I’m Warped

Last week a friend of mine, Luisa Villani, described me as a master weaver on her blog, Sew Me a Poem, and I asked her to change it.

 I learned to weave in the Fiber Art program at Cal State University Northridge in 1996, the same semester I met Luisa, incidentally. Fourteen years is not that long in weaving terms. In my primary guild (Southern California Handweavers Guild), as I suspect in every guild, there are people who have been weaving as long as I’ve been alive. And there are many more who’ve been weaving 2 or 3 times as long as I have.

The only objective measure of weaving mastery that I know about is the HGA’s Certificate of Excellence. I glanced at the criteria for earning the COE one time, I don’t remember why. What I do remember is that it’s not something I want to take on anytime in the near future.

In light of this, I offer my latest project, The Eight Shaft Shadow Weave.

8 shaft shadow weave
Eight Shaft Shadow Weave

I still need to do my annual project for Designing Weavers. Earlier this year I dressed my loom with a leftover abandoned warp in Johann Speck’s Design,  an overshot pattern from the Davison book.  The warp was this dark grey rough scratchy wool blend on huge cones that used to be in Bee Colman’s office at CSUN. This warp was 15 yards long, tied and chained, ready for the loom, then forgotten in a locker in the fiber studio. Like a lot of abandoned warps from CSUN over the years, this one came home with me. I used the first 10 yards of it to make a piece for a show in 2008. I joined two five yard sections to make a large piece 36” high by 14’ wide. It’s hanging above the couch in my living room. The last five yards sat on the loom for a year until I re-threaded it in Johann Speck’s design. It was kind of experimental. I did several panels with different materials for the pattern and tabby weft. I was disappointed with it, but I still hope to salvage these panels and do something with them.

Johann Speck’s Panels


Then I decided to do the yardage for the Convergence Yardage Exhibition. (see: I Don’t Do Yardage) It turned out alright, especially since the fused plastic was a whole new process for me. it turned out alright, but not really good in my estimation. I had thought the yardage would be my DW annual project – that is, until we saw the first annual project presentations at the March Designing Weavers meeting. they were really, really good. I have to do better than my 2010 Yardage, and I’m running out of time.

Along the way, I asked myself, “How did I manage to get it right with my Plastic in the Trees piece?” then I remembered how many times and different ways I had done the blooming leaf pattern before I put the green warp on the loom. I had threaded a demonstration warp on a table loom in a beautiful blue pearl cotton that I had lots of, and didn’t seem to be using up very fast. I had thought I would sample different materials – cassette tape, video tape – to see how they worked in the pattern. I did the first pattern repeat in some greenish-gold shiny nylon yarn that had been surplus from a sweater designer in Venice, CA. My husband saw it and said it would make a nice table runner for Hanukah. I finished the whole warp with the yarn, and it does make a nice table runner. Around this time I was reading The Complete Book of Drafting for Handweavers by Madelyn van der Hoogt, and I converted blooming leaf to an eight shaft pattern, did an entire draw-down on an Excell spread sheet, threaded it on my eight-shaft table loom (what a pain!), and hated it. Then I did my ’07-’08 DW annual project – the circus piece – in blooming leaf on four shafts. So by the time I wove Plastic in the Trees I and II, I had done lots of ground work with that pattern. Those two pieces have been on exhibit almost constantly since I finished them. They get accepted to almost every juried show I enter them in, and #1 won first place in the 2-D category in a show.

So now, I have decided to do an eight shaft shadow weave pattern. I took a great shadow weave workshop with Jannie Taylor at the SCHG last month. Jannie is a wonderful instructor. She gave us a notebook of patterns, and I purchased her CD of patterns as well. My ultimate goal is to do  wall pieces using a single repeat of the pattern in really large gauge yarn sett at 4 or 2 EPI, possibly using fused plastic strips as one of the weft elements.

I got some huge wool yarn from Bill Kleese, out in Riverside. most of it will sett at 4 EPI. And there’s some really huge stuff that will be two ends per inch. I don’t love wool, but I haven’t been able to find really large cotton, so now I’m going to be dying wool (I cringe as I type this. I don’t love dying either. Hmm this could be a set-up for a weaving adventure.)I got some acid dyes. I ordered a reed with 2 dents per inch – I’m so excited, I’ve been wanting to do this for a few years. I’m going to need large eye heddles, and I’ll probably have to rethread the heddles when I get to the 2 EPI stuff.  

I decided to practice the pattern by doing a piece with regular yarn, sett at 6 EPI. And since I may be doing the same pattern on different warp yarns, I decided to make a “waste warp” to roll on the back beam so I can tie on new warps and re-slay a new reed for different setts. For my waste warp I decided to use none other than the last of the black, scratchy woo,l abandoned warp from CSUN. I have about 20 cones of yarn lined up on my table and have been combining them in different colorways. I had to combine three yarns to make it 6 EPI. One of the yarns I combined was a shiny, slinky, space dyed rayon I’ve had for about ten years. It was awful, it tangled, then tangled some more; and while I was trying to untangle it, it tangled some more.

I gave up and threw the yarn in the trash – oh yes I did – and substituted another yarn in the dark warp. I had two colorways of the same sh**. I thought the light would work better because the balls were better wound and in individual sandwich size ziplocks. Half way through the 80 end warp that took hours to wind, it tangled. I tried for a little while to untangle it, gave up, cut it off, and substituted a different yarn in the light warp also. Its laying in its baggy on my studio floor where I keep walking over it.

The good warp is now threaded through heddles and reed with the waste warp at the back, under it. its ready to tie onto the cloth beam. I’ll be going to Camarillo four days this week for installation of Fiber 2010 West. I’m doing new, fused plastic work for the Blue Planet submission, due April 24. The Valley Artist Studio Tour application is due April 23, Bloomindales Santa Monica is due May 1, and I have 7 1/2 weeks until I present my annual project at Designing Weavers on May 26.

Game on.


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