Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Northwest Folklife Festival

This last weekend was long and very worthwhile. As always, I was in my booth the whole time so didn't get to see much of the entertainment. I did run around after work one night and was astonished at the variety of quality performance being given away for free. Here's a quick sample...

I did, however, get to enjoy the music on a stage about 200 feet away from me. Directly behind my booth was the busker space, which was always lively and fun. And then, periodic oddities occurred, like this one...

I sold almost everything I had with me. So much, in fact, that I feel guilty taking fifteen minutes out of the day to compose this blog post. I need to stitch up a bunch of cloth for my next show in Benbow Lake, California. It's in three days.

This photo pretty well sums up how it felt to be at the Northwest Folklife Festival.

And, of course, in order to have a rainbow we need to have rain. So now I've got everything that's left hanging up and drying in the studio...

I'm going to miss the ease of an electric dehumidifier when my studio joins my home in the off-grid reality next month. It'll be back to the woodstove! And not a minute too soon, in my opinion. The forest charges my soul so I can endure these weekends in the city.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

In The Thick Of It

Well, I've finished the first of three back-to-back shows. Next weekend is Northwest Folklife here in Seattle. Then I zip down to California, making a quick stop in the studio to get a batch of cloth shrunk and ready to sew.

Here are some snapshots from the booth last weekend.

Purple! This is the first garment to be sewn and presented for customer review.

Look at the variety of colors in the booth right now!

And a rare shot of the artist disguised as a salesman. :)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Purple Samples: Time For Preorders!

I was so excited about the sample blanket that I removed it from the loom and washed it as fast as I possibly could. Below I've captured the center of each stripe. There is a little bit of all the shades of weft in this part so you can get an idea of how they interact with the weft.

A couple people were so anxious for the purple that they placed their orders when they saw the beam. If anyone else is interested, you can use the guide below to get an idea of the weft color range that excites you the most.

And don't forget, blog readers get 25% off.

(Please don't ask me to weave a piece with stripes like the sample blanket. It takes so long to set up the weft for each bobbin that I would need to charge a lot more if I did that.)

Straight off the loom

The whole blanket




Green (!)



Concord Grape


Deep Purple


Royal Blue



Friday, May 10, 2013

Starting A Batch Of Cloth

It's been a long time, like a few years, since I described how I start a batch of cloth. Thanks for asking, Diane!

The sandpaper beam lets me just start weaving without any sort of tie on. Just lay the threads in place and start weaving.

Pretty soon the cloth is bunched up on my thighs.

When I stand up it drapes to the floor so I put it over the first roller and use clips to weight it down. That center clip lets me keep pulling the cloth up and off of my feet.

But eventually, that clip is on my feet and there's enough cloth to feed through to the back of the loom.

So I do that and use the clips to keep it feeding through until there's enough to reach the cloth takeup beam.

Then I pick a line in the sample blanket and use that to get it attached straight onto that beam. And by attached I mean that I unroll a little apron, lay the cloth on top, flip the apron over and roll it up for a couple of turns. Tension holds it in place with no tying.

Voilá! Now I can really put the petal to the metal and weave without managing the cloth by hand. Pretty cool, huh?

Yeah, this process requires very careful movement to keep from disturbing the warp tension, but with a little practice it becomes easy. And boy is it fast, especially compared to feeding through an apron, tying onto a rod, cutting it off, and all that rigmarole.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

All Tied Up

For the last few VERY LONG days, this was my view. The masking tape on the left is holding the order of the threads coming from the new beam. The heddles on the loom hold the order of the threads on the previous batch. All I have to do is match them up in order and tie them together.

I'm working out a trade with a yoga teacher who can develop specific routines to undo the damage that I sustain after something like 20 hours in this position.

And it's done! Today I will sley those two sections that go over the beater, wind bobbins and weave a sample blanket, and work into the night weaving a garment to offer for sale on Saturday.

As I looked around the studio this morning I saw a few things that people don't usually get to see. Here they are...

When I trim the knots as the sections are tied on, I line up the trimmings in a bowl. I enjoy looking at them for a few days and then I throw them away.

As I tie the sections on, I cut off the knots that held them in the heddles. These I keep in my home as a sort of sedimentary record of my work over the years.

I really don't know how people wove before masking tape. Here's this week's pile, beautiful in its own way.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Yurt's First Storm

[Scroll to the bottom to see a beautiful sunset rainbow...]

Badger pointed out to me that there are numerous ways that I can reinforce the yurt and that I could lose it all if I don't take the time to do it. So I did.

I stretched a tight line of paracord around the bottom to keep the feet from sliding out.

Here you can see three reinforcements: a "catch cord" around the lattice in case the tension band fails, a cord through the rafters to keep them from coming loose, and one of the tiedowns that will keep the whole thing from walking across the smooth deck.

Here's a closeup of those three cords.

The tiedown is bolted into one of the studs.

There's another cord through the rafters at the top to make sure that none of them can slip out of the ring.

Here's a snapshot of the first sunset rainbow that I can ever remember seeing.

It came at the end of a thunderstorm with lots of wind. I closed up shop and rushed home when it started to see how my reinforcements would hold up.

I felt a slight twinge of disappointment that there was absolutely no drama. The wind was whipping the trees outside and all I saw was a tiny ripple of the roof covering every few minutes. And then I remembered a few things...

1. I don't want drama. I want my home to be stable. Oh, right!

2. Yurts are incredibly aerodynamic. With the curved walls and a conical roof, there's no place for wind to get ahold. It glides by without pushing on the yurt at all.

So it turns out that my reinforcements were almost entirely unnecessary. But they're there now and my home is only more secure for their presence. Now to do something about the water the runs across the floor of the yurt just as it was designed to do...

Monday, May 6, 2013

Purple Beam Is Wound

Last week I posted photos of the yarn being plied onto cones for the lilac color palette. Well, many long days later it's on the loom. Just a few days of tying knots and I'll be ready to start weaving it. I think I can have two ruanas for Art In Bloom this coming weekend if I burn the midnight oil every night until then.

Photos tend to accentuate the contrast between the threads. Yeah, this is the most consistently "contrasty" beam I've wound with the widest variety of colors, but it's still not as shocking as it looks in the photos. It reads like a complex but smooth transition from almost black to almost white through hundreds of shades of purple. I'm really happy with how it turned out.

On to the knots!