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Weaving a Word

unnamedFor me, learning to weave has been like learning another language. Not only were there new words to learn: warp, weft, selvage, for example, but I’ve also had to teach my fingers—and my brain—how to translate an idea in my head onto the loom.

Meanwhile, my 1 1/2-year-old daughter has been learning language, too. She points to everything around her and asks what it is, keeping note of the fact that every object in daily life not only has a purpose, but also has a name.

In honor of language, Challenge Eleven of Mirrix’s Summer Weaving Challenge is to Weave a Word. The task is to open a book to any page, choose a random word from the page, and weave a piece inspired by that word. I opened to page 151 of Mary Karr’s memoir, The Liars’ Club, and picked the word “dancers.”

For those who know me, this word is fitting; I spent many years as a ballet dancer. I’m excited to use this word to inspire a different kind if creativity, one where my fingers and my loom are my canvas instead of my limbs and my toes. Unlike my past weavings, I want to approach this tapestry with a plan (I even made a pencil sketch of how I imagined the piece).

As I did with the Sounds of Spring tapestry, I warped my Little Guy Loom using my Shasta Combs and Bottom Spring Kit. Warping this way is so easy, especially thanks to Mirrix’s super helpful instructions.

In the challenge e-mail I asked participants, “Whether it’s a verb, a noun, or an adjective, what does that word look like to you on a loom? Does it evoke a feeling or a memory that you want to translate to a piece, or will you take a more literal approach to the word’s definition?” For my piece, I chose to take a more literal approach: an audience, curtains, a stage, and dancers. I’m using gorgeous hand-painted silk for my dancers; the way the colors evolve and change as you use the silk reminds me of movement and choreography.

Below is my tapestry so far:

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Be sure to check out my Instagram for updates, and share your work on social media with the hashtag #summerweavingchallenge!

*I may receive compensation for Mirrix sales made through links on this blog.

 

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The Sounds of Spring

48b71308-f825-40b4-9df8-4b132289c46d.jpgI’m thrilled to be hosting the second week of Mirrix’s Summer Weaving Challenge, the Sounds of Spring. For inspiration, I sat on my deck overlooking the lush green of my backyard, shut my eyes, and listened. What stood out to me was the gentle rustling of leaves blowing in the warm breeze, and the way the lull was interrupted by the quick chirps of birds. The next day was rainy for most of the morning, so I added the pitter patter of steady rain to my list of inspirations.

The challenge is essentially this: What do the Sounds of Spring look like on a tapestry? Are they represented by techniques, or do you “see” the sounds as certain colors? Or do they evoke a feeling or a memory that translates to your tapestry? I don’t have the answers, because this challenge has no rules. So, I began this challenge with my inspirations at the forefront of my mind but without a plan.

I first, like a kid on Christmas, looked through my Summer Weaving Challenge Kit, which is full of a vibrant assortment of FARO yarn, silk yarn, silk ribbon, gold thread, beads, crystals and more, and then warped my Little Guy Loom using my new Shasta Combs and Bottom Spring Kit (Mirrix has excellent instructions on how to warp with the Shasta Combs here).

On my loom, these sounds translated in technique and texture: hatching technique representing the way the rustling leaves and the staccato chirps of birds intertwined with one another as I listened, becoming one soundtrack as opposed to separate sounds.

I added crystals and railroad yarn from the Summer Weaving Challenge Kit for texture–making sounds tangible even though they are invisible in our 3D world–and, staying true to the theme, to represent both musical notes and the sound of raindrops. I’ve never woven beads or crystals into a tapestry before, and love the little pops of color and shine they give.

Below is the progress on my tapestry so far:

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If you are participating in the challenge, don’t forget to use the hashtag #summerweavingchallenge to share your work on social media! I’ll be posting my progress on Instagram. If you haven’t yet signed up for Mirrix’s Summer Weaving Challenge, you can still do so here.

Update: In case you haven’t been following this tapestry’s progress on Instagram, here is the final product!

*I may receive compensation for Mirrix sales made through links on this blog.

Announcing the 2019 Summer Weaving Challenge!

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I am so excited to be partnering with Mirrix Looms on the 2019 Summer Weaving Challenge! It’s going to be a bright, colorful, creative summer!

The challenge is free and there is no purchase required to participate, but I encourage you to check out the 2019 Summer Weaving Challenge Kit—it is full of beautiful and vibrant silk, yarn, beads and more! The kit is available both with and without a Mirrix loom.

For more information and to sign up for the 2019 Summer Weaving Challenge, click here! I hope you join us!

Update: Mirrix is having an awesome promotion! 

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“Everyone who orders the Summer Weaving Challenge Kit or the Summer Weaving Challenge Kit and Loom Package through May 18th will get our Bead & Crystal Wrap Bracelet Class (worth $29) sent to you after purchase for FREE. No discount code required.”

Additional details on this and other Mirrix Mother’s Day Extravaganza promotions can be found on their website here.

*I may receive compensation for Mirrix sales made through links on this blog.

Weaving the Rainbow

When I showed people my first tapestry, a lot of them asked, “What is it?” “A tapestry!” I replied. “Yeah, but…what is it?” “It’s art!” I replied, somewhat defensive. It seems that a lot of people have lost touch with art being viewed as valuable in its own right, implying that it needs to be more than just self expression in order to hold value.

While I wholly disagree with the notion that art needs to be functional in order to have value, I decided to demonstrate what else besides tapestries I could make on my Mirrix Loom: bracelets! And, in fact, I made three bracelets at the same time on my Little Guy loom.

On the left side of my loom, I wove my first silk bracelet, using scissors, a bamboo needle, and gorgeous skeins of hand-painted silk yarn. I used linen warp, which is amazingly strong, and found that the bamboo needle helped keep my fingers from getting sore.

What I love about the silk is that when you look at a skein you get an impression of its color, but the colors evolve as you weave. The red striped pattern on my first silk bracelet evolved because of the silk itself.

On the right side, I began my Whitney and Willa Wrap Bracelet. I was intimidated to try my first-ever beaded bracelet, but thankfully the kit comes with super detailed online instructions! I struggled a bit with getting a feel for the right amount of tension I needed when beading the rows, and as a result I had some loose rows that I undid (and created a knotted mess). But once I got a feel for the tension, it was smooth sailing. I’m still working on this project, though!

When I was done weaving my first silk bracelet, I simply loosened the tension on the loom and moved the warp so that my bracelet was on the back side of the loom, leaving me with clean warp on which to begin my second silk bracelet.

To finish the bracelet I did a half hitch knots through each warp on both ends, and then once I cut the bracelet off of the warp, I sewed it to felt backing, sewed on two o-rings and a button, and did a half hitch knots with silk thread around the two o-rings.

The silk really makes my bracelets pop! I could weave silk all day, even if to just watch the colors evolve. Also, in looking at the bracelets, it’s clear to me that they are, albeit functional, art–they are wearable tapestries!

*I may receive compensation for Mirrix sales made through links on this blog.

Struggles and Success

I’m done with my first tapestry! It’s a colorful little piece, and, despite a few struggles along the way since my last post, I think it came out quite nice! I absolutely love the way the colors on the silk yarn evolve and add depth with each pass.

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The finished piece!

Oh, about those struggles…let’s back up a bit:


As I experimented with the slit technique, I noticed that there were vertical gaps between the colors, like below between the purple and orange:

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Mirrix has a blog post about how to prevent this “pulling-in” from happening. I think the biggest reason this was happening with my piece was that I wasn’t bubbling enough! I’m guilty as charged when it comes to beating the wefts immediately down with my fork, and didn’t realize how essential bubbling is in order to ensure that there is enough weft.

As I continued my piece above the slits, ensuring that I bubbled, the gaps became less noticeable. I was on a roll, and then, this happened:

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Yikes! My warp broke! Was I too aggressive with the fork? I don’t really know what happened, but I was determined to keep weaving. Heddles were getting loose–one even fell off–and the warp to the right of the broken warp started to get loose, too.

I found a YouTube video by Rebecca Mezoff that addresses what to do when your warp breaks:

My warp, though, broke above the shedding device, and in the example Rebecca uses in the video, the warp broke down closer to the tapestry. So, I had to get a little creative! Essentially, I took a new piece of warp and tied it to the broken warp using a square knot, added a new heddle to replace the one that fell off, loosened the tension, tied the other end of the piece of new warp towards the bottom of the broken warp with another square knot, and re-tensioned the loom.

After doing this, my “new” warp was still a bit loose, as was the warp to the right of it, but I was able to delicately and carefully continue my tapestry until I ran out of yarn. I had originally envisioned a larger tapestry, but maybe my piece was telling me that this was what it needed to be.

For my next tapestry, I’d like to try Mirrix’s Texture and Sett Wall Hanging project. I LOVE the happy, bright turquoise color, and it utilizes my favorite technique, hatching.

Stay tuned!

*I may receive compensation for Mirrix sales made through links on this blog.

 

New Beginnings

It’s been a while since my last post, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been weaving, though I’ll admit I’ve been slow; life has been busy, including multiple vet appointments for the yarn-stealing cats, and a sick baby (don’t worry, though, she’s feeling much better, and the cats are doing fine)!

I ran out of yarn, and wanted to continue my tapestry with a new technique, though I have found that I LOVE hatching, and suspect it might be a staple technique for me!

I watched Mirrix’s super helpful Tapestry Sampler Class* video, which explains how to start new weft threads and how to do several techniques. I chose a new technique to utilize as I continue my tapestry: slit.

I added my FARO yarn and hand-painted Mulberry silk yarn, continuing with my color palette save for a pop of red (can you tell I’m still longing to see the colors of fall outside my window?)

I began the slit technique, which seems simple enough compared to hatching, though my lack of experience still shows through at times–see my bare warp below:

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One thing I love about weaving is that if you make a mistake you can simply undo it and move on!

As the year winds down and 2019 is days away, I’m thinking about how thankful I am for what 2018 has brought me: it’s the year I became a mom. It’s also the year I discovered my new hobby of tapestry weaving.

I’m thankful for my daughter, for my husband, for my friends and family, and for my yarn-stealing kitties. And last but not least, I’m thankful for the weaving community for embracing my entrance into their world.

Here’s to whatever new beginnings are in store for the new year!


*If you purchase the Tapestry Sampler Class through the link in this post, you’ll automatically get 20% off the price of the class! Or, you can use discount code shannonTC20 when purchasing the class through the Mirrix online store.

Terms & Restrictions: Discount cannot be applied to past purchases (no exceptions). Cannot be combined with other offers or discounts. Can only be used once per customer. This class cannot be purchased outside of the U.S. and Canada. 

 *I may receive compensation for Mirrix sales made through links on this blog.

 

Every Artist was First an Amateur

Even though the New England landscape outside my window is blanketed in snow, I choose the colors of fall for my first tapestry: forest green, golden yellow, burnt orange (E would better recognize them as pureed peas, summer squash, sweet potato).

Armed with the books “Tapestry Weaving” by Kirsten Glasbrook and “Tapestry 101” by Kathe Todd-Hooker, I begin trying the hatching technique. I use my three colors, going back and forth between them, moving my shedding device up and down.

I keep notes to remind myself of what colors I’ve already woven and whether the shedding device needs to be up or down when I resume weaving–I’m forced to weave in short bursts, often in the middle of a pass, due to my cats playing with the loose yarn, and needing to attend to my baby, E, who at 10 months old is an adorable Tasmanian Devil. When I return, my yarn is often a tangled mess.

I insert a piece of paper between the front and back warps so that I can better see the warps I’m working with. I’m hoping this will help with the mistake I keep making, of weaving the yarn behind the warps I’m supposed to weave it through, like the below:

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Oops!

When I get into a rhythm, hatching, which feels a bit like a puzzle, is relaxing. The yarn moves like roots crawling upward, and I find it satisfying to witness the tapestry evolving.

My husband and I order Chinese food for dinner, and in my fortune cookie is the following: Every artist was first an amateur. 

 *I may receive compensation for Mirrix sales made through links on this blog.