Published inBraid Society Newsletter June 2008
Carol is a weaver. teacher and researcher of the Sash, which is woven by the technique of Fingerweaving or Free End Braiding. The equipment needed is minimal, just a few sticks, some masking tape, and a fixing point- oh! and some nimble fingers.
Any smooth yarn can be used, but given the work required in a sizeable project, it is worth procuring a good quality worsted wool which will not pill or felt.
Carol takes us gently from a Beginner’s Project through stripes, diamonds and arrows to the Assomption and Arcadian patterns, thus providing a repertoire for more complex designs. The instructions are clear and the diagrams superb so even this rookie fingerweaver could follow them with no problems.
Carol’s method of making and maintaining the shed did not take long to learn and, with practice, I am sure that a good rhythm can be achieved.
Book review from the Fur Trade Quarterly, Fall 2008
You may recall the excellent Quarterly article by Carol James in which she carefully explained the difference between fingerwoven and machine woven French Canadian sashes. This is a superb how-to book with all color illustrations that can help anyone become a fingerweaver. Not only are the best patterns (arrowhead, Assomption, Acadian, flame, diamond, etc.) included, and the techniques to create them shown; she tells how to add beads to the sash and how to appropriately twist the end fringes.
James illustrates the most common errors of fingerweaving and tells the reader how to correct them. There is plenty of information about how to get started, including where to buy suitable yarn, and there are lots of beautiful pictures of old, original sashes. There is so much to recommend this book, either for the collector, the weaver, or the reenactor. It’s a bust buy. – JAH
Susan Styrchak’s review for the Guild of Canadian Weavers
Fingerweaving Untangled: an Illustrated Beginner’s Guide Including Detailed Patterns and Common Mistakes by Carol James. 64 pages paper $19.95 available from McNally Robinson: www.mcnallyrobinson.com ISBN 978-0-9784695-0-4
This book is, as it says, an excellent book for a beginner. At first, like most beginners, I got “hung up” on the pages describing the common mistakes, but as I examined the sequence of projects, it all made sense.
A simple eight strand friendship bracelet is the first project. And with that, Carol leads you to the beginner’s method of manipulating the threads, and then illustrates the “advanced” method. The essentials of set up, measurement of warp, materials to use and variations of pattern are all dealt with in a straightforward manner, and traditional patterns, like the sawtooth, lightning or arrowhead to name a few, are illustrated with simple examples to practice on . The colour order for these various patterns are given first in written instructions and later in graph form.
On every page there are many diagrams and photos to help you see what the item should, or shouldn’t! look like. Photos of some of Carol’s own sashes provide inspiration and photos of historical sashes from museum collections provide edification. These illustrate some errors but do not negate the fact that these weavings are nevertheless an impressive achievement.
If you ever abandoned a piece of finger weaving because it wasn’t turning out, or wanted to try it because, after all, “what could be simpler?” this book will help you keep on track.
Carol’s apearance as CBC’s Unsung Hero of the Week has finally been posted in the ‘About the Artist’ section.
Also, under ‘Sprang Weaving’, there are three new patterened sprang sash and under ‘Finger Weaving’, a new beaded sash.
Finally, I’ve compiled a ‘Links’ section. With this update, there are officially no longer any blank pages on the site. I guess that means that we’re no long ‘under construction’ Hooray!
I attended the North American Voyageur Council Fall Gathering last weekend, Nov 6-9, at Ft William, in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Had a lovely time.
Gave a fingerweaving workshop. Once again, folks who long ago decided they can’t fingerweave, just plain didn’t have me for a teacher.
Some of the sessions were held in Grand Portage, in northern Minnesota. I had the opportunity to see my sashes on the mannequins.
I also had the opportunity to examine 3 very old sashes, made in the style of ceinture fleche in the 1800’s. I’ll add their statistics to my collection.
Another class at the Musée de St Boniface teaching the technique of ceinture fleche. Six very apt students in my fingerweaving workshop. One of them had an idea I just have to share with the rest of the world. Literature my husband procured from the fingerweavers in Quebec, when I started out, insisted that the proper way to keep an even tension is to tie the warp at both ends. The upper portion is tied to a hook in the wall, the lower end to the chair, or to a hook on the floor. One of my students this time around came up with another very clever alternative. She brought along a piece of elastic, which she ties to her thigh, above the knee. She tucks her weaving in to the elastic, and adjusts her tension there. My students find they can adjust the tension by raising or lowering the leg.