Thursday, May 22, 2008

Pushing the Boundaries of Plain Weave-A Workshop

Ah, finally a chance to pause in the midst of packing stuff up and settle in to write about the workshop that Jane Stafford conducted for us. The title of this post is actually the title of the workshop. For those of you who are not familiar with Jane, she is an articulate, knowledgeable, experienced, and extremely funny teacher. While I am at it, I will also add engaging and passionate! Before I get into the details of the three day workshop visit her website Jane Stafford Textiles to read about her studio and shop on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia, Canada. Be sure to click on her "Old Lady With String Digest!" Her website link is also in my Fiber Links and has been for some time.
I could do a whole post on Jane alone but I will stick to the workshop for now. Sixteen of us arrived Friday morning with our looms all warped with the beautiful yarns Jane sent from her studio in variations of plain weave. We had eight variations to play with as follows: Denting, Cramming and Denting, Colour and Weave Gamp, Weft-faced effects, Warp-faced Repp, Collapsible, Tufted Weft, and Supplementary Warp. Above is a closeup of the Cramming and Denting. It used a lovely 14/2 Euroflax linen. I was one of two weavers assigned this particular example to warp on my loom. The yarn was a pleasure to work with throughout.
Jane's workshops always are crammed with information not only about the weave structure in great detail but about handling the yarns, the looms, the shuttles, and the resulting fabrics. No matter how experienced, you always learn something more. She has years of hands-on experience to back all her information up. We had a lesson on hem-stitching and hem-stitched every sample, thereby becoming quite deft at the technique.
To the right is a picture of the Warp-faced Repp. This required a slight adaptation in the treadling of the loom due to the density of the warp threads. In addition to lifting the harnesses one by one (not as slow to do as it sounds), each pick was further packed in place with a ruler after the beater was used. None of us pounded away with our beaters after Jane's lesson. We learned how to use the beater to place our pick of weft so that it was balanced with the warp. Jane mentioned that this workshop was also an exercise in sett. Our setts went from the closely packed warp-faced sample to the widely sett weft-faced sample and everything in between.

Here is a picture of my favorite plain weave sample. As usual, the picture doesn't do it justice. The ground is a grey linen and the supplementary warps were beautiful icy blues and blue-greens. It reminds me of the glacier fed lakes and streams that are found in many areas of British Columbia. The supplementary warps float over the ground cloth and are tied down in squares when the weaver chooses. Actually, now that I think of it, it is hard to choose a favorite. I will have to do another post to show some of the other samples. These pictures were taken on the loom during the workshop and were woven by some of the other participants.
We worked hard during the workshop with Jane working even harder. During our lunch many of us sat outside in the first warm sunshine we have had for many a month. I love workshops of this nature. I enjoy working along side all the intelligent and interesting women in the group. It is three, eight-hour long days and intense but the jokes and laughter are always flowing. Jane also gave our guild an evening program on Monday night. I will have a report of that along with a few more pictures of my samples in a few days.
Back to work I go! -Renee

Friday, May 16, 2008

Nurturing Weavers and Trees

It has been a bit longer than I anticipated since the last post. I had hoped to get a chance to explore a couple of blogs that I would like to mention but haven't had the chance. I will get to them in due time. We have been very busy getting our house ready to put on the market. In spite of that, weaving does go on!
First a bit of old business. I mentioned the bags I got as a door prize at the Spin-In in a previous post and my solution to honor the prize. The bags and handspun yarn have sold. As promised, I have donated all of the proceeds to which I believe is in my Personal Links section. If not, I will place it there. To be a bit more specific, I donated the money to loan to the Kakeda Sun Village Bank Group. There is a young 25 year old scarf weaver in the group who will be using the money for weaving supplies. The website does an excellent job explaining how the microloan process works. Check it out when you have a chance and if you decide to make a donation, let them know that I recommended the site. My e-mail is
So what are some of these things that have kept me from my blog? Planting 400 baby cedar trees on our 5 acres is only one of the many many tasks. Green on green is a challenge to see but the picture below is one of the 400 baby trees. They are about a foot tall.

Today was an exciting day because I got to take a break from all the work and participate in Jane Stafford's Pushing the Boundaries of Plain Weave workshop. Jane is always a treat. We also had our first really warm day in what seems like an age so we all sat outside at lunch soaking up the sun. I will have a full report (and pictures!) on the whole three day workshop as well as the Skagit Valley Weavers Guild meeting next week so stay tuned! -Renee

Friday, May 2, 2008

Whidbey Weavers Guild: Kakishibu and Farewell

Yesterday was the Whidbey Weavers Guild meeting. The morning program was a wonderful treat presented by Chris Conrad on kakishibu. What is kakishibu you ask? I will quote from Chris' handout as she tells it best.

"Calling kakishibu a “dye” is a bit of a misnomer. Made from the fermented juice of unripe astringent persimmons, the color comes from the tannin molecules linking together and forming a coating. More than a coloring agent, kakishibu also has strengthening, antibacterial and waterproofing properties. Kakishibu was used in China and Korea, but reached its ultimate utilization in Japan. It was used as a wood preservative, waterproofer, insect repellent, folk medicine, and on washi (Japanese paper), fans, parasols, clothing and in sake production."
Chris is an engaging and interesting speaker. She and her husband lived in Japan for several years when she came upon kakishibu. They returned to Japan so that she could study and learn about kakishibu and are now back in Washington State where she is teaching the rest of us fiber folks about this wonderful process. She has written a book on the topic, the first one written in English, and has an elegant and informational website called Kakishibui. I will also put her website in my Fiber Links section. She sells kakishibu "dye" as well as textiles. Unfortunately I did not get a picture of her beautiful textiles to share here but you can see some of them on her website. Those of you who were at the Spin-In will remember her booth.
In the afternoon, I presented the results of my grant study. It is hard to believe it has been a year already! I gave a Powerpoint presentation and had all 515 skeins of yarn piled on the tables for people to see. There was a bit of a technological glitch getting the digital projector up and running but, thanks to the folks at Camp Casey who brought in the spare, I was able to share my project.
To the wonderful fiber artists of Whidbey Weavers Guild, a big thank you and hugs all around for your support and encouragement not only for my grant project but for all the years, starting with my journey as a beginning weaver, to where I am now. I will be keeping up with the news on the Whidbey Weavers Guild website and I will definitely be back to visit sometime.
To my friends at the Whidbey Weavers guild, farewell. Please keep coming back to this blog to keep in touch!
My husband and I are continuing our work on the house to get it on the market very soon.
On a final note, yesterday marked the first anniversary of the creation of this blog! I am looking forward to another year of adventure.
This month I will have the workshop with Jane Stafford so please stay tuned!