

I'd love to learn how to use a rigid heddle, 4 or 8 shaft loom but I'm never going to be able to afford a real or big loom. At least I can build frame looms, but don't have the equipment, tools to make my own bigger more complex looms. I'd love to have a big 36 to 45 wide rug loom, that would be wonderful and I can see being able to make my rag rugs way quicker than I am doing. I'm in love with Kromski Harp loom with it's built in warping board. And I also love the Ashford Knitting looms with their optional extra heddles. Hopefully one day I can make enough money to buy on in the future. I have started numerous weaving projects over the past 6-7 years since I've been here but never finished them. Hopefully, since this a small design I will get this tapestry done. What I get out of weaving is a sense of being connected, like I do when I'm spinning, something ancient and primeval like Pente Ifan is, if that makes sense, something I'm missing from daily like here in SC. I know I will never get into complex weaving, I look at weaving drafts and my head aches--too too confusing for my head at this time. Though I do admire some of the spectacular work being done by the complex, multi shaft weavers out there.

Though doing the tapestry I have to wonder what I'm going to use it once it's finished. Wall hanging, purse decoration, clothing insert? I'll have to think on it. It's not like a hooked rug that can be used mutiple ways and is a lot more durable. This tapestry is going to be too lightweight and won't stand up to heavy use. How much is going to be worth finished? I have seen incredible prices even on small pieces but would I be able to get those kind of incredible prices for my work? I'd be happy to get a 1/4 of some of the prices. I do get miffed that most of my work will never been seen in a gallery or any place it should be seen, and will most likely end up stashed in a closet in one of my kids homes or end up at Goodwill or the trash. At least I can show it on line where someone might like it in passing and if I'm really lucky buy it.

Nest week I move into the house so I will not be on very much as the computer is staying at the shop. Kendra and Corey are moving to Asheville to his grandmother's. Things sort of blew up over the house and them not really paying half the rent or utilies for the 18 months they've lived here. They are moving and sticking us with the bills. If he had just gotten a job besides doing the occasional sci-fi con for his friend, things would have been cool, but enough is enough. I won't go into other problems with them. Oh, he has a job waiting for him there.... I will miss my daughter and granddaughter, but I hope he shapes up and starts supporting his family as we can't anymore. So I move in next week after they've got their junk out, and move my working junk over here there. I'm going to get a cheap cell phone for there but no cable or internet for awhile. I need it because I may get stuck at the house as the car is taking longer and longer to start because of it's messed up security system that we can't afford to get fixed. So initally it'll be just me and dog, they are taking their cats thankfully. With everyone out I can finally inventory my junk and see about selling off some of the books and craft supplies I have. I'll be posting notices on different Yahoo sale boards for what I am selling off and post a notice on here too.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Weaving this week

Tie Dyed cottons drying on the clothesline for my rag fabric weavings and crochet projects. Recycling old sheets and redoing so so fabrics to make them more interesting this last week while house sitting.

This week I am experimenting with weaving on simple looms using cotton strips. Weaving has been on my mind for a while now and while I had the time and space while house sitting this last week I took the plunge.I made a large rug frame out of the metal rim from a folding table that got destroyed in the rain but forgot to take pics of it. I've got an almost completed 24 x 40 runner in shades of blues and lavenders done on one side of it. I designed the loom so I could weave on both side. I had to leave it over at the house as I couldn't move it in the car over to the shop without tieing it on top. I have been making some cardboard and foam board looms that are tote bag sized to do weaving in the round on. I've started one in reds, oranges and yellows on a 15 1/2 x 20 black foam core loom. I've never done this kind of weaving before so don't expect much as I'm still learning as I go.

I decided to try the weaving after I made 3 crocheted rag totes using 1" cotton strips and size Q hook. They took 2-3 days each to make and used up lots of fabric. It's a toss up which uses more fabric crocheting or braiding, so in the interest of making my fabric stretch further I am trying to weave some bags with the cotton strips. These are fabrics from my mom's, grandmother's, and Cecil's grandmother's fabric stashes I inherited some years ago. Most are okay pattern wise but there are a bunch that I have to wonder what they were thinking or how cheap was the fabric when they bought them as they are rather ghastly in my opinion. I know I could dew them into something but I am not in a sewing mood and want to try making things that don't require needle and thread. My interest in braiding has whittled down because of all the sewing required by it. I will get Walk Me's braiding done eventually, I promise.

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The current weaving project was inspired by a weaving book in my stash I had forgotten about, "Weaving For Beginners" by Lynn Paulin, Glick Publishing, Inc. 1977. It's only 41 pages but it is packed with info , photos and diagrams that are easy to follow and understand. It has info on how to construct several different types of frame, cardboard and masonite looms along with patterns to weave bags, handings and pillows. I love all my older books as they are always so easy to follow and understand, more so than current more pricey books now a days.

I'm using 1" or so torn selvage size strips from various plain and print cotton in my fabric stash==probably about 10-16 different prints and solids so that I can go from dark red up to light yellow without having sharp jumps in colors. My warp is Peaches and Cream cotton yarn in red. I'm using a piece of double sided black foam core board with 1/4" cut notches on top and bottom, with 4 1/4 dowels, 2 on top, 2 on the bottom to hold the weaving up from the board. I am weaving around the board to weave a tube that I will then sew closed when finished. I'm using a long wooden naalbiding needle as my shuttle, and a large hair pick as my beater. I did 1/2 to 1 inch simple tabby weaving with some extra P & C cotton to hold my weavings in place. After I get this piece done I'll have a better idea of time and fabric factors. I am hoping to eventually build my skills up to try to do tapestry weaving which I have been wanting to do for years but have a hard time figuring out how to do color changes in my weaving.

A little more progress on the dino rug. I do work on it off and on. So far I think I'm happy with it.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Torchwood This week!!!

Okay, I'm a big sci-fi fan, nut, etc. I'm a very big Doctor Who and Torchwood Fan. Torchwood is being broadcast on 5 days with the story Children of the Earth. It is awesome and really keeps you on the edge of your seat. I'm not going to give away plot and spoilers but I hope you catch it.

From the Doctor Who new site at:

Torchwood: Children of Earth was watched by 5.9 million viewers, according to unofficial overnight figures. The programme was the 5th most watched programme of the day and the 2nd highest rated on BBC1, being beaten by the three main soaps. The programme won its timeslot with an audience share of 25.8%.

An additional 97,000 people watched the programme in HD on the BBC HD channel.

The BBC Three repeat at 2345 was watched by 214,000 viewers, a 3.9% share.

Part Two of Torchwood: Children of Earth was watched by 5.6 million viewers, making it the the most watched programme of the day on british television. The programme beat Eastenders and Emmerdale, with both soaps losing ratings to the Michael Jackson Memorial on BBC 2.

The programme audience once more grew throughout the hour and got an average 24% share of the total audience.

An additional 82,000 people watched the programme in HD on the BBC HD channel.

The BBC Three repeat at 2345 was watched by 282,000 viewers, a 5.8% share.

The Appreciation Index for Episode One was 88, one of the highest scores for the day.

This week I'm taking a hooking break and crocheting tote bags from strips of torn cotton fabrics with a size S hook. I'll be posting pics tomorrow of them.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Dino rug and Cats Paw

Just some photos of newest projects. Here's the finished T-rex for the Dino rug. I am deliberately making him primitive style with the colors and hooking.

This is the small cats paw runner I'm working on that's at the halfway mark on it.

While I'm doing the cats paw I'm doing color planning for the snowman canvases. One of them has cats paw circles on it on burlap and the other has rectangle and square shaped patches on monk's cloth. I am debating on doing some dimensional work on the noses with felting and maybe doing at least one with bits of fluff instead of strips. I haven't been doing as much work with fiber as I started out doing and need to do up some more examples using just fibers. More thinking required on what to do.