Sunday, January 21, 2018

A weaving-filled 2017

The week before Christmas 2017 saw the completion of a decades-long project, the restoration of the ‘curvey-back settee’ that Mom knew as a child and we have had since Aunt Ethel and Uncle Harve willed it to us.  The design and weaving of the upholstery only took three years and the structural restoration took the talent of a local woodworker, but 17 yards of gimp came off the loom on the 21st , was wet-finished and applied to the settee in two days, giving us a nice Christmas present to share with daughter Zella. 

The gimp, a narrow plain weave band usually is woven on an inkle loom but I much prefer my 4-shaft 36” with beater removed.  I weighted the warp directly and wound the woven gimp onto the cloth beam.  It is pretty easy to keep the tension even this way and the band consistent width with the aid of a folded card.  I was able to use many of the leftovers of the 20/2 custom-spun wool/mohair yarn that I had hand-dyed for the upholstery so I hope the entire will wear well.

The family 'curvey-back settee' fully restored and in its new handwoven clothes - at last!

The Rosary Society’s commission for a pall kept me and my looms busy for much of the year and that piece, Stars of St. Mary Pall, may be included in the Complex Weavers 40th Anniversary book.  Here is a peek only, as I may not 'publish' the piece lest that disqualify it for the book.


After the blessing of the new pall
Now the Rosary Society has given me a new commission for a cloth to cover the table holding an urn. That is now underway, using the same weave structure but with a tapestry technique shaping a 12-peaked crown. Here is a miniature where I’ve practiced the technique for Crown of Saint Mary cloth and learned what to allow for shrinkage and take-up. 

practice-piece for the 'Crown of St. Mary' cloth for the table holding the urn

With suggestions from fellow weavers via WeaveTech List I chose Sigrid's lace-lettering and wove a portion of the Hail Mary 1-up/1-down, then reduced the scale and wove a more compact version for the Crown of St. Mary cloth 
John did most of the driving in June for my teaching at Midwest Weavers Conference in Indianapolis and again in August for the Weavers Guild of Minneapolis trip to lead a Lustrous Linens weaving workshop.  What great people to have as students for what I have declared are my last travels to teach.  I love teaching because I learn so much, but I no longer like the traveling.

A couple pieces were accepted into  a local juried show themed “Forgotten Spaces”.   One gave  me some fun using honeycomb to  provide nests for Devonian-era fossils found on the shore .  The other was woven with a variation on Moorman technique to secure a few of the thousand perfectly crafted but totally useless metal, (4-inch long!) eyed  heddles that a friend found in the stash of a passed-on weaver.

Beneath the San and Under the Waves - honey comb with fossils. (Tip your head to the right to view it as intended.)

'Exquisitely Made and Totally Useless', a triptych with inlaid too-long-eyed wire heddles.
In early November as I was in the studio and John was cleaning up after breakfast, there was a tremendous CRASH and I when I had dropped down the ladder from the studio I saw John, stunned but standing, looking at the Grandfather clock, laying on its face.  He had seen it just before it landed, with Greyfur scrambling away, unhurt but quite obviously the cause, as he chased a fly (or something) behind the clock from the nearby lampstand.  Who could imagine?

Though the case popped many joints, splitting the oak frame multiple places, breaking off the door... all of the glass is intact and John has it running again and keeping good time.  We will seek professional repairs in the Spring.  And none of us got hurt!


Our new associate priest Father Scott, is from Glasgow and when he saw me in my State of Michigan shawl, told me he his mother liked shawls and thought she might really like a Michigan tartan shawl. Knowing that his mother actually had raised four boys to the priesthood, I wanted to acknowledge that amazing feat, so made borders in white and embroidered four simple crosses in the corners.  I chose Zephyr for the shawl, but had to over-dye their ‘mushroom’ color to get a good 'sand'.  She has promised me a picture, but here is a detail. 

Michigan tartan shawl in silk/wool with embroidered corners
In July I had a delightful surprise when I saw, for the first time in over 20 years, the green scarves I designed, dyed, and wove for St. Anne’s church in thanks-giving for my confirmation.  I had feared they were discarded or moth-eaten, but our new priest, Fr. Joe, said he just found them in a drawer.

One of the three scarves woven for St. Anne's last century. This one, in a place of honor, under the tabernacle. 
This joy was somewhat sustaining when, in December, I found another of my liturgical weaving gifts, carelessly abandoned in a drawer. Through friends and through responses to a posting on WeaveTech List, I’ve gratefully received some needed sympathy for the pain I experienced when I discovered the draw-loom woven linen altar cloth, gifted to our parish church 20 years ago, somewhat wadded, in an unlined drawer under other cloths. Friends have also provided some possibly useful suggestions. Abuse and neglect of any fine textile is painful to witness.  This cloth was featured on pages 151-152 of Reflections from a Flaxen Past. 

Photo from 2008 when the linen cloth was still in use at St.Mary's, showing the handspun gold silk draw-loom-woven border.

detail of the white draw-loom patterning side of the linen cloth
Hard lesson learned! Please, please never give an important and valuable piece of weaving to any institution without finding a ‘sponsor’ in an individual or group.  Such work needs someone to feel a responsibility to provide continued care and respect. Churches often depend on volunteers who are difficult to supervise without giving offense. 
Now, back to the loom and the cloth that the Rosary Society has commissioned me to weave – wonder if they would consider ‘adopting’ the linen altar cloth?

Wishing everyone a healthy and fiber-filled 2018  as I weave and prepare the new edition of Warp with a Trapeze and Dance…  [It is imperative, as the current edition is all but sold out.]  Kati 1-21-18