Sunrise and Sunset

This is about two rugs.  Both were inspired by colors in the northwest sky, and both have a very similar look, but they developed in very different ways.

The first rug is very much like one of the previous rugs.  In fact, it’s the same colors, same yarns, except for some minor tweaks.  I just wanted to try it again.  I started by using yarn colors that alone are not that exciting, trying to put them together in some sort of meaningful way.  After laying out all the yarn I wanted to use, they kind of reminded me of the colors in the night sky after the sun sets, as dusk progresses to dawn.  Not so much a snapshot in time, but more of a time lapse image, if that makes sense.  Kind of in the same way that Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase represents more than one moment in time that you see all at once.

Rug 42

The rug is the second one like it, so I guess there is something I like about it, even if it isn’t really the colors one actually sees in the sky.

The design for the second rug came about very differently.  I was coming home on the ferry last fall around sunset and we watched the sun going down from the deck. I took this photo:

SunsetYeah great, beautiful sunset.  But then I tuned around to the east and saw this:Back Sunset Like a lot of people, I normally watch the sunset facing west, not the “back sunset”, or whatever you call it.   The western view is the usually the crowd pleaser, but this time the back sunset was really what intrigued me.  The subtlety of the colors really struck me – the gradual fade from blue to pink and the more sudden jump to blue-grey.

When I got back to the studio later, I saw a lot of those back sunset colors in the yarn on the shelves and thought I could make a rug with this new color palette.

Rug 43The colors might be a little more vivid than the original, but for the most part, but it kind of worked.

Up Next: some new takes on some old designs.






No Eulogies, No Poems

I was a long and hard winter.  This winter seemed to be a season of loss for loved ones.  Or maybe with the loss of my own mother in January, I’m just hyper-aware.  In any case, it was a winter that, emotionally at least, I want to put behind me.

This isn’t a eulogy or memorial.  In fact, she expressly forbade that.  Her written last wishes declared that she did not want a ceremony, or memorial, or service of any kind. “No Eulogies and No Poems,” it stated.  It was the only part of her final wishes that was actually printed in bold.  I don’t know if she intended it, but that part still cracks me up.

I am glad I was there, however sad it was helplessly watching her deteriorate.  But no matter how much pain she might have been in, I do know that she was happy to have us all with her.  And I am thankful that it was mercifully quick – she lasted about a week from terminal diagnosis.

Even so, in her style, my last conversations with her were not about her or her illness, but about my weaving, my new loom, and what was happening here at the new place.  She always had encouragement and support for whatever I happened to be doing in my life.  And when I expressed an interest in weaving at the age of 40, she kind of went into overdrive.  For that, I am grateful.

Cranbrook loom turning wheel

Close up of the new loom.  The rug in the background is Rug No. 1 – the first one I made back in 2007.  In addition to encouragement, my mother gave me the yarn for this rug – wool yarn for the weft (Monte Tate yarn) along with the cotton warp.  But more than that, the loom, the shuttles, and even the books I used as reference (most notably Peter Collingwoods “Techniques of Rug Weaving”) – all the equipment needed to make this rug – came from my mother.  When I was done, I gave her the rug and she proudly put it in a place in the family room where everyone walked on it for almost 10 years.  My step-father thought I should keep it.  I only hope that its new prominent position – on the direct path to to the bathroom – will live up to its honorable past.  I think that would make Mom laugh.

Coming up: Back to work.


Yarn Stash – part 3: Bulky Heathered Yarn

Is that what you call it?  I don’t know.  It’s really less a heather than it is kind of a random mix of things.  Not even sure how I acquired it.  Made for a pretty nice-looking rug, even if I do have some concerns about how well it will wear.

Bulky yarn rug

There were flecks of different colors throughout the yarn that gave the finished product a sense of texture and depth.  On closer examination, it started to look like someone swept up everything that was on the floor of the mill – and I do mean everything, fiber or not – and spun it into a super bulky, fluffy yarn.  I’m not even sure it’s all wool. There were what might be feathers, cotton, bits of string, plus a generous helping of burrs and pokey stickery things.  Although, to be fair, wool is known for having leftover “vegetable matter” from whatever the sheep were rolling around in before they were sheared.  Typically, some of that gets missed in the cleaning of the wool.  And things inadvertently get sucked in the the spinning process – I once pulled out a long string of plastic several inches long twisted into some yarn.  But for this yarn, there was more than the normal amount of VM so that while weaving, I kept a pair of tweezers handy to pick out anything that might stab someone on their delicate bare feet.

removing the burrs

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Yarn Stash – part 1

I might have mentioned I have a lot of yarn. I have everything from miscellaneous balls of yarn to mass quantities of industrial yarn on big cones, super thin to super chunky. Ok, not really, but I do have quite a bit and quite a variety.  Much of it I keep in bins with some sort of labeling so I at least have a vague idea where things are.  Other stuff is just kept on the shelf.

DSC_1422    DSC_1423

So, when I’m designing a rug, I start by just browsing through the yarn I have.  In some cases, I’ve written a list of projects that I would like to do based on some of the yarn I have.  Other times I see what I think will go together and work from there.  One set of yarn I came across, was a series of commercial skeins of yarn whose labels read Old Mill Yarn in a sort of old west font, from Eaton Rapids, Michigan.  The yarn was thick, a little coarse, and with a tight twist to it. It looked like there was enough to make a rug, but I was a little skeptical about the quality of rug it would make.  However, once I began, it really started coming together nicely.

Rug 39.08    Rug 39.06

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More Stripes

Finished this rug last week and only just now getting around to posting photos – brown, red, gold, and bits of purple and maroon.  Rug 37

I found some variegated yarn (tie-dyed?) that I used for accent, which happened to have some gold that matched the other gold yarn:

variegated yarn

Rug 37 details

Rug 37 details

Playing around, I made this little chain and decided to just leave it as is.Chain detail

Up Next: sunset-inspired color blending.

Monte’s Yarn

Started  a new project.  It will be the second in a series, but using very different and very muted colors.  Digging around in my stash of yarns, I eventually settled on this grey-ish color palette.  We’ll see how it turns out.

I used to just use the yarn as-is right off the cone, spool, skein, or whatever.  After a few other weavers suggested I wash the yarn first, I started doing that.  Now, unless I know it’s pretty clean, I always wash the yarn first.  It is kind of a pain, but the results are worth it.

The most annoying part is waiting for the yarn to dry while I’m antsy to get started.  Luckily, the weather has been sunny and the humidity here is much lower that our old place,  so it dries fairly quickly.

Washed Yarn Drying

I have a lot of different yarns from different sources, either stuff I bought or stuff given me, but a lot of it is what I call the Monte Tate yarn.  Continue reading