Weaving with Circular Looms

Weaving with Circular Looms

In the last few days I’ve been surrounded by circles, warped and wefted, beaded and braided cut and pasted, and clipped and edited. Really! This week has been a busy one, preparing some stuff to take and present at the SWAY Art Yarn Guild Festival in Sarasota Florida, coming up in just a few weeks. And there are so many reasons why I am excited about attending this festival! Firstly, it is my absolute honour to be there as the ‘headliner’ for the weekend, two days to teach and share and meet everyone, and finally to be able to put real faces to names, as I know there will be many coming along who I know only through Facebook. What a wonderful opportunity, and I am really looking forward to sharing  this weekend with some incredibly creative people. It is also the first ‘outing’ for Arlene Thayer and myself as ‘FiberyGoodness’. We have the Friday evening planned as a Golden Fleece Course get together, along with a special activity we have imagined up for the event. We will also be releasing one of our new courses over the weekend! Both online AND at the festival itself. All I can tell you is it DOES have a fiber kit with it 😉 We will have some goodies and SWAY Swag there on sale, not only the new Course but also some pretty things to decorate your fiber space with that I hope everyone will really love. Is that cagey enough? I know I know! Its all surprises! And another reason I am really excited about this weekend is that I have been waiting to share something especially at SWAY for the very first time. It involves circular looms and the neckwear I have been developing. This past week I have been creating a tutorial for it, I just exported the PDF, and made a video to go along with it! I will have a few copies of the tutorial to use at the workshops and will give all participants the download link so they can download their own copy  after the event too. I am hoping to have an ibook version available as well, for those with an ipad, and that will have the video embedded in it as well as a couple of other snazzy interactive features. I am really excited about this possibility and I hope to be able to offer more of these kinds of things via the ibook store in future too. (I will continue to make PDF versions of everything though!) So back I come to the weaving. I just posted the link to Majacrafts circular loom on my facebook page, because they have recently brought out the large...

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Tools That Make you go Mmm

Tools That Make you go Mmm

I guess anyone who has been following my blog for a little while might have noticed that I am a bit of a tool geek as well as a fiber geek. I do rather tend to covet beautiful things, and to me, beautiful things are also invariably, functional things. Over the last year I have been developing something that is taking form in my mind as an approach to weaving, freeform weaving, but ‘my’ way. While I love the idea of complete and spontaneous ‘free’ weaving, I am also story oriented and I need a reason and a purpose to drive my creativity. This tends to come through in my weavings, which generally begin in quite a structured and planned, intentional way. Its only ‘after’ I have developed my ideas to a point where they are transferable into something concrete and tangible, that the freeform comes into it. By then I have already made decisions about (and even spun specifically for) the colours and textures I want to use, and I have a general outline in my mind of what I want to create. I dont make a pattern, but I do make a plan and sometimes sketches. Later this year I will be sharing with you my design methods, as I think I have developed a process for this that might be very helpful to others too. I collect up the tools I need. And when I think of ‘freeform’, in my mind, this doesn’t just refer to the idea of not using  a ‘pattern’, it also refers to my rather eclectic approach to the techniques I use, drawing from different areas of textile art,  and it also refers to to my gathering of equipment and tools needed to create the design. This is part of the ‘WoolWench Approach’ to weaving that I am currently developing. I think its really fun, and of course, it feeds my interest in tools and things I can use to create my visions. So in todays blog I wanted to share some of my newest tool acquisitions with you, and these are really special. These are some handmade Tapestry Bobbins, created and finished to an amazing standard by Ian of The Wood Emporium in the UK (the rather exotic sounding Isle of Wight to be exact)  These ones are Ebony, with brass tips. They have the most amazing weight to them, and the hand polished finish is just beautiful, not only to look at but to have in your hands as well, just a joy to use! On Ian’s website he also has other shapes and sizes, and choices of quite a range of beautiful wood types as well. Ian doesnt only...

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Weaving into Winter

Weaving into Winter

Its 9.20am and I am sitting here at my computer feeling the icy bite of winter creeping in, that time of year when it feels like all my bones are frozen and there is always that annoying gap at the back of my neck that my scarf didn’t cover, and the ends of my sleeves not reaching down past my wrists far enough. My nose is cold and I am resorting to huddling over my coffee to warm up. Yes, the heating is on, somehow I dont seem to be feeling it though. You might be asking yourself about now, ‘is this post going to be one long complain time about the weather?’. And while I would like to say, ‘why no, no it’s not, because I have other actual important things to tell you’,  in fact, if I think about it honestly, it really is all about the weather. Sorry. Here is more : well it would be if my fingers werent frozen to the keys. Ok I am exaggerating. I have been weaving this week, perhaps an attempt to create warmth in wooly cloth 🙂  What I have done this week is completed two woven objects, one an experiment in double heddle weaving on my Majacraft loom, which turned out to be really interesting to do and with results I really like! I will be writing some more about this in a later post, because, theres quite a lot to say that goes beyond just ‘double heddle weaving rocks’.   and the other, a circle weaving. Partly it was to test out the tutorial I have written to accompany the Golden Fleece Fiber Creativity Course. There will be a task at the end of the course for using the yarns created in each module, and I am hoping that most people are going to choose to make that a circular woven item to the guidelines we will be suggesting.  So I have made a little tutorial showing how I use my circular loom. I have added lots of photos, so I hope its clear! Here is the piece I made this week, complete with shinys and yarn with lots of angelina combed into it 🙂 This one I am planning on adding onto a bag, I think it would suit a nice rich brown leather, so I just need to find one to suit! I am really enjoying my circular weaving, its meditative, simple (or more complicated if I want it to be), its easy to pick up and put down and even take out places with me, something I have missed since I am not a knitter able to take my hobby with me in a...

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Wild Weaving Workshop N

Wild Weaving Workshop N

I know I know, I still havent blogged about the dye day workshop yet… like I had planned to do before today 🙂 Its TIME, it gets sucked into some black hole of time suck despite my best efforts at what ‘I’ think of as efficiency. I suspect this version of mine is not ‘real’ efficiency so much as wishful thinking efficiency. Apparently there is a difference. As in… it isnt actually efficiency. But the point is, here we are. Sunday evening and everyone has gone home. The room that has been filled all day with chatter and amazing yarns and looms everywhere and mini-stashes to ooh and aah over.. well its empty again, left only with yarn scraps, some stray coffee cups, and a few sparkly bits floating around. It was a very awesome day. So I wanted to share it with you while it was all fresh in my mind, because my kind of ‘efficiency’ often requires that some things fall out of my brain, I am preempting this by writing it now. And I have to admit to feeling rather smug about this 🙂 Patty and I had a pretty solid program written up for the day. We wanted to be sure that we would cover all the things that we found important to review and share in just one day together, which seems like plenty of time but you know, once you get started, its that time vortex again… So our day was split up into three parts, weaving basics, design, and hands on weaving. It was such a pleasure to see everyones looms arrive and check out the warps they had set up, all so different, all so beautiful 🙂 Sometimes the warp itself is such a visual delight its almost a shame to change it by adding weft! However as the day progressed we saw some incredible weaving happening.   One thing I was really pleased to be sharing was my developing approach to freeform weaving and what that means, at least to me. I am sure my approach to it is not new or unique, but at least for me it is, and the more I do, the more defined and concrete these ideas become as I consider how to best approach the problem of design and freeform. I say ‘problem’ here because, if you look at anything creative as a ‘problem’ it just asks for a solution! The ‘problem’ for me with weaving is actually the goal, so not a ‘problem’ as in there is something wrong, but as in a challenge, to which we can see the outcome we want, and the challenge (problem) is to find a way to...

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Manic Dynamic Majacrafters – Magic made on Looms!

Manic Dynamic Majacrafters – Magic made on Looms!

A little while ago, we (Esther, Donni, and Me) started up our new Manic Dynamic Majacrafters Facebook Group especially for those of us lucky enough to have our own Majacraft Dynamic Heddle loom to play with, (and those aspiring to have one). Since we started this group it has grown and grown in a most splendid fashion! We are up to over 160 members, and the creativity I see within the group is just fantastic and so inspirational.  I love it that the pieces people are making are all so incredibly different, unique, and very diverse, everyone has their own touch and special approach to working on their looms. So I thought it was a very interesting thing to highlight this idea of individuality and uniqueness by setting up a challenge for everyone! And the challenge? Make a piece in which the focus was on texture and form, rather than colour, so using the same tonal range within each piece, and working on developing ways of varying the weaving through creating surface design. I thought this might really highlight the unique approaches to the constructions and techniques used when creating these works of art. The results were stunning! I have gathered up some examples here of work from our group members. Its eye candy. Its brain boost. Its simply manically marvellous 🙂 I love each piece!   First, a pic of the piece made by a special friend who lives here in Holland too, Brigitte. These are totally ‘her’ colours 🙂 and I especially adore the way she has used the coils to make texture in the weft. Next is an image of some stunning textural elements created by Mary of Fiber Creek Farm, theres a lot going on in this piece but that is balanced beautifully by her choices of natural shades. This next gorgeous piece is from Tracie , I just love the colour, its so light and dreamy, and her use of contrasting textures and open weave really adds to that quality.    Now here is a very striking and dramatic item made by Robyn Betts from some amazingly black Alpaca fleece. She has also used some wonderful texture contrasts, and made a diva of a drapey scarf. I could see myself wearing this one ALL winter. Ahem 😉   What follows now is another wonderful, made in Holland, piece from Karen Bruinsma, her ‘Waterfall’ scarf, which combines some beautiful aqua blue shades with some very pretty textures and her clever use of the little felted neps that she created for this too. I must learn how to do that! Its awesome. The next image is from Rahel Hecht, who is creating some really stunning weavings...

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Workshoping with WoolWench and JazzTurtle

Workshoping with WoolWench and JazzTurtle

Its over, our glorious days of exciting projects, shared teaching, and some group hilarity. We started on the Friday evening, with a meal together followed by some really cool drum carding and fiber prep for the following day. This first group was the beginning art yarn spinners, and although some were already experienced spinners, the ‘art’ techniques we had in store were new to them. It was quite a treat to see the wheels all in a row and waiting for their spinners to get started. What I enjoyed the most about this group was the enthusiasm they showed for every technique, and their complete willingness to dive in and give everything a go, even if they were not sure about the outcome, thats the kind of creative risk taking I love the most! Our second group were the advanced art yarn spinners, so we covered some more difficult techniques such as spinning on elastic and on wire, specifically with the intention of weaving with them, because our final day was a fantastic weaving day, finishing on the Tuesday afternoon. It was exciting to see eyes light up on the discovery of new possibilities in weaving, and the idea that weaving could actually be cool and exciting and innovative and not complicated or difficult! This is not a post with an hour by hour description of what we did during our workshop days, but rather an impression of the things that I personally found important in them. Of course, the topmost important things were the  people and connections made. In each group there was a wonderful dynamic and level of excitement about what we were doing. I love it when people make discoveries, have an ‘aha’ moment as a bunch of stuff falls into place in their heads and their hands as they spin something new. We had a few of those! I also think that part of teaching is offering experiences to people in a safe environment, where they can grow their expertise and confidence in what they are doing, so I hope we were able to provide this, I certainly saw some amazing yarns being made, and one in particular stands out, as Cara experimented with a new technique, and holding out the length of yarn she had made we could see a vast improvement from the start of it to the end of it! Thats a success 🙂 It was also a fantastic experience to be part of a teaching team, especially with the fabulous Esther Rodgers, I had the best time both during and after classes, and it was a wonderful chance to get to know each other and share stories and hilarity and ideas....

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