Book Chat: Spinning and Weaving by Lynn Huggins-Cooper

This is a bit of a departure for me. Proving that perhaps people really are reading my blog, a few weeks ago a representative of Pen and Sword Books, a British publisher, contacted me and offered to send a copy of a book in their new series on Heritage Crafts and Skills. They asked that I talk about it on my blog, and I said, Yes. And here you have it:

Beginning with a rather heartfelt appeal for support for Heritage Crafts in Great Britain, this book is organized quite differently that any of the usual weaving/spinning books I’ve owned/perused/used in the course of my fiber life. The first ten chapters are a whirlwind tour of the history of weaving and spinning from ancient times to modern times. (I quite felt like I was back in my History of Textiles course as a grad student.) The author outlines the evolution of both spinning yarn and weaving cloth from home-based activities of necessity to fully mechanized industries.

The history chapters are short, easily digestible and perfect for the fledgling craftsperson, aged 12 to adult, who is interested in the evolution of the crafts, but doesn’t want to get too wildly technical. The author writes at length on the social as well as environmental effects of mechanization. I felt the history chapters would have been more complete had there been one or two illustrations per chapter.

The second half of the book is devoted to interviews with contemporary fiber artisans in Great Britain, Canada and Australia. The intent here is to further encourage and inspire the reader to dive in and try these heritage crafts. The artisans profiled vary in experience and interests. Some are newly introduced to spinning and weaving. Some are artists who have been doing one or the other or both for a long time. I found that most of the weaving tended to be on rigid-heddle, inkle, or less complex looms with a focus on color and texture, not so much on structure or original drafts. I found the yarn dyers very inspiring. There is a section of color plates showing examples of many of these artisans’ work. Also included are their presences on social media, or online marketing. I did look up quite a few, and may shop their Etsy stores in the future!

Also helpful for the beginning spinner/weaver: lists of Suppliers, Wool and Fiber Festivals, Courses and Guilds, and Books and Websites.

It should be noted that Lynn Huggins-Cooper, a former teacher, is widely published with over 200 books (!). See this blog post in which she describes her publishing career to date: http://awfullybigblogadventure.blogspot.com/2017/06/the-creative-life-lynn-huggins-cooper.html . She is also a textile artist specializing in felting and other techniques. This is the second book in Pen and Sword Books’ new series on Heritage Crafts and Skills. This series includes Leatherwork and Tanning, also by Huggins-Cooper.

Huggins-Cooper, Lynn. Spinning and Weaving. Yorkshire and Philadelphia, Pen and Sword Books Ltd. 2019. ISBN 9781526724526

Upgrade!

So I had a rug in my studio space, but it was a well-worn hand-me-down from my daughter. It had been through two babies worth of everything. And then it became known as barf alley, a favorite site of my two cats. Basically a toxic waste dump.

As it happens, I like to buy wool rugs. Less flammable than nylon, polyester, olefin, etc. Target is a good place to find wool and this rug is a fabulous example of what you can find online from them.

Handwoven in India, a tapestry technique called kilim. Hand dyed wools in good colors, and cotton warp.

I just hope the cats don’t find it irresistible!

Turned Taqueté Circles Published!

Big news chez iowaweaver! My Turned Taqueté circles draft has been published by Handwoven Magazine in their May/June 2019 issue. I received an advance copy yesterday, and the digital version is available on the Interweave website as we speak. (There they are: in the left hand corner looking all cute.)

Funny story. Last September I was finishing up (as in hemming) a batch of towels for my Etsy shop when Handwoven editor Susan Horton emailed, inquiring if I would be interested in submitting a project. The theme of the issue is long warps, and they liked the idea of weaving both circles and checks on the same warp.

What could I say? I sprang into action, taking quick iphone photos of the towels.

They loved the colors and designs and suddenly I had another Handwoven Magazine publication. My last one was in 2013, with a Diversified Plain Weave Circles Scarf in cotton and rayon chenille which you can read about here. So it’s been a while. But it’s still fun.

Turned Taqueté Tea Towels – Déjà vu All Over Again

I wrote my first Turned Taqueté blog in October 2012. Where does the time go? People starting noticing that particular blog post and the one following. But. It took some time before someone on Facebook kindly informed me that one of the weaving groups there was all over that blog post and weaving Turned Taqueté towels like gangbusters. So, what did I do? I joined the weaving group on Facebook. And a few others ; – )

Above, photos of the very first tea towels.

Fast forward to the present. I revisited this draft and decided to weave a batch of towels using a color palette themed after the Pantone Color of the Year Living Coral.

If you start deep diving into the whole Pantone color thing, you can find web sites that take the current Color and create palettes with coordinating hues. I chose a few colors, and then tried to match them with available 8/2 cotton colors from Maurice Brassard. That seemed to work pretty well.

Brassard’s version of Living Coral turned out to be Saumon, in the lower left hand corner. A little too light, but good enough.

Here is the finished set of towels. I treadled each one a little differently. I think they represent the Living Coral palette quite effectively.

Next up: Living Coral Turned Taqueté Circles towels. Of course!


Mixing It Up

On the loom

My experiment sample with mixing rayon chenille and 4/2 rayon yarn in a Turned Taqueté warp turned out well enough, but I felt that it needed one more iteration. I wanted to try that mix with 1450 ypp chenille weft to see if the drape couldn’t be improved. I had barely enough painted 4/2 yarn for another warp (100 warp ends for 5″ width), but I thought that would be just enough for a fun little project before diving into more dishtowels for the new year.

underside on the loom

I found a ball of 1450 ypp chenille that I had dyed Red Wine. It was just enough. I wove like the wind. I have the treadling order for the Circles draft imbedded in my brain and it went pretty fast.

After it came off the loom I gave the scarf a good soak in Eucalon, squeezed it out well, then tumbled in the dryer until it was good and dry.

Here are two views of the finished scarf showing the texture and color contrasts created by the different colors and types of yarn. The scarf has a nice drape. And I like it the best.

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Turned Taqueté Placemats

So, I’ve been ruminating about different applications for Turned Taqueté structure for quite some time. I really needed to have something to think about other than dishtowels and scarves, and placemats seemed to be a nice alternative.

I used to weave placemats a lot about 30 odd years ago, mostly overshot, huck lace, and rag weave. I got out of the habit when I moved to a house where the tables either wanted to be dressed with tablecloths or nothing.

I decided to use 5/2 cotton sett at 24 epi for a sturdy mat and I went with my Circles design for some cheerfulness and whimsy. Click the photos to enlarge:

The first photo shows a group portrait of a set of four. I used Soldier Blue for the background color and the other colors are from cones that have been rattling around my stash for years (still haven’t used them all up!). The middle photo shows an arty closeup.

And I captured the third photo using the KaleidaCam iphone app. Too cool!

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I Never Sample …. Again

Yep, I did it again. I sampled. Sorry not sorry.

Ahem, let me explain. In Marian Stubenitsky’s book Weaving with Echo and Iris there is  a Turned Taqueté project of sorts using cotton chenille and 8/2 cotton together in the warp, and cotton in the weft (see page 199 -200).  This is as close to a real project as Ms. Stubenitsky ever gets, since her book is more of a reference work than a how-to, but I was very curious how to make the mixed warp work with my now go-to weave structure.

My drawdown isn’t an exact copy from the book. If I had used her draft, I would have had 4-thread floats, and those are too long for rayon chenille. The chenille for the project in the book is cotton, which doesn’t pose as much of a worming risk.  I took the zig zag profile draft, letting Fiberworks do its magic, and I produced a drawdown with floats no longer than 3 threads.

Screen Shot 2018-10-30 at 11.36.59 AM

I own an over-supply of 1450 ypp rayon chenille, and finding ways to use it is kind of critical. The thing is, I needed to find a warp to pair with the chenille that is similar in weight and fiber. I eliminated 5/2 (too thin) and 3/2 (too thick). According to my handy Master Yarn Chart, somewhere in the world there is 4/2 cotton, and at 1680 ypp I thought that might work. But I really wanted rayon, so I asked Google if there was any 4/2 rayon in the universe, and I actually found some on eBay.

I took a flier on that 4/2 rayon, found that it was just what I needed, and painted the skeins in a colorway I use for 8/2 Tencel in my Etsy shop called Summer Melon. I paired Summer Melon with 1450 ypp gray rayon chenille and wound my warp. And yes, I added extra length for sampling. I sett it at 20 epi, and then started searching through my stash for a likely weft. I was going for thinner weft than I have ever previously used in Turned Taqueté. For drape. Because thinner weft is very often recommended for Turned Taqueté, and because I have stubbornly ignored said recommendations.

Here are my first efforts:

Zigzagsample1

In the top sample I used 20/2 cotton in aqua for weft. I knew that was going to be wildly inappropriate, but I just needed a clear contrast for my next efforts. The next weft is some old dye-experiment 16/2 soysilk in a rust red. I felt that 16/2 was a size that was getting closer, but still no cigar. My gut feeling was that 8/2 rayon was really going to be the one, so I ordered some and dyed it oxblood red.

Zigzagsample2

As you can see, the motifs are in better proportion.  But here’s the part that I think is really significant with this mixed warp. Turned Taqueté depends on color contrasts for designs to appear in the weaving, and we have that here. In addition, there is texture contrast, which adds a whole new dimension to the structure.

After a gentle soak in Eucalon, I air dried, and the drape is very silky.  Shrinkage after washing was pretty consistent for all three samples: a whopping 25%. The scarf warp that is left on the loom may be on the short side after it is all done, but I have all the information I need for future projects.

I think this is it!