Sunday, November 18, 2007

Another Beginning

I am starting a new tapestry on the Big Shannock. I like to get the loom warped while I contemplate the design. I probably won't start working on the piece until next year.

I am thinking this tapestry will be a rendition of the planet Uranus. I am currently contemplating a piece about 32 inches wide and perhaps five or six feet long. 99% of the piece will be woven with all black yarn. I have been collecting black yarn for the last couple of months. I may have just enough to weave the waves of space which I see in my mind.

To keep my sanity while weaving this other project [thirteen feet of yardage woven with sewing thread] ...I wound off and dyed my tapestry warp a lovely violet-black. Given I will be using a large variety of black yarns of different materials, sizes and shapes I am sure there will be some warp showing here and there. This color choice seems like a far better color than white to peek out from my black weft yarn.

I will be tying this dyed warp onto the leftover warp from my prior piece. I have never done it on this loom, but I have done it on others so I assume it will work. I have wound off more warp than necessary just in case I think the dark warp might work well on the tiger piece I am envisioning next on the queue.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

It's Resting

My latest tapestry is off the loom and resting. It is 32 1/4 inches square with only 1/8th of an inch pull in on the sides. I seem to have much improved edges by weaving from the back. From the photo, you can see I have some finishing to do...some ends to clip...some slits to sew...a hem to fix...and some thought as to how hang this piece.

Once hanging, I will post the front of the weaving.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Ahhh...the end is in sight!

Ah, I finally like my mountain dunes. I ended up over-dying some green yarn to tone it down in a number of shades. I also added a few curves on the dunes that mimic the curve of the moon and things are looking up. I am going to finish weaving the bottom of the dunes to square up the piece and take it off to see how it looks. It's tough when half the piece is all rolled up on the bottom bar of the loom. I can't tell how tall the mountains should be. I'd like the moon to dominate and be imposing in this piece. Time will tell.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Here a mountain there a mountain...

These mountain dunes have been quite a dilemma.
My original thought was to have blended color dunes using the darker colors that I used in the moon. Unfortunately, the result, as seen in the first photo makes your eye go to the mountain vs the moon which is the focal point. It is even more apparent when standing and viewing the entire piece. So, I ripped that out...

My next thought was to keep with the original colors in my first concept but get rid of the detail and go with large sections of saturated color. This too did not get my approval. You can see the results in the second photo. It looks like a comic book...not a bad thing...just not what I had envisioned. I really do want the moon to be the focal point.
I think the issue is that the yarns I am trying to use have values which are too dark. The darkest draws the eye toward the dunes vs. toward the moon. I initially thought these colors would make the moon pop. The blue surrounding the moon makes the moon pop. The dunes are competing for the viewers eyes. I would like them to set back and just be there to provide context. You can see the value contrast in the black and white photo I took.
I now am going to rip this stuff out and try sand colors. Eeek...making the sand dunes actually the color of sand dunes...what is my world coming to. I will try adding a bit of those saturated colors from the moon here and there. Check back in a couple of days and see how the latest version looks.
And I thought the mountains would be the easy part!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Moon on Saturday Morning

Whew! The harvest moon is complete but for a dot here or there to be added later. The colors worked well together and contrast nicely with the blue sky. Now its time to take on the mountains...or actually the dunes of Death night but lit by the harvest moon. I have the colors and the yarns...just no firm idea on what it should look like. I need to wait for the vision to appear in my brain...then back to weaving.

ps I flipped the photo so the outlines of the dunes were more obvious. Yes, I seem to always weave upside down and backwards.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A Blue Weekend

See the blue sky? It's all new...every little piece of blue.

As I was weaving the next six inches of the moon, I was stewing about the aura I had woven around the moon. I had done a uniform hatching with two values of a blue, the name of the blue escapes me at the moment. I kept weaving however. Weaving and stewing. Weaving and stewing. My DH will tell you I really don't care for stew. I don't have a picture of where I was when I finally stopped stewing but I remember the time.

Let's see, I think I stopped stewing Saturday morning when around 3:30 am I decided to take some of the sky out...first I was going to take only about four inches out -right to the one spot I found particularly offensive...but within thirty minutes every little piece of blue yarn was out and I could start with a fresh palette. Today I replaced it all with a new aura. This one had a formula based hatching but with less uniformity than the first one.

I like this aura better than the previous one. Here's a close up of the new and improved aura...

Friday, October 12, 2007

My Mother Loved Van Gogh

It may have taken awhile to get the frame just right...but I finally have my challenge tapestry ready for preview for tomorrow's meeting. Nothing like a looming deadline to finish up the details.

My challenge was to be inspired by 1) a Van Gogh painting, see postcard bottom right and 2) the year of my birth. This is a portrait of my Mother at a time when she was still weaving. She loved Van Gogh and had lots of Van Gogh prints around the house when I was growing up so it is fitting she is shown in Van Gogh colors. I also wanted to incorporate a maze like structure to include a little bit of me into the piece.

I enjoyed weaving the portrait even though certain parts were excruciatingly difficult. I may do another portrait someday but definitely without the maze border. It is interesting how a face can come together with just a few lines here and there. No need to put in every detail...the brain fills in the empty spaces with what is missing.

I self dyed the silk yarn; some in solids and others a variegated hand painted technique. With silk it is always a challenge to get the colors desired but here they worked out quite nicely. I wove with three strands at a time so I was able to achieve a lot of subtle and no so subtle color changes in the final piece.

I enjoy looking at the piece...

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Waxing Moon

I have been back from vacation in Molokai for one week and my moon has progressed from here to here:

I forgot what a joy it is to weave on a wide sett with thick yarn and a relaxing design. The moon design is such that each and every dot of color does not have to be in a specific shed for it to come together correctly. Hence the weaving goes smoothly and is a pleasant break from the smaller more detailed pieces I have been working on.

I think this piece has been waiting on the loom since late Spring for some inspiration or a deadline. Both have arrived. I am hoping to finish this by the end of the month along with three other pieces in the final finishing stages.

The one downside, if it is a downside to weaving this piece, is that I seem to have to re-fill my bobbins about every half hour or so. The bobbins are the eight inch gobelein ones with a three inch section for the yarn. Since I am doubling the yarn...there is not that much yarn on each bobbin. And I must say, this piece seems to suck up the yarn. I think I should have enough yarn to finish the moon...fingers crossed. The dunes are in different colors - rich, deep blues, greens and purples which I also hope there is enough of....

As I said, this is quite a different weaving experience than the smaller pieces I have been working on where the placement of each dot of color makes or breaks the design of the piece. For example, on In Search of a Kiss each and every dot through the maze and the exploding dots at the exit of the maze were carefully placed, studied and often re-placed in a better spot before moving forward to the next one.

I am trying for a watercolor look to the piece with colors blending into each other and seemingly to wash over themselves. So good.

Back to weaving...

Monday, September 17, 2007


I had a productive morning, finishing the warping of my table loom as well as sewing on the backing for my latest tapestry. The tapestry is done, off the loom, rested for a week and is now being blocked in the backyard. A picture of the finished work should be up at the end of the week.

It's an odd piece to block since there are lots of ends around the maze but not much in the center where the portrait is. The photo shows how I ended up applying the pressure. I am hoping I can flatten the ends on the back so it will fit within the half inch rabbet of the frame. Then it should hang OK on the wall.

I had originally thought an antique gold frame would be best. Most Van Goghs I have seen in museums are in gold frames. Blick was having a great sale on frames so I bought one. In the end, the gold didn't look right with the tapestry so I have painted the frame a reddish brown. It blends nicely with the maze around the portrait on the tapestry and increases the size of the piece. I also have some acrylic paint in two colors similar to the browns in the maze. I may paint the frame to give it a bit more depth and texture.

Hopefully, by Wednesday I will be able to put it all together and see how it looks framed and on the wall. I do like the is worth the wait.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

From the Front or the Back

I am having a tough time weaving the face of my mother in this latest tapestry. A face is a difficult thing to weave since each part individually looks odd...but together they form something quite nice. You have to trust your cartoon when weaving the individual shadings of the face. They look odd but in the end they should turn out fine.

The other issue is color. I am weaving a face which is essentially a line drawing portrait on a sea foam colored paper. Let me tell you, there is nothing like seeing your mother staring back at you all in green!

I also could have simply used one shade of sea foam through out - just like a colored piece of paper. But no...I wanted to have the gradations in the color similar to the back ground in the Van Gogh painting that is the inspiration for this piece.

The real issues began to emerge with the neck. I wove the neck four or five times. It is now acceptable. It took awhile to get the right shades of sea foam to use in the various spots. I finally decided on four shades of sea foam for the various shadings in the neck and face. And created a shading cartoon to remind me what to use where.

The next issue was the lips. I couldn't get the lips right weaving from the back. I tried several times and wogged it out [the weaving rendition of frogging] each time. I finally decided I would have to do it from the front so I could actually see the lips being formed. After a couple of wogs the lips were acceptable with the caveat I would add some teeth detail with a needle later when I could see the complete face.

Next I moved up the face with the cheeks and nose. I was weaving from the front and realized I was not doing the shading correctly since I was looking a my shading cartoon but it was in reverse to the face from the front. So, I then had to re-create the cartoon, making a mirror image of it. That took a bit of time but once completed I was off again.

I did notice the weaving from the front was not as 'nice' as the weaving from the back. And it is near impossible to do a good dot without turning the loom around and doing it from the back. So now, when I can I am weaving from the back...and when I have to get the design absolutely right and I can't do it from the back - I do it from the front. This means I have a cartoon attached to both sides of the tapestry and raise it up to see the detail before inserting the weft.

Check out the photo -

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Van Goghing Along

As you can see, I have made some progress on my Van Gogh inspired piece. However, this side of my studio has gotten quite messy and I hate to work in a I worked on this instead for a couple of weeks and got that project off the loom. These are my two 'tough' projects...quite exacting pieces where each dot must be in the right place or it is obviously wrong to even the most inexperienced eye.

I just spent some time cleaning my baby shannock corner so I think I can start weaving again on my Van Gogh piece. I am on about ' row 30' and there are 72 rows total plus a hem. So, let's see...that's about 40% done. I still have about a month to finish weaving it. I figure, it will take me a couple weeks to finish and figure out how to frame it. I did already buy a lovely antique gold frame for's coming in the mail. Sounds like I am on track for the October 8th unveiling.

I will post a photo of the front when I get the neck figured out. I am considering removing what I've got since it looks a bit bulky and replace it with some finer weaving at 2 vs. 3 wefts per pass.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Another Friend

A hippo has joined my other indigo friends...

Now that I have done some sampling, I am going to do a larger piece. My four friends have been 4 by 6 inches. Now I am going to work on one that is 14 by 18. I liked the concept so well I already ordered a frame for it even though I haven't even warped the loom! Dick Blick was having a sale on frames and I just couldn't resist.

You will undoubtedly chuckle when you see it!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Frame Appears

Here is what I have been working on diligently for the last week or so.

Pictured is the bottom of the frame for my Van Gogh inspired piece. The white paper simply covers up the hem so as not to take away from the design. I really like how it is coming out. The colors are right on to the colors I wanted. The design is good. The weaving is slow and extremely technical.

If you look carefully, you will see an error. Now that I have pointed out that there is an error in the execution of the design I am sure you will study the photo more carefully. People are like that! It's funny about weaving mazes. It takes about three or four rows of the maze to be completed before any error really stands out and says "hello".

I have a couple more rows before I start getting to the outlines of the upper body. There are 72 rows in this piece with each 'row' having four round trip passes. It is a pleasant interlude have a large section of a single color. Plus, I don't even have to have my cartoon attached to the weaving.

Here is the maze all fixed. The error has disappeared. I felt like a surgeon with my needles, scissors and tweezers. Easy come...easy go.

Monday, July 16, 2007

An Ostrich Sett at 12 epi

I finished up this piece this morning. This was a test piece using a sett of 12 epi with 12/12 cotton seine and two weft threads of the silk I use. I have been sampling different setts with different types of warp and different numbers of wefts.

Interestingly, there was absolutely no pull in on this piece. At least no pull in while it is on the loom. I have room for one more piece on this warp so I really won't know the true pull-in until I finish another little tapestry.

This was one of those pieces I just wanted to be done with. I realized quite soon after I had started that I could use more than 2 wefts on this combination of warp and sett. Plus, I really want to get weaving on my Van Gogh piece but I promised myself I would sample the various permutations prior to starting.

So I figure I will set up for the last little tapestry; tweak the cartoon and give a quick try at 3 and 4 strands to see which looks best. I think that will only require perhaps a inch of weaving...then I will leave the rest the weaving on this piece for my Friday Tapestry Group meetings.

Friday, July 13, 2007


I have been working for the last couple of weeks on my upcoming tapestry which is inspired by Van Gogh and the year of my birth. This is a portrait of my Mom. She loved Van Gogh and had prints by him all over our house when I was growing up.

I thought I had finished the cartoon a couple of weeks ago...but since then I have changed the size, the colors, the width of the maze encircling the portrait as well as the size of the portrait. Here is the resulting black and white. It should be quite challenging to weave.

I have a loom already warped and ready to roll. It is 14 inches by 18 inches before any pull-in. As I weave the hem I can finalize the color choices as well perhaps dye a couple more skeins of sea foam green. I should also finish my other two samples to ensure I have the optimal number of threads for the 12 epi sett I selected.

Hmmm...sounds like I have a lot of work to do! Once completed my DOH is going to make a beautiful Van Gogh type frame for the piece - like the ones you would see in the Getty...but home made.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Indigo Llama

Here's my indigo llama resting on the loom. I did get some push out at the edge and some puckering. But all may disappear after finishing. Time will tell.

I think I will try a slightly wider warp spacing with two wefts or the same spacing as that above but with a design containing fewer vertical slits. First however, I will re-read my Tapestry 101 book for other thoughts to consider.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A Van Gogh Palette

I wove a bit this morning on this ...did the mouth a couple of times and now am re-vamping the nose for perhaps the fifth time. Once those two parts are done the rest should be fairly easy. I'll take a picture when I am done. This is good practice for the next piece I am going to do.

The sun came out around noon today so I figured it would be a good dye day. One of the Guilds I belong to has an annual challenge. This year it is to be inspired by a Van Gogh painting and the year of my birth. It has to be at least half handwoven or handspun and not too big. Everyone has a different Van Gogh masterpiece. Mine is one of his vases of sunflowers.

I came up with a great design for a tapestry which would be best with a 12 epi sett...which needs a 12/6 warp. None of that in my a few phone calls and it is now in the mail. The design is fairly challenging...but more on that at a later date.

Not only did I not have the warp, I also did not have the right palette of weft. So a dye day was in order. And today seemed a perfect day since the morning fog burned off and there was sun! Here is a picture of the results of my efforts- the dyed yarn drying outside. There does seem to be a lot of yarn for a piece which is expected to be 12 by 14 inches!

I realized once I finished dyeing my base yarn which is a blueish grey silk, that I would never be able to get the right yellow in the sunflowers. I hunted around my stash and found a cone of an off white silk/cotton (70/30%) blend which I then dyed yellow, yellow orange and a pale seafoam. Now I think I have the right palette. Although, to make it easier to achieve the mottled effect I want in the background I may do a couple painted warps.

ps the fog is coming in

Friday, June 15, 2007

My Indigo Friend

I'm planning a small tapestry for my baby Shannock which needs to be done by October. Plenty of time. It has more detail than my previous pieces so I am contemplating a sett of 12 epi.

Normally I have been using 8 and sometimes 10 epi. The Kiss was done at 10 epi with 30/18 cotton seine and four strands of my dyed silk as weft.

Checking the 'literature' and the 'knowers of all tapestry knowledge' it seems a 30/18 is too thick for a 12 epi and may cause ridges or the edges may push out. Seems 12/6 is the consensus pick for my warp so I have order some from Weaving Southwest. They were quite nice on the phone, and said they would hopefully have it packed before the UPS guy showed up in the afternoon.

Since I have an empty loom I figured why not try a small piece with the 30/18 and a 12 sett and see how it comes out.

Last night I played around with photoshop and came up with a design which makes me happy and I warped up my loom this morning. This afternoon I started weaving. I am using double strands of weft.

I am actually using the silk I dyed in the indigo dye workshop I took last weekend plus a few other blues that I have. I only have a bit of the indigo yarn and as my Mother used to say...'better use it up'.

I have about an inch done...I think I will need to have about three or four inches done before I can opine on how well it's really working.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Windows to the Sierras has a home

I have been struggling to figure out where in our house to hang this... I had originally designed it to be viewed from ten feet away assuming you were about five and half feet tall. I had also assumed I would frame it around a 3 by 5 feet canvas so I had wove an extra three inches all around the tapestry so I could wrap it effectively. It also meant I didn't really have to have perfect edges...

Well, everyone seemed to think wrapping around the cansvas would be a waste and I should go with the larger size which is a bit large for the den. It has been hanging there for a month or so. It looks quite unattractive on a white wall. As the viewer, you are to imagine yourself in a log cabin looking out the window to the Sierras. That means log cabin walls...wood walls, perhaps knotted least something wood colored. Not white.

Well, the solution is at hand....I brought a bit of the wood ceiling down the wall. Oh yes, that blanket is history.

Friday, June 01, 2007

In Search of a Kiss

Here is my latest tapestry, In Search of a Kiss. It is part of our tapestries group project called Dots & Dessert.

The piece is not off the loom yet. I am letting it rest with loosened warps. I have it hanging on my studio door to see if there isn't a dot or two I might alter.

I am happy with the result. It is the image I saw in my brain. Nice when that happens....even more surprising when I consider it was woven from the front and upside down.

More later...

Saturday, May 26, 2007

A Bit of Progress

I made a bit of progress...but not much...a bit of sky, a bit of moon. If you want to follow along on a moon map, I have finished up the Crater Riccioli and a small portion of Sinus Medii - The Bay of the Center and have about half of Crater Grimaldi woven. Remember I am weaving from back to front and upside down.

My goal is to fill in that empty middle part at the bottom of the tapestry over Memorial weekend. Hopefully, I can figure out how to take a decent photo of the front so you can see what it looks like.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

A Slow Start

Whew, sure has been hot. It has actually gotten up to 87 here...fortunately the high pressure system is moving away so the off shore flow will be back. By the weekend the high temperature should be back to a respectable 65 degrees.

I did start to weave. But it took much longer than I thought. I forgot that I was using bobbins so I had to fill them all with the required colors. Of course, this required that I create a bobbin holder since I had so many bobbins in varying shades for the moon. Plus, I ended up changing the colors a couple of times to get the right value scale. Here is the result -

I got the bobbins underway but then had to figure out how or whether to use the cartoon I had developed. The cartoon has about a third of a full harvest moon rising of three sand dunes. I am trying to weave what the moon actually looks like, with the craters, mountains and oceans in the right a map/cartoon seems like a must.

But then, I am trying out weaving from back to front on the big Shannock. Using this method I will easily be able to do random dots which will be a nice touch for the harvest moon. Unfortunately, this means I must keep dropping the cartoon and looking in a mirror to see how things are progressing. My cartoon is somewhat unwieldy measuring 36 by 36 inches.

I finally decided to divide my moon cartoon into a grid of 5 by 7 inch rectangles. I made color copies of the bottom row...which is actually the top since I am weaving it upside down too. I sewed on the bottom row to the hem in three pieces so it is easy to raise and drop the cartoon to peak into the mirror. It works well.

My cartoon shows the moon's mirror image so that when I weave it, it will come out looking right on the front. It's a bit tough...looking at the cartoon and the back of the tapestry- it looks one way. In the mirror is looks a bit different. Should something shift a bit more to the is that the front's right or the back's right...good grief. Since I want good placement of the key locations on the moon, I figured I had better do more preparation. I also made several copies of the actual moon map [and it's mirror image], added the grids and identified all the key locations on the moon.

After all this trouble of making sure I have the correct view of the moon from the back and the front and ensuring I can get the identifiable locations on the moon onto the right spots on my tapestry..I sure hope my moon map is not one taken from a telescope which inverts the image of the moon! I seem to recall at some point having that thought and checked against a photograph that someone had taken of a moon over a mountain. So I think I have it right.

Weaving is anticipated tomorrow...

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Almost Ready

It was a nice warm day today so my dyed yarn dried quite quickly. It turned out I had had a busy Saturday - I had fifteen skeins to dye; some were immersion dyed and others were painted. They are now all balled up and organized.

I think am ready to weave...can't wait until tomorrow! I never weave at night.
Looking at the yarn, the value contrast is about right for the mood I am going for. It is always so interesting to see if I can get on the loom the feeling I can see in my brain.
From a pictorial standpoint, there will be a giant harvest moon rising over three sand dunes in Death Valley. No people, no animals, no plants...just the sand of the dunes, the rocks of the moon and the stars at celestial twilight.
Looking at the colors - easy to imagine harvest moon rising over the Napa Valley...tougher to visual Death Valley. Boy this is going to be fun.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Colors of the Harvest Moon

I have the loom warped, the hem woven and the cartoon if I could just figure out the colors. I have spent much time trying to figure this out. I know exactly what the moon looks like...I can see it vividly in my mind. The sky I can visualize somewhat...and the dunes...who knows.

I spent Friday picking out colors...moving colors around...allowing various colors to talk amongst themselves to see if they could figure it out for me. This morning I took my coffee to the back studio and played with color cards for about fifteen minutes and voila!

Here are the colors of the harvest moon over Death Valley...

I spent the rest of the day dyeing some yarn to fill out my palette. Once I have them all dry and balled they will pose for a photo.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Studio Tours

I had the opportunity last weekend to go on a studio tour of four tapestry artists in the Bay area as part of the ATA Silver Anniversary Celebration. It was fun seeing how other artists set up their studios.

We went to four studios...

Christine Laffer, who had what looked like a twelve foot weaving width Shannock loom! It was the largest loom I had ever seen. Looked like you would have to stand on a ladder to warp the loom. The interesting part was how she used mirrors attached to music stands to view the tapestry as she wove back to front.

Jan Moore, who had completely converted a garage into a fiber studio with a more familiar looking six foot weaving width Shannock loom. One wall had a huge window made of those clear blocks of glass - which allowed the light in but no direct sunlight. There were also a couple of sky lights on the roof. It looked to be a beautiful place to weave while it was sunny...potentially a bit dreary on a cloudy day. Her tapestries are shaped - not the traditional square or rectangle. She sews in a hard backing into her pieces so they retain their shape and look quite crisp on the wall.

Tricia Goldberg, who taught the workshop I took a couple months ago. She had a separate studio off from her house where she had a lovely old wooden upright tapestry loom along with smaller ones for her students.

Jean Pierre LaRochette also had a separate studio from his home. He actually has another South of the border where he spends half his year. Most interesting, he will do perhaps four renditions of the same tapestry in the same colors to maximize the work he can exhibit. He also sees it as a challenge to see if from a technical standpoint he can make each somewhat different yet the same.

So what did I get out of my Sunday fieldtrip?

First - a strong feeling I need focus more on my weaving and less on the Guild stuff that has been sucking up my time.

And second - a renewed desire to do a tapestry on my big Shannock from back to front. And to accomplish this, I would need some sort of mirror to view my tapestry without having to go around to the back of the loom. A quick trip to Ross and for less than twenty dollars I now have a mirror hanging on my loom.... check it out - -

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Maze

I have finished the maze portion of my little tapestry for our group project.

It was particularly gruelling to weave since each warp end of each shed had to be exactly the 'right' color or the error was quite obvious. It was somewhat like painting by numbers...where each shed/warp end had its own particular color. This was not a weaving where I could could go to that 'weaving zen place' for long periods of time ... this was an intense exercise in focusing.

But I do like the result.

For the last part of the weaving I am going to have the grid deconstruct - to shoot into many pieces and a Hershey's Kiss should magically appear. Now that I think about it, this sounds harder than the maze to weave since I am not quite sure how to make that happen...I guess that makes it the fun part.

Another thing I will have to think about is how to hang this piece. There is a huge amount of ends on the back behind the maze but little behind the bottom part. It's really really thick. Thicker than I have ever had on a weaving - particularly this size. Ah something to think about.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Dots & Desserts continued

I worked on my Dots & Desserts project, In Search of a Kiss, at our tapestry group last Friday. I finished the solid gray part with the dotted path.

This week I spent a couple hours on Tuesday and maybe four hours yesterday working on the maze. And this is all I fact there is a small error in the second row so I will be ripping that row out and starting over.

Let's see, the furthest I have gotten is four rows of the maze. At that point, I didn't like the height of the rows and felt it would look much better if they were wider. Of course, I had ripped out the second row, at least two times and the third row at least four times...

The maze is a quite a challenge to weave. The maze is designed with twenty seven columns each consisting of three warps. If and when there is a dot, it must be close to the middle of the row as well in the middle of the column. Sounds quite taquete it would be a breeze. On a tapestry loom. weaving back to front, upside down and with bobbins is entirely a different matter!

My DH has suggested this is a perfect project to take on vacation. Hardly need to bring any supplies, since all I do, is weave a bit then rip out the same section, weave a bit, rip a bit...etc.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Dots and Desserts

I helped warped two looms this weekend. They were not my own looms and this inspired me to start working on my projects.

One thing I did was warp my Baby Shannock so I can start working on my tapestry for our group project. Our tapestry group is working on a group project called Dots and Desserts. We are to weave a tapestry which is 8 by 8, 8 by 4 or 4 by 8 inches with at least a quarter of it being grey. The theme is desserts and we need to incorporate in a visible and obvious way dots - - the tapestry technique of dots.

I have several ideas for the piece but am moving forward on the one with the 4 by 8 maze on a 8 by 8 background. The cartoon is complete and sewn on the hem.

For this weaving I am trying lots of new things. I am using a new warp - some Finnish cotton warp I got from Shannock for my big loom. I am weaving from the back. I am using bobbins. And I am trying a 10 epi sett with four threads as inspired from the tapestry workshop I took many moons ago.

The twining and the hem is already complete along with two rows of single soumak. I just couldn't figure out how to get the ridge on the soumak weaving from the back so I simply turned the loom around and wove on the side I wanted the ridge on and then turned it back. I have even inserted my first dot!

I am also using my new bobbins that I just bought. I didn't like the unfinished look and feel of them so I am staining them with a water based white wash and putting on a semi gloss finish. I tested the white wash stain and finish on three bobbins. I like the result - seem much cleaner that the unfinished ones. I think two coats of the semi-gloss is in order.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Window to the Sierras

Here's a photo of my the tapestry I wrote about previously. It was hung in an exhibit called The Painters' Studio in Visalia at the ASCH Conference last week.
Those flowers in the foreground are part of the exhibit - a still life of woven and crocheted wildflowers. There is a single California poppy on the table that is replicated in the tapestry - hence my working title for the piece -A Tapestry within a Tapestry.
The piece is 3.5 by 5.5 feet woven on my Big Shannock in a cotton silk blend of yarn. Some of the yarn is hand dyed others are not. I started developing the cartoon in October, started weaving in November, vacationed from weaving most of December and finished in February.
I stayed close to the conference's colors with one palette for the inside of the studio and one for the outside. I used different base yarns for the dyeing. Inside the studio my base yarn was a cork color. Looking out the window, the base color was a grayish blue.
I simply love to stare out the's the feeling I wanted to create in the booth but didn't quite pull off.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Here a tweak...there a tweak...everywhere a ...

Here is the cartoon I was going to weave on my antique counter balance loom. It was my Mother's loom...I remember it in the kitchen when I was a kid. That must make it over 80 years old since it was old when she got it. Dente, one of our chihuahuas is included to give some perspective of size.

I felt compelled to tweak the cartoon a bit. First I decided the proportion was not quite right. And I thought the sun should be the focal point and not the dunes. Then, it struck me...this wasn't sunrise over Stoptop Wells...its was moonrise. I would love to do another moon piece. And with the moon size I have in mind I could then put in alot of detail. From my yarn selections...a harvest moon is in the works.

From a design standpoint, I felt some golden proportions would improve the spacing as well as make the dunes look more like dunes than mountains. I got these really cool forcep-like items made especially for me for Christmas. They measure out the golden ratio. No more calculator and ruler. Way cool!

This first tool splits a line into two pieces in the golden ratio. It's made out of metal rulers. The longest one is 24 inches long with the tip cut with a dremmel. I covered the tip with tape so I wouldn't spear myself.

Originally, I thought I would rarely use this, but it turns out to be quite useful. Once I decide on the overall size for the piece I draw a frame around that size on the cartoon. Then using my handy dandy tool, I divide each side of the frame by the ratio in both directions. Then connect them, making horizontal and vertical lines. This creates four overlapping golden rectangles. With these inserted on the cartoon it is usually quite easy to decide where various things in the design should go. You, of course, could use a ruler and a calculator but this is much quicker.

This second tool is made of plastic rulers. I didn't put tips on the end of these since I thought the plastic might break...or melt. I just use the edges to measure. The tool is useful when you need two different lines to be in the golden ratio. You line up the first line with the edges of the tool and the distance at the other end of the tool is the ratio for your other line. It is quick and easy.

Here's a site where you can see similar tools being used.

These two tools are great. I have other cool tools I use in design; a variety of compasses and rulers. My celestial navigation and coastal navigation classes introduced me to lots of fun stuff to use. More on those later.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

I did an odd thing....

I did an odd thing yesterday. I was mulling around what to do next. I always have this feeling of loss when I finish a big piece and it takes me awhile to get going on new pieces. I started to re-organize all my yarn and decided to finish on Friday. I worked up a new pattern in taquete for my sixteen harness and discovered I needed more harnesses so that's on hold pending the mailman. I thought about the two other pieces that need that finishing touch and -

Then, I realized although most of my looms were empty I had one which might be fun to work on. On my antique counterbalance loom, there was a tapestry which I had begun...hmmm..perhaps three no maybe four years ago. I decided, ah why not finish that one's started...the cartoon is done...the yarn selected and dyed and organized.

Well, things have changed over the last 3-4 years. This tapestry was warped in stripes with some type of orange and rust cotton rug warp. And the tension was a mess. I had a few broken warps from moving the loom around at Christmas time to make room for the tree. Did I really want to weave on this warp?

I noticed my technique has also changed over the years. This was woven in singles and I now much prefer using doubles for better blending and richness. The value selection was a bit off - the black a bit jarring for airy sand dunes.

But I did like the concept of the piece...sun rise over Stovetop Wells. And I did like the cartoon. So, with an empty Shannock right behind the antique counter balance loom...I made the sudden decision to forget about the tapestry I had begun on the antique loom and weave the same concept on the big Shannock. With that quick decision I cut off the tapestry which was on the old loom and cleaned up the area. So, no going back!

Here's a picture what was cut off. I hung it on the counterbalance loom with some orange material for background. I like it...eventually I will braid the warp around the piece and use it somehow....

Update: I just realized why the loom was warped with those orange and rust stripes. It was for some jacket material that I was going to weave. I wove about a yard and didn't like the result enough to weave another four yards. So, I stopped on the yardage and decided to use the remaining warp for tapestries. I did my first 'large' tapestry on this loom/warp - a tapestry of Jupiter. This Death Valley piece would have been my second large piece if I had continued. The orange material in the photo is the original yardage that I had woven. Not sure why I didn't like it at the time...I like it now. Oh well...

Monday, January 08, 2007

Dyeing in the New Year

I needed to dye some more yarn for the meadow, lake and mountains in that window tapestry that I am supposed to be working on. I wanted some yarn that would have a mottled look, combining several colors. In addition, I needed it to have a base of grey yarn instead of my usual cork. To maintain a strict integrity of plane - the yarns used for inside the cabin will be with the cork. The yarns used for the outside - looking out the window - will use the grey yarns. I am hoping this will provide the right amount of depth to the piece and make the view outside the window resemble a water color while the view inside be more reality based.

Since I had extra dye left over from painting the yarn I used it on my lab coat. You see I bought this lab coat to use for dyeing - I never liked wearing aprons. The problem is that I always am so careful about not spilling anything on it. It was so perfectly white. Really what's the point of wearing it if you never spill?

I took care of that...hopefully I can now dye and not worry about spilling on my lab coat.