Saturday, July 19, 2008

"Hanging Out To Dry!"

The first warp is rinsed and ready to be put on the loom. It is stored in a crochet chain until I am ready to put it on the loom. This is the Rainbow warp. After it is put on the loom I will weave a sampler using different weft yarns to see what color yarn works best with all the warp colors.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Painted Warp

I've spent the last 3 days painting warps for a series of scarves that I call "Faith Elements". It is a long process of painting dyes onto the tensioned warps. As with most things the preparations take at least as long as the actual painting. Here are some pictures of the process.

The first step is to place a group of tables together so that the warp can be spread out, plastic drop cloths are laid down, and then a row of plastic wrap is spread the length of the tables.

I am using rayon chenille which has a tendency to curl back on itself when wet. To prevent this the yarn is tensioned and clamped at both ends of the long row of tables. It is also spread out and separated in the raddle.

After checking and making sure that everything is in place, the painting can begin. Here I am working on the Rainbow scarf which is part of the Faith Elements Series.

The dyes are painted on with foam brushes and then rubbed with my hand so that the chenille is painted all the way through and the colors are blended together. The dyes look very intense at this point but will be more subdued after they are rinsed. Plastic Wrap is used to cover the dyed section so it can begin to cure.

After the whole 10 yards is painted it is rolled up in the plastic wrap and then must cure for 24 hours before rinsing out the excess dye.

The first 2 warps are ready now to be rinsed and hung out to dry. Rinsing 10 yards of warp takes about 1 1/2 hours. They must be rinsed until the water runs clear.
I'll be rinsing today and hope to have some pictures for you of the beautiful colors hanging on the line.
As you can see this is a very labor intensive project.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

"The Power of Women"

One of the Keynote speakers at Convergence was Willa Shalit, daughter of Gene Shalit. Willa founded the Rwandan basketry partnership Path to Peace. She told the story of the Rwandan women and how they gave their country hope after the horrible genocide that took place.

These remarkable women rather than dwell in their grief at the loss of husbands, children, and family members decided that the country's grief was so immense that they needed to focus on Hope. They decided to do what they do best and that was to make baskets. They started making baskets and began to form collectives and as a result brought their country back from grief and economic despair. This was such a powerful movement that the government changed the seal of Rwanda from farm implements, which had become instruments of death, to the basket which became the emblem of Hope. WOW, what a powerful story!

As Willa spoke, a Rwandan woman was seated on the floor, bare foot and weaving a basket.

Willa has been a spokesperson for these women. She has spoken to the UN and she works to have the baskets marketed in the US. You can find these baskets on Macy's website. They are for sale and the proceeds go to help these Rwandan widowed women. You can find more of the story at

I was thinking more about these women today and it overwhelmed me to think of the power that women have to change things. We have hands that create, minds that look ahead not back, and love that nurtures. We have a rich heritage of working with our hands, minds, and hearts and we can change the world! We just need to claim that heritage!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Kumihimo Ribbon Scarf

While I was at Convergence I took a one day workshop taught by Makiko Tada. The technique was Kumihimo which means braiding in Japanese. I have taken Kumihimo classes before but they always used a Maru Dai which is a lovely piece of equipment that helps you produce many different kinds of braids.
The only equipment we needed to produce the scarf was a piece of cardboard and the ribbon material. This is actually an old technique. The Native Americans call it Finger Weaving and it is an oblique weave.

We used lovely Mokuba transparent ribbon. This is a very expensive and beautiful ribbon made in Japan. After choosing a color and measuring our scarf warps we swapped with others in the class to get an array of colors. I really think that because the ribbon is transparent and other colors are formed as it is braided, that you could combine just about any color and it would look gorgeous! Check out these pictures of the process.

Wonderful items can be made with this technique: scarves, shawls, belts. Makiko made a lovely coat using wider ribbons. Here is a picture of Makiko in her coat and me in her elegant black shawl which she insisted I wear for the picture!

It was a great class and I enjoyed learning the technique. I plan on adding beads to the scarf that I made in class. I can't wait to wear it!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Convergence, 2008

Hi everyone. I'm back from the Handweaver's Guild of America's conference called Convergence. It was held at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, Florida. It truly is a convergence of weavers, spinners, dyers, and fiber art people from all over the world. I had a great time visiting with friends I've known from other guilds and haven't seen for a long time. I also enjoyed making new friends as we chatted over breakfast or dinner.

It was a whirlwind of activity running from class to exhibits to speakers to vendor hall! Oh yes, Vendor Hall! Always a disastrous place to be if one is watching their dollars! I purchased some beautiful yarns from HABU Yarns and some exotic beads from Hand of the Hills. I visited with my good friend John Marshall who designs and sells gorgeous Katasome hand dyed garments. I once took a class with John and am still trying to find the space and time to do some Katasome. It is a Japanese paste resist method of dyeing using soy milk as a binder for the natural dyes. Making the stencils is a real challenge for me. Check out John's website at . He has a fabulous site. If you want to get a flavor of his humor click on the tab for The Divinely Amused!

I'll share some more info about Convergence in the next few days. I had great teachers and came away with a lot of wonderful information.

Here are a few pictures from the conference.

My partners in crime on the Gallery Crawl, Georgeann, me, and Martha! Both are friends from my past! We enjoyed being together again.

My friend, Mary Zicafoose in front of her Tapestry piece at the Art Alliance Exhibit. Mary is doing a series of tapestries which are exploring identities. This piece exemplifies the fact that chromosomes are a part of our identity. Mary also had several pieces on display in the main terminal of the Tampa Airport. After being phone challenged (as Mary put it , "Neither one of us should have a cell phone!") we were finally able to connect and spend some time together chatting and reconnecting. Check out Mary's website at

This is a picture of some of the Yardage Exhibit at the Convention Center. The fabrics were hung beautifully from the second floor railing in this circular rotunda. My favorite was Jane Dunnewold's piece. It's the third from the right with the gold suns on it. The technique is layered surface design. Way to go Jane! The piece just shone when the daylight streamed in.