Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Weaving Obi

At the textile center in Kyoto there were also some jacquard looms weaving obi cloth.   

In the first picture the weaver is doing a pickup brocade on a shaft loom.  The second is the jacquard.  
Here is a closer look at the fell of the cloth.
The brocade is woven upside down with the long floats on the upper side.
This is the right side of the pattern.
Upstairs there was this wonderful little model of a jacquard loom.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Back from Japan

My husband and I visited out son in Japan last month.  We did many of the usual tourist things, but along the way I took a few shots of lovely kimono that I thought I should share with you.

All except the second one were in a kimono show at a textile center in Kyoto. The second one was just walking from the train to a hotel in Kobe.  There were quite a few lovely kimono-clad ladies in the hotel.  They were on their way to fancy family parties.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Here is a picture of the piece right off the loom.  There are still ends to darn in and some mistakes to correct.  The quality of the photo is not the greatest in terms of sharpness or color, but you get the general idea.
I will have it professionally photographed later this fall, and then you will be able to see the real magic of the color blending.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Panel Two Woven

There will be three images in this piece, and now the second and center one is woven.
This is the last you will see of the red auroras.  The third one has the more common green coloration.  I have really pushed myself this week to make headway in this long piece.  I think I will take most of the weekend off and return Monday.

I appreciate all the comments I get on my weaving.  Weaving alone in the studio can be isolating.  It is nice to know that there are some "someones" out there looking at this.  And friendly critique and questions are welcome as well.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


I am almost exactly halfway now.  The colors are a little strange in this picture due to the incandescent light.  I am constantly surprised by the combinations and blends of colors in the weaving.  I did almost no simplifying in the file beforehand, so the color interactions are more complex than other things I have previously done.  Fun.
These colors are a little more realistic, but the green could still be greener.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Aurora 2

Managed to get almost 1000 picks done today, and I am tired.  It just becomes so addictive.  "Just a few more picks; what will the next inch look like? etc."  
The first of three images is done.  It looks funny because of the angle winding around the front beam, but so far I am pleased.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Weaving again

I am so thrilled to get the repaired circuit board from the factory.  The loom works perfectly now.  It was so frustrating to be without a loom for five weeks.  We went back and forth on what was wrong, but ultimately all is well.  Of course, I was in Maine for a week of that and in Minnesota for a few days, too.  So I did have some other things to do.  But I became so tired of being loom-less, that I actually wrote up my lecture for Complex Weavers a year from now.  That's bored!  Here is the trial strip for my new piece: Aurora.  Below it you can see some areas of floats in the black and white, when the loom was misbehaving on the left side.
I think I am going to like the blending of colors in this one.  The next picture is of the first 800 picks of the design.  There are 5800 in the file, so I will be at this for awhile.
The texts around the frame refer to various bits of science I learned about auroras, while I was doing my research for the piece. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Irene is gone

Irene blew through, and we were very lucky.  We did not even loose power, although we would have if we had lived just 20 miles to the east.  All it left was a fantastic amount of leaf litter.  Since the weather has been so nice since then, it was not unpleasant to do the yard work to clean up around the house.  This is the view from the living room balcony.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Some fascinating upholstery

This was the upholstery on a chair in a small inn in Lubeck, Maine.  Thought you might like to see it.  It is obviously doubleweave, but how many shafts would it take as a dobby?  How many shuttles? Any guesses?  You can click on it to see it up close.  It was lovely on a small occasional chair.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Good news/bad news

The loom is down at present.  A new small part is due soon, and Vibeke and Co are always so good about helping to troubleshoot problems.  So maybe the loom will be functioning later in the month.  We are off for a driving trip to Maine for a week anyway.  That should be a nice break.

The good news is that I actually had one of my newer pieces accepted into a show.  It is the New York Textile Study Group show in Lower Manhattan, December 6 to February 19.  The piece accepted is "Pixilated Forest."  I am so pleased.  The juror was Rebecca Stevens of the Textile Museum here in Washington.
This is the homegrown image that I submitted.  But last week I had four of my newer pieces photographed by a professional.  Her work is vastly superior to what I can do myself.  I am looking forward to getting the CD so that I can apply to some other shows.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Inspired by science

Just like Alice is inspired by math in her weaving, I have decided that my next piece will be inspired by science.  I have always been in awe of the northern lights, aurora borealis, since I first saw them as a 12 year old in northern Michigan one summer.  So the next piece is a triple of three panels of aurora with phrases about the astronomy surrounding them.
With four shuttles in black, green, red and yellow there is an interesting palette of possibilities here.  

Should be interesting to see how this weaves with all that dither in the colors.  This may take awhile, however, since I may need to get a new part for the loom.  I changed some pistons that were not performing and seem to have done something to one of the connections.  So frustrating.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

City Lights

The color blending piece is now finished as well.  I really am a klutz with sewing, but I get there eventually.  I like this piece for all the neat things I learned about color.  I am hoping it has made me more adventurous with the weft colors I choose.  I have called it "City Lights", because it began life as a blurry photo from NYC.  I am sure it was an accident, and the friend who took it meant to delete it, but fortunately he didn't.  And then, of course, I moved some things around in the file in the interest of a more balanced composition.

If you click and go in close, you can perhaps see the color magic.  For example, the frame is woven with red, blue and green on the black warp.  At a distance it is a nice lively gray.  Up close you can see all three colors.  Fun.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Rock Creek, Woven, Rewoven--April

How is it that I can be infinitely patient with weaving problems but not be able to handle sewing problems? I have been avoiding finishing my two new pieces all week.  They came off the loom last Sunday.  I finally forced myself to get to the first one today.  And then I made the dumbest errors in logic, when I put the backing on.  Well, anyway here is the finished "Rock Creek--April" with backing and finally photographed.
This is the one with the five weft colors: blue, green, brown, red and yellow.  I hope you can see the rushing stream and rocks in the center panel.  While I spent over a month reworking the design to simplify many areas, I still wonder if the design is not inherently too busy.  But it is done at last, and that is nice.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Color Blending

It really is amazing how those color lessons you learn in school actually work out. The brown areas in this piece are green and red wefts, and they look rather strange up close.  But from a distance they are definitely reading brown.  The frame is a combination of three wefts: blue, red and green so it takes on a slightly violet hue.  

It is such fun to weave something fast like this one.  There was minimal time spent in playing with the file--just some filters and a few colors changed around.  Nothing compared to the months I spent on the last one.  I think it would actually have suffered if I played with it too much.  The free and more spontaneous look would not have come through. 

And yes, there is a mistake about half way across--an end that kept coming to the surface and would not weave.  But I attached a small weight (large washer) to it, and it now is behaving itself.  

The other thing that was interesting was my choice of structure for the framing area.  I am undecided as to whether I will actually use the frame or just sew it into the lining, but I knew I wanted the design to be less than the loom width in height.  So I had to do something with the extra warp ends.  At first I tried an eight end satin in the borders. 

But as you can see the satin took up much too much space and did not balance the double weave twill in the body of the piece.  If I had kept this up very soon I would have had a severe tension and distortion problem.  So I picked one of the double weave colors/structures that did not figure in the actual image and placed it in the frame.  Of course it works fine, since it is the same as the center.  

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Done, and on to the next

The Rock Creek Spring piece is finally woven.  I find that if I weave in the morning it goes much quicker.  I have more energy then, and it all just chugs along.

Now I have the color chips for the next piece, working title Color Blur.  Must think of something more glamorous or philosophical to call it.  I am liking all the colors I can get with four shuttles.  Lots of optical blending happening here.  Thank you pointillists.  And the weaving is going much quicker.  I can also stack the shuttles on the fell of the cloth in both directions, which saves a small amount of time.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Almost there

I'm now up to 2700 pixels out of 3150.  Should be able to finish it tomorrow.

In the meantime, I have been playing around with a file of abstract color.  It should not need all those endless hours of fine tuning that this piece has required.  I am looking forward to getting going on it, so that is even more motivation to finish those final picks on the landscape.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Chugging along

After a break for the weekend and a trip to Manassas battlefield for a ranger talk, I am back to weaving.  Here we are half way through the process.

You can start to see the insert of the rushing stream in the center.

And here is the view at sunset across the battlefield toward the Blue Ridge.  Such a beautiful place to have such ghastly things happen.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Finally throwing the shuttle

After two and a half months of tinkering with the file, doing several samples and redrafting doubleweave twill for five shuttles, I am finally going to finish this thing.  It feels good to be weaving again.  Despite some initial awkwardness the five shuttles are weaving quite smoothly.  I stack them on the loom shelf when they are on the left and on the cloth when they are emerging on the right.

I hope to keep up the pace of 500 picks a day.  This is at the 1000 pick mark.  The piece has 3100 so it will be several days of weaving.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Negative spaces

I am calling the three part hanging I did for Lee, "Negative Spaces."   Here are some pictures of it all mounted in her dining room.

The sun comes in from a skylight on the right, so it was a bit difficult to photograph.  
Here is a closer view of the center panel.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Back to work

It has been a slow month.  I have kept working on the file for the Rock Creek Spring piece an hour or so a day.  But somehow I just lost steam.  And the garden kept calling to me as well.  But now I have gotten back to it.  I decided that the sample I made with four weft colors did not have enough oomph.  I really needed that fifth color--yellow.  So over the weekend I finally figured out how to modify the structures I needed to add the yellow tones and an extra shuttle.  I was worried that one more shuttle would make the front too gauzy, when I had one color on the front and four running in the back layer.  But it seems to be working out okay.  

Here are the color swatches for the new piece.  The next picture shows some of the color swatches and some small strips of the file woven.  I will probably make some more changes before I am satisfied, but I am making progress now.
The last shuttle you cannot see is blue.

Today I also got an email with photo from my friend Lee.  I spent much of the fall weaving a three part hanging for her dining room.  While I delivered it in January, things have gotten in the way and it has just been mounted.   I will go over to her house and take better pictures next week, but here is a sneak preview.  The negative shapes in the metal sculptures between the weavings were the inspiration for the forms in the three pieces. 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Version 3 at last

Rock Creek, version 3 is done at last; it is even backed and finished.  The photo does not have completely consistent lighting, but I think you can get the idea.  I am much happier with this iteration.  I radically simplified the file to create larger planes of color, which I think work better for this sort of construction.  The small details tend to get lost in the structures.  The full name will be "Rock Creek, November--woven and rewoven".  
This time one can see the leaves and branches, and the picture in the center of the creek stands out from the image framing it, but it still has a bit of mystery to it. It also has more red oranges that I liked in the first trial, and they are appropriate for November.  I think I learned a lot about working with the file in Photoshop by doing the three versions, although I would rather not weave pieces three times to get them right.  The Photoshop designing phase is almost like painting--slow, deliberate, and demanding of a lot of concentration.  I am working at the pixel level, so it is necessarily very time consuming.  

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Spring enchantment

Spring really is the most glorious season here in Washington.  I often call it " the gaudy season" as the colors are sometimes like a fauve painting.  But no matter, it is all welcome after the gray winter.  
Today I am off to buy the annuals to fill in around my many perennials in the garden.  I might even spring for some more daylilies.  Then this afternoon I will get back to the loom and finish a sample of the Rock Creek Spring piece.  I am still trying to decide on the colors, so I have made a little sample with various options in it.  After that I can cut off the original Rock Creek, version 3 and send you a photo of it.  

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Small detail that seem to matter

I am underway with the third iteration of the Rock Creek piece, and I noticed something.  One of my Swedish shuttles was often nose-diving--going under ends in the lower shed. Aside from being annoying, it leads to mistakes in the cloth.  After some thought I switched the shuttle I was using (seen below at top) for the lighter model below it. It made a lot of difference.  Curious about the shuttles' respective weights, I took them to the grocery store and weighed them empty.  The top one is 5 oz. and the bottom one is 3 oz. Not much of a difference except in percentage terms, but it seems to have made all the difference in terms of smooth weaving.
The other detail I noticed was in the beat of number one Rock Creek weaving and number two weaving.  The second was almost 10% longer than the original.  I don't think that the looser beat enhances the design, so this time I am trying to beat harder.  I am also putting more tension on the warp and moving it forward more often.  Vibeke always tells me that I forget to do this often enough; I hope she is now pleased.  And it has helped to make the design clearer to keep the beat more vigorous and the tension higher.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Try Again

I have been distracted for a week by my son.  He came home for five days to get things in order for his move to Japan.  There were a lot of practical (read money) details to straighten out, but he is now safely with friends in Tokyo.  Next weekend he will travel south to his new job.
In the meantime, I have been endlessly fiddling with the Photoshop files for my Rock Creek pieces--both the new and the old.  The first try did not come out as I hand hoped.  It was difficult to "read" especially in the center image.  The second one was also not a great success.  I felt that I had dumbed down the image and taken out a lot of nice detail.  So now I have spent spare hours last week and this redoing the file.  I think I finally have it, but only the weaving will tell.
Above is the first trial.  It has some nice areas, but the design still seems fuzzy.
The second one has improved in the center image, but the other areas have a sameness to them and lack the red tones that I liked in the first one.  It seems too blue as well. So now I hope to get to the loom this week and do trial number 3.  I hope this revision will do the trick. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Postcards and new friends

Over the Easter weekend Bill and I took time to work on our joint project.  Bill collects postcards, and he thought it would be fun to paper the powder room with some of his collection.  We have been slowly working on it for a couple of years.  So this weekend we managed to mount some more of them.  Eventually we will cover the walls above the chair rail.  So far we have only a wall and a half done.  So a visit to our powder room does not have to be dull at all.

Friday Karen Hampton came to visit.  She is a fiber artist who teaches at Howard University in Washington.  Her work is a marvelous exploration of her very interesting family in Spanish Florida.  Lots of images that are seen through layers of printing and embroidery.  It was such fun to make a new fiber friend.

Another friend sent me a link to Brown Grotta's blog.  You might want to check it out at Arttextstyle.  There is also a link there to the new show at the Textile Museum, an article about Lia Cook's recent work, and some stunning pictures of Grethe Sorenson's three large jacquard tapestries for Trondrud Engineering in Norway.  

Friday, April 22, 2011

New colors

I am trying out new colors for the Rock Creek Spring piece.  I am definitely not a "pink" person.  I won't even plant pink flowers in my garden, but the Eastern Redbud is such a striking tree that I have to make an exception for it.  Although it is hard to see here there are some outrageous purply pinks and yellow greens in this gamp.  The new leaves have the most amazing acid yellow green to them.  I hope I can capture that.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Time and designing

I always say that designing takes far longer than weaving.  The last two days have been justification of that statement.  I have finished weaving Rock Creek the second try, but do not have a picture to show you yet.  It is still on the loom.  The next piece is again Rock Creek, this time with spring images collaged and paper woven.  

I had forgotten how time consuming paper weaving can be.  
And for a bit of a change I have been designing new presets for four color stitched double weave based on five shaft satin.  There are 112 possible combinations. I am up to 32 now.  Alice Schlein helped me with the stitcher placement, when I couldn't get my mind around that. After doing some of these I now believe Alice and Bhakti did not charge enough for their book The Woven Pixel.  They take an enormous number of largely repetitive steps--except that one has to pay attention all the time, since (at least for me) it is so easy to make mistakes.  I am in awe that they put so many of these weaving presets into the book and CD.  I will use these structures in some other new work I am developing--not the Rock Creek series.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Moving along

The new version of Rock Creek is moving along, and I am designing another that tries to capture the elements of spring in the park:  Eastern Redbud, new beech leaves, and runoff from spring storms.  The initial design is done.  I now have to cut it up and weave it in the paper.  Then I will scan it again and start doing the modifications in Photoshop.  But the picture above shows the first design about 2/3 of the way. It looks like it will be easier to "read" than the first version.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


I should never be a gambler.  After fussing with various small mistakes in my warp I started to weave on Rock Creek 2 yesterday.  The four shuttles rotate in a particular order, and I knew the order.  I just did not know--and for some reason couldn't figure out--which one to start with.  So trial and error took over.  I had a 1 to 3 chance of getting it right the first time.  Wrong.  So there was a 1 to 2 chance in the second try.  No.  By the third try my odds were even.  But even there I was wrong.  So that left only one alternative, starting on the blue shuttle.  So I am glad I am not a gambler.  It could get expensive really fast.  You can see my trials at the beginning of the weaving above the orange hem.

I think I am getting a bit more definition in the design this time, but we will have to wait and see when it is off the loom.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Rock Creek, Woven, Rewoven

The next piece had a long gestation.  Four and a half years ago we had a fire and had to move out of our house for six months.  That was six months with no loom!  I had to weave something, so I took up collaging photos, cutting them into strips and reweaving them.  Never keep a weaver from her interlacements--too dangerous!  One of these was a study of Rock Creek Park near where we live.

Last month I decided that it would be interesting to see what the jacquard would do to this image.  I realized that there would be some degradation in the image due to the greatly reduced number of pixels available, but I had not anticipated that the result would be so hard to read.

So now that I have a new warp on the loom I am going to try again with slightly different choices for the 17 colors and a sharpened and reduced pixel count in the design.  Instead of using half of my ends (655) the new design is 328 pixels wide.  Then when it is blown up for weaving and the aspect ratio is adjusted there are always two ends and picks at a minimum in each color area. I have also made some adjustments in certain design areas to clean up the design.  It is a tedious process but somehow addicting.  Since the weather promises to be quite beastly out today with a big rainstorm, it will be great fun getting back to the weaving.