Sunday, April 29, 2012

Mondrian minus 30 degrees

The 2008 challenge was called a "Conversation in Fiber", where we were to interpret the style or works of either Piet Mondrian or Georgia O'Keefe. I chose Mondrian, which presented the first challenge, since he worked only in primaries in his signature works, and the pallette was to include colors from the upcoming conference in Riverside, none of which were primaries. I decided to assign three of the conference colors to be "my" primaries. These were a red-violet as "red", a gold as "yellow", and a teal green as "blue". These are pretty close to an equally-spaced triad as primaries are, just "rotated" about 30 degrees on a color wheel.  The little marks in my diagram each count an inch in my layout.

 I designed a block threading for a taquete rug, where the black lines alternated with the white
rectangles, Mondrian style, and wove the colors in some of the rectangles by a "meet and part" sort of method where I exited the shuttles at a point in the center area of the warp. In a couple places, where there were more than one of the colors, I had 3 shuttles going up and down at various! This was one challenge where I did not end up with a handbag. I almost feel like I have to do this project again in miniature and sew it into a bag, just to have the collection complete.  Here is the rug on display at our guild's November annual event.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Return to Sprang

In 2010, the guild challenge was to get inspired by something from our great guild library. The idea was to encourage members to go visit it, check out a book or periodical of interest, and show the completed piece as well as the books that inspired them.  I had acquired an out-of-print book Sprang: thread twisting, A creative textile technique by Hella Skowronski. In it is a little chapter on combining loom-controlled weaving with sprang, and I wanted to try this. So I dutifully arranged to visit the library with Claudia our librarian, borrowed a copy of the book, and went to work. I did a 2-block doubleweave using a carpet warp in black as one layer, and dyed in shades of cochineal as the other layer (that's another post maybe). I wove in a pattern of squares for the top edge and bottom panel of the bag, and then on the side sections I left one layer the entire width of the bag unwoven while I wove a single bottom layer. On one side I wove a black bottom layer and spranged the pink and lavender....

...and I did the opposite on the other side of the bag. The drawstring handle is cardwoven in a pattern repeating the curved sprang pattern, the ends then braided together.

I beamed the two layers each on a separate beam, since while I was weaving the background I needed to be able to loosen it to "take up" while the other layer needed to stay taut, and then while spranging the top layer, it again needed to be able to take up independently. I had some warp left over, and played with other colors and patterning in my 2-block threading, and made some accessories to go with my bag: zip pouches, cellphone slipcovers and such.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A healing handbag

In our most recent (2011) guild challenge, "Challenging Threads with Colorful Quotes", we were each randomly given a different quote about color to interpret in a piece. Mine was a quote about the color green in people's auras by Edgar Cayce, who I learned was a psychic from the 1950s. Since I don't really subscribe to psychics, I almost asked for a different quote, but then I decided that this was my particular challenge, so I took it. The quote was about emerald green in an aura having healing and friendly qualities.

When I think of emerald green, I remember the emerald green bridesmaid's dress I wore for my college friend's wedding way back when... so I thought, where is that dress? That was really pretty fabric I will never use for anything else; I could slice it up into narrow strips and weave it. Well, I searched all my closets, chests and drawers and boxes... I must have given it away. Oh well. I had some fabric from some window coverings of about the same vintage. Not as shiny and intense but still a nice green, so I used that.

This Amy Butler pattern reminded  me of a doctor's bag, which went with the idea of healing. The bag made its debut when I went out with the same group of college friends from the wedding party. Sadly, since that night, one of us has left this earth due to illness; I will still remember that last visit together every time I use this bag.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A little about Challenge projects for groups

It has become something of a little tradition in my guild (SCHG) to issue a "challenge" project each spring, due in the fall. We don't meet in July or August, so it becomes a project to work on over the summer. Our guild allows lots of leeway: any fiber technique is encouraged, though we are a weaving guild so we hope to always have woven works.

These challenge projects have taken various forms: Sometimes particpants are given certain supplies they must use in creating a piece. Sometimes there are design constraints in color, line, materials, motif or theme. Sometimes we are directed to find inspiration from the work of artists in other media. In our group, participation is entirely voluntary, but my experience is that no matter what my current technical level or latest focus, I always learn something, and it is so fun to see how differently other people approach solving the same puzzle.

Sometimes setting contraints for oneself helps to focus creativity, especially when in a creative doldrums. Just having some of a project's parameters delimited, thereby eliminating a lot of choices that one could have made, helps focus in on a few points of attention. If the "rules" are tricky or somehow contradictory when juxtaposed, this can help stimulate the thinking and problem solving processes.  The addition of a deadline also helps to just get going!

So if you are in a weaving guild, spinning or knitting group or other creative-type club, then you might consider organizing one of these projects. Be sure to write out the "rules" explicitly yet simply, and repeat them a couple times in your newsletter or other communication. I've described some of our past challenges and my solutions to them in other posts.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Discontinuous Messenger Bag

This was a guild challenge issued in 2002. The parameters set out for us were: incorporate a diagonal in your design, use discontinuous weft (to be
loosely interpreted by those not actually weaving their piece), and use a monochrome-with-an-accent color scheme.  My colors, as I recall, were dictated by what I had on hand in my stash. I selected some blue wools and a little bit of orange as accent.  The structure of the cloth is simple; just plain weave,
with these insets using discontinuous weft inserted in a diagonal pattern.  I honestly can't remember where I found the idea to weave these insets, or whether I wove them hand-manipulated by counting warps or if it was loom-controlled. It's just plain weave in one spot on the warp for a few picks, and then you continue with your full-width weaving until it's time
to put the next set of insets, and the weft deflects around them. Since the pattern is a diagonal, eventually all the warps get the extra weft, and it all sort of evens out in the end. Fulling the wool a little helps as well. For the
handle, I chose a diagonal spiraled round braid to make from the same yarns. The bag is big enough to carry a large 3-ring binder.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Honeycomb Tomato Bag

Here's another guild challenge bag, this one from 2003. The problem to be solved was: make it red, employ a curve, and use the provided materials (which were a piece of cheesecloth and some red sequins). Well, the cheesecloth was white, so the first step for me was to dye that red. What was I going to do with this though? A honeycomb weave structure gives some nice curves, satisfying that criterion: I can cut the cheesecloth up into strips and use it as the thick weft in the honeycomb weave. For the base tabby structure I used a red cotton, and of course I needed to buy more cheesecloth than was provided. Some of the sequins I randomly sewed into some of the honeycomb "cells"; I used more sequins in the tassels at the ends of my braided-braid handle. This one gets used infrequently - at Valentine's Day and when I'm feeling bold enough to carry such a bright color.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Blue "Lagoon Ripples" Tote

Here's another "challenge" project. The theme for 2004 was "Making Waves", in which we were to take our inspiration from the ocean, use some provided fibers, and have a triangle somewhere in the design. I chose colors that made me think of the sea. This bag was woven using pique weave, in which the main fabric is "stitched" down by tie down threads that stay hidden most of the time. I had never done pique before, but it turned out well for a first try, and it gave me a chance to try out my second back beam for the first time as well. The straps are a 24-strand flat braid, and some of the braid elements are raffia, which makes the handle stiff - but part of the challenge was to use the raffia! The lining is fabric dyed using "shibori-in-a-jar" technique that Estelle Carlson taught at an SCHG workshop.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

I put a cork in it

This was another SCHG challenge project, the one from 2005. Donna & I organized this one. Everyone was provided with a pallette of greens and berry/grape colors, some number of yards of 3 different yarns selected from the pallette, and 6 wine corks.  The design portion of the challenge was to incorporate an isolated motif in the design, that is, a design element that is completely surrounded by a ground.  I must have forgotten that part of it, because I don't see that my pattern has that characteristic.  Do you see an isolated motif in there?

I did a doubleweave of little squares, sliced up the corks (and a bunch more in addition to the six in the kit) and inserted them into the pockets formed in the doubleweave. The handle is a flat braid. This purse has a good stiff body lent to it by the corks, and would probably be good to take boating as I'm sure it would not sink.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Diamond Anniversary

Going backward in time now from that last post... In 2006, my Guild (SCHG) celebrated its 60th anniversary. As we discovered, a lot of guilds seem to have been founded in the late 40s, so a lot of them were having retrospective events. It was decided that the 60th could be a diamond anniversary as well as the 50th, so the Guild Challenge due that October 2006 was to make something that incorporated the number 60 and a diamond somehow. Particpants were provided with some tiny diamond-shaped glass beads to use as well.

I decided to do a little bag in sprang. I had learned from reading Peter Collingwood's The Techniques of Sprang that if you use a striped warp and a double-twist, the stripes move diagonally as you work, converging and diverging, forming a diamond pattern reminiscent of argyle socks. This bag is in cotton and has 60 warp ends. The loops at the top and bottom of the sprang became the casing for the drawstring. I bead-crocheted some diamond-shaped decoration around the top, too.

The pieces that everyone made for this challenge were not only shown at our November 2006 show, but were als featured in our "guild booth" at the ASCH conference in Visalia in the spring of 2007.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Art-inspired fabric

... and here's the Van Gogh "Wheat Field with Cypresses" hangbag.

So it's over four years later. I got busy and the blog thing didn't take. But lately, I've been wanting to write and share about the things I've been busy with. So hopefully this restart of this blog will stick this time, and I'll have some more posts here soon.