Category Archives: Uncategorized

Copenhagen Day Three (most of it, anyway)

For at least the last week our weather app has said this will be the wettest day, so we declared it Museum Day, just in case the app was right. 

So, after breakfast at the Lagkagehuset on Torvegade in Christianshavn – where we ate yesterday, and they remembered me as the English person with the skulls – we walked to the National Museum of Denmark. And then around the block because it wasn’t open yet. A, poor man, was following me, and I had one goal: Danish Pre-history (which is to say Danish history before anyone wrote it in words). 

I have, therefore, A Lot of pictures. Well over 100, in fact. Here are some of the highlights…

The skeleton of an elk that died in a bog nearly 9000 years ago.Probably not of natural causes: the small bone point was amongst the bones, the harpoon and shafts nearby.

A fragment of fish spear stll bound to its shaft with BAST FIBRES(!! my emphasis), 8000 years ago.

The skull of Porsmose man, bone arrow through his face and another through his sternum. It was striking (ha, not funny) how many weapons were on display in the Prehistory section. Admittedly they survive when other organics might not, but still: imbalance.)

This is so amazing I have trouble finding the words to explain its significance: an ard. The first, the earliest plough. Probably pulled by one human, guided by another. An agricultural revolution before the concept existed.

Crops and domesticated animals: a strainer for making cheese.

And then the main event, at least for me. The tour groups clustered  around Egtved Girland her reconstructed garments

but I looked into the hollows where Skrydstrup Woman‘s eyes should be, and was lost.

There were other graves at Skrydstrup, with textiles, but as I looked at her I felt she could be looking back. Are we answers to her unasked questions?

Then I learned new things about sun symbols,and something I’d never heard about before, the Bronze Age concept of the Journey of the Sun across the sky. Their webpage has the diagram, but not the explanation: the sun travels around and across the flat earth. At sunrise a Fish pulls the sun up over the horizon from the Night Ship to the Morning Ship, and is then eaten by a Bird. At noon the Sun Horse takes the sun from the ship -incidentally the stylised ‘s’ of the sun horse(s) looks exactly like other assumed sun symbols in the iconography of Near East rugs and embroidery! In the afternoon the Sun Horse delivers the sun to the deck of the Afternoon Ship. In the evening the Snake passes the extinguished sun to the night ship.Part of the totally engrossing Journey of the Sun display.

Ninth-century BC blankets found with the body of a woman in a bog in Jutland. Think of the woman, but also note that one blanket appears to be thoroughly fulled.Me leaving noseprints on the glass as I peer at said blankets.

As we walked through pre-history I counted spindle whorls and other mentions of ‘women’s work’. It wasn’t difficult: no discussion of spinning, weaving, cooking. (As opposed to weaponry, battles, injuries.) One Bronze Age spindle whorl (shale) and about 5 Viking age (pottery). Ninth-century AD gravegoods from women’s graves in Jutland, including tortoise (shaped like) brooches and spindle whorls.

Finally the display of Viking Age domestic finds from Trelleborg included spindles and loom weights.Huh. No wonder the ‘Viking!’ exhibition at the BM was all about shiny and killing people: it was telling the same story. 

But Skrydstrup Woman has forgotten more than we will ever know.

And then we went to the Glyptotek followed by Groms pizza and wine and ice cream. It’s raining, but tomorrow should be dry.Tomorrow is Roskilde and the Viking Ship Museum.

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Planning another Summer of Blue

I had planned to focus on indigo last summer, but in the event various other things intervened – although I did accomplish more than I posted. I must show you my shoes!

I’m making tentative plans for more blue this summer.

greenhse

I had hoped that the tadeai, the Japanese Indigo Polygonum tinctorium, would survive the mild winter in its house but even though I added fleece and bubblewrap when the nights dropped to -4C, there’s no life in the stems. It may be an obligate annual, or it may simply have flowered itself to death late last autumn without setting any seed, alas.

I admired the few remaining dead leaves somewhat wistfully: look, they’re blue!

DeadindigoGrense

And then cut most of the stems off. I’ve left a few root masses with stubs of stem for the moment, but there was no green in the pith and the roots I pulled up looked brown and dead, so I doubt anything will shoot. But I sowed seed as well; the seed tray is now sitting indoors in the warmth where I am already watching it hopefully.

I took cuttings  – lengths of stems with leaves – from the plants last October when we returned from our holiday and put them in a jar of water. As might be expected from a Polygonum the cuttings formed masses of roots from the submerged leaf nodes, but the rest of the nodes sent out flower shoots.  I pinched them out and more appeared. The cuttings were extremely well-rooted and looked reasonably healthy in late January when I potted them, but just continued to try to flower until they died, leaves slowly shrivelling. A friend who rooted cuttings in August says two are still alive and seem well, so I wonder whether the trick is to catch them before environmental cues set the growth points to ‘flower’ mode. I will try to test that this summer, as cuttings would be the best way to maintain a line that dyes well.

The woad looked reasonably happy. As a biennial this is its year to flower and seed, with leaves that yield little or no blue. I left the plants last year thinking to gather the seed – these were grown from seed I harvested two years ago – but there isn’t really enough space in our tiny garden to keep plants for seed especially when they attract so many Cabbage White butterflies to lay eggs on my salad rocket! The woad is no longer happy: it is composting and I’ll sow more in the Brassica Bed shortly.

Woad

All this plus ‘standard’ indigo vats means there should be more blue this summer. But what shall I do with it? I’m designing stencils to print with fresh indigo leaves, because that was immense fun. But there’s much more fun to be had: a friend sent me two fascinating books.

dyeing

dyeing1

This is the work of Mrs Akiyama, who made a personal study of the natural dye plants of Awa in Tokushima Prefecture, Japan. Awa is famed for its Polygonum tinctorium indigo dyes; there are pages detailing dyeing with fresh and dried indigo (if I’d had more dead leaves I could have dyed with them!) as well as many other plants. And there are notes on working with bast fibres, as well as information on finishing yarns and fabrics after dyeing.

dyeing2

The other book tells me what to do with what I’ve dyed:

Ikat

No more peering at fuzzy videos on YouTube! With luck this will be a summer to remember.

To finish, a reminder of last summer.

shoes

Super-cheap runners, sold as ‘cotton’ (I have my doubts, see below). I washed them thoroughly with dishwashing liquid and rinsed them thoroughly too, then dumped them into a standard thiox indigo vat on the stove.^1 No matter how many times I dipped them, the uppers would not go darker than this; given the depth of blue in the soles. I wonder whether the fabric is in fact polycotton.

The first dyeing attempt was extremely patchy when it dried. Blotches of pale fabric near the heels, more blotches on the toes. I left them outside in the weather for a week or two to think about their sins while I sulked. Then I needed to exhaust the vat, so I reheated it, added reducing agent, and chucked them back (dry, I think), out of curiosity rather than any expectation of success. Imagine my surprise when, after two or three dips, they emerged a relatively solid and respectable pale blue. After washing thoroughly and drying, I considered decoration: stencilling with fresh tadeai was the obvious answer. I cut an assortment of crude paisley stencils and discovered that stencilling on curved surfaces is rather tricky. But the end result is a pleasing variety of blues produced by a variety of indigo techniques, especially when embellished with tablet-woven laces.

It’s a great shame that the shoes are so uncomfortable :-/

^1: A caution. If you try this, be prepared to spend ages scouring melted runner-sole off the sides of the pot. A hint: reheating the pot gently softens the stuff a bit, but it still requires a lot of effort.

 

COTTON! (and more)

We’ve had such a good day in and around Natchez and Vidalia. We came for Frogmore Plantation and cotton, but we also saw rice, an armadillo not in a zoo (ok, it was dead on the roadside, but still not in a zoo), mounds created by native peoples of the Mississippi Valley, giant poison ivy, lots of kudzu … such fun. And it was my turn to drive, too.

We began the day at Frogmore, which offers a wonderful tour of an old plantation, reconstructed from original buildings donated by other plantations.  

The tour started in the 1880s steam-powered cotton gin, where hand-picked cotton was processed to separate the seeds and fibre.      

From there we walked to the edge of the cotton field(!) and I picked cotton for the first time. (It’s an Egyptian long-staple, by the way.)

 
The cotton is sprayed with a defoliant (I think we’d call it a dessicant in the UK) to kill the leaves, which otherwise may stain the cotton during harvest; the modern stainless steel screws that harvest the cotton are less selective than human hands. The edge of the field near the museum was not sprayed and some of the plants are still flowering even though the harvest has begun.


 We walked through the slaves’ quarters, including the wash house, which displayed a cotton wheel – basically a small great wheel – cotton cards, a loom and  quilting equipment and samples. The wheel had all its bits but was fragile and not set up correctly.     

Look at the wear on the treadles, the hand-smoothed polish on the wheel. 

There’s a small lecture room with more information about cotton.

  
The Café du Monde cooks its beignets in cottonseed oil.

We then drove about a mile east to visit the modern gin, the only on in Louisiana. Perfect timing: they began processing the harvest early this morning. Already bales from other growers are waiting in the field; they’re ginned here, then the clean bales are sent to await buyers in the warehouse in Concordia.   

 

In a process reminiscent of that I saw at the BWMB Bradford depot, the bales are opened, the cotton pulled off and sucked into the ducts that supply three immense computerised gins.

 
A waterfall of cotton cascades into a trough  at the front of the machine while a hail of seeds is visible below it. The Tanners, who own the gin, do not charge money for processing cotton: they keep the seeds and the value of the seeds pays for it.

 

A stream of cotton flows down to the baler, which compacts the cotton and kicks out a bale.

 

that is tagged and weighed before being trucked down the road to Concordia.
Replete with information, we set off into the farmland north of Frogmore, where we saw the armadillo, rice, cotton, bayous, more cotton before returning to Natchez to visit the Grand Village of the Natchez. The mounds are peaceful in this last week before the school tours start, and we walked the nature trail (giant poison ivy with stems as thick as my wrist, river cane, horsetail 6′ tall, pecan trees…) before returning to the museum where I bought a small but very beautiful woven river cane basket. 

But the cotton is the prize.

 

P.S. A. says I should clarify the New Orleans cockroach situation: the things on the sidewalk ARE cockroaches, but they’re probably the wild ones known as palmetto bugs that live free in the greenery while their relatives live indoors.

This Friday is for fixed. And for making!

I finished repairing my tabi earlier in the week, and immediately bought a pair of flip-flops to protect the repaired surfaces, because I think they’re beautiful.

FinishedTabiRepair

I might even Pin(terest) my own work.

FinishedTabiRepair1

FinishedTabiRepair2

The spiralling stitches were much faster to work than the blocks, but that might have been because I wasn’t fiddling about deep inside the sock.

Having repaired them, it was time to think about making my own from the pattern and instructions in John Marshall’s book. More bits of my husband’s old trousers, plus some light white cotton sheeting for lining and heavier white cotton, almost canvas, for the outer soles.

NewTabiPieces

I found kohaze (the fasteners I need) on Etsy(!) and have ordered enough for two pairs of tabi. I’ve been Pinning images of tabi, paying special attention to those with sashiko stitched reinforcement or repair. I will embellish this pair, but have to decide whether the stitching should be done before assembly (far easier) or after (the stitching could be used to add shape to the structure). Decisions, decisions, but I don’t have to decide now. First I have to make muslins, as it were, testing the fit. I’ve cut the external fabric larger than the pattern piece, adding allowances to adjust for a high or low arch. I’ll start by basting to the line of the original pattern, and work from there.

I’ve discovered that this sort of hand-sewing is as safely executed as mindless spinning in the evenings while watching TV (unlike knitting the Orenburg lace scarf, which requires my full attention at all times). So I have another tiny project: to replace the little earbud pouch that A. finds invaluable for storing his keys in his pocket.

A.Keypouch

It has a sort of flex frame opening: there are two thin strips of metal either side of the opening. Or were; one cut through its pocket and was lost, and the fake leather fabric is disintegrating. Real flex frames have hinges and are supplied with one closed and a pin for the maker to close the other. I’ve made a prototype, adding darts to create more space for the keys. Only minor adjustments are needed – it’s a little too deep, and might benefit from fractionally greater width (longer darts) so I will test the next version in leather. I have leather needles, I have linen thread, I have beeswax. Maybe tonight.

Also, it occurs to me I could mention my previous Blogger blog at

http://cinereous.blogspot.co.uk

A project for the Cotswold.

The ‘wrong fibre, wrong place’ Cotswold now has ambitions, or more accurately I have an ambitious goal for it. I was whining on Ravelry about lack of desire/inspiration for the 2013 Rampton Project of a Fun and Frivolous Hat when …

(insert wavy lines and flying calendar pages here). 

Some weeks previously Sara Lamb had recommended books by Sheila Paine as of use to someone else; I thought they sounded interesting and worked my way through the travel trilogy (begins with The Afghan Amulet) and then acquired Embroidery from Afghanistan. So naturally I began a search for hatty inspiration by looking for various hats from Afghanistan online. Google images promptly gave me this link, which I posted to Ravelry because one shares the good stuff, right? To cut a long story short, Sara suggested I make a similar hat from fulled handwoven handspun. Good plan, I said, or words to that effect, despite knowing next-to-nothing about how such a thing would be made. An expedition to a local purveyor of New Age crystals and ethnic jewellery proved unexpectedly rewarding: it’s a real one. Well-worn and faded: that pale orange was once fluorescent, and the pale grey-green was screaming lime. 
Close examination shows the embroidery almost completely conceals a blue woven cloth. I think a couple of layers of that are lined with other fabric, then quilted and embroidered. Most of the embroidery stitches are worked within the quilting.
As always, I am moved when my hands feel the work of someone else’s hands. Work, not art: an item made because the maker or someone she cares for truly needs or wants that thing, or the money that can be made by selling it.  
Although I don’t plan my hat to look much like that hat – it’s a man’s hat, to be worn with a turban wrapped around its sides, and sits foolishly on the top of my head – the women’s hats are so ornate that I can’t imagine wearing one. I am inspired instead by this child’s hat. I doubt mine will look much like that, but it’s a starting point. 
To make anything I need cloth, and to make that I need yarn. 
I had about 450g of the sliver, which yielded 171g of singles spun short forward draw. I’ve put 157m to one side in case I want to submit it as part of my work for the Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Certificate of Achievement in Spinning; that weighs 30g, so the remaining 141g should give me about 740m of warp. But what to use for weft? The combing waste was horrible, full of short cuts and nepps, dirt and dark hairs. I surveyed the stash. Not something precious, not my fine shetlands and other soft wools. And it has to full and/or felt, which ruled out the Dorset Horn and Southdown tops. I was looking thoughtfully at the BFL top when I remembered the Falkland. ‘Falkland’ is the wool clip from the Falkland Islands, originally Corriedale and Romney, now with Polwarth and some merino crosses.  Three minutes with soap and water told me it would full. So I spun a sample from the fold for a more woollen yarn (leave space for the fulled fibres to compact) to roughly the same grist as the warp (it looks thicker in that photo but that’s because it’s woollen). 
I’ve only once made a fulled fabric, and that was a tiny sample spun and woven for Stephenie Gaustad’s ‘Spinning for Historical Reenactment and Museum Replication’ class at SOAR. I needed some idea of what these yarns will do together. How much might the fulled fabric shrink? What sett should I use? I used a straightforward sampling tool, another gift from Sara Lamb. When I say I am fortunate and truly grateful for all that my mentors have given me, I am totally serious. All they ask in return is that I use it: so I do, and I pass the knowledge on.
It’s foamboard covered with graph paper, with pins along the top edge to space the warp. I use the knitting needle at the bottom of the warp as a heddle stick, holding the threads for one pass of the weft for plain weave; I needle-weave the other pass (using a heddle stick and beating with it gives better, denser fabric than needle-weaving alone). It’s faster than you might think. I hemstitched the edges, then hemstitched to isolate 1/3 of the strip to be cut off and kept as a loom-state sample. The other 2/3 I fulled by hand on the kitchen counter this morning.
Although Cotswold will full slightly, the Falklands is much better at it: it’s lost 1cm in width. The strips are oriented in the same way, with that slightly denser band down the same side. I like the fabric, I like it a lot. The overall sett is 34 ends/2″, which is 17 epi. The denser areas have fulled to a tight plain weave; I have to check the loom-state sample/fragment (it’s a very small sample!), but I think that’s nearer 20 epi. If I use size to reduce hairiness and sticking in the warp I think I can achieve that lovely even plain weave fabric on the loom. So this tiny sample has told me a lot: my fibres do what I hoped and I have an approximate sett to make a functional fabric. I might put half the fulled sample through the washing machine to see how much denser it becomes after a normal wash cycle… but then again I may not.
 I don’t know if this fabric will be ideal for the purpose, but I think it will suffice. It’s not so thick and stiff that it will become cardboard when further stiffened by embroidery. It’s soft, but feels hardwearing; I can imagine a winter coat or cloak made of this. It’s fabric of character. I like it. And I’m so proud that I planned it from nothing and I made it real with my own hands.

The wrong fibre in the wrong place at the wrong time

That’s a remarkably vague title, but it’s what unites the two topics of this post. First, some spinning fibre: Cotswold sliver.

It doesn’t look too bad from a distance. Creamy white, reasonably lustrous… feels relatively soft, not harsh. Could be good, but look at it more closely.
There are inconsistencies, curds of shorter, finer fibre. Also, as you can see, sliver is a carded prep, not combed; the fibres are not parallel, they’re interlocked. But this is Cotswold… a long wool. What’s going on?
Above are Cotswold locks, unwashed and washed. Below, fibres pulled from the sliver to check staple length (and therefore more parallel, similar to top, than they were in the sliver itself).
Check the staple length: it is long. (With those embedded tufts of finer, shorter wool just waiting to add … character … to the spun yarn.) I did sample it; I can’t find the sample to show you, but spun with a point-of-contact long draw I assure you it seemed to me a relatively nasty yarn, hard to draft  (the long fibres run through both slubs and twist-locked thinner areas, so the slubs cannot be drafted unless the twist-locked areas are freed). Definitely characterful and not in a good way. The wrong fibre (Cotswold) in the wrong place (a carding machine) at the wrong time (when it was carding).

So. What to do? I could bin it, but 500g = £12 plus postage and I just can’t bring myself to throw the money out. But wait! I don’t have to. Gentlemen, we have the technology. We can rebuild him, er, it. With combs.

The fibres are unsorted, so ignore directionality such as butt and tip. Just lash the sliver on, then comb. In general more passes will give better results, assuming you don’t stress, weaken and snap the fibres. In any fibre prep, watch what you’re doing and if you notice more nepps than when you began, Stop! (And next time, stop before the nepps form.) I don’t think this was wonderful fibre to start with; some of the sliver contains a lot of darker hairs and other areas contain dull, short fibres, so I give it only two passes. I have fleeces more deserving of that processing time.

The photo clearly shows that combing has done a good job of separating the long fibres from the short. Diz off the long fibres and:

there is a nest of roughly-combed top. There are still some nepps in it, but I can live with that. Above the top is the combing waste, composed of second cuts plus shorter, finer fibres from the base of the fleece, plus nepps formed from longer fibres broken in the carding process. In the medieval period combing waste was spun woollen to become weft for relatively low-grade cloth that was finished by fulling and perhaps brushing to raise a nap on the surface. I plan to try that with this waste, but if it’s too nasty, I’ll use some other softer, fullable wool. The top will be the warp yarn for this cloth. It’s not too bad. That sheep was not shorn in vain.

Next, another fibre – or rather, fibres – in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Weaving! Janet Phillips showed me a different way to hold the lease sticks for threading, and I thought I’d share it – and my refinement of it – with you. For my first warps I had the lease sticks on lengths of string running from castle to back beam. I found this awkward, so was pleased to hear about Angel Wings, which attach to the Baby Wolf back beam to hold the lease sticks securely in a fixed position. But I found them awkward, too. The cross was a long way behind the heddles. Janet uses string but ties hers much nearer the castle, bringing the cross much nearer the heddles. I couldn’t find a good, quick way to try her tying method on the Baby Wolf, then realised I didn’t need to: two hooks off the kitchen pot rack would do the job. A loop of thick cord is passed between each end of the lease sticks, then hung from the hook. And, even better, the tube work light I bought for my husband sits across the hooks to shed light on the cross while I’m working. It works really, really well.

(The light is not so ferociously bright as it appears in the photo.) You may notice some strangely yellow heddles in that shot; they’re string heddles, tied to correct a stupid mistake: I miscounted the heddles when setting up to thread. I work from right to left, and the Baby Wolf shafts have a fitting in the middle that prevents heddles sliding across from the left side to the right. I could had pulled all 200-odd threads out, added more heddles, then re-threaded, but why would I want to do that? Far faster to cut some lengths of smooth, shiny mercerised cotton, loop it around the bottom of the shaft, tie two knots to define the heddle eye, then knot the ends loosely around the top of the shaft. Magic! The right fibre (cotton) in the right place (my thrums bag) at the right time (when I need it).

The wrong fibres (remnants of handspun lace yarn in tussah silk, cashmere, camel down) in the wrong place (on a loom) at the wrong time (as an unsized warp). I fear this will end badly, as the soft, blooming ends were catching on each other and causing uneven tension in the warp while I was winding it. I should have sized the warp after winding or, even better, skeined the balls of leftover yarn and sized it before winding the warp. But I was concerned only about the behaviour of the warp while weaving, so planned to size it on the loom. I’ll know better next time. I’ll persevere with this because dealing with the uneven tension will be educational (ha!) and, well. It’s just so pretty…

Passionate Weavers: thoughts on a great weaving weekend

See? I’m keeping my word. Another post, to share my ‘Natural Time Out’ weekend weaving with Janet Phillips, and some of my thoughts about it as I drove home. I’ll spare you the “oh, why aren’t I there yet?” thoughts (four hours on the road is even longer after a long, engrossing weekend).

So. After I returned from the gym on Friday morning I did the dishes, the housework, packed, etc, and started the long drive to Somerset. After three hours of motorway driving at a steady 68mph in deference to the age of my car (the oldest car on the road by a long stretch!) boredom won, and I left the motorway for Chippenham. Southwest for adventure!

Glastonbury Tor in the distance as I drove. Well, as I stopped to take the picture.


I had intended to climb the Tor, but it would have been a rather muddy walk from the car park in the centre of Glastonbury and I was trying to keep my shoes clean, so I settled for a wander around town –  right back to the early 1970s, complete with the same incense! – and a visit to the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey. I was thinking about pattern and colour as well as history:

Lines and blocks: arches in the ruins
Medieval encaustic tiles, a remnant of the medieval Abbey floor.
The Abbey did not have the atmosphere I’d expected for such a famous centre of mysticism, possibly because it is so thoroughly steeped in patchouli. Crowland Abbey and Rievaulx both made much deeper and longer-lasting impressions on me. Anyway, from Glastonbury it’s a straightforward drive to Nether Stowey. Past orchards (Somerset is famous for cider), and some very muddy sheep. I conveniently found the two together here; note the mistletoe on the apple trees. I suspect these are rams; one was definitely Texel, but the others turned their backs on me almost as I clicked the shutter.
I checked into the Rose and Crown (Be warned, mobile reception is almost non-existent in the village. They do have wifi in the bar, but you have to ask.) and the next morning after breakfast I walked up the hill to the remains of Nether Stowey Castle in search of phone signal. 
From the top of the Castle mound or motte looking south over the foundations of the keep to the Quantocks beyond.
And the view north over the village, with the cooling towers of Hinckley Point visible in the distance.
And then it was weaving. I took full advantage of the fact I was Janet’s only student on Saturday and Sunday (Tina arrived on Monday, and Amanda on Tuesday). I’d brought samples of my weaving to date, and Janet seemed genuinely impressed by what I’d achieved, particularly with handspun singles. I then laid out one of my favourite problems, an assortment of yarns I’d bought with a view to weaving fabric for a vest or other garment. 
I’d chosen colours to complement some Blue Moon Fiber Arts silk thread, but even with the added lustre of the silk as weft (I don’t want horizontal stripes in a garment!) wraps to test warp stripes looked like school uniform fabric. Uninspiring.
I’d thought of adding 60/2 silk in toning or contrasting colours to enliven the warp (sample wrap on left) and it seemed to work, but I wasn’t sure how best to do this in a fabric, or whether differential shrinkage would lead to the silk popping out of the wool after washing. Janet said “sample”, just like every other experienced weaver of my acquaintance – but this time I had to do as I was told. As I’d asked to wind a warp and warp my own loom because I’d learned what I knew from books and YouTube, I was guided through the process of winding a warp for a ‘Colour and Weave Effect’ sampler from the yarns I’d brought. Including 60/2 silk where I thought it useful. Beaming is so. much. easier. with someone to reassure me from time to time! Wind on with sticks to start with, then sections of vinyl flooring; I will have to try this again, as it was extremely easy to work with and, although using rough paper for the ‘tooth’ to hold yarns tightly makes sense, so does using a smooth surface to prevent damage to the yarn and ensure that a badly wound section can be improved by subsequent tight winding. I stayed late to finish the threading only to find I had two spare heddles. A quick check showed that the error, whatever it was, was near the beginning. I left, resolving to come in early to find and correct the error. The morning light revealed I was two ends short of one colour; I left two heddles for the ends and rethreaded the warp in record time. (I was almost genuinely pleased to have the threading practice. Almost.) I couldn’t have picked a better mistake to make at this stage, as Janet was able to show me how to add warp threads when needed. So easy! Then tie on, weave a header to check threading and tension (take up slack if necessary) and I was away. 
I used the Ashford 4-shaft table loom at back left, with a stick shuttle. On the dresser at right are cones of yarn and bins of samples, which Janet referred to almost constantly to answer questions or inspire thoughts. 
The sampler on the loom at 28epi. Note the subtle shifts of colour in the warp where silk threads are modifying the dull purple and gold.

Weaving. 0900–1600, every day for the next three days. With breaks for lunch, for quick lessons on the principles of weave design, to admire each others weaving, but still almost all weaving, almost all the time. It was WONDERFUL!

I fell in love with shadow weave. So I had a lesson on how both yarn colour and weave structure can be used to create a change in direction when and where required. And I brought home something to remind me that I want to do this, too.

Hard work, but full of wonders, of little flashes of enlightenment and inspiration. And laughter! We’re all concerned that Janet’s website photo makes her look entirely too stern 🙂 Tuesday pm came too soon, but we’ll all try to keep in touch and meet at Janet’s again.

I arrived home with tangible inspiration: a sampler. Four feet of sampler, including a host of patterns all woven on a straight twill threading. Not yet washed, but Janet’s class work with this particular yarn, a tightly spun worsted 2-ply, indicates it will not full and shrinks very little, even when machine washed (on a wool setting). So I will finish this properly once it’s hemmed and I’ve done something about the ends where I’ve tied in new warp to change some colours, but I am reasonably confident that – with this yarn – shrinkage of the wool won’t cause the silk to buckle.

The sampler and the process of weaving it has answered many other questions. 
Not only do I have more confidence winding and beaming a warp (and correcting mistakes!), I know how adding silk thread to the warp will work, and what it adds to the fabric. I know that the silk I planned to use for weft wouldn’t work as I thought. I can make a beautiful fabric without it, just by adding silk thread. I have some idea of the best way to add the silk to both warp and weft.

And I totally love what I made.

If you’ve survived reading this far, here are the thoughts I promised. I am extraordinarily fortunate to have been taught by three amazing weavers, Sara Lamb, Stephenie Gaustad, and Janet Phillips, each of whom has a different style of teaching and seems to be interested in different aspects of the craft of weaving. And yet, driving home, I found myself thinking about what unites them in my mind: their passion for weaving, their love of weaving, and their drive, their deep desire to convey this passion to their students. To me it’s this last that defines the very best teachers, because how can we, their students, fail to respond to such a gift?

I will thank them with the work of my hands. I will weave.