Monday, December 2, 2013

Tapestry Cartoons, New projects and Old

This years diary is growing close to the end and there are so many things to think about. Here is a shot taken earlier today with the month of November and a start for December. This years diary is in three separate pieces but I am thinking of attaching them to make one piece for display in the finishing. It will be exciting to take them off the loom and consider the options.

Much of the activity in the diary this month centers around the ongoing studio project, some traveling and the holiday. Much of this would be difficult to decipher without assistance like the suitcase with clothes inside, my car with the trunk open ready to be loaded and some landscape memories of the drive to and from Texas. There is also an upright dolly for the day we set up the show. When I returned I painted an old desk that had been in the attic for the new studio so I did a square that shows the desk outside where I painted it. I have a new wooded path that Laddie and I walked at a nearby park down by the river that was studded with rock. It was such a lovely walk with fall leaves covering the ground that I wanted to weave it. Next a brand new Lamy Safari Pen for drawing in the pocket of my denim shirt and further along a Feather Duster to show that some cleaning for the holiday did take place. Thanksgiving is marked with a big gold T and the day before shows Pumpkin Pie in the Sky.  I wove it before I baked it this year. I also did some experimenting on several days with pick and pick and half passes in random designs, often with bits of leftover weft which were fun and effective in the design. As I weave the end of this year I am planning the design for 2014. I will share more about that soon.

I have also been working steadily on the Mango Hunters. I was hoping to be further along at this point but have to admit that the studio project has delayed things a bit. Still I think that I can be very close to finished by the end of the year. I will need to move the warp forward one last time so here is a current picture.

As I was photographing it today I began to think of what I have learned about making cartoons for tapestry and what I might do differently on the next one. I will definitely make a very visible grid on the next cartoon to make lining things up easier. Considering how many changes I have made to the original drawing I think that next time I will make a second copy of the final version that way I will have one to put behind the warp and another to use for thinking about areas I might redraw or change as I am weaving. Perhaps there will be less changes on the next one because I have developed a better sense of designing the cartoon to suit the weaving, but it is best to be prepared. I have to say that despite what I have read about the possible problems with using magnets to hold the cartoon in place, I love them. I have not had any problems with them other than learning how to work with them and I am so happy to be able to easily move them around to position them just as I want them as I am working. Even if they are just used as an addition to stitching the cartoon in place it would still be convenient and time saving from my point of view.

One of the helpful things I did do this year is to make a small copy of the design which I placed on the wall next to the loom.  It was very helpful to have this smaller copy to look up at occasionally. There were times I felt too close to the part of the tapestry I was weaving and needed to gain perspective of the whole design. Having the smaller version to refer to has been very helpful in making decisions with the whole design in mind.

The Sheep Breed Sampler tapestry is also very close to completed but I don't have a space for working on it until the studio is ready so I will be showing it soon. I contemplate lots of finishing work for 2014.

For the diary I have not used any cartoons but I have kept a little sketchbook. Tommye Scanlin supplied all of us in the Weaving the Days of our Lives class she taught at Arrowmont the summer of 2012 with the little 3" by 4" book has held all the days of sketches for the diary since then.

Not having a cartoon makes shaping the design more challenging but one of the purposes of the diary is to expand skills and try new things. I think it has been a positive experience and I have learned a lot by drawing the shapes I want to weave and attempting to weave them without a cartoon to follow. I don't think I will be trying this with any of the other tapestry projects right away.

Here are some of the little sketches for November/December. They are very simple because I am just trying to see the shapes.

Here are a few more. All of the tapestry diary days to date are in this little sketchbook...

and it is very close to full. I hope to get through the year before the space is gone. I already have a somewhat different sketchbook that I have used to sketch ideas for 2014 and I will share more about that later.

The walls of the studio are up!  Here is a page from my somewhat larger 5" by 8" everyday sketch book showing Mack and Josh putting up the walls and some down time after.

We were fortunate to have beautiful weather for the studio project this past weekend. There is still much to do before I can move in including trim, painting the new walls and finishing the electrical outlets. It is harder and harder to be patient!

Here is an inside view with the new walls and the refurbished, now green, desk from the attic. The desk belonged to Josh all through high school and had been used hard but now it is repurposed and will serve again.  The green  paint reminds me of one of the greens I have been enjoying weaving with in the diary. Everything is a series of connections.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Texas Waffle, Our Trip to Kid n Ewe in Boerne

We had a great time at the Kid n Ewe show in Boerne, Texas. It started out as a blur of activity and ended on a calmer note. More about that later.

Texas is a special place. Full of friendly people and from my point of view at the Kid n Ewe show, fiber art enthusiasts of every kind. You know your in Texas when you can walk into the grocery store and find a great bottle of wine to share with friends. If you are confused about your location the next morning never fear, the Texas Waffle is here!

I was pretty amused by all the conversations in the Comfort Inn dining room the next morning revolving around the Texas Waffles and wished I could make a You Tube video but I had a booth to get back to.

The first two days of the show were a blur of activity. I didn't have time to get pictures of the booth until Sunday, but I did enjoy connecting with some friends at the show. Here is an overall of the booth. I had many friends helping me in the booth this year which made it fun and easier to keep up with all the activities at the show.

Lynn was there helping with everything as usual...

and Elona, who demonstrated the leather wrap bracelets and kept everyone entertained and informed.

Here is a picture of Janet who was on the move most of the time...

and here is a shot of the demo table with a big selection of bracelets that she and Elona had made.  We had demonstrations of leather wraps, tapestry bead cuffs, affinity style and traditional beading as well as tapestry weaving going on through the entire show.

Here is a picture of Libby's beautiful Wild Woman jewelry that was part of the booth this year.

Another display area with cords, threads, tapestry warp and hat bands on display.

The tapestry bead cuff display...

and new for this show we had Kumihimo braiding supplies, models and demonstrations.

The Kumihimo lead me on a new adventure. There was a class scheduled on Kumihimo braiding for the show but the teacher had a family emergency and had to cancel. Since I had brought all the supplies I ended up teaching the class of five.

Here is a picture of some of the class getting ready to try some braiding on the portable Kumi looms.

We set up an eight strand round braid, talked about some variations and finishing techniques and also added some beads to the braid in the two hour class.

One of the students took this photo of me with mouth open and hands blurred. I think she really captured my essence!

After the class the students visited the booth and I have to say I did not come home with any Kumi supplies left. Thanks to all of you for being so gracious. Considering the last minute preparation for the class we all seemed to have a great time and the braids of hand dyed pearl cotton were beautiful.

I also spent some of my time tapestry weaving on the sheep sampler,

creating new Mirrix Loom owners and

visiting with friends. It was fun to see Lydia from our tapestry diary group and to get another visit from the Viking Girls. This year they were adding Ymmyarns silks to their projects. I hope to have a picture from them soon.

After the show was over and the booth was all loaded Lynn needed to stay a few more days for some family business so I was driving back to Oklahoma alone this time. I am always anxious to be traveling alone because my directional skills are impaired and even with GPS any trip is an adventure of unknown outcome for me. I do not exaggerate as those who know me can attest. I am endowed with the ability to walk into a store,shop for a few minutes and not know which direction I came in. Let me just say the trip home was interesting. Without understanding how, I had managed to choose a route home that I had never been on before. I made several detours through Texas towns trying to get back on the interstate but the real fun began on the last leg of the trip through Oklahoma.

It was Monday and I was tired and instead of taking me on Highway 75 South my route took me on a series of two lane back roads. I decided as I was nearing home with 2 to 3 hours of light left and a full tank of gas that I would just relax and enjoy it. It was a beautiful day and I drove through small towns with streets festooned with flags for Veterans Day. There were cows, sheep and horses. Much of the drive was  rolling landscape with streams of light piercing the clouds all the way to the earth in a manner more often seen in photos than in real life. I relaxed once I found myself on old Bixby Road as I assumed I would end up in Bixby at some point. Both hands on the wheel, head resting on that device in the car meant for this purpose and at a leisurely and legal speed limit I rode the curves of the land as if they were waves. I thought about stopping to take some photos but didn't want to disturb the magic of the moment, so I drove on
content with the idea that I would absorb the essence of the place and hope to set it free in a sketch or possibly a tapestry at some point. There is no place like home if you have the mind set to see it.

One of the nice surprises when I returned was a box from John Moss with bobbin bowls which are already on their way to a new home and new "Keepers"( those magnetic tapestry awl tools) I like so much. I have two of these left so contact me if you are needing one. They are beautiful and functional. What more could you want?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Busy, Beautiful October and Heading to Texas for Kid n Ewe

Holiday Spirit at the Dragonmoon Tea House in Tulsa

It has been a beautiful October in Oklahoma, cool, crisp with lovely light and some needed rainfall. What more could we ask of the weather?

I have been busy as a squirrel getting ready for the Kid n Ewe show in Boerne, Texas next weekend. No matter how well I plan it seems the last few days are always hectic and filled with long lists of things to be done. Adding that to the continuing work on the Fiber Studio building and trying to get some weaving in every day has made it a fast moving month. If you want more information on the Kid n Ewe show there is a link to the right on the blog and also some information under new shows on the right.

Never the less I have managed to keep up with the tapestry diary. November has begun! At this point in my diary journey it does not feel like days have actually happened unless I weave them. This month has everything from tea towel exhibits to pumpkin oatmeal raisin cookies, spray paint adventures to skidding squirrels all in those one by two inch squares! Of course there is also government shut down woes and personal trials concerning the wrong door on my studio building and trying to get the situation taken care of and small accidents around the house, but I do admit I try to tread lightly on the less positive days.

I have been continuing to work on pick and pick and introducing new colors from my lovely Ymmyarns collection. I have not used any cartoons this year but have kept a small notebook where I sketch ideas for the days. I will try to share some of that when I finish this years diary as I think the sketchbook may just last long enough to get through 2013.

I have also finished new jewelry, made progress on the Sheep Breed sampler and a very small amount of progress on the Mango Hunters, but I will wait to share some of these things either at Kid n Ewe or shortly after because most of them are packed up at this point. If you are on the mailing list I will be sending a coupon for the show soon... I hope to see some of you there.

Here is a shot of the outside of the studio with the new door. it is coming along nicely.

The inside still has much work to be done but as of this weekend the floor is finished. Big thanks to my husband Francis and son Josh who laid the floor while I was absent all day at the Tulsa Handweavers meeting.

Here is a partial shot of the inside with the new floor,

and an older shot of the attic loft before the insulation was finished.

There are two lofts on either side of the building where the ladder is in the previous picture and I don't think I will find it difficult to fill them.

Arleen garrison, Lynn Tedder and I hung an exhibit of Towels for Tea hand woven by members of the Tulsa Handweavers this month at the Dragonmoon Tea Company. The Dragonmoon is just north of 21st Street on Harvard Avenue in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  It was fun to do and the reception they organized was lovely with lots of the tasty treats that the Dragonmoon is known for. If you are close to Tulsa please stop by and have a look. The towels will be on display at least through November and if you are interested in better photos and close up views of the individual towels please check the Tulsa Handweavers website. There is a link to the right on the blog.

The towels circle the main dining room and there  are a variety of wonderful examples.

Moving around the room

delightful and creative towels adorn all the walls.

Here is a closer view of my contributions, from right to left Rose Garden, Lavendar Fields and Flamingo Lagoon.

I had some fun playing with 4 shaft Summer and Winter with  9 colors of 8/2 cotton.

For more pictures

I hope everyone is enjoying Fall. I still have blooming Hibiscus and Azaleas outside!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Sun Has Set On September

September is now a memory but it is packed with activity that lingers on into October.

When I chose brown for the September color I had no idea how appropriate it would be but nearly everything happening in September had to do with dirt in some way. Perhaps I should call it earth or soil, but dirt seems to the point. After the studio buildings arrival on the 5th and even before with the preparation we have been busy making a place for it and that has prompted a flurry of activity. Much of September is about  moving dirt, placing rock, stone and brick, planting grass seed and flowers. Of course there was also some painting, electrical work and even some weaving, filling of bead tubes and Kumihimo. All in all, a very busy month and even though seeds sown this month are beginning to show off and there is still plenty left to do to get the studio into shape.

All the outside activity has made it easy to appreciate the change of season. It is much cooler now and Fall has arrived. I always enjoy the Spring and Fall in Oklahoma for the pleasant temps and distinct treats to the senses they offer.

 Hopefully we will be getting the rest of the electrical work done this weekend and then on to the insulation and a flurry of work inside the building.

I must admit tapestry weaving has been a challenge this month with all the extra things to attend to but the tapestry diary, like time, marches on.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Using the Magnetic Awl for Tapestry and Other Threads

Many people have asked about using the magnetic awl that John Moss makes for tapestry weaving. Specifically, how, why and where it can be used so I thought I would talk a bit about it today.

Here is a picture of the awl which has a magnetic end that fits into the round holder at the top. The whole thing is threaded on a sueded leather lacing which can be comfortably worn around your neck and is adjustable.

Before I had this tool I would still use an awl for weaving but I would often put it down on my table and then have to hunt for it when I was ready to use it. I often hang a pair of snips or scissors around my neck for the same reason.

With this tool I simply move it toward the holder and it snaps in place with the magnet.

When I need it, I just reach for it and there it is.

Because I use John's bobbins too it is a very comfortable and easy transition for me and I use the awl point to do all the same jobs I would do with a loaded bobbin in areas where I do not need or want to fill a bobbin.

For example, when working on my tapestry diary the daily shapes are about one inch by two inches and since I often use many different colors and blends winding a bobbin for all these small areas seems wasteful of time and weft.

In this particular shape I am doing many half passes or only one pick of a color and so I am just using fairly short lengths of weft and my awl to place the picks. I can also use the awl to begin and end threads.

the only time I use bobbins in the diary is when I am beginning a border at the start of the year or the month or ending the year.

Sometimes I leave the lengths of weft to the back as I finish a day and am able to borrow them again for another day. That cuts down on the number of starts and finishes I have to do but I still use the awl on this small scale rather than the bobbin.

Even on a larger piece like the Mango Hunters where several bobbins are always in play there are several reasons to switch to my awl during weaving so I wear it whenever I sit down at the loom.

Often I use smaller bobbins for a small area of color. For me the choice of bobbin size is not related to the size of my hands but to the area I want to weave and the thickness of the weft.

Even so I find that bobbins are frequently low on thread and getting hard to use so I unwind the thread from the bobbin and just grab my awl to finish working with the thread. The transition is very seamless because it is right there waiting for me and I can move from areas where bobbins are in play to areas where I use the awl without interruption.

I also find that sometimes if I am not sure of the color or blending in a weft bundle I can pull out a short length to try and use the awl while I am deciding if the choice is what I want.

Here I have tried out two different weft threads using my awl. If I decide I like them I may go ahead and wind a bobbin or bobbins and continue working or if I think I would like to change my mind I can easily pull it out and try something else. Also, if the area is going to be small before the next color change I will just continue with the awl.

I find it a very handy tool for the way I like to work and because it is the same point as my bobbins I find the transition from one tool to the other is very easy.

Lately, it has been hard to find the normal amount of time for weaving and blogging because of the Studio Project but progress is being made.

Here is a picture of the new Fiber Studio building being moved into its new home.

Shortly after its arrival Mack and I decide that we need a patio to connect the house with the studio. So the purchase of patio stones, bricks and navaho stone from the local hardscape ensues.

Here we are at Lowes purchasing some of the materials and enjoying some help getting them loaded up. I wished we could have taken these guys home with us.

Leveling the ground was just plain hard work but I was able to relate the stone placement to working on a very large mosaic ( about 10 feet wide by 32 feet long). Mack and I did it all ourselves. I think it will be very nice but it will probably be my last experience with laying a natural rock patio!

Here is a picture from early this morning. We are spreading the fill out to even up the surface and now it must be swept and rinsed away to reveal the pretty Navaho Stone. Whew!

The studio has electric now but lots of finishing inside still needs to be done with the outlets, fan, air conditioner/heater and the outside lights. That will be accomplished the next time our son Josh comes down from Kansas. He installed some great ceiling fixtures with clean color corrected bulbs in them. The lighting should be fantastic when it is finished and then we can go on to the insulation, floors and walls. The fun part of furnishing the inside and moving in will come along eventually. It is so exciting!

So what I have I been doing at night after a full day of patio building? Well aside from keeping up with the tapestry diary I have been getting some new jewelry projects completed. It is my goal to have all the looms dressed with new projects for the Kid n Ewe Show in November so I have been finishing up former models and putting on new projects.

Here is a leather and bead bracelet I just finished on the Lani Loom with a combination of gemstones, crystals,miyuki and silver beads. I love the way the leather molds so well to the shape and is so comfortable to wear. This has six strands of leather warp.

Here is another view showing the catch side.

Another bracelet done on the Mini Mirrix with the no warp ends kit.

I have also been experimenting with Kumihimo. Since my first little bracelet shown on the last post I have expanded to working on some necklaces. I plan to have some Kumihimo supplies at the next show also. It fits in so well with the materials I already have.

Here is a piece done with size 6 beads on a fiber braid.

Here are size 8 beads on a mixed fiber piece with a peyote stitch pendant and covered catch.

More size 8 beads with a stone pendant.

A fun pendant tassel on a braid of silk cord and ribbon with bead embellishments.

I call this one Blue Lagoon with size 8 seed beads and a gold dipped sand dollar.

Finally, here is the key to the new Fiber Studio complete with its own braided hanger!