Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Using tapestry techniques to blend color: irregular hatching

A painter can add a bit more red to her blue and make the purple she wants. A tapestry weaver has no such luxury. We either need to dye another color or use tapestry techniques to make the colors of our yarns blend optically.

One of the easiest color blending techniques is irregular hatching. Let's look at how we create this effect.

Most contemporary tapestry weavers use a method of weaving often called meet and separate, though I've had many students call it "meet and greet". This means that adjacent yarn butterflies or bobbins are moving toward or away from each other. It looks like this:
I find that this little graphic can be rather helpful for people to remember how this works.

Understanding meet and separate is essential to blending colors using irregular hatching. Let's talk more about meet and separate in a short video. (Remember that if you get my blog posts via email, you will have to go to my blog on the internet HERE or on YouTube to view this video.)

Once you understand how meet and separate works, it is a short jump to understanding irregular hatching.

Meet and separate can be used with butterflies of the same color. If two different colors are hatched together using the meet and separate technique, irregular hatching is the result.

Much of what I achieve with color gradation in my own work is done with irregular hatching. For example, in this piece, Emergence VII, all the darker shading in the teal band is done this way.
Rebecca Mezoff, Emergence VII, 45 x 45 inches, hand-dyed wool tapestry
Rebecca Mezoff, Emergence VII detail
Using irregular hatching is a great way to change colors horizontally across your warp. In the section where the two colors are overlapping or hatching together, you'll create a third perceived color. Depending on the hues and values used, this can be very subtle or look like distinct stripes.

In the image above, examples 1 and 2 were done with simple two-color irregular hatching. Notice that the places the colors meet change with each sequence and are random. When you use more similar values as in examples 2 and 3, the blending is more subtle. In example 4, the colors were mixed even further and the points where individual colors meet is lost. This is the point at which you can start to create horizontal color shifts that are seamless.

Let's look at a how to weave irregular hatching in a video. (You can see this video larger on my YouTube channel HERE. Subscribe to my channel while you're there!)

Why would we want to use irregular hatching?

If you are trying to create effects with color blending, irregular hatching is an important tool. Certainly many tapestry weavers use sharp delineations between colors in a very graphic style. Others like to blend colors to achieve more subtle gradations and movement of color. Irregular hatching is the first of many tapestry techniques that allow this kind of expression in tapestry weaving.
Below is another example from my own work. Notice that the colors in the five rectangles moves from yellow to red. In each of the rectangles, there were three colors. I hatched those three colors together to make the color change horizontally. There were fifteen colors total in those five blocks, three in each one.

Rebecca Mezoff, Emergence III
If you are interested in learning more about the other ways to create color movement in tapestry, consider my online course, ColorGradation Techniques for Tapestry. If you are just beginning your journey in tapestry weaving, I recommend my beginning online course, Warp and Weft: Learning the Structure of Tapestry.

Information about the blog tour

The Blog Tour Line-Up
December 23rd: Vancouver Yarn
December 30th: Rebecca Mezoff
January 6th: Terry Olson
January 13th: Mirrix Looms
January 20th: Elizabeth Buckley
January 27th: Sarah Swett

This blog tour is in celebration of ATA's upcoming international, unjuried small format exhibition, Tapestry Unlimited, which hangs in Milwaukee next summer. We hope you'll consider participating!

The American Tapestry Alliance is a nonprofit organization that provides programming for tapestry weavers around the world, including exhibitions (like Tapestry Unlimited), both juried and unjuried, in museums, art centers and online, along with exhibition catalogues. They offer workshops, lectures, one-on-one mentoring and online educational articles as well as awards, including scholarships, membership grants, an international student award, and the Award of Excellence. They also put out a quarterly newsletter, monthly eNews & eKudos and CODA, an annual digest. Members benefit from personalized artists pages on the ATA website, online exhibitions, educational articles, access to scholarships and more.

There are PRIZES for participating in the blog tour. Unfortunately, American Tapestry Alliance members are not eligible to win, but if you are not yet a member, consider entering. All you have to do is complete one of the easy social media options in the Rafflecopter box below, one of which is leaving a comment on this blog post. During each of the six weeks of the tour, there are two prizes. One is a free ATA membership and the other is an ATA membership plus a free entry to the unjuried small format tapestry show (tapestries are not due until March, 2016). You can enter every week by following the instructions in the blog post. Many of the bloggers will be using Rafflecopter. Others will choose winners from those who commented on their post.

Some options can be done every day to increase the chances of winning one of the prizes. ATA is a fantastic source of information about tapestry weaving, so don't miss this chance for a free membership!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And even if you don't want to enter to win, please leave a comment below and share this post with your friends and weaving buddies.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Road trip!

It is always good to get back to the land of big skies.
On our way through northern NM, we stopped at Mabel Dodge Luhan house in Taos. It was a magical place with snow falling on the adobe walls and flagstone walks... just a few days before Christmas.

Mabel Dodge Luhan hosted many famous artists in the 1920s including D.H. Lawrence, Willa Cather, Georgia O'Keeffe, Ansel Adams, and Frank Waters.
We arrived in Gallup ahead of a snow storm and settled in for a Christmas with some little girls.

A new dollhouse was made by grandpa-Santa for two little nieces. Aunt Becky put her Hokett loom to work to make this silk rug.
And it was put to good use.
There was much book reading, coloring, glueing, and general hilarity. The Lorax went over well, but the favorite is always Richard Scary.
I visited an old tapestry which was a commission for this church in Gallup, N.M. The piece is called Anthem. It still looks great! It was one of my favorite color gradation pieces to weave.

I hope you all had a wonderful week.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The hardest decisions of all...

I decided Sunday was the day to tackle the most difficult set of decisions before the upcoming extended holiday visit to family. I care very little what clothes make it into the suitcase and I know if I grab my Kindle I can always find something to read.

Nope. Which projects to bring along is the big question. This gathering of fiber is fraught with a fair amount of fear. After all, being caught without anything to spin, knit, or weave when far from home is bound to cause some anxiety. If it lasts for two weeks, I might be looking for some valium (or more likely a yarn shop).

There are many considerations. The first is space in the car. I really wanted to bring the spinning wheel, but a few sweet and well-timed comments from Emily made me realize that there wasn't room... besides, did I really want my father, nephews, and brothers-in-law to mess with it? Seriously. These people can't keep their hands off a spinning wheel even though they have no idea how to spin actual yarn. Nope. The Ladybug stays home where she is safe.

But that meant I packed the Jenkins Lark spindle. I even picked up a little Sweet Georgia braid to have something entertaining to spin (passage through the state of Oklahoma warranted this purchase all on its own).

From there things got harder. There is a definite need for simple projects. There will be much sitting about, talking, and potentially even some mandatory football-watching (though I can hope to escape that). In a football-type situation, I can knit something harder. I know nothing about football and as long as I look sufficiently jolly when the team I'm supposed to be rooting for makes the ball go through that post thingy, I can concentrate on the pattern. But there will also be a lot of people. The couch will be crowded. There is no room for a sweater or other large knit. For this situation I have packed a ball of sock yarn (which I have already swatched!) and my Two-At-A-Time-Toe-Up book. I finished my first set of sample socks and I think I'm ready to try a real pair.

For the situations involving Christmas movies with fewer people, I can pick up the larger projects I have to concentrate on. The Aventurine sweater that Emily has been waiting for for almost two years WILL get done this holiday... especially if the nieces and nephews get enough movies to watch and I am allowed some illumination. I got a little discouraged when I couldn't get the Kitchener stitched hood top to finish correctly (resulting in a lengthy stubborn insistence that this sweater didn't even exist). But eventually I decided I had to move on and maybe my mother could help me fix it. Now I'm on to the plain stockinette of the body and sleeves. Home free baby.

For the rest of the time when I have to be participatory in the family conversation, board games, or just generally look like I'm paying attention, I have packed yarn for a cowl (which I have already swatched!). This was a request from Emily and she is REALLY hard to buy holiday gifts for. I couldn't find an appropriate pattern, so I found a stitch that I liked and I'm going to make the rest of it up on my own. I already respect knitwear designers a LOT more.

And of course there has to be a backup project. What if I run out of knitting? I have finally realized that my spinning teacher is right and I have to actually use my handspun if I want to become a better spinner. My winter hat is an old purple thing I knit about a decade ago. I think it is time to attempt a new hat with my handspun. I even bought 40 inch needles to try the magic loop method.

And as always, I'm still knitting these. I pretty much have a forest now.

I also had to bring some weaving. There are a certain pair of little girls who's grandfather has made them a dollhouse. I am anticipating a sudden need for small doll blankets (thus the Zoom Loom) as well as rugs and tapestries for the new house. I believe a 6 and an 8-dent Hokett loom should be able to produce the required floor coverings and artwork.
Now all I have to figure out is how to hide the fact that I just packed nine different fiber projects for a two-week trip. Maybe I can use decorative cookie tins for project containers... then they'll just look like gifts, until someone gets hungry.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Hokett loom fun!

I am looking forward to a few weeks of vacationing with my family and my in-laws over the holidays. When I travel in the car, I love to bring a few Hokett looms. Because who could bring just one? I like to have an 8-dent loom for my regular sett and I use the 6-dent looms doubled at 12 epi quite frequently.

I like weaving in the car. Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas are very big states and the view from the freeway is not quite enough to keep me entertained for 1100 miles. So I weave. I have a spouse who frequently says things like, "I'll drive honey. You need to spin/weave/knit." Isn't that great?

6-dent Hokett loom warped at 12 epi. Project done with handspun.
Those of you who browsed my newsletter last week know that I am going to take a bit of a break from selling all products online. I spend most of my time teaching the online tapestry classes and this is what I love (besides actually making my own work of course!). The time commitment of running a retail shop full time is too much for me. (The moment I found myself printing shipping labels at 11pm while fuming that I hadn't had one minute on the loom that day was when I knew it was over.)

I adore both Jim Hokett and his wonderful looms. I will continue to have them available for my workshop students and I will have a sale or two a year from my website. But I am taking a break from selling them full time from my website starting December 22nd. If you are interested in getting one of these wonderful looms and you aren't taking an in-person workshop with me in 2016, you have a few days left to order one. December 21st is the last day I will be shipping.

I am the only person who sells the 8-dent looms right now. They are tricky to make and Jim very kindly still makes them for me because I like to teach on them (and because he is a stand-up, wonderful guy). I have a small stock of the 9 x 10 inch intermediate 8-dent looms left, a few of the 7 x 8 regular 8-dent kits, and quite a few of the 7 x 8 inch regular 8-dent looms by themselves. I also have a few of the beautiful 8-dent tiny loom kits in birds eye maple. They are the sweetest thing you've ever seen.

You can find all the options on my website HERE including photos.

I ship USPS Priority Mail so if you live in the USA, there can still be a loom under the tree this year.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Lettuce stash yarn

If you love yarn, you probably have stash. Full time tapestry weaving along with various other fiber pursuits has made my collection of yarn and fiber bloom alarmingly over the last few years. There comes a point where embarrassment ensues. And that leads to a desire to hide the addiction. (Though I strongly maintain that fiber accumulation is absolutely part of my job and having a studio full of wool is not a bad thing... even though it spills over into the house also.)

We had a friend over this week and when she went to put her food in the fridge, she did a double take when she saw this...
"Why are there balls of confetti under your apples?" Kelsea wondered.

Lettuce stash yarn.
Now you'd think if you had a shelf of yarn that looked like this...
...maybe you wouldn't feel the need to hide yarn. 

But honestly, if you have as much yarn hanging around as I do, eventually people start giving you a hard time about it. So I'd like to give you a few options for yarn storage if you are one of the afflicted. You have to take into account the habits of your housemates. If, for example, you are the person who does all the household cleaning, then perhaps this would be a safe place to store some extra yarn.

This will not come as a big surprise to you, but I am not a big cleaner, so this is not a good option for me. My beloved will find this yarn faster than I can say, "I don't know where THAT came from!"

If you've stored your bike for the winter, a temporary place for storage might be in your bike bags. Of course come spring you're going to have to relocate it unless you want your yarn coming with you around town.
What about those coolers you aren't going to use again until the snow melts?
All in all there are many options for yarn hiding storage. I have a healthy stash of knitting yarn divided between hanging shoe racks in my closet (who needs shoes?) and plastic boxes under my side of the bed (who needs clothes?). Since I'm the only person who opens my closet, as long as I can confine the knitting yarn to these locations, I'm pretty safe from ridicule.

Find the spots in your house that no one visits. Make sure they are free from pests, protect the yarn, and store away.

* If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends!