Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Card Weaving

On Vashon, we have this rather fabulous weaving group (with some rather fabulous and talented weavers) that meets once a month to talk about weaving, to show and tell what we've been working on, to get inspired, and to learn. At the April meeting, one of the members gave a short lesson in card weaving (thanks Donna!). Card weaving (also called tablet weaving) is a pretty old kind of weaving (archeological finds - cards of ivory, bone, wood from 400BC and later) that creates woven bands with intricate patterns without a fancy loom.

So here it is.

You get these cards (OK, no fancy stuff here - these are just heavy cardboard) and thread your warp threads through them from the top or from the bottom, in a sequence that creates a pattern (pattern instructions in some good books - references at end of post).

warping from the top and from the bottom

Using colors too (if you like - you could also go with black and white, or you could use all one color and just go for texture - so many choices!)
a bundle of cards

Well, color it is (that's just how I am!). After threading the cards, you tie one end, slide the cards to the other end to straighten out the warp threads (not a trivial task, let me tell you - no matter how organized you are to start out, it becomes quite a jungle of twisted threads), tie the other end, and hook them up somewhere.
the cards all warped and tied

This bundle is stretched from a cabinet knob to a clamp on a weighted tray table.
To weave, you pass the weft shuttle through the shed (that V shaped space next to the cards)
shuttle goes through the shed

Then you turn the cards (either towards yourself or away from yourself, depending on the pattern),
turning the cards

slide the cards towards the weaving fell (edge) to "clear the shed" (straighten out all the newly tangled warp threads) and to press the weft thread firmly in place,
clearing the shed

and when you slide the cards back, "Voila", you have a new shed ready for your weft shuttle!
new shed

And the pattern grows (sometimes in unexpected ways when you forget whether you're supposed to be turning towards or away from, but it's all kind of cool, and it's fun to be surprised, mostly).
the warp goes off into the far beyond

This is a pretty thick 2-ply cotton thread to make a sturdy band (for my sample, test, discovery, learning experience). My next band will use a bit finer cotton to make a more delicate pattern (thinking about a ram's horn pattern), but still strong so that I can use it for a banjo strap.

Pretty easy, kind of fun, and cool patterns.

Good books to use (these are Amazon links, but I found these first at my public library. . . then I bought them):

Card Weaving by Candace Crockett -for good beginner instruction and basic technique and some nice patterns (she also has a video to teach the process)

and for the serious student and for in-depth info on history, instruction, techniques with variations, and tons of patterns - The Techniques of Tablet Weaving by Peter Collingwood

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

More Quilt Blocks

So we had another fun quilting class (thanks Annie and Margaret!) and worked on those tricksy little "quarter square triangles" (or hourglass units)
quarter square triangles

as well as a "square within a square" which you can see in this Union Square Block
union square block

And then there was the homework!

Ohio Star or Twin Star when it uses those flashy little four color quarter squares
Ohio Star

Whirligig - with a combo half square and two quarter squares

Handy Andy - with a wee little Ohio Star in the center!
Handy Andy

Windmill - half squares and combo half with two quarters (pretty)

and my fave - Snail's Tail or Monkey Wrench in which we start with a little 4 patch square, and just keep spiraling out with bigger and bigger "square within a square" - using different colors opposite to create curves out of straight lines.
Snail's Tail

Cool, huh!

In other news, the handspun fractal stripe sweater continues to grow (slowly but surely)
fractal stripe sweater continues

and I learn (re-learn, I played a little about 40 years ago) to play Grandpa's banjo
Grandpa's banjo

more about that later.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Buffleheads migrate through

Yikes almighty, I haven't posted in two weeks! OK, I will try to be more diligent (I've set a goal of posting at least once a week). So today will be mostly some bird watching, with a short "coming attractions" teaser. Meet Mr. and Ms. Bufflehead - Mr. and Mrs. Bufflehead #21 These cute little diving ducks migrate through in the spring and fall, sometimes staying for a while before moving on. The female has been here for several weeks, but then, suddenly she had a male companion, and it was a beautiful day - and so I had to go down and take some photos (I did not spend more than an hour crouched in the wetland, getting my shoes and pant legs completely sodden, trying to get closer by hiding behind the swan as he ate his morning grains. I wouldn't be that crazy. Really.). Boris the swan Well, Boris the Swan was not at all sure how he felt about being used as a birdwatching blind, but he graciously put up with it. 

So they spent a long time taking baths and then doing wing stretches, and power-flapping across the pond - Mr. and Mrs. Bufflehead #6 Mr. and Mrs. Bufflehead #5 Mr. and Mrs. Bufflehead #25  and then, after a bit of diving for snacks, they were gone. But not truly gone, they've been back every morning since then! 

In other bird sightings (no photos, sorry, you'll just have to trust me on these) 1. We had a bald eagle perched in a tree right next to the barn! He and I were so surprised to see each other that I could only point and stammer "Look! Look! Look!" and he flapped off clumsily and landed badly a few trees down, on a branch that was so small that it bent down suddenly and he fell off and fluttered frantically and finally zoomed away through the woods. Way to be cool, Mr. Eagle! 2. We've had a Raven qworking around our property all winter, and now he's got a "friend". One day as they were flying overhead, he did an amazing "falling out of the sky like a tumbling leaf" stunt, finally spreading his wings and swooping off at the last minute (he's something of a show off). A little later they both flew over carrying bits of fluff in their beaks (nest material? probably). 

And now, coming attractions (future blog posts, some sooner than later): more quilting class blocks (see those quarter square triangles?) union square block the fractal stripe spinning gets knitted into a sweater (yummy) top down sweater begins some tablet weaving, some Kumihimo cord braiding (photos coming soon), and of course, last but certainly not least, the dear wee beasties Hey! Let us out!