Shredding Blue Jeans

Why shred your blue jeans??  So you can weave them into a placemat, of course!

Loom in garage (1)This is my loom in the garage.  Blue jean strips give off a lot of lint/dust when you weave them and it’s hard to vacuum out of carpet.  Therefore it’s easier to weave them in the garage.  Notice the mask hanging on the loom?  I wear that when I’m weaving the mats.

Weaving in the garage is not all bad.  Below is the view I have while I’m sitting at the loom in the garage.

Loom in garage (5)

Just past the lawn is the South Fork of the Kaweah River.  It makes a lovely sound.  Sometimes I’m treated to a passing neighbor.  There’s a bobcat who cruises through occasionally and one day she was followed by her kitten!  Just 2 days ago, a cute little fox trotted by with a dead gopher dangling from her mouth. Yay!

Rich cutting blue jeans (2)

This is my “lovely assistant” (hey, if  a magician can have a “lovely assistant”, why can’t I?)  My husband, Rich is using a rag cutter to make quarter-inch strips which I will use as weft in the placemats and sometimes in mug rugs as well. By the way, he’s the one who built my beautiful studio…a good guy to have around!

Sharon Alderman Workshop

Log CabinI’m ready for the Color & Weave Effects workshop with Sharon Alderman this weekend.  We will be exploring Shadow Weave in the form of Log Cabin.  It was a challenge to thread 4 different patterns using 2 colors but I think I’ve got it now.  Can you see the 4 different patterns?  This way of threading alternating colors makes the end result look much more complicated than it is.  For you weavers: it’s just plain weave.  In our workshop, we will learn how to work designs out on paper from the draft to the cloth diagram and weave several of the designs.  Should be fun!

Warp after workshop

Here’s how it looked after the workshop.  We repeated the color order of the weft to match the color order in the warp.  My favorite is the zig zag in the pattern second from the left.

 

Warp after Sharon Alderman workshop (1)

 

 

Here’s another view.  We wove 3 inches of each variation of the color order.

Now I just have to figure out how I want to use this information in an actual project.  Stay tuned.

Placemats Upon Request

On two different occasions I’ve been asked to weave placemats using beige, olive green and mauve as the main colors. Do you know how many shades of those three colors there are?!  Darn…as hard as I try, I can’t look inside someone’s head to see the colors they envision.  So, in both cases, I insisted on something tangible from the customer as a sample of what they meant by beige, olive green and mauve.

Fabric strips cut & ready to weave. Fabric in same colors as pillow.

Assembling the fabrics to match the sample pillow

Here’s what is involved in making the placemats: I start by gathering fabrics that contain the colors I am looking for. Then I cut the fabric into 1 ” strips on the bias.  Next, I look through my yarn stash to find yarns (5/2 Perle cotton) to coordinate with the fabrics I have chosen.

Placemats on loom with pillow as sample colors

Placemats on loom with pillow as sample colors

I like to use the Fibonacci numbers to set up the stripes in the warp (lengthwise threads on the loom).  Then, using what is commonly known as the “rag weaving technique”, I weave the fabric strips (the weft) into the warp.  The beginning and end of each mat is finished by hand with a hem stitch while still on the loom.  These “rag mats” are great for insulating your plate from the cold table, especially if you eat at a granite or quartz counter.

Finished mats with customer's pillow

Finished mats with customer’s pillow

Below are pictures of the more recent example of a consignment using beige, olive green and mauve (with the addition of navy blue) to make placemats.  See how different they turned out?

Finished mats

Finished mats

Placemat with fabric supplied by customer as color sample

Placemat with fabric supplied by customer as color sample

In both cases my customer was pleased with the results. If the customer is happy, I’m happy!

Silk Wedding Shawl

We recently had a special wedding in our family and I wanted to make a special shawl for the bride. I had some sumptuous off-white 16/2 spun silk yarn that I knew would provide a lovely sheen and luxurious drape.

Beautiful Lisa in her wedding shawl

I used a mixture of 5/2 perle cotton, and 2 textured cotton/rayon blends as the warp. I wanted it to be sheer so I wove it in plain weave. Plain weave, however, does not let the beautiful sheen of the silk show to its best advantage. So, I randomly wove sections of twill which allowed that silk to float over the warp threads allowing them to shine.

 The end result was a lovely bride in a shawl that prepared her for any chill the evening might bring.

A Good Day to Dye

Dyeing warp chains in the garage requires several days, preferably with nice weather.  Trusting what the weather man was telling me, I recently began the process by mixing the dyes.  I buy my fiber reactive dyes in a powder form from Dharma Trading Company.  The dye powder is mixed with water, urea and table salt.  Here I’m adding the urea pellets. 

When I add the dye powder, I wear a mask because the dye powder particles are extremely fine and I don’t want to breathe them into my lungs.

 

Because most colors are a combination of red, yellow & blue, I like to know what the underlying color is when deciding which dye to use.  I find that paper coffee filters are a good way to let the color separate out into its different components.  This way I know if a green has a stronger underlying blue or yellow hue.  This works for many different color combinations.

Early in the morning on a bright sunny day, I began by setting out the dye bottles.

The cotton warp is soaked in a solution of water and soda ash to get the fiber ready to accept the dye.  Then the warp threads are carefully laid out on a strip of plastic wrap on the table.  Next comes the fun part: squirting the dye colors wherever the mood strikes me.  After each warp is dyed, it is rolled up in the plastic wrap and allowed to sit over night. 

The next day proved the weather man wrong. The day dawned cold and overcast. I decided to do the rinsing in the (unfinished) kitchen.  On the counter in the dish pan are the rolled up chains wrapped in plastic.  I’m removing the plastic from one of the chains.  After being rinsed several times, the warp goes into the bucket on the floor to the right which holds a solution of Synthopol and water.  After a few more rinses, the warp chain goes into the bucket to my left.

In the garage is another sink and a portable wringer. After a few more rinses, followed by several runs through the wringer, the last step is to put the warps gently into the washing machine on spin cycle.  By now,very little dye will come out of the fiber.  This is a warp of 8/2 unmercerized cotton for towels.  Weaving these towels one after the other is so much fun!  These colored warp threads will be set up in a stripe pattern along with white threads in a Fibonacci sequence. I use different solid color weft yarns and each towel is unique.  The fun part is watching what happens when the solid color crosses the hand dyed portion which changes as the warp progresses. Where the weft crosses the warp, a new color appears.

My favorite part is usually seeing the newly dyed warps drying in the sun. This day was too cold and overcast for that so the warps were hung in the new kitchen on a makeshift clothesline.  Still a pretty sight. In addition to the 8/2 unmercerized cotton for towels, this batch contains 5/2 perle for shawls and rayon chenille for scarves.  I can’t wait to start weaving!

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14,056 Mug Rugs And Counting!

I’m preparing for 1st Saturday again.  My supply of Mug Rugs is always  low at the end of the year. I just finished another batch. This picture shows some that are long gone.  I’ve kept track since I first started making these in 1991 as just a little item to sell for Christmas. They have been so popular that I have continued to make them and have kept track of how many since I started.  As of 1/1/11, the total number of sets of 4 is 3,514.  That makes a total of 14,056 individual Mug Rugs!  And I can’t keep them in stock. Every time I think I have saturated the market, I realize my basket is almost empty. Thank you to all who have purchased these silly little coasters and come back for more.

On Feb 5, I’ll be with Shirley Keller in her Spirit Hill Studio, 43641 Skyline Dr., Three Rivers. We’ll be open from 11:00 to 5:00.  Come and see us.

Happy New Year!

If you’re not watching football on Jan 1, come to Three Rivers and make the rounds of those participating in 1st Saturday. In honor of 1/1/11, many of us are offering 11% off of all purchases. My studio will be open and so will several others as well as Colors and the Art Co-op. Pick up a map at Anne Lang’s Emporium.  I have new soy candles, towels and scarves. Click on www.1stSaturdayTR.com to see who’s participating.  I’m also a participating merchant for Heros’ Month.

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