Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pausing for a Cause

The focus of the Shuttle Works Studio blog is weaving and other fiber-related activities. Posts on other topics are kept very minimal. Tonight, though, is an exception as world hunger is a cause close to my heart.

Bloggers Unite, along with Heifer International, have been waging a special campaign during the month of April to bring new awareness to world hunger, and how we, as individuals, might help. April 29th is "Unite for Hunger and Hope" day, and tomorrow, April 30th is "Pass on the Gift" day.

Individually we cannot solve a problem of this magnitude, but together, we CAN make a difference. What can you do? Please visit Heifer International at and see how you can help. I'm going there now to make my donation.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Workable Studio Space

While working to finish weaving up the remaining warp on the countermarche loom, finishing the sleying of the drawcord warp, cranking more socks, and waiting for other socks to dry, I thought I'd share a few pics of my "new" studio space. Building a new space or adding on to my home was not an option, so I took over the main floor of my home (except the kitchen), bringing looms, equipment, and yarns down to my former living room and laundry area, making my work area accessible to visitors.

My countermarche loom, where I spend a good deal of time, sits in front of the big window looking out at Torch Lake. A stereo is nearby for public radio and classical music. In warmer weather, open windows and doors, a (Gregorian) windchime and birdsong are all the music that are needed. There is a porch the width of the house, a wonderful spot to sit and spin on nice days, as well as washing fleece and setting out drying racks.

Although not set up in this pic, the sock machine is most often set up between the two looms, giving me space to move about and a bench on which to set cones of yarns for socks about to be made.

The drawloom needs a long wall, and it was positioned so the bench would be near the windows for daylight. Ratchets are positioned for easy access to advance the warp. A 22" 8 shaft Harrisville sits nearby for smaller projects.

Shelving units holding cones of weaving and sock yarns sit in a darker corner away from sunlight. The desk area is Command Central. A vintage Gallinger rug loom sits nearby, awaiting weft prep.

A wide variety of sock yarn colors allows many different combinations of colors, over 85 so far.

Most of my weaving reference library lives to the right of the desk; various weaving publications are across the room and upstairs.

Lastly, the laundry room was rearranged to accommodate a sewing table as well as a cutting table. Drying rack, ironing board, and washer and drier are nearby.

This has turned out to be a far more convenient arrangement than what I had before. Of course, the living room is now upstairs but we're getting accustomed to that. Now, when I got to my work, it's to a pleasant and organized space. There are additional bins of sheets (for rag rugs), more cones of yarns, fleece, etc. upstairs and in the basement, fairly well labeled.

There is still work to be done. When temps are warmer and windows and doors can be open, the walls need linseed oil and floors need to be refinished, but the studio is well on its way to being ready for visitors. This evening, back to my loom...

Monday, April 27, 2009

Kindred Spirits

A couple years ago, I met another weaver, Carol Brown, MN, in an on-line weaving group, and we began to write each other occasionally and share photos of our work. Over the peast year our friendship has grown, and I am very thankful for that. Carol refers to us as Kindred Spirits.

Our weaving interests are not always the same. Carol is a rag rug weaver, loves weaving with "rags," and has developed a variety of rugs, bags, and other items that sell well for her. COLOR is Carol's forte, she loves bright colors, lots of them, and they work for her. She has a distinctive style and look to her work, and an eye for working out her own designs, adding beads, buttons, and textures, all working well with her color selections.

My interests lean more towards medium to fine threads (towels and runners) and now entering into the world of drawloom weaving. At the opposite end of the weaving spectrum, I am also about to start weaving rag rugs. I need rugs for my log home, and recently received an order for a couple rugs. Though I like neutrals, as I get older, I am venturing more and more into color.

Carol and I email each other a few times a week, exchanging ideas, sharing photos of our work, sources for various materials we need, design and construction possibilities, as well as display ideas, marketing, pricing, and photographing our work. We share ideas of items that would translate well into weaving, bouncing ideas and suggestions off each other. We offer ideas of how items might be used, at times as if reading each others mind.

We ask each other for comments, opinions, and feedback, and provide honest, positive "critique" of each others work, always in the spirit of support. Most importantly, we don't try to overshadow each other. We admire and respect each others ideas and work, but don't rush to copy each other. Though we are also known to tell each other, "go ahead, you need to make some of these," there is a line we do not cross. We each have our own ideas and weaving we do, all made better by having someone to share it with.

Weaving and working in my studio gives me great joy and purpose, and in the last year has been made more special by having Carol, a special weaving friend, to share it with. I hope you each have such a Kindred Spirit in your weaving life.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Latest Socks

About four days ago or so there was a pic of four pairs of socks, straight from the sock machine, shown laying on a loom bench. Here they are finished, toes closed, handwashed, air-dried on a wood drying rack, then lightly steamed, ready to be tagged. Left to right: "Bear in the Berries," "Citrus," and "Mallard." These are all size Large (Women's 8 1/2 to 9).

The fourth pair, "Foggy Morning" (grays) were on my feet this AM for the interview/taping. Late last year I'd made the same pair for myself and before I could wear them they were purchased by someone. So this AM, I slipped this newly made pair on for some comfortable treadling at the loom.

I took the rest of the day off today, so back to "work" tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Sleying Drawcord Reed #1

Sleying of the drawcord warp reed has begun. The 12 dent reed is being sleyed in groups of eight threads, alternating two colors, with an empty dent in-between colors to make finding and pulling individual cords easier. Graph paper (or computer generated designs) will be color coded.

This reed sits overhead on a single unit drawloom with the cords sleyed through it. The cords are pulled individually according to the design being woven. Each cord controls a unit or group of threads on the pattern heddles on the pattern harness. The reed, as shown above, is positioned for threading, it is not in its final position here.

This view is from the back of the loom which has a long extension on it. My loom bench is sitting just inside the front of the loom, and I'm sitting facing the fireplace for threading the reed. Is this the traditional Swedish method? No. I'm trying to be a bit creative, inventive with the processes, trying to work out methods that will work and that I can do alone, as much as possible. A warping trapeze is in the not too distant future.

These two pairs of socks are for weaver Nastche Milan. Though she lives in CA, I'm hoping she will enjoy the socks on cool spring, fall, and winter nights.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Northwoods Art Tour Brochure

Snow continued here all day until 6 PM or so, with a good 12" of snow on the ground. School was cancelled as the side roads were awful. Errands on my calendar were not cancelled so after several stops, I drove over to Debra Ketchum-Jircik's Circle of Life Studio to pick up 175 or so copies of the new Northwoods Art Tour brochure for 2009.

Dates for the tour are July 24-26, 10 AM to 5 PM, and October 2-4, 10 AM to 5 PM, so if you will be in the northwoods on any of those dates, you might like to take the self-guided tour and visit a few of the studios and galleries in the area.

I will be weaving on the Glimakra countermarche loom, will be weaving on the Glimakra Single Unit Drawloom by then, and possibly another loom or two. Other demonstrations available will be cranking socks on the 1908 Gearhart Circular Sock Knitting Machine as well as spinning on a reproduction Norwegian spinning wheel. Socks, towels, runners, etc. will be available for purchase.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Wool Socks for Summer?

This morning was four hours or so of cranking socks, making two pairs and the mate to another that was knit last night. They are wool and wool/nylon blend two-ply yarns, using three strands, one each of three colors. I am now building up a supply of socks to place at one or two galleries, as well as open studio days, the art tour, and one or two art shows.

Those along with another pair knit yesterday gives me four pairs waiting to have the toes closed. I'm on my way upstairs now to work on them. While removing the scrap yarn from the top of one sock, I found a loop/knot, so I do need to knit a replacement in the morning.

While cranking socks last night, I left the outdoor light on so I could watch the mix of snow and rain that was coming down. This morning I woke to a winter wonderland and the snow has continued all day. The area weatherman, this morning, was predicting another 6-10" by tomorrow morning. This is likely our last big snow of the season and the northwoods needs it badly as it has been so dry here. So, while knitting socks or out driving, I've been enjoying the beauty around me.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Drawcord Warp is Beamed!

A few days ago, I had made the drawcord warp in four sections, placed the sections on the rod that fits inside the top beam, and began to spread the sections into the raddle. I discovered that although I had done my warp calculations correctly, my thinking of groups in the raddle did not match, so I had to move a couple threads every other section to their proper space in the raddle. This wasn't a big problem, and I certainly won't make that mistake again!

Once that was done today, the lease sticks were put in. While checking, I found 4 cords at the cross, scattered across the warp, that had not been caught in the lease sticks. I do not know if this happened at the warping board, or if we missed those cords while inserting the lease sticks. They were put properly in place, and the drawcord warp was beamed this afternoon.

The Swedish method of beaming a drawcord warp includes rough sleying a reed before winding the warp on. I chose not to do that, but to simply do my usual back to front warping method. I did, however, run the warp straight down and under the footboard of the loom as done the Swedish way. Noah and Sarah held the warp sections while I wound the warp on and inserted a few warp sticks. I then cut the ends and tied off, as shown below, to keep the lease sticks in place.

Next, I believe I will be able to suspend the reed directly underneath the lease sticks, pick the threads from the cross, and sley the reed, one cord per dent, 8 cords of teal, leave a dent empty, 8 cords of terra cotta, leave a dent empty, and continue alternating colors across the reed.

Once the sleyed cords are secure, I will remove the raddle, then unwinding enough drawcord warp, move the reed and warp ends back across the loom, over the steel beam, and down, so I can pick threads from the first reed, to sley the second reed. The first reed will then be moved back to the top beam and secured there. After the 20/2 weaving warp is beamed, I will be able to tie the cords to the pattern heddles.

What is all this for? The single unit drawloom is a double harness loom. It has a front ground harness, in this case 10 shafts available, and a pattern harness, which on this loom consists of four rods/shafts on which the pattern heddles hang. The pattern heddles will be set up and hang as if they were a straight twill. Each pattern heddle has a maillon through which 1 to 8 threads are threaded and works as a unit.

The ground shafts will be most likely set up as a 5 shaft satin. A design will be graphed out, and the the cords of the drawcord warp are used to pull up units of threads to create the design.

I will try to do a better job explaining this as I work through the process of setting up this loom. It has been a long time since I've done this, and all I have to go on are memories, a few books, most in Swedish, the CW Double Harness Study Group, and a little creative thinking. My ideas may or may not work, but either way, I will learn from them.

I've been searching for 20/2 mercerized cotton, on cones, so far without success, so I'll be continuing that search this evening. While waiting for the 20/2 cotton to arrive for the warp, weaving will continue for spring, summer, and autumn at the galleries and a couple art shows. Towels, runners, rugs, and bags, and more ideas keep coming. All that plus working on my studio and home. Each day is a challenge or an adventure, sometimes both.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Drawcord Warp, Prep for Beaming

The drawcord warp was finished two days ago, and made in four sections as I don't overlap threads when making a warp. I placed a label on each section (Drawcord Warp 1, etc.). The warp was made in groups of eight threads, and alternating two colors, teal and terra cotta (my names for them). These colors were chosen first because they were colors I could live with, and second because they weren't too dark to see against a wood ceiling and beams, during the day, anyway.

This warp has 400 "cords," a lot to start with, but done on the advice of a respected weaver who wrote I should make the warp for as wide and as many cords and units I thought I might like to weave. Since I'd made 400 pattern heddles, I thought this was a good place to start. 400 or so will be the maximum, but I'll start by using a lot less. Unused cords will be tied together and tied off to the side until needed. If a future project needs more, I'll need to make a new warp.

Above, you can see the top beam which has groove in it. There is a rod to slip the warp sections onto, then the rod is set into this groove and tied into place on each end so there is no chance of it falling out when the ratchet is turned. The raddle is taped into place and the lease sticks will be behind the raddle. String, scissors, lease sticks, and the firsts of two reeds are standing by. Basically I will be warping "back to front," only the direction I'm working is reversed, and working on the top front of the loom. As this is a short warp, it should not take long to wind on, then picking each cord from the cross, I'll sley the first reed.

This is how I recall doing this process long ago when Ken Colwell drive to our home to show me how to do this, and how to tie the cords to the pattern heddles. Unfortunately, some details have faded from memory over the years, so I'll simply be inventive when needed.

The reeds, both 12 dent, 42" long, 4" wide, stainless steel, arrived a couple days ago. I was a bit afraid the reed for the back might be a bit too long to slide into the holders, but it slid in fine. From what I understand, the second reed is threaded on top then moved back, but because of the length of the reed I ordered (the book shows a shorter reed there which would slide easily into the holders), I expect it will be threaded further back.

More pics and description will follow as I work through this process for the first time in close to 23 or so years. I am using the book "Damask and Opphamta" by Lillemor Johansson as well as the video (also available as DVD) "Dressing Your Swedish Drawloom" by Becky Ashenden. Both are very helpful in understanding this area of weaving.

I was again watching the video last night, looking to see if there was anything on beaming a drawcord warp on an older style single unit drawloom. Although Becky covers the new method with pre-cut cords, I did not see what I find what I was looking for right then. If I find it on this video or elsewhere, I will post about it. This is an excellent video/DVD and I highly recommend it. I know I'll be watching and learning from it again and again.

For anyone interested in drawloom weaving, Complex Weavers has a Double Harness Study Group. You must be a member of Complex Weavers ($25/year which includes 3 journals per year, membership list, lending library, study groups, and more). The Double Harness Study Group is an additional $5 per year (at present) which includes 4 newsletters per year and the option of participating in a private yahoo group.

If anyone is interested, please contact me at You do not have to have a drawloom to join, just an interest in this type of weaving. For information on Complex Weavers, or to join, go to their website at:

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Drawcord Warp in Progress

The long-awaited drawcord warp is in progress. As you can see, the warp is being made on a warping board instead of a mill because I couldn't do a short enough warp on the mill without excessive waste of materials and time. In "Damask and Opphamta" the suggested warp length is about 4.5 yds; I am making about six yards to allow for a little extra and in case of any wearing in future, I may be able to cut it back, advance the warp and re-tie back onto the pattern heddles.

I am using 12/6 seine twine in two colors to make pulling cords easier when working from a graphed design. I have two kinds of graph paper, sent by a friend, set up with four and eight squares per block, so I am making this drawcord warp 8 threads followed by a space, across the reed, and alternating the two colors, so the drawcords and graph paper will work together. There are other ways of setting this up this kind of warp, but I'm going to see how this works out.

I had planned to make this warp in two halves (because of the Texsolv cords running down from upper jacks to lamms, but as the pegs on the warping board fill up, it will likely be made in quarters instead, we'll see.

Back to the warping board. Check in tomorrow. I am still working on exactly how we are going to beam this warp. Hopefully the reeds won't take long to arrive.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Making Lemonade

Today was to be devoted to family, and over half was, then someone else changed plans without letting us know so most of the afternoon was wasted waiting for someone who wasn't coming. So, time to turn those lemons into lemonade.

After returning home, I rearranged the looms again as I'd decided I didn't like the new setup. The room felt too crowded with the drawloom sticking out into it, so now the looms are in a variation of the old way, with the addition of the rug loom.

The warping mill is set up, I'm adding my guide string now, and took time out to order the two needed reeds. Yes, I know I wrote awhile back that they were being ordered, but right about then my son lost his retainers, and $300 later, the reeds had to wait. No longer! Two reeds were ordered late this afternoon, both 12 dent, stainless steel, 42" long and 4" high. They will be shipped on Monday.

My looms are Glimakra, with horizontal jacks, so there is Texsolv cord running down the center of the loom from the upper jacks, down past the shafts to the two sets of lamms. As a result, all of my warps are made in two halves, which is better for warping as there is less angle when winding the warp onto the back beam.

Other news today,... I stopped by the art gallery at Nicolet Area Technical College which was in-between exhibits. I had missed an exhibit which included woven rugs by just a few days, but did get to wander around the upcoming student art exhibit which is not yet hung. The director was busy framing everything. We did chat, and she said if I would like to bring work out for her to look at for a possible exhibit, that would be fine. I'm thinking perhaps in a couple years some pieces from the drawloom? Meanwhile, she is working on their new brochure, and if I would like to have my info in it I can send it along to her, there may be room yet.

Now, back to the warping mill. I'll be back tomorrow with a photo or two and details.

Friday, April 3, 2009

That Restless Feeling...

I should be in bed, asleep, but I'm feeling a bit restless tonight, so I've been doing a little studio cleanup. I have a cart that holds various pieces of weaving and spinning equipment that had gotten rather cluttered and dusty, so other items were put back where they belong (those drawers need cleaning out, too!), and it's ready to use again. Shuttles organized, bobbins in baskets, a crock with threading hooks and other small tools, the long metal pins for the loom jacks, bobbin and ball winders, tapestry combs, tension box, wool combs and carders, all back in their places.

The notebooks of Complex Weavers Journals, Double Harness Study Group newsletters, books, and magazines, are all being re-filed. I'm trying to keep the remaining small pieces of the opphamta attachment together, as there are other baggies in drawers of bolts, screws, etc., and I have no clue what they go to. While cleaning those drawers out, things will be re-bagged and labeled, at least those that I am sure of. If I don't know, what would my kids make of all this?

A week or two ago my son brought a table and legs upstairs, at my request, and we could not find the bolts for it anywhere, so back to the basement it went. Today, I found them in the back of a drawer (I had looked in it, just not deep enough), so that will finally be set up again and be used as my sewing table. It won't be a fancy sewing/cutting area, as seen in the studio decorating magazines, but it will be serviceable which is what is needed right now. I'll work on the decorating later, but only so much can be done with logs! I'm thinking handwoven valances and a long "rag" runner laying across the washer and dryer would be nice, and of course, rag rugs on the floor.

A few weeks ago, while in Minocqua, I stopped by an antique shop, just to browse around, not looking for anything in particular. Turning a corner, my eyes stopped on a pair of vintage white wool socks, handspun, handknit socks. They had been worn, washed, and what can I say, I had to give them a home. Right now, this plain, simple, functional pair of socks is hanging on a wall in my studio where I can admire them, and their maker, daily. Perhaps someday, someone will find and appreciate the work of my hands.

My bag is packed for tomorrow, socks needing toes closed (with needles and scissors), three issues of Weavers magazine with articles on drawloom weaving, my copy of "Damask and Opphamta," and my copy of "The Crafts Report" that arrived in my mailbox today. All that and a couple of shops should keep me busy for the several hours I'll be away. There is nothing like time on your hands in which to plot the next projects/warps.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Unexpected Challenges

My thanks to those of you who have visited Shuttle Works Studio blog, and/or left comments. Sometimes an unexpected challenge comes up in life, as one did this week, and creative work must be set aside temporarily. This week was one of those times for me while taking care of a family member. I will be back posting again very soon. Thinking of you all,...