Friday, January 30, 2015

Winter Activities for the Artisan

It will be several months before the weather matches that illustrated in the photo.  Oh, a beach walk is still possible but the sky will have more shades of grey.  There will be more white caps in the water and the walker will be wearing his dark coloured rain gear.  The setting may be the same but the colour palette will certainly be darker.

You could pack your bags and head to somewhere that looks more like the photograph or you could take advantage of the current weather.  It is perfect for staying inside and working on projects.  A number of our members did just that according to the show and tell portion of our monthly guild meeting.

Karen treated us to a glimpse of what her new 16 harness loom is capable of producing.  She has been busy learning how to design and weave using a computerized loom.  She brought some lovely scarves.

Her designs are not limited by the number of treadles available and the harnesses are much easier to lift  It takes considerable physical effort to lift a group of harnesses fully loaded with yarn.  I often think weaving is equivalent to time in the gym.  You get an upper body work out as well from pulling the beater, especially if you happen to weave rugs.

Karen's restrained use of colour is in contrast to the corduroy seat cover pictured below.  The colours were the result of the weaver trying to use up odds and sods from her stash.  Although it was woven for a practical purpose we thought it was worthy of a space on a wall.  All it needs is an evocative title.

The show and tell portion of our guild meetings illustrates the diversity among our members.  We have very different approaches to design, colour and materials.  We also have different tools and different skills sets that we can use to add to our creations.

The simple design of this throw allows the beauty of the fibres used to stand out.  The darker bands have a small amount of glitter that elevates the piece.  It was done on a four harness loom using simple weave structure.

The final photos show more from the two different study groups.  The colour gamp illustrates how the neutral colours in the warp alter the weft colour as it crosses them.

The yellow striped scarf is the result of a collapse weave experiment using a highly twisted single cotton thread as the weft.  The cotton weft pulls in causing the warp threads to pleat and buckle.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Looking Forward in 2015

Still recovering from the holiday season?  Try easing back into the studio by reading an inspiring book, reviewing your stash of yarns and fibres or maybe marking the guild meetings on a new 2015 calendar.  You could try making some new years resolutions with a fibre arts theme but that suggests commitment and it might be premature since you are probably coming down from a prolonged dose of sugar and calories and may be over influenced by guilt.   Still on that theme if a fitness-related resolution is on your mind remember that spinning and weaving burn calories and involve both upper body and leg exercises.  So, "weave more" or "spin more" are healthy resolutions.

If you decide to start with something easy like "set up the calendar" then the following might help.
In addition to the monthly guild meetings, the Colour Study Group and the More Than Four Study Group will be getting together on a regular basis.  The study groups support shared learning about a specific topic.  
The Colour Study Group is working on the topic of neutral colours.  Neutral colours may not be showy but they often hold a piece together while allowing other hues to stand out.  Grey and beige are not the only neutral colours and not all greys and beiges are created equal.  Currently members of the group are exploring neutral colours by designing and weaving items based on an array of neutral colours.  At the same time they are exploring how different weave structures will impact on how the colours in warp and weft blend together.
colour gamp in huck threading

Perhaps the most enlightening part of study group meetings is seeing how individual group members have interpreted the challenge.  These two items accomplish the same objective but they are quite different.

colour exercise in diversified plain weave

The More Than Four study group are exploring 3 dimensional effects including, weave structures that give a surface effect, materials that create pleats, tucks and bumps after finishing and techniques that involve a combination of material effects and weave structure effects.  After some research the group discovered the field was very broad indeed.  The members of the group have chosen 3 areas they would like to explore and are currently weaving samples for the first topic they selected.

loose woven prior to wet finishing
The photos show samples of collapse weave based on a high energy yarn, a single rayon thread, that was used as the weft in the piece.  The warp was set very open to give a gauzy fabric.  When the piece was washed the weft yarn kinks as show in the close up.  The final width of the piece is about half the original woven width.  The same effect can be created with over spun wool singles so if you are a spinner with some over spun yarn this technique might be of interest.

close up showing weft kinks after wet finishing

There are other weaving and spinning related activities that you might want to explore for your calendar in 2015.  For new or want-to-be spinners there will be beginning spinning lessons in February.  For everyone there is a spinning and weaving retreat in Powell River at the end of March (27 to 29).  This event is an opportunity to renew or make new friendships with members of other guilds.  Then there is the Robyn Spady workshop and lectures in June.  Add to that some group projects at our loft studio and resource centre and you have a very busy spring.