Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Scenes from Convergence 2016

I like to call it "Camp Convergence" -- a gathering of the clan of handweavers and fiber artists from North America and overseas. Some 600 (just an estimate) of us wove and dyed and felted and spun and shopped and connected and learned and then shopped again.

This year the conference was in Milwaukee (more on that at the end of this post, as the sad story of political trouble unfolds*). I taught classes for the first time ever and I can assure you that the pleasure was equal to the work involved! My three day workshop, "One Warp, Three Fabrics: Weaving with 60/2 Silk," focused on warping with fine silk and weaving with three very different wefts. The class aimed to give students a feel for the variety of fabrics they could achieve: a balanced fabric using a 60/2 silk weft, a collapse-weave fabric using a 30/1 wool overtwist, and an elegant thick-and-thin structure alternating silk ribbon with fine silk wefts.

Here are just a few photos from the workshop. I wish I could have photographed everyone and all the beautiful results -- but as you may know from taking workshops, it was a whirlwind!

Christine Williamson brought along her Baby Wolf.

Richard Fox wove this gorgeous palette.

Here's Roberta McKinney at her loom...

And here's only a portion of what she wove!

Jennie Hawkey teaches weaving.

She decided to add a point twill to her structure.

Here's Carol Collard on a unique table loom.

And here's what she was weaving.

 Diane Rabinowitz brought along a piece she wove -- one of her first, 
I believe -- and I asked her to pose with it.

This is the color fabric she wove using the silk ribbon. 
The warp yarns will shift and wave after washing -- a desired effect.

Serendipity often happens at workshops.
Christine Williamson brought along a shawl she purchased
(overseas, I think, but can't remember where) that used the same
technique we were working on with our silk ribbon wefts. After washing,
the fine warp yarns slide like rain over the thick wefts. 
Not orthodox, I know, but beautiful!

Here's the workshop, in a nutshell: Fabric woven with a 60/2 silk weft, top left;
fabric woven with 30/1 wool overtwist, then washed, top right; 
fabric woven with a variety of hand-dyed silk ribbons 
alternating with fine wefts, not yet washed, bottom.

Finally, our group, at the end of the workshop. On the far left you see Rachel Snack, who was our talented and able student assistant. Rachel is a graduate student in textiles at Philadelphia University and it's clear that she will be teaching at Convergence someday soon....

More to come in a second blog post, looking at my other two classes, "Sawdust, Leaves, and Bugs: Shibori with Natural Dyes," and "How to Make a Dorset Button."


*A postscript on events in Milwaukee after the conference: While we were in Milwaukee, my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the city after hours, following the river walk and drinking craft beer. Little did we know what a tragedy was soon to take place, as an unarmed black man was shot by a police officer just days after the conference. Civil unrest, the National Guard summoned, a curfew imposed.... The story is so familiar and so heartbreaking. Are we, as a nation, learning anything? Will we, as a people, ever move beyond our racial divisions? I hope and pray and sympathize for all of us as we struggle with our horrible legacy of racism and violence. Milwaukee, we are with you.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Network Drafting, Echo and Iris, and Four-Color Double Weave: What to Do When You Don't Have a Computerized Loom

I have a 12-shaft Macomber and I love her well. And I also love Marian Stubenitsky's ground-breaking study, Weaving with Echo and Iris.

This book has way too many enticing projects and explorations for 12-shaft looms. Where to start? I found a particularly appealing draft for 4-color double weave on page 163, in case you want to look it up. Here's the drawdown, front and back. (The second image, showing the reverse side of the drawdown, has the tieup and treadling on the left because that's how you see it in Fiberworks.)

Nice, isn't it? And I have just the right colors in JaggerSpun 18/2 Superfine Merino. Perfect. EXCEPT that I don't have a computerized loom. So I can't replicate the long, long treadling, at least without a skeleton tieup, which may be the subject of another blog post....

While it may seem intuitive to some advanced weavers, the solution did not come readily to me. Then there was that lightbulb moment: Why not simply shorten the treadling to 14 treadles? 

Here's how the modified draft looks, after some tinkering with the treadling.

The colors of the front, with a purple weft
Different colors on the back, with a red weft

I like it a lot. Lots of movement and color -- iridescence, as Stubenitsky says. And not much is sacrificed in the design, at least in my view.

A few details on how I made these changes in Fiberworks. First, below is a closeup of the original treadling, for 24 treadles. (A computerized loom would use a liftplan, but the tieup illustrates my point better.)

I reduced the number of treadles to the first 14, below.

Then, I looked at the treadling sequence and selected only the portion up to and including the 14th treadle -- which is at line 72 in the pattern you see below, about two-thirds of the way down on the first section on the left. 

Finally, I took that treadling sequence and played with it a bit -- flipping it so that it descended rather than ascended, beginning with treadle 14 instead of 1. Then I repeated the pattern in what Fiberworks calls a "mirror repeat." These changes create the diamond shape that you see in the drawdown.

And there you have it! Sometimes planning a weaving project is as much fun as the actual weaving. Particularly when you have powerful design tools like weaving programs.

Meanwhile, back at the loom...