Sunday, January 31, 2010

Practice, Practice,...

It was 1981 when I took my first weaving class and bought my first loom. Until now, my weaving has always been with 22/2 cottolin, linen, 8/2 and 20/2 cotton, preferring weave structures like twill, huck, and satin. Currently, I am still in the early stages of weaving my first rag rug, and I'll be honest, rag rug weaving is taking some time to grow on me. Immediately after starting to weave this rug, I KNEW I preferred weaving with finer threads. But what can I say, I live in a rustic log home with plank floors that have been wanting rag rugs on them for a long, long time.

I have woven quite a few 14" to 16" wide table runners with 8/4 cotton rug warp and batik fabric for weft (above). For these, I cut the fabric 1.5" wide, then fold and press the fabric as if making double-fold bias tape, only it is not cut on the bias. Why go to all that trouble? Because the "rag" runners are made for display on tables, close to the viewer. I do not like the "hairy" look, and do not want all those little threads working their way out. These runners look very nice with tableware and exceptionally nice with pottery (below).

However, Joe, a good weaving friend of mine, has been urging me for a long time to give rag rug weaving a try. I've long been an admirer of Scandinavian design, and have quite a number of Swedish rag rug weaving books for inspiration. I enjoyed designing the stripe warp and choosing the rug warp colors. It is getting the weft into the shed and folding the weft it in half (when both sides are not equal in color) that I am not yet particularly adept at. I may be the slowest rag rug weaver around, but am trying to give this a fair chance.

This is my first 28" wide rag rug, 8/4 cotton rug warp, and cotton/poly sheets for weft. For the past couple years I've been haunting the local thrift shops for sheets, on the lookout for good solid colors, prints, and plaids that have COLOR and not mostly white with pastel flowers, though I have some of those, too. So I was excited recently to find a wine/blue/green plaid sheet with almost perfect colors in for my stripe rug warp.

After washing the fitted sheet (no flat sheet, perhaps another area weaver found it first?), it was time to "slice & dice," rotary cutting it into 2" strips, then sew them together, and wind onto a ski shuttle.

Last night, I wove a few rows of the plaid to see the color effects and it's looking as good as I'd hoped.

Like the green and white ticking stripe at the beginning of the rug, the colors in the plaid are coming randomly to the surface within each row, giving a nice mottled effect.

Depending on the quantity of strips (size of sheet), I'm dividing the number of strips in half or thirds (more if the sheet is queen or king size), depending on how often I want that color to appear in the rug. I had "mapped out" my colors/design on graph paper using colored pencils, but I've already changed it a bit so need to revise my plan before I go much further as I would like this rug to be balanced.

After taking about a month off from the studio I had hoped to finish this rug this week, but I fell on Tuesday, injuring my shoulder, so there has been a slight delay while I gave it the rest it needed. After weaving those few rows last night (the first weaving since falling), I went to bed and could not sleep for the pain. No weaving today, the heating pad will be my friend tonight!

The rag rugs need to be woven and I'm looking forward to seeing them on my floors! As with most things in life, I'll get better at rag rug weaving with more practice.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Winter Break

Winter wreaths always give a "Welcome Home," both on the entry door (above) and garage doors (below).

Lately, I've been taking a winter break from my weaving studio. After having cranked socks right up to a couple days before Christmas, a daughter and friend visiting, kids on school break and their friends here occasionally, I needed some time off. No, I didn't go anywhere, just quiet winter days spent at home.

Then normal life came back, it was time to deal with school financial aid meeting at the high school, FAFSA forms, taxes, food pantry board meeting, community dinner meetings and the dinner two nights ago. Let's not forget, I'm supposed to be getting ready for a move, working my way through 40 years of stuff, only keeping what I want in my next home/studio.

I did get a pair of socks made for a gentleman who emailed me, and I've heard he is very pleased with them. Others who ordered socks for Christmas have also been happy with them, which is good for the cranker to hear!

At this point, I am more than ready to get back to my work in the studio, and have a long list of projects to do. Getting more done in the studio means more blog entries. I'm back working on the rug warp and looking forward to having them down on my floors. I'm quite sure the dog and the cats will appreciate that, too, as there are pine plank floors throughout the house which can be cool in winter.

Artistree needs/wants all new work by May, plus there are two, possibly three art shows I'm definitely planning to do. Warps are being planned. Cones of 8/2 and 20/2 cotton are waiting on the shelves; cottolin and cones of cotton/linen blend are always on hand. There are dozens of tubes of rug warp waiting to be woven into rugs, bags, and table runners.

The woodburner is warming the studio, music is on, the Ott light is in place, it's time to weave!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A New Year of Fibers!

Isn't it wonderful when you find people to talk fibers with? I've been corres-ponding with Michael, a WI weaver/knitter, with a recent interest in sock machines. I told him of the Midwest Crankers as well as a group that meets in Madison, he went to one of their crank-in Saturdays and decided he would like to save up for a sock machine. Michael asked if I would make a pair of socks, and before I could get them made, he had ordered a NZAK, and is now waiting for it to arrive.

Meanwhile I sent along two pairs of custom-made socks, the first in beige/gray/hunter green,...

...the second in three shades of gray. I'm told they fit! It's all been a fun way to begin a New Year of fibers at Shuttle Works Studio.

There are more socks needing to be made, weaving to be done, and warps to be made. I'm working on another sock order, I would like to have a rug done for Monday's weaving guild meeting, and the gallery needs all new socks (only 4 pairs left) and weaving. Plus, I have a number of "single" socks here, where I got carried away with cranking and cranked more rows than were needed for the size I was making. Now, just need to count rows/determine size, and make mates for them. Same yarn, same tension, so they should turn out the same size. I also have my drum carder and wool back and would love to do a little felting, too. Did I mention I'm knitting a scarf? Now, to see how much I can get done in the next few days!