Sunday, December 8, 2013

Patterning, Portability, and Intrique

The Ultimate in Portability for Pattern Weavers
 John Mullarkey turning his tablets
  John carefully turning his weaving tablets.
Every fall, a former guild mate who had been absent for months used to return to our meetings and delight everyone with dozens of bands she had woven during her summer living on a sailboat on a northern lake. She would apologize that this was all she had been able to weave because card weaving was the only thing she could manage on the boat.
The bands were beautiful and magical and sold like hotcakes at the annual guild sale. Having never really understood card weaving, I couldn’t imagine how what looked to me like square playing cards with holes in each corner could produce such intricately patterned bands. The idea of weaving on a sailboat all summer was appealing, although in my dreams the floor loom and my bench fit perfectly and somehow stayed in one place and perfectly horizontal as we rocked gently in the calm water. Obviously I haven’t had much experience sailing either.

Wherever I vacation next, John Mullarkey might just have convinced me to pack a set of weaving cards, also called tablets, some yarn, a DVD player and probably an inkle loom. His video workshop, Tablet Weaving Made Easy, was surprisingly enlightening, even for this committed floor loom weaver.

John's band, on the loom 
One of John's bands, on loom. 
I used to have weaving cards, and still might, if I didn’t throw them away in a rare fit of studio cleaning. They probably came in a box of other weaving tools or yarn I bought from another weaver. The only time I ever used them was as supplementary warp holders with S hooks and weights hanging from the holes. (I can see John cringing.) I had watched people card weave, but couldn’t imagine how simply turning these cards forward and backward would create woven patterns. Didn’t the warp get all twisted and tangled?

Then I saw John card weaving on an inkle loom in the first scene. Aha! Already I felt more comfortable. I know how to weave striped bands and pick-up patterns on an inkle loom. However, where I would normally attach heddles, John had inserted a stack of cards with four warp ends threaded through each one. You could even card weave on a floor loom, if you wanted, he said.

As I watched John’s demonstration of warping and weaving with cards, it hit me. Card weaving is a little like loom-controlled complex patterning for inkle bands. I equated it to adding shafts to an inkle or floor loom or rigid heddles to a rigid heddle loom. As my weaving philosophy has long been, “The more shafts, the better,” this gave me a new appreciation for card or tablet weaving, especially when he showed tablets with six and eight holes per card.

But I was getting ahead of myself. First I had to learn how to deal with four holes in both pattern drafting and warping, the difference between cards threaded in the S direction vs. the Z direcrtion, and how to keep everything lined up and turning back and forth without the twisted mess I had envisioned. John clearly and carefully led the way one step at a time.

My favorite part was when he demonstrated checking the warp for errors. Of course he had intentionally made all possible errors when the video camera paused for him to finish warping. He showed how to find and fix them all without rethreading the whole loom. I would definitely mark that chapter for review before I start weaving.

The weaving process was a lot like inkle weaving, except with more sheds. Instead of raising the unheddled ends above and below the heddled ones as you would with an inkle loom, he simply turned the deck of cards according to the draft. Then he showed how to freestyle patterns by changing the number of revolutions forward and backward, by moving threaded cards into new positions in the deck or by changing the home position of the letters that mark each hole. He wove a tube, wove a two-layer band, wove in a slit for a buttonhole. He even wove a simple striped inkle band in the center with unwoven warps above and below.

And these, he pointed out, were only some of the many variations possible for a threaded-in pattern, which is the subject of this video. Threaded-in patterns, he explained, are those where the pattern is achieved only by the way the cards are threaded. All cards are turned together, either forward or backward.

Another class of patterns can be designed and woven that result from altering the turning sequence for particular cards according to a mapping diagram. Ooooo. I’m intrigued.

That's the way to do it, John. Always leave them wanting more…or another workshop video.

Karen Donde

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Classroom is Open!

Well, actually it never closed, but I am pleased to announce that I have finally graduated from the Haywood Community College Professional Crafts-Fiber Program!karen diploma

What that means, and no one is happier about this than Barb, is I will be much more available to work at Sutherland, and I am eager to welcome new and returning students back to the classroom. So I have been thinking about how to structure classroom time while maintaining flexibility for those who must schedule weaving classes around a job or other commitments or those coming from some distance to take a class. At the same time, I’m trying to carve out a little weekend time for myself, now that my weekdays are not dedicated to attending school.

Here is the plan, beginning in June 2013.

Open Classroom Saturdays

Most Saturdays of every month, except those where I am otherwise committed or the studio is busy, will be Open Classroom days from 10 am-4 pm. On these days, students may schedule Just Weave, Weaving I; or any of the Next Step classes in four- or six-hour sessions.

Next Step classes include “Weave a Twill Gamp, More Twills & A Taste of Overshot, Handwoven Lace, Color and Weave (a color a weave gamp below ) 026and Spice Up Your Recipe Weaving: A New Weaver’s Guide to Design & Project Planning.”

Students may begin a class at any time as long as a loom is available. They will continue the class on consecutive Open Classroom days, sharing the classroom and instructor time with others who may be at different stages in the same class or in a different class.

Advance registration and a 50% deposit are required to reserve an Open Classroom loom. Two make-up classes will be allowed, but if a student needs to miss more than two sessions, I simply ask that he or she leave the loom empty during the absence.

Fees will be the same as posted in the Class Listing: $95 for Just Weave; $310 for the 32-hour Weaving I class; or $215 for the 18-hour Next Step classes, plus yarn fees. If Saturdays just don’t work for you, call and we’ll work something out.

For the next few months, Open Classroom Saturdays will include June 1, 15 and 29; and July 13 and 20.

Weekend Workshops

To better accommodate those who travel here to take a class,  or who would prefer a more concentrated focus on a subject, I will schedule a two- or three-day workshop on Friday- Saturday or Friday-Sunday every other month. The subject may be any of the classes currentlywarp rep sampler on the Class Listing or new ones I develop. First up will be Introduction to Designing & Weaving Warp Rep, July 26-27.

For some workshops, including this one, students may be asked to bring a pre-warped loom, or they may reserve an available classroom loom one day in advance. A small fee will be charged for loom rental for workshops.

Participation will be limited, based on space required for a particular workshop, and a minimum number of participants will be needed for the workshop to run.

Two-day workshops will be $180 per person and three-day workshops will be $215 per person, plus yarn fees if applicable.

Private Instruction

I will also offer private lessons or custom classes on Tuesday-Friday at $30/hour, based on loom and time availability.

Guest Instructors

Sutherland will continue to present workshops by guest instructors. In fact, we’ve had a few seats open up in Daryl Lancaster’s Wearable Extravaganza five or seven-day workshop June 3-7(or 9). But contact us quickly if you are interested.

We’ve also just booked Kathie Roig, who will teach her popular Warp Painting class on August 23-25 and Connie Lippert teaching Wedge Weave Fundamentals Nov. 2-3. You’ll hear more details about these soon.

A new Sutherland Handweaving Studio Calendar of Classes & Events also should be ready for you to access soon. I’ll post a link when we’re done testing.

For those who haven’t been to the studio in a while, remember that we have moved. We are now at 372 Depot St. Unit 20, a sister studio with Desert Moon Designs Studios & Gallery, just a few doors down. I hope to see you here soon.

Your proud Haywood grad,


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Weaving on a Deadline

Weaving on a Deadline
Who among us hasn't woven on a deadline, be it a textile exhibit, guild sale, magazine submission (of course, I encourage these commitments), or an upcoming birthday or holiday gifting opportunity? Karen Donde has been weaving on deadlines for several years now, as a student in a professional crafts program, and today she shares some excellent lessons she's learned. ––Anita

I dropped off exhibit pieces for the Haywood Community College Professional Crafts graduate show today. Haywood has a cooperative relationship with the Southern Highland Craft Guild, which includes an annual exhibit of work by students graduating in fiber, jewelry/metals, wood and clay at the Folk Art Center, just north of Asheville on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Center is headquarters for the SHCG, a juried regional craft guild founded in 1930.

Haywood Professional Crafts students have been working on these exhibit pieces since before our final semester began last January, and some were thinking about them long before that. So why is it we were working right up to the deadline into the wee hours of the morning to get everything finished by the jury yesterday morning?

Part of the reason can probably be attributed to the old adage, “If it weren’t for the last minute…” Well, you know the rest. However, I’ve been thinking about why I was up past midnight two nights this weekend sewing my final pieces, and I think there are lessons to be learned for anyone who is weaving pieces for an exhibition or another major deadline.

Lesson 1: Choose familiar materials. This is probably not the best time to experiment with yarns you’ve never used before, especially if you plan to dye them. Even a project you’ve woven successfully several times can go awry if the yarn is more stretchy, twisty, tangle-prone, or slippery than you are used to. Handwoven’s Master Yarn Chart can be a great resource, and a sample is always a good idea. (However, even if a fairly open sett finishes beautifully for a 12” sample, it can get ugly if the beat is too light to sustain consistently for 72 inches or the weft is slipping around on the selvedges as the cloth goes around the breast beam. Deciding to re-sley and weave another shawl at the eleventh hour throws a real hitch into the finishing schedule.)

 The loom sleyed
 Karen’s exhibit yardage after threading
2,352 warp ends from two warp beams.
A road trip to buy 400 more heddles
slowed the process.
Lesson 2: Resist the urge to attempt something too far beyond your current skill set. They call it a learning curve for a reason. As those of us who drive curvy mountain roads every day know, sometimes you have to slow down and be prepared for unexpected detours. For example, expanding a tied weave/double back-beam technique to weave 44"-wide yardage instead of a shawl or scarf is really something you should try when there is no pending deadline. Otherwise you might find yourself driving to the nearest weaving tool supplier or paying overnight shipping to get another 400 heddles.

Lesson 3: Plan to make the project twice. This was advice our instructor, Amy Putansu, gave us on the first day of class this semester. It seemed a little excessive at the time, but it proved an invaluable exercise. Working out the details and challenges on a practice piece using materials as close as possible to your finished cloth makes production of the exhibit work less stressful on the maker and the materials, especially if it is handwoven fabric.

Bubble Skirt 
What Karen learned making the
first Bubble Skirt made the final
one easier and more successful.
This goes beyond the typical garment “muslin.” The difference between how a garment will fit or perform in muslin vs. handwoven cloth can be dramatic. It’s something you don’t want to learn two weeks before the deadline. I am SO glad I heeded this advice. Of the four handwoven pieces in my exhibit entry, only one was show-ready on the first try.

Lesson 4: CLEAR YOUR CALENDAR for the last 30 days before the exhibit pieces are due. This is hard and I admit to being the worst offender. Despite the most carefully mapped route and your best efforts, you will encounter delays and roadblocks. You catch the flu. A snowstorm cancels school and knocks out power for three days. Your iron dies or the sewing machine goes on the fritz. Your significant other invites family to stay over in your guest room/weaving studio for the weekend. Life keeps reminding you that plans are only that: plans.

If you have made big, unbreakable commitments during the weeks before your deadline, thinking your project will surely be finished by then, you are playing with fire. No matter how valuable the opportunity, how enticing the invitation, or how guilt-ridden we feel, we (I) have to learn to say no.

One final word of caution here: beware the extended deadline! Chances are good you will have already booked that extra weekend you are given at the last minute. So don’t count on it, and if it happens, pretend it didn’t. 

And if you need some resources to help you along, make sure to check out the great deals at the Interweave Spring Clearance Sale on weaving books, video workshops, and issues ofHandwoven

Now, where did I put that new Call for Entries?
Karen Donde

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Sutherland Study Group Invitation & News

Hello Sutherland friends,

Happy 2013. We have three exciting announcements to share with you as the new year gets started.

First, the third year of our Sutherland Weaver’s Study Group begins this Sunday, Jan. 13, at 2 pm at Sutherland Handweaving Studio. With the start of a new study subject, this is the perfect time to join. We will be reviewing our projects from the 2012 block design study with projects we wove from our shared profile draft. Then we will be kicking off our 2013 study of color in weaving with a video by Laura Bryant. We will be using Color-Aid papers to assist in our study and will have some sets available at the meeting. Each month, one member does a presentation related to the study subject, and we will be deciding what form those presentations will take on Sunday. We also leave time each meeting for show and tell, or show and ask, which is always inspiring and often just as educational as our study presentation. Please think about joining us this year. We have members with all ranges of experience who work on all styles and sizes of looms. Dues are $15 per year.

Second, Sutherland will be moving to a new location Feb. 1. We have enjoyed our time at the Cotton Mill, but now are taking the opportunity to move to a new studio in the River Arts District. We will be at 372 Depot Street, Unit 20, under the building banner of Desert Moon Designs, a gallery a few doors down. Not only will we have a big, glass storefront and more visitor traffic walking by, we also will be air conditioned! We are excited about the opportunities this presents for more comfortable classes, events AND STUDY GROUP MEETINGS in the summertime. There is parking on the street outside the building or in a new free, lighted parking lot across the street. For those who are familiar with Magnetic Field Theater, we are in that building. We’re planning an open house to celebrate, but may wait until spring, when the weather gets nice.

Third, speaking of classes, we are pleased that Daryl Lancaster has agreed to return June 3-9, 2013, to teach her Wearable Extravaganza, sewing with handwoven or other special fabrics workshop. For those who have never taken Daryl’s jacket class, that is the focus of this workshop. For those who have made the jacket, you may bring any pattern or patterns you like and get the benefit of Daryl’s help with design, fitting and couture finishing techniques. This year, you’ll be able to choose from the standard five-day workshop (Mon-Fri), or an expanded seven-day workshop (Mon-Sun). The two extra days are optional, but well worth the investment in terms of finishing up your projects. We’re still working out all the details given our new location, which will be…did I already mention this…air conditioned. But if you’re interested, let us know and we’ll put you at the top of our contact list when registration opens.

Just to be clear, our Study Group meeting this Sunday will be at our Cotton Mill studio. Starting in February, we’ll be in the new location.

We’re looking forward to a creative, successful year in 2013. We thank you for supporting us and hope to see you in the studio soon.

Karen and Barb