It's been a while since I last posted. I've not been idle. I've been working my way through some very different territory.
I last posted about some sprang lace patterns. Work on those continues. I believe I've written over 300 ... but it depends on how you count ... when I write patterns for alphabet letters, does that count as a single large one, or 26 (or is it 52 because there are capital and lower case)? A big Thanks to Ria Hooghiemstra and Debbie McClelland who have made numerous samples, caught countless errors, and made superbe suggestions. And then there's the editorial work of organizing the patterns with some kind of consistency so that others can use them. Big Thanks to Ruth Temple who is helping out on that score.
I've also been exploring ways to teach on-line. I've written out a number of new instruction sheets, and have set up a couple of pilot projects to test out ways to teach by Zoom.
Very important is to figure out how to place cameras, where to sit, where to place the lights .... all necessary to get a good focus on my fingers to communicate to you how to work the stitches.
A long time ago I used to teach knitting. It was a six week course to give a class the basics, develop the skills to start to feel independent with the technique. My instinct is that learning sprang is the same thing. The problem is that guilds invite me to travel to teach in their town. A six week long, once-a week class is just not in the discussions. But now that I'm thinking about teaching on-line ....
And yet another project (after much encouragement from my excellent daughter Claire) has me looking at a subscription based do-a-long. I have heard from many students, yes, they took the class, and yes they felt they learned a great deal in the class, but sitting here with a ball of yarn in one hand, a sprang frame in the other, and an idea in the head, and just can't seem to get to making it all happen. More than one former student has described this state to me. I put it back to the crash course I've always taught ... a class that is extended over weeks, would give time to absorb information better ... nevertheless what to do for people who had to endure a crash course.
I've been hearing that you can sign up for a year's worth of cross stitch patterns, or knitting patterns, or quilting patterns. My daughter has encouraged me to design a program for those of you interested in exploring sprang.
The key to making something that ends up the size you want is, to start by making a swatch. I'm working on a series of twelve different sprang stitches, each with a swatch.
Membership in my at-present-theoretical sprang subscription would give you support to try a new stitch each month, make a swatch, and then make a neckscarf based on that swatch. Yes, there's a pattern for a Mobius scarf, as well as for a hat, and another pattern for mittens included in the membership.
You could have a whole series of swatches. If you use the same yarn and the same number of stitches, you will have a document of different stitches and their various gauges with that yarn. You could also have a lovely collection of neckscarves of a variety of stitch patterns.
I am thinking I could also add some Zoom meetings for Question and Answer sessions as part of the subscription. I want to get people to use the sprang technique.
For now, my website has a button on the top, allowing you to "login". Just now that puts you on a mailing list, and you'll be sure to hear from me when this subscription thing really happens ... hopefully by mid-January 2021.
If you're interested, login.
And one more thing. As a member of The Braid Society who is also an instructor, I'm offering an on-line tutorial on the subject of sprang starting January 4, 2021. If you're interested, sign in to the discussion group that is braids and bands.io
The tutorial will feature the very basics of sprang ... no frame needed ... and it's free for all those participating in that group.
For those of you in Western Canada, or NorthWest USA, the Maiwa School of Textiles will host two sprang classes, the first runs April 15-16 focusing on an introduction to sprang ... no experience necessary. Immediately following that there is an intermediate sprang class scheduled for April 17 - 19. The intermediate sprang class will examine topics such as twining patterns, circular warp, lace, and more. For more information visit the Maiwa School of Textiles Website
I understand that there are still a few spots available.
.I've been travelling, teaching in Quebec and Iowa. It's lovely to meet people, share what I know, and learn from so many talented people. As a consequence I've updated the contents of the twining patterns on my website, tweaking the directions, hopefully making them easier to understand.
The Midwest Handweavers Conference took place in Grinnell, Iowa recently, and I had the privilege of sharing with several very talented people. One of them, Jason, made it all the way through my twining patterns, and gave me some excellent suggestions. I've now edited those twining patterns on my website. Anyone who has already downloaded them, and who wants an update ... please contact me and I'll send you the new-and-improved version.
I taught sprang at the assembly of Quebec Handweavers in St George, Quebec. There I met some extraordinary fingerweavers.
I also met Monique Dumas, who had taken a sprang class from Peter Collingwood years ago (her first encounter with someone speaking with a British accent), and who went on to be the very first to teach sprang at the Maison Routhier. She showed me her lovely sprang shrug.
My students at my class at Maison Routhier did me proud.
Lovely meeting every one of you. I wish you many happy hours of sprang.
I was talking today with members of a Colorado-based sprang study group. They had some questions, and I was wanting to refer them to a blog post of mine ... and then I realized that I never posted those pictures, never told that story on my blog. So here it is, the making of that shirt that was on display at HGA's Convergence last summer.
I have been exploring different ways to create a sprang shirt.
The obvious way to create the neckline is to make a slit for a V-neckline.
When I did this, I found that there is stress on the stitch at the bottom of that V, and it does not look nice. Because of this, I have begun to look for other ways to create that neckline.
This pullover began with a false-circular warp to create a large rectangle for the front and back. The loops will sit near the hem of the garment. There is a chain line at the shoulders.
I laid the piece out flat, and traced a circle (basting stitch) with a red thread at the place that I thought should be the hole for the neck. The hole must be as large as the circumference of my head. I then cut across the stitches inside this hole, being careful to leave threads long enough to tie knots. I unravelled the stitches to the place of the red thread, and tied knots.
This gave me a neck opening, with unsightly knots all around. I covered the knots with a collar.
The collar started out as a long flat warp. I chose a 2-2 interlacing stitch for the collar.
For the sleeves, I wanted to try making them narrower at the wrist, wider at the shoulder. To make the cloth wider, you must add threads.
I added a loop of yarn every second row. This gave me two sleeves, that are wider at the shoulder, narrower at the wrist. I cut the sleeves apart, and tied knots. The knots are hidden on the inside of the garment.
The finished pullover was judged worthy of the fashion show at the Handweavers Guild of America conference Convergence in 2018 in Reno, Nevada.
While in Vancouver earlier this year, I stopped in at Maiwa on Granville Island. I will be teaching a sprang class there next year. I wanted to have a look at their yarns, to evaluate their use for my students. I saw some lovely linen yarn.
I decided to try to make yet another sprang shirt, using this linen yarn. OK, I purchased seven skeins.
Wanting to use some of those colorful motifs from Coptic bonnets, I set up a multicolored warp.
This piece will be the center back of the shirt.
Now for two pieces to go on either side of the center back. These pieces will go over the shoulder, starting and ending at the hem of the shirt.
Now for the front of the shirt. I decided to use the lighter green as the background for the front of the shirt. The first time I sewed the front into the shirt, there was a clear difference in tension (rows per inch) between the lower part of the front, and the side pieces. I re-sewed it a couple of times before getting it right.
Now for two narrow pieces to go under the arms.
And lastly, sleeves. I shaped the sleeves as I went along.
I chained around the hem, to give a firmer edge to the shirt.
I finished assembling the shirt, and washed it.
Look for me this summer, sporting my new sprang shirt.
And here's a better image of that shawl I made last month, demonstrating perhaps some of the drape and flexibility of the fabric
Photo by Chris Black
I set out to make a new sprang top. In the past I'd say the choices are a V-neck, a boat-neck, or you cut out a hole for the neck. Last spring I made a shirt comprised of ten separate pieces of sprang. I was using 'estate yarn' (yarn of an unknown age and unknown fibre content).
While I like the shirt, some of the threads are shattering ... the shirt is not standing up to wear. So I need another one. I purchased new yarn, nine skeins of Berroco Mixer, and made up nine pieces for this new shirt.
Although it might seem overwhelming to set out to make nine pieces, it's no worse than knitting a sweater. I made a center-front piece and a center-back piece. These pieces start at neckline and hem, and work to a place somewhere near the waist. There are two pieces that go over the shoulder, working from hem to hem, and meeting at the shoulder. I also made two pieces, one to go under each armpit ... worked from armpit and hem towards the waist. These pieces were all flat warp.
There are three circular warp pieces, two sleeves and a collar.
Assembled together, they make a shirt.
The basic stitch is a 2-2 twill, it has a comfortable amount of stretch. The Berroco is a mix of cotton, polyester, viscose and nylon, so I'm hoping it will stand up to washing and wearing.
No need to hem this material. The pieces have selvedges all around.
Last Summer I made a scaled down copy of the Braddock-Washington sash for Carlyle House. The word is that the display is now complete, and viewable to the public. Here is the photo they sent me, the mannequin wearing the general's uniform .... complete with sash.
https://www.taprootvideo.com/preview_class.jsf?iid=7&cid=1Tap Root Video has now posted a free video .... me showing you the basic 'stitch' used in sprang. No loom is necessary to do this activity ... and discover what I mean when I say "two rows made with every one row of work". Check it out at Taprootvideo.com
And here is the first review of the video, posted hours after the video went live:
This was the easiest to understand introduction to Sprang! I wasn't sure how interested I was in this technique but after seeing this I am excited to learn more.
Over two years ago the weaving guild in Grand Forks BC invited me to teach them sprang and fingerweaving. At last the date has arrived.
Flying in an airplane from Winnipeg to Grand Forks, BC, took me right over the Canadian Rockies. I love looking out the window of an airplane.
Grand Forks is surrounded by mountains. It snowed most every day I was there. It looked like Christmas.
Three days of class. Fingerweaving the first day, then two days of sprang. The students were keen and eager, completed a number of projects, exploring these braiding techniques.
Thank you to Sue for organizing this, and to all who contributed to the lovely lunches, the setup and takedown.