Thursday, December 31, 2015

Documented works

My Weaver's Record Sheet

Do you regularly record project details?

Think you'll remember the needle size you used to knit that sweater you just finished? What about the project to set aside last week? Or how about that hat you made last year? Doubtful. Highly doubtful.

If you knit or crochet and are part of the Ravelry community, one feature of the site is a customizable project section to record relevant details on projects. 

Your personal project page has spaces for the essentials--yarn used and how much, needle size, pattern source and size, as well as the important text box for notes. There are many other details, most of which are 'nice-to-have's' and helpful to others interested in the item, but these are the most important in my opinion. 

If you're not already taking advantage of this feature, consider using it to record project details. Maybe a New Year's resolution? (If you don't belong, join. It's free.)

Weavers have an online resource at Weavolution, but it's neither as clean nor as easy to use as the "add project" page on Ravelry. I did find a good thread regarding records sheets there. A number of group members recommend record sheets found in popular weaving books and point out that many current weaving software programs include record keeping templates. 

Some guilds have developed and/or adapted record sheets and make them available for download from their website. For example, the Handweavers Guild of Boise Valley (Idaho) has weavingspinningdyeing and braiding records.  They also have developed a weaver's Project Planner in Excel for a project, but it does not include the drawdown or calculations. Use their Weaving RecordWeaving Record Drawdown and Weaving Yarn Calculation for the range of data needed.

For weaving I use a record sheet (above) that suits my personal needs. It's really a combination of the Boise' Guild's Project Planner, standard weaving record sheets and drawdowns and is closer to the weaving record sheet offered by the Williamsburg Spinners & Weavers Guild, accessible here

For spinning, dyeing and braiding, I prefer to make records on 4x6 index cards. I make a master with the relevant information I want to capture and print it on blank cards. Of course, I update the master regularly, but having a master makes it as easy as possible to enter the data as well as to use it later.

Documentation is important

Please oh please document your work. Documented work has value not only to you, but also to others. The New York Guild of Handweavers has an impressive collection of weaving samples. Unfortunately, many are missing documentation. No names. No weave structure. No threading or treadling guides. They aren't much good as a resource....yet. The Guild has begun a study group to identify the patterns. It is a huge task.

Whether you download a form, make your own template, or keep a spiral notebook doesn't matter. The thing that matters isn't the method. It's the documentation. And, oh yes! Be sure to photograph your work and attach it to the document. It's your body of work. It is important.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Antique textiles reborn

Surrounded by antique woven and embroidered treasures

Antique textiles as home decor
By now you know that I love beautiful textiles. But the love sometimes surpasses practicality and/or timeliness.

Such is the case of three discarded beauties. The textiles were remarkable but sadly they had outlived their intended uses.

One, which I bought at an auction, was red and a very large square paisley shawl  woven of fine silk and wool, ca. 1860. Its plain weave red center, visible on the top center pillow, was bordered with intricately woven designs on all four sides. 
Kashmir wool embroidery, detail

The second called to me at a yard sale. The large Kashmir wool chain stitch embroidery wall hanging had been badly damaged at its midpoint where it had clearly been folded for a long period of time. (A sad reminder never to fold valuable textiles--Roll them up!) I estimate that it was made in the late first to mid-second quarter of the 20th century.

The third textile consisted of two rectangular sections of a wool paisley shawl. I don't remember where I got them, but they're circa late 19th to very early 20th century. The pieces were in good condition and showed the original shawl's solid black center as well as its lovely deep, rich red and dark green intricately woven border design. They were undamaged but only 12 inches wide.

Despite the damaged areas on the red shawl and the Kashmir embroidery, there were plenty of areas in good condition. The colors were vibrant and designs exquisite. Beautiful textiles to live with and enjoy. I could envision them as pillows. 

Textiles transformed

Pillows from two ladies' paisley shawls
Unfortunately, as often happens, my mind provides more ideas and warps time to cause me to think I can achieve more than humanly possible. I tend to live in this state.

So, after a life change early in 2015,  followed by a studio clean-up and -out, a major goal was to finish neglected projects. The three textiles were at the top of the list. They occupied valuable space. I needed them finished and out the door! 

Easier said than done, of course. 

Then I got a deadline. (Yes, yes. I'm very deadline-driven.) K. had a booth at a local craft fair and offered to share it with me. This gave me a date to finish them.

I loved the textiles when the only thing to love was the intricate and beautiful work--and I love them even more as beautiful pillows. But I can't possibly use all the pillows I have, so, yes, they're for sale. Time and place yet to come.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Wrapped in luxury

Wear a fur as if it is cloth, and cloth as if it were fur.

Paisley shawl, detail. ca. 1860.
It's an old saying that I have always loved as it speaks to how a woman wears a coat. She wears the coat. The coat does not wear her. 

I have no opposition to fur coats, but I've never wanted one. Perhaps if I lived in a very cold climate, I'd feel differently. But I don't.

This gives me far more latitude (If I had a fur coat, I'd feel obliged to wear it at every opportunity) and allows me the luxury of wearing my personal treasures more often. 

To me, there is little more satisfying than wearing a spectacularly beautiful textile. I appreciate hand crafted textiles, like the poncho from the women's co-op in Inga Pirca, Ecuador where they raise and shear the sheep, spin the wool, weave the fabric and make the garment. Also from Cuenca, Ecuador, I have an irate poncho. There is a beautiful embroidered jacket from Guatemala and a scarf from Japan dyed with cherry blossoms, to name but a few. They are my treasures.

Paisley shawl, ca. 1860.

A spectacular paisley shawl

One particular treasure is my antique paisley shawl. While living in London, I had deeply admired the antique paisley shawls in markets and developed a real love of them in their many forms. Small and large squares and rectangles. I loved them all. But I never bought one. They were very dear.

After returning to the States, we saw a particularly beautiful and pristine shawl at an antique fair. Secretly M. purchased the shawl and gave it to me for Christmas. He also crafted a lovely cedar box in which to store it.

My wool shawl is large--72 inches square--and woven of very fine wool. Sometimes I wonder whether it was purchased here in the U.S. or brought in a trunk. Where was it worn? and what could she tell me? These--and other  stories--are all unseen yet woven into the shawl.

I absolutely love my shawl and wear it whenever the occasion and the weather permits. And when I wear it, I feel special. And why shouldn't I? I'm wrapped in luxury. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Sights and sounds

Where textiles were hiding in plain sight

Puchari. Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Collection
I didn't expect to find textiles on the walls at the Curtis Institute of Music, but there they were. Beautiful. And I hadn't even noticed them when entering the recital hall.

A fit of coughing caused me to miss the last performer and the encore of the  Opera Philadelphia recital, but the near empty reception area gave me space to notice the pulcharis. First one. Then more!

The large rectangular wall hangings are from the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Collection. Embroidered in rich, vibrant colors the pulcharis are unique to the Punjab and worked in a technique also known as pulchari, or flowering work. The stitched designs represent good fortune, health and happiness, according to the information signage accompanying the works.

Worked from the back in brightly dyed, untwisted silk floss, pulcharis feature floral and geometric patterns and were made during the 19th century and well into the 20th by Punjabi women of all backgrounds and religions. 

According to information posted with the pulcharis, they were commonly worn as head coverings by the women for special rituals and events. (The Minneapolis Museum of Art has a particularly beautiful 19th century pulchari veil made of camel hair and gold thread.) Also, some pulcharis were made to celebrate a special occasion, such as a marriage or a birth. And others were made for temple offerings or ritual wall hangings or canopies.

In the Punjab, women began stitching for a woman's trousseau--for a girl--or as a gift to the groom's parents for a boy. Folk songs and stories record that dreams and desires of the woman were stitched into the pulcharis, which may account for subtle changes in the work throughout the time it was being crafted.

It was a treat to stumble upon this group of generously shared pulcharis. And it was a reminder for vigilance. Beauty surrounds us, if only we take the time to look.
Puchari. Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Collection

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Book review: How to spin

Want to learn to spin but don't know where to start?

The soon to be released, How to Spin. From Choosing a Spinning Wheel to Making Yarn, by Beth Smith, would provide a good starting point. Story Publishing has positioned this book as a Storey BASICS Title and a basic inexpensive guide is exactly what it is. 

As a mostly self-taught spinner, I considered this book as I might have many years ago when I was a "wanna-be spinner" and then again, as an experienced spinner. 

There is a wealth of information in this well-organized book for beginners and spinners like me who didn't necessarily get all the fine points related to the craft. I found it a quick read from beginning to end and appreciated some new-found tips.

I particularly liked her chapter on finishing techniques as I think too many books focus on making the yarn and not enough on taking it to the final step of making it into a usable skein of yarn. 

There are excellent illustrations and step-by-step diagrams in the book, but the problem with learning a technique like spinning is that there is no substitute for watching someone spin. Recognizing that a book isn't the medium for this, the author points readers to YouTube videos for some techniques, especially those difficult explain. Hopefully, those videos will remain in place through the life of the book.

How to Spin. From Choosing a Spinning Wheel to Making Yarn, by Beth Smith, is a Storey BASICS Title from Story Publishing. The paperback edition is scheduled to be published March 8, 2016 for $9.95.

Monday, November 23, 2015

A treasure trove

Adela Akers, The Grid, 2008
How have I overlooked Philadelphia Art Alliance?

Maybe because the city is so rich in art and culture? Although true, that's too easy an excuse. I've walked and driven by the historic house on Rittenhouse Square many times, but never entered the historic building, which means I've overlooked its treasures for years. 

No more.

The center for contemporary craft and design, the Philadelphia Art Alliance (PAA) is celebrating its centenary this year. 

For me it's year one.

PAA mounts about a dozen new exhibitions each year and hosts a range of other related cultural events. We took advantage of a curated gallery talk for the current exhibition, Material Legacy: Masters of Fiber, Clay and Glass that honors five Fellows of the American Craft Council. 

Lewis Knauss. First Snow, 2004.
Not surprisingly, I was particularly interested in the fiber artists. 

Works by Adela Akersa Spanish-born textile artist whose career spans the history of modern fiber art. Her work is geometric. In this exhibit, I was most interested not only in the works themselves, but in how they were made. Composed of narrow strips of woven linen that are sewn together and embellished with metal foil, horsehair and/or paint, the whole is greater than the parts. And they are striking. 

Works by Philadelphia fiber artist Lewis Knauss, which are in the upstairs gallery, might best be described most simply as wall hangings composed of natural fibers. But simple they are not. 

Knotting is an important element in many of Knauss' works. Lots of knots. My favorite piece of Knauss' was First Snow, is worked with linen, hemp, paint and fluffy white feathers.  

Warren Seelig. Red Funnel, 2015.
The third fiber artist is Warren Seelig, who is described as an artist working in fiber/architecture. The curator noted that he is a third generation weaver, but I confess that I had trouble connecting weaving to his most of work on display. The installation composed of red monofilament came closest. 

But Seelig's work in architecture? Absolutely. Especially in his "Shadowfields" series in the exhibition. We were particularly taken with Shadowfields/Colored Light, a large work that featured stainless steel and fluorescent plexiglas shapes. Part of the Reading (Pa.) Public Museum Collection, the effect of light and shadows is mesmerizing. Where do the actual shapes end and the shadows begin? It drew us in.

We loved the exhibition, but it ends Nov. 29. If possible, get there. It's worth it.

Warren Seelig. Shadowfield/Colored Light, 2007.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Fashion, craft and fiber art

Fashions may change, but exquisite craftsmanship endures

Detail, Coral-encrusted evening gown. Givenchy. c.1964.
The current exhibition, Immortal Beauty, at Drexel University in Philadelphia exceeded all expectations. For one, I had no idea Drexel had such depth in textiles and fashion. Its collection documents more than 400 years of costume history and holds more than 14,000 garments and accessories.

From Parisian couture of the late 19th and early 20th centuries through to high fashion from the mid-20th century on, the collection is a serious resource for study. Suggested more than 100 years ago by the then Director of the School of Illustration Howard Pyle, a collection of fashionable dress and accessories would support study by Drexel's dressmaking and millinery students.

The exhibit is only a taste of Drexel's large collection, but it is a sweet one. 
Melanie Pascal
dinner dress, c. 1878.

Beginning with 19th century fabrics and garments (and one 16th C textile fragment), the exhibit travels in time into the early 21st century. Garments are complemented by accessories--hats, shoes, handbags and a spectacular parasol--and represent designs by leading designers of their day. The big names are there--Charles Frederick Worth, Mariano Fortuny, Givenchy, Salvatore Ferragamo, Christian Dior, 'Coco' Chanel, Mary Quant, Halston--and many more.

I loved the lacework on the Melanie Pascal dinner dress. Its not likely to find such rich lace these days, but the lines suggest other textural applications in knitting or weaving.

Givenchy evening gown.

But the star of the show is an evening gown richly encrusted with coral branches and embroidery. Donated by Her Serene Highness Princess Grace of Monaco, who is known to have worn the dress at least three times. The descriptive video near the end of the exhibit includes footage of her in the gown. The gown, which weighs 15 pounds, is stunning, to say the least. 

I also loved the the evening gown, c. 1926, by Callot Sours. Even on a mannequin, the dress seems likely to shimmy off its mannequin. And perhaps the original owner had a mesh purse, c.1928 like the one made by Whiting & Davis on display. (Both below) Spectacular.

Whiting & Davis mesh purse,
The exhibit is free and open through December 12. If you like and are inspired by costume and fashion, try to fit it into your schedule. 
Callot Soeurs evening gown,

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Two bags full

Carding the brown fleece

What to do with mystery fleeces?

They were left over from a fleece sale in Ohio. No one claimed them and neither had any  identification except for a tag on the brown fleece labeling it 'MED.'

Hand spinners are avid shoppers and will happily spend good money on fleeces but....only when they are 1) well-skirted, 2) clean and 3) labeled by breed. One was well-skirted and clean. The other was a mess.

I started with the brown fleece--the well-skirted, clean one. The shepherd had priced the eight pound bag of medium wool at $88.
Unknown 'white' fleece fibers

I laid it out on the table and was rather dismayed to find that it didn't unroll in one piece like a well-prepared fleece does. It was in chunks, which made for an interesting jigsaw fleece puzzle. 

Next up, the white fleece. The fiber is lovely, with a long staple and fine crimp, but shame on the shepherd. It was a mess from beginning to end. Not only had it not been skirted, it was filthy. The  back end of the sheep was in the middle, which served to spread the fecal material liberally throughout the fleece. And the parts lacking black bits were heavily contaminated with vegetation. 

Only because the wool looked nice, I picked through it and  discarded about half. I ended up with two small  piles, each less than two pounds. One I labeled No. 1 as the best of the lot. The No. 2 might be usable if I can get rid of a lot of the vegetable matter.

I carded a bit of each to see how they would spin and for their felting capabilities. I spun both in the grease and both fleeces passed the tests. So neither graces the garden yet.

Scouring a filthy fleece

The lanolin-laden wash water 
My favorite fleece expert at Winter's Past Farm suggested that I might be able to clean up the more contaminated parts of the filthy white fleece with some heavy duty scouring. I did some research, specifically in The Alden Amos Big Book of Handspinning," which is a wealth of information on all things pertaining to spinning. Then I got started

Scoured fleece
I filled my roaster with 120 ℉ water and added Tide detergent and Dawn dish soap. I then added about 3/4 lb. of fleece and gently moved it back and forth. After 10 to 15 minutes, I removed it, drained the excess water and then rinsed...and rinsed...and rinsed it. 

After gently squeezing out as much water as possible, I put the fleece to dry on an upside down plastic grid storage cube.

I haven't mentioned the lanolin. I have referred to the fleece as white, but it was so laden with lanolin that it looked yellow. One hot water and detergent bath wasn't enough to get rid of all the lanolin by a long shot, but the results are significant.

The fleece is so much improved that I plan to scour the No.1 fleece sections, as well. 

I haven't decided what I'm going to do with these mystery fleeces, but when I decide, you'll be among the first to know.

Any suggestions?

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Nothing beats a fiber guild

Scarves, swatches, and education
Weaving sample and documentation

Since becoming aware of the group at last year's Vogue Knitting Live, I wanted to go to a New York Guild of Handwearvers (NYGH) meeting. Their programs looked impressive. I put their meetings on my must-do list. 

Setting time aside and carrying through is always the challenge. The Guild meets on Saturdays at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, which is very near where I once worked. No excuses on that front. I just needed to block out the day and go. The Pope's visit, with accompanying regional road and transit disruptions, foiled plans in September, but I was determined to go to the October meeting. And I did.

For one, NYGH gets high marks for their 75th anniversary celebration. They set a goal to weave 75 scarves for distribution to the homeless in New York City through Partnership for the Homeless. About a dozen--all different and all lovely--were on display at the their monthly meeting in October. I only regret that I didn't take a photo of a selection when I had the opportunity, which was before I knew what I was seeing.

Organize and learn

The NYGH Swatch Project is a group project that achieves two goals. Structured as a collaborative study group, members will organize the Guild's large collection of swatches. In October, they began to identify, catalog and organize them into notebooks that can be used as resources for guild members. Some of the swatches have been well documented, but many stand alone. No identification, no threading or treadling diagrams. Just a woven square. This is an excellent learning experience for weavers at all levels of expertise.

Daryl Lancaster wearing
her handwoven garment

Document and photograph

Well known among contemporary handweavers for her handwoven garments and custom art-to-wear, Daryl Lancasterweaver and fiber artist, brings her industry expertise to weavers and other fiber enthusiasts through her published articles and workshops.

Her presentation to the NYGH, Photographing Your Work, is self-explanatory and included photographing fiber work for documentation, for the web and for submission to publications. 

Her presentation aimed to help us help ourselves. Beginning with camera basics--aperture, settings, resolution, etc.--she moved quickly to the less-frequently discussed challenges of photographing fiber works. 

Documentation is a must. "To make something and have no record of it is a shame," she said. No model and just need a photo for documentation or blogs? Selfies can work, as can dress forms. (I've tried both with moderate-to-little success, but I'm going to try these options again with her suggestions.)

Discussing the importance of photos to accompany articles submitted to publications, she reports utter dismay at the quality that came across her desk when she was a magazine editor. "There is something about the fiber community that consistently provides terrible images," she said.

I particularly appreciated her tips for submitting photographs of work to publications and her discussion of image editing software. I confess a love/hate relationship with programs such as Adobe Photoshop. I love the potential, but often feel daunted at the array of powerful editing tools. But after this presentation, I'm ready to step up and master the few basic tools needed to improve my photos, both here and as documentation.

(Missed Daryl Lancaster's presentation? You can purchase her monograph here.)

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Sharing the fiber fun

"Emilia" necklace

Braiding and felting marked the week

Making something out of fiber is self-satisfying, but nothing is more rewarding than sharing knowledge and skills. This was a bonanza week.

A kumihimo workshop at Woolbearers in Mt. Holly, NJ. kicked off the week. I was particularly delighted that everyone could work on marudais. Disks may be fine to try out braiding, but if beautiful braids are the goal, a marudai is a basic tool. 

Traditional braids, contemporary uses

For those of us compelled to manipulate threads, the craft of kumihimo, aka Japanese braiding, provides a versatile tool in the artisan's arsenal. Although its resulting braids may be best known related to Japanese warfare and kimonos, their uses are highly versatile, limited only to the imagination. An added plus is the size of the marudais, which take little space, making them an ideal tool for apartment dwellers. 

Marsha Atkinson at her marudai
Chris Jochem, focusing
on hand placement
And threads! Again, limited only by imagination. Although silk is the traditional thread for kumihimo, all types and sizes of threads and yarn are suitable. If it can be wound onto a bobbin, it can be used to make a braid. 

This kumihimo workshop focused on making a basic eight-bobbin braid as a basis for "Emilia" necklace using DMC No. 8 cotton.

Susie VanEmburgh with her
needle-felted ornament

Needle felting 101

A couple days later, it was on to needle-felting. A friend wanted to learn to needle felt and although I had advised her that she really didn't need someone to teach her, she thought she did. I happily agreed to help her get started.

A starter needle felting kit from Winter's Past Farm provided the basic tools and a colorful selection of wool. She wanted to make a Christmas tree ornament. And just look at the candy cane she finished.

And not only that, I had a grand time catching up with her and her family and just generally having a good, old-fashioned gab session.

Idea reservoirs

Days and workshops like this provide far more than learning skills. They serve as a forum for the creative interchange of ideas. And these afternoons had the creative juices flowing...What if? How about? Did you know?

It was a fun week for sharing projects and ideas with like-minded people. May there be many more.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Mongolian threads

Traditional Mongolian deel

Historical textiles and traditional dress

Genghis Khan.The name alone invokes warfare and power. From the steppes of Mongolia, so it is said, hordes of Mongols swept south and west to conquer. And conquer most of Eurasia, they did. 

An exhibit, Genghis Khan: Bring the Legend to Life, currently at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia tells the tale and includes some rather incredible artifacts, almost all of which are from private collections. It would be of interest to know where. 

Among the many treasures, we were particularly impressed with the sword attributed as a gift from Marco Polo, but since this blog focuses on textiles, I'll stick to the wealth in that realm. 

Textiles are a common thread throughout the exhibit and begins at the entrance where a cut-away gur (or ger) provides a view of traditional Mongolian nomad living quarters. Also known as yurts, these portable tent-like structures consist of a wooden frame with felt cover and sides. Beautiful rugs cover the floor.

Mongolian spinning weights. Drop spindle replica (left).

From spinning to clothing

I find early textile tools intriguing and these jade spinning disks, which formed the weight for drop spindles, are no exception. The white jade disk, which is part of a drop spindle replica, is 2,000 years old. The disk on the right, a mere 7,000 years old.

There are plenty of traditional costumes in the exhibit to appreciate and to inspire. Personally, I have always liked the asymmetry of Asian costume such as the Mongolian deel (above, right). That includes their braid-based loops and buttons. (Kumihimo!) (More information on Mongolian clothing here.)
Mongolian mesh armor

Even the structure of Mongolian armor is appealing. In the fragmented mesh armor, at right, I can see a contemporary knit--a sweater or a jacket.

Although the warrior garments are interesting, I find traditional costumes more interesting for their colors and patterns. The traditional woman's costume (18th to 19th century) was well preserved and provides a wealth of design potential. 

Mongolian woman's traditional costume, purse
18th to 19th c
And that little purse! I know. Little purses like this are readily available in Chinese markets, but small purses from all eras enchant me...I'm fascinated by how they're constructed, what they're made of and how they complement the costume. This little gem satisfies all criteria.

Mongolian woman's traditional costume.
18th to 19th c

In the same week, we visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art's special exhibit, China: Through the Looking Glass. The two exhibits were bookends. One, the traditional. The other, the influence. 

I've chosen to share the Genghis Khan exhibit now as it's still at The Franklin Institute (Philadelphia). Go, if you can.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Fiber festivals and markets

Gleaning data from preferences and purchases.

Winter's Past Farm at Kings County Fiber Festival
From writing a business plan to developing and offering products and services, small business face the same hurdles as large corporations. Where are the opportunities? Who are the potential customers and what do they need and/or want? Bottom line: What will sell?

Large companies spend a great deal of time and money identifying their market as it is key to strategy and to profitability. Small business owners need the same information, but gathering it is a slower and less structured process. No outsourcing, no big data to crunch. 

Pricing is important, but understanding potential buyers comes first. Who are they? What interests them? What will appeal to them? And perhaps most importantly, where are the opportunities? 

Two fiber festivals. Two markets.

Among others, Winter's Past Farm is a regular exhibitor at Garden State Sheep and Fiber Festival, a weekend event in mid-Jersey, and Kings County Fiber Festival, a Saturday event on Columbus Day weekend in Brooklyn. I'm focusing on these two here.

Although only about 50 miles apart the two festivals are very different. 

Garden State Sheep & Fiber Festival 
Type of festival: Hosted by Garden State Sheepbreeders, the event features a two-day sheep and fiber livestock show. A community event that also draws serious fiber folks from an estimated 40 mile range in central New Jersey. 
Date: Second weekend in September.
Location: Set amidst farmlands in a county agricultural fairground's dim and dusty barns
Weather: The 2014 weekend was brutally hot vs. this year, which was beautiful. The crowd seemed smaller this year, but once tallied, sales figures were the same year over year.

Kings County Fiber Festval
Type of festival: Street festival. Lots of families, but far fewer serious fiber folks. 
Date: Saturday of Columbus Day weekend.
Location: Park Slope, Brooklyn, New York
Weather: Comparing year over year, we noted that about half the 2014 vendors bailed out due to heavy rain. However, once the rain cleared, there was a flood of customers and business was brisk. This year, it was a spectacular fall day and all vendors showed up. It certainly seemed that there were fewer customers. Did more people travel over the beautiful long weekend?

As we pondered differences, we also noted different purchasing preferences, both year over year and between the two festivals. For me, the most dramatic difference was the preference between two knit accessories.

I had taken two recently released patterns--The Peacock's Gift, a singular shawl in striking royal blue (below, left), and Jersey Waterways, a versatile cowl in a lightly variegated gray (below, right). 
Jersey Waterways*
The Peacock's Gift*

At Garden State, the Peacock's Gift was the clear attention-getter and the sole source of pattern revenue. There was little interest in Jersey Waterways.

In Brooklyn, preferences were exactly opposite. Interest was almost solely on the Jersey Waterways. I sold out of the printed patterns! (Both are available on Ravelry.

Was it color? The weather--surely a factor but how important? And what about the demographics? I'll probably never know the answers--and there is nothing to suggest that things won't change next year. But I'm reassured that knitters like what I'm doing, so I'll just keep designing what I like--and listening and watching for reactions. 

*Model: Lauren Valletutti. Photographer: Maurice Marietti

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Camp gamps

63 twill variations for weaving ideas and inspiration

Twill gamp #1
Seven weavers each brought a portable loom. Each was threaded with three different twill patterns separated by two threads of a contrasting thread. Those are the vertical lines in the photos. 

As mentioned in my last post, each weaver wove three different treadling sequences, weaving two picks of a third contrasting color to separate one patterns before moving to the next.  sequence. Those are the horizontal lines in the photos.

Two days. Seven samples. Nine patterns on each gamp. Sixty three variations on twill.
Twill gamp #2
Twill gamp #3 (Incomplete sample)

Twill gamp #6

Lessons learned

In the workshop, each weaver tagged her gamp, which brings me to a cautionary tale. If you use white tags to identify designs and patterns, make sure they can survive your finishing method. Tags that disintegrate in water are a big problem for fabrics that need wet finish and/or blocking. 

Twill gamp #7
These gamps weren't woven for beauty. Time was tight and weaving, as quickly as possible. That meant that selvages weren't as tidy as they would be in a finished piece and minor mistakes were ignored. That extra white line in twill gamp #6? I lost my place in the treadling order and rather than undo the picks, I marked the point of error and kept weaving.

The master plan was that weavers plan to weave on their loom last, so that if time ran out--as it did, they could finish the sample at home. 

The gamps shown here have all been wet finished by hand washing (in Dreft), rinsing and ironing when dry.

Evaluating patterns

Some patterns appeal to me more than others, but I can see at least one design potential in each of the gamps. Some, I've discounted due to floats that would make the fabric unstable. (Note the middle section in Twill gamp #2.)

Twill gamp #6, at left, looked very different after wet finishing. Just off the loom, the squares were distinctly square, but not after finishing. Were I to use any of those twills, I'd  need to make sure I either beat lighter or planned for significant lengthwise shrinkage.

Others I'm disinclined to weave because the results aren't significantly different enough to justify weaving a three-pick color pattern. That was true for twill gamp #3 on which progress was slow and I was running short on time. I ended the pain and moved on.

Now that these are finished, I'll put them in a notebook with their threading and treadling patterns and add another valuable addition to my fiber resource library.

*Extra marks if you noticed that #4 and #5 are missing. Time ran short. Number 5 is on my loom to be woven and shared with the person who didn't get to it and #4's loom owner has promised to weave off an extra gamp when she does hers.