Blending the beauty, wisdom and durability of Japanese, Swedish and American handwovens to create heirloom textiles for the home.
More soon about our 2017 Holiday Heirloom Handweaving!
Taeko and Tammy
Sashiko is a form of decorative reinforcement stitching (or functional embroidery) from Japan. The Ann Arbor Public Library had a class on Sashiko. I chose a wave design and found my love for embroidery quickly return after decades away from this art form.
It was so fun, that I was inspired to repair my favorite duvet covers using the tradition of Sashiko and variegated embroidery floss.
My older daughter requested that I weave a Smålandsväv Scarf for her using colors from my favorite scarf that we affectionately call “the peacock scarf”. I experimented with various color combinations and background shades and will soon begin weaving the Smålandsväv Peacock!
I love weaving lavender with friends and they love it too! The tactile weave in one’s hands combined with the beauty and aroma are simply heavenly.
Kumihimo is a Japanese form of braid-making. Cords and ribbons are made by interlacing strands. Cindy taught kumihimo to a group of weavers this summer. When I craved more, she brought over the thread for me to continue. And not just once, but twice! Cindy is pictured using a large kumihimo loom to create a beautiful dog leash.
Three years ago I dyed with poke berry and it was time to try again. This time I was not alone. Anthea joinned me in the fun and helped me keep great records for our next time at the dye pot. Happily our yarn remained a beautiful fushia, unlike my first attempt that came out a rusty orange. Dying holds a bit a mystery, as our next skein was dyed in the second bath and it came out a light orange.
Being on the beach is one of my happy places. The songs of water and wind combined with the warmth of the sun and the sand calms me, soothes me, centers me. Ah….
A few months had passed since the design and set-up of the Smålandsväv Scarf. What a thrill it was to weave this beautiful pattern in May. Getting back to the loom brought me great joy. The overall pattern repeats with a slight variation to celebrate the center of the scarf.
My younger daughter requested the scarf while visiting me at Väv Immersion. She spied Becky’s Smålandsväv samples and fell in love with one in particular. A few weeks later, I wove a sample with the colors that had caught her eye. This spring I finished the scarf just in time for her summer break. In no time she wound the fringe and experimented with the various ways she could wear and enjoy her dream scarf.
Left Photo: Just off the loom. A bit stiff, but oh so fun to try on!
Right Photo: Softer and more pliable with washing and wear. With a slightly different look showing off the reverse side.
Local weavers – all members of the Ann Arbor Fiber Arts Guild and the subgroup Warped Weavers – came to visit my studio and learn more about my experience in the Väv Immersion Class last year at Vävstuga Weaving School in Shelburne Falls, MA.
I shared a typical day at the farm house, a bit about Glimåkra looms, the special Smålandsväv set up currently on my loom, along with sixteen weeks worth of weaving, spinning, bobbin lace, drafting and fiber analysis. Though almost impossible to share 16 weeks of life in weaver’s utopia, I described my experience and enthusiasm for the program and the beautiful textiles that now fill my home. I look forward to future conversations with these local weavers as we continue to share resources and wisdom with one another.
The Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild (AAFG) is an educational, not-for-profit club of fiber artists. It was founded in 1956 as a club for weavers and still has a large number of members who are weavers, as well as many members who create other forms of fiber art.
Warped Weavers (WW) is now a subset of the AAFG, as the guild itself now includes all techniques that involve using fiber or fiber techniques including: Basketry, Beading, Bead Embroidery, Bead Weaving, Kumihimo, Crochet, Doll Making, Dyeing and Painting, Embroidery, Felting, Garment Design and Construction, Handmade Paper and Book Art, Knitting, Knotting, Quilting, Sewing, Spinning, Weaving, and Surface Design.
Both groups meet monthly and support a variety of fiber activities, educational opportunities, a great library, shows and sales. I am very fortunate to live in proximity of so many incredible weavers and fiber artists. For more information about AAFG and WW click on the blue links above!
Smålandsväv is a double harness weave that can be woven on a large framed loom without the need of a drawloom attachment.
I fell in love with Smålandsväv last spring at Vävstuga. My notes, blog and memory, along with Becky’s video – Dress You Swedish Drawloom and the book – Damask and Opphämta guided countless hours of preparation and set-up. I am grateful to Becky for her attention to details both in class and in her video. And I appreciate Betsy, a local weaver, for gifting me this classic book which is out of print. My new weaving friend Taeko spent several days discovering the ways of Smålandsväv while assisting with the set up. We had many “learning experiences”, laughed a lot, and proved that “many hands make light work”.
The 4 rows of heddles near the reed create the pattern and are hung with elastic bands on shaft bars borrowed from a smaller loom to allow the shafts to be pulled down into the loom. In addition, two rows of large-eyed heddles are hung closer to the warp beam to support the plain weave. These shafts are counterbalanced with pulleys and held with elastic bands for extra support.
As I sampled, I had occasional errors in the plain weave. The book showed the plain weave tied to the middle treadles and with this tie up, I could not get a good rhythm. Finally, after multiple errors and increasing frustration while sampling, I recalled (and saw in my class notes) that on the Smålandsväv loom at Väv Immersion, the plain weave was tied up to the treadles to the right and with the pattern on the left and middle treadles. Once I made this change, there were no more plain weave errors!
Smålandsväv, like many drawloom set-ups has a narrow shed. The Glimåkra damask shuttles fit well in the pattern shed, provided I advanced the warp regularly. However, the the damask shuttle would get stuck in the shed while weaving the plain weave. I adjusted the narrow shed to create a bit more space and then recalled that Bob, a weaver from the local guild, had gifted not only me, but our entire group of local weavers, with beautiful slim shuttles he had hand crafted in his woodshop. This shuttle slid with ease through the narrow plain weave shed and gave an extra damask shuttle for the pattern weave, thus allowing fewer quill/color changes! Many thanks to Bob for this amazing shuttle!
The warp is a beige 16/2 cotton set at 30 ends per inch in a 15 dent reed. The weft pattern uses various colors of 16/2 cotton doubled and a white 16/2 cotton single for the plain weave. The warp is long to allow plenty of sample space and length to weave 7 or 8 scarves/table runners. Like an empty canvas, the warp awaits to be woven with a variety of colors and designs!
* * * * * * * *
The winter and early spring brought other textiles pleasures as well – all in various shades of teal. I knotted the fringe and helped with finishing touches on friend Renee’s beautifully woven scarf – her very first handwoven textile! The cottolin bath towels woven at Väv Immersion continue to be a delight to use – no more bulky, fuzzy towels for me! These handwoven towels are light as a feather, absorb with ease, and wrap comfortably around one’s body. I also appreciate the lightweight when I swaddle my hair with these towels.
Night-time knitting produced a lovely warm hat that actually covers my ears and my first lace knit scarf. I was fortunate to be a part of a Brooklyn Tweed knitting group at SPUN, our new local yarn shop. Participants were guided by Christine, Pattern Support Lead for Brooklyn Tweed and Carol, Co-Owner of SPUN. It was great to increase my knitting skills and get to know other fiber artists in Ann Arbor.
* * * * * * *
Spring brought forsythia to brighten the window which houses the new year’s paper stars that gave sparkle to the house during the dark of winter. And now the days are becoming too warm to enjoy my new scarf and hat. And so I’ll trade them happily for time in my garden. Happy Spring to you all!
Happy Hands, Happy Hearts, Happy New Year 2017!
Several years ago we began a family tradition of creating art together. For over a decade we had taken classes individually at both Talking Colors and Rush In Art Academy. Then five winters ago, the four of us took a painting class all together for the first time with Natalyia at Rush In Art. We had so much fun we took another class the next winter. The following winter when Natalyia went on vacation, we decided we would continue the tradition at home. At first we all painted a similar theme, then different themes and this year we’ve mixed textiles and paper folding along side the painting.
In honor of the Women’s March on Washington on January 21st in Washington D.C., we gathered with dear friends to knit warm woolly pink hats which are part of the Pussy Hat Project. Local yarn shop Spun is hosting it’s second knit-in on Sunday, January 15th to finish off the hats and send them to Washington DC. There are Sister Marches all around the USA and the World! Locally in Ann Arbor the Women’s March will be held downtown – January 21, 2017 • 2:00 PM. I plan to participate – where will you march?
Evergreens, beewax candles, stacking dolls, dalarna horse, along with my handwovens brought cheer to welcome the winter.
Balsam Sachets – I was inspired this summer to make little balsam sachet pillows after reading KerryCan’s Love Those “Hands at Home” Blog post about her balsam pillows. I immediately ordered two large bags of ground balsam fir to insure I would follow through on the project. Throughout the late summer and autumn the aroma drifted from the balsam bags calling me to create a handwoven fabric worthy of this amazing scent – colors that said balsam, evergreen, winter. Then in early December, I wove with Swedish cottolin using the last of the M and O’s dishcloth warp alternating three to five shuttles of colors to create the fabric I’ve dreamed of for many months.
Then…came the decision of shape. I was inspired by Tonya’s Handwoven Ornaments and decided to create a sachet to represent the balsam tree. After chatting with Tonya about her process, went to a local quilting store to find the best interfacing to iron onto the handwoven fabric. My goal was to support the fabric and also keep the balsam from poking through the handwoven threads. Some people ask me if it was hard to cut my handwoven fabric. My answer, no….I wove it to cut it. The hard part was really just the slow part – stuffing the balsam into the small holes created by machine sewing and then hand sewing them closed. These were gifts for the family and they all delighted in this first trial of tammyweaves balsam sachets!
After completing my dishcloth warp for my fundraiser, I still had a few dishcloths that needed woven, so I put on a new warp and wove up 15 more dishcloths for gifts to be given. As I took the dishcloths off the loom, I noticed my color choices had changed – they were darker – reflecting the colors of the early mid-west winter.
As winter continues here in Ann Arbor, I ponder the joys of 2016 and the amazing weaving opportunities I have experienced. The quiet winter morning and the magic of Jack Frost at sunrise awakens my spirits to dream of the warps to soon dance upon the loom.
And, I wonder what creative dreams you are having. Do share!