Thursday, October 31, 2013

Revisit Woven Shibori and Card Weaving

I know you are all waiting with baited breath to see if this worked or not, right?  The original post where I wove the bands is here.  I was fairly optimistic about something interesting happening on dye day, but unlike the iridescent experiment, I was disappointed.

Here are the samples before everything was gathered...

Here are the samples all knotted for the dye pot.  I tried different techniques for incorporating the ties into the weave.

Freshly removed from the dye pots.

And the winner is?????  Fail.  Not in a big way, but in a small way in which the effort to weave in the ties wasn't nearly worth the result you get from the dye pot.

Others had great success transferring their different weave structures into dye resists.  We had Monk's Belt, and Overshot represented, as well as twills.

The final analysis?  If you weave black and white bands, and you want to add interest by throwing them in a dye pot, I would simply use a tie dye technique on the finished bands.  Tie resists around the entire bands instead of weaving the ties into the band.  You'll get basically the same result with much less effort during the weaving process.
But I thank my good fiber friend Amy for continually pushing me to try new techniques with my bands.  Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't, but they are always educational!

Friday, June 14, 2013

This one time at card weaving camp...

Okay, I didn't actually go to Card Weaving camp, but I have had a great time this Spring teaching card weaving at two different camps. 

View from hike around camp.
First I was at Fiber in the Forest at Camp Myrtlewood in Oregon.  Beautiful, majestic, incredible location.  Damp however.  Evidently it is always damp on that side of Oregon.  This was all fiber people all of the time.  Very small gathering, very intimate.

Huge burr on Fir

I was also just at Squam Art Workshops at Rockywold-Deephaven Camps in Holdeness NH.  Beautiful, incredible, timeless location on cold but very beautiful lake Squam.  A wonderful mix of art of all kinds being taught.  But many more people from all corners (national and international).

Lake Squam from our cabin's personal dock.

Common room in our cabin.

Being outside in these two beautiful landscapes really helped me slow down and appreciate everything.  Cell phones barely worked, the wifi was spotty at best.  And after the initial techno shock had passed, I was able to really let go. 

There was so much creative energy swirling around everything and everyone.  The students were hungry to learn what I was showing them.  And they had time to really explore the techniques and the feeling of weaving.  No one had to rush off before traffic got bad, or worry about picking up kids from school.  There was no panic in the mornings about getting there on time.  And class times really were more like recommendations.  I was helping my new weavers at dinner, lunch, whenever.  And they were teaching me so many incredible things.  The back and forth sharing between everyone whether in the same or different classes was so exciting.
Share tables at both events were quite impressive.

Bands for dinner anyone?

They wouldn't stop weaving!

So get out there and find your connection between creation and nature.  The outdoors are such an incredible place for inspiration in whatever you make or do.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Card Weaving and more in New Jersey

I had the pleasure of teaching at the Jockey Hollow Weavers Guild last week.  It was a great group of people, and they were quick!  I had never seen so many beautiful selvedges from people who hadn't card woven before.  And my threading (Z vs S) discussion which usually takes at least an hour, they had in minutes.

My rapt audience
Why yes, I do wear what I weave.
Then I got to spend the weekend with Daryl Lancaster before having to head home.  She is an incredible fiber artist and fashion guru.  She has won awards at lots of venues for her hand woven garments she's constructed.  I know that when given the option of going into the city (that would be NYC), or staying at home and playing in her studio the logical choice would be to head to Manhattan, but I've taken classes with Daryl.  I know what is in her head, and I know I want more of it in my head, so I opted to stay and play in the studio.  She gave me some invaluable advice on deconstructing sewn items to see just how they were created.  Sewing really gives me a headache however.  I understand when I see someone do it, but the order in which you do things is very counterintuitive, and the three dimensional aspects of it are all backwards and inside out.

Daryl demonstrating some sewing.
As payment for my Saturday fun, I offered to help her demonstrate at Peters Valley.  A really funky once abandoned town that has become an art education center.  Daryl is doing a fiber boot camp in July and a garment construction class in August so we toted a piece of just about every corner of her studio and her closet out there.  It was loads of fun meeting lots of people whose eyes just bugged out when Daryl would politely offer that yes that beautiful multi-hued jacket used to be cones of white yarn.

Table setup for demos at Peters Valley
And then there were the puppies who kept me company all weekend.  I fell in love with these two Norwegian Elkhounds.
Bjorn and Sophera
Thanks Daryl for an incredible weekend!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Rewards of Teaching Card Weaving

I recently received an email from a student which contained a picture of bands they had woven since my class with them.  What is so cool is that there were four!  This in less than a month's time!  I was in Bloomington IN with the Bloomington Spinners & Weavers Guild at the beginning of April.  I've been there before, and it is a great group of weavers.

Card weaving is such a specialized weaving technique, and there really aren't that many of us dedicated to it when you look at the broader weaving population.  So I'm always thrilled when I get at least one student in a class who really likes it enough to start exploring it on their own.  And I'm more thrilled when they share what they've been working on with me.  Kathleen was one of those students.  And she's told me that she is going to demonstrate at an art fair for students.  Even better!

This is why we teach.  If you asked me to not talk about card weaving, I don't really think I could do it.  So the fact that I'm allowed to share my passion with other people, and see that sometimes they share that passion as well is a reward beyond measure.

More sharing next week with the Jockey Hollow Weavers Guild in New Jersey!  I can't wait!

PS:  Alright Daryl! Bring on the "Battle of the Bands!"  Tablet woven bands are much more boss than inkle bands!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Ply Split Braiding Fun

Last weekend I enjoyed a St. Louis Weavers' Guild workshop on Ply-Split Braiding with Louise French.

I had taken a quick course from Linda Hendrickson at Convergence several years ago, and it looked interesting, but I wasn't willing to split any time away from my card weaving.  And the idea of making the cords that were to be split looked quite tedious.

Well, let me tell you how wrong I was!  The cord making is actually very fun and makes up a huge part of the creative process in ply-splitting.  Plus, there was great fun in just playing with the different splitting techniques.

I knew that many card weavers were also ply-split braiders, and now it makes sense why.  We (card weavers) split the plys with the weft as we are plying the threads in each card.  The draft tells us what color threads go where.  But one can take a card weaving draft, create cords to ply split using the draft and get the same pattern!  The only problem is that unlike card weaving where I can change the direction of my plies from Z to S (turning cards forward and back), the ply direction of the cords for splitting is stuck in the one direction I created it.  Hmm, seems to be an opportunity here to figure out a way to make a cord with different ply directions.

As soon as I get some card weaving drafts translated and cords made and split into something interesting, I'll post pics here.

 Actually finished this necklace.
Great Cord Monster!

Someday this will be a small basket.  Actually it is almost finished.  One or two more rounds are all that are left.  This was taken end of day two of the workshop. Go Gripfid!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Woven Shibori with Card Weaving?

Our guild's challenge this year is woven shibori.  Shibori is a dyeing technique using stitching, clamps or other ways to resist the dye.  Woven shibori is weaving ties into the hand woven piece.  An example might be weaving the pattern threads of an Overshot with ties instead of a pattern yarn.  Then tying up the piece and throwing it in a dye pot.  You can read more from Catherine Ellis' website.

My good friend Amy wanted a small group of us guildies to document our trials with woven shibori in our individual favorite techniques.  This was beginning to sound like the iridescent challenge where we argued back and forth that you can't do it with tablet weaving.  "But how do you know unless you try?"  And it did work.  And it probably will work with woven shibori.

So here it is woven up before tying and dyeing.  We're doing the dyeing sometime in May, so you'll have to wait until then for the finished samples.

The pattern is 3 white, 1 black thread in each card setup to be similar to patterns found on coptic bands.

The colored threads are the ties.  They aren't really woven in, they are more threaded between.  I tried a sample with the ties woven in, but card woven bands are so thick I was afraid it wouldn't gather enough to resist the dyes.  We'll see how this all works after the dye pot.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Pin Loom Reboot: Schacht Zoom Loom

It took more than three years, but at last, it is finished!

Schacht Spindle Company is producing a new pin loom I designed.  They are calling it the Zoom Loom.  You can check it out here.  The box even says "Designed with John Mullarkey."

TNNA In Long Beach CA Feb, 2013

This all started at a Midwest Weavers Conference in 2009 when I attended a seminar on weaving with pin looms.  The teacher was very nice.  Had plenty of Weavettes and Weave-it looms to share.  And we all had a great time.  But by the end of the seminar, everyone was complaining about how it was hard to hold, and the first and last rows were really difficult to weave.  And I don't know why, but they all looked to me like I should do something about it.

By October of that year, I decided I would.  No one was manufacturing these looms anymore.  There were some hand made ones being put out with varying degrees of quality, but none had any of the features those students were looking for.  So I hired an industrial engineer, and we got to work.

Unfortunately I re-learned an important lesson.  You get what you pay for, and I had a budget industrial designer.  He was very good at design work, but very bad at schedules.  The other lesson I re-learned was knowing when to cut loose and move on.  I worked with him for far too long.  But he was a really good designer, and I still thank him for helping me get to the point we did.

So when I finally fired him, my good friend Amy suggested that I pitch this loom to Schacht.  They make looms, why not this one?  That was inspired!  I would lose some control, but they already have the marketing and manufacturing experience, and honestly I was more interested in seeing this be produced than it being John's Loom (I was going to call it the Lotto Loom - In a small package).  So thank you Schacht for taking this project on and seeing it through to completion.

So why is this new pin loom so awesome when there are already plenty of hand crafted pin looms out there being made by wonderful husbands hammering nails into squares?  It has a nice wide base that makes it easy to grip.  The interior sides are sloped to guide the needle right to the place it needs to be.  It has measurements right on the loom, so I don't have to dig out instructions to figure out how long a length I need, or how many wraps I need to do.  And it has this wonderful little notch to hold the starting thread, so no knots required.

The loom should be in retail outlets in April.  Let me know if you want one, I think I can get you a deal.