Text2The text that I am attempting to weave is similar to the above, but with thicker lines, and believe me, it is definitely a work in progress! The T and the E are complete. I am weaving them with the T lying on its side, but am wondering if the direction would be better if I had started from regular “reading” direction. I thought I’d need fewer butterflies with the sideways weaving, but it didn’t work that way. Any experience weavers want to comment? In the picture below you can see the outline of the next letters to be woven drawn on the warp with a Sharpee. Please keep in mind, this weaving is purely experimental, and I am not endorsing the design or the quality of the weaving! It’s a little embarrassing to even show this stuff!TextThis is the last square to be woven, then I will cut off and warp again. I have to admit that I’m a little nervous about warping again, considering all the problems I had. At least now I know what a warp is supposed to look like on this loom. One thing that I’ve definitely learned here—I am not a weaver of small fiddly weaving. I was thinking that I would weave a bright, colorful face next that would cover the full width of the loom, but I’m afraid the nose, etc. will just be more fiddly stuff which will require lots of butterflies (or bobbins). What to do, what to do. I have a friend who, after taking a weaving workshop, says that it’s always beneficial to learn what you DON’T want to do. Maybe that’s part of my lessons here. Maybe I have a minimum size to be content with weaving. Just thinking out loud…

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Text and ikat

No, not text and ikat together, but it could be done. Hmmm…maybe that should be next…

I played around with text in Word, but of course I only printed it out for a cartoon and didn’t save it! Reinventing the wheel here. I used the Word Art feature to copy, paste, and play around with different fonts. When you use Word Art, the text enters the document as a kind of clip art, so you can drag the corners and center to manipulate the text the way you want. Who knows if what I weave will look anything like the intended font. It will be a guide only to getting text into a weaving. This will be on the next section of my Mirrix project, the last square. I plan to do some more soumak with this.




Last week a new chair PurpleChairarrived in my house, via my car from Office Depot. So far, I’m thinking this is pretty nifty. I’ve been needing a chair for using at the ikat board so that my back does not get so stiff and sore. I saw this one in the store—but couldn’t find online :(—and loved it first because, okay, I admit it, I’m shallow—it’s color! Price was reasonable too. When I went to buy it, they explained to me that it is pink with two additional chair covers, chartreuse and purple. Unfortunately, it comes in a box and has to be assembled. I’m loving it so far! The only drawback is that the casters can gather up yarn and cut off ikat tape pieces. Just have to adjust how I do things.

 Blue-IkatThis is board two for the blue section of the ikat piece that I’m working on. After this one is wrapped and tied, I will move on the the red section. There is a temptation to measure and tie several ikat projects at once.  Below is an in-progress picture, on which, if it will load larger, there is some explanatory text. And you can see the pile of ikat tape ready to be used on the right. The portion show that is already tied is in 1/8 increments so that the design will appear more rounded when woven. At least that’s the plan!BlueIkatwithYellow-tape

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Inspiration, Museums, and Computer Lessons

Here in Fort Worth we are very fortunate to have some really great museums. One that I hope to visit soon is the Amon Carter Museum, which, locally, we usually think of as the museum of Western art. The Carter has an extensive collection of Remington and Russell paintings and sculptures. In addition, they have over 30,000 photographs in their collection. Right now, they have an exhibition of Ansel Adams.imageOak Tree, Snowstorm, Yosemite Valley, California

May 29, 2010–November 7, 2010

Ansel Adams: Eloquent Light

This exhibition of forty landmark and lesser-known works by the renowned artist-photographer is drawn from the Carter’s holdings and a private collection.

So, with these kinds of collections, it is always kind of surprising to me when the offerings are somewhat different. Currently, an abstract exhibition has just opened:


Joe H. Herrera (1923–2001)
Untitled, 1951
Oil on canvas
Jonson Gallery Collection, University of New Mexico Art Museum, Albuquerque, NM
Constructive 6

June 26, 2010–September 5, 2010

Constructive Spirit: Abstract Art in South and North America, 1920s–50s

Featuring approximately eighty seldom-seen paintings, sculptures, prints, photographs, drawings, and films, this exhibition juxtaposes the work from artists of the Americas, providing a fresh and innovative look at this dynamic and cosmopolitan period of modernism.

I love going to museum exhibits, even an exhibit of works that I don’t particularly like. Besides being good for the soul, art frequently inspires me with ideas and/or color combinations.

The painting above reminds me of lessons that I used to do with my elementary students in computer class. Using a simple drawing program (Paint in Windows), draw a rectangle, the vertical and horizontal lines.


Then use the drawing tools to form ovals, circles, squares, rectangles, triangles, and freeform shapes. This was good exercise for the kids in mouse skills and using some keyboard techniques, like getting a perfect square or circle by holding down the shift key while drawing. The same with lines—straight lines are obtained by holding down the shift key while drawing.

imageNow, for the most fun of the whole thing! Use the paintbucket to “paint” all of the shapes. The example below is not finished, but you get the idea. And sometimes, a good idea comes out of doing mindless exercises like this. You can isolate a part of the whole or use the whole design. This lesson also taught the kids about the curved lines which, if too curved, let the paint leak into places where it’s not supposed to go. That’s another reason for drawing the large rectangle and letting the vertical and horizontal lines extend past the boundaries of the rectangle. Lessons that were hard-earned by some students! Another lesson about using Edit>>Undo. The colors available in Paint are basic, although you can add others.

imageimage image

Simplified (or not) designs similar to the above can certainly be woven on the Mirrix loom, or any other loom. Look at some of Claudia’s tapestries here or on her blog, and you get the idea.

Today I am going to start on text on my last rectangle-like square. Hopefully I will have some pics tomorrow, but I have to admit, the 4th of July has interfered with my schedule, so if not tomorrow, then Wednesday.

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Soumak again


First of all, let me say that these pictures do not represent anything that I really like, either design-wise or good craftsmanship-wise. I am simply experimenting in a non-threatening environment. In the top picture, you might notice the line with text. This particular area points out one of the major problems that I have with using soumak lines. I forget the direction with which I am wrapping the warp! To get the top portion of the orange line to be straight, observe that I was entering from the right, and then catch myself when I forgot that.

After reading the appropriate section of Line in Tapestry, I decided to try the spiral next. I am drawn to spirals nearly always, but I prefer to have one a little more filled in. This soumak method might work with a filled in, thicker spiral to kind of smooth out the edges—I just don’t know yet. Obviously, there are a few problems with the spiral technique. When I want a square spiral, I will make it square. All angles in this spiral were purely unintentional and caused by my faulty soumak technique. In a piece that mattered, I would have made corrections. For this I am sticking with the warts! I think a technique like this would work with simple petroglyphs-style of design.  Below is a close-up of the spiral.Spiral_close-upAfter reading the posts in the Tapestry Yahoo group for the last few days, I may attempt some text in the last square to be woven. Yes, I said last square! Yippee! Because I am so bored with these small tedious squares. I think I need to try something that fills the available space next. On the other hand, I am also looking forward to finishing this in order to see what kind of whomper-jawed cube I end up with. This started out as a pulled warp idea. Hmmm…


At the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft is a show called Paper Runway. Here is the link for the creator of the above dress.

This is a link about textile mills in North Carolina that have escaped Armageddon.

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More Soumak lines, warts and all

I have decided to set myself on a course of study within the parameters of things that I want to weave on the Mirrix. Below is a bad picture of some soumak lines.Soumak_lines

As you can see, there are a few problems with my practice so far—all fixable in the future, but not in this weaving. I’ll start with the vertical line in the center. First of all, there should be no gaps like what you see in the picture. Second, I forgot the direction of my wrap for the soumak and got a crooked line. On the left, there are two lines of soumak, back and forth. On the right, in the center of what should have been purple, there is a row of unlocked soumak, two picks of weft, then another row of unlocked soumak going the opposite direction. Now for my favorite one—the yellow triangle. I wove the angle, then a row of soumak along the angle. Kathe calls this soumak something on the order of the fixer because it hides the unevenness of the angle. That one row of soumak looked really good, and is something that I will use again, but then I decided to fill in the whole triangle with back and forth locked soumak. That section feels thicker, but really does not look thicker. The texture of that section is different from the rest of the cloth, though.

Just ordered three metal temples from Dawn MacFall. Better price than what I have paid before. I want to build up my size collection so that I can use a temple on each end of a piece (after cutting off the loom) to help with the draw in that results from needle weaving the ends back in to the cloth. I keep working on that, hoping that at some point I will have done the needle weaving and have a perfectly aligned piece! Yeah, like that’s gonna happen!

I am also seriously considering a skein winder from Crazy Monkey. I have been asked to dye some yarn for someone, so will need to make skeins. Skein-making is a seriously time-consuming task.

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I’m getting a little bored with these squares, so I’m just going to get them done with as little fuss as possible. And I decided to experiment with a vertical line. From Kathe Todd-Hooker’s book Line in Tapestry, I found the vertical line section using soumak (page 46). Now, I have used soumak for ages, but usually as a base to start a piece and as a device to help hold the weft in place when it is cut off the loom. Also, since I am basically a rug weaver, I have not wanted areas of high texture, which might wear—probably not a problem since no one puts them on the floor anyway!

Below is a picture of the way I usually join a section with a dovetail. Since I weave across the whole of the cloth (not building up sections), each color goes around the “up” warp. Because of the weft going around the same warp thread, there is sometimes a problem with buildup in that area. To counteract that, I may alternate going around the common warp thread and NOT going around it, forming a teeny slit area. Dovetail

I decided to start my experiment with a vertical soumak line at the dovetail join area. In the picture below, the white line indicates the usual dovetail section. The green line shows the vertical soumak line. (You can also see the regular soumak line along the bottom edge of the color sections.) The orange yarn on the right is the tail of my starting spot, then the line, which looks just like a piece of yarn laying on the piece in this picture, then the tail of my working orange yarn. Right away I noticed a problem with doing soumak in this way—I have to remember direction. If you change the direction from which you go around the warp, you will get a wavy vertical line. At this point I don’t care about that, but it might be important later.


This soumak could be fun, so I will experiment with some of the other soumak types while finishing these squares.

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Amy and her new Mirrix



Amy is a member of the Fort Worth Weavers Guild and a fairly new weaver (but you couldn’t tell it from the weaving she’s doing). She contacted me a couple of weeks ago about the Mirrix, and now she has her own brand-spanking new Mirrix 16-inch loom. While waiting for the heddles to arrive, she decided to do some bead weaving, which she has done before.  Below is a quote from Amy. As you can tell, she also had a little trouble with warping, but she has used a small loom before with some similarities.

OK so I figured out the warping for the Mirrix for bead weaving. It is very different from regular weaving. I really like it and am making some plans for bigger pieces, but the planning is complicated and going to take some time so I will start a regular weaving for a little purse and see how that goes. I do love this loom. It is just much more solid than …

Amy already has quite a collection of looms. We went to an estate sale of sorts to see some looms that had been closed up in the house for a few years. She got some real jewels from the son of the weaver.

Look at some of the bags that Amy has been making from all kinds of materials, including the bags that newspapers come in here. Here are some other weavings she has done. You can see larger pictures here.

image image

Here is Amy’s Facebook page.

I have been thinking about buying the heddles also, but will wait and see how Amy likes them.

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Blues I dyed blues on Monday and took a picture today. Even though I’m not happy with the picture, you can still get the idea. The ones I dyed are on the right, but in real life, the skeins are a really deep, rich blue. Usually, the standard is to mix a 1% solution for dyeing the yarn. In the picture above, the blues are, left to right, 1/2 of 1%, 1%, and 2%. My plan is to use the 2% yarn for an ikat project. After the pattern is wrapped, the overdye process will bring the unwrapped yarn to around 4%. I hope that won’t be too dark, but there are some things that just can’t be totally planned out in advance. I always think I can weigh my yarn in advance, wrap the ikat pattern, then weigh any remaining yarn, estimate the percentage of the yarn that is covered in ikat tape, and dye accordingly. So far, this has not been an exact science! But I keep trying…

I ran across this blog which has an article about Interactive Textiles. And then I read Lynne Bruning’s Weavezine article about clasped weft weaving with conductive thread and LEDs. Lynne is truly a “textile enchantress” and very generous with her help. She put me in contact with another weaver, Marie. All of this brings me to a new Weavolution group: eTextiles. I want to do some LED lights on a small piece on the Mirrix. Next week I will begin to search the resources and order some materials. Time, time, time!imageWhile poking around on Weavolution, I also discovered a dyeing group that will be using the Munsell Student Color Set to train the eye to see colors and combine that with dyeing. At Convergence 2000, I took a master dye class with Michele Wipplinger of Earthues.

image The first part of the class was combined with Karren Brito (of Shibori fame) for the general discussion of color. We used the Munsell sheets to place the colors in the correct location. I learned that I can definitely use some practice in that area! The large group then broke up into two groups. I was in Michele’s natural dyeing group. After that workshop, I bought the student color set, but have yet to work with it. There is no answer key, but when I asked about that, Karren very wisely suggested that I place the color chips to the best of my ability, then come back the next day and check it, rearrange if necessary, before gluing down. I probably will get re-positional glue, if there is such a critter.

All in all, I’ve got a busy rest of the summer laid out!



Weaving and dyeing

June21_squares In this picture, strips of index cards are holding the spaces that will not be woven. This really does not work very well, so I am going to try cutting a couple of pieces of cardboard to hold the space. Or maybe plastic bag strips, something that will be “gripped” better by the warp. By the way, has anyone bought index cards lately? They’re now only slightly heavier than copy paper. Very disappointing. I would be interested in knowing what others do to hold space in a weft-faced weave structure. Ideas, anyone?

You can see my marking of space with the Sharpie (think I misspelled this yesterday), which I do instead of using a cartoon. The square above the blue one is going to have wavy diagonal stripes. I might practice clipping a cartoon on with that section so that I can see what works best for me from all of the suggestions that I posted yesterday.

I got some blues dyed yesterday. I decided to use a 2% formula for these yarns that I will then use for ikat. When I overdye, I am hoping that the tied portion will be a good 2% while the overdyed portion will be an even more intense blue. When I dyed the yarns for Peruvian Mask,Peruvian Mask I had to try several formulas to get the colors that I wanted. I ended up using a 2.5% red and a 4% red.

How do you keep your cartoon in place? I forgot to ask that in yesterday’s post. I also meant to look up the link for rare earth magnets. Here it is.

Sherri Woodard Coffey




June21_squares On my large loom where most of my work is done, I don’t usually use a cartoon. Everything is drawn to scale on graph paper, and I work from that. I also mark lines and shapes with a Sharpee, as seen above. Occasionally, with curvy pieces, I find that a cartoon is more practical, but I still just hold a small portion of the total design in place and mark with the Sharpee pen. With some of the pieces that I plan to do on the Mirrix, a cartoon will be necessary. So, I was glad that the topic came up on the Yahoo group. I have found that weavers use lace, vellum, or interfacing to draw the cartoon in order to make it sturdy enough to stitch onto the warp. Other ideas for attaching the cartoon:

From Lany:

I’ve found binder clips (in various sizes) to be the duct tape of tapestry.  I’ve also used lapel pins and earrings (pierced, no dangles) to hold things in place.

Many years ago when I first started weaving and I still do on my Shannock I hold the cartoon ion lace with wine corks and thumbtacks.  With my designs I really need to keep the cartoon where I can see the outlines and make sure there is no shifting of the cartoon. I have never found a method that holds better then stitching through the vellum I use for my cartoons.

From Karen King of Aubusson House:

Someon in this discussion mentioned the problem of attaching cartoons on a mirrix loom.  I have been using rare earth magnets, which can hold a cartoon to the inside of the upper  or lower beams, or when used in pairs can hold a cartoon directly to the weaving.

I bought the 1/4 inch from Lee Valley Tools.  I have the 1/2 inch for my big loom, but you need strong fingers to use that size.

From Shelley

One of the things I do to help me with my cartoon is I pin it to the hem.. Carpet pins are great.. Recently I have been using packing tape on my transparencies to stabilize the weave structure before I pin the cartoon to the piece..

From Kathe

I can’t get my fingers between the two warps either without messing everything up. I stick something solid- half inch  thick  a piece of 1×6- between the two  front and back warps-not sheds  and use a curved needle. It isn’t the easiest thing to do, but it gets easier with practice.  If it’s a particular bad day I can use the board to shove the cartoon against the back of the tapestry so I can catch it with the curved needle. The board gives me something solid to push the curved needle against as it grabs the distance of the stitch. . I also  use really big curved needles because I have trouble with one finger grabbing and holding tight as I grab the curved needle. My longest part of the stitch is on the back, which is easier then doing all the smaller stitches evenly.

I have been known to start the stitching through a button and use the little clippers that you find at homed depot to hold the cartoon in place while I start the stitching.

Bottom line—we all have to find what works best for us. At least these ideas are a starting point for finding out what what method might be best.

I definitely plan on buying Kathe’s book So Warped.image I think it will have much useful information. And, as we know, I’ve definitely got a warping problem when it comes to the continuous kind! I couldn’t get the web page to load this morning, but do a search for Fine Fiber Press to find the book.

Sherri Woodard Coffey