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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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