CHT Conference 2015

Another conference has come and gone. This was my fourth Contemporary Handweavers of Texas Conference, and this year it was held in Austin. So since we moved 3 weeks ago that meant just an hour’s drive from our new home.

One of my Warp Speed Ahead centerpieces.

One of my Warp Speed Ahead centerpieces.

I went over early Friday morning so I could set up my centerpieces on the tables and then do a stint at the check in table. I must admit I rather enjoyed coming up with a plan for the centerpieces. I did still have my original note I made in a meeting when I had that insane moment of volunteering to make them. (I have since lost it, but it is interesting to see where one begins and follow the journey to where one finally has the finished product.) I then worked on two ideas – a ball for the world and shuttles taking off into space with yarn flowing behind; then the second idea was a cylinder with the shuttle going around it with the yarn flowing around and around. Then both ideas were going to have color changing LEDs inside. As I progressed and played with the ideas I passed by my prototypes and had a brainstorm. Why not put the cylinder inside the circle. It looked great so instead of settling on one idea and making it. I now had to make 12 of both and combine them. It worked out and I was pretty happy with them.

I roomed with a friend and took very few pictures as in only a couple to remember the time with. The hotel had a lovely courtyard with outside entrances that I loved but alas we were on the inside with a lovely view of the intersection of 290 and 35. At least if you wanted to see something moving there was no lack – even if you were up at 4:30am.

View from room

View from room

My favorite class was Woven Silk Flora with John Mullarky. He was a fun teacher and reminded you of a kid still having fun with life. The class used the dreaded silk hankies. I had one once and swore to never touch one again. Alas this day I learned to make a silk flower with the Zoom Loom (developed by John Mullarky) and actually wouldn’t mind a few silk hankies finding their way to my home now. It was quite fun though a bit more challenging than using just the wool and cotton that I have used on the loom. I did get my flower done in class. Not perfect as a first try never is but I will be making many more and they will improve with the practice.

Only the flower. I did get the green leaves done and attached but no picture... yet

Only the flower. I did get the green leaves done and attached.

But what can be a great part of a conference? The Goodie Bag. So below is my haul of things that I didn’t have to pay for. Well, almost. The bits from classes which are there, I did pay a $5 class fee for supplies but I still feel they count for this picture.

The wonderful things given to us or just to me.

The wonderful things given to us or just to me.

In this picture are quite the treasures. The silk and merino roving, top right, was a door prize from Red Fish. I consider them a bit expensive for me, but boy, I will treasure this and enjoy the spinning and finding a special project for it. And not prejudiced, but I think I got the best door prize of all. My flower is there with the leaves done and attached. There is a lovely washcloth, kleenix cover, card holder, split ply key chain, shuttle, dryer balls, covered button, card, stuffed little pincushions, samples from a class I made, and a stick spinning kit. Already tried the stick spinning and now know how I will at least begin every spindle from now on. It works so well and as the spindle I’ve used the last five months doesn’t have a hook on top, I had the dickens trying to get that first bit spun and wound on. This was very quick and easy to get the beginning spun. Each of these came from different guilds around the state.

Now don’t think I didn’t hit the vendor hall as well. I did buy some organic cotton for weaving and some variegated cotton. And yes, as all good wives tend to do, I did go over what I agreed I would spend with my husband by $10. At least he isn’t upset.

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Mock Plaid Bag

We are moved alas my stuff is still basically in boxes awaiting its new home to be fixed up. A nightmare for my husband that I am taking pictures of and will have before and afters at some point. So little is being done in fiber except for one project that is taking time and needs to be done this week for its grand revealing. I so hope it comes round well and looks good. But more on that later for the memory bank.

The day the movers unloaded our things here in our little piece of heaven, a lady stopped by and turned out to be our nearest neighbor to the east. We talked a bit and she left us her phone numbers and then invited us in a week to come to her daughters graduation party so we could meet people and other neighbors around.

The day arrived and as neither my husband or I are good in crowds and especially ones we know no one in, we still debated going but decided we needed to venture out. Now I am not a natural at all with the abilities most have with such affairs, but I do know that it is proper to bring a gift. Though I also know what I like as gifts and think are nice most others wouldn’t. Yikes, what will we do? Not like I could just run to the store here unless you want something from Woodson’s Hardware and Lumber store or the Dollar store. So I went to my stash and pulled out this bag.

A warp from 6 years ago that was made into a bag.

A warp from 6 years ago that was made into a bag.

In 2009, I attended my first Contemporary Handweavers of Texas conference in San Antonio. One of the classes I was taking was on weaving with space dyed yarns. Now you could bring yarns to class to work with but I had none at home. So getting in before my first class on Friday, I visited the vendors immediately. At the Lone Star Loom Room booth they had a clearance shelf and would you believe – three cones of space dyed yarns. I quickly bought all and had my yarn for class. (Sorry to any one wanting to buy before class that day but alas and alack.) I learned how to use them that day and came home and warped up the prettiest one.

I love these colors and it came out so perfectly looking like a lot of hard work went into weaving this pattern. When actually all it took was keeping those weft bobbins in order and hoping you wound off enough for what you wanted to do. I did manage it. Yeah me!

So back to this month. I found this bag I made with some of the warp and as I thought it looked nice, I used it for a gift bag. Then I added a mug and coaster that we got as an extra when we made a purchase that hadn’t been used – ever. If you are ever in my house, you will quickly learn that tea cups and mugs are not in short supply. So that went in the bag along with an unopened bag of tea and we had a gift. Not really a re-gifted gift and we didn’t go empty handed which I think as I understand etiquette would be worse than nothing.

Gift ready to go.

Gift ready to go.

I am sure that she will never know that it was handwoven or that it was a favorite of mine that I let go. I just hope she thinks it is pretty, and that it is not her most hated colors.

I guess this is actually a good week for this post as the Contemporary Handweavers of Texas Conference is back around again at the end of the week. In the wee hours of Friday morning, I will be headed out to my fourth one.

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Grandmas’ Doilies

Well we are moved into our new home these past two weeks. Does that mean we actually have everything unpacked and a home found for each item? Absolutely not! I need Mark’s help for some things and he has different priorities, so I will still have to wait some on him. But in unpacking what is available at the moment, I thought I needed a record of three doilies I have.

I don’t remember how I came into possession of the following doily. I know that it was crocheted by my maternal grandmother, Wilba Cowger. Now she had cancer for 12 years and as she died when I was 14, none of us grandkids really knew her outside of cancer. But I have been told all about this wonderful woman that we saw only glimpses of at times. I know she did knit, and we all got knitted socks one Christmas when she was feeling better. I was given her knitting needles after my grandfather’s death though I don’t know a whit about knitting and couldn’t tell you a knit from a purl. Ok, so I know a small whit about it. I know two terms.

Grandma Cowger's doily

Grandma Cowger’s doily

I do crochet though, but have never crocheted with such a small hook as this was done with. And look at those cute flowers added at the points. I will admit that I have not kept this well. Upon perusing it, I realize that it was probably quite white at one time though I never remember it white. I will say that for the pictures it did get a good ironing for the first time in probably forever. I couldn’t take a picture with the flowers closed up and the stems willy nilly.

Close up of a point

Close up of a point

This has sat under an oil lamp for a few years, but I still haven’t decided where in this incarnation it will abide.

Now the next two doilies were crocheted by my paternal grandmother. Virginia Cummins. I do remember her crocheting, and I don’t think anyone on that side of the family knits at all – though I might be surprised. But my Grandma Cummins did crochet though her main pastime was quilts. All by hand and not a whit of a machine to be seen by any quilt.

Two doilies crocheted by Grandma Cummins

Two doilies crocheted by Grandma Cummins

These two doilies have always sat in my hutch under two sets of dishes that I love. So alas and alack, you don’t really see much of them. But then most people wouldn’t know what was up anyway and I know what is back there so I enjoy. And who knows, their life may be why they are still in almost perfect order. Just like the day that Grandma gave them to me.

Closeup of Grandma Cummins' doilies

Closeup of Grandma Cummins’ doilies

I can say that these were not originally white so don’t feel bad about the color. The second picture, as far an my monitor is concerned, is closer to their real color.

It is nice to have my grandmother’s close by even all these years later.

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Found Paper Weaving

Today I was trying to clean some things up and sort. Among my pile that has grown over the last 5 months, I found a lost experiment.

I was trying some new idea of weaving with pages from books and only managed one that was half decent and it still has its own troubles. But all the same I do have a bit of a liking for it.

Pooh and Piglet out for a walk.

Pooh and Piglet out for a walk.

I took a picture from a small child’s book of Winnie the Pooh and then wove into it a page of the written word. I found a page that had both Pooh and Piglet’s names on it and so did not weave that in and also kept them whole as well. I rather like it and especially since Piglet’s name came up right beside him. Alas the poor piece has more than a couple of troubles so it isn’t a masterpiece but a poor piece that I still like.

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I Gave Up!

I gave up. I don’t often give up. But this time I gave up. I really can’t believe it as I don’t like giving up and wasting things. But….

Yes I am talking about my last inkle band that was a Monk’s Belt pattern. Really the biggest problem that kept me from finishing it was that the pattern warp threads weren’t all evenly tensioned. After doing so many here lately, I blew it on this one’s tension. It was really getting frustrating to get the threads in the right place

But then another problem is that I just didn’t like the pattern. Now it was a very easy pattern. It was easy to memorize. But alas and alack I still didn’t like it. So finally the scissors came out and snip – it was all over.

The very short band

The very short band

Well, there it is in all its semi-glory. If you look closely you will see a mistake in there. And I’m not talking about the spaced area between the beginning and the main body of it.

One thing I will say for a pattern like this is that both sides can be the front. You really have about the same pattern going on both sides. When I went to take the picture, I had a bit of a time deciding which was the front till I noticed my space between the two sections. On the other side that spot has some long floats.

But where do I really want to cry in this?

Look at all that wasted warp

Look at all that wasted warp

I really hate waste and like to use up warps as far as I can possibly get them to go. So yes, I can cry looking at that warp sitting there that is too short to use on the inkle now. But never fear, it won’t end up in the trash. I will save it and once we get moved, it will be added to my thrums jar. Alas that jar is overfull. I think I need to find a thrums project that will use some up.

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A Diversion

So I have this Monk’s Belt on the inkle loom. I am hating it. I don’t enjoy weaving it. I am trying to make myself just take it off and start over. Hasn’t happened yet. I so hate wasting yarn. It is bad enough to add loom waste to my big jar, but to just cut off so much which will be totally useless is hard to do. I am trying to at least use up the weft on the shuttle and then say I will cut it of. But as much as I’m not touching it, I probably should just chuck it.

But a diversion today. we finally took our anniversary trip a month late. First date we could get tickets for the train ride from Georgetown to Burnet with the Austin Steam Train Association. Actually, I think it was good that we had to wait this long as the bluebonnets have pretty much faded away and so it is not so crowded and they don’t need so many cars for all the people.

Waiting in Georgetown to board

Waiting in Georgetown to board

We got tickets for the adults only Rippling Stream. It was the last car of the train and you could only be in it if you had a ticket for that car. So no through traffic. We of course could walk through the others and up to the concession car near the front. Though with our tickets came some treats and drinks in our car.

A view of our car in Burnet

A view of our car in Burnet

The third window above was where our wonderfully comfortable seats and table were. It was for three people but only us two were at it. Mark got to stretch out. We could even stand off the back as we traveled which was a lot of fun.

On the back of our car, Rippling Stream, watching the track go away from us.

On the back of our car, Rippling Stream, watching the track pass away into the distance.

But the fibery part of our trip was a surprise. By the courthouse was what they called History Square. It had a town clock in the middle and a maze around the bottom. It laid out the history of Burnet County. You followed the trail and could read the history points and end up at the center by the clock.

HIstory Plaza

History Plaza

I of course had to run the maze reading as I went. I told Mark that it was fun. His comment while also watching the other kids was that it looked like kids did enjoy it. I of course said “Of course we do.” Now I did find two interesting blocks in the history.

Bertram wool and mohair production 1918

Bertram wool and mohair production 1918

Bertram cotton production 1928

Bertram cotton production 1928

These two blocks show what once was out on the pastures and in the fields around these parts. Wool, mohair, and cotton once reigned in Burnet County.

Had a great day and trip. Would love to do it again.

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Trying Something New

Ok I warped the Inkle Loom again.

New warp for Monk's Belt

New warp for Monk’s Belt

This time I strayed from the Baltic pages of the Inkle Pattern Directory and wandered over to the Monk’s Belt pages. Alas and alack, I started learning a bit from the get go. Though it looks like a pick up pattern again the warping of the loom was very different from anything I have done yet.

Do you see the difference?

Do you see the difference?

If you look closely at the above picture, you will that there are three heddled warps together with one unheddled after. The burgundy here are a basic plain weave threading. each are every other one heddled and unheddled. But… and this is a big but. The green warps are all heddled. So this all means that three are heddled together. Hmmm… this was enough different to give me some antziness over how this was going to go.

So here we go.

First try at Monk's Belt

First try at Monk’s Belt

Yikes! not going well at all. just have to remind myself that when I started with Baltic those didn’t go well at first either. But all the same. This isn’t looking good at all. There is plain weave between parts that are suppose to be a flower. Hmmm… No flowers at all here. So what is wrong? Decided that the tension was a bit wonky so if we did something with that maybe there could be help. So I unwarped what you see and then cut sections and retied them on tighter and more even. So lets try this again.

Second try at Monk's Belt

Second try at Monk’s Belt

So with our new better tension and deciding to go with something simpler than the flower, we went to the first sample and started working. Ok I can see the pattern this time. I still don’t like it though. It does recommend that the pattern threads be quite a bit larger than the plain weave threads. Not sure that would really help. At least with my liking it.

So the question is now will I finish this band? Not sure. I think I may just try different patterns down it and see how they look. Not as homogenous as all the previous bands but will not be wasting this warp. I had already discussed (with myself) throwing this warp away. Alas I love the colors. I hate wasting it all. So hence it still resides on the loom.

I see a Baltic pattern in these colors in the very near future.

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The Baltic Journey Continues

I have now finished another of the Baltic patterns in the Weaver’s Pattern Directory. And this time the book let me know it was indeed from Interweave Press. I find it so hard to understand in our day and time how a book can go to press with mistakes in it. It seems that with all the paraphernalia that goes along with the business that between people and machine that a book could make it to press without mistakes. At least I would be so incredibly embarrassed to work on a book and send it out to the big wide world with problems.

Enough of the side trip, back to the band. I really liked what happened with this one. First I picked out some colors from my meager bag that I have with me. A thinner thread and a thicker pattern thread.

Some of my favorite colors

Some of my favorite colors

I love these colors and probably why I have so much in this realm of the color wheel. So on went another Baltic pattern that has 13 pattern picks. Being that there were thirteen again, this band took much longer than the last one. One reason is because there are more threads to pick up and drop down but also it was a more detailed pattern. I did not memorize it so always needed the book at hand for each new row. But diligence paid off, and I made it to the end – and I even think it has pretty wonderful selvedges.

The finished band before taking off the loom.

The finished band before taking off the loom.

The front and back sides of this pattern are both very detailed and interesting. Though I must say I like the front best but who could really pick one over the other. In the picture the bottom row is the back up and the 3rd row is the front facing up and so forth to the second and first rows here.

Alas back to my disappointment with the book.

The pattern in the book.

The pattern in the book.

You can see on my first pass through the pattern I immediately found a problem with the X. I must admit that I was rather proud of myself in that I figured there was a problem in the draft before I even wove this pick. So figured out the two missed pick ups. Alas I didn’t mark it at that time. So next round I am merrily going along and wove right past it and then had to take it out and do it again. I then quickly found a pen and got the book marked properly.

Alas that wasn’t the end of it. Right near the end of the weaving, I suddenly realized that the draft and the pictured band have one pick up different. If you see the middle of the diamonds there are small lines. In the draft the area is checker boarded completely with them and the sample leaves the center one empty. Hmmm… Upon studying the result on my band with it full compared to the sample band, I think I like it as the draft has it better. Now one reason may be that my band is not so compact as the sample is. The sample may loose itself to looking just like another diamond if it had that one pick in it where mine gets the checker board effect nicely.

So I am happy with the band and do think that as I have progressed through these I have improved my weaving greatly. It probably helps that it is the only loom I have so I am not weaving one every once in a great while but can practice and improve as I move along without forgetting what I’m learning.

And per the errata of the book? I did go look for one as I have two other books from them with extensive errata that I marked through them. I found one and there were only three pages with errata on them. And guess what? This page wasn’t one of the three. They didn’t even get the errata right. Sometimes somethings just have to make one wonder about our modern world and whether or not all our mechanization and technology really is so wonderful.

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Baltic 5: Thin and Fast

I have now done another inkle band and it was also a Baltic pattern. Now this time around I did figure out what the number stands for. It is the number of pattern threads in the warp. Seems simple enough but took me quite awhile to sort that on my own, and it did make this ole brain befuddled for a short bit.

Beginning my second Baltic pattern

Beginning my second Baltic pattern

But back at the ranch, I looked through the patterns and picked a simpler one than the last one and picked black and green threads. I really like the pattern and the colors. One great thing here is that the pattern was easy to see what one was to do next, so I didn’t need to keep the book out and could just work away at it. There was only one line that I tended to mess up, but it didn’t take but one more row to catch it. So easy to go back and fix.

Original homemade shuttle and new one

Original homemade shuttle and new one

I did decide during this that the original homemade shuttle needed to be retired as the points were getting torn and catching easily on the warp threads. So got another box from the trash and made a new one. It actually is thicker, but i don’t think it will last as long. Will have to see. I think the next one will be out of plastic, if I remember to save some next time some comes in here. Actually, can’t wait to have my own wood shuttles again. Lots of things I can’t wait till again, but the Lord is saying wait some more, so wait some more and making do, we are.

Finished band

Finished band

Amazing how fast this one was to do compared to the last one. Now, only dealing with 5 pattern threads does make a difference and a simpler pattern helps. It does seem so much longer than the other, but I know that has to do with how thin it is.

The two bands lying together

The two bands lying together

So here are the two bands together. I do love how it looks if I were to sew them together. I am contemplating several bands sewn together for a larger piece. If I go with this I need to do another of this one. Alas I did learn something laying them out – despite thinking my beating was consistent, it very much wasn’t. This part looks better than some. but the waves do not line up perfectly across from each other.

Always something else to work on. Does anyone ever become a total master of their craft?

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Baltic Style Inkle Finished!

Finished and still on the loom

Finished and still on the loom

Ok, I did finish the inkle weaving I wrote about last. I must first thank Barb and Diane for giving advice after my last post. It went much better, and I think I got fairly consistent with my selvedges. I actually wove more of the warp than I ever have tried on the loom. Only about 3 inches not woven.

Close up of pattern and weaving

Close up of pattern and weaving

Several things are seen in the above photo. One is that rough beginning I wrote about before. Hopefully you can tell it did get better in the lower runs. And you can see in the top right corner one problem I had near the end. Yes, one warp thread for some reason, unknown even now, came quite loose. It didn’t untie from its other end but must have come loose enough anyway. That did make that last bit of weaving a bit of a chore. I was always having to pull it straight and fiddle it to make it lay right but we did manage it just so we could get as far as we did. Sometimes I just get something in my head and so continue when really one should quite and call it good. But despite probably pushing it too far, I was quite pleased that after the rough start my pattern and the book’s looks very much alike. Yippy!

The completed band

The completed band

So here is the completed band. And though at one moment I was done with Baltic weaving – Guess what? Yes, I already want to try another one in the book and maybe weave several to sew together and make a larger piece. I do like to dream big so will see how it goes.

I must say one thing this picture does for me is show improvement and for that I am thankful. So will the next one be perfect? Hardly I doubt, but hopefully will make this look sad in comparison.

Oh and the colors here are better than the other post. These are how it really looks.

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