I've spent much of the last week in my dye studio. I will likely spend another couple weeks there. I do love the dyeing and putting together colors for a new project is a whole lot of fun. And global warming has hit Colorado and it isn't even that cold for January. This particular tapestry will need about 25 pounds of yarn, but since there are so many colors and I hate running out, I always make enough extra that I won't. I suspect in the end I'll have dyed about 50 pounds. I don't like games of yarn chicken and the extra yarn is always welcome in the tapestry classes I teach or for my next piece.
If you're newer to weaving, you may not realize that not all yarns are made equal. In fact, there is so much variety in yarns it is rather hard to qualify what are the best combination of characteristics. And it can be even harder to purchase yarn that has those characteristics. Throw in the need for a large color choice for tapestry weaving, and the options do narrow somewhat.
I live in the USA, so I mostly talk about yarns that are easily available here with one favorite exception from the UK.
So what does make a good tapestry yarn?
Growing up, I thought yarn was just yarn. I was perfectly happy with a big skein of Red Heart and my crochet hook. Then I learned more about yarn and dyeing and I became a little snobbier. I do apologize for that. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Red Heart yarn and a crochet hook. But I maintain that if possible, there are better yarns for tapestry weaving.
Knitting has been very popular over the last decade and yarns made for knitting are everywhere. There are so many indie dyers out there creating incredible yarns that it is hard to resist them when it comes to choosing yarns for tapestry.
But resist you probably should.
I think any practice that gets you in the habit of creating is a good one. Only you can answer the question if doing a daily tapestry diary is the thing for you, but it is one way to get yourself going to your loom every day of the year. (Or make your own rules! Maybe you weave one bit every Sunday morning or once a month.)
I think the quesiton to ask yourself is do you have a practice of creating regularly right now? If you do, then another thing to do might not be the answer for you. But if you have difficulty making time to create on a regular basis, then making some rules for yourself around it might be helpful. A tapestry diary is one way to do that.
Before we know it, another year is upon us. It seems like just a breath ago it was the beginning of 2017. Last year was a difficult one for many people. But I think we can say that about the start of any year. I am beginning this new year with a short list of intentions. I have a general list that I always think about and a more specific action-oriented one. Here they are.
A way of being
- Be patient
- Take time
- Love each other
- Spread joy wherever possible
I decided that I'd start the year with some of the most important things: my family and making art. Today was the day to dive back into the big commission. It had to be redesigned this fall and the new iteration is better than the original. The piece is a little smaller, but still big enough to make me wonder, how long WILL this take me to weave? It will be 9 by 9 feet woven in three panels which will hang next to each other.
I am a continual optimist, but sometimes that gets me into trouble. I tend to underestimate how long things will take me to complete and thus often cause myself a lot of stress with deadlines that can't be met. I dropped all pretense of deadlines on this piece when we decided to do a redesign. Once it is on the loom I'll time myself consistently for a month and at the end I should be able to make a fairly accurate prediction of when I can have the piece finished... if I actually factor in the other things on my calendar of course. This is clearly not a fool-proof plan.
So today is January 1st and it was a great time to pull out the yarn samples that were dyed last summer and figure out the next steps in the dye process. I lined up the gradation the client and I agreed on and realized I needed some additions. I prepped the sample skeins and then started looking at the part of the design for which I haven't dyed samples yet.