Saturday, January 8, 2011

Been there, done that.

I've never done this before. Actually, there are two things here I have never done. The first is be a part of a Weaving Study Group. I will get to the second thing I haven't done in a bit.

Karen, always looking to extend our reach to the weaving community, suggested we at sutherland begin a Study Group using Jane Patrick's new book "The Weaver's Idea Book". Now this book is written for those who have a rigid heddle loom. Karen, ever looking to stretch things for us, suggested we use this book as a guide for our new group. I admit it, I agreed, but was quietly skeptical.

Our first meeting was back in the middle of the Fall. We have a steady number of group members; some long-term weavers, others who have only been weaving for several months. Some have looms with 16+ shafts, others with rigid heddle looms. It is a nice diversity. Our first meeting was to get acquainted and set guidelines as well as goals. Now, here is where Karen is better at keeping minutes, but I am winging it with y'all. As I recall our general goal is for each member to take a chapter or portion of a chapter and present it, preferably with visual woven pieces.

I volunteered to take the presentation for January. I thumbed through the book several times, looking for just the right idea to present. My main criteria was to present an idea which was totally new to me as well. This would be my 'stretch' or second thing I have never done before. As a self professed Queen of Tedium (QOT), I lit on Double Spanish Medallions. Yep, that's me, all about tedium and detail. Well, at least with regards to weaving. Once the idea was in my mind I had to decide how I wanted to present the weaving presentation. I decided place mats would work well. A friend was cleaning out her "library" (see earlier post regarding this alternative word for "stash") and gave me two huge cones of linen so I thought this would be a good use for it. The thread I chose to use to weave the medallions is a linen I had used back in the summer for commissioned place mats.

I started dressing the loom and was able to weave my first two rows of medallions in the first mat right before I went on holiday break. Good thing I had written down directions as I am pretty sure I would not have remembered a thing. I sure had to reacquaint myself with how to weave the medallions when I got back to my studio loom this week. They are not difficult, but they do take some figuring from the photos and descriptions Jane has given.

I have learned several things through this process, with one of six mats left to weave. I quickly learned I needed to alter how I wove the medallions compared to the directions given. I found using my large weaving needle, given to me by my first weaving instructor Deborah Chandler, rather than a crochet hook, was much easier and far more efficient. Now that is not to say someone else wouldn't like to use the crochet hook, I just was unable to get a nice rhythm going with it. And there is one thing necessary for a nicely woven project--a rhythm. When learning anything new in weaving the initial throwing of the shuttle for me means I want to weave at least 6 to 12 inches to get that rhythm going before I put my shuttle down.

I have always wanted to learn to weave the medallions to see if and how I might incorporate them into my weavings. They seemed like they would be a fun tedious, sort of like why I enjoy hemstitching. Well, these are the epitome of tedium. And that is saying something coming from the QOT! Suffice it to say you will never see these in any future weaving projects of mine.

I will say I am happy I tried weaving these and think they do have a nice visual appeal, but they are not for me. There is also the question of the direction of the medallions on the mat. The mats will be off in a few days and I will post the final photo and let you see what you think.

I can now say I have done this, but won't do it again. Sort of the weaving version of 'been there, done that'.

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