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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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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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Sabahar Part 3: The Weavers

Whenever I get home from India or Ethiopia I struggle to stay in the other place for as long as I can. I want to savour every minute of my time away but alas I get sucked back into my other world with all its demands and all my good intentions get put on the back burner. One of the wonderful things about working with Sabahar is that even when I’m not there, I stay in touch with Kathy weekly and that makes me think I’m still there 🙂

So here we go with the 3rd of 4 posts about the Weavers, Spinners and Dyers of Sabahar.  

Sabahar now has 2 weaving studios where 30 weavers work 5 days a week along with another 65  weavers who weave from their homes close by.  

Sabahar 1 is a bright busy studio that hums with the sounds of shuttles and beaters and produces 100’s of metres of handwoven cloth each week.

These are a modern version of a traditional Ethiopian style loom. The 2 harnesses are suspended from a metal frame
And the warps sit on the floor in their bundles.
Several yards of the warp are released from the big warp bundle where it travels around a post at the end of the loom approximately 7 feet away from where the harnesses and reed hang.
After it turns the post it is attached to the previous warp behind the heddles.
There is no tension device other than a hole in the end of the cloth beam and final tensioning is done by tightening the warp around a post.
The weavers weave as far as they can possibly reach by pushing the harnesses back on the frame above. The treadles are attached from the harnesses and they can be kicked back as well. It really helps to be tall working at these looms.
The warps are tied on to existing warps behind the heddles and pulled through. Well…they actually aren’t tied, they are plied.
This leaves a join rather than a knot.
This is the easiest way to thread the looms because they do not have heddle eyes like we do

The harnesses are purchased from the heddle maker who makes the harnesses for all the weavers in the area. When you think about how fine all the warp threads are…nothing heavier than 20/2 cotton…it really is awe inspiring to watch.

The other style of loom looks much more like our looms. A traditional frame with back beam and tensioning device. There are 4 of them fitted with makeshift flying shuttles. These looms are saved for all the wider fabrics like blankets and table cloths.

Some of the weavers work from home. Just like us, they give up space within their homes 🙂 Their looms are constructed with spare timber and are extremely simple.

The fabrics that are woven on these looms are extraordinary!

The pride of the weavers is so evident. I can’t find the words necessary to express my admiration and respect for all their achieve.

In this studio, warps criss cross through each other with a jumble of cords hanging from the ceiling. All very orderly 🙂

In another small home the looms are part of the furniture.

Sabahar 2 was created in an effort to provide some of these weavers with another option. Kathy has rented a house in a newer area that is close to the existing weavers. Here they can come to work in a bright, clean and spacious working environment with running water. This space eliminates some of the stress for the weavers working and living in such small quarters.

They have new looms and lots of bright light. A few of the looms are 4 shafts and they have more treadles 🙂

Both the weavers and winders are so happy.

I hope to finish my final post in a few weeks. It will be a summary of my time at Sabahar this past March and goals for the future.

Thanks for reading.

Cheers,
Jane

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Sabahar Part 2: The Dyers and Warpers

In my last post you caught a glimpse of the amazing work and skill that goes in to producing the yarns used in the cloth woven at Sabahar. Now it’s time to visit the dyers and the warpers… two more steps necessary to bring these amazing Ethiopian textiles to life.

Last year Kathy was able to construct two new buildings. One was for the dyers and finishers and the other was a beautiful modern shop where all these beautiful textiles are displayed for the appreciative customers of Sabahar.

The dying studio is fabulous. It has big washing spaces outside where the water is treated and recycled for watering the gardens. They have a fancy dye machine that is used for skeins of mill spun 40/2 cotton warp that is used as a base warp for many of the fabrics. All of the handspun cotton and silk are dyed in pots just like we do… but they just do so much of it.

Just taking my skeins for a walk… all scoured and ready to dye…

The new dye and finishing building

Sabahar’s new dye and finishing building, check out the great sinks out front…

They have one large mechanical dye machine… and several smaller dye machines…

All dye water is treated in a simple treatment system and the water is used in the gardens…

Everyday the lines are hung with different colours. These are skeins of handspun cotton and silk

The Warpers

After the yarns are dyed warping is next. I always say that there are a dozen ways to do something, well now I believe there are 13 :)! Before I went to Ethiopia the first time in 2016 I could never have imagined this type of warping. Or that it was possible to make such long warps with such simple equipment and with so many threads used in a single bout. Imagine warping with 30 threads at a time!

Thirty cones of 40:2 cotton

Thirty cones of 40/2 cotton are being used in this warp…

There are several warping stations… all pretty much the same. Nails along rough wood. That’s it!

Once the warp is made it is wound into something that resembles a giant cocoon… rather fitting really as they are surrounded by cocooning silk worms.  It starts just like we start a ball of yarn by hand they just don’t make it round. And the cross is at the end.
The 40/2 cotton is pretty darn fine but the 40/1 cotton is so fine I could barely see it and it is… yes a single strand. This only comes from the mill in skeins. They load up the skeins onto a wagumba which is a giant swift.  Thirty skeins are loaded on, thirty individual ends are found and then the warper carries the wagumba up and down the warping board while he is making his warp.
Another view of the giant swift
A 70 yard warp

This is what a 70 yard warp looks like on it’s way to the loom where it will be transformed into 40 towels.

The metal warping mill

And then they have one trusty metal warping mill which I felt right at home with. Ermias and Aiyelle made a new warp for us to use in the Research and Development Department.

Next blog post

Part three: The Weavers of Sabahar and their brand spanking new R&D dept.

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The Silk Producers, Spinners, Dyers and Weavers of Sabahar in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Part 1: of a story about my recent trip to Ethiopia where I worked with the weavers, spinners and dyers of Sabahar in Addis Ababa. I did several posts about this trip on Facebook but I know there are a lot of you out there that don’t hang out on Facebook or other social media and you are important to me too… so here goes.

This story all begins with one amazing woman named Kathy Marshall from Beaver Lodge Alberta. Kathy has lived in Africa since 1994 working in the area of agriculture and development. Kathy’s desire to create a business that specialized and celebrated the rich textile traditions in Ethiopia began in 2004 with one weaver and several spinners working out of her home.

Fast forward 15 years and Sabahar now employs over 200 artisans. Weavers, spinners, dyers, silk farmers and finishers. It is an amazing success story that sits on top of a mountain of determination, dedication and above all, love.

There are so many parts to this story but it really should start with these lovely little critters… eri silk moths. By the way, Saba is the Amharic word for queen and Hari is the Amharic word for silk… a perfect name for Sabahar.

Sabahar is the pioneer of silk production in Ethiopia. Kathy brought her silk cocoons from Assam India where Eri silk originates. The name eri comes from the Assamese word “era”, meaning castor and that is exactly what these caterpillars eat. Ethiopia has an abundant supply of Castor trees which made it a perfect silk match for the country.

It takes five days for the eggs to hatch… they moult four times during their lifespan of approximately 45 days depending upon the temperature… this little guy on the left is almost full grown, the pair on the right are fully grown… when they get to this size and become pale in colour you hold them to your ear, rub their backs and if they sound hollow, they’re ready to spin… two caterpillars are placed in a paper cone, trays of cones sealed up ready to spin… it takes two days to spin and another seven days for the metamorphosis to occur…

A cup of caterpillars

I put two caterpillars in this glass mug and weighed down a piece of paper with my cell phone. It was amazing to watch them spin their cocoon. Their little heads circled round and round while they extruded the silk into the unique shape that Eri silk is spun into. They will fill any shape they are put into… the cocoons that come out of the paper cones are cone shaped. If they are put into a square container, the cocoon will be square… truly amazing.

Spinning

Cotton spinning on drop spindles has a strong tradition in Ethiopia and Eri silk has similarities to cotton. The caterpillar spins a staple silk unlike other silk worms which spin a filament silk, like Bombyx and Tussah. Eri silk cannot be reeled making it the perfect fibre to give to traditional cotton spinners. The cocoons are first boiled and the spinners spin directly from these cocoon masses.  Along with spinning Eri Silk, Sabahar employs dozens of cotton spinners who spin in their homes.  Everyday spun cotton is collected and delivered to Sabahar for sorting and quality control.

Cocoons are boiled and spun directly from these cocoon masses… the silk is spun on wheels, while the cotton is spun on drop spindles… every day deliveries of cotton arrive and are sorted into different grades… the cobs are turned into skeins ready for dyeing.

Spinning outside

Next blog post

The next blog post is about the dyers and the warpers of Sabahar.

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Weaver Spotlight: JST Online Guild Member Linda P.

This month we are going to shine the spotlight on one of our JST Online Guild members…the talented Ms. Linda Pickett from Victoria, B.C. Earlier this year, Linda attended our last workshop and brought along some fabulous show and tell. I was so excited that I begged her to let me share 3 of the pieces with you.

She used all the techniques that were presented in the last 3 blog posts. She figured out what her sett was first, then she divided her space and finally she poured in the colour and threading structure.
These 3 pieces are amazing!
In Linda’s words:
A number of things came together for me this past year.  I think it was partly the online guild, partly that I framed some goals for myself for the year (first time I have done that), partly that I was working with yarns and colours that I like. I was inspired to play, to push things further, to experiment. I have let all this air into my cloth. I experimented with mixing yarns in my cloth that I would never have considered. I am weaving more mindfully (its kinda slow but I am enjoying it), I am doing better at watching the negative space, paying more attention to my technique.  The result is that I wove projects this past year that thrilled me, the most delighted I have been with my weaving since I first threw a shuttle (before I realized that that miraculous cloth closely resembled cardboard). So very exciting. 
 
One of the brilliant things about the online guild is that it is like getting a creative booster shot every month. I certainly didn’t weave everything; I didn’t “keep up” by any means but they always inspire me. Sometimes I almost can’t watch because my brain is too full for more ideas! So fabulous. 
‘Blankie’ is woven using Harrisville Shetland in PW at 8 epi and 8 ppi.  Linda pulled one of the Colour and Weave threadings (DDL) from the guild gamp and used it for the body of the blankie.
 She framed it with a natural zinger line and a solid border.
The drape and hand are spectacular and the colour is beautifully soft.
This next shawl is breathtaking; Linda used many of the techniques we learned in 2018. Her canvas was a mix of 18/2 merino for the warp and 16/2 cotton for weft. Woven perfectly balanced at 18 epi and ppi.
Graphically, she did a division of space in 5, and her outer borders are different widths….there is that asymmetry word again! 🙂
Then she had 2 sections with 4 D, 4 L colour and weave sequence from the gamp in Season 2 episode 4
and the centre section was solid white with a fine over grid of black on it. She put it all together using the ideas from Colour and Design, so naturally I was jumping up and down when she showed me this piece. (You can just imagine!)

Linda took it all tad further with this beautiful fine 40/2 linen scarf where she inserted some Bronson Lace into the graphic.

It is so easy to see how the graphic and the sketching helps you get to the warping board quickly:

She knew her EPI was going to be 24 because we discussed it based on all the sampling we do around here. She figured out how wide and how long, then she drew her graphic…..got her number of warp threads…fiddled around a wee bit making the lace threading fit (based on Season 1 Episodes 5 and 6),
and then she poured in her colours:

That’s the formula that just keeps giving and giving and giving!

We absolutely adore seeing what our guild members are weaving! Did you know that you can share your projects with our Ravelry Group, and also on Instagram using the #JSTOnlineGuild hashtag?

We look forward to another exciting year of weaving in 2019 – click here to learn more about Season 3: Pushing the Boundaries of Plain Weave. We hope you’ll join us!

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Design for Weavers: Colour Theory & Practice

Colour is my daylong obsession, joy, and torment.

Claude Monet

Colour is the child of light, the source of all light on earth.

From “Colors: The Story of Dyes and Pigments”

My weaving colour choices are an emotional response, a response to some stimulus that has moved me—a flower, a painting, a picture in a magazine. I see something that I love, and then I interpret it in coloured yarns.

Sometimes I’m right, sometimes I’m wrong; sometimes it looks stunning, sometimes—less stunning. But the great thing is, there’s always more yarn and there’s always another opportunity to try again and make it better.

Talking Colour

Colour is a big subject, and it has a vocabulary all its own. In designing, I work most with three aspects of colour:

  • Hue
  • Value
  • Saturation

Hue

Hue is easy. It’s what we naturally think of when we think of “what colour” something is: red, yellow, blue, green, orange, purple.

Another way to think of hue is where the colour sits on the colour wheel:

Value

If you were a painter, you could easily achieve a wide range of colours simply by adding black, white, or grey to your hue. This changes the lightness and darkness of a colour. This changes its value, which is the lightness or darkness of a colour.

If you add white to a colour, you have a tint:

If you add black to a colour, you have a shade:

If you add grey to a colour, you have a tone:

Saturation

A hue at its purest and clearest, as it would appear in the colour wheel, is said to be at its maximum saturation.

As you add grey to a hue, the hue becomes more desaturated—making it less clear and more muted. In the picture below, the outermost ring is the pure hue at its most saturated. As you move in to the centre of the circle, the colour becomes increasingly desaturated.

Using Colour

Weavers can’t mix on a palette like painters do, so it is important to play with combinations that might strike you as unlikely, because you’ll be amazed how some of them work in the cloth.

You will see in the sample work on the online guild that varying colours that have high and low saturation can give you the most amazing, complex colour in your finished piece.—Sort of like having a party with your quiet family, and then the loud crazy cousins come in and it becomes a hootenanny. ☺

I have some favourite moves I like to make when using colour, and I’ll share them with you here.

Gradations

I love gradation work.  This is where you can put all the tints and shades of one colour that you might have in your stash. A gradation builds movement across your weaving from light to dark.

If you then add an overgrid on your gradation, it makes an entirely new graphic:

You can shift through analogous colours, or in and out of one set of colours—for example, dark on the selvedge to light in the middle, or vice versa.

Analogous Colour Harmonies

I use analogous colour harmonies more than anything else in my weaving. They are the colours right next door to each other on the colour wheel.

Analogous colours flow into one another. Gaia uses them all the time: just start looking at flowers!

Some colour systems include four colours from the wheel in a row, others three. Personally, I think you can use as many as you want to create your own personal rainbow. If you are working directionally around the colour wheel you can never go wrong.

Analogous colour harmonies are the perfect place to start if you are unsure about using colour. Then you can add gradations of light and dark.

Complementary Colours

Colours that are right across the colour wheel from each other are called complementary colours, or complements.

Complements for Zingers and Accents

Complements make great zingers and accents.

When deciding how you want your complementary colours to interact, keep in mind that colour plus its complement (in theory, anyway) gives you a muddied look. For example, if you use one colour for your warp and its complement for your weft, the resulting piece can be very muted, possibly more than you expect.

If you want that big contrast, keep blocks of complementary colours larger in both the warp and the weft, so that the eye does not blend them into gray.

Our plaid sample is a great example of this. We have big red squares and big green squares. Where they weave on each other, they look muddy. But because our eye is drawn to the solid square of each colour, we don’t even notice the muddy areas.

Split Complements for Pairing

For a split complement, we first identify the true complement of a colour. Then we select the colours on either side of it to pair with the original colour. For example, the true complement of green is red.

To find the split complement, we look at the colours on either side of red.

If you are looking at one colour family and want to find some nice pairings, split complements always work. They make great zingers, too. Start looking for split complements in nature and you’ll start seeing them everywhere.

Many of the samples in the previous 2 posts use these principles.  Go back and have a look here and here.

So happy to share my approach to colour with you. To explore colour further, I invite you to join the JST Online Guild; our 2018 season focuses on Colour & Design, and you’ll receive immediate access to all published videos when you sign up! Click here to learn more (you’ll also receive our free PDF guide, Project Planning 1010).  Happy Weaving!

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