Cram and Space 4

Netting (click for bigger)

This is my last piece of the weaving intensive. It called Netting A from Marguerite Davison’s A Handweaver’s Pattern Book (in the Swedish Lace section).

The yarn is Crystal Palace Como on my 15 dent reed at 30 epi.

This was an interesting exercise because it utilizes skip dent technique, but you only skip one dent.

The pattern says to thread 3 through 1 dent, skip 1, thread 1 through a dent, skip 1, thread 1 through a dent, skip 1, etc.

This would be easy if you are threading one per dent. But since I’m threading at 30 epi on a 15 dent reed, how do you skip dent when you are threading at 2 per dent? You’re not really skipping dents, just spacing them out.

Judith and I looked at it and came up with 2 different threading options.

My solution: thread 3 through 1 dent, thread 1 through the next 2 dents, etc.

Judith’s solution: thread 3 through 1 dent, thread 2 through 1 dent, skip 1 dent, etc.

They both seemed feasible so we decided to put my threading on the outside edges (4 repeats), and have the center 8 repeats using Judith’s solution. The thought behind this is that my threading is more dense (no skipped dents) and they should be outside to provide stability.

Guess what? It made absolutely no difference. We took the woven sample (straight off of the loom) and put it up to the light and we can’t see where the shift from one threading to another. In the photograph below, the transition happens about the middle of the photo.

Unwashed Netting Detail (click for bigger)

Perhaps Judith already knew this but just allowed me to work through this on my own. In any case, it was a revelation.

Netting samples (click for bigger)

A: Off the loom, unwashed
B: Washed/Fulled (with toilet plunger), pressed
C: Washed/Fulled (cold gentle cycle in washer and dryer on low)
D: Same as C after pressing

In case you are wondering what the blue is, it’s a fine silk cord that I played with. I think it would make a great accent piece as well. A turned cuff or lapel fabric.

The finished piece is about 5″ wide and very long. Not quite the right dimensions for a scarf. Perhaps I can dye it for whatever color belt Iris has achieved in her Tae Kwon Do class.

Here’a another picture of the fabric held up against the light. This time, it’s the fabric fulled in the washer/dryer. See how much it has changed?

Cram and Space 3

It was about the time that I was giving up cram and space as anything I would ever do in real life when Janice showed me a piece that she has been sampling. It is based on the skip dent technique from Sharon Alderman‘s Mastering Weave Structures. Janice worked up a sampler with Henry’s Attic Alpaca Lace at 20 epi. (For non-weavers, skip dent and cram and space are synonymous.)

Now, this is much more to my liking. I found some 50/50 wool/silk (Crystal Palace Como mill end) and promptly warped it up at 24 epi.

I used my 12 dent reed and threaded 6 dents (at 2/dent) and skipped 4. I wove it in plain weave with random shots of fat silk singles whenever I felt like it.

Yum! I love accents of the silk.  This fabric is something I can work with. A light summer wrap or yardage for an over shirt or unstructured jacket/shrug.

The photo above shows the piece washed and pressed. Judith spent a bit of time talking to us about the transformation the occurs between off the loom and washed in the past, but it wasn’t until we pressed it before I had my a-ha moment.

I mean, I loved the fabric after washing. And I am the queen of no ironing. But seriously, the piece is absolutely gorgeous after a nice pressing.

Skip Dent Samples. Top: off the loom. Center: fulled. Bottom: pressed.

In the above photo, you can see the transition from straight off the loom to the finished product. The top sample is what it looks like straight off of the loom. For the non-weavers, I wish you can feel this fabric. It feels a bit like burlap. Yes, it’s wool and silk, but the fabric sample has no drape.

In the washed and fulled sample in the middle, you can see that the piece looks more like fabric now. It has a soft hand. This was fulled in the wash basin with a toilet plunger and thwacked against the edge of the wash basin to finish the fulling process.

The bottom piece (scarf) was pressed, not steamed, but hard pressed, to realign the warp. The sheen from the silk reappeared. The fabric has more drape than it had before the pressing.

Hmm. I just noticed that I presented the “ugly” end of the scarf.  This was when I was playing with how do deal with the ends of the fat silk single in the weft. This particular attempt was created by tucking the ends on the alternate shed. In the samples, you’ll note that I’ve tucked the ends into the same shed as the silk singles and it nearly disappears into the fabric. (Yes, Amy, I wove my samples after I wove off the scarf. Yes, I know it’s backwards. Yes, I know I should have tested that out in the sample before I wove the real thing. Yes, I learned from this experience.)

Cram and Space 2

This is my second sampler/scarf in the Cram and Space workshop. (click for larger)

The warp and weft are a mixture Judith’s hand paint (base yarn is Henry’s Attic Pony) and Mountain Colors Wool Crepe (Rosehip color way). I followed the warp threading order with my weft to maintain symmetry, because I’m all about symmetry. The airy centers were created in part by the 4 skipped dents, as well as some spaced dents before the skipped dents.

Yes. The yarns moved that much during fulling.

The result? A nice airy scarf that has both heft and movement. This would be fabulous for a spring/fall shawl or throw.

Okay. We are getting closer, but it’s still not to my liking. Not hating it has a lot to do with the colors and the fiber. But from a technique perspective, I still didn’t see any practical use in my personal life. All that loose yarn begs to be caught by Ms. Ellie’s claws (and my clumsiness when moving against snaggly things).

And seriously, how many scarves can a girl have?

Weaving Intensive

Lunch time walk to the lighthouse. Looking back at the Golden Gate Bridge with San Francisco in the background. Look at the currents!

Last week was the March Weaving Intensive with Judith MacKenzie McCuin at Point Bonita (Marin Headlands). And what a glorious week it was. Yes, any week with Judith is glorious, but it was doubly so since spring had sprung with a vengeance in the SF Bay Area. The weather was in the upper 60s/low 70s the entire week. Simply glorious.

This is my 3rd year of weaving intensive with Judith; 4th in the series. (I missed the first year.) This year’s intensive is titled “Designing with the Reed.” I had no idea what it meant heading in, but willing to go along with whatever Judith presented.

In turns out, this year’s topic is cram and space. Our first project was with Judith’s own kettle dyed yarns.

I’ve seen scarves produced this way. They’ve never done anything for me. I have to admit that my heart sank a bit when we started weaving. 5 days of producing fabric that I didn’t want?

Oh well. Perhaps I can full this piece and sew it into a small accent pillow cover. I used this piece to experiment with color. How do I bring out the gorgeous colors in dyed yarn? As you can see from the picture, each color brought out different elements of the dyed warp.

I should have known better than to doubt Judith. This first piece was just the launch point for a whole category of fabric to be explored. Here’s a quick peek at what I produced last week, all based on the same technique.

a bevy of scarves

I’ll share the details of these projects over the next few days. In the meantime, let me leave you with another picture of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Sunrise over the Golden Gate Bridge.

Weaving Retreat

Would you believe that I only took 2 pictures at the weaving retreat with Judith this past week? And they are both of the sunset. Both are lovely, but this one is oh so dramatic.


The first few days were windy, cold and drizzly, but then the sun came out.  The last day or so was down right balmy.  Coats were definitely optional.

Everything was wonderful except for the bunk beds. I forgot to bring a foam mattress to put on top of the camp styled bunk beds.  This body has gotten soft and missed my pillow top mattress.

Here’s a picture of my project sample.  (We wove another sample in the class, but it was just a 10/2 cotton sample and nothing spectacular.)

dbl-weaveMy warp consisted of Mountain Colors Silk and Ewe (50/50 wool and raw silk/noil, red/blue handpaint) and Mountain Colors Winter Lace (50/50 wool and silk, blue/green handpaint). The weft is 20/2 Redfish silk in charcoal.

I’ve decided that I really dislike the Silk and Ewe.  The noil was all over everything like bad dandruff. Albeit, colorful dandruff.  No, thank you.

But I really like the way the Winter Lace looks.  I’ve sampled with Winter Lace as both warp and weft and hated the pseudo plaid look.  It was too much like a school girl uniform.  But the Winter Lace with the 10/2 silk. Sigh. Absolutely lovely stuff.

I purchased enough to weave an airplane blanket. Something to snuggle up into on the plane without using the icky airline supplied nylon thing.  Something wide enough to cover me at the shoulders, with extra to tuck around, and long enough to cover me from chin to toe, including the extra cinch in at the seat belt.  Something light and squishable to tuck into any carry-on bag, but substantial enough to keep the draft from the overhead vents out.

Oh, and see that mis-threading of the Silk & Ewe just off to the right of the center band?  I really like how just that single line “pops” in there and gives the fabric a little oomph. (Yes, that’s a technical term.)  I have some more of it leftover to randomly tuck into my warp to give it a little extra zing.  Just to keep it from getting too boring.

Unfortunately, I have to wait until I get new heddles.  I have some regular old steel stamped heddles that came with my loom and it shreds my warp like nobody’s business.  I have ordered inserted eye heddles from Morgaine.  I’ll have to wait for it to arrive before I can put the warp on.  I need 800 heddles.  And I really need to replace the heddles for the other loom as well. Yikes!

I agonized over what I was doing that was causing my warp thread to shred, even while working on the  baby blanket. I was convinced it was something that I was doing.  I broke it down to how I was throwing the shuttle to the way I was changing my shed. But nothing seems to fix the problem with my shredded warp threads.  Judith took one look at what I was doing and immediately said it was my heddles.  Months of agony identified by Judith in under 1 minute.

Have I ever said how much I love Judith?