Here I am, on a 3-city teaching tour of Colorado. Spring weather is living up to it’s reputation, sunshine, rain, snow, sleet, and then sun again.
I am teaching classes in Montrose, Boulder, and Colorado Springs.
Everyone works on her own frame, creating several sample pieces. In the introductory class, we explore the basic interlinking stitch, and then some variations. You learn the basic stitch, some finishing techniques, and then how to start from ‘scratch’.
My hostesses to date have been lovely. Many thanks to Bobbie, Mary, Janet, Sue, and Cheryl. I’ve been treated to a tour of Black Canyon of the Gunnison Park, and a drive through the Rockies, from Montrose to Boulder. Looking forward to a tour of the Schacht Loom factory.
In-between teaching, I’ve kept myself busy working on some Coptic designs, working out the pattern, and then testing them by making sample pieces.
I always learn things from my students. Today Janet taught me about dealing with sticky warps. She is exploring the circular warp technique, and set on a warp using her very own handspun. All by herself she came up with a great technique. I had recommended spacing the threads out sideways. She decided to take the shed sticks and push them two at a time. That way they stay spread out as she moves them around. Here are some photos of the technique in action.
Pushing the pair of sticks up
Pushing further up the back side
And over the top. Smooth as silk.
We will call this the Janet Finch technique for dealing with sticky warps.
Here I am back in California in February. I started out at the Lacis Museum of Lace in Berkeley. I hung out there for two days, teaching.
I then travelled to Aptos, where I met with the Santa Cruz Handweavers. Some of the students from last year wanted more. Some were new to finger weaving and sprang. Here are photos of some of what they produced during the workshop:
Such a pleasure to be working with individuals so eager to learn and spread the good word about these amazing techniques.
In my spare time between teaching engagements here in California, I continue to work on mapping out the patterns in those pieces I saw at the Kelsey Museum, in Ann Arbor, Mi, last May.
IMAGe(Twined patterns from the collection at the Kelsey Museum, in Ann Arbor, Michigan)
Hoping to publish a set of twined patterns, following up in the idea of the sprang lace book of last year. Sprang is such an amazing, adaptable textile technique. The historic record is exceedingly rich in ideas.
Working on a new vest. A friend allowed me access to her stash, two boxes of yarn skeins, a pallet, varying from green to red.
I set the yarn on my frame, false-circular warp, and the colors blend nicely, one into the other.
And here it is, partially done. I worked in some twined stitching, dragging colors along into other color zones. We’ll see what it looks like when it’s finished.
The white string is because I'm working a 'False Circular' warp. The white strings hold the initial loops, which will eventually become hemline at front and back.
A week later the cloth is now finished. How to form the neckline? Sometimes the V neck stretches stitches, causing a less-than-desiralble pattern. I’ve decided this time to try cutting threads near the center line. Two inches up the front side I cut threads in pairs, so I can tie them in knots. At the back of the vest, I tied the knots right there along the center chain line. On the front I unravelled a center thread to form the slit down the front, and then sewed it partway back up toward the chain line. This thread I tied with a partner thread. The other threads I tied at intervals to create the V neckline.
Cut threads unravelled and tied in knots, forming the neckline.
Pick up and knit stitches (rib pattern) around the neck to form a nicely finished edge.
I find this method makes a much nicer finish at the back of the neck.
Since arriving back home from my travels, I’ve hunkered down to have a close look at Sprang Unsprung. My students over the past 4 years have taught me a great deal. I’ve decided that some of the instructions, while technically correct, offer way too much information, and could do with simplification. The 2000 copies printed in 2011 are almost all gone. Time to reprint. An excellent opportunity to revise. The new version, the 2nd edition is not available. Those who have the 1st edition and who want access to the simplified instructions … I’ll be contacting my web person to post them … but in the mean time, e-mail me carol (no e) at sash weaver dot com and I’ll send you a file.
Students have also asked for patterns. I’ve set up a booklet of some twenty five different lace patterns.
For the most part I tried to keep the patterns to fit a 36 thread warp.
To maintain interest, there are four patterns that require more than those 36 threads.
IMAGE (This meander pattern was included, as many students asked for it, but it requires more than 36 threads.)
The Art and History museum in Brussels, Belgium, has a lovely collection of sprang items, including a pair of socks. These socks feature sprang ‘uppers’ and a knitted sole. I decided to try my hand at this.
I began with a 3 ft long (75 cm) warp.
I worked these threads for about six inches (15 cm). I then added more warp.
This now, is the complete warp for the ‘upper’ of the sock.
I separated the two sock uppers, cutting along the midline of the warp.
OK, to be honest, when I measured out the second, shorter warp, on a warping board, my first attempt was too long. I realized this as soon as I tried to mount the second warp beside the first. I should have warped directly onto the sprang frame. What to do? I am too lazy to un-wind that warp, and do not want to waste the yarn … so I set that warp aside. Now that the socks are complete, I think I’ll try a pair of fingerless gloves.
I started working at the fingers. I’ll have one hole for the thumb, and another larger one for the rest of the fingers. This means I started out working two separate strips.
Now, making these up into gloves, I decided I needed a small bit to breach the gap between index finger and thumb. So, I set up two tiny warps.
I’ve been busy teaching. The Midwest Handweavers Conference was held at St Thomas College in St Paul, Minnesota. I taught a finger weaving class and then a sprang class. On the way to Minnesota I stopped in Fargo to visit. Kim Baird said I should look up another instructor while there, Donna Kallner. Arriving at St Thomas College, I was assigned a roommate … none other than Donna Kallner.
What a lovely campus, and terrific vendor’s hall. I found just the yarn I was looking for, the right size yarn to work a more authentic version of that Coptic sprang turban.
Back home, I’m working on yet another pair of sprang leggings. These will hopefully be more accurate to that portrait of a Venetian gondolier.
Not quite sufficient time to finish those leggings, and I’m off to Colorado and the Intermountain Weavers Conference in Durango where I taught a three-day sprang workshop. Great to catch up with former students.
And there was a batch of new sprang students
The lovely thing about a three-day workshop is that students are supported through the learning process. By the third day some really creative things can happen. After the initial bag, and a circular warp lace sampler, and some exploration of twining, some students were ready to explore.
We were looking at images on the internet of wildly braided sprang pieces. Sally offered to use her piece to explore this method. We began the process in class. Recently she sent me this image of the completed piece. You see, sprang is so much more than ugly bags and hats.
After the conference I had the opportunity to tour Mesa Verde, Canyon de Chelly, and Bandelier National Monument, sites of ancient cliff dwellings. One room was clearly set up for weaving, a place for the upper beam in the ceiling, loops to hold the lower beam in the floor. Thanks to Laurie Webster and Glenna Dean for being my tour guides.
In other news, I’ve been working on a collection of sprang lace patterns.
I’m looking for individuals interested in trying out my lace patterns, giving me feed-back on the readability of the patterns. Any takers out there? Send me a note, carol at sash weaver dot com.
Travelling again, teaching and researching in Europe.
First stop Lyon where I stayed opposite the train station
In Lyon I had a look at the turban on the head of a mummie at the Confluence Museum.
Then I went for a walk in the city park
I hear it was snowing back in Winnipeg.
Off to Belgium, where my friend was waiting for me at the train station.
Frieda hosted me for the better part of a week. Together we visited the lace museum in Calais, France, the Gemeentemuseum in TheHague, and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. We saw lots of sprang. Many of the items in these collections were made by Elizabeth VanReesema. Photos of these pieces are in books, but photos just do not do justice to them.
Taught classes in Sint-Job-in-‘t-Goor, fingerweaving one day, sprang the next. Such a pleasure to share these techniques with people who are eager to learn.
Many thanks to Ina and Frieda who organized these workshops, and made everything possible.
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.
This sash is certainly teaching me alot.
It has been my custom in sprang to work several rows, placing sticks in each the shed, completing several rows before getting up and moving all those sheds, one after another, into the mirror-image position.
This sash, as with many historic sashes from the 1700s, was created using more than one very fine thread. I’ve got multiple strands. Just like embroidery floss that comes in 6 strands, that’s how these sashes are made: multiple strands, unplied. Now the problem happens when I am not 100% accurate, and wrongly group a thread. When I go to push it into the mirror-image section, that mis-grouping causes a snag. Mostly I notice that it’s really hard pushing, check the culprit thread, and find the mistake. Sometimes, however, it’s only in examining the fresh row on the mirror image.
I am finding that it’s best to catch these errors right away, like, catching it as soon as it happens. I’ve given up on this multi-row efficiency. I stand up after each row, move the row, and check. It seems the only way to assure all is well.
Another issue has developed concerning thread tension. My initial warp was not 100% even, and I had to deal with that. Things have been quite smooth since …. until lately. I’ve noticed that there is another couple of threads loose lately, causing troubles. I’ve identified them as the threads at the very edge. This happens every time, indeed makes sense. The edge thread, the thread involved in that three-thread edge stitch on the plait row, makes only half the number of rotations as all the other threads. Uptake is less for this thread. I’ve resolved the issue with this thread being longer.
I will try to remember to pull on that loop thread before the final finishing, completely erasing all evidence of this problem.
While on the subject of yarn uptake, with this very fine silk I’m noting an uptake of one inch per foot. When I work on wool sashes with a much thicker yarn, the uptake can be around 3-4 inches per foot.