Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Winter Special

Winter is here in all its beauty and chills, and to warm your Holidays, a special handwoven bookmark in the Lithuanian style will be included in your order for Reflections from a Flaxen Past: For Love of Lithuanian Weaving

In the Spring I was comissioned to weave a Lithuanian-style blouse in the mode of one I did on the draw-loom. I accepted, with the foolish confidence that I could get my 24-shaft Toika to reproduce the patterns of my sold-to-Kay Faulkner-in Australia Glimakra 12-shaft drawloom. After many hours with my Fiberworks PCW program zoomed-in to the max and playing in the liftplan we got what we wanted. Of course, I had to weave a sample to check that my 33/1 warp would weave up and second, that the scale of the patterns would be right. Jalapajano! Now that the cloth for the blouse is woven, I've decided that the samples would make lovely bookmarks. What better way to celebrate my success than to offer a Winter Special? So,from now until Roc Day - (January 12, 2015 when our group will celebrate back-to-spinning)we will include a handwoven Lithuanian-patterned bookmark with each copy of A Flaxen Past.

Handwoven linen bookmarks with Lithuanian-style pick-up patterning 1.5 x 9 inches

Monday, November 10, 2014

Summer's Gone

Summer was very short, but lovely, especially the visit to Scotland, our third trip but the first time with a tour and the 'shepherding', historic sites and great step-on guides made it well worth having to be part of a 'herd', and the fellow travelers were a great group.

Our first night in Edinburgh we were treated to  a festive dinner including the traditional haggis (best spiced with a wee dram of whisky) tatties & neeps, and concluding with shortbread and scones.  The entertainment included a rather good band, Highland dancing, and the Queen's own Piper who, after working well and long, socialized with this tourist - and her attire could not clash more with his tartans if she had tried!

Dolly, cloned from a mammary cell (thus her name) of a Finn Dorset sheep  is now on permanent view at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. She had a short life but a famous one, mothering 6 lambs before her passing at age 6

One of the looms on exhibit at the National Museum of Scotland boasts its own version of live-weight tensioning.  This is not the curling stone on a Paisley shawl loom that triggered my application of athletic weights, but it obviously is an  effective warp tensioner.

A visit to the Geoffrey Tailor of Edinburgh shop brought a  mind-bending look at some contemporary bespoke kilt outfits.  Goeffrey Tailor has made two of John's kilts, neither of which is pin-stripe!

The strongest impression was left from our visit to Orkney and the Scara Brae archeological site.  This ancient village, built about the time of the Great Pyrimid, was first revealed to modern humans from a severe storm in the 1800's. Covered passageways connect  the various family and work spaces.  They even seem to have had inside-houses (as opposed to out-houses).  It is said that if the wind ever stops blowing on Orkney, that everyone will fall down.  We too learned to lean into the wind and embrace the constant mist.

Back home I learned of a great secret at the Thunder Bay Arts Gallery.  My shawl/runner, "Thunder Bay Ice Scapes" was missing but I was not to know who bought it!  It wasn't long before John's (graduated) piping student and her husband invited us for dinner.  There on her magnificient table was my weaving.  The dinner and their compay was great, as is this photo by Deb Houk taken from the balcony over their dining room.

Two weaver friends from the Weavers Guild of Kalamazoo came to Alpena with the Model T touring club and Cindi and Judi came out for a studio visit.  Judi's photo caught my 'stash-reduction' kimono and Cindi too.
 In October a talented and energetic Lithuanian researcher came from New York City all the way to Alpena to  visit me.  Aldona Rygelis  is documenting weaving in the Lithuanian Diaspora and developing a web site so  that images of the unusuallly beautiful National Costumes will be available to the descendants of the emigrants as well to the rest of us admirers of fine weaving.  Aldona has 10 years juniority (her coinage) on me and I greatly champion her project.  I will post a link to this new web-site when it is available.

Alpena is having very Scottish weather just now, windy, misty and cool.  Perfect for staying inside and weaving.  I'm currently working on a Lithuanian National Costume blouse for a friend.  It is an interesting challenge to me as I am learning how to make my 24-shaft Toika weave like a draw-loom.  Maybe next post I'll have some pictures of this project to share.

 Keep warped and shuttle on, Kati  11-10-14

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Too much weaving fun

When I needed to explore how to invisibly stitch a 2/2 twill layer to 2/2 basket weave (with "only" 24 shafts) and needing four blocks of double-weave, using panama (basket weave), was all I could do to keep the interlacement similar in the two layers.  This is a test I set up on six shafts of my Baby Mack. With suggestions from Brigitte Liebig, Bonnie Inouye, Pat Stewart, and references by Mary Black, Doramay Keasbey and Sharon Alderman I was eventually able to understand the stitching possible - (on only two of the eight sheds)and decide how best to do it.  Being a bear (er, weaver) of very little brain long with vision problems, this took me far longer than it would any of you reading this.  But I did it.  Then I figured out how to apply what I learned to the 24-shaft draft AND keep the tartan pattern aligned with the block pattern for the cruciforms. The stoles are now being finished with a few hours of hand-stitching.  More pictures later.
 Sure I would rather weave than blog, but I am certainly overdue. And since pictures are more interesting than words, here are some images of what's been happening in my studio and out.
We stayed in Alpena and enjoyed their Independence Day activities.  Here is a very impressive sand castle entry
Another impressive entry, a castle for sure.

After re-sleying closer for the new, finer warp, I was able to test that I had fixed the lift-plan for the basket-weave side. The beat is off of course on the 18/2, but the interlacement is correct. Hurrah!

It is time I gave full tribute to Ethel Alexander, who wove tweeds and had them custom tailored into sport jackets for her husband, a local bank VP.  Mrs Alexander knew I was winning 4-H prizes for my  tailoring projects and when I was only 17 she offered me a piece of handwoven that was too small for a jacket.  The first skirt I wore through high school and all through college.  I remodeled it into a mini-skirt later and still have it - and all the scraps.
Fireworks display across Thunder Bay - about 5 miles from our door.
For the WASOON program, I dug out the very first weaving that I did under Mary Black's New Key to Weaving tutelage using using what I could find - kite string warp, bindertwine and some scraps of knitting yarn.  It is not pretty, but it was mightly exciting to be making cloth! A dream was coming true
A few year back I wove some of his family tartan for our local priest, Greg McCallum.  He has since moved to Saint Patrick's and is taking his first trip ever to Scotland.  My Teenager and I are going too, leaving tomorrow.
While waiting for fireworks on July 4, we have a glass of red as the sun sets behind 'Cement Plant Henge'.  The sun has already moved and is setting way to the left (south) of this.  Summer is short and beautiful in Northern Michigan.
A great Independence Day parade.  I want a ride in this classy hearse - but not yet.

A Michigan tartan scarf to thank 85-year old kaleidoscope-maker Jim Halulaur for making a drive pulley for my Rognvaldson wheel.  All he wanted for payment was a hug. He got that, too.
With the stitched double-weave stoles off the loom, I dressed the loom with 33/1 linen when the humidity was near 80%.  Then I discovered two denting errors within a few inches of one another - AND they complimented one anothe. So by clipping only the right-most thread in each dent, I moved it over.  Repeating until the sparse dent was properly filled.  The proofing of the correction created a very interesting section.  Now when the humidity again is suitable, I'm ready to see if I can re-produce the Lithuanian-type draw-patterns I did on a similar warp

My historic Rognvaldson wheel spins flax with it new drive pulley.  What joy.
I was able to weave on the old warp, right up to the knots of the new warp.  What a boon for someone as 'Scottish' with resources as I am.
The test piece for the stitching above looked good - until I cut it down and turned it over.  Then the lift-plan error on the basket-weave was very obvious.  By this time I was getting confident about SEEing the stitching in the liftplan and was able to make the needed changes to fix it.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Knisley's Weaving Rag Rugs book

Since my last post, I've had a couple great teaching trips, one to Dayton, Ohio in early April for Weavers Guild of Miami Valley, where Spring was bustin' out all over, and the linen students were most receptive to my strange methods. Then in early May to Sault Ste Marie, Ontario where I 'edutained' the entire WASOON group with "How did we get HERE?" opening night, and then kept a smaller group awake for a whole day of tartan designing, weaving and wearing. I do love conferences for the great connections with folks from far and wide. I love teaching for guilds because I am so well cared-for and there is such energy within a guild. But I’m getting old and think I may give it all up. Then when I've recovered, I think maybe not yet. I also had a most enjoyable surprise invitation to be 'artist of the month' at the Thunder Bay Arts Council Gallery. That distracted me from blogging - or that is my excuse. However, this post is about a new book I've been asked to review: WEAVING RAG RUGS by Tom Knisley, manager/teacher at The Mannings Handweaving School and Supply Center. Stackpole Books, 2014, softbound. Weaving rag rugs is a most rewarding activity and Tom Knisley has given us a new book by the very title: Weaving Rag Rugs. Knisley is an experienced rug weaver and teacher. In Weaving Rag Rugs he details his front-to-back method of warping, with eleven profusely illustrated pages. (If he warped back to front it might only take four pages - but my prejudice is showing, isn’t it?) He shows and discusses a rug weaver's tools and materials including linen warp for which this linen aficionado is grateful. Good color photos show various methods of rag preparation and joining. There is an interesting spread on how much fabric is needed for a rug, by using a 12 inch warp with one yard of different weights of fabric. It would help to know the width of the fabrics used, or if one square yard was a constant. The results are illustrated with twelve color photos in a pleasant grid. Chapter 7 is my very favorite with 2-page spreads on most of the 32 beautiful rag rugs illustrated. For each rug, we are given the threading, tie-up and treadling draft, the warp material and colors, the width in the reed and epi, as well as the width of the strips, including a photo of the fabric. What I wish were included is the length and weight of the rug or even the number of yards of the fabric used, including the width of the fabric. It would not have taken much space to reveal the yards or weight of each warp color used. For this numbers-challenged weaver, I would rather compare the various rug’s specs to get a notion of how to plan a rug and what to expect, instead of doing the math based on his experiments on pages 12 and 13. The rug illustrations are beautiful and I want to weave at least half of them. Maybe if I block them, as he recommends, they will lie flat. To quote Knisley: Live free and weave happy! Kati Reeder Meek, May 15, 2014

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Teaching Schedule update frustrations

I've tried multipel times over the past months to update my teaching Schedule, I and this editing system are not friends. I do have contracts for this year, 2014: Weavers Guild of Miami Valley, Ohio, Guild Program For Love of Lithuanian Linen April 11th, 2014, Beavercreek Fire Station, Lustrous Linens Workshop April 11,12, 13, same location. Wasoon 2014, Something Superior, May 2nd,3rd,4th, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Keynote Speaker Friday eve, Saturday all-day workshop on Tartans: Designing, Weaving & Wearing. 2015: Weavers Guild of Rochester, NY Ode to Linen guild program April 8, 2015, Lustrous Linens; Weaving Linen with Success, April 7,8,9,10. I hope that my ineptness at keeping this information updated has not hurt anyone's feelings. I wish I were more 'ept' at all this blogging stuff. I will attempt to add an illustration from the TBAC Gallery exhibit that I could not manage to make part of my posting this morning. NOPE! Off i go to the studio where I get along better with my toys. Kati

Long Winter

Weaving challenges are so much more fun to work on than writing and updating my blog.  It is hard to believe that my writing about my weaving is of much interest to anyone why did I write two books and am (reluctantly) working on a third?  I could blame old age, but I don't feel old.  Though for the first time ever, I did not 'do' Christmas cards/letter, though I love getting them from friends and family.
John and I (in our at-home finery) celebrate our 51st anniversary by the fireplace, sitting on handwoven deck chairs on a handwoven rug with  handwoven tartan upholstery on the stool and a handwoven Lithuanian display towel on the wall.  The January winds were so powerful we taped over the chimney cracks, the door cracks, the outlets.... Some of the tape has been replaced with real insulation. The rest will wait until it is warmer.

Sculpted snow from one our daily walks.  Guess my photographer-father's influence prompts me to look at the workd through the camera lens.

A winter sunset over Alpena.

We called this 'Moby Drift'. In our 16 years on Thunder Bay we never had so much drifting in the driveway as this season. We shoveled and blew around this lovely curve for a couple weeks.

Weak winter light over the frozen bay. How are we so blessed to have such beauty in our every-day lives?

We have covered the paint brushes with a portrait of  shuttles on this announcement at the Thunder Bay Arts Council Gallery in downtown Alpena.  Arts Council president, Tim Kuehnlein, a PolySci/History instructor at Alpena Community College is the visionary energy behind the gallery. He does everything from organizing exhibits to hanging shows to cleaning the windows!  What a treasure.

A small piece in the exhibit that I call Juliet's Cell Phone Holster.  The real wonder of this is the one-piece-multi sectioned tablet-woven (in linen) trim and shoulder strap.  It was an interesting engineering problem that took weeks to solve successfully.  The body of the piece is draw-loom woven. Silk, embroidered lining and bead trim.

Local Rock Group a linen/ramie triptych transparency sees the light-of-day for the first time in a few years, thanks to the generosity of wall-space at the gallery.  This is based on LaFarge Cement Plant's most interesting geometry.  Reminds me of a childhood marble game. At 10 feet by 3 feet it needs more space than I have in my studio so I am especially grateful for the opportunity to display it.

A wall of variations on the (now official) state of Michigan tartan.  The colors and design are based on the geography of this beautiful place I'm privileged to live and have grown up in. I enjoy weaving this tartan and I enjoy finding ways to 'play' with the pattern on the loom.  Included techniques are clasped weft, felting, stone-encasement, embroidery,  and dowble-weave.
 Maybe I'll make the time to post again after the openhouse Sunday March 16th where I'll talk of the joy I take in being a maker of cloth, demonstrate tartan weaving, and answer questions about the work on display.  Such scary fun!  Till next time, Treadle with Joy, Kati