Show and Tell

At the Scandinavian Weavers meeting yesterday we enjoyed Judy Larson’s latest red rugs. Judy often weaves LARGE rugs, but these were small ones, using wildly different wefts, on the same warp.  She wove one with chunky weft of knit ties, part of an 8000-tie stash from a man who worked at the Library of Congress, and never wore the same tie twice. The second one has sharp pink with red, and is made with silky-soft velour strips—her granddaughter’s favorite.  The third uses the most conventional rag rug weft, printed cottons.  Fun!

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A Discussion of Hems and Edges

By Robbie LaFleur

Note: I recently discovered this post, one that had not been posted after a meeting in 2012.  It’s a bit late!

At our March Scandinavian Weavers Study Group meeting, an interesting conversation began with a comment by Veronna Capone, whose craftsmanship is impeccable.  She’d struggled with a monksbelt runner; the edges had the slightest waviness, no matter how careful she was.

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So she solved that by taking a step that many weavers consider a sacrilege.  She sewed a straight stitch down the selvedge edges, about three threads in from the edge, and then cut the edge, perfectly evenly, next to the stitching.  (I don’t have a photo of that one.) She said that she owns a lovely Irish handwoven scarf with the same edge finish, and that gave her the permission to mimic it on her runner.  My photo of the edge of Veronna’s monksbelt doesn’t show the really successful and interesting total effect of the piece, woven with pearl cotton. One really nice effect was the contrast in sheen between the background plain weave and the monksbelt blocks done in the same color, very textural.

Veronna is not afraid to break rules.  Her additional ‘confession’ was that sometime when making a runner that was quite thick, she sewed a straight stitch across the end of it, turned it down once, and stitched it.  Uh-oh.  But really, how many people with real textile knowledge would turn over a lovely runner on Veronna’s table and note that a raw edge was visible?  This led to further discussion of hems and right sides/wrong sides and rules.

It felt like a discussion that could have been held by my husband’s psychoanalytic colleagues.  What do people keep hidden in order to show their best faces to the world?  What everyday parts of life –  the messy parts, the parts you might not be proud of – are best put away when  you worry about being judged?   What do people choose to reveal?  What do they keep secret?  But here we are talking about textiles.

Patty Kuebker-Johnson talked of her late Swedish mother-in-law, a wonderful weaving mentor.  Hems were important to fine Swedish weavers.  When planning a woven piece with hems, you should have a hem that is turned over twice and sewn by hand.  Ideally, the pattern should be taken into account when planning the blocks of the pattern blocks of the turned-over hem.  Once hemmed, the piece should appear the same on the front and the back.

Displaying pristine textiles for guests was a mark of skill and prestige.  Sometimes a runner was used on a table, or a towel was hung on a rack, hemmed-side-up, for everyday family use.  It could be quickly changed to the best side.

A double towel rack could be used.  When guests arrived, the lovely towel was put in front.

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When you are not trying to show a perfect face, then perhaps this stained towel displays the messy craziness of life.

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October Scandinavian Weavers Meeting

In October a small group of Scandinavian Weavers Study Group members drove to Karin Maah’s home in the northern suburbs.  Karin’s home became a pop-up museum in our honor.  The walls and halls were covered in paintings by her grandfather, noted Norwegian-American painter Hans Berg.  He also was a rosemaler, and his work was exuberant and personal, like this piece.

IMG_2902The guests arrived to this beautiful array of food.  “Wait,” Karin exclaimed,”the cake isn’t out,” as if somehow the existing spread was inadequate!

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It is always a wonderful experience to see the homes of  fellow study group members, to see what looms and stashed of yarn they have, and to see their personal art and weaving collections. Karin has amazing family treasures. I thought this was the most amazing set. She has a beautiful billedvev (tapestry) woven by her grandmother.

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She also has the cartoon for the piece, painted by her grandfather.

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Some people might also have lovely pieces along with the original cartoons, but the most amazing part of Karin’s collection is that she also has a painting of her grandmother weaving the piece!

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My favorite piece was a tapestry done by her grandmother, based on a cartoon done by her grandfather.  This photo can’t capture the subtle color gradations in the tapestry introduced by beautiful handspun yarns with slight, but painterly, variagations.

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All of this documentation was amazing.  Here, in another one of Hans Berg’s paintings, the shawl depicted is still around, and shown hanging on one edge.

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Thank you to Karin!

Some Snippets from September

The Scandinavian Weavers Study Group will meet on the following Sundays at 2pm in the fall of 2015 through Spring 2016:  October 18 (field trip to the home of Karin Maahs), November 15 (Rya Exploration at 12:30 and Scandinavian Weavers at 2), December 13 (holiday gathering at the home of Karen Weiberg), January 17, February 21, March 20, April 17, May 15.

There will be an exhibit of Lila Nelson’s tapestries at the Textile Center, in the Studio Gallery, in November and December of this year.  It will be a great kick-off and tie-in to a larger retrospective of Lila’s works at Vesterheim.  The Vesterheim exhibit will include more than just tapestry, and will be in the large gallery space near the entrance to the museum.  It will be up from December 2, 2015 and probably through November of 2016.  Francie Iverson, Claire Selkurt, and I are meeting to choose the tapestries to be displayed, and Laurann will facilitate sending them to the Textile Center.

The Scandinavian Weavers next exhibit, featuring our work with RED, will be in the Textile Center Community Gallery, from May 13-June 25, 2016.  We will make plans for an opening celebration at our meeting on March 20.  We will make postcards, to be distributed by each weaver.  If you would like to have your weaving considered for the postcard image, a high-quality digital image should be submitted by March 20.

Keith brought two family pieces.  His mother’s side of the family is Finnish, and his mother’s cousin, who ran a Finnish design shop for several years, sent Keith two Finnish pieces. Keith said he has asked several people how he should clean the pieces, and the consensus is – snow!  (There was an article in the Norwegian Textile Letter on cleaning weavings/rugs with snow, here: http://norwegiantextileletter.com/?s=snow+washing)

IMG_2331Karin Maah’s tapestry got a State Fair blue ribbon and honorable mention at Vesterheim.

IMG_2333She also brought a beautiful quilt top, her first, made with a rainbow of batik squares.

Marilyn Moore’s beautiful rag rug with rosepath designs got a red ribbon at Vesterheim, and a white ribbon and “Best First Weaving” at the State Fair.

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Lisa Bauch learned a Finnish raanu technique in Wynne Mattila’s class, and she made a new piece, based on the colors of early spring leaves.

IMG_2336Corky Knutson received a red ribbon for a pillow.  Robbie LaFleur submitted two pieces to the State Fair.  (See information on the ribbons here.)

November Scandinavian Weavers Meeting

The Scandinavian Weavers met on November 17, 2013.  During our show and tell time, some people mentioned the projects they plan to complete this year as part of our “Inspiration” study topic.  Each member is choosing an old textile and creating a new one inspired by an aspect of the old piece.  Many of these pieces are from the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah, Iowa.  We plan to submit the new pieces to the annual National Exhibit of Folk Art in the Norwegian Tradition exhibit next summer.  Melba Granlund is planning to weave a piece inspired by a runner she purchased at the Helsinki flea market last summer. A portion is shown here.

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She guesses it is Swedish.  Vesterheim owns a very similar runner, also likely Swedish in origin, according to  curator Laurann Gilbertson.

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And finally, Vesterheim had a small piece that Lila Nelson wove, based on the older piece.  Inspired by the designs in these three pieces, Melba will design and weave her own interpretation.

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In the context of discussing how she would choose the colors for her piece, Veronna Capone mentioned a tip she heard from Jan Mostrom.   Take a photo of an existing piece, switch it to black and white, and you’ll see the tonal range.  Then you can experiment with colors, making sure that you have appropriate light and dark tones. Smart!

Marilyn Moore brought in a beautiful Swedish tablecloth, owned by a friend.  It is probably 90 years old, and in pristine, never-used condition.  Marilyn plans to weave a similar, but smaller, piece.  When she brought it to show her friend Winnie Johnson, it turned out that Winnie had a Swedish booklet with just the instructions that Marilyn will need!

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Keith Pierce showed a band that he wove from a recently-acquired book of Finnish bands, Applesies and Fox Noses: Finnish Tabletwoven Bands, by  Maikki Karisto and Mervi Pasanen. Keith bought it from a Finnish web site.

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Jane Connett has been struggling with card weaving on her Schaacht inkle loom, and brought it in to illustrate.  Robin Meadow said her Glimåkra loom sits empty, but she has plans!  Karen Weiberg has been making plans to use her newly-inherited Margaret Bergman loom.  It came from her aunt, who carefully saved the original receipts.  It cost $85 in 1940.  It’s also amazing that the accompanying wooden bench, built with clever storage space, cost $3.00.

Robbie LaFleur showed her small harvester tapestry test piece (also written about here).

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Scandinavian Weavers Meeting, May 2012 (Part one)

Field trip!  We had a great trip to Nancy Ellison’s farm near Zumbrota – DESPITE the cold and drizzly day, an anomaly following several perfect spring weeks in Minnesota.  All of Nancy’s beautiful long-haired sheep were shorn on Good Friday, leaving them a bit patchy-looking.  Normally they would have been in a distant pasture eating fresh greens, so we appreciated the fact Nancy kept them in the barn for viewing.

ImageFrom an earlier trip, here’s how they look in full long-fibered glory.

We met in a room at the edge of the barn with thick, white-painted timbers and spinning wheels and looms flanking the walls (plus long-haired rabbits in cages!). The wind was howling outside, yet it was quiet inside.
Nancy will be teaching a cradle loom class this summer.  She showed us cradle looms with a completed slit tapestry and one in progress.  Inspired by observing her warping method and by her completed pieces, Jan Mostrom, Mary Skoy and I are all meeting to warp our cradle looms later this month.  We all have lovely rosemaled cradle looms which we have NEVER USED.  For Pete’s sake, we only have to warp 10 threads!  How long could it take?  We’ll report later on our progress.
A remark about Decorah and the Norwegian-American Museum sparked  a great story from Lila Nelson about manners and creative problem-solving.  Years ago, King Olav gave money to Vesterheim that was used to install a state-of-the-art textile washing station.  Old textiles could be submerged flat and gently into the large shallow basin.  During a Royal Visit to Vesterheim, the new equipment was on display in demonstration mode.  Lila and others needed to show how it was done, complete with wearing heavy rubber gloves to protect their hands and the textile.  But how would that work with the king’s well-known desire to shake hands with the people he met?  In the end they decided to sort of fake the actual washing step.  They pulled their right-hand gloves almost completely off their hands, so that when the King came close – whoosh, off came the glove.  Awkward  rubber glove pulling, struggling and snapping would put a dent in trying to appear poised, wouldn’t it?

Scandinavian Weavers Meeting, March 2012

Veronna started off a really interesting discussion of hems and edges of textiles when she described a recent project, monksbelt runners in pearl cotton.  “Oh,” she noted when she took them off the loom, “It looks like I was drunk at one point and here at another.”  Hardly.  There’s more on that discussion on my “Bound to Weave” blog, “Showing Your Good Side.” She shared two interesting lessons from that piece.  She made color windings of the yarns, around a card, to test out combinations.  Then she made both a black-and-white photocopy and a color photocopy of the combinations.  The black-and-white helped show relative contrast of dark and light.  Also, when you weave monksbelt with the same color for the base and pattern weft, it is really two colors, because of the reflective properties of the yarn.

Veronna suggested we look at the swatch photos for patterns in Mary E. Black’s New Key to Weaving found in a new digital collection sponsored by the government of Novia Scotia.

Judy brought rouched scarves made with lace-weight yarn, silk  120 inches long, 72 inches, and Jaeger zephyr wool silk.

She made a rug in monksbelt pattern using fabric strips. She sleyed poly-cotton carpet warp at 12 epi.

Patty Kuebker Johnson talked about the color and weave study group sponsored at Color Crossing.  It’s especially useful for those who don’t do a lot of fine thread weaving.  “Unless you have a weft-faced or warp faced weave, you are always dealing with the interaction of the thread colors,” she explained.   Once it’s on the loom the study group members sign up for time slots to weave off samples.

Robin Meadow noted that a new session of the color exploration class, Stripes and Structures to Create Tantalizing Towels, was starting soon.  She’s taken it twice, and as a new weaver, found it enormously helpful each time. You work in different structures, different color palettes,  and it requires diligent production weaving.  Why take it twice? You deal with different color ways, different loom personalities, and even different weave structures from one class to the next. Patty said that she uses the towels she makes as runners until they become dishtowels.  Below is a jumble of the towels Robin wove in her last class, a bad photo of lovely items.

Melba Granlund spent a fantastic week taking the basic Swedish weaving course at Becky’s Vavstuga. “You weave like you’re crazy,” Melba said.  There were eight people in the class, two of whom had never woven before.  Her completed pieces were beautiful.

A perennial weaving problem is time, never enough time for weaving. At one point the issue was raised about weaving just a bit each day on a project. Isn’t  there a problem with a difference  in beating? Are some portions more tightly woven than others?  Patty noted that she encounters this more with with knitting than weaving.  She advised, “Warping is the hard part!  Reward yourself for each step of the way.  Today I wind the warp – that’s the assignment.  The next day, put it on the back beam.  Break it into segments and reward yourself for the completion of each.”  Meeting with our group is good for encouragement – the encouragement of example, and the encouragement of tips.