Thursday, May 24, 2007

Seattle Weavers Guild, Errors, and Triumphs

Oh my, what a day! My head is still spinning from all I have seen and done and am in the process of doing at the moment. Today was the Seattle Weavers Guild meeting. I drove down to Seattle this morning with my friend Vivian and we chatted the whole way down and back home. So nice to have a chunk of time to do that. As I mentioned yesterday, the morning and afternoon program for the guild was none other than Michele Whipplinger from Earthues. The morning program was on "The Creative Elements of Bogolan Cloth." Bogolan or bogolanfini cloth is mudcloth and is created in the African country of Mali. Michele and Kathy traveled to the country about 2 years ago and Michele presented a stunning slide show of the trip. It looked and sounded like a difficult journey. Two years ago Mali was the fifth poorest nation in the world. Now it is the second poorest. I believe Michele said the average life expectancy is 41 to 43 years. In spite of the hardships the people and their cloth portrayed in the slides were beautiful. I was moved by the beauty and joy in the faces of the people, and the cloth they make using the simplest of tools and materials is stunning. The process of making such cloth, however, is quite time consuming. It takes about 2 months of patient labor to create. That doesn't factor in the year it takes to process the mud before it is even applied to the cloth! I don't have pictures but I will look up what I can and direct you to what I find. Start with Michele's Earthues website which is listed in my fiber links.
For the afternoon program we got to try our hand at a bit of mudcloth making. Michele and Kathy had brought back a huge roll of the narrow, handwoven cotton cloth from Mali that they use. That was a story in and of itself. To our astonishment, they cut small pieces off of the roll for us to use. We each had a stick that had been cut and smoothed by Sandra from her yard, and a small dish of "mud". The interesting thing about the mudcloth designs is that they use the negative space as the design focus rather than the positive space that we Westerners are used to seeing. The designs also told a bit of the lore and history of the people who make the cloth. Vivian and I were a bit pressed for time so I quickly laid down a design without giving it a lot of thought. I will post a picture tomorrow but try not to be too disappointed! We were reducing a two month process into 20 minutes so it is only a very distant echo of the actual cloth. It did give us a small taste or feel for it. We carefully carried our "mudcloth" to the car and then headed over to the Weaving Works where we found several of our fellow guild members prowling the store as well. I picked up a few things as did Vivian and then we headed home.
Yesterday, I mordanted the next batch of skeins so I could start the Cutch dyeing today. Right after dinner I headed out to the dye area and made my calculations. I discovered an error in the last batch. I have been keeping rather careful notes with dates and the different tasks separated. When I did my calculations for the Chestnut dye I mistakenly looked at the WOF for the Walnut dyed yarn, which was cotton and weighed quite a bit more. My WOF was off for the Chestnut dye. So I suspect I have a medium and dark DOS rather than light and dark DOS. The iron bath was calculated using the same WOF too. It wasn't off by that much when it is all broken down but still, I have no more Chestnut at this time so I will just have to make a note of the error. I have a dark DOS dyebath of Cutch going at the moment. Cutch needs a two hour simmer time and an overnight soak to achieve its full dye potential. There is also a note to add 2% Hydrogen Peroxide to the dyebath 15 minutes before the end to achieve a darker shade. I will try it although no amount is mentioned. My timer keeps going off at 10 minute intervals to check the dyebath so this post is taking a bit longer to create.
That leaves the "Triumph" part to tell about. One of the items I picked up today at the Weaving Works was a spinning wheel drive band for the Lendrum wheel. I wanted to use it for my Dream Skein Winder. I got home and slipped it on, and by sheer dumb luck it fit perfectly! Not only that, when I connected the sewing machine peddle to the motor and plugged it in... IT WORKED!!!! Now all I need to do is give it a little bracing and make a proper yarn cone holder and guide and then I have my first working, motorized, 6 skeins at a time, Dream Skein Winder v. 1.1. I will post a picture when the rest of the bits are added. I warn you, it is crude looking but it does the job. It works!
Well, it has been quite a day and I have a dyepot to tend to and a couple of weaving magazines to look at so I will leave you with this question to think about: How do you handle mistakes or errors when they arise (and they do!)? I will give you my personal answer this time and that is, for me, it depends. Most of the time I give it some thought, learn from it, try to salvage what I can, and move on. There are times though when I am tired, stressed, or just plain cranky and I have to either a) throw or break a few non-essential things or, b) put it all aside for a while and enjoy a glass of whine, er, that is wine, and a bit of chocolate. Then I can go back and do the first part! -Off to find the chocolate, Renee
One final note: any errors or misinterpretation in the information on the Bogolan Cloth are my own and not due to our excellent speaker!

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