Color Progress

Playing with some color combinations. A piece with this big, thick 4 ply wool yarn would weave up quickly. I'm thinking I want to make some larger pieces. I'm also thinking it is time to start experimenting with weaving warp faced on my Glimakra floor loom.

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Sometimes a color just happens. I was going for a dark purple. One dip in the indigo turned my madder red yarn into something that is not quite purple, but red with a transparent, dark layer.

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These colors still need something. The purple needs to be much darker and I want a deep red. I'm not sure if I can get this silk to go to the red that I want with madder, so far I have gotten orange. Subdued-- I want bright! But some more indigo dips might get me the pop  I'm looking for. This silk is fine! I'm thinking I want to use 6 colors with this one and really experiment with blending. I am thinking I need to sample this yarn for this idea- recently I accept that sampling is time well spent!

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Getting Personal- My Becoming Story

Lately I've been listening to Being Boss: A Podcast for Creative Entrepreneurs. It has prompted some soul searching about how to have faith in what I want to do in my life. Three years ago I resigned from my job as an elementary teacher at a public school to have my second child without putting her in full time day care. Jade is now almost two and my role as stay at home Mom is evolving into working Mom. I am deciding to have my own identity that is more than mother and wife. When I  find myself frustrated and overwhelmed, the question: what can I do right now (to feel more fulfilled, to get closer to my dreams), always seems to have the answer: do some art.  (Thank you BeingBoss for that question!)

The art I make has been a long time coming. I have been a fiber artist since I was old enough to thread a needle, but I learned to weave when I was 22. I began with a Navajo weaving class, then apprenticed with Rachel Brown at Weaving Southwest. For years I wove blankets and rugs in the Southwestern, weft-faced tradition. I read all of the weaving books I could get my hands on and found myself drawn to the ancient, Indigenous structures of South America. I taught myself to weave on a blackstrap loom and slowly, painstakingly unlocked some of the secrets of Andean weave structures. I read technical books like Weaves of the Incas by Ulla Nass and Double Woven Treasures From Old Peru by Adele Cahlander and Suzanne Baizerman, and later, the works of Laverne Waddington. 

I eventually mastered Andean pebble weave. I got a commission to weave a series of my own invention. I ended up creating an idea that needed more than 2 colors.

Shine- my first 3 color Andean pebble weave piece

Shine- my first 3 color Andean pebble weave piece

I figured out 3 color pebble weave from Ula Nass's book and enjoyed the simplicity of it compared to 4 color Andean pebble weave, which creates a double-faced cloth and requires two weft rows for one finished row of weaving. 3 color pebble weave has a clear side where the design shows, and a reverse side that does not. I am now working with this same technique, but adding in more colors, I wove Emergence  with 4 colors, then  Emerge  with 5.

Emergence

Emergence

Emerge

Emerge

I have not read about this anywhere, but as these basic Andean pebble weave structures are centuries old, I feel sure that other weavers at some point in time have tried this. That thought continues to intrigue me as my soul searches for meaning in my weaver's path.

 

My Loom's Story

Erin Riley, a weaver I very much admire, turned me on to the hashtag #myloomstory from her Instagram feed. My loom is a blackstrap loom made of pieces from many different places. The blackstrap itself and the big, but strangely lightweight beater are from Guatemala, I purchased them many years ago from my weaving teacher, Rachel Brown. The lama bone pick was sent to me from Bolivia by another weaver that I really admire, Laverne Waddington . Some of the sticks came from my first Navajo weaving class with Pearl Sunrise. The shuttle is one of many random tools my Dad found for me with his uncanny ability to find just the right stuff. I remember carving the long picking sticks on a beach in Central California. The rest of the sticks and nylon heddle strings are from Randal Lumber, a local hardware store I often frequent for loom parts. Every loom has a story.

Dye Days

First and second chamisa batches. The magic did not happen with the first dye bath. The second time I let the chamisa sit on the bath overnight before straining it. Also, I added about a cup of alum to the pot after straining out the plants. Maybe the premordanting did not take. Or maybe it's just better to add some alum to the dye bath anyway. One more difference was that I waited for the bath to be quite hot before I added the yarn. 

Dye Days

After simmering my yarn in an alum/cream of tartar pot for an hour, then letting it sit in the pot overnight, I sealed it (wet) in zip locks to cure. I did not really measure the alum and cream of tartar, I just put a few spoonfuls in. I'm looking for a good scale so that I can be more scientific about this, but I do enjoy working intuitively! Ideally it should cure refrigerated for two weeks, but I'm short on time (the chamisa is going to seed!) so mine cured for a couple of days. I learned about curing mordanted yarn from Michele Whiplinger, and it is definitely one of my best tricks! I use an old cooler dedicated to this purpose. I keep my mordanted yarn away from my kitchen and food, so I would never put it in my home frig. 

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Using fresh chamisa, ground madder, and indigo I plan to dye yellow, orange, red, blue, purple, and something very dark for my outlining color (for this I will probably do multiple dye baths, using all these dye stuffs one by one, then maybe some sage if the color doesn't come out dark enough). Most of the supplies that I don't gather fresh are from Michele Whilinger's Earthues- my absolute favorite natural dyeing resource! 

 

Chamisa Blooms

When the chamisa blooms I start planning my next dye day. Chamisa flowers dye great yellows that I think are pretty light fast . I like to use it when it's fresh, and yellow is pretty important to me, so I do most of my dyeing at this time of year.

 

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