Back home in Bolivia! My cat seems to have enjoyed her stay away in my absence in a home of Death Metal music fans… a noisy and action-packed home which also includes two kids and two parrots. She appears to need to sleep off all that excitement and has spent much of the last two days flat on her back with legs in the air, dead to the world.
As for me…I need a rest after all the excitement too! Was it really a whole seven weeks ago that I arrived in California and wove with my friends there? We had a very productive time weaving supplementary-weft patterns and the intermesh technique and spent one relaxing afternoon looking at my images and videos of South American backstrap weavers.
My trip ended in the same area. It was great to meet up with my Ravelry friend, Cookie, once again. She had woven with me at Janet’s place up north two years ago and brought along the pebble weave backstrap that she had woven for herself in the meantime.
This is a great example of taking one of the simple 4-revolution patterns from my first book and expanding it by weaving it side by side as a reflection of itself. Cookie also added some other small elements which made the pattern unique. It was almost impossible to recognize the orignal 4-revolution motif. I love it when people create their own pebble weave designs. This is a great way to approach it – with baby steps – first adapt and enhance an existing design and from there go on to create a motif that is entrely your own.
We used sticks to help pick up threads and pass the supplementary wefts. Cookie saw my Guatemalan pick-up stick and went on to create her own from chopsticks! See the original chopsticks on the right and then several versions of the pick-up stick that Cookie made.
Days were spent weaving in Barbie’s home and I enjoyed my evenings staying with Kathleen. I got to stay in her cottage weaving studio in the garden and listen to the soothing sound of the waterfall in the forest below. Kathleen’s home is decorated with textiles from Hungary, her husband’s homeland. Here are just a few of them.
The felt piece at top left comprises layers of wafer-thin pieces of felt using applique and reverse applique techniques. A Google search result tells me that this particular design falls into the category of Great Plain motifs, the Great Plain being the central plain of the Carpathian Basin. The motif dates back to the 18th century where it was first seen on the wool cloaks of the Hungarian shepherds.
I then uncovered a website which is a gold mine of information on embroidery techniques when I googled about Hungarian embroidery. This site is amazing! I will leave you to explore it. I will certainly be returning to it to learn more.
I spent a fun afternoon with my weaving friend Dorothy. We went to an exhibit of Indian textiles at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles. It was a hands-on afternoon where we got to learn a little about Kantha embroidery. It was an introductory session that any embroidery novice could handle just to get a taste as it is based on a simple running stitch. I attempted to embroider a classic paisley motif which is a mango shape. If I ever get it finished I shall show it to you.
We also got to play a little with hand-cut Indian wood blocks which are used to print designs on cloth. You can see the paisley pattern above. I think the wood blocks are a work of art in themselves. I also learned that you need to put some thought into the layout of the deisgn before stamping away like mad. I made a chaotic horrid mess!
I would love to know what embroidery stitch was used to create this piece that Dorothy bought from a Peruvian handcraft website.
The yarn was so fluffy that it was very difficult to isolate the path of the threads. The stitch had a braided look to it. I would love to know how to do it. Can anyone help?
At Gloria and Terese’s home, on my last night in the US, I saw this piece of Palestinian cross stitch embroidery that they had collected. I would love to know about the motif in the center. One pattern has been repeated from top to bottom while being rotated 90 degrees. Does anyone know about this motif and what it might represent? For more about these embroideries and the women who create them, take a look at this beautifully made site which has been put together with the support of the Red Cross of Iceland.
And, as always happens, when I learn a little about a new craft, examples of it seem to just fall out of the sky into my hands where ever I go! Not embroidery….tatting! One of the participants in the Indian texiles workshop was a tatter and showed me her work in progress. The larger of the two pieces will be a baby’s cap. I am in awe! Thank you, Vonnie, for teaching me to tatt.
And then I was chatting with Rachel, the barber, in an old barber shop in downtown Santa Cruz California while staying with my weaving friend Annie (I had created a bangs emergency when I got over enthusiastic while cutting my own). The result of that encounter is this…
Rachel had recently got these as part of a big purchase of sewing supplies at an estate sale and was happy to pass them on to me. I think I had better get a-tatting! I like the metal one the best with the wee hook on its ponited end. Now the challenge is to see how simple tatting can be applied to my weaving. My online weaving friend Carol, who lives in Nicaragua, told me that this same idea also recently occurred to her. I would probably use wool instead of the super fine thread that is usually used for tatting.
You may remember the discontinuous-warp piece that I got to play on. I wrote about it in my last post and have written several posts, like this one, about the technique.
I need to point out that this warp is not mine to keep. I was simply put in charge of transporting it from Yonat to Dorothy, its new owner, and my fee for the service was being allowed to play on it a bit! In any case, Dorothy needed a hand getting it going and I was happy to be of help.
This warp was used in a workshop on the ticlla technique that was given by Nilda Callañaupa in the US in 1997 and the project was never finished. Dorothy and I both had a lot of fun playing with it.
I wove from the end that had been started in the workshop and got the weaving on the other end established so that Dorothy could continue. Of course all the sticks are really too long for this project but this was the way it had been set up in the workshop and we didn’t see any reason to change things.
Dorothy was kind enough to have me stay for a few days and there was precious little time to weave this together as Dorothy teaches art during the day. Coming home from a tiring day teaching art to children is not really a good way to face a tricky piece of weaving. So, while Dorothy was at work, I removed the dovetail stick in the center that holds everything together. A thick piece of thread remained behind in place of the stick. Then the join had to be stabilized by weaving on each side of it as you can see above. It is now up to Dorothy to finish the piece.
She will continue to weave until it is impossible to open the sheds any more using the shed rod and heddles. Before she gets to that point she will be able to make things a little easier by using a thinner shed rod and passing the weft on a needle. The final stage will have her needle-weaving, picking up every other thread on the blunt end of the needle so that she can create a shed and pass the final wefts shots. She will have to do this on both sides of the center as each panel is a separate four-selvedge piece connected by the central dovetail join.
I enjoyed the chance to weave with the beautiful, beautiful handspun yarn that Nilda brought with her from Peru. It was so lovely to be able to bring this weaving back to life again sixteen years after it had been started. Yonat, who has been holding this warp since the workshop, wrote to me to tell me about its owner who has since passed away…
The name of the previous owner was Jean Davidson. She was an amazing artist, curious to no end with an amazing sense of color and structure.
Yonat also gave me a link to a site which shows the quilts that were part of an exhibit held in Santa Cruz in 2008 called Dreaming the Earth in which Jean participated.
I have more to show but will leave it here for this week. Let me end with Jennifer taking up the love of the curious coil rod. She placed one on a band which had started its life on her inkle loom. After transferring it to her backstrap loom she was disappointed to see that it had developed a serious ridging problem…that old corrugated cardboard thing that I have discussed here many times and have finally managed to conquer.
Coil rod to the rescue! More about that next week…