Monday, July 17, 2017

Bhutanese Textiles with Wendy Garrity -- at the New Weaving and Fiber Arts Center!

A detail of Bhutanese kushutara weaving

Luckily, for those of us who love textiles, we can travel the world without leaving our homes. Last week at the new Weaving and Fiber Arts Center (more on that later), Australian Wendy Garrity took us to Bhutan. 

Her presentation focused on the gorgeous fabrics known as kushutara, woven on backstrap looms by Bhutanese women in their homes. Pictured above: Garrity at the start of her presentation  -- before we remembered to turn the lights out! Her blog is called "Textile Trails."

Kushutara (supplementary weft brocades, also spelled kushuthara and kishutara) resemble embroidery but are hand woven -- often on looms that are built into the walls of the weaver's home. They have a discontinuous weft, as you see in the details below (front and back of the same fabric, respectively).

And they are gorgeous! Weavers use continuous weft-pattern designs called sapma and discontinuous weft-pattern designs called tingma. Garrity explains tingma this way: "The discontinuous supplementary weft patterning consists of sapma (inlay) and thrima (twining)." These techniques are all woven in brilliantly-colored silk in seemingly random color palettes. The results are what Garrity refers to as "eye candy."

So here, for your viewing pleasure, is some of the eye candy she brought along to show us.

As so often with textiles, photos don't do justice to the real pieces. The work in this last photo, for instance, has an eloquence and complexity that is hard to convey secondhand -- mainly because the full yardage in all its glory has a tremendous variety of colors and patterns. For this reason, Garrity urged us to view all of her fabrics from a distance as well as up close.

And I have yet to mention the new, larger home for the Weaving and Fiber Arts Center. What an expansive, bright, loom-filled site! Here are a few photos, to give you an idea.

The new location, just around the corner from the old one

Looms to the left of you... 

Looms to the right... 

And table looms at just the right height!

This fall, at the new location, I will be teaching beginning weaving and advanced beginning weaving (kind of a contradiction in terms, but you get the idea) as well as a natural-dyeing workshop. For more information, you can check out the courses as soon as the new listings are posted, which should be by mid-August.

Thanks for reading! 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Using a Warping Reel: a Short Video

If you're a weaver, you know that summer is conference season. (Well, I guess autumn is also conference season, and then again, if you live in the southern hemisphere, winter is summer up north, so winter is also conference season.... But I digress.)

Anyhow, I'm getting ready to teach at MAFA (MidAtlantic Fiber Association) in Pennsylvania and  at the Hartford Artisans Weaving Center in Connecticut. And I'm winding warps for both workshops. LOTS of warps. For MAFA, I wound ten seven-yard warps and for Hartford, I'm working on 18 eight-yard warps. I am not sure I will ever set up another workshop where I wind so many darned warps ahead of time.

So, what to do? My warping board is big enough, certainly, but it requires a lot of moving back and forth and up and down. Which is inefficient and slow.

The answer for me was a warping reel. I can stand in one place and, moving slightly, wind an eight-yard warp in less time than it takes on a warping board. While I'm not one who aims to weave as efficiently as possible (if I wanted efficiency, I probably wouldn't have become a weaver in the first place), I do appreciate saving time on production work.

I borrowed a warping reel from my friend Leslie Mendelson and it helps a lot. (Thank you, Leslie!) Which is why I made this video, in hopes that someone else could benefit from a demonstration. Thanks to my husband, Larry, for directing, production, and financing ;o)

Monday, May 15, 2017

Still More Collapse Weave -- This Time on 8 Shafts

This summer, for me, will be all about collapse weave: I'm teaching a workshop at MAFA and a workshop at the Hartford Artisans Weaving Center, plus I will give a lecture on the topic to the New York Guild of Handweavers.

To prepare, I have been weaving up lots of samples and learning A LOT from the results. (Re-learning a lot, too -- for example, that sett can make the difference between a good fabric and a wonderful fabric. We all know this, but we need to be reminded, particularly if a project should be re-sleyed at a different sett and we get -- well, lazy....)

Anyhow, the samples I've blogged about to date have all been on 4 shafts, because that's the focus of my first workshop at MAFA. In Hartford, we'll be working on both 4 and 8 shafts, so now I've begun sampling on 8. Here are some photos. 

I call these "Before" and "After" shots. The photo above is a "Before" shot of fabric just off the loom. I got the draft from a workshop I took a few years ago in London with Ann Richards, author of Weaving Textiles that Shape Themselves. The warp in this case uses both wool/stainless-steel yarn (the taupe-colored warp, available from Lion Brand and from Habu) and 16/2 bamboo (in red and orange). The weft is 72/2 linen (to give the fabric stiffness) alternating with the wool/stainless yarn.

Here is the "After" photo:

In this case, you have two elements that make this a dimensional fabric: structure and energized yarns. The structure is plain weave with floats alternating weft-wise and warp-wise, so that the floats make room for the fabric to pleat in and out. The wool/stainless draws in and twists when washed, which encourages the pleats to form. Finally, the stability of the linen weft adds crispness to the fabric. Pretty clever, huh? All thanks to Ann, who approaches her art with the mind of a scientist.

Another fabric, this one an 8-shaft double weave, pictured in its "Before" state, showing both front and back views:

The red sections are 18/2 superfine merino from JaggerSpun, which fulls beautifully when hand-washed. The black is 24/2 superlamb from JaggerSpun, which resists fulling because it's a superwash wool. Here's what it looks like, front and back, after hand washing in warm water and agitating with dishwashing soap:

To be honest, the black squares on the front of the fabric don't "pop" the way I had hoped. I was looking for a real dimensional "pouf" in the cloth -- but still I think it works.

Here's another structure from the same warp, before washing, front and back, same yarns.

And after washing:

This sample had a lot more texture, thanks mostly to the floats on the back. It's very thick, suitable for a warm jacket or coat.

If you're interested in any drafts, let me know. It's great add texture to your fabric! And here's one parting shot, of another sample just completed, using the same warp and weft as the first sample in this post but with a different treadling. (This is the sample that you see in the close-up photo that begins this post.)

Happy shape-shifting, y'all!