Friday, April 21, 2006

My Plans for the Next Tapestry

This past week I have been happily drawing trees and finally came up with a design that I really want to weave. I had it at 12x8" and it was just screaming out to be larger. As I experimented with several sizes, it is ending up to be doubled at 16 x 24" which is quite a large tapestry for me. It would have been weavable at the small size but it will be a lot more impressive and dramatic at the larger size. And I know, that isn't really THAT large compared to what a lot of tapestry weavers do. Now the cartoon is finished but I'm still working out a way to do the background before I warp the loom.

The warp will be Davidson's mill wool set at 8 epi which is my standard sett. I have a lot of handspun yarn that works with this sett so it is nice to have such a great color selection on hand. I don't experiment with setts and yarns that much anymore because this works for me and I can easily spin a new color if I need it and have it all go together. The part that I keep working on is the designing so it is nice to have some givens and not always experimenting with everything at the same time. My loom for this one will be a 32" Mirrix. I'll probably warp it on Monday. This is exciting for me because it was a totally different direction than I had planned but it just worked out like that.

Spring has finally come to Montana and it is just beautiful. Tomorrow we are going on our first hike of the season and I can't wait to get out in the mountains. I'm sure the trails are still icy in spots and muddy everywhere else but I don't care.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Can't See the Trees for the Forest

The last couple of days I've been drawing from photos I took last October in Brighton, UT. I've posted several of these on the blog already. I need to get out and get some new photos, do some hiking and some sketching but we have had so much rain and snow in the mountains that the trails are either muddy or icy. I've used these photos for lots of drawings and a couple tapestries already but I took another look at them because this was what I had. Sometimes looking at something again and having to dig a little deeper gives me ideas that I didn't even know were there.

Clearly, to draw a landscape, it needs to be simplified. There is just too much to ever draw everything in a scene. But to weave a tapestry, it has to be simplified even more. In the new drawings, I'm picking out the interesting forms of trees leaving out as much of the other details as possible. Focusing on a few trees and then giving the impression of the others is interesting drawing but now I have to work out how I can weave this. I have found that it is easier for me to simplify from a photo rather than drawing from nature because I sometimes get overwhelmed and a photo has already made the transition from three dimensional to flat which probably helps too. But I like to draw outside and will keep working at that when the weather gets better.

This week, I have woven a little but have taken a lot of time for designing. It's funny that I feel like I haven't accomplished much when I do this but if I didn't do any designing and experimenting with that, the weaving would really suffer.


Yesterday, I was reading Fiber Scriber's blog and she gave a couple reviews of her favorite color books, neither of which I have seen. One was Living Colors which has palettes of color from historic sources. I have been thinking about this and how it would be a great learning experience to take various paintings and analyze their colors and how the artist used them to come up with an idea of the palette they used. Many years ago when I was still going to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, in the beginning weaving class we did something like this. Else Regensteinter was the teacher and she described it in more detail in her book, The Art of Weaving, but we had to go to the museum store and pick out a postcard of a painting we liked and then match up yarns which gave the impression of the colors and feeling of the painting we chose. We wrapped these yarn on a card about the size of the postcard for the assignment. It's an old idea but still has a lot of merit for learning about colors and developing new ideas for either dyeing or weaving. I'm going to work on a few of these in my sketchbook just for fun.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Thoughts on the Fiber Stash

On fiber lists and blogs, I have read various opinions about yarn and fiber stashes. Most of us love to amass them and then reach a point where it gets to be too much. Not only is there not an inch left in the house to store the stuff but often it is not the right materials for what we want to do...Wrong colors, wrong fiber, not enough of anything to do a project with, etc. I reached that point about 3 years ago and just felt overwhelmed by it all. Since then I have hardly bought a single new yarn or fiber because I am determined to use up what I have. I have slipped a couple times but I doubt that has added up to a pound of yarn total so in all that time, that is not too bad. And I have done very well using up yarns and fleece by weaving several blankets, scarves and shawls and just spinning what I had for all my new projects. Believe me, there was enough so that I am not deprived in the least. After all that, the stash fit, well mostly fit, in one closet and several plastic tubs stowed around, but still that was a big improvement. Then we moved. Our condo has an elevator but it wasn't working yet. Hauling that stash up to the third floor, all 31 stairs, gave me a whole new perspective on what is STILL too much to have squirreled away. But, of course, now it is up here, I might as well just enjoy it but I'm going to continue to not buy more and use up what I have. My work has gotten more focused and so when I start buying fleeces again, I know exactly what I need and want. Basically, I think stashes are good if they are usable but what I had before got way out of hand.

Oh, and my other weakness is books. Carrying yarn up is nothing compared to a box of books! But now we are here and I don't intend on moving again any time soon so why worry? And the elevator is now working...

Towards the end of last week I finally felt like the move was over and I was getting back into weaving and regular life in general. It takes me a little time to settle in and have all my supplies unpacked and accessible and to just feel like getting back to work again. The place is pretty well organized, at least by my low standards of organizing things. I did spend some time this morning looking for my favorite metal ruler but I am back weaving every day and feeling pretty happy about it.

Last year I was a vendor at the Quilting in the Country Day the end of August and did quite well there so plan to do it again. My goal is to weave 10 new bags by then plus weave a new tapestry for the MAWS conference exhibit which is at the same time. Hopefully I will weave more small tapestries than that but the one is a must. I have ideas written down for 7 bags and one of them is woven but not assembled. I like to assemble 3-4 at one time. I've got a good start on weaving the second one. It won't all go so quickly because for some I need to spin and dye certain colors of yarn and for a couple I am doing some experiments so that doesn't always work out the first try. Anyway, the ideas are flowing again and I really love our new place and have a big pleasant work space so hopefully I can get a lot accomplished.