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JST Blog October Weaver Spotlight!

Hi kids,

This month we’re shining the weaver’s spotlight on Rebecca Logan from Stony Plain, Alberta. Rebecca is a fabulous weaver, an animal lover extraordinaire and I love her for her gardening skills. I love how she takes the seeds I sow and grows an entirely different garden from each packet of weaving seeds 🙂
Yes, we sow weaving seeds at JST and the end result is why I love to share ideas….it is such a joy to watch gardens spring up all over the place. Important take away…..be inspired by things you see around you and then take those ideas and gently guide them to your happy place.

I hope you enjoy Rebecca’s take on Tea Towel Time with Jane….

Sending tons of love

Jane


When I saw Jane’s Tea Towel Time towels, I was immediately hooked. They were all so beautiful and colourful, and yet each was uniquely fascinating. I had to try them!  

Although Jane’s colour choice was gorgeous, I was feeling spicy at the time, and substituted hot colours for her cools, sticking with similar values.  Her black became my chocolate, the light bright green was substituted with cayenne, and the purple and peacock became merlot and magenta. 

I made a mistake while winding the warp chains, missing a few repeats of the four-end sequence, so then had to repeat the error with a later warp chain for symmetry.  

A run of twelve towels, each different, was like freedom at the loom. With each towel I could try something completely different, or play upon something I liked about an earlier towel. For example, I wove three towels with the same border sequence, one in straight draw twill, one in basketweave, and one in turned twill, just to be able to enjoy the subtle differences. 

Another favourite was what I called the wiggles. Jane wove them as point twill treadling, but I wanted them to be more wiggle than zigzag, so played about in my weaving software to find the correct rosepath treadling that gave me those desired wiggles. That towel was so much fun I wove it twice, with different weft colours.  

That towel was so much fun I wove it twice, with different weft colours.  

Everyone who sees the finished towels understands how much fun they must have been to weave, although that may be my gushing enthusiasm in talking about them. I know that such long warps (12 yards, as long as I could make) no longer intimidate me. Now I see them as an opportunity for play!  And maybe that was Jane’s intent – to encourage the freedom of playing at the loom.  

I was lucky enough to have five different in-person classes with Jane before she went digital, and consider those weeks some to the most important in my development as a weaver.  Now that the guild is available, I’m diving even deeper into the most joyful details. Weaving is a gift that will keep me interested for a lifetime, and hand woven dish towels have become my art form.  

Learn more about the JST Online Guild Weaving Lessons!

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JST Blog August Weaver Spotlight!

Hi kids,

It’s so wonderful to once again be able to share another weaver’s exploration of the lessons learned in Colour and Design. Gail Maier has taken that knowledge and layered structures from Twills on Four to create her own unique cloth. It makes my heart sing 🙂

Check out Gail on Instagram @nesthandwovens to see more of her amazing work.

Jane


My name is Gail Maier, and I live in Victoria, British Columbia. The weaving “bug” bit me about 7 years ago – when I was lying on a woven beach towel and noticed that it was completely different on one side vs. the other. My curiosity was triggered, and I had to learn how to do that – my passion for weaving was launched!

I have been a member of the Online Guild from the start, and I have also been fortunate to take several workshops on Salt Spring Island with Jane in the past. But that didn’t include twills on four, and I was super excited when this season began.

Both threading gamps were my inspiration for this project. I wanted to show pattern possibilities by using multiple threadings in one project, without it getting too busy. So, I went back to my all-time favourite lessons from the Online Guild, Colour and Design, Jane’s first lessons. I wanted to use a strong graphic to organize the different twills and chose a three-stripe design with wide-ish borders and edges. My studio shelves have been recently restocked with luscious Venne organic cotton, and I wanted to use some of my new stash. The warm warp colours I choose were havanna, brick red and brass, set off by frames of curry which resulted in some good colour play.

I knew I wanted to fill each big stripe with a different twill, and I also thought it would look cool if the curry-coloured edges and borders could be a different twill too. So, after studying the gamps I chose 3 different point twill threadings and a straight draw threading for the borders. This allowed me to make the intersections where the twills meet have clean, sharp lines.

Twill sett used was 20 epi; I find that I can beat this sett at 20 picks per inch consistently and the resulting cloth is still sturdy enough but also has some nice drape.

The point twills are my favourites, and I selected these – #4 and 5 from the small threading gamp, and M’s and W’s from the large threading gamp. So I then figured out threading repeats by section and drafted so that the big stripes were as equal as possible in size. The warp was 450 inches long, 474 ends, enough for a dozen towels that are 33 inches on the loom and 23 ¾ inches thru the reed. 

Weaving the first towel as drawn in is a great place to start. Treadling each section trompe as writ, or following the threading, resulted in some interesting different patterns. I especially liked the design created by treadling 1234 – 321 – 234 – The “wall of troy” threading. I knew I wanted to play with lots of variations, so I decided that when I overlaid ideas from prior classes I should keep one treadling throughout. Otherwise it seemed the design would get too busy.

In the next few towels I used just one treadling sequence, except when I was adding framing borders in the warp colour, curry. In these cases, they were also treadled in a straight draw, which made the frames and borders more distinctive.

My favourite technique to play with is to use colour and weave sequencing options to produce some horizontal stripes, using Fibonacci sequences. This created some really interesting variations, making the cloth look totally different – almost as if I had rethreaded it. Very cool, and this effect was most interesting when the treadling sequences were an odd number, like #5 (1234-1-4321). I used either 2 or 4 picks per stripe so two shuttles were easy to manage – one on each side of the cloth. These stripes inspired me to use this idea in a plaid, and it worked well. The resulting patterns are not traditional plaids, but it’s still plaid-like. These are some of my personal favourites, especially the purple one.

I switched out colours and pushed the combinations so that the cloth wasn’t warm anymore, using purple, deep red and turquoise weft colours.

Lessons learned from this project include the following:

  • small twill patterns need to be “held” in a strong graphic to make them more interesting and sophisticated looking. 
  • proved to myself (again) that purple and turquoise can work with almost any other colour – magenta too
  • applying Jane’s concepts in the Colour and Design lessons are the most important to me. Learning weave structures is interesting and gives options to create cloth with different hands and for different uses, but the design lessons are always my foundation. 

This was a really fun project and the resulting dozen kitchen towels are lovely; a great study in how simple little twills can make big bold statements. Great learning, and I look forward to doing another 4-shaft twill project very soon!

Learn more about the JST Online Guild weaving lessons!

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JST Blog June Weaver Spotlight!

Hi kids,

This month I’m happy to introduce you to another member of our Online Guild – Arlene Kohut. Arlene is a wonderful weaver who enjoys the design possibilities of layering elements into the fabric that she weaves. You may recall Season 2’s episode on Stripes where I showed you 2 tea towels that Arlene designed layering striping and Bronson Lace. In this blog post she takes us on her journey exploring this season’s Twills on 4’s Simple Two Stripe sample.

If you would like to see more of Arlene’s weaving, you can follow her on Instagram @inkohootsweaving.


My name is Arlene Kohut. I live in Victoria, British Columbia. I started weaving 10+ years ago after my son’s Grade three teacher brought a rigid heddle loom to class for the students to weave a class project. I was able to weave a couple of inches since I was a class parent helper. Once I realized that cloth could be created from fibre woven on a loom, I was hooked. 

In the past I had taken ‘Twills on Four’, the in-person class with Jane. So in January 2020 when Jane posted her first Online Guild class of the year, Season 4 – Episode 1 – Introduction to Twill & Simple Two Stripe Sample, I watched the videos and took notes. Once the video session was complete I reviewed my notes and doodles and had an ‘a-ha moment’. I kept seeing “borders” and I was intrigued with mixing plain weave and twill together. I just wanted to play on a warp ASAP.

I decided to skip the samples for this guild session and go right to weaving towels. My stash did not have enough Charcoal 8/2 Cotton but there were two cones each of Olive and Natural. My brother is having a big birthday later in the year and he likes green so why not make towels? I made the warp wider than suggested by Jane and wove a couple of inches of each technique that she demonstrated on her loom video (so I would have a condensed sample for myself). Then I started playing with what I learned from this episode.

My first sample where I could see borders and different patterns that I could incorporate into a towel.

Then a towel woven in Olive and using a fibonacci stripe sequence, continuing in the 2/2 twill pattern throughout. Just the colour changes in the stripe sequence:
 

2 Natural
3 Olive
5 Natural
3 Olive
2 Natural

Another towel using Olive weft and a natural for the border. Then changing the twill direction every one inch for the centre part of the towel and finishing off the towel with the same border on the other end.

This towel has the same border as the towel above but I used natural as the main towel colour. In the centre of this towel I used a direction pattern change every four picks creating a zig zag effect in the centre of the towel.

For this towel I played around with colour and design. I have a graphic below in my notes.

Lastly, I found some matching 2/16 cotton in a similar dye lot and switched to a slow clasp weft weave. This idea came from a fellow weaver, Kathy Ready. The two us throw ideas at each other so I gave Kathy’s idea a try. I found this design appealing and it gave me more ideas. So………

I made a second longer warp of 2/8 cotton. Going back to my stash I chose Chocolate for the dark side and a strand of Ivory and Beige alternating for the light side (because I only had a cone and a bit of each). Then I started to play again…….

These are some of the towels from this second warp. I used basket weave for the border on the top left towel, which I will try again. I like the colour that was created by using a strand of the Ivory and Beige. Unfortunately, I could not capture this colour on a photo. So you will have to take my word. 

AND I played some more. I am not use to just weaving with neutral colours so I had to add some colour in this lot of clasp weft towels.

What have I learned from this session? Weaving these towels were fun while trying to decide where to put a border and what type. I love the texture that occurs when using plain weave in between four picks of 2/2 twill. Changing twill direction makes its own zig zag pattern. Basket weave for a horizontal border, who would have thought. This session has given me lots of new ideas to play with and I still have more ideas to try in the future.
 
Below, I have included my rough notes for the second sets of towels and a photo of three stripes that I wove on the last little bit of warp. I will keep this bit of weaving for future reference.



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March Blog, Weaver Spotlight!

Hi kids, it’s that time of month again when I have the privilege of featuring a member of our Online Guild. This month, I’m delighted to introduce you to Kate Watt, who lives and weaves in northern Maine. Kate has given us a window into her story and her journey using “what if” as her guide. I was delighted to find her posts on Instagram where I could see the imaginative structures she has created combining Clasped Weft and Log Cabin.

My name is Kate Watt and I live in northern Maine. I became mildly interested in weaving about 10 years ago. An attractive online ad for a used 4 shaft counterbalance loom caught my eye and I jumped at the opportunity. I didn’t live near any guilds and I didn’t know anyone who could teach me to weave. Instead, I started learning what I could through books, videos and online forums. There were many frustrating moments, but there was something different about weaving. With weaving, both sides of my brain are in full use. I love the math side of weaving but I also get joy from playing so creatively with color! I was puttering along trying to learn the basics, but still feeling like I was “playing” and not actually weaving. I averaged about one warp per year. That all changed after joining the Online Guild. I now feel like a real weaver. I’m still playing, but it’s with a lot more skill thanks to Jane! I never realized how much fun and excitement I could get from plain weave!

One of the projects that I particularly enjoyed was one based on the Log Cabin samples featured in Season 3 Episode 3. I wound the warp with 8/4 cotton, as Jane did in her samples with colors I had in my stash. Clasped weft has always intrigued  me, especially after watching the Parrot episode (Season 2, Episode 5). Jane demonstrated how to get a clean line with clasped weft and I had never thought about using it in that way. I had this beautiful warp in 8/4 cotton and matching colors of 8/2 cotton. Then I started asking myself “What if?!?!”

I started with the idea of just weaving the log cabin on the one side of the warp and leaving the other side all one color. In order to do this, I wove one pick natural 8/4 cotton. The next pick was  black 8/2 cotton clasped with natural 8/2 cotton. In order to keep that clean line, I made sure to beat on an open shed and pull a little to the right or a little to the left to get that clasp to line up just under the red divider line. Jane demonstrated this really well in the Parrot episode. I continued to alternate the 8/4 pick with the clasped pick in the log cabin pattern. This was slow weaving, but it was so exciting to get a pattern like this with “plain weave”.  

If it worked so well on the log cabin section, why couldn’t I do the reverse? This time I wanted to weave the solid black grid lines, but keep the log cabin side all natural. This was easier than the log cabin sequence. It was just 5 picks with the clasped weft followed by a square woven of 8/4 natural, repeat.

I used both clasped weft experiments on one of the samples. It’s not the best division of space, but I can see several ideas I would like to explore in the future. 

A third section of clasped weft that I experimented with is my particular favorite. I wanted to incorporate the log cabin with a similar spacing to the black grid lines. I started with a pick of 8/4 black. Then I clasped 8/2 natural on the left with 8/2 black on the  right, hiding the clasp under the red divider line. I repeated these two picks to create a log cabin block on one side and a solid black line on the other side. Then I did a section of natural in 8/4, and then went back to alternating the clasped weft pick with 8/4 in black.

After looking at the finished sample, I think this clasped weft section would look great on the end of a scarf. I think I would widen the black stripes in the warp to match the log cabin squares. There are really so many possibilities.

The selvedges are a little uneven in the clasped weft section, but with practice I think they could look better. Or if you were using the end fabric for something sewn, it wouldn’t matter what the selvedge looked like. The clasped weft technique really slows the weaving down, but  it opens up so many creative options. And because this was all “plain weave” it could easily be accomplished on a rigid heddle loom as easily as a 4 shaft loom! 

With the rest of the warp I played with sequences from  the Colour and Weave gamp: DDD/L, 4D/4L, DLDDL. And for the last little bit of warp I wove 2 samples with 8/2 boucle. 

Most of my weaving with the guild projects are just samples for my education in weaving. All of them could be functional, but they are really just experiments. If I were to weave them again I would be more careful about planning my division of space. I find them a little busy for my style, but there is so much potential for future projects contained in these sample. I’m trying to add to my “body of work” as Jane has referred to it. This keeps me from looking at a project and being disappointed, but rather I am still trying to find my unique “style”. I’m getting closer with each warp!

You can see more of my Guild projects on Instagram @worrywattweaving.

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February Blog, Weaver Spotlight!

Hi kids – it’s time again to introduce you to another weaver who has delighted me by taking lessons learned from our Online Guild and turned her cloth into her own unique design. This month, please meet Linda Fleming from Texas. Linda’s shawl incorporates Log Cabin, Clasped Weft and Colour and Weave – all from Season 2, Colour & Design. It is indeed a wonderful amalgamation of techniques representing one Online Guild season. Thank you for sharing your process with us Linda – the results are stunning.

I have always been fascinated with weaving; however it was not until about 15 years ago that I met someone who knew how to weave. I learned to weave from her and once I started, the weaving bug hit me hard! I love to see the pattern develop on the loom when first starting to weave a project. It always feels like magic.

I was inspired to make this shawl after watching Season 3, Episode 3 on log cabin. I had woven a shadow weave baby blanket in the past, but had never woven log cabin. I was intrigued by how simple it was, but what an impact it made. I chose some yarns from my stash that were just looking for a project. They are 8/2 American Maid Naturally Colored cotton from Lunatic Fringe. I love how the colors darken over time with each washing. I used the dark brown and the natural with a sett of 18 EPI.

I made a sketch of what I wanted the two ends of the shawl to look like and then I was going to just wing it for the rest. I divided the warp into sections with log cabin on the ends and the stripes in the middle. I also added a purple zinger on each side of the stripes.

I started weaving using my schematic and then I thought, hmm, what if I do some clasped weft?

I wove further and decided I really like an asymmetrical look on scarves so I started putting in small stripes using the weaving sequence dark, dark, light, dark. They were so much fun that I just finished off the shawl with the stripes.

This warp was so much fun that I was sorry to see it end! This is what I have enjoyed the most about the Jane Stafford Guild. I have realized that I do not have to follow a pattern to the letter. I can play with the warp, and it makes the final product so much more interesting.

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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.   

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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/

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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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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

UPDATE: Thank-you to everyone who purchased Heddles for Sabahar! We have now removed this category from our Shop.