Friday, September 4, 2015

Fiber Friday

At the beginning of August, my church held it's VBS (Vacation Bible School) - a week of focusing on lessons from the Bible with fun craft activities, games and skits. The theme this year was Nazareth in the time of Christ.

The leaders wanted a few artisan activities, and I was asked to be the weaver which I thought enjoyable. For one night, I taught the children how weaving was done by having them help me weave a wall-hanging for the church. Afterwards, I still had plenty of warp left on the loom, not to mention some fun yarn I had purchased, so I continued on with weaving wall-hangings.

Mundane Beauty, Linen, Acrylic and Wood, 2015
What started out as playing with the yarn turned into an experiment with the yarn which turned into a series I entitled, Women's Work. I think the process will be on-going partly because I like how the projects turned out, and partly because I think it's an interesting concept.

Mundane Beauty focuses on the everyday beauty we find in our daily rhythms, but sometimes overlook because we're caught up in the everyday. One of my college professors had us tell her something beautiful or inspiring before each class because she understood the need to look at the beautiful in the everyday.

The project is woven on linen at 7.5 epi which is the same setting I use for the handwoven transparencies. This project, and the others in the series, are all able to be hung up in a window or on the wall. I add beads at the bottom for added weight because without them, the project doesn't hang well.

One of the elements about weaving I enjoy the most is its structure. It's the odd combination of freedom and form which enables me to create these beautiful projects. By forcing myself to only use three elements - the linen, and the feather yarn in two colors - I found myself intrigued by patterns.

As I continue to explore the process of weaving, and the theme of the series, I think I'll find even more to intrigue me. It's one of the fun parts of weaving - finding something new.

Monday, August 31, 2015


In two months, we begin NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month. I'll be participating again this year, and look forward to the project, but I know a few people who have attempted it, but the pressure to write overwhelmed them.

The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore. Vincent van Gogh

I want to encourage those of you reading this who want to write a novel but feel overwhelmed with the process of actually writing. It isn't going to be done in a day. It will take time and energy, probably laughter and tears as well - all are part of the joy of writing. The more we write, the easier it comes. In a strange way, writing isn't unlike priming a pump - we have to give a little at the beginning and work through the rough times until the creativity begins to flow.

On the other hand, you may have had gushing waters of inspiration, and now wonder where all ideas have gone. For you, you have half-completed novels with nowhere to go. Relax, every writer has had those moments. It might be that you took a wrong turn and have to back up a little.

Others just feel overwhelmed with the prospect of the length of the novel. Take a deep breath, and write a page - about 300 words - and at the end of the year you will have 365 pages - a novel.

The most important thing is to write - develop characters, create action scenes, fill in the map of your world - all these little steps which seem insignificant count and lead you one step closer to having the novel finished.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Bamboo/Hemp Part Deux

Earlier this summer, I bought some bamboo/hemp yarn (90% bamboo/10% hemp) and had fun weaving. Well, I thought I was going to have fun weaving it, but it turned out to be a bit more problematic than I realized it would be.

Still, I liked the look and feel of the fabric and even the very odd scent which comes from it. It isn't a bad scent, just not the wool, cotton or linen I'm used too. The other interesting thing about the yarn is the easy of weaving. I had a few problems on the first attempt at weaving the fabric primarily due to tension, but this time around everything is running smoothly.

The three colored yarns (orange, sage and cardinal) are all the bamboo/hemp yarn. The white yarn is exclusively bamboo, and by far the softest of the lot. I'm currently in the process of learning how they create yarn from bamboo, but I imagine it takes more work than wool, cotton or linen does.

The first project off this warp was a wrap, about seven feet in length. Once it goes through the wash, it shrinks somewhat, but the fiber becomes softer. I'm intrigued to see how the bamboo relates to the bamboo/hemp mixture.

Weaving is an experiment in old and new. The craft of weaving is quite old, but there are always new fibers and new thoughts to pursue with weaving.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Back to Work

This past Saturday and this coming Saturday were days off for me since I had no fairs. During the fair season, when everyone else gets off for the weekend, I'm readying for fairs. It's enjoyable, though, because it offers me a time to talk with customers about designs they want to see or items they want.

The same isn't always true for writing, however. Both fiber arts and writing tend to be done in solitude. It's part of the nature of art, when all things are boiled down. The alone time can be a great benefit to those who need the time to recharge and think, or it can become a great motivator to finish more to those who prefer to be around people.

I fall into the first category - I need the quiet time to think, and this morning, I much preferred thinking in bed than actually climbing out and getting to work. Funny how after a couple days off, the body just wants to continue resting.

Still, it's the beginning of new week, new adventures, and new chapters. The little time off helped invigorate me, and I finished a new project which I'll discuss on Friday, during the Fiber Friday post.

I want to encourage you to take short breaks to recharge your creativity, especially now in this season of change. Even for me without having to worry about school-aged children, I find my days becoming more hectic as the holiday season approaches.

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Continuing Adventures with Chenille

While it may be August, those of us in Western NY (and most northern areas) realize winter's chill is around the corner. We soak in the warm weather because we know it's only temporary. It's supposed to be in the upper 70/80 degrees Fahrenheit or upper 20s in Celsius, but within the next thirty days, we'll be inching our way down the temperature scale.

With winter in mind, one thing I create are scarves, which leads to the title of this post The Continuing Adventures with Chenille - sounds like some 1930s radio adventure, but it isn't.

Chenille Scarf
The first time I wove with chenille (here), I used it as both the warp and the weft in a project. It was fun as long as I looked at it as an experiment. I didn't enjoy weaving with it the first time around simply because of all the trouble I had with the warp, but I knew I wanted to come back to the fiber later.

When I started weaving after college (I wove only two projects in college), I ended up being frustrated with the warp. It didn't wind up properly; the tension was off; I had to keep cutting off portions. It was a pain.

Cotton and Chenille (left) Full Chenille (right)
Chenille Warp Scarf
To counter the frustration of the chenille warp, I tried a second experiment - cotton warp with a chenille weft (here). I like the feel of the cotton and chenille mixture, primarily because it gives a slightly lighter feel to the chenille weight. When you feel a chenille scarf compared to a cotton scarf, there is a marked difference in weight. The cotton warp/chenille weft scarf falls between the two in matter of weight, thickness and drape.

A secondary difference between using a cotton warp opposed to a chenille warp is the visibility of the warp.

On the right is a photograph of the chenille warp scarf, while below is a photograph of the cotton warp scarf. The darker vertical lines in the photograph below are the warp. While visible in the chenille warp scarf, they aren't as distinct.

Cotton Warp Scarf
I've found both are practical in their own ways. The chenille warp fabric provides an elegant, jewel-like appearance whereas the cotton warp scarf has a wonderful everyday elegance to it. It would be easy to pair different scarves for different looks while still retaining the elegance of chenille. Perfect for the upcoming cooler season.