Monday, October 26, 2009

Drawloom Issues

Loom mechanics are something I am paying attention to at the moment. The drawloom warp was tied on, pins pulled out of upper jacks, warp tension increased slightly, and...

when I depressed treadle #1, one shaft went up, one went down, six stayed neutral, all as should be happening. The first shed was okay, I took my foot off the treadle, and nothing changed, the treadle stayed down, shafts did not move, counterweights (above) are not pulling shafts back to "rest" position. It's a mystery.

So, I have spent a day or two trying to sort this out, checking the loom over from back to front, top to bottom, and still have no idea what is wrong, so back to checking every detail again.

I've written to weavers in the Complex Weavers Double Harness Study Group, posted photos in an album, and asked for ideas, suggestions, and/or experiences with this, and replies are starting to come in.

Meanwhile, in-between getting ready for weaving guild members meeting here tonight, I'll be going over the loom again, trying to discover the problem and how to fix it. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Studio Days and Inspiration

Today and tomorrow are studio days, for working on and at looms and sock machine. My time to work here has been so broken up the last couple weeks, that I have not getting much done. Too many interruptions lately, demands on my time, errands, appointments, and I've called a halt.

This morning the drawcord warp was trimmed where each cord is tied to a pattern heddle. There were approximately 3"+ tails left on each when they were tied awhile back, and pulling the cords was causing those ends to wrap around themselves and their neighbors (above).

All I could see to do was cut those ends off, so they were trimmed to 1". So far there has been no further problem. The old drawcord warp was a thicker linen with a slightly waxy finish on it, and the knots were tight and held. With the seine twine, I have not been able to tie good tight knots, so hoping they will hold.

The next task today, when I'm done here, is lashing the tie-on rod onto the apron, so large-eye needle, string, and pliers are standing by. When I'm done with that, I'll tie the 20/2 cotton warp on, then be able to pull the pins out of the upper jacks and check to see if I have a shed and how much adjusting needs to be done (next post).

I have always enjoyed visiting artists studios, seeing how and where they work. It was something I did each summer when going to The Looms. Now, living where I do, these opportunities are rare, so I turn to books like...

those of Rice Freeman-Zacher, author of "Living the Creative Life, Ideas and Inspiration from Working Artists" and her new book, "Creative Time and Space, Making Room for Making Art."

I also enjoy publications like American Artist's "Studios" magazine (left), for fine artists, and "Studios" (right) by Cloth.Paper.Scissors, for artists working in paper/collage/fibers/art quilts.

WI weaver Dawn MacFall is featured in this issue. Fun and interesting reads that give ideas for my studio that may work for me here or in the future.

While ordering "Creative Time and Space" on Amazon, I suddenly remembered an article that had been in an issue of Shuttle, Spindle & Dyepot (Winter 2008/2009), "Kimono as Art: The Landscapes of Itchiku Kubota." This book and the work of Itchiku Kubota is incredibly beautiful. Pure inspiration! A treasure!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Every Day is an Adventure

Yesterday I was UNtangling pattern heddles under the drawloom. Here you can see the pattern heddles and lingos are now hanging straight, not the tangled mess shown in the previous post.

Half of the tangled heddles on the other side of the loom were also straightened out last night, and now have only 50 or so to finish up today.

This silk weaver in Cambodia has an interesting double harness loom, with the ground shafts in back and 16 pattern shafts in front. I would love to know more about this loom as well as see the weaving she does on it. I found her last night on, and made another microloan. I am SO enjoying this!

Like elsewhere across the country, WI is having unusual weather for this time of year. Last night the weatherman said it is usually Nov. 24th when we have a couple inches of snow. Well, we have the couple inches of snow on Oct. 12 and as I wrote this it is only 32 outside at 10:15 AM.

Bringing wood in this morning, from the wood rack on the porch to the woodbox in the kitchen, I noticed the icicles on the remains of a hanging plant on the porch, with a backdrop of birch leaves that have not yet fallen.

Postscript: The above photos were taken about 9:15 AM; by 11:30 the snow was melting and it is now looking more like our usual fall. I'm on dial-up, loading photos to Blogger takes TIME, and circumstances change!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Wool Socks & First Snow

I'm busy working on socks orders, seven orders to do yet for a total of seventeen pairs of socks, plus Artistree Gallery, and the on-line shop. Whew!

Jewel tones had been requested for one order, shown here. I noticed these three colors sitting together on a loom bench and thought "why not?" They worked up very well though at the time I wondered what possessed me. Take chances!

I'd put "The View" on one morning and what struck me was the stage set, blue, green, and white or silver. SOCKS popped into my head, so I sat down and made them up. Inspiration comes from all kinds of places!

During the fall art tour, a friend was here and requested socks. Being busy with several people I suggested she go to the shelves and pull out three colors. She did, and I made them up. Not being entirely certain she would like them. I made up a second pair, substituting a lighter gray for the dark gray she had chosen. This is the lighter pair. She really liked both and had a hard time deciding. In the end she took the darker pair for winter wear. I didn't get a photo so will need to make them up again.

I need to work on sock names again as I've been coming up with more new color combinations. When you have over a hundred names on your list, you tend to start running out of ideas!

I woke up to our first snow this morning, it was snowing and blowing! I went out later and snapped a couple photos including snow on the pumpkins. By afternoon the sun was out, the snow had melted, but it is still quite windy tonight. We usually don't have snow until near the end of October, so I'm hopeful we'll still have a week or two of our normal fall weather before it gets cold and stays cold. Because of the wind, though, I did start a fire in the woodburner this AM, our first this fall, and oh, how that wood heat warms you through.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Give Me Patience...

The pattern heddles on the outside, both sides, of the drawloom are a terrible tangled mess! Do you remember Kylie, our dog who had to be put down the second day of the Summer Art Tour? She had the canine version of dimentia, standing and staring into corners or at walls. Unhappily, she also would often get under one of my looms, and was unable to figure out how to get back out. I took to parking chairs and stools in front of any openings along the sides and ends of the drawloom I thought she could get through, and still she would get in there. The tangled heddles are the result.

You can see, on the right, a few I managed to untangle this morning. Over two hours working on it and I still have a ways to go. The larger tangled group was much, much worse when I started. The other side of the loom is nearly as bad. I have my work cut out for me!

Do I need them untangled to weave? No, I'll just be a much happier weaver when this is done!

Monday, October 5, 2009

"Artists of the North" ~ A New Social Network

A new social network was created on, "Artists of the North," started by photographer Jim Dummer of Tomahawk, WI. It is to be a place of "communication within the artists community of northern WI," and a place to share ideas and insights. It is also for people interested in the arts and artists. I just joined, and am looking forward to the sharing and discussions that will take place.

So far today, I have been resting from the past three days of the art tour. Now, though, I think a walk outdoors would be good, even though it is cold and breezy. Then it is my usual, socks to make, toes to close, and weaving to do, and that is all good. There will be a good sense of accomplishment tonight.

One more thing I did today, a second microloan on KIVA,, and I'm sitting here smiling and thinking of a woman in Mongolia working to improve and increase her business. Time for my walk, so I can get back to tending Shuttle Works Studio.

Paying it Forward

A few days ago I'd turned on Oprah and the program was about helping others. Heifer Intl., KIVA, Women for Women International, and Global Giving were among those featured. The program that "spoke" to me was KIVA. I have children adopted from China from listening to that inner voice, so I knew I should listen again.

KIVA is about microloans, "loans" by individuals to help other individuals or small groups, around the world.

During the Fall Art Tour, that organization kept coming back to me. It's about women (and men) from around the world trying to start or grow a business. Between visitors I was thinking how I'm trying to do that with Shuttle Works Studio, and though I am far better off than all of the people requesting these loans, I could share in my blessings by helping others.

The art tour ended, and earlier tonight I registered with KIVA, spent time learning about the organization, then chose a woman in Samoa, and finished the requested loan amount. I know there will be others. It's my way to show thankfulness for my blessings, for friends and opportunities that have come my way, and to pay it forward. I tell you, it feels good! You can learn about KIVA by visiting

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Fall Art Tour is Over

Today was the last day of the Fall Northwoods Art Tour. Over three days I had perhaps a few less visitors than during summer, but those who came were wonderful to chat with, curious and interested in both looms/weaving and sock machine, and there was quite a bit of laughter. Four of my visitors were weavers.

Because of cranking socks for Art in the Yard and the Art Tour, as well as working on winter wood, the countermarche loom still had the warp on for rag rugs, barely begun. The sock machine is always ready to use.

I managed to get four pairs of socks cranked while demo'ing sock-cranking,... as well as discussing differences in loom types, and explaining the drawloom.

Every pair of socks I had available were sold, the last pair today. I've already received three special orders for socks, and I'm working on them now, as well as socks for Artistree Gallery. Eighteen sock brochures went out the door, and four weaving brochures, so hopefully there will be more orders.

The drawloom was also found to be fascinating, and now that these two weekend events are over, I'll finally be able to lash the tie-on rod to the apron, get the warp tied on, see what kind of shed I have, and hopefully be able to start weaving on it soon. The area weaving guild members are coming here on Oct. 26th and things are almost ready for them.

Later this afternoon, a very nice couple were here, and after listening about looms and watching the sock machine, were admiring the handwoven towels. The woman reached for one that was display only (above), and aksed if I would accept an order to weave that particular twill pattern as a table runner for their daughter for Christmas, but to be done in blue and natural. It's a towel woven many, many years ago, but a weave structure I've been wanting to weave again. There is nothing like needing a loom empty to provide motivation to get weaving! Rag rugs just moved up the priority list as there is another great twill to weave up!

I had already been looking forward to being on the art tour next year but made the decision not to apply as I may be moving and don't want people driving distances only to possibly find my weaving studio gone. Instead, I'm planning to apply to two or three art shows next summer as well as Art in the Yard and Artistree Gallery.

The Art Tour was a wonderful experience, I would do it again in a heartbeat as I loved meeting everyone and sharing what I do as well as meeting other weavers. Hopefully an experience like this will come along again for me, whether in the Northwoods or at another locale.

And now? I've got work to do in the studio! There are rugs, table runners, towels, and more to be woven, a drawloom to get weaving on, socks to crank, fleece to spin, felting to do, and of course, the learning never ends.