Crammed and Spaced and Crammed and Spaced Again

First in crisp 2/40 linen. The draft is from JST Online Guild Season 3, Episode 2.  Nice drape and effect.


And then again with spaced naturally-coloured, organic cotton and crammed Monte Cristo plush cotton boucle.  Soft and light as a feather.


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The Value of Sampling

I love the drape and the cool, silky smoothness of using Bambu 12 in weaving.  Bambu 12 is a rayon made from bamboo, and is widely available.

After weaving the project sample in JST Online Guild, Season 3, Episode 1, Denting, I wanted to push the boundaries further by experimenting with Denting in a Double weave format.  I wanted the holes created by the open denting on one layer to expose the plain weave squares of the second layer.

I set out a colour order using alternating darker colours of Ginger, Acorn and Fig, with lighter colours Sweet Corn, Willow and Maize.  I wound the warp as shown: 24 ends per inch, 24 picks per inch.

And threaded the loom putting the darker colours on shafts 1 and 2 and the lighter colours on shafts 3 and 4.  I wove each colour to square, first a dark square on the bottom, then a light square on the top, twisting the colours at the selvedge.

This seemed to give me the effect I wanted, a dented hole in the top layer appearing over a woven square in the bottom layer.  I finished the sample, took it off the loom and washed it, and got – what I wasn’t happy with – a sleazy, loose mess, with the two layers barely held at the selvedges.  It just looked like a poorly sett and woven piece of fabric with no structure. I was not happy with how the two sets of colours played with each other.

I continued to sample and try different “ways of weaving”.  I tried alternating one shot dark on the bottom layer followed by one shot of light on the top layer to square.  This gave the fabric the structure it needed, but I couldn’t see the colour of the layer underneath.

In the end, I love the final scarf I made, with areas of two-layer weave punctuated with stripes of plain weave across all four shafts, finished with a beautiful plain weave check using all the colours of the warp.


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What a Difference a Weft Makes

How much fun it is to work with a pattern, keeping everything the same except for changes in the weft colour.  I have been working in Overshot weave for a few months, and enjoying the process of changing weft colours as well as treadling blocks in different orders to produce different looking cloth.

I love how these towels can look so different with a simple change in colour.  The warp is 2/8 cotton in green, yellow, blue, red, and magenta, with navy blue used for the dividers.  The pattern weft is also 2/8 cotton, and the tabby is 2/16 cotton in the same colours as the warp.  The Overshot pattern is Johann D-‘s Design No. 2 from Marguerite Porter Davison’s “A Handweaver’s Pattern Book” pg. 138.  I made some changes to the pattern by reducing the number of threads in the floats to accommodate my warp sett of 18 ends per inch.

As I wove the first towels, I kept the white pattern yarn consistent throughout, while changing the tabby colour to create a colour gamp grid moving across and along the towel.  I used the navy tabby to frame each colour square of the grid.  The first towel was all white 2/8 cotton for the pattern yarn, and 2/16 in green, yellow, blue, red and magenta for the tabby weft, and navy for framing in both warp and weft.  Each square changed slightly as the tabby weft colour changed and played against the warp colours.


The second towel was all black 2/8 cotton pattern yarn, and the coloured 2/16 tabby weft yarn.


For the third towel, I changed the pattern weft colour for each Overshot row, and used a different colour for the tabby.  Some rows I wove in plain weave.  Some rows I inlaid only a portion of the Overshot, leaving the remainder of the row in plain weave.


One warp, three looks, so much fun!  More overshot patterns are going on my loom very soon.

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And Then This Happened

I spent the last few days at ANWG 2019 in Prince George, BC.  I had lots of fun learning and socializing, visiting exhibits, shopping at the Vendors Hall, listening to the keynote speaker Abby Franquemont, and watching and participating in the Fashion Show.  And then the last minute of the last day, this happened!

I won the People’s Choice Award for Weaving, sponsored by the Salem Fiber Arts Guild for this piece-


This piece came about as I was studying log cabin, and I wondered “What if I could change the direction of a log cabin block without changing the direction of the blocks surrounding it?”

Titled “Isolations” this is a woven scarf, looking at how to isolate log cabin blocks and make them appear to seemingly float out of the ground fabric.  Framed with supplemental warp borders.  Thinking of climate warming and seeing chunks of ice breaking away from the glaciers and floating away to melt and disappear.  I wanted to break away from the traditional forms of log cabin and create a modern interpretation.  A confluence of vertical and horizontal lines.  Woven in 2/8 tencel, doubled.

Thanks to my peers who voted for me, and Salem Fiber Arts Guild for providing the award.

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Deliberately Leaving Holes in your Warp; Otherwise Known as Denting

The following two scarves were made following the instructions found in JST Online Guild, Season 3, Episode 1: Denting.  I am working on using up my stash this year, so I have substituted my own yarns for those recommended by Jane.

The first scarf is made with 2/10 mercerized cotton from Lunatic Fringe.  The colours I chose are 10 Blue, 10 Blue Green, 5 Green and 5 Green Yellow.  For this technique, Jane encourages us to thread a few ends through the reed, following the sett for the yarn used, and then leave a few dents empty.  When done systematically, and following the same spacing in the weft, we end up with a light airy fabric with deliberate holes.  These two scarves went on and off the loom quite quickly.  The first scarf used the same mercerized cotton colours in the weft.  The second scarf was woven with 2/20 silk, and the spacing in the weft was changed to create wider stripes.

Scarf 1 – working on my Super Woman pose

Scarf 2 – weft is 2.20 silk

I wonder what else I can do using the same technique.

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Two Scarves in Scrumptious Supplementary Warp Weaving

What a joy it was to weave these two scarves in Supplementary Warp technique.


The idea for these came from seeing a similar piece on Pinterest, with a link back to the blog of “gangewifre-dot-blogspot-dot-com”, who, in turn, was inspired by the weaving of artist Juanita Giardin.  Circles within circles as ideas are passed on from one weaver to the next, and to the next in a craft that has endured for thousands of years.  Examples of supplementary warp fabrics can be found across many times, places and cultures, from as early as  5th century Southeast Asia, pre-Hispanic Peru and Ecuador, 18th century Europe and Scandinavia to modern times.  Contemporary weavers have an abundance of yarns and colours to choose from, keeping everything fresh and exciting.  Mine are woven in richly-coloured Tencel, with the supplementary colours on top of a black and white ground.

In supplementary warp technique, the extra pattern-making threads float over and under a ground warp, usually plain weave. What a wonderful way to add a decorative element to an otherwise unadorned piece.  The plain weave ground is threaded on shafts 1 and 2, and the extra pattern warps are independently threaded on the remaining shafts.  The extra shafts are lifted for a while, allowing the pattern threads to float over the ground, then, as the shafts are lowered, they interlace through the cloth and continue to float underneath.  The over and under, over and under rhythm continues, making beautiful dots and dashes of colour.  Different patterns can be made, depending on how many independent shafts are available.  For an eight-shaft loom, like I have, there are six independent shafts.  The scarves I wove have a 24-pick repeat, and so are more easily accomplished on a table loom.

The hard, slow work is in designing and setting up the loom.  After that, the weaving itself progresses quite quickly.  Woven in 2/8 Tencel, the scarves are soft and silky.  I wove the red scarf first, and then I pulled out the red and gold threads, replacing them with blue and silver for the second scarf.

I am so motivated to continue exploring this technique.


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Ikat Explorations

I taught a workshop on Ikat weaving and wrapped, dyed and wove an exploration piece for myself and for demonstration purposes.  This piece is the result.  The warp and weft are mostly 2/20 mercerized cotton, sett at 24 ends per inch and woven at 24 picks per inch.  I made the warp 4 yards long which gave me lots of room to play around.  The warp and most of the weft was 2/20 mercerized cotton dyed in Procion MX in Carmine Red.  Woven in plain weave.  Once I started weaving, I realized that I did not have enough of the 2/20 cotton to weave the whole weft, but I used every inch I had.  I subbed in some natural 2/16 cotton along the way, and got some nice, coloured areas in the finished scarf.

I wrapped the first section in a specific pattern, with sections running from 2 inches to 4 inches long.  In putting it on the loom (front to back) some of the sections became misaligned.  Next time I would take more care in lining up the sections more accurately.

When woven, though, they came out looking crisp, and filled the space effectively, as planned.

I wrapped the second half of the scarf in short half-inch sections in a random pattern.  After weaving, they remind me of falling rain and I like how the wrapped areas have a different appearance when they are woven with natural, compared to the areas woven with red.

In the centre, between the two warp ikat areas, I placed a small amount of weft ikat in a pretty pattern.  Because the weft shots were longer than the width of the scarf, I gathered the ends together in braids.

Overall, a fun, conversational piece to wear.


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Welcome New Spinners

I started a new “spinning” class this week at Place des Arts, with seven wonderful new beginners.  I look forward to getting to know each individual better over the next few weeks, as I introduce you to the gentle art of spinning yarn.  I love watching the progress as tense, wobbly movements with many breaks and joins produce that first lumpy yarn.  A week later, movements and thread begin to smooth out and breathing is calmer.  Later still, laughter and joy as handfuls of fluff more easily turn into smooth, continuous threads as hand-eye-foot coordination  kicks in and muscle memory takes over.

Spinning, I believe, is an inherited instinct.  As our spun threads strengthen, so too, do our connections to each other, and to our ancestors.  Welcome new friends to our spinning community.  Hope you like the neighbourhood.

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The State of the Looms

As we slide into the new year my looms are full or on the way to becoming full.

On the big loom, the Queen of my studio, I have a pale pink warp for some subtle Spring shawls.  The warp is 2/8 cotton in three shades of pink, with a fuchsia zinger.  The first shawl is being woven in plain weave with 2/20 silk in a pale grey called “Rainy Day”, with occasional shots of a multi strand textured rayon in pinks and greys.  Twenty-four inches wide in the reed, and it will be woven to 84 inches long.  In the finishing, I will attempt to add tassels in the same multi-strand accent thread.

On Loomella, the 8 shaft Baby Wolf, I am in the process of sleying an Ikat warp hand-dyed in a beautiful shade of carmine red.   In December I taught a beginner’s course on Ikat weaving, and this was one of the samples I used to demonstrate the wrapping and tying method.  This is a 2/20 mercerized cotton (Thanks Irene).  There are two distinct wrapped section, one more formal, and one more casual, so the two ends of the scarf will be unique.  I know I didn’t dye enough matching red weft for a scarf, so I will weave it in a combination of red and white weft.  I did dye a little bit of Weft Ikat, which will also play its part in the finished scarf.  Excited to see where this will lead.

On Amy Ashford, my 32 inch, 8-shaft Ashford table loom, I am playing with Supplemental Weft.  I found this draft on “gangewifre-dot-blogspot-dot-com”, under supplementary warps bit of research (posted July 8, 2016), which was inspired by the lovely scarves of Juanita Girardin.  So, if you are interested in the draft, this is the blog to look at.  My warp and weft is 2/8 tencel.  The tencel is doubled for the pattern warp, and the background cloth is black and white stripes.  It is a lot of fun, and I would be happy to do more.  This piece had to go on a table loom because it requires 24 treadles.  A workout for my arms flipping toggles, but worth it.  All the work is in warping and dressing the loom, after that the weaving is smooth sailing with one shuttle of black tencel.  It is a delight watching the supplementary threads dive over and under the ground cloth.

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A Year of Living with Colour and Design

Imagine having the luxury to take a year-long workshop with your favourite weaving teacher.  An internship really.

Well, that is exactly the experience I had by following Jane Stafford and the JST Online Weaving Guild for 2018.

Over the course of the year Jane delivered eleven episodes and seven sample warps in Season Two: Colour and Design.

Thanks, Jane Stafford, for a superb year.  Now that the last piece for the year has been woven, I am taking the time to reflect on this year of weaving and playing and to think about what I learned and gained from this experience.

The focus of Season Two was colour and design in plain weave (mostly).

For a mere $99.00 I received over 19 hours and 25 minutes of high-quality video instruction.

But wait, that’s not all!  I received seven complete drafts exploring Colour and Design.  I made seven warps, totaling 58 yards.  For these warps I sleyed and threaded 2,473 ends, and then re-sleyed them all over again to change setts throughout the projects.  A whopping total of 20,458 yards of 2/8 cotton was used in the warps.

The weft used 8,520 yards of 2/8 cotton, 1,380 yards of cotton boucle, 5,244 yards of silk, 1,814 yards of bambu 12, 2,083 yards of zephyr wool/silk, and 149.86 yards of other materials.

The grand total cost of materials directly used for warp and weft: $526.14.

I made 9 pure samples, 21 tea towels, 1 table runner, 8 shawls and 2 scarves.


Hours of experience – designing, measuring warps, sleying, threading, tying and winding on, weaving, hemstitching, finishing, pressing and ironing, sewing hems, twisting fringes:  approximately 500 intense hours.


What I learned from this experience:

  • Not to be afraid of a longer warp. There is so much to do and change that I can’t be bored.
  • There is a system and method that can be learned, so that mixing colours is easy.
  • Start with a graphic and build from there, pouring in colour, texture and pattern.
  • Changing sett changes everything – and gives you the drape to match the function of the cloth.
  • Play with numbers and sequences, but don’t be bound by the numbers.

So much more than you would ever get from a one-week workshop.

Learning, playing, and finding inspiration: priceless.

Looking forward to the new year and “Pushing the Boundaries of Plain Weave” and it will be so much fun to see all the variations of plain weave:  denting, cramming & denting, log cabin, warp-faced, weft-faced, double-weave, collapsed weave and supplementary warps.  Can’t wait.  And all for just $99.00

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