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December Blog, Weaver Spotlight!

This month we shine the weaver spotlight on Jae Koscierzynski from Michigan. Like so many students that came here over the years, Jae was an inspiration to me. Throughout my career as a teacher I have been so blessed to have such wonderful students.

Doing towel or sample exchanges was always a big part of the retreat scene here at JST. When students did exchanges based on the overlaying of ideas in the workshops the results were fabulous, unique and so inspiring. The whole was always greater than the sum of the parts. 

Thank you to Joan Sheridan of Heritage Spinning and Weaving for being such a wonderful friend and for sending me so many talented students. You must be so proud of Jae, I sure know I am.

I was introduced to weaving several years ago by Joan Sheridan. She owns Heritage Spinning & Weaving where I teach knitting. As an engineer by trade, she thought I would enjoy weaving. I’ll admit I didn’t take to it at first. I loved everything about weaving a project except the actual, well, weaving. Figuring out the amount yarn needed, love it! Warping, beaming, threading, sleying, and hem stitching – love all that too. It wasn’t until I took Jane’s Colour & Design class that I learned to love throwing the shuttle. Until then, I couldn’t follow someone else’s pattern without boredom setting in about 2 inches into the project, but I didn’t know where to start or have the confidence to try my own ideas. After Colour & Design, I am always weaving. I now have more ideas to try on my loom than I will ever be able to weave in my lifetime!
I wove this scarf after a sample exchange with several other class members from one of the last in-person Pushing the Boundary with Plain Weave I sessions. We had been together the year before in Colour & Design and did a towel exchange. We enjoyed taking what we had learned from C&D to make towels and wanted to do it again. However, we admitted that perhaps Cramming and Denting, Rep weave, and the like weren’t well suited for towels. Instead, we all committed to providing 3 samples at least 24″ long. The “rules” were to take something from Colour & Design and combine it with something from PBPW.

I gave away my samples and apparently did not take any photos before I did! The scarf is warped with 16/2 cotton – black. It is sett and woven at 20 epi/ppi except at the edges which are crammed at 40 epi. This sett is the same as the warp that is used for Season 3 – Episode 8.  

I used 30/2 Bombyx silk for the supplemental threads and for the warp, Black Magic, Violet Ice, Ariel’s Voice, Lime Light, Gold Rush, Tiger Lily, and Persophone’s Pip. 

The ratio of each color for the supplemental threads is based on the Parrot Sample from Season 2 – Episode 5. I started with colors I had in my stash to create a color gradient, similar in concept to the Parrot Sample as well. 
I originally thought of using black as the dividers and natural as the back ground. I’m glad I went the other way as the bright colors pop more against the black background. If I were to do it again, I would perhaps pick a different color for Gold Rush or Lime Light. In the skein, they look distinct but in the actual warp, the colors are very close and I would aim for more contrast.  

I chose to keep the middle section simple since that portion is scrunched up around the neck and isn’t easily seen. 

From my sampling, I also realized that the floats had to be kept short to avoid snagging while wearing.

At each end I wove the colors to be square – one with a pattern of “bricks” and the other solid colors with small dashes from the supplemental warp. Choosing how to weave the ends was the hardest part. I had several more ideas that I wanted to try using this graphic and warp structure. As always, the warp ran out before my creativity did!

With every episode that Jane presents, I learn something new. But the best lesson she has given me is to be fearless and just see what happens. It may not turn out as I expect, but I still end up with a piece of cloth that has something to teach me.   

Learn more about the JST Online Guild

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JST Online Guild Weaving Lessons

Twills on 4 is coming your way in 2020

For the past few months we have been busy working on the program for 2020.  Twills on 4……Oh My, Oh My, Oh My……it is so exciting. In January of 2020 we start diving into the world of twill structure and will overlay it with everything we learned in Colour & Design and Pushing the Boundaries of Plain Weave. This strong foundation will allow us to take 4 shaft Twills to a new level.

We start the year off learning to draft on graph paper and then we weave a sample exploring our 3 standard twill tie-ups and bring all the repetitive sequences we learned in Colour and Design to Twills (yes, Asymmetry, Plaid, Parrot and Colour and Weave Sequences start playing on Twills).

Episode 2 is very special because we have Bob Keates co-creator of Fiberworks PCW presenting his programme for Mac and PC. 

In addition to building on our Colour & Design gamps, this year includes 4 amazing twill gamps: one using small threadings, one using big threadings, one exploring point twill and an awesome colour and weave gamp on twill that will blow your mind. Each of these gamps explores tie-up possibilities, treadling techniques and colour and weave ideas in the weft.

We also delve into the power and beauty of Basket Weave. One entire episode explores Basket Weave as a vertical design element with other twill threadings. This allows us to frame our twills or just have 2 different structures vertically in our cloth…..so many ideas. Twill and Basket Weave are a fabulous combo, they are like an awesome bottle of wine and a great chunk of cheese. Yep, everything still revolves around food 🙂

Towards the end of the year we will apply the rules of Shadow Weave to all the twill threadings we’ve learned and then we’ll do the same with Weft Faced Twills.  

Weaving is all about systems and this year we’ll be looking at twill as a system. It is very liberating to look at it this way….to learn that we can use all this theory to create new, stunning, modern renditions of old classics. The twill family is a big happy family and they all like to party together. 

If you haven’t guessed it by now….I LOVE WEAVING…..and I LOVE SHARING IT ALL WITH YOU!

Come for the ride….we’re going to have a blast.

Twills on 4!

To learn more about the JST Online Guild click here

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November 28th Newsletter

We may love the colour BLACK and
FRIDAYS may be our favourite day of the week
but here at JST we’ve decided to have a

 Colourful Weekend Sale!

This weekend is the perfect time to say THANK YOU to all our customers who keep us inspired and motivated through the year.

As we head into our darkest time of year, may a colourful warp inspire your weaving and nurture your soul.

The fine print!
Sale prices limited to in-stock yarns & kits only 
Not valid with other coupons
Spend over $250 and you’ll receive free shipping! 
Receive additional 10% off & free shipping when you spend over $500. (Some Exceptions Apply
Sale starts 12:01am Friday November 29th, 2019 Pacific Standard Time and ends midnight Monday December 2nd, 2019 Pacific Standard Time

Heavenly Check Scarf

We’re giving away another pattern! This simple classic scarf in 12 gauge Bambu is fun, fast and easy to weave.  The scarf was designed by Eben (Jane’s son!) and has long been a studio favourite, available as a kit in three beautiful colourways or design your own by downloading the free pattern!  A great beginner project. 


Yarns

While all of our yarn is on sale, this is a great time to treat yourself to a few of our favourites 🙂

Cashmere 
750 yds/cone
Regular C$49.00
Sale C$44.10

Brushed Mohair
215 yds/ball
Regular C$28.00
Sale C$25.20

18/2 Merino
1100 yds/cone
Regular C$27.95
Sale C$25.16

Zephyr Wool Silk
1100 yds/cone
Regular C$35.95
Sale C$32.36  

30/2 Bombyx Silk
1650 yds/skein
Regualr C$49.00
Sale C$44.10  

Harrisville Shetland
900 yds/cone
Regular C$36.00
Sale C$32.40 

Canvas Weave Baby Blankie Kit
Regular C$97.90
Sale C$88.11  

Online Guild Kits
Season 2 & 3 Kits
C$47.80-C$180.00
C$43.02-C$162.00

Huckleberry Waffle
Tea Towel Kit
Regular C$128.00
Sale C$115.20  

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November 21st Newsletter

Jane’s Essential Silks

Ten of Jane’s favourite silk colours,
perfect for your wishlist!

We asked Jane which silks she would want with her if she were stranded on a deserted island. She asked “how many skeins do I get??”….we said 10. Here is what she came up with:  

My favourite sample from Season 2 of the Online Guild was the Muted Colour Gamp (Season 2 Episode 8) so I choose 6 colours to match the colours in that warp….and my favourite part of weaving that warp was weaving the hot crazy colours from Parrot (Season 2 Episode 5) on top of the muted colour ways. So I chose 4 colours from that sample….I could weave these colours together forever!

This Colourway includes 10 skeins of either 30/2 Bombyx Silk or 20/2 Bombyx Silk in Ariel’s Voice, Autumn Spice, B.B. Blue, Buddha Berry, Dragon Fruit, Favourite Wine, Grantius Green, Lime Light, Starfish, Tiger Lily.

Heddles for Sabahar:

Thank you, thank you, thank you. What can I say but Thank YOU! I am so happy to forward this update below on our Heddle Drive for Sabahar. We had such a generous and heartfelt response to our request for help. Small gifts can make such a big difference in our world.  

xo Jane

Update from Sabahar:

Kindness makes the world a better place

Our weavers were the beneficiaries of 50,000 professional heddles, and they are so excited!

We are continually amazed by the collective power of kindness. Jane Stafford of Jane Stafford Textiles, has become a dear friend, mentor and advocate for Sabahar. She first volunteered with us in 2016. Jane and her son, Eben, spent two weeks in Ethiopia showing our weavers new techniques that would create different textures and save time. Jane returned in March 2019 for another 3-week stint with us. She paid for her own airline ticket and donated her time! We learned so much! The new texture of our tea towels and the Mescot scarf are direct results from Jane’s assistance.

Jane gets it. As a world-renowned weaver with so many years (or rather decades!!) of experience, she knows exactly what we need to improve our weaving. When she returned to her home in Salt Spring Island, Canada, in March, she was even more determined to help us! She wrote beautiful blogs about the work we accomplished together and then started a crowd funding campaign to raise money for the purchase of professional heddles for our weavers.

The handmade heddles that our weavers currently use often stick together and are time consuming and frustrating to weave with. High quality heddles reduce the time for warp set-up and speed up the weaving process. This means the weavers can produce more in a day and make more money for their household.

Through Jane’s efforts and generous donations from many of her friends and fellow weavers, Sabahar has already been able to buy 50,000 heddles and related equipment and will be able to purchase approximately another 50,000. The campaign raised more than Cnd$7,000. To give you an idea, a standard loom uses about 1,400 heddles and a wider loom uses 2,000. The availability of these heddles will make a huge difference for more than 60 of our weavers.

Words can’t express how amazing this support is, and how thankful we are.

Once Jane started this campaign, so many others joined with their kindness. Texsolv, a weaving product manufacturing company in Tosse, Sweden, offered us a discounted price for the heddles. We were able to buy significantly more through their generous support.

Helen Pankhurst, another great friend of Sabahar, then kindly offered to bring the 22kg of heddles to Ethiopia.

All of this happened really fast. The campaign ran in March 2019 and the weavers received the heddles last week.

Thank you to Jane Stafford, Texsolv, and Helen Pankhurst for your assistance. A huge thank you also goes out to all those who donated to the funding campaign. This critical intervention will give weavers not only the technical ability to earn a better livelihood, but also the feeling of being appreciated, connected and supported by the global weaving community.

Getting Help on the Website

If you’ve visited the website recently, you may have noticed a small icon that looks a bit like this:

Click on it and you’ll be presented with help documents relating to wherever you happen to be the website:

If you can’t find the answer you’re looking for then click Ask, type in your message and we’ll try to reply as soon as we possibly can:

Finished looking, changed your mind or clicked on the icon by mistake? Just click the X:

If you see something in the documentation that’s incorrect or if you think that we should add documentation for other parts of the website, please let us know. We’d be super grateful! 🙂


A Few Weaving Project Gift Ideas

We are all so busy at this time of year making special gifts for the special people in our lives. Trusting in the end result gives us a bit of breathing space :). If you’re stretched for design time maybe one of the kits below will help you reach your goals a little sooner. Happy Weaving!

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November Blog, Weaver Spotlight!

It is such a pleasure to shine the spotlight on Barbara Mitchell this month.I have known Barbara for many years and have always been blown away with how she takes an idea and runs wild with it. Her weaving is a journey of discovery, she is a master of same, same but different, overlay, overlay, overlay, pushing the boundaries of all she weaves. Thank you Barbara for sharing your thoughts 🙂

xo Jane

My name is Barbara Mitchell, and I have been weaving continuously for more than 30 years. Some years more than others as my life circumstances changed from being a stay-at-home mother with three pre-schoolers, through working full time, moving several times across Canada, and now living happily in retirement from outside work. Guilds have always been a big part of my creative journey, so it was a no-brainer to join Jane’s Online Guild, particularly since many of my local home guilds are also participating and we can share our creative experiences, and support and celebrate each other. 

I have been blessed with boundless curiosity, layered with a mathematical/scientific approach of investigation, and a pragmatic determination to create items that are both beautiful and useful. Like Jane, my weaving journey follows a path of planning, weaving, finishing and reflection.   

It is the reflection phase that spurs my curiosity on to the question “What if . . ., what if . . ., what if . . ?” and the scientific approach that says, “Keep the constants and change one variable, now change another variable, and so on” building on top of the known and venturing into the unknown. 

I love this season of the JST Online Guild “Pushing the Boundaries of Plain Weave” and it led me to work on a series I call “Pushing it Further”.

After completing the given exercise in Episode 1: Denting, I thought, “what else can I do?”  What if I created two layers of denting, where the open areas on one layer, are layered over the woven areas of the second layer, and vice-versa? No empty dents in the reed, but the warp threads of one layer sitting in the empty dent space of the other layer?

My first sample with Bambu 12, put a dark layer over a light layer, sett to an open 20 ends per inch. It was a disaster great learning experience: the warps just floated out into the open areas, and it looked like a poorly sett piece of cloth, with very little structure. I also felt like the contrast between the light side and the dark side was too stark. I also realized that the only thing holding the two layers together were the crossed threads at the selvedges, and the floats over the open dents of the edge layers contributed to the lack of structure in the cloth.

Learning from this I made my next piece using Zephyr wool/silk, sett at 20 ends per inch. I still put the woven cells of one layer above the open dents of the second layer. I also interlaced the layers, bringing first one layer to the top and then the second layer to the top to add structural integrity, and offset the layers by letting one layer start on its own for the first block, double layers across the rest of the warp finishing with the second layer on its own at the opposite selvedge. This produced a wonderfully squishy ribbed-like fabric when finished, very light and airy.

Finally, I opened up the fabric to sley 10 dents of warp for layer 1, leave 10 dents open, sley 10 dents of layer 2, 10 dents open and so on across the warp. Woven as interlaced layers, leaving open spaces in the weft, and fulling well in the finishing. The result is a beautifully open lacey scarf.

For Episode 3: Log Cabin, the nice, square grids prompted me to add little huck lace squares inside the white squares in the centre of the towel. I love how the warp and weft floats of the huck lace echo the horizontal and vertical lines of the log cabin. Squares layered on squares, inside the log cabin frame.

Then I thought, what if I could isolate the log cabin cells, so that they look as if they are not attached to the selvedges, but seem to float in the centre of the cloth? And what if these cells could be side by side, but act independently of each other? Then I layered in another element, supplementary warps threads from Episode 8, which gave me this:

So, why would an experienced weaver choose to follow the videos and exercises in JST Online Guild? 

  • Because as I watch the videos and try out the projects, I learn something new or I am reminded of something I used to know, or I see a different way to do something that I just have to try!
  • Because Jane’s enthusiasm is so contagious!
  • Because it gives me the perfect platform to spark creativity and challenge myself. It takes me from the known to the unknown, and pushes me to become a better weaver.

As I write down my “What if” questions in my idea journal, I have a frame of reference to continue to plan, weave, finish and reflect.

You can read more about Barbara’s weaving on her website!
https://spinweaverbarbara.com/

Learn more about the JST Online Guild

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October 31st Newsletter

It’s Kitsmas Time!

Handwoven gifts are GREAT gifts! There is still time to weave lovely, personal items for the special people on your list this holiday season. Here at JST, we make this easy for you with our selection of beautiful kits. Whether it is a beautiful and useful tea towel, cosy scarf or a stunning mohair blanket, there is something here for everyone on your list!

Wishlists

Wishlists are the perfect way to let your loved ones know how they can support you in your craft this holiday season. The fun part of these lists is that you can also ‘share’ them on Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter as well as email them to your favourite people. Simply go to your JST account to start creating your wishlist!

E-Gifts

Not sure on what to add to your Wishlist? How about a JST E-Gift, this way you can pick your own gift!

Wanting to get a friend an E-Gift? Choose your $ amount and we’ll send it off for you in an email addressed to them or you can print it out to give yourself! 

Stocking Stuffers

Here are some great stocking stuffers! And yes, with a very large stocking, that umbrella swift will fit! And don’t forgot about those little wee ones in your life that has been watching you weave, this is a perfect time to introduce them to your world of weaving with one of our Purl & Loop looms! 

Need to fill your own Christmas Stocking? Add them to your Wishlist and share!

Shuttles
C$72.00 – $85.00

Heddle/Reed Sley Hook
C$19.95

Leclerc Swift
C$103.00

Double Ended Electric Bobbin Winder C$295.90

Fringe Twisters
C$18.00 – $26.00

Purl & Loop Looms
C$36.00 – $61.00 

Here to help

You can always find us on the Jane Stafford Online Guild Forum or on Weave with Jane Stafford at Ravelry.

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October Blog, Weaver Spotlight!

This month we shine the Weavers Spotlight on Sharon Broadley! Sharon has taken the ideas from last episode, Season 3 Episode 8 (Simple Supplementary) and overlaid them on all she learned in Season 2’s Colour and Design. Her exploration netted her 7 amazing scarves woven on 2 warps.

It is truly amazing to see where our members have taken the online lessons and created their own designs.

I am so happy to share her beautiful work with you. 

Enjoy reading Sharon’s blog!

I got my first loom along with some ‘how to weave’ books 25 years ago and completed Level 1 of the Canadian Guild of Weavers Master Weave Certificate. I was largely self-taught until moving back to Victoria in 2008. Since then I have taken many workshops through my local Guild, at Maiwa (Vancouver) and with Jane Stafford. Recently, I’ve even had the pleasure of graduating to Jane’s assistant in a couple of her workshops.

I love everything about weaving. If I have to pick just one thing, it is colour interaction. I am fascinated with the way seemingly clashing colours often make the best palettes. Currently I spend most of my weaving time working in plain weave and playing with colour. I like the rhythm of weaving this simple weave structure but I also like that it can be made to look more complicated with a few warp and weft ends added in strategic places or by mixing a number of different fibres together.

Kitchen towels are my go-to project: they provide an excellent canvas for experimentation and in the end they still dry the dishes even if they don’t turn out quite as expected. 

You can find me on Instagram @colour.woven

Using the colours from the Muted Colour Gamp on Natural Ground from Season 2 – Episode 8, I used 16/2 cotton with 7 gauge Bambu for the supplementary warps sett at 20 epi, I experimented with supplementary ups and downs as per Jane’s lesson.

At the same time I wove square in places and wove with various striping sequences in other spots. 

Sometimes my design ‘decisions’ are based upon the fact that my bobbin ran out and I was too lazy to wind another, so just grabbed a bobbin with a different colour from nearby. Having said that, I most often use the Fibonacci numbers. I hemstitched on loom and twisted fringes before washing.

For my second set of scarves, I had just made some towels that reminded me of licorice all-sorts and I really liked the hot pink and orange combo with the tiny black and white stripes; I added apricot for the third main colour.

I made this set of scarves a little wider in the reed and spaced the supplementary warps further apart using watermelon and cerise 7 gauge Bambu.

After I wove 2 scarves in varying striping sequences, I changed out the supps for some fancy ribbon yarn I’d bought on a trip to Linton Tweeds in Carlisle, UK.  
This is a mill that weaves fabric for many couture designers, including Chanel, so it is entirely possible that this ribbon once appeared in one of Chanel’s creations.

I used the ribbon warp in a few spots as weft and I love the way the ribbon-y bits got caught in between the wefts and formed teeny tiny loops. 

After I’d woven for 20 inches or so, I was worried that the ribbon yarn might be getting too loose and I was also concerned that the ribbon warp might run out before I got the length woven. So several times I got off my bench, went to the back of the loom and gently pulled on the groups of ribbon supps to stretch them out just a bit.  Afterwards I noticed that there was one spot where I might have pulled a little too hard as it seems tighter than the rest of the scarf…but ultimately I don’t think it detracts from the weaving.

I usually weave the first scarf on the warp using the same colours as the warp, but after that anything goes. Many times, as I’ve been weaving, I think oh-oh I’ve gone too far this time but by the time the scarf has been washed and pressed, what looked potentially ugly or just plain wrong on the loom, ends up being my favourite.

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October 17th, 2019 Newsletter

Charlie’s Scarf

This month we’re giving away a free pattern, Charlie’s Scarf! 

This beautiful scarf was designed by our very own Charlotte Holmes. It is a simple two stripe design with log cabin patterning, half the warp is threaded dark/light, and the other half light/dark. You can play with your stripes however you want.

You’ll need two skeins of Tussah silk for this pattern. We used one skein of natural Tussah and one skein of chocolate cherry for our scarf. Or, if you want to choose your own colour way, click on this link for your colour palette. Print your free pattern here.

Warping up is fast and easy because you get to warp with two ends in your hand.

Majestic Maple Limited Edition Colourway

When I saw the maple helicopters twirling in the wind, it inspired me to create this Majestic Maple Colourway for Fall. Imagine a beautiful scarf or shawl wrapped around you in these stunning JST hand dyed colours!
 20/2 Tussah Silk 1100 yds/skein. (5000 yds/lb.)

It’s the Little Things

Floating Selvedges & How to Add One

A Few Favourite Fall Kits

Mother Nature gives us a splendour of colour at this time of year. We’ve put together a few of our favourite Fall kits with patterns for you! Wrap yourself in a cozy, warm Mohair Blanklet or our Canvas Weave Baby Blankie for that special little one. Decorate your kitchen in splashes of autumn colours or treat yourself to a drapey Pucker Up Scarf during these cooler days!

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September Blog Weaver Spotlight!

We are so happy to share some of the beautiful work of our Online Guild members.

It is truly amazing to see where they have taken the online lessons, how they have adapted them to suit themselves and their technique. When members have the courage to change my drafts, change the colour, change anything they want… it fills my heart to overflowing.  When I see these posts on the Forum and Ravelry I know why I love my job so much and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to stop teaching.

So…..it is with great pleasure that I share some of the beautiful work from one or our Online Guild members.  This month we bring you Clare!

My name is Clare Cunningham (diveblue on Ravelry) and I have been a member of the guild since the first season when a friend suggested I have a look. I had started weaving a year or two before and had a couple of floor loom classes under my belt. From the beginning, I loved the pace of learning with the videos. It was also nice to get a fresh viewpoint in that first season on the mechanics of weaving. Jane’s aesthetic appealed to me from the get-go. I am a graphic designer and her clean, graphic sensibility and fearless use of color were very appealing to me.

I came to weaving by way of being an avid knitter. I loved the idea of using up my stash which had tipped the scales to the “more yarn than one can knit up in a lifetime” side. I also found the processes to be very similar. There is a catharsis to all that counting, threading, and sleying. I was once told that knitters have to be somewhat OCD and that is probably also true of weavers! I love all stages of the process, including the design work, and rarely follow a commercial draft.

I wanted to remain true to the workshop drafts and follow them to the letter, but I’ve made a few tweaks along the way, mainly for ease in winding and warping. I like to hold two threads in my hand which I find easier to keep straight in the cross when peeling threads off the lease sticks and I also like to begin and end at the same point on the board so I always hold a minimum of two threads in my hand and keep the numbers in the draft to multiples of four. I therefore have to round up or down any odd number instructions in the draft. Not very Fibonacci-esque at times but I try to keep the proportions the same. 

In the first project, the Asymmetry draft, I swapped out the red for a deep pink which was readily available in my stash, a color I knew would work well with the greys. In planning the subsequent pieces for this project I tried to make my weaving “deliberate” and have a finished piece in mind. In the past I have tended to weave to a firm plan as far as the warp and structure goes, and would then get bored, changing up the weft as I went along. I’m finding that the more intentional a project is the more I like it. I make an effort now to dial back on the randomness. This towel is woven as written: 8/2 in warp and weft and a sett of 18. 

The second piece was inspired by Swedish weaving that I had been looking at. I made use of repetitive sequences, something I keep in mind regularly these days. I find the pieces that have an asymmetry and appear to be random hold together much better with some repetition— either in the pattern of the weft or in a color turning up again later, if only briefly. It is the 8/2 cotton warp with 8/4 Maysville cotton rug warp as weft. The sett was opened up to 15 and it makes for a very thirsty bath towel. 

Below is the preliminary sketch that I “poured the detail” into. It is a division of space in 5s.

In the last piece I opened the sett up to 12 with the 8/2 cotton as both warp and weft. It is very gossamer and light as air. I tried some sampling at this sett and had great success with Zephyr Jaggerspun.

The Color and Weave sample colors were chosen from a distant memory — a woman’s outfit I saw on the street as a child. I have loved them since. Chartreuse, to my mind, is a neutral and goes with anything.

I greatly admired Jane’s shawl with the beautiful drape from the first season and I was trying to come close to its fluidity. The piece is sett at 15. The warp and the crepey green stripes in the weft are in 8/2 cotton. The rest of the weft is 5/2 bamboo. The cotton stripes shrank differently to the bamboo and look like seersucker. The bamboo was a success in achieving the drape I was after. 

I used the full draft and have to confess that I struggled with holding multiple warp threads in my hand. I had wound off a number of balls and they didn’t play well with one another! The final outcome was worth the warping struggles. The patterns are magical as they appear.

I had a great deal of fun with Parrot and loved the color play. I was missing one of the pinks and swapped it out for another blue. As I started to weave it was the colors created by the weft on top of the warp that really caught my interest. The layers of transparency added depth and the more complex and murkier the color the better. In this piece I especially like the brown, earthy tones created by those overlapping colors. 

I thought about Fibonacci numbers with all the divisions of space in the weft. This piece reminds me of the spaces on a Parcheesi board!

I had a Piet Mondrian grid in mind when I started this piece. I focused on “making squares” and planned for a pure color square of each of the warp colors as I approached from either side by using the clasped weft technique. The only color that could not be reached was the red square in the center so in this instance I used the inlay technique described by Jane in the episode. 

My favorite piece from this series is an overlay of the asymmetry sample from lesson one. There is so much saturated color in this warp that a white “zinger” seemed like the best choice. 

I find that my biggest successes are the pieces in which I’ve pushed myself to go outside of my comfort zone. Sometimes I get an idea and immediately dismiss it as being a little too “out there.” I challenge myself to follow through with these because these are the pieces that often end up being the most successful, and if not, give me the most satisfaction by way of the effort. Jane has given me the courage to take that leap!

Learn more about JST Online Guild

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Weavers of Sabahar Part 4 – Heddle Fundraiser, Please Help :)

Welcome back to the last of 4 posts about the Weavers, Spinners and Dyers of Sabahar in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

If you have been following this story in previous posts, you are no doubt amazed at the cloth that comes from the looms at Sabahar. So much love and labour goes into every inch of fabric and I feel so blessed to be able to work with these artisans and help in any possible way.

The bulk of Sabahar’s business comes from international buyers outside of Ethiopia who support members of the World Fair Trade Organization of which Sabahar is a member. Kathy has a small marketing team who go to WFTO trade shows to exhibit Sabahar’s fabrics and get orders.  

While planning for my March visit Kathy asked me to help her set up a Research and Development Team with 3 of her weavers. The goal was to develop some criteria around the design process that would encourage new ideas, develop creativity and solve problems with the resources at hand.  

For someone like me who loves to sample and loves the question “what if”….. it was the perfect job. 

Our first job was to define what a R&D department does.  I explained that is pushes limits, looks for new ideas, it assumes very little and tries everything it can think of.

We started by sampling with their staple warp yarn, 40/2 cotton grown and spun in Ethiopia. My question was …”what can we do with one yarn, plain weave and a reed”.  Colour was not a problem because of those wonderful dyers you’ve met in previous posts.

Beliefs around what can be done with one single yarn are the same in Ethiopia as they are in other parts of the world.
A yarn is sett at such and such ends per inch or cm and with small variations and there they live. It was time to challenge those assumptions.

I arrived in Ethiopia armed with samples. We put our first test warp on the Jane Loom that Louet had provided to them a few years back on my first trip. We wove, resleyed, wove some more and resleyed. We used different wefts and combinations of wefts, cotton with some recently acquired wool and linen, cotton with handspun cotton and handspun silk weft, singles, doubles, triples, changed the sett again, tried clasped weft and….we learned a lot.

We washed everything, played with water temperature, gentle swish, big squoosh, hard wash, and we learned a lot.

And at the end of this first warp we had 14 different samples and everyone, including myself, learned a lot.

Kathy had a request from a buyer for linen fabric. Linen is not grown in Ethiopia but she was able to obtain several weights from a mill in India. The weavers were having a lot of difficulty working with this new yarn. It was sticky, abrading in the heddles (remember those heddles do not have an eye) and it took so long to weave. Thanks goodness there are tricks that can be learned about weaving linen and good warping techniques that are vital for its success.

The first thing we did was change the way the warp was made using only 2 ends at a time. You can see the linen cones on the steps, they travel up to a reed hung from a tree and down to the warper. No cones tipping over with this method 🙂

Degu chaining a very long and perfectly wound linen warp.

The next thing we did was open up the sett of the linen so the warp wasn’t so dense coming through eyeless heddles! The abrasion was greatly reduced and this meant that we had one very happy weaver who wove the entire warp off in two days. Fewer ends per inch, fewer picks per inch, no sticking, less abrasion…happy happy.

Our next challenge was trying to create a heavy fabric with that 40/2 cotton. We couldn’t make the cotton fatter no matter how much we fed it…so we used multiple ends as one. Another way to get a thicker fabric is to use a weave structure with a longer float. We decided to have a crack at twill.

There are always challenges, like how to turn a traditional 2 harness loom into a 4 harness loom. Kathy had asked me to bring some texsolv heddles from Canada so that is where we started. Texsolv heddles have eyes….yes….wonderful, easy to thread eyes!

We finally got everything on and the warp threaded but, we were having a heck of time getting everything balanced.

Then creativity shone its face upon us! Someone came up with the idea of using wide elastic, like the kind that hold up your undies. These elastic bands were all the same length, had the same stretch, and worked like a hot damn managing our harnesses.
So funny 🙂

Oh yeah baby, we did it 🙂

We treated 8 ends of 40/2 cotton as one end, threaded it to an alternating extended point twill (Goose Eye) then played and played. I know how to count to 4 in Amharic so I sat beside Ermais and counted out 1 und, 2 ulet, 3 zost, 4 aret for the threading and when he treadled, it became, und/ulet, ulet/zost, zost/aret, und/aret. Going backwards was a little harder but they were so patient with me and we laughed a lot when I blew it.

After we played with twill, I suggested we try other techniques on this warp. Heck, why not try denting and clasped weft..we had tried that on our first warp and it was pretty cool.

On our last day together, Ermais, Anteneh and Ayele presented our sampling to the greater body of weavers at Sabahar. They were so empowered as they shared what they had learned with their fellow weavers. These weavers will then share with the outside weavers and the learning will continue to seep beyond.

Below is Kathy Marshall, the founder and owner of Sabahar with Degu, the Weaving Production Manager.

Kathy started all of this 16 years ago in her kitchen with a basket of Eri silk worms and a dream. A dream filled with hope to make a difference in Ethiopia. She now employs over 100 artisans working at Sabahar 1 & 2 with weavers, spinners, dyers and finishers in addition to over 100 families working outside of Sabahar raising Eri silk worms, weaving and spinning. When I think of all she does every single day, I am truly overwhelmed.

The Texsolv heddles I brought made such a difference to the weavers who had them installed on their looms…however, there was only enough for 3 looms.  

It would be GREAT if all the weavers at Sabahar and the outside weavers could have texsolv heddles and guess what… We can help with that! JST has created a category on our website where you can purchase HEDDLES FOR SABAHAR. 100% of your purchase will be sent to Texsolv in Sweden so that they can supply the weavers at Sabahar with new heddles. Small gestures of many create great feats!

I hope you have enjoyed reading these posts. If life goes as planned, I will return to Sabahar again next year and share more stories with you 🙂

Love Jane