I’ve had a busy few weeks starting with travelling to Wellington to attend the Creative Fibre national event ‘Festival of Fibres’ held in Porirua. The accompanying 2023 National Exhibition was at Pātaka Art + Museum, below are photos of a few of the works on show. Photos of the award winners should be going up on the Creative Fibre website soon.
Top: Woven Bowls – Margaret Hill
Middle: Totem Pole – Cathy Priddey, Te Ao Wairua (The Spiritual Realm) – Hanne Vibeke
Bottom: Aureola – Agnes Hauptli
Top: Chaos – Dianne Dudfield, Textural – Jane Clark
Middle: Totem Pole – Cathy Priddey, Te Ao Wairua (The Spiritual Realm) – Hanne Vibeke
While I was in Wellington I took the opportunity to visit Te Papa and the Mataaho Collective: Te Puni Aroaro exhibition. Mataaho Collective are four wāhine Māori artists who have worked together for the last decade. The description of the exhibtion from Te Papa website: These monumental installations evoke the histories of water, light, atua, and wāhine Māori. Industrial materials reflect contemporary Māori experience, and showcase the ever-changing nature of customary textile practices.
The following weekend I was off to Tauranga for a weaving workshop with Melanie Olde, an Australian experimental weaver. Melanie was keynote speaker at the Festival of Fibres and also gave talks on Biomimicry In Weaving and Experimenting With 3D Weaving.
The workshop was titled ‘Thinking Outside the Plane’, and it was wonderful. We worked with a multi-layered warp on 8 shafts and explored different weave structures and techniques, you can see some of my samples below. Further explorations await.
Last but not least, especially if you only come here for kurī (dog) photos, here’s Rufus:
Weaving some tea towels on my Mecchia dobby loom, using up odd spools of cottolin. The draft is A Basket of Stripes Towels by Megan M. MacBride in Handwoven May/June 2022.
Sewed up a skirt using fabric I wove way back in 2020. The skirt pattern is one I have made up a couple of times already, but this is the first time using handwoven fabric. It’s the Clair skirt, a zero waste pattern by Liz Haywood, mine isn’t quite zero waste as my fabric was narrower than the recommended fabric and I also managed to measure one piece incorrectly and had to do some piecing. Very happy with how it turned out though.
Continuing to weave the Deflected Double Cloth sample blanket from Exploring Woven Fabrics by Janet Phillips. I’m nearly halfway through and I’ve found that my understanding of this structure has definitely increased after working through the different lift-plans. Really looking forward to finishing this warp so I can plan some projects based on it.
It’s been a busy month or two as I’ve been involved with the organisation of a local art show and I haven’t done much weaving. My main project in February was weaving a couple of pieces using some of the corriedale yarn I had dyed with harakeke seedpods. I drafted a echo weave design, inspired by the curves of the harakeke (NZ flax) flower stalks and seedpods, which I think turned out quite well for my first attempt.
I wove a scarf (above) and a wallhanging (below)
On my table loom at the moment is the Deflected Double Cloth sample blanket from Exploring Woven Fabrics by Janet Phillips, which I hope to complete in the next couple of weeks.
Last but not least, here are a few pictures of Rufus, who is helping us to improve our throwing skills as he demands to play fetch several times a day.
The harakeke (flax | phormium tenax) plants in my garden started sending up flower stalks in December. They look impressive and the birds love the flowers but they do have a tendency to fall over and then my husband moans when he has to mow around them because I won’t let him cut them down as I want the seedpods to grow so I can dye with them. He was quite pleased when a few weeks ago I collected up all the stalks and harvested the seedpods. I have been experimenting with dyeing with harakeke seedpods for a few years after reading a post by Isla Fabu and racing out to collect some some from my garden to try it straight away.
Dyeing with harakeke seedpods is fun and fairly fuss-free, and there is always the anticipation to see what colours you will get. I don’t try to get reproducible/repeatable results with this dye so I don’t weigh the quantity of seedpods or stick to strict timings or temperatures.
The basic method I use is:
Pick the seedpods. You can use fresh or dried, I have used both in the past. My latest dye batch was using fresh seedpods. Cut the seedpods into 2 or 3 pieces and put them in a pot. Cover them with water and leave them for a couple or so days until the liquid starts to bubble and smell. How long I actually leave the seedpods fermenting depends on when I can get around to heating the dye pot up but I imagine it could get very smelly if you left it too long. I used rainwater in this dye batch because I was working next to the garden water tank but normal drinking water is fine.
Heat the dyepot up until it is simmering, then turn off the heat and leave it overnight or until it is cool. Strain the seedpods and seeds out of the dye. Then it’s time to start dyeing.
Soak the yarn you want to dye with a little detergent for about 30 minutes. You don’t need a mordant. Wring the yarn so it is just damp and add to the dyepot.
Heat the dyepot gently to the boil and then simmer. You can vary how long to simmer for by checking the colour of the yarn and turning off the heat once you’re happy with the colour. I wouldn’t go past an hour and I often turn the heat off after about 15 minutes. If the yarn hasn’t gone a strong colour after simmering for an hour then in my experience it’s probably not going to happen.
Leave the yarn in the dyepot to cool, then remove. I rinse the yarn in warm water and then wash with some laundry detergent and rinse. I use ecostore laundry liquid or similar, depends what’s on special at the supermarket. Wring out the water and then dry out of direct sunlight.
Below are some photos of the dyepot after heating and separating the dye solution from the seeds and seedpods.
Keep using the dyepot for a few days and see what colours you get. My experience is that you can get dark browns at the beginning and then some red-browns and then pale browns. Eventually the dyepot gets quite smelly and it doesn’t give much colour. I have got best colour results with wool rather than other fibres.
The photo is below is from the first dyeing session using my latest bath of dye. These yarns were all put in the dyepot at the same time and treated the same. You can see the difference you get from different fibres with this dye. From bottom to top the yarns are: rayon, tencel, acrylic knop yarn, “coconut cotton”(not sure what this actually is) and corriedale wool.
After dyeing this first batch of yarns, I carried on dyeing more skeins of corriedale yarn, one after another instead of altogether. The colours of these skeins demonstrate how the dyebath colours change with repeated use. The skeins are left to right, the last to the first dyeing session.
Rufus is 1
In other important news, it is Rufus’ first birthday today. Here he is with his birthday cake which is just his normal food and peanut butter. It only lasted a few seconds, once the candle was taken out.
It’s halfway through the first month of 2023 already, and February already seems to be getting too close. The weather has been all over the place, lovely sunny days, days that are just too hot and sticky to move and then heavy rain and wind. The poor old vege garden and fruit trees don’t know what is happening.
I’m still working my way through Season 6 of Jane Stafford’s School of Weaving, I have a rather hopeful plan that I will finish all the lessons by the end of the month. Episode 6 is Crackle Weave which I hadn’t tried before so it has been fun experimenting with this technique and weaving some tea towels. Below are a couple of photos of the sampler I wove on the warp first. The towels are waiting to be hemmed and then I will take some photos of them.
I have also been experimenting with pulled warp technique, something I have wanted to try after reading an article on loom woven baskets in The Weavers Journal – Spring 1986 issue (you can find this issue here: https://www2.cs.arizona.edu/patterns/weaving/wj.html ) I put a narrow cotton warp on my table loom and used triple strands of 2 ply wool as the weft for an intial play. I made a couple of necklace pieces and then tried making a tiny basket which was fun though rather fiddly. I will put on a wider warp at some stage and try making a larger one.
Rufus is mostly banished from my weaving studio as he has a tendency to stealthily pick up yarn and other things and head outside to chew them. I relent every now and again and let him in, and he behaves himself for a bit, then he gets bored and starts looking for trouble. Here’s a picture of him busy telling me it’s time to stop weaving and go outside and play.
I had good intentions to post during November but now it’s December and that obviously didn’t happen. Better late than never I suppose, so here’s a quick roundup of what I’ve been up to.
I finally hemmed the hand towels that were my first warp on my Mecchia dobby. They are already in daily use, replacing our rather worn out old towels.
I put a warp on my Ashford jack loom to work on the Summer & Winter lesson from Jane Stafford’s School Of Weaving. I enjoyed weaving the tea towels even though I managed to make a few mistakes, mostly due to inattention when weaving the tabby picks.
In the middle of November, I attended a workshop on Echo Weave, led by Agnes Hauptli. The workshop was organised by Creative Fibre Auckland, as part of their Spring Education Event at the Estuary Arts Centre in Orewa. I really enjoyed it even though lots of concentration was required.
After the workshop I purchased a copy of Weaving with Echo and Iris by Marian Stubenitsky. It’s a pretty expensive book but it has a wealth of information in it and I’m slowly working my way through it.
Rufus is still growing and still full of energy. Occasionally he does have quiet moments.
I’m taking part in the Franklin Arts Trail this weekend, so pop in for a visit. You can download a map from the website www.franklinartstrail.co.nz or download it via this QR code.
I haven’t been doing much weaving in the last couple of weeks as I have been busy giving my studio a makeover. With lots of help from my husband and not so much from Rufus, our puppy, we have removed a wall, done lots of painting and rearranged and tidied up.
It looks lovely and I can’t wait to get back weaving in there.
At the beginning of the month I completed two pieces for an exhibition at our local community gallery. The theme of the exhibition is Connections and these two pieces were inspired by a metaphor used in Nordic countries where the red thread can refer to a shared characteristic or core theme that runs through and connects themes, ideas and stories.
“Connections” consists of works by six local Franklin artists including me, we have got to know each other through our shared passion for fibre and textile art. We were offered the exhibition slot at fairly short notice after a cancellation so we had not seen each other’s work until installation day and it was exciting to see how well the pieces all worked together.
The exhibition is on at the Franklin Arts Centre, Community Gallery until 3 October, so if you’re in Pukekohe pop in for a visit.
I have also been working on my entry in our Waiuku Spinners & Weavers group challenge which is due this week. Each member was given a bag containing some corriedale, alpaca and angora fibre and one of 4 themes (fire, water, air and earth) with the challenge to make something inspired by the theme using the fibres and whatever else you wanted to add. My theme was water, I spun the fibres, dyed them and have been weaving a piece on a frame loom.
Rufus is not allowed near my weaving very often as he has a tendency to chew on things he shouldn’t (as all puppies do) but I had my table loom set up in the dining room this month and he decided to try out the weaving bench for size.
August is racing away, I don’t know how we are already over halfway through the month. The weather has been wet and cold so it’s been good to be inside weaving. First up are some photos of the double weave scarves that I mentioned in my last post.
Each scarf has a wintery phrase woven in morse code, from left to right they are: “It’s Cold Outside”, “Wrap Up Warm” and “Looks Like Rain”. The right hand side of the photo shows the full front and back of “Looks Like Rain”. They were on display at “Gathering”, a collection of works by members of the Franklin Arts Festival committee. It was held at the Franklin Arts Centre, Community Gallery from 3-22 August.
The tea towels are finally off my Mecchia loom and are now waiting for me to hem them.
Last week I put a cotton warp on my Ashford jack loom and wove some woven shibori pieces using the techniques from Catharine Ellis’ book “Woven Shibori”. I wove four pieces with a cotton warp and two with a polyester weft. On Saturday my local weaving group had an indigo dyeing workshop and I dyed all the cotton weft pieces and one of the polyester weft pieces. I dyed both polyester weft pieces with Rit Dyemore dye as well and steamed them to set the pleats.
Rufus is now 6 months old and continues to keep us on our toes as everyday he finds something new that he can reach. He loves playing with his balls and running around.