October 2014 was spent in European travels. The impetus for the trip was the invitation to present information on sprang at the Early Textile Study Group conference in London. The topic for this year’s conference was Peter Collingwood. Dagmar Drinkler agreed to present her research on the subject of ‘tight fitting clothing in antiquity’, and I contributed my experience making leggings.
I did take the time to tour around London, spent a day on a double-decker bus.
While in the UK, I stopped in to visit friends. First up was Oli and Erica of Weavolution. They hosted me while I taught a finger weaving class to the Cambridge Weavers.
Next I visited my friends Elaine and Andy. They toured me through Yorkshire, including a trip to Chatsworth House, an amazing place.
Elaine and I talked sprang, and the probability that ancient Persians and Celts work sprang clothing.
Back in London, I stopped in at Alexandra Palace for the Knit and Stitch show, on Oct 9, minding a booth for The Braid Society, and gave a class on finger weaving: Weave a scarf on the train.
After the Early Textile Society conference in London, I travelled to Reading. There I was able to have a sneak preview of an amazing collection of braided pieces in the Reading Library, the Braid Society’s Biennial Exhibition.
Near Reading is the town of Aldebourne where individuals interested in diverse braiding techniques meet regularly in the local town hall. Thanks to Sally, and to my hostess Rosie, I taught another workshop there, this time finger weaving (last time was sprang).
On to the mainland of Europe. Thanks to Frieda who met me at the train station in Antwerp, Belgium. I taught classes in the Belgian town of Sint-Job-in-‘t-Goor.
This was an ‘advanced finger weaving class’, the follow-up to a previous session. Participants explored some of the variety of patterns possible.
The following day was a sprang class. Pauline brought a sprang cap that she had made after the sprang class last year.
By then it was time for a rest. My friend Karin took me home. I sat in her backyard and worked on other sprang projects.
Accepting an invitation to visit a very talented bobbin-lace weaver (this sister of a Winnipeg friend) I travelled to Braunschweig. Between discussions on the subject of bobbin-lace, finger weaving and sprang, we toured through downtown Braunschweig, and made a visit to the top of the newly rebuilt ‘Schloss’ and the Quadriega.
On to the Netherlands. Braid Society member and friend, Ria toured me around the Netherlands.
We had been invited to the island of Terschelling.
Resident of Terschelling, Marianne, is a very talented textile artist. She also has an amazing collection of textiles. She introduced us to the neighbourhood chickens.
While on Terschelling, I visited the local yarn store, Tante Lies. Come to find out, I’d been volunteered to give a talk on the subject of sprang at the Tante Lies yarn store. I brought along a frame, and people were invited to give it a try.
While in the Netherlands I was privileged with a visit to another Ria.
On Nov 1, I taught a sprang class in The Hague at the textile studio known as DeSpinners. Thanks to Dineke and Katia, this was a follow-up to a finger weaving class I taught last year.
What a pleasure to spread the good word about these amazing techniques to individuals interested in learning.
On to the final destination, Lyon, France.
The Greco-Roman museum is built into the Fourviere hillside, right beside the remains of two Roman amphitheatres. If you’re in Lyon, you really should stop in, it’s a ‘must see’.
The theme of the month at the Fourviere Gallo-Roman Museum in Lyon was textiles. I had been invited to give a lecture on the subject of sprang bonnets. This is the reason I’d been working on that sprang turban. Wednesday I presented a workshop for children (and their parents, grandparents) on diverse braiding techniques. Thursday I presented my lecture and workshop on the subject of sprang. I brought along several replica sprang bonnets that I have made. Sprang frames were available and seven women took the opportunity to explore the basic sprang technique.
The Gallo-Roman museum had a lovely little sprang bonnet, on loan from the Textile museum.
Back at home, I’m now trying to map out the pattern.
My flight to Belgium stopped over in Montreal. They were having a snowstorm, and I worried that the plane would not be able to take off. Not to worry, we arrived on time in Brussels.
I taught two sprang workshops in Sint-Job-in-‘t-Goor. Some of the participants had taken my finger weaving workshop last fall. They brought items they had made to show me.
I led two sprang workshops.
A big thank you to Ina Verhulst for organising these workshops.
I also met with the textile group called Metamorphose. They explored finger weaving.
Been working on a variety of projects.
Made a couple of variations of an intertwined bag.
Now these bags are sprang bags. They come from a figure-8 warp, the join line is the bottom of the bag. They were worked in intertwining rather than interlinking. Not as stretchy as interlinking but attractive in their own way.
Also made a couple more hats. Here are two hats, one has twice the number of threads. One is sort of a hair net, the other, is much more like a tam, both made from the same skein of red sock yarn.
Now, freshly ‘spranged’ they always curl up funny. Do not let this discourage you. Blocking is easily done, and remedies the curling when you’ve used natural fibers.
This is remedied by blocking. I soaked the hat, and then stretched it around a kitchen bowl.
Working on some items to display in a local yarn store, using yarn from their shelves.
I am reminded of another reason I love sprang.
When I knit with a rainbow skein, the colors tend to muddle if I’m not careful. With circular warp sprang, the colors are as lovely in the finished article as they were in the skein.
I’ve been working in a local school. Younger children have been learning about three-strand or four-strand braiding. For those in grade 4 and 5 I brought along rigid heddles and had them weave strips or “sashes”.
Here are some patterns you can make with a rigid heddle loom.
Now, if you have all threads of the same color, you get a solid colored cloth.
A single thread of a contrasting color makes a broken line.
OK, I had blue threads and a single white thread in the warp and then used white in the weft.
What happens when I use two contrasting threads on that blue background?
Two contrasting threads makes a solid vertical line.
What happens when I use three contrasting threads?
Three contrasting threads make a line that is fat-skinny-fat-skinny.
Now for four threads.
Four threads of a contrasting color make a solid line, a bit fatter solid line than the two threads.
What happens when I use five contrasting threads?
OK this was really two white, one yellow, and two white.
Since 2+1+2=5 this is five contrasting threads on a field of blue.
It makes kind of an interesting pattern.
Many more patterns possible with a rigid heddle:
All right, here I started with four green threads.
Then I put greens in the slits and yellows in the holes for four threads, two of each color.
Then I put yellow threads in both slits and holes.
Then I put yellow threads in the slits and greens in the holes for four threads.
On the other edge I place four greens (slits and holes).
When you keep one color in the slits and another in the holes it gives you a horizontal line.
Switching colors every four or six threads will give you a checkerboard pattern.
Here are some of the strips woven by fifth graders.
The numbers are in for another week at McNally Robinson Booksellers.
Sprang Unsprung is the bestseller in the non-fiction category for Manitoba Authors, for two weeks running now.
Thanks to all my friends who’ve gone out and bought copies.
A friend of mine captured the ‘sprang dance’ from be book launch on her camera. I’m hoping to figure out how to post it. The launch was lovely.
In other news, I am pleased to be part of a collaborative work. The Alliance Francaise here in Winnipeg, along with the Maison des Artistes brought together a traditional embroiderer from Brittany, Pascal Jaouen, and a visual artist Collette Balcaen to collaborate on a Métis theme. The exihibit opening is this week. My contribution to the display was a fingerwoven belt, made using a very fine silk thread.
These last few months I’ve been busy exploring sprang. I went through Peter Collingwood’s book, trying several of the patterns. Here’s a ‘sampler’ I made, using a dozen:
I also explored a 3-D piece, using jute around a wire frame.
Still working on that how-to book on sprang. Re-organized a whole whack of it, trying to avoid repeat information.
I’ve learned to distinguish between the textile structures such as interlinking, interlacing, intertwining, and the method of working, free-end or sprang. It seems that interlinking, for example can be worked with loose ends of threads, ‘free end braiding’ or you can work on a figure-8 type warp, or simple attach the loose ends. When you attach the ends, and ‘trap’ the ‘false weave’ it fills the definition of ‘sprang’.
More recently I’m very busy giving workshops in grade schools and high schools. It’s Winter Festival season. Local ethnic groups such as the Métis are highlighted, and I’m invited to teach weaving techniques associated with Métis culture.
Feb 18 to 27 I’ll be at the Festival du Voyageur pretty much full time.
Today’s challenge: some simple color patterns. I started with a vertical stripe, and then recorded how to get the colors to move sideways, get them to mix at the middle, and then how to get them to ‘un-mix’.
Been wanting to try a pair of socks, using the sprang technique. Today was the day.
After taking 50 pages of my book to the layout people, I came home and set up to sprang a pair of socks.
I worked several ‘short rows’ over the middle 50% of the stitches for a few rows.
I’ve also been playing with different means of finishing the cut ends. Here I pulled each strand back along the path it travelled over the past two rows. It makes a nice fringe just below the edge.
In August I went on a trip with my husband to the Islands off the coast of British Columbia. We stayed on Mayne Island for a few days, then on to Saturna Island.
On Saturna, I met a wonderful weaver, Teresa Higgins. She toured me through her studio. We shared ideas for working with grade school students. She has a wonderful ‘worry doll’ kit. A delightful thing!
Back home, it was back-to-school time.
I participated in the annual Scottish Heritage Parade in downtown Winnipeg. In 2012 they will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the first Scottish settlers in the Red River area.
The Living Prairie Museum held an end-of-the Summer event on Sunday, Sept 12. I attended with my sash display, and of course, the sash weaving dance.
In September as well, I was invited by the Alliance Française of Manitoba to speak with Pascal Jaouen, an amazing embroiderer. Mr Jaouen is participating in a cultural exchange. Have a look at his website
Photos cannot do justice to the quality of work done by this man. Yes, the decorations on the clothes on that website are all hand embroidery.
Anyhow, Mr Jaouen was in Winnipeg to have a look at Métis culture. Alliance Française called on me to show him Métis fingerweaving. What an honor to meet such a master. It seems that a set of pieces are to be created, I cannot wait to see them.
In the midst of all this, yes, I am seriously working on another book, this time on Sprang. I’ve located several examples of the use of this technique in North America before Columbus. It’s such a lovely, flexible technique.
I’m working on the step-by-step of it all. I had a few pages written up and laid out. I took them along on my travels in early October.
Yes, in early October I did a bit of travelling.
First up was the Textile Society of America Symposium. I met up with textile enthusiasts and specialists from all over, Textile Museum curators from the US, Mexico, and Canada, weavers, academics, and others. Hoping to put these contacts to good use, learning more about sprang, and marketing my fingerweaving book, as well as the soon-to-be sprang book.
Next was the annual War of 1812, that is to say Mississinewa 1812, held annually near Marion, Indiana. There I display my weaving, sell a few sashes, as well as fingerweaving books. I met up with Peg, who has been participating with me on the Yahoo sprang list. She saw my sprang sweater in person, and reviewed my prototype sprangbook pages. Thanks Peg, I’ll have more for you to look at soon.
Then on to Chicago to visit with my cousin, Peg. And to the Field Museum, where I was granted a look at sashes in their archives. Too bad, as the collections manager stressed, the Field Museum collection began long before museum science existed. Some of their sashes look pretty old, but without provenance the age and culture of origin is anyone’s guess. Ah well. Nevertheless, it is lovely to see sashes done by other people, come to better understand what has been done in the past, collect ideas for future work.
Last but not least, I was able to attend a meeting of the North Shore Weavers. It’s always fun to meet other weavers. This group was as lively as any, a real treat to meet you gals.