Thursday, December 30, 2010

Weaving in the new year......

This year, instead of the usual new year's eve party with lots of food and drinks, I decided on something different. One of the things I have enjoyed most this last year was actually getting some weaving done and keeping in touch with my textile/weaving friends. So what better way to see in the new year than to combine all the things that I enjoy!
So I asked a couple of them (shipbuilding and Alternative thoughts) to join me with a 'weaving party'. We have a round robin set up with 3 looms, 3 different warps, and 3 different types of weave structures.

Barb who came to visit from the country for a couple of days helped with the preparations. She can't stay for new year but wanted to be part of it. So she has helped to wind the warp, threaded and sleyed it. This will be a woven shibori warp (hence white) and is on KaTe, the 8 shaft countermarche.

This one is a double weave stitched fabric. Cotton and wool, threaded and sleyed on the 8 shaft Ashford table loom, but will only be using 4 shafts.

And then the last one will be Chibi, the 2-shaft Saori loom. And we will try to connect up with Kaz via skype so that she is part of the weaving party as well!

Finally, before the end of the year........

This week had been monumental in the number of things that are being completed. However, the item of the most significance was this. I finally completed the Pics to Picks piece and I can say that it has been completed in the year that it was started!

I am not great at keeping records and as I was trying to use yarns and warps that were on hand, I could not remember how much black warp was on the loom. I knew that I had about 2m of the coloured warp and that I wanted the horizontal plane change over at about the halfway mark. As I kept weaving, I noticed that there was not that much black warp left on the back beam. This is a bit of designing on the run, so I made the horizontal layer change and hoped for the best.

There was enough coloured warp left to give a decent length scarf so I decided to keep weaving. As the warps were on 2 different back beams, I could cut the black warp off  and continued weaving until I ran out of the coloured warp as well.

I washed the piece in hot water by hand, and then rinsed and spun dry in the washing machine, hoping that the silk stainless yarn will do its thing and crinkle up. I can not describe my exictement when I got it out of the machine and it worked to my expectations!
I am pleased with the results and will definitely develop this idea/concept further.
Thanks, Meg for organising this, Esmae for sending me the picture and Kaz for leaving behind the demo warp from the ikat workshop!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Seasonal greetings

These are the first fruits off my nectarine tree. How appropriate then that they are also the Christmas wreath!

I saw beautiful images in the Sept/Oct issue of the Selvedge magazine of Gonul Paksoy's* 'edible beads', and thought that I can be inspired to make an edible version of the wreath.

Happy holidays!

*Lovely Miss C is doing some work over there in Istanbul with Gonul Paksoy so have a visit of her blog.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Shibori catch up

At the beginning of December, a few of us who participated in the Yoshiko Wada workshop got together and did a mini-dyeing session. We had a lot of fun eating, chatting and did some dyeing. We also discovered that we all enjoy sewing and will probably get together to do some of that as well!
Here are some of the results:
Jane R. had a piece of cream coloured silk and she had already started a serious of ties before hand and finished them off while we were getting everything ready.

The dye we used is a Procion MX Morrocan red. It resulted in different shades and intensity of the colour depending on the fibre and the base colour.
This was mine and it was a piece of ready-rolled hem silk scarf that I had left over from the workshop. I was not very well prepared for the get together and only rolled and knotted the scarf on the day.
Esmae folded, tied and knotted this piece and it also came out really well. The colour is more pink but this is a cotton base.
Jane S. who also prepared an eucalyptus natural dye pot had to leave hers in the pot overnight so we don't have a visual yet. She is also the person instrumental in getting all the dyes so we were very grateful for her expertise!
We are going to get together again in the new year so it will be interesting to see what we come up with next time!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Shibori blooms

This came as a little pre-tied bundle of white cotton. At the last shibori group get together, we set up som procion dye in 'Morrocan Red'.
I never thought that shibori can be this easy. Literally open the packet and add dye.
The hardest bit was waiting for this to dry so that I can see what it looked like as it unfolded.

This little bundle of surprise (54 x54 cm when opened fully) was bought at this amazing shop. The Tanaka Tadashi dye shop which was established in 1733. So if you are in Kyoto or Tokyo, put it on your intinerary.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Keep calm and keep weaving

In this period when it is sometimes called the 'silly season', it is nice to focus on something that is set up already. All I have to do is wind the bobbins and weave.

When I am weaving, the frenzy of Christmas approaching is somehow forgotten. I can put the multiple batches fruit cakes in the oven and forget about them for a couple of hours. No thoughts of shopping malls, supermarkets, etc. Just the shuttles going from side to side, and making sure that I have not crossed over the weft yarns so that the 2 layers remain separate on the edge.

For the black layer, the weft is of the same cotton. For the coloured layer, I am using a single strand of Avril's silk stainless steel in black. It will be interesting when wet finished whether there will be any textural changes.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Saori, Osaka: IV

Although the Saori loom arrived with the warp pre-wound on the back beam, threaded and sleyed with the standard black cotton.
At the studio we also learnt to put on a new warp using yarns of our choice. We used the warping board with the cone holders fixed at the top, and learnt to use our fingers, with some deft movement, creating the cross with multiple strands of yarn as we wound the warp. There was no need for a warping paddle. It seemed smooth and easy at the time. Kaz had taken some videos and I hope that when it comes to doing this again, it will remind me how to proceed!

I have never wound a warp from front to back, nor have I ever seen one of these cross-boxes where you can sley the reed and thread the heddles off the loom. I have read about tying on a warp from front to back but they looked a bit different from this. I suppose this is one of the appealing aspects of these looms, no bending over to thread and sley.

The reed is held in place in a horizontal position on the table. Each end comes off the cross-box in sequence and is pushed down by the sleying tool.
Then the shafts are put in front of the reed in a vertical position and again, each end is treaded in sequence. There is a weighted holder for the ends. The ends can be combed so that they lay flat in the groove and was held down by the metal rod. It works really well with cotton and silk but I did not use it for the wool warp. The wool was a bit 'sticky' and did not work so easily with the holder.

The combination of reed and shafts were then fitted back onto the loom and the ends were tied onto the rod at the back of the loom.

The other end was tied to the handrail and the loom pushed away to create a certain amount of tension. The warp is then wound onto the back beam slowly. It was easy, quick and we did not encounter any problems with snagging.

The ends were then secured into the clipping rod at the front. Easily done!

I hope that when it comes time to wind on a new warp, I will remember everything and it will be as easy as how I have described it!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Talented people:II

I feel honoured to be friends with these very talented people! I am in awe of their ability to create and to inspire. Best of all, they have encouraged me and I am grateful.

Shipbuilding has a limited edition of textile creations and she has launched an online shop.
I admire her ability to work with different mediums: yarns, textile, and paper, and her patience for printing her own fabrics and dyeing her own yarns. 

Alternative thoughts has just graduated from the RMIT textile course. Her works are displayed at the Fuse exhibition. So I would encourage you to go to see that.
She works with an amazing variety of materials and techniques. This is an example of her glass works. Her blog is being updated slowly. Blogging takes time and effort. I also understand that when you are new to blogging, it takes even longer.

Jane B. is a shibori and batik artist whose patience is amazing. Her attention to detail is admirable and the length of time it takes to create one of her pieces is mind boggling.

As I said, I am in awe of them. I feel privileged to know them and I have learnt much from them.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Rooftop Cowl

A photo of one of the rooftops at Nijo Castle in Kyoto. I originally took the photo as inspiration for a weave pattern. I can see it so clearly as a weave.

However, since being home, I started to knit the 'alexandria cowl'. It is a gift to a friend in Japan and hopefully she will get it in time for their cold winter. As I knitted, I kept seeing the image of the rooftop in my mind, especially in this colour.

I love the texture, the contrast of thick and thin creating these ridges.

I have knitted this before and had also given it away. I think I will end up knitting it a third time (and hopefully the last time, for myself).

In the meantime, this edition has been re-named the 'rooftop cowl'.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tools of the trade: I

I love tools - tools for making things. Tools for cooking, for knitting, for weaving, and even tools just for admiration as they are so beautiful.
Japan is a great place for tools. Fortunate or not, there is a limit on luggage allowance so there is also a limit on how many different tools I could buy.

A few years ago, I visited  the Inagaki Kiryou manual weaving supplies shop. It was established in 1897, on the outskirts of Kyoto in the Nishijin area. I did not have my camera with me. I told all my weaving friends about this place but I felt that my words can not truly describe it properly nor could they describe how I felt when I was there.

They are traditional tools, beautifully made and functional. The owner has limited English. Between that and my knowledge of Kanjii, a bit of sign language, it was enough for us to communicate and to explain what the different things are used for.
(On their website, they do recommend that you have a translator with you as they are not fluent in English.)
He brought out all the selections. When we have picked a shuttle, he brought out all that he had so we could choose the which one we wanted as they all had individual wood grains and colours. The shuttles were made of oak. We could get bamboo or timber bobbins to use with them. (My swedish cardboard bobbins also fit with some of these shuttles.)

There were a lot of things that looked familiar but also a lot that were ( I think) peculiar to Japanese weaving!?

We saw those ceramic weights that I found in Melbourne, and found out what their use is.

They are added to the swift to slow down the speed!
In the ceiling, there were all these old tools hanging there. They have all acquired that mature timber patina and gave the shop this amazing atmoshpere. There were bobbins, shuttles, old bamboo reeds, etc.

One of the really sad things was that as the tool makers retire, unless there is a new generation to take over, there won't be anymore supplies. This is the case for some of his beautiful timber tapestry beaters.

So if you are in Kyoto and you are a weaver, this should definitely be on your itinerary. However, if you can not get there, they have also developed a good website in English and it is worth a look.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Saori, Osaka: III

The red building of Saori was visible from afar. Kenzo Jo mentioned that he was impressed by the red barns that he had seen in the United States. When they had the opportunity to establish this new building, he wanted it to be this colour!

Misao Jo is 97 years old and she still goes into the studio to weave each day!

At the Studio, every bit of yarn is put to good use. It changed my way of thinking when I was on that shopping spree. I no longer worried whether I had to buy enough for a 'whole' piece/project. If I saw something interesting, I can just get 10/20g or one ball of knitting yarn. I now have inspired uses for the thrums that I could not bear to throw away, or the few bits left over on a cone.

If people had fnished with a bobbin and had left overs, they were left in a neat arrangement so that it can inspire the next person. It opens my eyes to combinations of textures and colours that I would not have dreamt of before. It was very liberating.

The built-in bobbin can be used in many ways other than winding on yarn. Kenzo Jo and Setsuko both showed us various ways to spin fleece into yarn, to creat fancy yarn, to form loose/tight twists, S and Z twists as you wind the bobbin.


This blue fancy yarn we created on the bobbin reminded me of all the overhead power lines we saw in Kyoto. This way, you don't run out of yarn. You just make as much as you need.


Note: all the photos except the one of the powerlines were taken by Kaz.

Fuse 2010

This is the graduate exhibition of the Diploma of Textile Design RMIT TAFE and some of my friends are finishing this year.

It is at the Counihan Gallery in Brunswick until 18 December. If you are in Melbourne, (Australia) and you like textile in any way, please please do try to get there to have a look!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Confessions of a yarnaholic

Is it possible to save the world economy one ball/skein of yarn at a time? I wonder if each knitter, weaver, crafter, etc went out and bought some yarn, what difference would it make.

It sure does feel like that at times. Stocktake sales, art and craft expos and shows, online shops, the temptation is all around and I have had a few moments of weakness lately. In addition, there are all these ideas floating around. New things I want to try but I don't seem to have the right yarn in my stash........
Or should I design my projects around yarns that I have in my stash?

Do you buy yarn with a project in mind or do you buy it just because you like the feel/look of it?

I had a conversation with a friend from Japan recently and she imagines that there are a lot of sheep in Australia and therefore we should have an abundance of choices with woollen yarn. Sadly, I told her that most of the wool/fleece are exported and processed and milled abroad, and that I have to buy 'Australian' yarn from the US or other countries.

So when I went to Avril, I totally lost control. I visited the retail stores, the one in Shinsaibashi, Osaka (level 2 in Daimaru) and the one in Sanjo St, Kyoto. Look at those beautiful cones on the wall. The colours, the textures. I was like a kid in a lolly shop.

At each store, they have displays of Setsuko Torii's designs. You can feel them and try them on. They are beautiful. There are people doing hand knitting workshops, and learning how to weave on knitter's looms.

However, my favourite one is the head office. I roamed along the corridor, shopping for yarn like I am at the supermarket shopping for grocery. Each type of yarn, in various colours neatly stacked on shelves. Large cones and skeins. At the end, the quantity I wanted is wound off onto cones. Usually when I have too much choice, I can't make a decision and I don't buy anything. For some reason, it was the opposite at Avril. I can look at each cone and think of a project for it. My imagination goes wild. I am inspired, I am giddy with excitement. I was there for hours.

I bought a bit of everything: linen, silk, wool and cotton. I bought for weaving on the Saori loom. I bought for a few projects I have seen in the Vav magazine.
Thank you Masumi for your patience with me. Avril truly is my favourite yarn store in the world!
Now I just have to weave, knit and make some beautiful things with my stash!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

New addition to the family

Her name is Chibi and she came pre-warped, threaded and sleyed! Yes, and built-in bobbin winder, too.

The setting up took half an hour; from box to ready-to-weave......

But first the P2P piece, I am determined to finish that before starting another weaving project.