Having moved the original loom into Tracy’s former bedroom to make room for the big loom in the studio, I decided it would be best to weave the side panels for my plaid blanket using the same loom I used for the blanket. So here it is, two warps next to each other on the loom. The side panels will be just one color, a dusty rose woven on a gray warp. Having already “fulled” [washed and shrunk} the blanked it seemed unlikely I could match the plaid stripes. You can see the blanket behind the chair. Hopefully, adding a 9″ side panel on each edge of the blanket will look and feel good. The next blanket I weave will be wide enough, no panels required. But they are easy and fast to weave, no complaints!
A few weeks ago, after I finished the blanket and found it was not quite wide enough, I began to think about searching for a loom with a weaving width of 48 inches rather than 36.
I spoke to my friend Maureen, who taught weaving for many years. She offered to show me her 48 inch Macomber loom, and spoke passionately about its virtues. We decided to post a notice at local weaving haunts. The next day Maureen was posting the notice when she spotted another–advertising a vintage Macomber loom that seemed to meet all my criteria!
Maureen accompanied John and me to look at it, and an hour later I was writing a check. Today, dodging rain and with son Paul to help us, we disassembled the loom to reduce the weight (solid maple–so heavy), loaded it on the truck, wrapped it in tarps, and in an hour it was safely lodged in the studio. I expected to spend months hunting!
So now, I am challenged, inspired, and and a little intimidated by this magnificent machine. Anyone interested in a friendly old hand made 4-harness loom?
The weaving of Marilyn’s blanket did not take long, compared to John’s tapestry weavings. There is as much air as wool, lots of open spaces, no packing. So in January, the blanket came off the loom. There were two errors that attached the top and bottom layers and had to be cut and retied. Not bad for a first try. I wasn’t sure how easily the blanket would full, and was terrified it might felt if I just put it into the front loading washer. So I washed it in the tub, dried on no heat. No change, no fulling. Washed in the washer on “hand wash” setting and dried on the lowest heat. No fulling at all. Tried “delicate” wash and higher heat. At last, the yarns seemed to have moved a bit closer to each other, and the 6 foot width of the blanket became little more than 5 feet.
Hmmm. After fulling, it barely covers the double bed. So now I’ve decided to weave side panels. I’m still happy that the entire top of the blanket is in one piece and don’t mind seams along the side.
I loved weaving it. Time to start the search for a 48 inch loom. I was fortunate to sit with weaving master Maureen McNulty, at the spinner’s retreat. Between Maureen and Audrey Moore, John’s tapestry teacher, I am blessed with excellent coaching and support.
The local spinners’ retreat at Silver Falls State Park is a great little vacation, much needed after the holidays. We had excellent weather, cold and a bit icy but no snow. Fed three meals a day, cozy in our meeting hall, we enjoyed great companionship for the weekend. I was surprised at all the creative ways people incorporated alcohol into the experience: in the coffee, in the chocolates, straight up in the coffee mugs. Oops, not supposed to have alcohol there? Well, what else would we use for antifreeze in our veins?
The Zapotec inspired piece is done! John waited till the family was gathered in the studio to remove the rug from the loom. It is a special moment worthy of celebration after months of work.
During December, we spent many a peaceful evening weaving. John was finishing his zapotec-inspired blue rug, which he started last summer, and I began to weave the double-weave blanket. It is challenging to weave a layer you can’t see!
Meanwhile, John had to look ahead to the next project, carding the wool and creating the design, so I could spin it and eventually he could dye it. This rug will be longer: it needs 90 ounces of yarn!
For six months or more, I had been thinking about trying to weave a seamless blanket. The weaving width of my loom is 36″, but I had heard that you can set the loom up to weave a top and bottom joined on one side. So I looked at my inventory: blue, grey, white, wild raspberry, plum yarns in two ply that could be the warp. So I spun some matching singles while I read up on double-weave. Finally, I had to take the plunge. The warp is 4 yards long, and twice as many threads so it can weave a top and bottom. Four pounds of yarn!
In Sydney, November is time for the Sculptures by the Sea exhibit. Hundreds of amazing sculptures, set up on the cliffs and ridges along a path that starts at Bondi beach. Artists from all over the world. This was our favorite, a globe about 3 feet across, filled with water, reflecting [upside down] the ocean and landscape and surfers beyond.
During our week on Norfolk island, learning about its rich history of settlement [which included the original mutineers from the Bounty], we stopped for a cuppa in a cafe/bookstore and found this group of people in the corner. They were learning a traditional weaving method that was developed to use the flax and other grasses that grew on Norfolk. One man asked where we were from and then told me he was born and raised in Tacoma Washington. Don’t know how he ended up on Norfolk Island.
It has become customary for us to visit the Petlin’s fiber arts store in Sydney. This time both of the owners were there and we had a good visit while John stocked up on dyes. I mentioned I had acquired a Nagy wheel and did they know where I could find an orifice hook? While we visited, Mr “Petlin” [not sure his actual name] was fiddling around with wires and pliers. As we paid for our dyes and prepared to leave, he handed me a small piece of wood with a wire in it: the turned wood was an original Nagy orifice hook and he had inserted a new wire hook for me. No charge, see you next year!
About once a year I get on Craig’s list and look up spinning wheels. I did that in 2012 and there it was: the Schacht wheel I had been hoping for. This time, right in front of my eyes was an ad for a Nagy wheel. Made in New Zealand of rare Kauri wood, I had been interested in one like this since visiting the Kauri forest and museum on the North Island of New Zealand in 2009. It needed some work, having worn out the leather bearings inside the bobbins, but I could not resist.