Sunday, September 27, 2015

Randomly on a Sunday...

I spent the evening drinking tea while sitting in my front yard slumped low in a lawn chair so the car would block the street light. Why? Supermoon eclipse. It was lovely.

If you live on the front range of Colorado, you can hardly have missed the fact that this year is the 100th anniversary of Rocky Mountain National Park. Last weekend I went against the very strict rule I have not to visit RMNP on a weekend between May and October... I was right. It was packed. But we did find a trail with few users and saw a nice herd of elk to boost. The Hokett loom came along for a little weaving fun.
Weaving in the "shadow" of Long's Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park
I received this lovely yarn from Weaving Southwest in Arroyo Seco, NM this week. I wanted to try their new tapestry singles. I was shocked at how beautiful it is. Some of you are going to jump right on this yarn. They make it in beautiful gradations, all hand-dyed. I can't wait to try this out. I really can't imagine switching the yarn I use at this point, but I do like playing with other options... just playing the field a little (plug your ears Harrisville).

I bought it because I've been working on these Tapestry Yarn Cards for the new online class (Color Gradation Techniques for Tapestry which will be open for registration October 5th). Nothing like spending a day hooking yarn onto cards! A big thanks to my friend Ute for helping me.
Just to be clear, the cards don't come with the class. They can be ordered.
And I'm wrapping up the last few videos for Color Gradation Techniques for Tapestry. I think it is going to be great if I do say so myself.
Teal gradation from the back--part of the Vertical Gradation module
The class goes up October 5th, fortuitously (for me) the day that Spinzilla starts. I had the good fortune of joining Team Shuttles. (They're hoping this newbie will pick up speed and make some yardage I'm sure.) I am sure this is only a small portion of the fiber we will spin that week. My only real goal is to become a better spinner, though I'd like to pass the mile mark.
Spinzilla's Team Shuttles
And lastly, I am afraid fall is here...
... and there is little time left for this.
It is always hard for me to see the end of hiking season. And by "hiking" I really mean backpacking. I'm just not a winter camper. Nope, it is day hikes and snowshoes from here until the snow melts most likely... though I'll keep my fingers crossed for a really warm spot in October which might allow me one more fling in the mountains. 

Though maybe, just maybe I could become a winter camper... I just need some new gear, right? And perhaps a snow course. And an avalanche beacon. I think I just talked myself out of it.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

And then the sheep told me... spinning for tapestry (Okay, maybe it was Maggie)

I am becoming a spinner. I resisted spinning for years even though I bought a spinning wheel in 2010 to ply my tapestry singles on. I resisted because I was afraid I would get hooked and there is only so much time in a day. Tapestry is slow going and when would I have time to spin? Also, I didn't see the relationship between spinning and tapestry weaving.

Now I have to give myself a little dope slap when I remember that. I have learned so much about yarn characteristics in the last 6 months. And all of this is directly relevant to my art work which is made with, what?


Which comes from where?


Which is made into yarn how?


So imagine my joy upon seeing an email from Kate Larson in my inbox asking if I'd be okay with a blog post about my recent handspun tapestry project on the Interweave Spinning Daily blog.

Here it is! (Well, you have to click the link below to see it...)

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Warp it up! Monday is the day.

Tomorrow, September 14th, is another course start for me. I love those days. I have had people signing up for a few months with questions here and there. But this week is the week I really get to meet the new group of students. I am always astounded by the diversity of participants from all areas of the USA and all over the world.

This class is Warp and Weft: Learning the Structure of Tapestry. It is a beginning-level tapestry techniques course meant for people who have never woven anything before. But I have found that a huge percentage of my students are people who have woven a fair bit of tapestry. They just never felt comfortable with what they learned in books and didn't have the extended experience of learning from one teacher to cement the concepts. That is what this course aims to do. I present the fundamentals of weaving tapestry and then I let you ask me all the questions you want. There are videos of me teaching and accompanying handouts about each technique. There are also resources to other tapestry traditions including videos of other tapestry weavers working. But the key to the whole thing is that you get to work on the material over a long period of time at a pace that works for you. You can take as long as you want actually, though it takes most people 3-6 months to complete the course working a few hours a week.

So tomorrow at noon EST, the course content opens. The first few weeks for me tend to be all about looms and yarn choices and the struggle of warping appropriately for tapestry. The frustration of getting that first header correct is pretty universal, but everyone gets it. Eventually (and sometimes it takes two tries) everyone gets it.

If you're interested in the course, there are still openings. You can start with the All-Three-In-One version that has all the material in one large course, or you can take it in three parts. There is also a self-directed version which costs a fair bit less but doesn't come with any help from me. I will take registrations at any time, but starting with the group is a lot of fun!

More information is available on my website here:
There are reviews here:
And an in-depth look at the course here:

I revel in the challenges of teaching online. I have learned so much! Just this weekend I was emailing two different students in the UK and the Netherlands to locate weft yarn sources for them. Who knew I would be so interested in what tapestry yarns you can buy in London? (or Delft, or Bangkok, or Christchurch, or Texas for that matter?)

With gratitude for all the wonders brought to me from tapestry people all over the world,

Here are a few photos of past student work, both samplers and practice pieces. Enjoy!
Front and back of the same sampler.
I weave from the back but encourage you to weave the way that works best for you.
Curves and angles
Work from Part 2 of the course
I love this final practice piece.
More curves
Practice with hatching and joins. Great color work also!
I love these stripes. One could weave just stripes for the rest of your life and never grow tired I think.
Another practice piece with many different techniques.
Why yes you CAN use a floor loom for this course.
This is the countermarche loom of a student from Germany.
You'll learn how troubleshoot problems such as these waves. Other common problems are uneven warp spacing, tension issues, uneven selvedges, and difficulties keeping your butterflies in the correct sheds.

Join us!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Dangerous living for a tapestry weaver!

Would you ever do this?

Have you experienced that moment where you look at a large piece in progress and realize there is a major error in color choice? It makes your stomach churn I tell you.

Yesterday I went to my loom and realized that I had woven about three inches with the wrong color in one spot. Three inches is a very long way to unweave and represents about a weeks worth of work. I couldn't leave the color as it was. It would be very evident once the piece was hanging on the wall. But I definitely didn't want to tear out all that weaving. The whole piece is hatched together making it difficult to unweave just that section...

...but that is what I did.

The offending color is marked MT5. It is the second light blue to the left from the dark line. It was supposed to be MB5. "T" is for top. "B" is for bottom. This was the bottom of the tapestry (it will hang from the weft).

At this point I was pretty nervous.

But the worst that could happen was that I'd have to take out all three inches.

So I kept going.

And going. The pile of fiber I took out is at the top middle. The ball next to it was the color it was supposed to be. See the difference?

I found the original splice, lay in the new color, and back together it went.

Of course the tricky part is getting the weft tension right in the needle-woven portions and maintaining the warp spacing. I had a little hack for that as the warps wanted to spread in the middle.

And a little hack to keep the warps behaving.

And there you have it. Before and after. I don't need to tell you that I was a little smug about this one. I think in the future I'll be more careful with my labels. It could easily have been an area that wasn't so simply fixed. I shudder to think how it would have gone if I had been using pick and pick or had a lot of other shapes interspersed with this one.

Nope. I got lucky.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

My latest learning experiment: tapestry with fine handspun

I have been learning to spin for the last six months and recently have had my try at a Turkish spindle.

Yesterday was the day I started weaving. I am making a piece with multiple 2 x 6 inch panels. The fleece was a small bit of a rainbow fleece we dyed in a Maggie Casey spinning class last spring. I stuffed the fleece in a bag and forgot about it until I was cleaning my office a few weeks ago. Out it came.

I sorted the fleece into a gradation of colors, hand carded it into a rainbow of rolags, and spun it on my tiny Turkish spindle.

Yesterday I dug out my 6-dent large Hokett loom and warped up. I don't know how many panels there will be as I want to use the whole gradation in order. But I think it will be at least six. I finished the first two yesterday. All of the yarn is my handspun except for the deep purple and black accents which are silk.

Here it is in photos.

I am astounded at how lovely the hand is. There isn't any comparing it to my other work. I like my tapestries to be flexible and fluid--like a piece of fabric. Tapestry IS fabric after all. But this handspun exceeds my wildest expectations. It is soft and feels divine. I love the little bloom the surface has and I can't wait to spin more. You can see that the single in the first piece (to the left in the photo above) was thinner than in the second one. With time, I am sure I can learn to keep it consistent for a whole project.

I love how the dyed-in-the-fleece fiber changes color in subtle ways all the time. I strive for this variation in my hand-dyed yarns, but with this method of yarn creation, the options are so much greater.

Fiber: White/gray local corriedale fleece scoured by Maggie Casey. Rainbow dyed with acid wool dyes.

Prep: Carded with hand cards after sorting by value

Spinning: Turkish spindle by Jenkins woodworking. This particular spindle was a very special gift from the master of spinning for tapestry, Sarah Swett. Best. Gift. Ever.
Size of single was inconsistent. More practice needed by spinner. Weft finished.

Weaving: Intermediate (9 x 10 inch) Hokett loom at 6 dents per inch. Doubled the warp for 12 epi. 20/6 cotton seine twine warp. Tapestry technique including eccentric outline. Double half-hitch used for header. I wanted to use wool warp but didn't have any small enough for this sett and this weft.

Other fiber: 60/2 and 30/2 silk from Red Fish.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Free webinar Thursday, September 3rd!

UPDATE: Link to the webinar is here:

I have been invited by Mirrix Looms to participate as a guest in a webinar about tapestry weaving tomorrow evening.

Thursday, September 3rd, 7:30 pm EST

The link to sign up and gain access to this free event is here:

Claudia Chase and Elena Zuyok will be spearheading the discussion and they've invited me to chat with Claudia about tapestry weaving.

We'll talk about some of these things:

  • what tapestry weaving is
  • how Claudia and I learned tapestry and a bit about our personal styles
  • some discussion of tapestry weavers who work in non-traditional ways
  • is tapestry weaving relevant in our fast-paced world today?
  • tips for fixing those messy selvedges and warp spacing issues
  • resources for learning about tapestry
  • where to start with sett and materials
  • looms that are good for tapestry
  • Mirrix looms
  • my online tapestry courses
And we'll answer some questions from you!

Here is some more information from the Mirrix blog:

If you need some help converting the time to yours, here is a time zone converter:

My collection of tapestry looms, warped for student use at a workshop. Tapestry by Cornelia Theimer Gardella.