Tag Archives: Maine Crafts Association

Is it almost August already?

Happy girls this afternoon

And boy does it sound like it out there!  The crickets and the grasshoppers are playing their music frantically.  I don’t know if it’s the drought, or just the usual.  Whatever the reason, I love sitting and listening to them, it’s a most comforting sound.  The rain is finally making a brief appearance every once in awhile, but the days are growing shorter again, which always surprises me for some reason.

Fergus the wether. Trying to look innocent!

We have had an insanely crazy summer so far.  My husband has been traveling back and forth to NJ.  His dad, 94, was getting feebler, and ended up in the hospital and passed away just before the 4th of July.  And so many trips up and down, alone, with me, with our son and grandson later, it’s been nuts.  Very sad to have lost my sweet father in law, but also nice to have had an opportunity to see much of the family again.

Sam and some of the girls last November. We all miss him!

In the middle of all this upheaval and emotional stuff, my older son, the one who has been with us for a little over 2 years and has been a huge part of the goat farm, had the opportunity to move back to NJ, which he did this past week.  And so it goes!  When it rains, it pours.  Change just is, and I am old enough to not be surprised by it.  But it does every time.

Today John came back from NJ once again, and I think he can stay for a week or two before heading back south.  The summer traffic is epic, and it took him almost 10 hours to get back today (it’s a 400 mile trip, should only be about 6-7 hours).  In the meantime, my schedule has changed drastically, as my son was doing a lot of the feed prep each day, and it will take me awhile to get into a different groove.  I know the goats are standing around scratching their heads wondering why everything is taking so darn long :*)  Ha!

3 cottolin hand towels, Summer & Winter weave

My weaving work has continued well, and we are exploring double weaves right now.  It’s so much fun!  I also finished a set of Summer and Winter weave hand towels a few days ago, which I just love.  I made them from cottolin, and the colors are lovely.  We only have about 2 months left tin the grant timeline, and I have a few projects I need to work on aside from what I am doing with Nancy.  I need to really get cracking on them.

Detail of the middle towel which I will probably use as a table runner (a small one)

The hot and humid weather can turn me into a very cranky soul, but so far we have had pretty small doses of it until this past week.  It’s been a tough one, and I know that the animals are feeling it as well.  I certainly am not very sprightly during this hazy, humid stuff, and living in Maine, we do not have air conditioning except in the bedrooms (although living only about a mile from Muscongus Bay definitely helps, particularly when we get breezes off the water).  The next 3 or four days are supposed to be better, and then the stickies make a return appearance.  Ah well, this is summer, and this too shall pass!  I am not wishing it away, the green and the warm don’t stick around for more than a blink.

 

 

 

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Weaving apprentice program update

First sampler

I have just finished week 13 of my weaving apprenticeship!  I can’t believe that we have been going for this long already.  I am having a great time and learning lots of good things, many of those things through mistakes, as is true of most learning experiences.

(Samples above on a straight draw threading)

In exploring weave structures I am working on things with Nancy at her studio, as well as doing things on my own at home.  At the very  beginning she reviewed efficient warp dressing methods on which I needed a refresher (every time I warped my loom I did it differently, which never helped me to get projects going).  We very quickly moved to the study of weave structure, starting with a two-part sampler threaded with a straight draw.  Very simple, but even with that there are a gazillion weaves you can achieve by simply using different treadling patterns.  After I had experimented with that for half the warp, Nancy had me begin to use some of the treadling patterns I liked the most from the first half to experiment  with weft texture and color(s).   That was wild!  Lots of very unexpected results from that.  (It really helps that Nancy has a studio filled with amazing and crazy yarns of all unusual textures, colors and materials).

For my second sampler Nancy assigned me a project which I warped with 6 different wool color stripes.  Some of the stripes are solid colors, and three of them are pairings of two alternate colors.  Each stripe is threaded in different Rosepath twill patterns from p16-17, and a Goose Eye from p22.  (I am using Marguerite Porter Davison’s book A Handweaver’s Pattern Book, revised edition, 1944).  The results are mind-bogglingly fun, and again, having access to all of Nancy’s yarn collection has made this a great experiment.  I have a lot of new ‘favorites’ in that sampler.

Scarf

At home I began by using some of our farm yarn, a millspun Coopworth/Border Leicester cross, for a warp (hand dyed), and some hand spun and hand dyed silk/wool weft (mostly silk).  It was a scarf I designed and wove off in March.  Lots of fun, twill threading. colorful!  (Although another lesson learned is that I made it wider than I really wanted it to be because I calculated take-up for when it came off the loom.  With all the silk in the weft, it did not lose even a quarter of an inch!).

At the moment I am weaving a series of 5 cotton towels at home.  I designed them as samplers using a 6 thread herringbone pattern (Davison, p25).  I don’t have a huge supply of yarns at home, but I do have a nice range of 8/2 cottons.  I used most of the colors I have to create warp stripes.  As opposed to the 6 different threadings that I used for the sampler at Nancy’s studio, I simply used the one herringbone threading across the whole warp.  My one mistake, that I did not see until I had woven quite a bit into the first towel, is that on one of the sections with two alternating colors, I accidentally placed two white threads next to each other, which switched the pattern of colors from white/turquoise, white/turquoise, to turquoise/white across.  Which has managed to insert a white stripe down that section of warp.  (There was no threading mistake, just a color bungle).

Color placement mistake is very evident here in the turquoise and white!

Despite the color placement mistake, I am loving the way the towels are shaping up!  They are a lot of fun.  So far I am in the middle of the third towel and have experimented with a lot of the different colors, and a lot of different treadlings.  Turning the herringbone direction makes a nice effect, and I took one of the Rosepath treadlings and applied it to this threading and came out with a very nice turned twill pattern.

I am also working on a bit color interpretation project at Nancy’s, but more about that another time :*)

 

Some fun news

Masham fiber that I got from Into the Whirled at Rhinebeck, 2016. Lovely springy fiber!

Lest anyone think that I have been idle all winter, I have not!  I have been alternately messing around in and re-organizing my studio loft area.  I can get so easily sidetracked with all kinds of things, like book binding, embroidery, quilting, and of course, spinning, knitting and weaving, that I can make chaos in a very short amount of time.

Before I retired I knew that one of my very biggest goals in retirement was to get back to my weaving.  I have been fooling around with looms, both simple and multi-harness, since I was about 12 years old.  Nothing fancy and nothing complicated, but always I come back to it.  I learned everything from books, and now that YouTube and online tutorials are so widespread, I have used some of those to get my feet wet again in weaving, but I really wanted to do a more organized and thoughtful study of weave structures, not just fool around with the odd project here and there, to really learn how to design and weave what I want to.

I had met a local weaver a few years ago when I was driving to Bethel, Maine to pick up a buck from my friend Jane, who is also a production weaver.  The local professional weaver, Nancy, was picking up a loom from Jane at the same time, so we caravanned over in a snow storm (what else is new).  At the time I had only spoken to Nancy a little bit, and asked her just in passing if she would be willing to work with me after I retired, and she said, “Sure!”

When I finally got in touch with her last November, we had just heard about the Maine Crafts Association and Maine Arts Commission opening up the application process for grants to artisans wishing to apprentice with a master artist (Maine Craft Apprentice Program).  We talked about it and decided to give it a try.  It was quite a process, but we got the grant application in before the December due date, and then promptly forgot about it with the holidays and the bitter cold weather ushering in the new year.

Waffle weave dish towels, cottolin

When we got the notice in mid-January that we were finalists, I really couldn’t believe it, and a week or so ago we found out that we are one of two master/apprentice groups to receive the grant for 2018!  I am very honored to think that the committee liked our proposal and am very excited to get started!

In the meantime, I finally warped and wove off a set of waffle weave towels that I have been trying to goose onto my Macomber loom for over a year.  I know there is a threading error, but I can’t find it, and I am very happy with the towels, perfect or not!

And so the adventure begins.