Monday, August 27, 2012

Tapestry Workshop

This past weekend a few of my dearest friends gave me the opportunity to try out my tapestry teaching skills at a three day retreat/workshop.  On day one we started with some demonstrations and then they started on their looms with some foundation weaving and those first couple of passes.

Here are Lynn, Gwen and Karin busy at their looms

Katherine is just getting started here with Donna in the background.

Here is Gwen consulting my handouts. It was so nice to see them being used!

Here is a close-up of Karin getting started.  She was a bit of a reluctant tapestry weaver but wait until I show what she completed!

 In the photo to the right Donna is beginning her weaving.

By day two everyone was deep into their weavings, here is Margaret in the foreground.

By day two Donna is taking off on her own tapestry adventure.

Of course  we didn't weave tapestry for the entire three days. There was also some eating, drinking and spinning going on.  In this picture we finally see our spinning Yoda, Jeannine at the far end. She was busy was making yarn most of the weekend.

I have to say it was fascinating and enlightening to be on the observing side of
weavers  involved in their tapestry projects, learning new techniques and working intuitively with them .  It has added a great deal of pleasure and enrichment to me to be able to share my love of tapestry weaving with my friends. On Sunday morning about 7:30am when I arrived in our work space everyone was already around the table and busy with their tapestry!

Here is a sampling of what was on the looms when we left on Sunday afternoon.

Lynn, our pattern/structure expert.

Karin, the reluctant tapestry weaver!
Margaret, who surprised us all with her passion for the process. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

August Sails By

On the bottom is a photo of the August tapestry diary halfway through the month from the beginning. On the top is how it looks this morning after turning the warp. Purllie cat has wondered through the tapestry again. I have to say weaving the month of August has been much more fun than the actual month has been.  We have received a little rain here and a brief cool down which has revived our spirits. I seem to be stuck on little landscape scenes this month. I can tell by now that weaving every day is making some exciting improvements in my tapestry and having the diary to try out ideas in an informal way is helpful also.  I already love wool but am falling in love with silk this month, especially the combination of wool and silk together. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Spinning Yarns for Tapestry Part Three

I am catching up with the sheep breed sampler. As of today my flock is half complete with twelve sheep done and twelve to go. I am sure I could carry this on even longer and include many more breeds but twenty four seems like a good group at this point. Each sheep shape is a different breed or preparation of wool for tapestry weaving and the backgrounds behind the sheep are both handspun and/or commercial yarns.

I started out with some Romney samples and since this is a breed that I had used before for tapestry I concentrated on making a few variations; combed, carded, flicked, singles and two ply. The first two sheep on the bottom are Romney samples. One is combed two ply and the other is flick carded singles. Romney is a reliable choice for tapestry and I have used it before.

The next sheep is also a type I have used before in tapestry, Navaho Churro. This comes in so many nice natural colors that I included two samples again. One two ply in the picture and another color in singles.  Navaho Churro makes a sturdy tapestry yarn. I have a couple of weft faced bags that have been well used and are still going strong and some of the natural colors give lovely subtle variations when dyed.

The last two sheep on the second row are Cotswald which is a fiber I have also used before for tapestry.  It has a beautiful sheen and dyes well, also strong, easy to spin and it is one of my go to fibers for spinning tapestry yarns. Because I was familiar with it I did several sample variations; combed, carded, singles and two ply.

The first sheep on the third row is my black sheep woven with Black Welsch Mountain from a carded prep and worsted spun two ply.  This is a very sturdy yarn and this is my first time to use it for tapestry.  It seems  another good candidate for tapestry items that might get a lot of use.

My next candidate for experiment was Mohair, not really a sheep I know but a friend had inquired whether I had tried it and I needed to know how it would work.  I had used small amounts of Mohair in tapestry before as a novelty in certain areas but I was curious what it would be like if I combed and spun worsted. This sample is the middle sheep in the third row.  This fiber is strong and takes dye beautifully and I will still use it for certain things. It may also be one that would be good to try as a blend with other fibers.

 Here is some Icelandic Fiber that I combed from the raw fleece and below it is worsted spun into a two ply.  This was my first time ever to work with this fleece.  This was a fleece with quite a bit of variation in the fleece- longer stronger fiber mixed with shorter softer fiber. I found the natural color to be very rich with variations and I enjoyed working with it.  It was a bit stubborn to weave with and tended not to stay obediently in place after beating and a little hairier than I expected so will probably not become a "go to" fiber for tapestry. It is the last sheep on the third row.

Here is the Wensleydale. Spun worsted from a combed preparation and two plied.  My sample had a nice sheen similar to the Cotswald though not as white.  It was nice to work with and should make a sturdy tapestry yarn although a bit harder to spin than the Cotswald sample. I would use it again for tapestry. This is the first sheep on the last finished row.

The middle sheep on the last row is BFL ( Bluefaced Leicester) What can I say, this fiber is lovely and could be adapted to many kinds of things depending on the particular fleece.  It is a nice combination of soft/strong and my sample is two ply from a combed combination of two natural colors and spun worsted.  It is not too hairy which is nice and I would use it for pictorial tapestry as it is nice to weave with.

Here is my sample of Polwarth. The last sheep on the last row. It is my first time to work with this fiber and I don't know what I was waiting for. It is lovely,soft/strong, not hairy, very smooth and easy to spin and weave.  I would love to experiment with this fiber as part of a blend for my pictorial tapestry weaving, and I also want to do some dye experiments with it.  A new favorite!

Here is another picture of the first half of the sampler with most of the background and cartoon removed.  Below are some pictures of the fibers before spinning and some of the ones that are still in line to be used. I think I will be working with Gotland, Bond and perhaps Scottish Blackface next.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

August Tapestry Diary

The first seven days of the August Tapestry Diary are complete. I am trying some new to me things on this one.  I placed a row of beads in with a row of Soumac, tried some styalized lettering and I am working with one strand of silk held with one strand of wool which is making an interesting texture. There is also  linen worked into some areas.
 Other changes for this month include the ends per inch. July was done with eight ends per inch and August is set at 10 ends per inch and the width which has moved from 5 inches for July to about 8 inches for August. I may be able to work August and September together this time.

I have included a couple of details to show some of the textures and the beads.

I am getting ready now to get caught up on the Sheep Breed Sampler and the new bracelets.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

July Tapestry Diary is Finished!

The Tapestry Diary for July is finished. I used some black ultra suede for the backing which worked out nicely.  It is not necessary to turn under the edges in this fabric so it is easy and less bulky to work with.

I snapped a picture outside on the front porch this morning.  We have plenty of sun here in Oklahoma.

The finishing was pretty straight forward on this piece. I had put a double row of half hitches on the top and bottom and so I just had to turn the warp ends under and lightly stitch in place on the back of the tapestry.  There was quite a bit of weft trimming to do.  On the top where the hanging rod would go and on the bottom I stitched a piece of twill tape before the ultra suede was added. On the bottom it added a little weight and on the top it made a smooth backing for the hanging rod.  Once the ultra suede was in place on the back I stitched all around except where the hanging rod would be put and the twill tape was between the tapestry and the hanging rod creating a smooth sleeve for it to go through.  Pretty simple, but I could use a better hanger.

Top Back of Tapestry
My 12 inch Mirrix is warped and ready for August.