May we also suggest . . .

I wrote about the “Practical Weaving Suggestions” pamphlets published by Lily Mills in my last blog post. These pamphlets ceased publication in 1971 and they were followed in 1976 by a new series, also published by Lily Mills, called “Lily Weaving Suggestions”.  These pamphlets started out, at least, in a more magazine–like format. They were in color and longer, most were 6 pages,  with stapled binding.

Lily Weaving Suggestions 2

The projects were more modern, some with a counter-culture vibe, some with a more fashion-forward bent. To wit: the issue with a cover model rocking a pair of handwoven denim “jeans” 😉 .

Lily Weaving Suggestions 1

The designers changed with each issue, and many names are unfamiliar, although some are: Persis Grayson, Elmer Hickman, Mary E. Black, Sadye Tune Wilson, Sallie T. Guy, and Clotilde Barrett.

The Lily Weaving Suggestions series ran from 1976 through 1981, with an issue coming out quarterly. The long format eventually dwindled to the folded pamphlet style, and then stopped altogether (at least, that is as far as my collection goes).

I made a second spreadsheet listing all the issues and their contents for this Lily Weaving Suggestions series, and you can see it and/or download it here on ScribD. In addition, The spreadsheet list for “Practical Weaving Suggestions” is also on ScribD here.

In other news, we are closing out week 1 without a kitchen, and we are on the camping-out-in-your-own-house-and-no-way-to-cook diet.

 

 

 

I Love This Stuff

PWS1

I’ve been a collector of the “Practical Weaving Suggestions” pamphlets published by Lily Mills for a long time. These pamphlets go way back to the mid-20th century when weaving was often a cottage industry for homemakers. They provided all kinds projects and ideas, while at the same time marketing Lily’s weaving yarns. Sound familiar? 😉

PWS2

Many very well-known authors of handweaving books wrote for Lily Mills, such as Mary Atwater, Harriet Tidball, Osma Gallinger, and Berta Frey. One pamphlet titled “The Profile System of Writing Drafts: How to Adapt the Same Design to Several Techniques” by Helen L. Allen and Osma Gallinger, a seemingly revolutionary concept at the time, was a very detailed transcript of a presentation made at a national conference.

The publishing dates for the early issues are unknown to me. They are labeled by Volume and Number, starting with Vol. I, No. 1, and continuing through Vol. XXVIII. Then a different number system begins with Vol. I-55. My guess? Volume I, 1955.  The last issue in this system that I have is Vol. I-71 (i. e., 1971).  I started a spreadsheet for this collection as a way of keeping track of what’s missing and what I have duplicates of.

I don’t remember the first time I found one of these pamphlets, maybe at a library book sale, but when eBay took off, I bought a lot of them. Then recently I bought another big batch (thank you, Facebook buying and selling groups!!!).  They may be old-fashioned, but they are packed with weaving history and information, and even some very precious woven samples. Many are in very fragile condition depending on how they were treated for the last, oh, 50 or so years. Some have 3-hole punches for a binder. Some have name stickers. Some are just ragged around the edges, but aren’t we all?

Anyway, recently Interweave Press put out a call for submissions on the topic of multiple projects on a long warp. Well, I have to say that Lily Mills had that one covered more than a half century ago. And when I say long warp, we’re talking 40 yards (!). However, the projects are probably not to the taste of today’s weaver. Aprons, anyone?

PWS3

PWS4

In other news, I have a dishtowel warp on the loom, and looming (hahaha) plans for a full kitchen renovation. Luckily, I can weave upstairs, the cats will be boarded at the kitty hotel, and I can weave while pandemonium reigns.

 

Back in the Day [3]

This is the third in my series of occasional postings about my earlier days weaving. This blog post was originally published January 2, 2016 on my first blog site, which is no longer in existence.

To review:  My focus had been on weaving rugs in Summer and Winter Boundweave on Opposites (Taquete). This is a weft-faced weave of great flexibility using 6 blocks for design, woven on my 8 shaft loom. Each block can be woven independently or combined with other blocks, and up to 4 colors employed, a great advantage for designing.

I had decided to go small. Weaving rugs was just too costly and consumed too much space. My idea was to create small, rug-like pieces in cotton. I would sew them to good quality mat board and exhibit them in metal frames. I chose 5/2 cotton for warp and weft, and this turned out to be a good decision. For my first series I warped 5/2 cotton at 12 ends per inch and 10 inches wide. I figured 30 blocks, 5 repeats of a straight draw profile draft.

Here is a scan of my design for Magic Carpet #1:

Magic Carpet 1-edited

 

My design method was pretty idiosyncratic, yet it worked well for me. I would make designs on the computer, using my (now) antiquated Apple IIe and the weaving software I was using at the time. Each design was from the same straight draw threading profile, but with a different tie-up. I took the designs and tie-ups, cut them into strips, and started arranging them until I liked the result.

Magic Carpet #1 was pretty awkward. I was just starting to see what the possibilities were. Not my finest effort…

Magic Carpet #1

IMG_0518

 

Magic Carpet #2 was better, and the colors worked well. Notice the rather blocky paisleys at the top…

Magic Carpet #2:

Untitled-7

 

Here is the scan of the design for Magic Carpet #3. The design strips don’t show it, but the threading profile shows I used only five blocks for the main design. The sixth block was reserved for a border on the sides. A solid border on top and bottom completed the color frame. I often added color samples on the side for each part of the design.

Magic Carpet 3-edited

Magic Carpet #3:

If you squint you can see the “paisleys” in dark and light blue in the second design area from the top :-).

IMG_0529

Magic Carpet #4 also has a border all around, this time of metallic yarn that was roughly the same size as 5/2 cotton. I used a lot of metallics as time went on…

Magic Carpet #4:

Magic Carpet #4

Black border on the next one.

Magic Carpet #5:

IMG_0509

Magic Carpet #6:

IMG_0508

Magic Carpet #7 with metallics worked into more of the design and no borders on the sides:

IMG_0543

I really loved combining bands of design, working out color combinations, trying to balance both color and movement.

My next series focused on grids. But we’ll do that next time.

 

 

Back in the Day [2]

This is the second in my series of occasional postings about my earlier days weaving. This blog post was originally published May 12, 2015 on my first blog site, which is no longer in existence.

We left off with my description of Taquete (or Polychrome Summer and Winter on Opposites) rugs. I wove these rugs on heavy linen warps sett 5 epi. For some rugs I used heavy rug wool that I ordered undyed. I then dyed the wool in small batches and created a whole range of colors that would blend together as I wove.

Plaited Rug 2

The rug pictured above is titled Plaited Rug #2, and was designed and woven in Feburary of 1988, following from the rug titled “Plaited Rug” in the previous BITD post. That first Plaited Rug was more straightforward. The blocks were all the same size, with only the colors changing. Plaited Rug #2 combines color progression creating a sense of receding space with stretching and squashing the motifs’ sizes. I exhibited this rug with the title “Flying Carpet”.

Here is a detail of that rug:

Plaited Rug 2 detail 1

The profile draft for this rug was a straight draw, using each block twice. The design resided in the tie-up and the treadling draft followed an undulating twill. To wit:

Plaited Rug Profile Draft

Later that year, in December 1988, I did another one of these Plaited Rugs. The idea was pretty much the same, creating a sense of space with color blending and bending and stretching the design motif in various ways.

IMG_0569

Here is a detail:

IMG_0570

Here is a scanned page from my notebook showing the color gradations (which didn’t scan very well!) I used in my profile draft:

Plaited Rug 3 Notebook Page

Eventually I decided that these kinds of weavings were too expensive both to make and to sell, and too cumbersome to store and exhibit.

I did some rugs with commercially dyed rug wool, and it was this one that set me on a path:

IMG_0564

Ironically, that path was not to weave more rugs, but to weave small tapestries with cotton warps and cotton wefts. The technique, though, Taquete, would remain the same.
I called this rug Straight Draw Rug #1 (working title, not exhibition title). and it was the prototype for my method of design from quite a while after that.

More next time!

Back in the Day

(This blog post was originally published March 11, 2015 on my first blog site, which is no longer in existence.)

In which I begin an occasional series of blog postings on the body of my work that began seriously in the late 1980’s.

Back in the day, I produced a lot of weft-faced rugs and small loom-controlled tapestries based on block weaves, mostly 6-block Summer and Winter, woven on my 8-harness loom. I could squeeze a lot of design out of six blocks. There would be a background, and for contrast, up to three other shuttles with different colors. I rotated the shuttles carefully, always keeping them in a certain order, and would change the colors out as the design progressed.

While I referred to the technique I used so often as “Polychrome Boundweave on Summer and Winter”, many now have replaced those six words with the very economical term Taquete. Woven without a tabby, the pattern blocks are woven on opposites, combined and defined by the weft colors.

The rug above is an example of this technique and was part of my Master’s thesis, written in 1987, titled “Computer Design in the Handweaving Process” at Iowa State University. (There is a scanned copy of my thesis available on-line now (sans pictures). You can find it here.) Titled “MacKintosh Variation #2”, this rug is one of several riffs I did off the design work of Charles Rennie MacKintosh, a Scottish architect working at the turn of the 20th century. I did two other rugs as part of that thesis. Then I graduated.

Another piece titled “Plaited Rug”, woven later that same year, and using the same technique, is shown here:

Here is a detail, which shows the color blending a lot better:

Here is a copy of the page from my weaving notebook, showing how I planned this piece:

The draft shown is a profile draft with 6 blocks. (Going back through my old records I am constantly amazed at how consistent my design ideas have remained!)  My rubric was using a straight draw in the threading quadrant and in the treadling quadrant, and finding the design in the tie-up. I wanted to express the image of a plaited twill. I used at least two shuttles. When there was solid gray, I used two shuttles to maintain the same texture throughout. Mostly, I would alternate between gray and a pattern color, but there were times when I would need three shuttles, when there were three different color areas across the same row. Since this didn’t happen often, I guess I must have figured the overall look of the rug wouldn’t suffer.

I only have ten treadles on my loom, and the combinations of tie-ups were many more. I would have had to do a a lot of crawling under the loom to keep making changes (I think I’ve blocked that memory out…).

Anyway, this Plaited Rug really marked the beginning of the series of loom-controlled tapestries that I worked on for the next 8 or so years. I quickly shifted to a smaller format, from wool to cotton, from the floor to framed pieces. I have been scanning the slides of the work that I did, and am just beginning to appreciate the intensity and consistency of this body of work.

More to come! I’ll keep you posted 😉

Notes on Attribution

My Circles draft has been shared a lot.  And my Turned Taquete Dishtowels, with drafts going back to, what, 2012, about my adventures with dishtowels have been read by many, many weavers and subsequently woven in many variations. I have received lots of comments by folks who have woven my blog-published designs and are happy with having been given that opportunity.

There is a group on Ravelry — Warped Weavers — that shares projects from my drafts and gives me credit. I am glad for that.

There are boards on Pinterest that share my weaving, from my blog and my Etsy shop. I don’t mind when that happens. But I like to be given credit. And when I see my images on Pinterest I will often add a note about the source.

I get that when I put these drafts out on the internet, people are going to use them and not always with a clear line of attribution that goes back to me. But I would like to think that most people would do that.

It’s only right.

More Towels … with a New Twist

So I wove up a batch of my Circles Turned Taquete towels recently. It kind of went in fits and starts. My notes tell me I began in October. I had ordered a beautiful palette of cotton yarn in what I called “Beachy” colors, and I was, like, game on.  But change was in store…

Change #1. This is 8/2 unmercerized cotton and it was a brave new world of warping and weaving for me. Previously, all my cotton dishtowels have been woven with 10/2 mercerized cotton. But I had come to think that 8/2 unmercerized cotton was really a better choice for towels. It’s easy to find, comes on smaller cones so you can order more colors, and the weaving community seems to have come to a consensus on its appropriateness for the end result. I was a little twitchy about unmercerized vs. mercerized though. Mercerization is a process that renders it more willing to accept dye, improves color and sheen, but renders it less absorbent. Unmercerized cotton colors are perhaps less bright, but the cotton itself is soft and more absorbent, making it ultimately the better choice for hand towels or all sorts.

Beachy Cotton

Change #2. I picked a group of eight colors and wound my warp. This is a new size of cotton, so I had to choose a different sett for my warp. I chose 24 epi (after checking around the interwebs for a bit to see what others were doing ;-)), which meant that I needed to order a new reed! OMG! I haven’t order a new reed. Ever. But It had to be done. So that pushed my timetable back a ways.

But, once I got going, it was smooth sailing. 8/2 cotton wound on the loom like a dream, and was really easy to weave off. I wove four towels in the circles design and two towels in my checked variation.

Here’s a photo of the two different varieties still on the loom:

IMG_0418

And here’s a group portrait of all six after they were washed, and hemmed, and ready for their closeup:

Beachy Dish Towels 02 copy

I’m ordering more greens for another batch of towels, probably in a design that doesn’t involve so many dots. Everyone needs variety!