MORE, PLEASE

I laid different shawls/scarves out on the bed yesterday afternoon, and then another row on the cedar chest (above), but already the light was too dim in this north and east facing bedroom. Ten stretch out full length over the bed, and another eight are folded at the foot. The photos are from this morning. Still not much light, but I’ve made no attempt to “correct” anything as the colors look accurate on my screen. (The greens suffered a bit.)

On the bed at top, the two furthest left deserve a better show because the color shifts of bronze, gold, and copper over soft cool shades are really lovely; the 3rd and 4th from the left are from the same red/orange/violet warp; as are (I think) the three blue-centered lengths in the middle and the three greens at right.

The folded shawls/scarves on the chest are mostly from 2019 and 2018. The brightly pink-striped one on the end changes color because of the shifting color handspun that makes up half the weft. The next, darkest one is a wonderful moss green also using handspun in the weft. The next two, rich dark and then pale rose, two “marigold” shawls, a green one with a changeable handspun in the weft, and a soft opal-colored scarf/shawl.

There are still a half dozen in the case retrieved from the gallery. I am sorely tempted to join three or four green lengths to make a blanket. Or the marigold colors? Or blue? I feel there must be three of about the same length, though that’s not something I pay too much attention to unless I am actually planning a blanket like the lengths I am currently weaving.

Some shawls/scarves include handspun in the warp as well as weft, but both warps and wefts are mostly Koigu, a fine silky merino wool that is raised, spun at a small mill, and then painted by hand, all in Canada. There are about sixteen skeins in an eight and a half yard warp (lengthwise), another five for the weft (crosswise) in each of three lengths I weave. (That makes it sound simpler than it is. I pull many more skeins for both warp and weft, then shift colors to please my eye.) The handspun skeins I use have more yardage than the Koigu, but cost three or four or more times as much. Like the quilts, I would like to pay myself a skilled wage, but settle for cost plus Federal minimum. When I sell something, my first thought is to buy more yarn or fabric.

I am trying to be good and use only what’s in my stash for piecing and weaving. That’s one reason I only put on a six and a half yard warp for the two lengths I am currently weaving. I did not have enough handspun for another two yards in the colors I wanted.

There is always I lot of cross pollination. My quilts are often a variation on weaving patterns. There is a quilting pattern called “Log Cabin” which I have pieced, but I like piecing a variation based on a quite different weaving pattern also called “Log Cabin” in my quilts. I weave variations of weaver’s Log Cabin. The mix of colors and both traditional and personal pattern is at the heart of my work. There is another quilt nagging at me just now, though I cannot afford to have anything more quilted just now, and anyway I cannot piece a quilt and weave at the same time.

Speaking of weaving . . . back to work.

10 thoughts on “MORE, PLEASE

  1. Your work is beautiful. When I was much younger, I thought of selling my wares, but realized quickly that making a living that way would be pretty hard. Now that I’m heading toward retirement, I don’t need to worry about that. But, let me ask you, why do you do it? Why do you weave so much and sell your work? It’s the joy of weaving, isn’t it? Or the joy of quilting, knitting, what have you. As much as I love writing, I’m really looking forward to having more time to create with my hands.

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    • Right now, I have three large bins filled with woven shawls/scarves. I rarely sell work. Like you, I decided young that it was not any way to make a living. I showed in galleries, did work on commission, juried into craft shows. The commissions were the most fun. I regret not trading more work back in the day, though I have several works from others while I was a studio arts major. I gave work away, I traded with people in th same way I have traded editing with other writers.

      The handwork delights me as I do the work. It is soul work, satisfying in the deepest possible way. I am accustomed to working hard, but I never intended to weave thirty lengths in a year. I thought I would sell them during the show that was shut down by the pandemic. Since I was diligently sheltering, I had time. Now I need money to buy more yarn and continue the work.

      I have spent the last hour sorting through all the bins, looking for lengths that can be joined to make a blanket. I have found three greens with shades of purple and blue, peacock and ochre. After keeping them folded up for so very long, the sun shines through the rain, and I confess that spreading them all out in full daylight has been reassuring. Lovely. Overwhelming. They are each more beautiful than I recalled.

      Why do it? I began piecing quilting while I was at home with my children because it was safer than firing up my enameling kiln. I have always done this. Weaving while teaching writing. Illustrating while I was drawing plans for a local architect. Why? Because they are beautiful. Because they feed my need to create during this long, hard year. But the work astonishes me. I focus entirely on each piece as I weave—one at a time, never holding back some best bit for later. Each one intended to be “best.” It is like discovering I have spun gold from straw.

      I will be sorry to go back downstairs and fold them away again.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ah, when I lived in Berkeley, CA, my favorite yarn store was Straw Into Gold. I learned to weave and spin when I was at a private college in upstate NY, back in the late 70s. Those skills were the only benefits of having gone there. The college was on a quarter system so when I was due to pay my 4th quarter tuition, I elected to drop out, return home, and buy a 4-harness loom instead. I actually brought that loom with me all the way to CA and eventually sold it (or gave it, can’t remember) to a friend. Given all those years, I actually didn’t weave much. Most of the time I was too poor to afford good yarn, although I did weave some of my handspun. Now I am “loomless,” except for a tiny hand loom that I might use to weave squares for something. I love working with my hands, but with all these interests–weaving, spinning, sewing–knitting has been my mainstay. I can’t stay away from knitting for long. I’m always amazed as what I can create with just two sticks and a few balls of yarn. Looking at your photos makes me yearn for weaving. Then again, I am very appreciative of artists like yourself who do the work that I might never get around to 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • I actually know that Straw Into Gold store from way back!

        Yes, the expense of good yarn can be daunting. I first wove with Swedish yarn, purchases through the mail decades ago. I still have some very fine undid alpaca I ordered from a priest in South America—I sent him $10 and said I would take whatever he had. Too fine for what I was weaving at the time, and it’s still in my stash. (Today, putting on a warp costs me two or three hundred dollars or more—and that’s before I start actually weaving. I try not to think about the cost.)

        You will find your way back to something that satisfies your creative soul.

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