Under construction

5 August 2014

I am starting the quechquemitl from the hand spun merino that I wove on a rigid heddle loom.  The cloth has been washed and is ready.

pulling a thread to mark the cut

pulling a thread to mark the cut

After deciding how long to cut each panel, I pulled a thread out so that I would have a mark to follow at the serger.  Even such a bold line is hard to see when the cloth is bunched up at the serger.

surging and cutting on the line

serging and cutting on the line

It takes two passes through the serger to overcast both sides of the cut.  I am using wooly nylon thread in the loopers to keep the edge soft.

I am making butted seams here.  After steaming the serged edge to make sure that it is not stretched out I pin baste the cloths together with a piece of paper behind.  I use 2″ wide printer tape from a printing calculator because I can get any length I want.  I do this on a flat surface to make sure both pieces of cloth are flat, I don’t want any buckling or puckering.

butted seam pin basted

butted seam pin basted

I am sewing the seam together by hand  with  a stitch called Ancient  or Baseball stitch. This pulls the butted seam together nicely.  I am using cotton sewing thread.

hand sewing the seam

hand sewing the seam

After sewing the seam is smooth, you can’t really feel it but the serged edge is still visible and will need to be covered.  Then steam or press the seam.



3 August 2014

Making some progress here, step by step.  This is the cloth off the loom and mended.  It is starting to relax a bit, you can see some bits of tracking which I like in this piece.

off the loom, mended

off the loom, mended

I started with 14′ of warp and 20″ at the reed.  I beat it as hard as I could with a sword and bubbled the weft.   Off the loom, the cloth part measured 139″ x17.75″. Next step is to wet finish it.  The hand spun single yarn was lightly steamed to calm the twist but I did not want the yarn to bloom before weaving.

My philosophy is finish gently first, you can always do more.  So for this I used room tempture water with a touch of ORVUS paste.  Soaked for several hours, it took a while for it to really get wet.  Then spun out and put in rinse water with vinegar and fabric softener and let soak overnight.  Spun out and dried  draped over a drying rack.

washed, ready for construction

washed, ready for construction

As you can see it closed up mostly in the warp direction.  In fact the width is now 17.25″ but the length  is is 128″.  It looks more solid but still very textural.  No pressing here.

awaiting construction

awaiting construction

Just a note here about shrinkage.  The width started out at 20″ and ended up at 17.25″, which is 26% shrinkage.  Most of this happened on the loom, very little in the washing.  The weaveable length of the warp was 154″ and it ended up 128″ for about a 17% overall shrinkage.  Lengthwise was different,about half of the loss was in take up, off the loom before washing was 139″ and half shrinkage, down to 128″.  I think I need two panels 31″ long to make a quechquemitl so I may have enough to make 2 quechquemitls!

Made it to the end!

30 July 2014

end of warp   As you can see , I made it to the end of the warp. No complications due to a full cloth beam, no slats or too many slats. As you can see here , only about 6″ of the warp is unwoven. This was not an obvious out come as the cloth beam looked very full, see previous post.  When I saw the cloth beam so full I stopped adding in the slats  that came off the warp beam. Winding on the cloth beam with out slats was worrisome to me. As you know, the tension on this loom, and many others, goes from where the warp is attached to the warp beam in the back to the cloth beam where it is tied on. Any irregularities in either beam can cause tension problems.  This is true from the beginning to the end of a warp, not just when you start.  The longer the warp the more chances there are for something to happen to the cloth  on the beam when winding on.  You probably know this instinctively.  When I get one loose section in a warp I can tighten it by padding either the back beam or the cloth beam. I usually do the cloth beam because it is in the front and more accessible and secondly , the padding won’t fall out with the next warp advance.  Padding in the cloth beam just becomes part of the beam and continues to do its function until the end. I use slats in both beams to prevent irregularities that cause tension problems.  Irregularities can be caused by knots, ropes, bars, warp threads cutting down to the lower layers or falling off the edge. BUMPS IN CLOTH

Here you can see a small irregularity caused by mending a broken warp.


Falling off the edge is by far the most problematic and common cause of tension problems.  Warp beams can be, and are often, wound without slats if the edges are supported.  I have flanges on my AVL that do this.  If you are using slats in your beams you want the slats to be stiff enough to stick straight out over the edge of the bundle  and keep the selvage warps the same length as the warps in the center of the beam.  Some people fold over the edges of the paper they roll into warp beams just to increase the stiffness of the edges.  The same falling off the edges can happen when you wind on the woven cloth onto the front beam. If the edges don’t line up precisely as you wind on the selvedges can become wonky.   So I put the slats into the cloth beam as they fall out of the warp beam.  They stick out of the cloth bundle and support the edges even if the edges don’t line up exactly.  In this project I stopped adding in the slats when I thought that the cloth beam might not hold all of the cloth that could be made with this warp. edge of cloth roll

In the photo you can see that the cloth edges do NOT line up precisely.




And after I stopped adding in the slats this can cause tension problems at the selvage.  Luckily this did not happen on this warp, the yarn is quite elastic and compensated for the uneven winding on.           This falling off the edge is more obvious here: These problems become more evident the longer the warp and with warps that have very little elasticity. I do not unwind the cloth beam during weaving because I don’t want to disturb the even tension that I have for weaving.  I have had gaps develop in my web following and unwinding episode.  There are fairly elaborate schemes to keep your tension as you have established it and cut off a portion of the woven cloth. It is true that if you have only woven one scarf at a time on a rigid heddle loom you may not have seen these problems.  But 40 yards of linen warp will test your mettle.   Back to the project at hand, one reason I chose to use a Rigid Heddle loom for this project was to minimize the waste.  Yet 200 ends of hand-spun yarn X 6″ waste on each gives 1200″ or 33 yards of waste! I hemstitched,  to stabilize the weft, before I cut it off the loom. hemstitched I am quite pleased with the look of the cloth while it is still on the loom.  It took a lot of extra effort to weave with the thick and thin singles  and I did get the look I was looking for. web It will close up some just taking it off the loom.  I will finish it gently to keep this look and just meld the threads together.  The yarn was lightly steamed to calm the twist before weaving.  Even so the twist was still active and the weft took extra attention.  The selvages look good now.  I expect they will look worse after washing because of the unevenness of the twist in the yarn.

Zen Garden Shawls

22 August 2007

These shawls were inspired by dry landscape gardens
found on the grounds of Zen Buddhist Temples in
Japan. The raked lines of the sand reminded me of the
pleats so I added some elements to the fabric which
function as the rocks in the gardens. The resemblance
between the shawls and the gardens includes the physical
frailty of the lines in the sand and in the silk; lines that
change with time and yet remain the same with human
reforming to overcome nature’s entropy. I hope I have
captured the spirit of these austere reductive gardens
and that the wearer become engaged in the process when
wearing and caring for the Zen Garden Shawl.
The aesthetics that I aspire to in this work is Wabi Sabi. If you are not familiar with this concept there is a delightful little book, Wabi Sabi, by L. Koren.
These shawls are a limited edition series and each one is numbered and comes with a signed insert with the number. Each one is made from two yards of silk. It can be worn as a scarf or a shawl. These have gotten quite a bit of critical praise, detail of one appeared on the covers of the Surface Design Journal, Spring 2004 and the cover of Silk by Mary Schoeser
I sent 3 of these to La Jolla FiberArts for the Sensational Shibori exhibit. The colorways at La Jolla are Green Tea, Dark Green Neutral and Red Ochre. I urge you to go to La Jolla to touch and try them on. I do my best with pictures but seeing them in person is the real deal.
I have a few more here, for sale, each one is a different colorway. They are easy to wear and each is $339, shipping included. If you are interested in one of the few remaining you may leave a comment or call me (9-5, EDT) at 937.767.8961. Upon request I will post here my photos of colorways so that you can get ideas of what they look like , but remember each person’s monitor shows different colors. We take credit cards and the easiest way to transact business with us now is by telephone.
Five of colorways I still have are:
20/99 Fushia Fizz
8/99 Teal
50/99 Thistle Blue (pictured above)
70/99 Nasturtium
22/99 Persian Gold
There are others, so don’t be bashful, ask if we have your favorite color. I’ll take some pictures and post them here so you can see.
Zen DGN.jpg

New problems

17 July 2007

I started a line of jackets this year. I use a gauzy silk noil, right off the bolt, to make the jackets. Then they are dyed (there were allowances for the shrinkage) then shibori patterning with discharge and over dyeing. We used all the fabric we had in Jan., having ordered more in early Dec. The new bolts came in May, and were used to make 4 small jackets. When I dyed them they had undyed pinstripes all thruogh them! Here is a shot of the jacket with a seam running though the image right of center.
non-silk warp.JPG
This old weaver tried to pick out the undyed fiber, but no, it is spun in the yarn. The pieces I did get loose look like shedded plastic, a thin white film. UGH!!
I have continued on and here are some shots of the jacket.
small purple passion jacket.JPG
It shows up as fine lines in the solid purple areas.
small purple passion detail.JPG
I’m sending the fabric back.

I’m taking some colorful jackets to Boston with me for the show. All the jackets are the same style but not the same size. The dress form is a size 12 and wears all the jackets.
This colorway is Purple Passion.
This is Red Pop.
And this is Kumquat, a delightful bright orange with olives and browns.
What I like best are solid areas and the arashi shibori areas. I decided to accentuate that in the black/champagne design.
This is my favorite.
The jackets are in a light weight silk noil, a causual fabric. Easy to wear with jeans, slacks or a dress.

Hydrangea inspired jacket

23 February 2007

The work for this jacket began here, hydrangea and samples and this was the sample I liked
and then excuted on a jacket
early greige jacket.jpg
The steps involved are first dye the jacket a mottled color
mottled jacket.jpg
Then draw the individual floretes,
drawing on mottled.jpg
then hand-stitch the edge of each motif
stitch on mottled.jpg
Each stitched motif is gather anf bound
bound mottled motifs.jpg
then discharged and dyed in a lavender grey dye-bath
dyed bound mottled.jpg
After all the threads are removed, carefully, the jacket looks like this:
mottled motif jacket back.jpg
mottled motif jacket side.jpg
mottled motif jacket front.jpg
This jacket is also a medium, not because I have a thing for mediums but because I they were the first one sewn. Again if you are interseted come to West Palm Beach Fine Craft Show and try it on.

Here is the first finished jacket to share.
So I started with a medium jacket and added stitched resists.
stitched icicles detail.jpg
You can also see the topstitching in the bands abound the edge now.
stitched icicles.jpg
this is an over all view of the resisted jacket ready to be dyed black.
After dyeing you have to carefully remove all the resist threads. This is the most dangerous process; one slip and you make a hole in the fabric and ruin the jacket.
removed threads.jpg
These are the threads I removed and here is the jacket:
B&W icicles.jpg
B&W icicles side.jpg
B&W icicles back.jpg
This jacket is a medium size. We can make it in another size now, before all the jackets are dyed.

Too many samples?

20 February 2007

No one has asked why I’ve been making so many samples lately. Well I’m now making
in addition to the scarves.
I wanted something that fits into people’s wardrobe, special but at a reasonable and just price. I decided, years ago, when I was making handwoven clothing that it was not a good idea for me to try to sew garments for sale. I had read in a trade publication that industry could sew a pair of women’s pants in 20 minutes. Here is a video of how sturdy jeans are made in 13 minutes. I knew that it would take me 2 hours to make the same pair of pants so if I wanted to make the same hourly wage as the industrial worker it would cost 6 times as much if I did the sewing on my home machine. How did me sewing them make them better, especially 6 times better, to justify the increased cost? My answer was that it didn’t.
So I wanted the jackets made with industrial sewing techniques but I wanted to dye them to make them special. This is a process called garment dyeing. It is not easy to construct a garment that will dye well after it is made. T-shirts are garment dyed but they are very simple. Thread and fabric must be the same fiber, no interfacing. Different number of layers of fabric in seams can make the dye take up different. I wanted to try making a jacket for garment dyeing and I started in October designing.
The design and fabric interact and must be developed together and then the assembled garment must be dyed to see what the successes and failures are. I went through 3 different fabrics before I found one that worked. Many jackets and parts of jackets were made and dyed. I finally had success with a lightweight silk noil.
Here you can see an early version of the jacket in this silk noil.
early greige jacket.jpg
early greige jacket back.jpg
The cuffs have since evolved and there is now more topstitching on the bands. Once the design and fabric were finalized it was time to talk to a cut and sew shop to see if they could make them a sample and about schedule. Then make a production quality pattern and grade it. We are making sizes S, M, L, XL. Well the jackets are now made and we are dyeing them based on all the samples I have made. I will show you the finished jackets daily, as I get ready for the West Palm Beach Fine Craft Show.

A few last samples.
icicles sample.jpg
A black white that looks like icicles to me, but that could be a product of the local weather.
4 layers purple.jpg
These 4 pieces were layered and then pole wraped, not smooth but with tucks and twists. The goal was to see how many layers of this cloth the discharge and dye would penetrate.

You can compare this with the instudio picture.
62.jpg This is the Stringray outfit much discussed in this blog (a, b, c, d </a e, f, g, h i, j).
The textile center has put up pictures from the ARTWEAR IN MOTION show. They have pictures from the show and of the winners. This year’s show wasn’t a runway show but took place on a stage.
At the Center’s website you can find info for entering next years show.