Tag Archives: weaving

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.


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.

Project and rain

Warping board hanging from the window frame.  Outside it is pouring rain
Warping board hanging from the window frame. Outside it is pouring rain

Rain has finally come to Maine.  After all of that snow melted so beautifully and slowly, I couldn’t imagine that we would end up in such a dry spell.  (It was lovely, though, as mud season was almost a non-event this year!).  Since early Sunday morning we have had pretty steady rain, and it’s back in the 40s again.  But we needed it.

Closeup of one of my warp bundles.  Lovely colors!
Closeup of one of my warp bundles. Lovely colors!

When Sunday turned into a day of steady downpours, I took the time to ignore house cleaning and went upstairs and measured off a warp for some towels that I have been planning to weave since last summer.  Waffle weave towels, which are one of my favorites.  I am using cottolin, which I have never woven with before.  So I have hopes of some nice time on the loom in the coming weeks.  If I can get this warped over the weekend, maybe I can start on it sooner rather than later!

Fiber loft working

P1000593The weather over the weekend was pretty grey and nasty.  By the end of the day Sunday the wind had come up and by yesterday morning the air temps were very mild, but the wind was bitter.  We are all watching that big storm as it moves toward us, hopefully not leaving too much snow behind as it comes in tomorrow or Thursday.

P1000591I spent most of the day Sunday up in the “fiber loft.”  Actually got a lot accomplished, more than I thought I would.  But still quite a long way to go.  At least I have a setup that I think will be able to show our yarn and roving product well, should folks stop by the house.  I am going to create another more portable setup for the farmer’s market.  Thankfully that won’t begin until the second Saturday in June, after the annual Maine Fiber Frolic.

Loom under the mess
Loom under the mess

Most of the reason I am working up there is because I can’t get anything accomplished.  I am working on fighting my way to the loom on the far end of the space.  I have a project almost all planned out, and I am itching to get started.  In order to do that I need to find a spot where I can hang my warping board to measure out the warp yarn.  And before that can even happen, I need to sort fleeces (piles of fleece each still in its own sheet, clogging up the floor space) to get them out to be processed into yarn or roving.  It is coming along and hopefully I can spend most of the day this coming Sunday.  After all, I will have natural light pouring in all those lovely windows much later into the day than usual!

Another wintery Saturday

Very wintery sky today
Very wintery sky today

A little bit of a warm-up after a very blustery, cold day yesterday.  It looks like we are going to have a mild day tomorrow again before getting into some arctic freezing cold on Monday and into the week.  Aside from erranding today, we took the opportunity to really clean and scrub down one of the giant water troughs in by the sheep.  We will do the other one tomorrow.  An opportunity also presented itself to get a little more of the iciness and hard snow buildup away from some of the gates.  It’s always something when we have ice and snow.  Although I should go on record to say that I much prefer this to the mud!  I love the cold weather in general!

Elf and Zelda are anxious for dinner
Elf and Zelda are anxious for dinner

It’s funny that one of the farm blogs that I read (the Kitchen’s Garden) also was talking about taking the opportunity with the mild weather today to scrub water tubs.  And they are out in Illinois!  It’s one of those things that is universal, I guess, when taking care of large animals.  Lots of watching the weather and taking advantage.  I am also currently putzing around with feed tubs to feed out some of the hay we are getting.  It’s beautiful and has lots of broad leaves and timothy heads in it, but it’s shattered up, so when we take a flake off, a lot of it just drops to the greenhouse floor in little pieces.  I have been shoveling that into tubs to feed out to the sheep and goats.  It looks good and they seem to eat it whether it’s in the feeder or in a tub.  Just one more way to deal with getting them what they need.

Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to get into the loft upstairs that is supposed to be something of a fiber studio.  If I say it’s in disarray, it would be an understatement.  It needs a huge amount of organizing, but I really need to get going on that.  I have to fight my way over to the loom and think about getting that warped.  That would be a real accomplishment!  And it’s a great thing to get going during the winter.

Spinning-in the New Year

Fuzzy Lumpkin and her 2010 ewe lamb

I don’t know why the change of numerical date carries with it such a weight… I have never really enjoyed New Year’s Eve and all the partying.  We have not gone out for New Year’s Eve in a very long time.  I usually sleep through the changing of the calendar date.   This year I had the opportunity to go for a gathering at a friend’s house to “spin-in” the new year, and that was a celebration that I can get addicted to!  On New Year’s day we gathered for a potluck and a day of fiber and spinning.  I am hoping that 2011 will continue as it has begun:  with lots and lots of interaction with fiber :*)  Everyone says it, that as soon as you start a fiber farm, you lose all the free time you had before that to actually spin, knit and weave .  It’s true, but I wouldn’t trade our sheep for much of anything that I can think of.  Who can resist faces like this, witnessing mother and lamb, and fiber that’s to die for!

Such faces!

Summer vacation?

I wish I could make a really concrete list of things that I have accomplished this summer.  I did take a class at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham which was good, and I am partially re-organized in my studio, but I haven’t gotten much knitting done, and I haven’t gotten my loom warped yet!  I did quite a bit of spinning and am hoping to get some dying and felting done in the next two weeks.  Big sigh!

Two more weeks to go until the first day of school, and counting,