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

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