On my studio Fridays I have been working toward getting a big tapestry on the loom. Because dyeing takes so long, I’m still working on that part of the puzzle though my fingers are itching to be weaving. I am finding that having some space between the days I’m making color and dye decisions has been helpful. The yarn I pull out of the pot dripping wet and prop in the corner of the living room to dry* might not get assessed until the next Friday. Somehow that lets my brain relax around those decisions and I’ve found myself much more willing to accept what came out of the pot even if the small swatch I was dyeing from feels different in the larger amounts of yarn.** So colors that I didn’t like when I hung them the last Friday actually seem great by the next Friday. I suppose that could be mostly the realization that if I don’t go with those colors or keep fussing with the formulas, I may never actually start weaving… but we’ll go with the first idea that space allows acceptance.
Weaving: Contemporary Makers on the Loom is a new book by Katie Treggiden, a journalist. She hands us a survey of the “contemporary weaving scene and an exploration of some of the themes that touch the lives of makers today.” (p. 5). I do think the book makes a good attempt at this goal. What follows is a few of my thoughts about it.
Every year of the last seven years on March 4th I’ve written a blog post in honor of my teacher, James Koehler, who died unexpectedly in 2011 at 58 years of age.
Last December I gave a lecture to the Rocky Mountain Weaver’s Guild in Denver about my experiences as James’ apprentice as well as an overview of the parts of his tapestry practice that he shared with me. As I went through some new material which was generously shared by other apprentices and his sister and read through at his autobiography again, I especially appreciated revisiting the progression of his artistic work. From initial tapestries woven when he was a Benedictine monk to much less representational works later in his life, I could sometimes hear his voice talking about his inspiration, his process, and the tapestry rules he made for himself.
I’ve put a page on my website with links to more information about his work including video and audio HERE.
I know you might not believe it (what with my youthful glow), but computers as a personal device did not exist when I was a kid. I was born in the 70s and as a pre-teen I received an electric typewriter for my birthday along with a typing course on 45 rpm records. And yes, I had a red plastic record player in my room on which I mostly played a Tchaikovsky record of Swan Lake. I learned to type in a flash. I loved those exercises. Whole pages of unintelligible jibberish which quickly taught my brain where all the letters were. I can’t imagine not being able to touch type. I still remember the hum of the electric typewriter and the clunk of each key being pressed.
If you’re a tapestry weaver, finding just the right yarn might seem like a difficult proposition. Through my students and my own testing of various yarns, I’ve found a few sweet spots in tapestry yarns over the years and I hope these ideas are helpful for you, dear tapestry friend. I’ll briefly tell you what makes a good tapestry yarn and then I’ll tell you which ones are my current favorites and where to get them.
If you’re just starting out, it is helpful to pick one yarn and sett to learn on. I always recommend starting with just one yarn. Learning tapestry is tricky enough without having to learn to manage the way different yarns behave. A teacher can help you with this information but this post should help get you started. Notice as you use that yarn at the sett recommended, what you think about it. How does the yarn serve your design ideas? Does it come in colors you like? Is it easy to work with? I have a few possible combinations at the end of this post, but there are many other possibilities. I also cover this topic in my online course, Warp and Weft: Learning the Structure of Tapestry.
My tapestry, Displaced: Refugee Blanket has been accepted to the Small Tapestry International 6: Beyond the Edge juried show of the American Tapestry Alliance. I wrote about the piece HERE.
I have so appreciated all the kind words about the work I’ve received thus far. It is a difficult subject. It is never easy to face our humanity and the ways that we are culpable in the displacement of people around the globe.
I’ve had an interesting question crop up repeatedly and I wanted to talk about it. Many people have asked me if they can see the “whole” tapestry. They mean that they would like to see the work unfolded and they want to know if the juror saw it unfolded when she made her decision.
Valentines Day. An easy day to latch onto the idea of weaving tiny things, maybe even a heart. Whether or not you embrace a day which often just seems like a Hallmark holiday designed to get us to buy chocolate, wine, and flowers (admittedly I love all those things), it is a very good day to remember to love the people around you. Be kind to each other!