Tiny Things

I love itty bitty things. If I had space in our tiny house for frivolous things, there would most certainly be a dollhouse meticulously outfitted with tiny furniture, tiny carpets, tiny linens, tiny food, tiny artwork. My four year old is not so into the whole tiny movement, unless we're talking marbles. So when I had the chance to make a birthday gift for one of his friends who seems to be an appreciator of tiny things, I couldn't resist. 

Experiments in Ikat

My weaving guild, NOBO Handweavers, hosted an ikat dyeing workshop a few weeks back. Our instructor was the talented Chelsae Murray. Chelsae guided us through the process of wrapping sections of warp to create areas that would resist dye. We used poly tape similar to this from Maiwa, and I found this video helpful as a reminder when I was tying my own warp at home in preparation for the workshop. 


Let's clear something up - how to pronounce ikat. There seems to be a bit of debate as to how the -kat part is pronounced, rhymes with cat or sounds like a Kennedy - kaht, I'll put this into the toh-may-toh/toh-mah-toh basket, but the i should be prounounced like ee, not eye.


I had a 300 end, three yard warp of Valley Yarns 8/2 in white. This unmercerized cotton warp was intended to be used at a dyeing workshop I took at NEWS five years back, but it came home unused. Having survived the trip to and from NEWS as well as a later move from apartment to house, it wasn't in perfect shape. I did my best to stretch it back out on my warping board to align all of the threads, but as this was somewhat challenging, even with the warp well tied, I decided that I'd go ahead and wrap groups of threads as best I could and hope for the best. Mostly I was interested in learning the technique on a practice warp, so I wasn't terribly concerned if my end result didn't look traditional.


I have to say, I'm pretty darn happy with the results - not particularly traditional, but interesting nonetheless. And so now I add resist dyeing to the list of things I'd like to do more of when I have more time.

I'm Dyeing Over Here

Slowly but surely I'm getting back into a bit of a creating rhythm. I've been thinking a lot about the example I set for my son. That it feels infinitely more satisfying to dry my hands on a handwoven towel or set my shoes by a handwoven mat than their storebought counterparts. That using the stuff between our ears to solve a problem builds confidence and makes us want to learn more. That sometimes the best solution is the simplest.


As someone who gravitates towards natural and more neutral colors, using color in my weaving has always been a fascinating challenge. I'm not sure that color is the issue so much as choosing the wrong color, which I seem to do well. After a recent ikat dyeing workshop where I went all out and dyed my warp bright orange because I had no plans for it whatsoever, I decided to take a stab at dyeing again. This time around, I wanted to use plants, specifically local plants that could be found in abundance and within the confines of our property. Simple and free. 


I discovered that Schacht's Zoom Loom is an excellent swatch maker if you're looking for uniform swatches. My swatches were woven using Harrisville Shetland. It's finer than I would generally use on the Zoom Loom, but makes for very easy weaving as the sett is loose. I used bits of yarn to code each swatch so that I'd know what combination of mordants I used: no mordant, pre-mordant with alum only, post-mordant with iron, and both alum pre-mordant and iron post-mordant. Here you can see the results of my dye baths, from top row to bottom, using hairy vetch (what a terrible name for a lovely wildflower), lavender, and spearmint. 



Where Does the Time Go?

Apparently I am due to give myself a mid-year evaluation to see where I am relative to the goals I have set for myself for the year. I have a little under two months before the mid-year mark, so let's see where I am at. Using the good china. Check! Most recently it held the dinner that I served up for Jane Patrick and Barry Schacht. Go ahead and be jealous. They are absolutely wonderful people, and Jane is my weaving mentor. If you ever get a chance to meet them or take a class with Jane, do it. Talking with Jane really made me miss Boulder.


Weave more. Check! Well, this little exercise is really starting to make me feel like I've accomplished something! Of course I still have a lot more progress to make in this particular category, but I am doing my best in the time allotted. Currently on my 15" Flip is a tapestry. Yes, a tapestry. My first tapestry in fact. It's looking a bit like a drawing that I might have created in second grade, and it's slow going, but I am really enjoying the process, and I want to learn more. I am also in the process of planning to weave some fabric to sew a garment for the 2013 NEWS fashion show. Mark your calendars now. July 11 - 14, 2013 at Smith College. At a recent trustees meeting, we discussed the list of teachers, and all I can say is wow. Wow. Wow. I am about to cut a couple of patterns to get a sample that's just right before I go ahead and start weaving. I am usually not this calculating when I weave, but I want this to be extra special. 


Learn to tat. Zero progress here. Time to get cracking! Plus I have some size 12 pearl cotton in a dozen gorgeous colors that I would love to use for this. Sort of along a similar vein, here is a link to a crocheted snowflake pattern from Aesthetic Nest that I hope to use to decorate the windows next winter.


I am also working on turning a full fleece into a fulled bedside rug for myself. I managed to wash the fleece last weekend, so we'll see if I can make any progress with fulling this weekend. One problem: vegetable matter. So many little bits, and I don't want to loose the definition of the locks.


And finally, Linda Cortright gave a wonderful lecture on Oman at our guild anniversary meeting last week. That woman amazes me. What a world she has seen. If you haven't checked out Wild Fibers Magazine, I would encourage you to do so. It is full of gorgeous and inspiring words and images, and Margaret Russell's rare breeds column is a must read.