Lilies at the Getty

Lilies at the Getty

Monday, April 29, 2013

Old Textiles

I have started teaching at The Pioneer Craft House in Utah.  The art institution was started in the late 40's by two weavers, Mrs. Glen Beeley and Mary M. Atwater.  Mary did not stay with it, artistic differences between the two women.  But both of them left a legacy that I hope to continue.

In order to do teaching on the equipment here, I had to clean, oil and repair each of the floor looms.  Out of the eight looms only the two Hammet looms don't have companies still making looms.  I had the instruction manual fro them, and it gave the bolt and screw sizes, so I was able to get them working.  I had to drill and replace a worn screw with a bolt on one brake and now it is holding very well.  I have gotten parts and help from Gilmore Looms, Harrisville Designs, Macomber and Leclerc.  I am working on the last loom now.  

In most cases, besides the dirt and dry wood, brake problems have been the main problem.  But a few bent treadle rods and replacement aprons have been in the mix.  It is so great to sit down to a loom that is working well and that looks good.  I have straightened the heddles (I have a ton of them for replacement.) and put on or ordered more tie-ups for the treadles, too.

Another part of the clean-up here is the old textiles.  There have been a large number that have just been tossed, old student work that even they did not want, etc.  But there have been a few treasures.  I have an old coverlet, 1800's according to Sharon Alderman, that is hand spun and dyed with indigo.  I will need to clean it this summer, Sharon gave me some help with how to do this.  It has two panels and they have been stitched crudely with heavy waxed linen, so I may remove that stitching and re-do it.  We will have to see when I get it out again and check it closely.  

 I have also found a large number of interesting examples of weave structures.  I washed and in some cases hemmed a number of pieces and made a display for the studio.


I think most of these pieces were woven in the 1940's and 1950's and they all were VERY dusty.  They must have been sitting and collecting dust since almost that time.  There is a large collection of overshot weaving.  I think that was a favorite weave for them.  I also have  fragments I may mount for class samples.


There are a couple of pieces with labels from the weaver.  I have seen her name in my reading of old "Handweaver and Craftsman" magazines and I found letters from her in the files.  Her name is Kate Van Cleve and she wove and wrote about weaving in the 1930's and 1940's.  The lace pieces that we have a great and there is a baby blanket in basket weave that is the only basket weave piece that I have see that is stable and nice.  It is woven in very find wool, so the floats create no problem in the finished piece.  (I am very concerned with making structurally sound weaving.)  Unfortunately, there are some moth holes in the piece, but it is not too bad.  I can still use it as a great example in my beginning weaving class.  Again, the dust in the piece was awful, but now that it is washed, it is great to show.
This place-mat and napkin in Huck lace is beautiful and has a different look than the Huck we see now.  I think the place-mat is a little softer than what I like for a mat, I see the weight as better for a table cloth.


The other place-mat is also a soft one, but the structure has me thinking of how I could use it.  She has woven a three thread Huck, but she theaded two threads next to each other on shaft three.  It give and interesting look and it is different from the regular four thread huck.  


Here is a close-up.  The doubled threads on shaft three make give a texture in the plain weave area and the two shots of metallic are at the top of the hem.  There is a lot of metallic threads in these old weavings.

There are also a number of Guatemalan pieces (mostly tourist stuff) and some interesting stitchery on table cloths.  I will have to get some pictures of them.

I also got my heavy weight towels hemmed.  I am very pleased with them.  I will probably put a couple in the drawer for use and them keep some out for using later.
I ended up with seven towels and a plaid table mat.  I have two towels that are the plaid, three that are white weft and one each of blue weft and gold weft.  It was a good test of the loom and now I have a new group of towels.  

Thursday, April 18, 2013

My Heavy Weight Kitchen Towels

A few years ago, a friend bought some heavy kitchen towels that were handwoven.  I realized that they were woven with 8/4 carpet warp.  This is a yarn we had a lot of in the LYS.  I decided to try weaving and using heavy towels to see if I liked using them.  I wove some towels for my sisters and myself to try, and I liked the heavy weight.  I still like finer threads for towels, but these are fun to make and use.

I wrote about some pink towels I wove for a friend a couple of years ago.  Now I have woven another set of towels.  These were warped to test out a loom I had just cleaned up and repaired at the studio and to test an AVL warping wheel.  


Here's my second "wheel" warping 
My weaving study group came to the PCH weaving studio to show me how to use the "Wheel".  One of them has one and has been working with it.  This wheel had been put together backwards and we really needed to work on it to get things going.  We wound a six yard warp (three times around the wheel) to put on the Hammett Loom that I had just finished cleaning and setting up.  (An interesting side note, I thought we were putting on 6 yards, but 3 times around a 3 yard wheel gives a nine yard warp!!)  The picture is from my second warping on the second Hammett Loom.  But now the wheel is working great, amazing how much better it works when the parts are on right and the washers and nuts are in the correct order.

My towel warp was a nice striped piece...I had over dyed some yellow 8/4 to get a gold color and added some white and blue from my stash.  
Some towels woven one color and some woven plaid
The weaving was fun, but as usual, I just started the hems with plain weave, and it probably would have been better to use basket weave.  Basket weave washes up better so the hems lay even.  

The test on the loom went well.  I found that the screw holding the brake pawl on the ratchet, indeed, needed replacement...it gave out about yard 5.  I had figured that I would need to drill a hole and replace it with a bolt, but I had hoped that it would hold until the warp was done.  I removed the pawl, drilled the back upright and put a new bolt to hold the pawl.  The loom worked great and no problem with the brake holding.  Of course, using a ratchet brake is not as easy as a tension brake, but you get used to how to "finesse" the tap on the brake release pedal.

I knew the rug class was coming too fast (they needed this loom) and the plaid pattern was taking too long to weave with all the unplying and tucking in the ends with each color change, so I did the fast thing....I wove and  just let the ends hang out to finish later.  It worked, I got the towels off the loom and students were able to warp the loom for rug samples. (For the rug class I cleaned, oiled and repaired six looms...luckily, I had the help of a couple a great students.  Now I only have one more loom to repair the brake and get it weaving.)


But that left me with lots of ends to finish once it was off the loom.
Here are the ends I needed to weave in
I have started to unply the yarn/thread and tuck only part of the ply back into the weaving.  I found this method in an old weaving article by Bertha Frey.  To do it I un-ply the weft back into the web.  I leave one ply there and use the other two plys to finish the pick and wrap around the end warp, then tuck one ply in about 1/2 inch and the other ply in about 1 inch.  Hard to explain but a great way to make the color change disappear.   With the towel off the loom, it took a little longer but still gave the same great look.
Here the gold and white are unplyed
In the picture you can see that one of the three plys is unraveled back into the woven web.  I then need to needle weave the two plys back into the web, catching the outside warp end.
Here the white is needle woven past the first ply
It takes a little more time to do this method, but I like the result better and I am willing to take the time for a piece that I will be looking at.
Here the ends are needle woven back in and trimmed
Here is the finished edge...the color changes are almost invisible.  I love the way this looks and it makes me happy every time I use the towel.

After the ends were woven back in and any errors were corrected I washed the towels a couple of times.
Fabric washed and unwashed
You can see how magical wet finishing is on fabric.  The fabric goes from warp and weft threads to fabric; the spaces close, the warps and wefts find their proper places and the fabric feel softer.  Now I can turn under the hems and stitch them up.  I am currently in a hand finishing mood, so I will hand stitch them.  But machine stitching is fine and I will do that when I am in a machine finishing mood.


My current project on Hammett II
Here is my test for the second Hammett loom.  This one was another warping wheel demonstration, but only 4 yards long.  The Pendelton "worms" and warp were purchased years ago.  I thought I purchased enough of the tan yarn for the full warp, but I must have used some of it over the past 20 years.  It's hard to see, but if you look under the beater, you can see about an inch of space left between the finished rugs on the cloth beam and the beater.  At this point, I was worried that I would not be able to finish the rugs (two of them), but I managed to squeeze  the last few inches on the rug to use all of the "worms" or selvedges that I had purchased.  The only problem now is the color...not quite the colors that I have in my house now...oh, well. 

I will probably leave the rug on the loom until something else needs to go on.  The loom looks so much better warped and weaving that bare.