Two and a half years ago I decided to explore Theo Moorman’s weaving technique. I have done double weave before and long wanted to try the imagemaking possibilities of this method. It is basically a double weave—one fine warp is used to tie down a supplementary weft. Being fine it does not show and is also integrated into the thicker main warp of the background. I sent away to Halcyon Yarns in Maine for my yarns. Green for the main warp and black for the tie down warp. Purple and green were to work as the main weft and I did lots of experimenting with the image weft. The yarns arrived and I got busy winding the warp!
First the green warp through the front heddles and then the black through the back two. I used strings to keep my two warps separate as they went through the reed. A 12 dent reed with 3 ends per dent—one black and two green.
My small Harrisville Loom!
Finally all tied on and winding the bobbins. This is a hand bobbin winder that belonged to my grandmother’s cousin. I was given her counterbalance loom which is currently in my attic.
For additional weft I also used some pine needles from walks in the Wissahickon, some sticks that I soaked, shredded, and dyed with rusty bits. I used some yarn that tied up lunch from my trip with the Garden gals… This warp turned into a journal of my life during this time.
And I did The Moorman Technique with it’s ability to make wonderful densities of design. A square within a square. Towards the end there were squares – positive squares, negative squares, heavy squares, delicate squares, squares with stripes…and then I ran out of warp!
My “Stitches not Words” project uses squares and lots of squares appeared here. One early bit of weaving that was removed to adjust the warp didn’t have squares but it ended up in a rusty bit dye pot with stitched bits on it! It has since become a work on it’s own titled “Liar, Liar”.
“Stitches not Words!”
We’ve been away on vacation—a whirl wind road trip to Cape Breton and back. Hiking and sketching and eating and driving and driving…
After a long hike we stopped by the ocean and Bob took pictures while I sat and wrote the following in my sketchbook…
I did take this picture.
Musings at Green Cove, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia 2016
young boy hopping rock to rock. I used to do that—like a mountain goat. But now, not so much. So I watch the young boy…
Bob goes rock to rock, not like the young boy but slower, watching, looking, seeing pictures in puddles that the young boy jumps over.
Saw a lot of birds at the end of our hike. young woman—not so young 53 but full of energy and friendship—works for the park—stopped to talk. I know her life history—her parents married, left Cheticamp for Toronto and returned. Her father loved the woods. I know all about her cheating husband. They were musicians, embarking on her perfect life, but… and she told us a lot about the birds.
Blue flowers hiding between the rocks—bright green leaves. Rocks with stripes—cracks and magma—each a painting.
Saw a seal swimming today!
Saw Canadian geese with a gosling.
Saw cormorants and lots and lots of sea gulls—
Tide waits for no man—nor woman for that matter.
We come and go and have hateful presidential conventions and the tide comes and goes—comes and goes—comes and goes.
The birds are on their rock, and the seal swims in the sea and we go about our petty lives—but Bob takes pictures others miss.
Spring has come, all of a sudden everything is green… and magenta and yellow and violet—Philadelphia has a very wild burst of color when spring arrives. I’ve been busy working on a new set of paintings but I spell it with stitching.
My latest “rabbit hole” is a fiber book based on my grandmother, her mother, and her mother. Using many bits and pieces from their collections of saved fabric, lace and trims—my grandmother was the youngest and as all this was passed down it ended up with her and then to me—I descend from savers or some might say pack rats. All three women sewed so there is a wealth of scraps.
Slowly the pages have been taking shape as things are rearranged and reassembled. I learned to print photo’s on fabric—that was a big break through… my dyed fabrics make an appearance as does my stitching. And finally I made a commitment on a cover. So here is the cover and the pages for each woman.
The cover is piece of canvas dyed with tea and rusty bits. It is stitched and has self ties. When untied it reveals a pocket with a photo of me with what I thought was a most wonderful hat when I was four years old.
Three generations of women, all “Stitchers”, although I don’t think they would have used that title.
Other pages and spreads consist of fabric and buttons and feathers and prints and lace and … some are still in the works…
These women have inspired this book but it isn’t necessarily about them but rather about women in general, things that were important to them in their time and that belonged to them in their time.
This week the world has gone to the dark side or so it seems. So much hate and violence, fanned by those who should unify and comfort and put a stop to this. I can’t paint at a time like this with angry/sad thoughts racing through my mind. But the slowness of stitching, its zen like calming, focus on the task at hand—that’s where I burrow in and find some sanity.
This project has been in the works for a long time—first as the long green warp woven with Theo Moorman’s Technique. Much of it involved squares. Now it’s cut apart and I’m embellishing the squares to bring out their personalities—woven portraits of time and space.
It doesn’t fix the world but it allows me to gather the strength to live in it.
Here’s a selection waiting to be finished and framed.
Some might still be worked on – they let me know.
Off to Virginia to stay with Fletcher and Cooper while their parents were away and I took my Hokett Loom, yarns and design materials. I knew the boys would have their noses in the World Cup and I would have time to indulge in weaving.
I pack my weaving supplies in translucent bags that all fit into a larger bag. One for my Hokett with the tray I use it on, one for a selection of yarns and one for little bits of equipment. My design supplies go in a small shoulder bag with watercolors, sketchbooks etc. With these two bags I could set up a little studio space and was set!
Got out my sketchbook and watercolors and came up with my design. I’ve been sketching trees and leaves lately so decided on stylized leaves. Next to warp my little loom and prepare my weft yarns. I did bring the little spinner thing that I got from Rebecca Mezoff to un ply my Harrisville yarns. BUT… my design called for black and I forgot that while I needed to un ply the blue and green yarn, I needed to double the black and didn’t bring enough… You can see where I ran out of black yarn in the image above!!! Always something!!!!
I did have more black at home and was able to finish!!! So all is well with one part of my world, at least…
Well, I’ve taken the little looms class and attended the little looms workshop in the mountains of Colorado- both with Rebecca Mezoff. I’ve done a number of small tapestries on my Hokett looms and felt I knew what I was doing enough to sign up for the Unjuried Small Format Tapestry Exhibition through the American Tapestry Alliance. I worked on my design, did some samples on my 8 epi Hokett and ordered yarns from Harrisville. I thought I had simplified my design and thought Harrisville would be good as I do know I’m a beginner. WELL, the real world works to keep me humble. I still like my design, but should have explored more ways to do the veins in the leaves. There are slits all over the place to the point of making it unstable. I’ll try stitching them but…
Anyway, here’s my process – I do still like my design and will rework it after I pick my self up… I may do a series – I like the simple concept of friendship and nature. I call this one, “Have a Cup of Tea with Me”.
I had a watercolor sketch that I had done of leaves in a jar and liked it’s spring like quality and colors. I selected my colors based on it and ordered them – it was exciting when they arrived!!! Much of my work is with low chroma colors so these bright hues were a big deal for me!
I knew the watercolor was beyond my abilities as this was my first real tapestry so I redrew it, cropping in and eventually cropped in a lot more. I wanted this to be a friendly, cosy, spring like design, so the jar changed to the suggestion of a cup of tea. I then scanned the color sketch and redrew it in Illustrator to flatten it and to simplify it even more. Once sized, that became my cartoon.
I made samples. First, testing how yarns could mix to extend the colors I have, then adjusting the values of the greens to get the feeling of the tea cup under the leaves and finally exploring various angles I could achieve. I considered weaving this side ways, and perhaps I should have but I thought I could get away with a vertical design as I wanted the texture to be vertical and not horizontal.
Finally I got started. I had warped my new loom when I got it to make sure I understood how. I didn’t use the shedding device as I used my fingers and it doesn’t seem to make a very large shed anyway. Also when I attached the cartoon to the back it made the shedding device unusable. I attached it with some bag clips from my kitchen – need to research how others do this. I re did section after section as I began to understand how the weft packed down – think I might be packing too hard??? My main problem was the vein lines in the leaves. My original design didn’t have them but I felt they were important to describe the leaves. I tried different blues (limited to the blues I have) and eccentric lines, and wrapping a single warp yarn. I ended up using anything that seemed to work – resulting is a fabric with too many slits. I thought I could stitch the slits but there is a problem with the wrapped warps – perhaps if I had stitched as I went along…but I didn’t. When it lies flat the problem doesn’t show but when I took it off the loom…
So, I have a lot to learn and I learned a lot.