Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Totally Random

Book winner! #16 :) Congratulations "Shirley, surely!" Send me your address, (sara at saralamb dot com) and I'll drop the book in the mail. Thanks for all your comments, and I do hope you all get a chance to read this book.

For the several of you who requested the link to the buy the book, it's in the previous post (link above, click on Schiffer Publishing), or go here. This book will be a classic, it should be on your bookshelf if you are at all interested in textile history, traditional weaving techniques, or bandweaving in general. Heather has done a lovely job of presenting the materials, and I wish her all the success with this book.

This week I was able to attend a lecture in Boulder CO given by Linda Ligon, founder and creative director of Interweave Press, and now a principal in Cloth Roads, a resource for global textiles. Linda's talk, which launched a new book by Thrums Books, was held at Shuttles, Spindles and Skeins, a yarn shop in Boulder. I met up with many people I had not seen in quite a while. It was a treat to see old friends, talk about textiles and their makers, and once again be among people who consider cloth and textiles worthy of study.

We textile enthusiasts are so often dismissed, or worse, overlooked in the general population. Who even thinks about the textiles that surround them? So much in our world today is made of petroleum by-products, including the plastics that make up the bulk of what is sold for clothing, upholstery, household textiles and carpets. Natural fibers are renewable resources. They do not melt in a fire, or off-gas noxious fumes. They moderate temperatures, and grow more comfortable with use. But they are becoming increasingly overshadowed by synthetics: acrylics, polyester, nylon, even rayon and bamboo.

These two publishing companies, Schiffer and Thrums, along with import companies like Cloth Roads, champion the people, the natural fibers of the world, the techniques and textile communities, worldwide and historical, that keep textile traditions and practices alive. They educate us, inform us, keep us abreast of what is happening in far off communities where weaving is a way of life, for subsistence and for artistic expression. I am so thankful that they are able to bring us this information, these textile examples, and that we can still travel to meet people and learn about what they do. Linda's lecture gave us a glimpse of Chiapas, this time, where will she take us next?

Many thanks to those who made my visit possible: Gram and Grandpa Dick, the women at Shuttles, and Cloth Roads, and the weaving community of Boulder who attended with me. It was a lovely break in the middle of a week of childcare, and a reminder of why I do all this textile stuff: the people, the friends, the daily practice of textiles, and the value of keeping these traditions alive.

Monday, February 02, 2015

A Sample and a Book Review

I've been testing a new-to-me loom. I got it years ago! These things take time. First we had to build a room to house it. Then I had to assemble it. Then, and here is where the time got away from me, I had to weave the first sample:


Fire. Handspun pile, a bag front or, actually, a pocket for a leather bag (not yet made, watch this space! wanna lay bets on how long that will take??)

Here is the loom's debut, when I started the sample: two years ago!

knotted pile upright loom

Well, things intervene. I needed to try a sample to A) see how the loom works, and B) check the sett, warp and weft yarns together.

Well, the loom works just fine, so well, in fact that I will be re-homing another upright loom that I have, and using this instead. The sett? Too wide. This is sett at 16 EPI, 8 knots per inch. If you look at the sample, the design is truncated slightly, not square. That big borderline around the center section? Should be square. It's not.

I used two strands of pile yarn for the knots, and it might have been better to use three. But I worried three would have been too much, so I continued and finished this using two strands. It's a sample!

Next up? re-sley and try a sample at 24 EPI, 12 knots per inch. I will do an Actual Sample, little squares with a border, just to see how a single pile yarn works, and then two strands again. I hope this does not take me another two years.... but good things take time.

In the meantime:


I got a new book this week! That's an exclamation point because it's a good book, and I was so excited to see it in print. I met the author Heather a few years ago, at which time she showed us (Abby Franquemont and I)the manuscript for this book. We encouraged her to find a publisher, and luckily, Schiffer Publishing accepted her manuscript and produced this fine book in record time.

This is the kind of book I will keep on my shelf forever: hardbound, it includes a bit of history, culture and traditions in the introductory text, a wonderful gallery of bands and textiles from the Vesterheim Museum, in Decorah, Iowa, and a section on how to weave traditional Norwegian pick-up bands, including pages and pages of graphed patterns.

The section on Norwegian history includes text and photos, describing how the bands were used in Norway, who made them, with illustrations from Vesterheim and the Norsk Folkemuseum in Oslo. There are many types of band looms pictured: upright, floor standing, inkle style, and back-strap, using a wooden rigid heddle, many of which are also depicted.

The gallery section has a treasure trove of textiles in close up well-lit shots. A weaver could extrapolate the patterns from many of these, but would not need to, given the number of graphs the author has provided in the how-to section.

The instructions are clear, the illustrations and photographs are very clear and close up. A new weaver could start here, and with a bit of dedication be weaving bands from this book alone.

I'm thrilled to recommend this book: some of the paintings and photos are haunting and evocative, and the whole publication is neat, clean and crisp, like the bands Heather writes about. A truly fine book!

And now? The publisher sent me this copy to review, and I will give it away to one lucky weaver. If you wish to receive the book, leave a comment on this post by Monday February 9th. I'll use a random number generator to pick a winner, announce the winner in the next blog post, and you can send your contact information. Good luck!