I’ve sent off a couple of things to the HGA Convergence exhibitions … hoping for the best.
Whew! That’s a load off my mind.
Now for Festival du Voyageur which starts on Friday. They’ve invited me to participate in the ‘school program’. I’ll be weaving on a sash that bears striking similarity to an historic piece, and talking with students about fingerweaving. Space permitting, I’ll bring along my table loom to show them the difference in technique. I’ve also prepared little baggies with materials for the beginner project from my book: chopsticks and eight strands of yarn, all set up and ready to go, cost $2 each.
The school program runs 9:30 AM to 3PM, and then the crowds of general public come in the evening. If you’re in the Winnipeg area, stop in at Whittier Park, Feb 12-21.
So, last Winter I kept getting e-mails, requesting submissions to the Canadian Craft Federation, for an international exhibit. I figured, what the hey. The theme was ‘Unity and Diversity’ and this is a thread that frequently works through my weavings.
So I submitted a piece that was a collaborative effort: my son the woodcarver, created a canoe paddle, and I wove a ‘sash’ that wandered through several patterns. I figured the diverse patterns were all related to my personal historical roots, Iroquois in the 1600’s, my husband’s Quebec connection, the Métis culture where I currently live. Sashes are made up of diverse threads, working together they form a unity that is stronger than any single thread.
Anyhow, to make a long story short, in April I received word that my (our) piece had been accepted. It now had to be packaged and sent off so as to be part of the exhibit in Cheongju, Korea. My piece ‘Mixed Heritage Sash’
was off to the Cheongju International Craft Biennale. Canada will be the official guest country to this, the ‘Cannes Film Festival of Craft’.
And then there was the e-mail saying that they were wanting artists to go to Korea to demonstrate their craft. What a wonderful once-in-a-lifetime chance to learn crafts from literally around the world! What an honor to be representing Canada! I am grateful to the support of the Manitoba Arts Council and the Winnipeg Arts Council who have contributed to help pay my way to this amazing event.
I’m off to Korea on Sept 18, and won’t be back until Oct 2. Unfortunately the timing means I return too late for Mississinewa this year. But don’t fret, I do hope to be back to that amazing 1812 event in 2010.
Le livre Le Fléché Démêlé est maintenant disponible.
C’est un manuel de 64 pages pour débutants, illustré en couleur comprenant des modèles détaillés et une explication des erreurs les plus fréquentes.
Prix $19.95 + livraison
Contacter l’auteur Carol James
Some weavers have asked about the bulls eye. Perhaps a bit more information is required.
Personally I do not start out with a bulls eye. (It was a local weavers group who insisted that the ‘right way’ to weave was to begin with a bulls eye.) I have been making my way through museum collections, looking for old sashes which include a bulls eye. They seem to be quite rare. The only one I have found had the bulls eye done similar to the image attached, in two steps, not four as in the book.
Here’s what I would do:
Begin the sash just like regular.
Weave the first half of the sash (several patterns anyhow, enough to know how much of a ‘fishtail’ (down slanting weft) you sash wants.
At this point it is safe to go back to the starting place, and create enough of a bulls eye to bring the work to a similar ‘fishtail’ shape.
Now, the perfectionists will note the smooth join on the right and the jaggedy join on the left and they will want to fix this. Two solutions, actually:
1. Arrange for an odd number of threads in the central arrow area.
2. Arrange the threads so that the center two threads are either both ‘up’ or both ‘down’.
Either choice will mean that on one side you will ‘change to the front’ and and on the other you will ‘change to the back’.
Hope this information is helpful.
I’ll be Artist in Residence in Quetico Park July 12-25. Working with park staff I’ve agreed to weave a ‘Quetico Sash’ while there.
Based on the Quetico logo, there’s a pattern that’s been rattling around in my head ever since visiting this beautiful wilderness last Summer.
For now I’m playing with colors. I need to decide which colors before Monday.
I have been noticing a small spot of color in the ‘wrong’ place in sashes, and have finally put two and two together to see a rather elegant solution to a common problem:
The arrow and lightning pattern requires the weaver to count and regularly change the weft across the face of the sash. A common error is a mis-counting, or just plain forgetting to change the weft.
Here I notice I’ve woven too far. I am wanting to have a green thread to switch with the pale colored thread. The red should have been switched away 12 threads back. I could un-weave these last 12 threads … or …
Change of weft, red for pale, and then bring that red thread back to where it belongs.
The red and green threads have traded places, and you may now resume weaving as if nothing has happened.
You now have a green thread for the change of weft with the pale thread. Carry on weaving normally.
Note that you will have to be vigilant on the very next row:
Make sure that the red thread is back in place for the next row. It may have drifted back toward the green thread that replaced it.
The only telltale of this misadventure will be a tiny red ‘blip’ seen in between the green and pale lightnings, and very slight extra thickness where three threads passed as weft instead of only one.
If this red blip bothers you, then repeat it two more times. According to accepted theory, when something happens three times in a row, then it’s a design element. Tell people you did it on purpose … make it into a signature.
So, I finished up my travels, and am wanting to share with you some of the insights gained.
Examining sashes closely, human error is in evidence. What I am wanting to disseminate is a sense of hope: very skilled weavers of the past have done this before me. Because errors are in evidence in museum sashes, and indeed rather clever corrective measures were taken to get the pattern back on track, why should I hold myself up to a standard higher than ‘museum quality’?
A very common error is in evidence when the center of the arrow wanders off to one side. This is not always the sign of a real problem.
This weaver worked on one side of the sash forgetting to turn the work over. One side of the arrow grew ahead of the other. Note the start of a new row of lightnings on the right and not on the left. This is not really a problem. The weaver must only turn the work over and work on the shorter side for a few rows to bring things back into order.
A more serious problem is afoot when the lightnings on both sides of the arrow attest that the weaver has indeed been working both sides equally.
In this image the center has wandered to the right, but the lightnings on both sides of the arrow are at the same stage of development, two rows left to go before ‘adventure disappears’.
Many weavers have experienced this would-be-disaster. Often as not it has been building up over many rows, even over several pattern repeats. No, you do not have to rip back 30 rows to make this right. Here’s a simple solution, seen in many an historic sash:
The next time you are ready to start a new patternrepeat, count the threads in the central arrow. Find the very center by counting. Start your weaving by selecting your weft here. Count threads at the center for the next few rows to be sure of your choice of weft until you’ve re-established your center.
Say to yourself, “I am human. To err is human, to forgive myself is divine.”
Work is progressing on that replica of Elzéar Goulet’s sash.
After matching up the colors in January, respinning the yarn all February, I started weaving in March. Elzéar’s sash was very loosely woven, only 6 wefts per inch in a very fine wool. My theory was that this could be produced using the false weave, creating two sashes at once. I calculated 13 feet to produce the 10 foot sash. Twice this, 26 feet of warp, was tied between two pillars in the Atrium of the St Boniface General Hospital where I work.
The original sash has some fill-in at the top of the sash, to mitigate the pointiness at the upper border (I sometimes call this the fish-tail effect).
Note the ‘short rows’ that make the first green lightnings start much lower than the first blue lightning.
So I did this bit of weaving before taking the warp to the Atrium, tieing off each row carefully.
Installed in the Atrium, I attempted to shove each false row twenty feet down the warp. I have to confess failure. A certain amount of mixing up of threads happened in transit from my warping mill to the Atrium site, what with the slight elasticity of the threads and small differences in lengths between individual threads, and perhaps insufficient tension on the whole, it took me over an hour to clear the first shed. I worked on it all afternoon, figuring that once I got it all lined up it would start working more smoothly.
I then realized that as I cleared the shed, the threads were jangling around behind me.
I am thinking that a team of several people working on this, one shoving the shed, and two others, stationed on either side of the first person, assisting, could do the job.
But this would seem to defeat the purpose. This would be much less efficient than weaving two sashes.
In the end, I cut the 26 ft warp in half, and now am weaving two sashes, one tight and the other loose.
Now, I’m not yet ready to totally abandon the theory of the false-weave sash. I’m rethinking this. I figure I’d need several things:
-measure out the warp IN THE SAME SITE as I will weave, no releasing the tension, folding it up and transporting
-much more tension on the warp
-lots of warp sizing
-extra personnel to keep the threads from jumping around
-shorter lengths for experimentation (indeed I have been successful shoving the false weave 4 feet, why not 20???). My next experiment will attempt to shove the false weave 10 feet.
Once again the Sashweaver attended the St Boniface, Winnipeg annual winter celebration, the Festival du Voyageur. The sash, an important article of clothing for the men who transported trade goods into and out of the Great White North in the days of the Fur Trade, the sash still holds significance to Canadians.
Snow sculptures at the entrance to Voyageur Festival Park depict voyageurs portaging their canoe, and the voyageurs always wear a sash
And another snow sculpture
I’ve been busy with fingerweaving workshops and demonstrations:
Stationed in the temporary museum at Festival Park, I talk with the public about weaving and other skills commonly practiced in the early 1800’s
weaving at Festival du Voyageur
The fingerweaving method tends to create a tangle of threads at the lower margins of the work. This is commonly called the ‘false weave’, and a person can spend many hours per sash periodically untangling this mass.
Occasionaly people have said to me, “Too bad you can’t use that somehow.” I have spent some time thinking about this. My work with sprang teaches me that it is possible. Indeed, sprang was done alongside fingerweaving in certain parts of Quebec in the 18oo’s.
Whenever I travel anymore I try to scout out as many examples of sashes as possible along the way. I’ve met with some success requesting permission to examine sashes and record data. Over the past few years I have come upon some spectacular fingerwoven sashes, and five very loosely woven ones. The loose ones intrigue me. How does a person weave that loosely and at the same time keep it even.
I have some experience dealing with the ‘false weave’, creating ‘art pieces’ which incorporating it as part of the work. More recently I have conducted experiments, working with the false weave. Working on a 12 ft sash, I sat myself on a high chair and pushed the false weave as far down, close to the floor as possible. Using this method I’ve been able to pack as many as five repeat patterns before untangling. It seems that, if you start out with the threads knotted together to keep them even, that a mirror image of the sash pattern is created.
a mirror image pattern can be seen in the falseweave
At one point I took my weaving to the Manitoba Museum and compared the false weave with a loosely woven sash there. They matched up quite nicely.
Travelling last Summer, I examined sashes in Edmonton, Alberta, and found three that my data would declare to be in the loosely woven category: fine thread comparable to 2/8 worsted wool, and fewer than 7 threads per inch lengthwise.
The sash of a local hero, Elzéar Goulet, is preserved in the Musée de St Boniface Museum, a few blocks from my home. It is an example of such a loosely woven sash. There is interest in a reproduction of the Goulet sash, and I am intrigued to explore a technique that would yield such a loose weave. Last Fall, I made a successful proposal to the Manitoba Arts Council for a Craft Grant. Subsequent to receiving approval I have proceeded to match yarn and dyestuffs to the original.
Last week I made up a sample to verify my success at matching the colors. The curator snapped a photo of my sample alongside the original.
sash color comparison
You will notice that my sample, the one on the left, is wider than the original. The next step is for me to re-spin the yarn, eliminating its ‘fuzziness’ and compacting it down. My calculations indicate that this final step will allow me to make a very close copy of the original.
The respinning will occupy me (along with a few other projects, like the local Winter carnival, Festival du Voyageur) for the month of February. In early March I will measure out an extra long warp. I will then set myself to weaving a sash. The false weave I will push, row by row, to the far end of the warp. If all goes as expected, I will weave two sashes at once, one a nice tightly woven sash, and one the falseweave, packed into a replica of the Elzéar Goulet sash.
I’ll keep you posted.