Monksbelt Unveiling and a Fun Discussion

The monksbelt pieces from our Scandinavian Weavers group warp project came off the loom, and Mary Skoy was nice enough to sew seams on her machine in order to cut them apart without fraying. She brought the roll of pieces to my home.  A bag of treasures! You can see that some were woven with looped edges, some with plain selvedges.

A few members were able to make it to an afternoon celebration of cutting them apart and talking about our experiences. This marks the culmination of another successful collaboration on a Weavers Guild loom. Hopefully, everyone is happy with the learning experience.  Perfection was not the goal, but it’s hard to set that aside, isn’t it? It’s marvelous to see the work of the other weavers, but sometimes a bit frustrating. I know I looked at the beautiful pastels of several pieces and wished I had gone for a brighter palette. We were short a few threads and had to adjust the selvedge size during threading, so it was quite difficult to get a neat and clean selvedge.  Darn, I wish I had chosen loops, was my feeling after weaving.

Note to viewers! These photos show pieces in process or just off the loom, with all of the stray threads, lumpiness, and imperfections that will be transformed as we bring them to their finished states.

It was interesting to see the variation in wefts used for the background.  Lisa Bauch used pink, which shows up more in the photo than it does in person. She also used two shades of green–one more olive in cast–but that hardly shows up in the finished piece.

Lisa Bauch

Lisa Torvik used green linen background weft. “I have so much of it,” she explained. We all agreed that the greenish cast was particularly effective with her piece made with shades of pink linen in the pattern weft.

Lisa Torvik

The pink piece was Lisa’s second piece, woven when one of the weavers was not able to use her time/warp. Lisa’s first piece was complex, a depiction of her flower garden, with a nod to tulips, prairie smoke, bee balm, and star gazer lilies.

Some weavers included a looped fringe at each edge, and others wove a clean selvedge.  In a discussion about adding loops, someone mentioned adding another warp yarn at each edge, a little ways out, to get nice even loops.  Lisa uses her fingers to estimate each turn, noting, “I have two index fingers and the last time I checked, they’re roughly the same size.”

Lisa Torvik

Lisa Torvik should get a special documentation prize for this one, too, since she added the year and her initials on her header.

Susan Mancini switched in a deep pink background weft in a few bands of her piece, sure that it would be very dramatic.  Barely noticeable!  Susan plans to make a bag with the piece so she wove the two halves to match. Here, Lisa Torvik is measuring Susan’s piece on cut-off day.

Susan Mancini

Melba Granlund did a wonderful job of incorporating thick and thin lines with color variation.

Melba Granlund

Marilyn Moore used beautiful spring-like colors in her linen pattern weft. I know that flowers are on her mind these days, but if she wanted to weave her flower garden, she would have to weave yards of fabric.

Marilyn Moore

Mary Skoy plans to use her piece to make a pouch or bag.  It should work great, with her modern graphic design.  Also, the crisp hand of the fabric will work well in a pouch.

Mary Skoy

Of any of these monks belt experiments, Claire Most’s piece will undergo the biggest transformation during the finishing process.  Claire wove the pattern in a silk boucle yarn, but just for a short distance.  The rest of the piece is woven in a waste yarn that will be taken out; the warp will become part of a deep fringe treatment.  Claire said she wasn’t quite sure how it will end up–but we all can’t wait to see!

Claire Most

One of the benefits of weaving on a group project is trying out techniques and weave structures that are new to you.  Sarah Okern weaves beautiful rag rugs for her business, Andasmer, so she rarely ventures to finer thread weave structures. Her incorporation of larger areas of plain weave was partly to save time; she said she could only take one day to devote to the project. Interestingly, her spare design relates to the graphic rugs that are her trademark.

Sarah Okern

Deb Reagan gets a prize for driving the farthest to participate, all the way from Grand Forks. She used red, too, and with her addition of blue, wouldn’t this make the perfect runner to put on the table for Syttende Mai?

Deb Reagan

Brenda Gauvin-Chadwick used red, also.  She said she wasn’t so happy with the colors–too Christmas-y.  I ‘m not sure that’s true, but maybe seems so compared to the pastels she saw in some other pieces.

Brenda Gauvin-Chadwick

Jan Josifek’s pink, neutral, and black color palette is striking.  Someone noted that the bands resemble those you often find in much larger rag rugs.

Jan Josifek

I learned a great deal from my piece (Robbie LaFleur).  I’m eager to put on a long warp of my own and continue playing with color and pattern, and I know how I will change my threading.  I’ll vow to count better, too; I’m a bit annoyed with the first and last bands, which should be the same size.

Robbie LaFleur

Our group projects only get done due to the wonderful collaboration of our members.  It takes time to wind the warp, get it on the loom, and test it out.  On this project Judy Larson was the first to weave, and  in that role she wanted to make sure that everything was in order–the threading, the reed sleying, the sett, the tension, etc.  Was it in shape for the next weavers?  Yes!

Judy Larson

When the pieces were cut off this week, the first one was Judy’s, with pattern weft on one color, a deep green wool, and the last piece was Karen Weiberg’s, in a lighter linen green.  It was almost like the change of seasons that happened during the time the warp was up. Winter dragged out in Minnesota with a snowstorm disrupting our schedule, but spring may finally be here now.

Karen Weiberg

Thanks to all of the weavers and helpers who helped to make our group project rewarding.

 

 

 

 

And MORE Weavers on the Monksbelt Warp….

April 2019: The Scandinavnian Weavers Study Group members continue their monksbelt exploration.

Melba Granlund focused on spring in her linen pattern palette. Her comment when she sent her photo, “This is so fun!”

Claire added fun and untraditional pattern weft. Shiny!

Susan Mancini had fun playing at the loom, too. She wrote, “Here is my piece, about 2/3rds in. I wove 12 inches and then reversed the pattern for the 2nd 12”. My plan is to sew a small tote bag with this sample. I changed the tabby color in the large magenta block to a dark pink thinking it would be dramatic. But not so!! It hardly shows up at all. Interesting lesson.
This was fun!” (Note: her e-mailed photo is not large enough to show it to advantage…)

 


Brenda Gauvin-Chadwick said she wasn’t fond of her piece, as it turned out too Christmas-y, even when she added plain weave between bands.  But she noted that the experiment achieved one important purpose: “Great learning experience!”

We’re in the home stretch, just a few more weavers to go on our cottolin warp.

Monksbelt–Lisa Bauch

Lisa Bauch spent two days composing a birthday runner for her sister, with colors based on Linnea flowers that grow in Sweden.

Note some small tails on the beautiful surface.  Lisa likes to leave tails formed when changing color or a bobbin on the front, rather than the back, before she snips them off.

Judy Larson and I, on the first two pieces, wove a clean linen edge.  Lisa Torvik and Lisa Bauch added looped fringe. That hadn’t even occurred to me when I sat down to weave, but it is beautiful. It has a special charm on Lisa Torvik’s piece because she used so many colors.  You’ll have to wait to the end to see those loops, however; Lisa Torvik didn’t take a photo when she finished, and it is now hiding under the beam at the front of the loom.

 

Skillbragd projects 2018

By Lisa Torvik

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Karin Maahs wove some small pattern elements in a contrasting color.

After enjoying our project in 2017 which focused on the Swedish art weave, “dukagång”, there was consensus to embark on a new group project in 2018 studying an overshot technique known as “skillbragd” [pron. “shill’ brahgd”] in Norway and as “Smålandsväv” [pron. “smoh’ lahnds vave”] in Sweden.  Regional variations in Norway go by other names, too.  Essentially, all forms secure long pattern weft floats with a single or double shot of tabby.

There are a few different ways to set up a loom for this technique, but most assume a loom with sufficient depth front to back to accommodate several harnesses separated in two groups, and the ability to adjust harnesses up and down independently of each other.  Historically, this technique would have been set up with counterbalance.  After review of a lot of different sources, and some experimentation, we found that setting up the ground on countermarch and the pattern harnesses using elastic bands worked the best.  Even so, most found it necessary to use a pick up stick to create a good pattern shed, though the plain weave sheds were pretty good.  Most of us used stick shuttles for the pattern yarn and some for the ground weft also.  Keeping the warp damp aided in getting a better shed and strengthening the warp under high tension.

The ground is threaded on two or four shafts, and the pattern is usually on 4 or 6 shafts, but a larger number of pattern harnesses is possible if the loom can accommodate them.  The warp is first threaded in regular heddles on the ground harnesses for plain weave.  Then contiguous groups of warp threads, often four at a time, are threaded through pattern harnesses in front, using long-eyed heddles or by threading the group of warp threads under the eye of regular heddles.  A single square in the drafts we used corresponds to one group of four threads in a pattern heddle. 

The two groups of harnesses should be separated by a few inches.  The sinking-shed pattern is created by treadling the pattern harnesses, one or more at a time, and following each pattern shot with a plain weave shot.  A side fringe of loops can be created by catching the pattern weft around a finger.  The ground weft is usually threaded so 2 or 4 warp threads create a selvedge that is not threaded through a pattern heddle.  This selvedge locks in the loops or hides the pattern weft turns on the backside of the weaving if no loops are desired. 

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Loops at the edges. The two outer pieces are showing the “right” side, with the narrow selvedges.

We set up two warps in succession, both with Bockens 16/2 unbleached linen yarn.  Weft was the choice of the weaver.  The second was narrower than the first, but on the second warp, a smaller number of weavers wanted to weave longer pieces.  In all, fourteen weavers completed nearly 30 pieces of varying lengths between the two projects.  Most used wool weft, but some pieces were finished with all linen weft or perle cotton. (Draft for the first warp in pdf; draft for the second warp in pdf)

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Lisa Torvik used used linen weft to make skillbragd flowers.

I would like to acknowledge the weavers and, of them, the many that helped set up the two projects:  Phyllis Waggoner, Robbie LaFleur and Lisa Anne Bauch worked with me to set up – and set up again when THAT didn’t work – the first warp. 

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Robbie LaFleur turning the crank; Lisa Torvik supervising and rolling on the warp, and Lisa Anne Bauch braced with the taut warp.

Robbie helped me monitor and aid those unfamiliar with the technique.  Melba Granlund, Lisa Anne and I set up the second warp, though we agreed four is best!  Thanks to Donna Hanson for instruction and tips on restoring the loom for the next group/class since I was not familiar with the vertical countermarch setup on the Glimåkra loom and technicalities of texsolv.  I’m more old school!  And last but certainly not least thanks to Jan Hayman for insights on aspects of newer linen yarns and assistance sweeping up the “chaff” we created. Help came from afar, too, with an “emergency” phone call while warping to Robbie’s colleague Shawn Cassiman in Michigan and a detailed letter from Ruth Ida Tvenge of the Øystre Slidre Husflidslag in Norway.

Thanks all!

 

Skillbragd Inspiration

Just as the students in Jan Mostrom’s Swedish Art Weaves class could view lovely pieces in that technique as part of the exhibit, “A Passionate Pursuit: Scandinavian Weavings from the Collection of Carol Johnson,” the members of our Scandinavian Weavers Study Group can view skillbragd weavings to inspire and inform us as we participate in our group project.  Here are the skillbragd/opphampta pieces on display right now.

 

For more wonderful weaving photos and information about the current exhibit of Scandinavian weavings and the tapestry collection of Carol Johnson, too, see the new issue of the Norwegian Textile Letter, which includes these articles:

A Passionate Pursuit: Scandinavian Weavings from the Collection of Carol Johnson

Dipping Into Carol Johnson’s Tapestry Collection

The Swedish Art Weave Tradition Continues in Minnesota

 

 

Starting on the group Skilbragd Project

Our Scandinavian Weavers Study Group is working on Norwegian skilbragd; we began warping a loom at the Weavers Guild of Minnesota yesterday.

Lisa Torvik, our leader in this project, was inspired by a pattern for a group project undertaken by the Gol Husflidsslag in Norway.  See the Skillbragdåkle fra Gol here.

skillbragdaakle_fra_gol_fullwidth

Inspiration coverlet from Gol, Norway

She took elements of the wider piece and narrowed the pattern to runner-width. Lisa didn’t use weaving software to make her draft; she’s a whiz with spreadsheets and used Excel to make the draft and treading variants.

Skillbragd1.xlsx

Lisa Torvik, Lisa Bauch, Phyllis Wagonner, and Robbie LaFleur met to warp the loom; Lisa Torvik had already wound the ten-yard warp of 16/2 linen.  Using a variety of print resources, including Lillemor Johansson’s book Damask and Opphämta, we figured out how to sett up the tabby heddles for the ground weave and the pattern heddles.  Beaming was a four person job! Lisa Torvik oversaw and “drove” the process from the front. As we worked, the linen had a wonderful hay-like scent.

lisa-driving

Robbie turned the wheel, Lisa Bauch braced her legs against the back of the loom and held the warp tight as it was rolled on, and Phyllis inserted sticks to pad the warp on the back as it was beamed on.

warpgroup

Lisa had the tough job, as she had to keep hanging on to the the warp for dear life even as it was approaching the front beam, pulling her through the loom.

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Many tricky warping steps remain.

 

Dukagång Group Project Underway

By Robbie LaFleur

Last year and this year our Scandinavian Weavers study Group is focusing on Swedish weaving, with a particular interest in linen.  We’ve begun a group project on one of the two Glimakra looms at the Weavers Guild of Minnesota.  We put on a 12″ wide warp of 20/2 half-bleached linen, set at 24 epi, to experiment with dukagång. Jan Mostrom deserves special thanks for ordering the yarn and winding the warp.

jan-wind-warp

Jan and Phyllis Waggoner warped; Melba Granlund helped, too.

jan-phyllis-warping

Their efforts resulted in a even-tensioned warp with a beautifully wide shed. Each of 12 weavers will weave 12-18″. I was the first to test the warp, and I chose an image I frequently weave — can you tell from the back? Dukagång is woven from the back.

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Jan Mostrom was the second one to weave, and the right side of my piece peeked at her as it wound through the loom. Now you’ll get it.

scream-under

Jan Mostrom was next on the loom; look at her beautiful stars–or as much as you can see, at this point. Melba Granlund was the third person to weave; you can see the back of her piece here.  A little hard to decipher…

jans-stars

Here’s Melba’s pattern: birds, a fabulous griffin, and a stylized floral border.

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A problem with weaving grid-based patterns is remembering where you left off.  I solved it by highlighting each new row before I wove it.

scream-grid

Melba’s system was more ingenious.  She asked her husband, “Don’t you have a magnetized clipboard?”  Shortly after, he came from the basement with a tool, a discarded metal refrigerator rack with a strong magnet. Melba moved the pattern as she finished each row.

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I’ll share more photos as this magical warp progresses, and the cut-off day will be super fun.