Category Archives: Weaving

A lifetime’s work

The current exhibition at the Handweavers and Spinners Guild in North Carlton is work by Lithuanian born Ale Liubinas. She came with her family to Australia in 1949 from a displaced persons camp in Germany. The case her father had made from pine trees on the farm in Lithuania, and used by the family for their few possessions when they fled in 1944, is in the collection at the Melbourne Museum.

After marriage and children she went to night school at Phillip Institute to study dress design and handloom weaving and design. She graduated in Fine Arts with a ceramics major.

This very talented lady worked in all these media for the rest of her life. Ale was active in textile groups in her local community. In 1990, after Lithuania gained independence, she returned to search for her lost childhood and wrote three books about her experiences following her retirement.

Ale passed away earlier this year and her sons asked the guild to assist in selling some of her work to raise funds for the creative art group at Arcadia Aged Care Facility in Essendon North.

From all the red stickers I saw, everything is sold however the exhibition is on at 655 Nicholson St. Carlton North until  July 15.

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Not sinking, weaving

All the work involved in the lead up to Waverley Patchworkers Quilt Show meant I had to take a break from weaving. That is all going to change very soon as I start a weaving intensive next Friday.

Here are some things I learned while I had a loom on loan in May.

Weaving drafts are not all written the same
The book I was using had drafts for floor looms that have a sinking shed. This means that  the shafts move down to open the shed. I was using a table loom and the shafts move up. So some patterns had the wrong side on top and the right side underneath.

I first noticed this with an undulating twill sampler that didn’t look quite right at first.

IMG_8893Its not about the cats
In reading various weaving instructions the term ‘use tabby’ popped up a lot. At first I ignored it and those patterns, but curiosity got the better of me and I found a really good explanation in the classic A Handweavers Pattern Book by Marguerite Porter Davison. In brief ‘tabby’ is another term for plain weave, ‘use tabby’ means to do one pick of tabby between each pick of the pattern, alternating as you go.

So when I did another undulating twill piece in green, using variations on the largest section from the blue sampler I used tabby. You can see the extra threads of white 2 ply if you click on the close ups. I also transposed the shaft lifts so I could see the pattern emerge right way up.

One weaver structure has a multitude of possibilities
My next warp was half black half white and the weave structure Monks Belt with a Swedish Point threading.

I had lots of fun with colour and it is interesting to see the effect of the white or black warp.

So much can be said in so few lines

I still really like honeycomb
Now I understand the pattern I used in my bags 1 and 2. Here is a honeycomb from the front and back where you can see the threads that float.

A little experiment
Finally, having read in a magazine pattern that fusible thread can be used to fix the warp if the piece is going to be hemmed. This thread is usually used in the bobbin of a sewing machine so a hem can be fused in place with an iron.

I wove three picks at the beginning and end of my test piece. Then pressed between two layers of baking paper when it was off the loom.

 

It worked. The warp threads are not fraying and it still feels quite soft.

I can’t wait to get weaving again.

 

Worth the wait

What was supposed to be a quick detour on my way home from Carlton, turned into a slow crawl through Warrandyte Village. The traffic jam highlighted just how vulnerable this community is with a single road in and out and only one bridge across the Yarra. That was the reason for the hold up, the bridge is being revamped and widened.

Many motorists did U turns to go back towards Doncaster or Templestowe, but my destination was right in town. It was worth the half hour wait to make it to the first carpark.

The Annual Textile Art exhibition “Threadalicious” is on during the month of May at the Stonehouse Gallery. Don’t let the traffic put you off, the sign said this road work is only until 7 May.

The work is by members of Stonehouse and guest artists. Catherine O’Leary’s transparent dresses with digitally printed fabric looked lovely wafting in the breeze. Regular exhibiter Michelle Mischkulnig had a huge embroidered chaise lounge and felted and embroidered jackets. Her lily pond machine embroidery will appeal to many viewers. There were also sun dyed cushions and woven scarves.

Elizabeth Syndercome was at the gallery. She is a weaver and she was very keen to talk weaving. So of course I had to ask her about her loom and why she liked it. It is a large countermarche which was very interesting as this is the mechanism that I haven’t seen but have been reading a lot about. She was very reassuring about the tying up process which I had heard was tricky. Her lovely wrap is below on the right.

The machine embroidered and quilted bee image and the bird cluster are from the ongoing gallery display.

After a walk to the bakery to get something for lunch, I had a bit of a wait again to exit the carpark as this bin truck was using the area to turn back and the line of cars in the road had no where to go to clear a path.IMG_8885

Fortunately I was in no hurry, and knew an alternate way home via the Warrandyte State Park. Unfortunately others had found this route and didn’t really know how to drive on a dirt road. So much dust!

Three bags full

After making really dense fabric for three different bags, I had a change of rhythm and wove a really lightweight fabric for some shopping bags. These are based on the one made by Amy for her Intro to Weaving final project.

I used several balls perle cotton from boxes I picked up last month at Morris and Sons when they were on clearance.  So far I have finished one which has yellow and white thread in the warp and blue and white weft. The other is just the yellow but is still fabric with the long warp threads that become the handles.

The third bag? That is a calico one full of cones of yarn for my weaving stash that I bought at Bendigo Woollen Mills when in Bendigo last week.

Two bags

The other part of my honeycomb project is finally finished. A tote bag, this time with the warp going sideways. This makes the pattern looks very different from one bag. It is the same threading of the loom, but the fine cotton warp thread is also used in the weft with a salmon coloured viscose and cotton yarn tracing the outline of the cells.

The shape is dictated by not wanting to cut the fabric and the structure developed as I went along, no bag pattern used here. I didn’t waste a scrap, the bottom is the same dark brown as the top of the lining. I made it this way to have a clean line of handwoven fabric right at the top. This top lining has a lot of stiffening to support the handles.

One of my favourite rabbit fabrics for the lining. Quite tricky to attach as there was far too much stiffening to do the inside out trick. In the end it was achieved with tiny hand stitching.

With the warp remaining on the loom I wove a third piece using two variegated perle cottons from my stash. One for the background and the other in a slightly different colour way to outline the cells. This turned out to be the perfect size to make a little bag from these patterns purchased at AQC.

It clips onto the purpose made pocket inside the tote.

Three very different fabrics from the one weave structure. There are so many variables which is why I am finding hand weaving so fascinating.

 

One bag

The fabric I wove for my final project in the Introduction to Weaving course was to make some bags. This weekend I stopped procrastinating and made the clutch purse. I used the tutorial here and fortunately the template was for a frame exactly the same size as the one I bought at AQC.

My fabric pieces are just big enough, which is good – minimal waste. As I have never made a clutch purse the smart thing to do would be to make it in calico first. But that would take too long. Instead I made the lining first.

The fabric is an unusual Japanese print I bought years ago from Patchwork House in Hawthorn, now long gone. The stripe fabric for the pocket is also from my stash. I used some thin iron-on wadding to give it some shape.

No more delaying tactics, it is time to cut into my handwoven fabric. After much deliberation I decided to use a fairly stiff iron-on interfacing. Then staystiched just inside the cutting line. The alternative was to use fray check.

Sewing the outer was easy, but joining it to the lining made me appreciate the flexibility of a free arm machine.

And the bag is done! But inside out. This is the stage where you wonder if the gap you left in the lining is going to be big enough for it all to squeeze through.

Now for the really hard part. Getting the top edge to sit neatly inside the channel of the frame. It took a lot of wrangling to get to this stage where it is mostly in the right place and the basting stitches are keeping it there.

Ta Da!

Happy with the lining and even the bottom looks good.

Looms

So far my journey into weaving has involved a loom on loan from the Handweavers and Spinners Guild. The loan was included in the Intro to Weaving Course.  The one I used was quite old but perfectly adequate.

There was a problem with getting enough light to see while threading, especially when I used dark brown cotton in the warp for my project. A visit to the Daylightman while at AQC solved this. The Duo light has two led arms that each move through 90 degrees. I chose the clamp version

The wire heddles on the loom worked well. I found out how to move them from one shaft to another when there were too few on some for my project. Quite a big operation. But after threading is done, heddles cannot be moved. So when I found a threading error on my next piece I remembered seeing how to make a heddle. A piece of cotton doubled and knotted at just the right spots works perfectly well.

Now the course is over I am not loomless. I have been allowed to borrow another loom for a month. This time it is an 8 shaft Ashford. This is the type I have been thinking about buying, so it is a wonderful opportunity to give it a try. The light clamps perfectly to the centre back of the castle, so it is easy to see while threading up even on a gloomy day.

This loom has texsolv heddles, and the beater pivots from the top. It is much lighter, and quieter.

I also tried a new way of spreading the warp on the raddle before winding it onto the back shaft. I think I prefer this technique. The instructions said to weight the end with a heavy book, I guess this is what is meant. Another benefit of joining the guild is the library.

I have already finished this piece of weaving. It was an experiment is spacing the warp and weaving evenly to create an open fabric.

While a table loom is very versatile. A floor loom means you can use your feet as well as your hands. Moving the shafts is therefore much more efficient as they are tied together according to the pattern being used and treadling is done with the feet..

My tutor has a Louet David 2, and just before the course finished, I went on a visit and had a play. It is really beautiful. So maybe I will just jump in the deep end.

So what is next on my weaving journey? I have enrolled in the year long Certificate of 8 shaft weaving starting in August. In the meantime, I need to do lots of samples of 4 shaft patterns so I am ready.