Wednesday, July 29, 2015

What's looming?

Here's what I'm working on these days:

On my 4-shaft floor loom, there's a set of 8 tea towels.  I'm using my favorite yarn for that purpose, American Maid sustainably grown and naturally colored cotton yarn.  I'm weaving a pattern that I think of as a huge gingham check, using three different twill patterns and five colors:  two shades of green and two shades of brown.  The yarns are pretty pale until they're washed, so it may be hard to tell the colors apart on your screen.

I've been blessed with a great response to these since my farming friend, Phil Busman of Cherith Farms, has allowed me to put them out at his CSA this summer.  The folks there really "get" the appeal of cotton grown without pesticides and colored without dyes.  Gotta keep those folks happy with more towels!  This bumper crop of heirloom tomatoes is keeping all of us happy. 

And, drum roll please, I have finally warped my big vertical tapestry loom.  As you can see I had to use a step-stool for part of the threading process.  Many thanks to Tommye Scanlin for her indispensable guide, complete with great photos, for how to dress a high-warp loom.  (See earlier post about "It Takes a Village. . . ").

You may recall that my plan was that I'd scale up this tiny abstract tapestry I'd done years ago for my first try at weaving at a larger size on this new-to-me loom.  This design was loosely inspired by the general layout of illuminated manuscripts.

But after my exposure to pattern upon pattern in Istanbul, the arabesque has crept into my original design, and this is the collage I am using as my design.  No doubt it will evolve during the weaving process, but I am pretty excited about it.  It'll be a challenge to weave those graceful curves!

Meanwhile I've been busy with all the preparing-to-weave tasks:  sampling colors and types of yarn and scaling up the design into a cartoon (line drawing) that will go behind the warp and guide me as I weave.  For the first time for a tapestry, I have to calculate the amount of yarn I'll need, especially for the large expanse of white, to make sure I have enough before I begin.  It would not do to run out of that particular white yarn 3" from the top of the tapestry and then discover I can't find the same yarn to finish with!  So this morning I wove a small section with the white, measured it, and then unwove that section and measured the yarn.  Once I've got a full-size cartoon, I can calculate the number of square inches of the white background and figure out how many square inches of tapestry I can weave with the yarn I have on hand. 

But first I have to scale up the design, using the good ol' grid method.  My 8" x 12" collage will become a 24" x 36" cartoon.  At least the math works out with whole numbers!

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