Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Weaving With Cousin Sam, Yet Again

We're back from the General Sam Houston Folk Festival. We have a breather now between the rush of spring demonstrations just past and the Texas Folklife Festival in June. The demonstration loom was finished just weeks before the beginning of the season.  Overall, it's been a resounding sucess.  It's a four-harness, counterbalance loom which can be warped at home, collapsed to fit into the back of our SUV and set up at a demonstration site.  As much as we previously looked like a modern-day covered wagon, we look even more so now!
The Covered Wagon
Here's the loom in the SUV with the tent alongside and the spinning wheel tucked in as well.  Once these things are in, the rest of everything is tucked in as best we can.  The display table which used to go underneath the loom now has to be strapped to the top of the car, but we're a self-contained unit!

Once the loom was finished I warped on a "maiden voyage" project - a overshot scarf.  The warp was a space-dyed sock yarn.  The tabby weft was sewing thread while the pattern weft was sock yarn in tonal purples.  Overall, it looks good.  It was mostly a "iron the bugs out" project.  Here's the loom with the first project on it.
Maiden Voyage
We've had an ongoing problem with the shafts staying horizontal. In the end, I used Joanne Hall's suggestion of elastic loops keeping the upper shaft bars horizontal. It seems to work just fine.

The loom's first outing was to a 3-day workshop with Joanne.  A counterbalance or countermarche loom was required for the Opphämta sample and I had the only one available.  I loved the workshop and I need to take photos of my samples.  The Opphämta is interesting in that it gives a great deal of flexibility in the pattern design, although it is some slower than traditional overshot.

The St.-Francis-Upon-The-Hill Renaissance Faire was the loom's second outing and first demonstration.  Although we were without Cassie this year, I decided to try a "worm to ecclesiastical stole project.  Well, I didn't spin the yarn nor did I dye it.  However, I wove the fabric for the face of the stole at the Faire (mostly).  I chose Gothic Cross from Marguerite Porter Davison's A Handweaver's Pattern Book, and wove it in two shades of purple silk. What a joy silk is to work with!  Gothic Cross is a beautiful pattern but I had trouble keeping track of where I was while demonstrating.  I probably won't try that again!  But I did finish the stole (at five o'clock in the morning!) in time for Elizabethean Mass the following morning!
The Stole
Next up was a one-day festival at Camp CAMP, a camp in the Hill Country set up specifically for children with developmental difficulties, who can't attend a regular camp.  What wonderful work they're doing!  They wanted a mini-Folklife Festival, so we found ourselves in company with a blacksmith and a flintknapper.  I'd never seen flint shaped into spearheads or arrowheads before.  It's fascinating!  And to me, a blacksmith is a magician.

I chose to do a traditional overshot pattern in very untraditional colors for the Fest.  It turned out beautifully!  I don't have any photos of the piece on the loom, but the piece is still in my possession and I'll get photos of it soon.

Our next outing was the San Antonio Highland Games.  Sadly, the piece we chose to weave didn't make it through the transportation process.  Something happened, either in my setting the loom up or during moves, that caused the tension to go completely crazy.  Once I had the tension corrected, I had breakage problems in the warp.  I finally had to give up on the piece.  I'll weave it again this summer as it was a beautiful sash in the MacLean Hunting tartan.  The sash was intended for Cassie, so it hurt doubly bad to lose it.

And now for Cousin Sam's Festival!  The Festival was only two days this year instead of three.  Friday was still School Day, but with maybe 2/3 the number of children we saw last year.  The loom covered itself with glory.  I tried Barleycorn, a structure I've never tried before.  I was scared at first because Barleycorn is based on huck lace which is an unbalanced weave. Counterbalance looms want to move two shafts at a time.  Huck lace puts three shafts against one.  However, huck has been woven for centuries and must have been woven on counterbalance looms.  The loom, of course, did just fine.
Barea Linen (Barleycorn) Towels On The Loom
I warped four towels on the loom, intending to weave off two during the Sam Houston festival and the last two during Folklife. However, I was well into the second towel by the end of the first day and into the third by the end of the second day.  I'll weave these off and choose another project for Folklife.  The first two towels used a pale willow green as the pattern weft.  I was getting a little tired of it by the end of the second towel, so the last two are being done with a periwinkle shade - kind of a purple-blue.  They're turning out very well.

Here I am in my prairie regalia weaving away at the Festival.
And one last shot of the entire booth with George demonstrating drop spinning.

And it's not like I'm doing no weaving in between festivals.  I have another Atwater-Bronson lace shawl on the Glimakra.  George upgraded it to a 10-shaft countermarche loom and this is its maiden voyage.  I've designed four overshot scarves, one of which is one the loom now.

But that's all for now.  More later!