Sanna's Bag

“I never seem to have what I need when I need it. I’m going to make a belt-bag that’s bigger on the inside than on the outside, and just carry everything with me.”

Monday, July 30, 2007

The old pro weaves - notes

After I washed the scarf, I started brushing it to lift the nap of the angora yarn At the right side of this picture you see the fuzziness of the brushed fabric, and on the left is the clearer colors unbrushed. I used a little pet brush with wire teeth on a rubber back. You can use your hand carders, but be careful not to brush too hard. The nap will come up best when the fabric is damp.

I re-reeded the warp at 10 threads per inch instead of 20, and doubled the width of the fabric. These stripes make me a lot happier. Ikat is a technique of dying your warp and weft before you weave to create designs in the finished fabric. It requires superb planning and measuring, beyound my aspirations.

Pepper is keeping track of things that need to be filed.

Jack is being a venerable old cat outside. I always keep him company on his excursions now that his is missing a leg.

Quite a few days ago, Amy asked about when and how I learned to weave. I was doing a graduate study program in Denmark, and the college I was staying at offered a weaving class. I was already an experienced knitter and thought that weaving would be interesting to learn as well. In Scandenavia, weaving is taught as a practical craft, not as an artsy-fartsy form of self-expression. I learned how to make fabric, not how to create wall-hangings and soft-sculptures. It resonated with my frugal soul. I made blankets and a coat. among other things. When I got back to America, I got a job in a yarn store with another weaver who eventually went on to work as a fabric designer at Pendleton Woolen Mills. the job at that particular yarn store was the first job I was ever fired from, but it's an ill wind that blows no good. When my fellow weaver knew of a job opening among the sample weavers at Pendleton, she called me, I interviewed, and so began the best job I ever had. I loved going in to work. Every day I was learning something new. I had wonderful wool to work with and like-minded people around me. I earned a good paycheck at a skilled trade, and had great benefits. Then the powers that be bought a design computer that was supposed to print off pictures of the fabric without the bother and expense of having someone weave them. It was (and still is, I understand) unsatisfactory. But it was purchased and had to be paid for. So the weavers were told that they could become secretaries. I left. I should have stayed till I got fired as an incompetanat secretary. At least I would have gotten unemployment benefits.

What is it about weaving that delights me? The way the mandatory grid structure permits such a huge diversity of variations. You have to have threads going over and under other threads at right angles to one another, or the fabric falls apart. But the enormous variety of weave structures, coupled with the complexity of different colored threads gives you a lifetime of patern exploration. I saw a presentation by one woman who is quite an art weaver, and she said that she has not yet, in fifteen years, explored all the possibilities of plain tabby weave (over one, under one, just like my loom does.) I'll show you one of my favorite tabby pattterns when I set up and weave Dave's gorgeous handspun.


  • At 10:21 AM , Blogger Willow said...

    How long did you work as a Pendleton weaver? What a great job!

    And what a wonderful opportunity it was to learn to weave in Denmark.

    Interestingly, ikat is a word in Indonesian (and Malaysian) which means, drum roll here, to tie!

  • At 10:50 AM , Anonymous MonicaPDX said...

    LOL, I love it: "...not as an artsy-fartsy form of self-expression." Hear, hear! That's what I loved best about weaving, too; making something practical. Practical does not preclude beautiful. I remember looking at some misshapen wall-hanging in a weaving magazine once, in which they had 'artfully' arranged some grass stems, and thinking, "Man, those people have way too much time on their hands..."

    Rats on the end of the Pendleton job. (Altho speaking as a moderately-competent secretary who always hated it, it could've driven you nuts, which may not have been worth the unemployment bennies.) I've got a graphics program that'll do weaves, and I keep wondering... Why? Colored pixels are never the same as yarn, so really, how can a computer give you a true picture better than a woven sample? I could see it for pattern drafting, I guess, but still. And why anyone would want to use weaves in computer graphics for any other reason also makes no sense to me. Maybe I lack imagination?

    And ooh, kitties! They both look so good. ;)

  • At 1:27 PM , Anonymous Dave Daniels said...

    That's a great story. Mine history is not nearly as glamorous. My beginnings were as a macrame instructor in the 70's, as a local fabric and yarn store. I advanced to the knitting and weaving departments, coordinating the colors, etc. From there, got promoted to the interior design section, and moved out and onward from there. It was a great time working on the looms in the 70's, during the first big rush. reminisce.
    Oh, and great tip about the brushing lightly when wet.

  • At 8:42 PM , Blogger Bells said...

    Well look at that! I. Do. Not. Need. Another. Fibre. Fixation. No. I. Don't.

    Stop it Roxie. Stop it! Don't tempt me.

  • At 9:23 PM , Blogger Jejune said...

    Wow, it's finished already?! I guess you spend ages doing the set up, but the actual weaving process is pretty fast?

    I loved hearing about your working history - that did indeed sound like an ideal job - bugger about the advent of the computer in that field :/

  • At 9:25 PM , Blogger Amy Lane said...

    Thanks Roxie--that's an awesome story--and I hate it when a good thing goes, don't you? But still--what a way to have learned a living...


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