June 2010


I’ve been away on vacation but prior to my departure last week, I was very busy exploring a technique which is new to me in weaving and dyeing.  Undoubtedly, many of you have heard of woven shibori, a Japanese dyeing technique that Catherine Ellis so brilliantly adapted for the loom.

During the painted warps workshop, Kathie Roig mentioned that I might want to think about trying shibori using paints or dyes.  I began to get a vision in my head for a worship stole for my brother who is a Lutheran pastor.  An upcoming dye day at the Cleveland West Weavers gave me the opportunity to plan for a sample to explore the possibilities.

First I warped up the loom with a combination of rayon and cotton with the idea that I would weave the pattern threads in a pointed twill in five different treadlings with plain weave in between.  After it was finished, my brother David and I could choose the most effective look.

The entire project was based on the colors of Pentecost; the tongues of fire could be dramatic. So I wove the cloth and then at dye day I chose two different yellows to dye the open cloth.

The purple threads in the cloth separate the different treadling patterns. The small green threads are the pattern threads thrown from a separate shuttle to create the pattern later.

After the dye was set, rinsed and dried, I pulled on the pattern threads to draw the cloth into a tight gather.

Then I had to soak the cloth again in a dye activator.  After an hour or so, I took the cloth out to my picnic table where I applied a thickened red dye to the tops of the folds to create a dramatic pattern. Here it is just waiting to be revealed.

Shibori is a process that takes patience.  After this top dye is applied, it must set for at least four hours, but I wanted to be absolutely sure, so I wrapped it in plastic, had dinner, went to bed, off to work the next morning and then came home to rinse it thoroughly and let it dry outside.  Then the threads were cut and pulled out.  I was so pleased.

You can see that the treadling changes show an enormous difference in each pattern.  Plus the fact that on the right side, I changed my weft from an 8/2 cotton to a flake cotton.

Dave chose the pattern on the lower right and I concurred.  I think it will made a dramatic presentation of Pentecost and other special liturgical days when he is on the altar.

I now know what will occupy my loom for July.  I will post the final project when I finish later this summer.

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Every year, both of the guilds I belong to host summer dye days.  The Medina Guild features natural dyes and protein fibers and the Cleveland West Weavers focuses on cellulose fibers and fiber reactive dyes.

Last weekend, I went to the Cleveland event at the home of one of the members in Oberlin.  The day was quite hot and humid with a little rain sprinkled in, but otherwise was a wonderful day.  This is the closing meeting of the year so we always discuss next year’s study/challenge and we bring in finished projects.

Here are just a few of the lovely projects our members brought in the meeting.

One of our members, Mary Louise, likes to weave pipe cleaners into her cloth so she can turn it into a vase with wire structure.  Ruth made the tea towels on the right and Sara experimented with our study subject Summer and Winter on the left. 

After the meeting and a potluck lunch, we moved outside to dye our fiber or fabric. Betsy, our hostess, worked with Elizabeth to mix all the dyes.

The table was full of many colors suitable to an array of design possibilities.   Annie chose some great colors which were admired by Betsy.

The day was quite a success.  I brought a length of fabric woven with 5 different shibori patterns.  I dyed the fabric flat and then brought home some other dye to use after the threads are pulled.  I’ll explain it all with pictures in another post. 

Let’s just say I’ve found another exciting new way to approach my fiber passion.  Dyeing is a fun way to design projects.

I have a practical side I just can’t seem to shake.  My garden is full of useful plants- herbs, vegetables.  Thankfully my husband likes the beautiful side of flowers so it’s a nice balance.

Even my hobbies have to be useful.

All of my handweaving projects have a practical purpose whether it’s towels, placemats, or clothing. But at the end of a workshop, I’m frequently left with samples and little to do with them. 

After the painted warps workshop, I managed to end up with a table runner I chronicled in another post.  However, I was also left with a lovely scrap of on-the-loom painted fabric.  Rather than watch it sit in my stash, I looked around for a small project to transform into a useful object.

I have an iPod Touch that I covet.  Why not make a holder to protect it from all the nasty stuff in my purse?  Voila.

A little bit of fabric, some batting, a piece of elastic, and a button from my stash and there you have it.  The fabric got a little thick on the right side, so the seam is kind of wonky, but otherwise I’m happy with something that appeals to my practical side.

Sometimes I have to tame the “useful” beast.  Not everything can be practical; some should just be enjoyed for the beauty of it all.  But this little project appeals to both.  It protects my darling iPod and it’s nice to look at too.

About two years ago, I got the urge to knit myself a sweater.  Winters in Northeast Ohio can be pretty cold and I needed something other than the Aran sweater I purchased in Ireland 20 years ago.  Despite my limited knitting skills I had some grandiose ideas about a complicated pattern.  Let’s just say those quickly got tossed as I struggled to make progress.

When a year went by with little to no advancement on the project, I finally got going and made it a goal to get it finished.  Problem is, I finished it last week…just as the hot, muggy weather hit. 

The pattern is very basic; the yarn is Jo Sharp Silk Aran Tweed and at least it fits.  So here I am, modeling the sweater with shorts on.

Now that it’s finished, I’ve put it away in my winter clothes drawer.  I’ll probably forget about it until the weather turns cold again.  Then it will be a welcome surprise when I’m looking for something to keep me warm.

Every year during Memorial Day weekend, Wooster, Ohio hosts the Great Lakes Fiber Show.  When I first started attending there were enough vendors to fill one building at the Wayne County Fairgrounds.  This year, they filled four buildings with vendors and open field with alpaca farmers and another building with workshops.  It’s grown into quite a show with something for every knitter, spinner and weaver.  There is equipment everywhere including carders, combs, spinning wheels and this year I saw many, many rigid heddle looms for sale.  Rigid heddle is a great entry way into weaving, but seems to be gaining popularity with even experienced weavers.

The vendor below sells buffalo fiber and it’s incredibly soft and warm.  Here she demonstrates to a patron how to drum card the fiber.

A big favorite at the festival is the appearance of all those adorable animals.

I managed to get through the festival with just one hank of fiber from Creatively Dyed Yarns and a circular knitting needle.  I was lucky I had an unusual amount of discipline.