The Weaver's Dance

On a loom that whispers, with shuttles that fly
And bobbins that chatter as the hours go by
I'll not lay in one thread of mere chance
As I work in the motion of the weaver's dance.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Counting Blessings and Other Thoughts...

To anyone who might be reading this, I wish the very best of new years.... as this year of 2011 is coming to a close, I am counting the many blessings that came my way.  On a very small scale, I do this every morning, as I'm making my plans for the day, and again in the evening as I am assessing how I filled the day.  I might have cleaned out the silverware drawer or maybe I created a new fabric that has surprised me.  But, to assess a year..... this takes time!

Looking back on accomplishments is so good to do!   While it always spurs me to do better or do more.... not in a critical amends me somehow to want to grow from each experience.  I suspect this is the essence of the human experience, yes?

How do you picture a year?  The most recent is our White Christmas....
This was a photo of our first snow...this is the little snow.  I sent this photo to our state-wide weather guy in Albuquerque and he put it on the air!  What funfunfun to see that!  It was more fun to look out my east-side studio door and have this beautiful scene.  It's especially lovely from inside my wonderfully warm studio with the stove going, the fire flickering and dancing and the music echoing throughout .....aaaaaaaaaah!  THEN we had the BIG snow on December 23rd which put us on the national news....our state has more snow than any other state in America right now.  It's such a blessing because we've been so very, very dry.  We had several feet of snow and, being raised in Texas places, it was a true wonderment to me.

Then there's the holiday celebration!

Jim took this photo and I think it's gorgeous!  I am proud to say that, this year, I had the lights up before the first of December!  I've never had my act so very together....I hope I can do it again next year!  These light will stay up until New Year's Day!

All of these are happy photos for me and they match the happiness that I seem to have found this year.  Perhaps it found me, perhaps my relentless search for it helped.  This has definitely been one of the happiest holidays I have had in many years.  I've found a way to finally set down a deep and quiet sadness that was just too heavy to continue to carry....and, in so doing, I'm giving it all up to the heavens.

God, give me the strength to change that which I can change.
God, give me the grace to accept the things that I cannot change.
God give me the wisdom to know the difference.

In these words, that we all know so well, can be found the happiness... yes, the emotional rest.... that has eluded me for so very long a time.

Everything is going well in weaving even though I haven't actually sat at a loom for about a month... holidays and well, I had an opening planned for December 23 and....well ....have you ever tried to have an opening in a snow storm?  Well, I tried, because I try very hard to do something if I say I'm going to do it... needless to say, nobody came, not a soul.  But, I got a LOT of work done and I have finally made signs that are easy to put out along Chestnut in my little village, so people can actually find me from Highway 60....those signs looked great, were easy to put in and take away, and I'm glad I'll have them ready for summer...they each had a balloon attached to aid in visibility.  Then, with Jim's help, I have a new highway sign that fits over the top of my purrrrrrrrrmanent Creations sign to add the message 'open today', also with balloons attached and it worked well, too.  For years I have wanted to have these signs for summer when I like to just have a little "Open Today" message out there for vacationers and passersby.  I must say, the most fascinating thing I learned was that, even in freezing weather, balloons will stay inflated!  Okay, it's silly, I guess, but I wondered if they would burst because the moisture in my breath would freeze, right?  Well, now I know!

But, yes, designs were completed, strategies were planned, weft thread was ordered and received, even a weaving schedule was is really a good time in weaving...Stanley will be working very hard this entire January, as I only have a month to weave a very special yardage that I want to submit for consideration in HGA's Convergence Yardage Exhibit called "Longitude".  How appropriate can that name be?!?  My thoughts immediately go to latitude or weft or even freedom to plan!  Then I see that grid upon the earth, in our mind's eye anyway, and how similar the two are to the warp and weft grid in which we weavers dream... the time.  They both can bring such order to places that seem to have none.

Here, at right, is my "order"...
How this for a grid?

Oh, I didn't mention yet the good lessons I'm learning on Hazle.  In a previous post, I've mentioned the fabric that I wanted to weave on her for Convergence. just hasn't worked out.  I've made several attempts, so far, and will continue to try to create what I see in my head.  I still see the 8-Harness Bronson Lace in my "Squash Blossom & Beetle" design floating on an iridescent background fabric of ever-changing colors...  I think I don't have to right 'lace weft' that I need.  I will keep trying....and I will create it some day.

I have met with a surprising success on Hazle when I wove with 2 shuttles, contrasting colors of rayon, one similar to the tencel and silk warp. The mixture of this light-as-air fabric made a heavenly light, fluid fabric.

The photo at left shows the work with matching weft and warp...

But, when combining a dark and light weft, with the lace weft being the dark one, a fascinating effect takes place that makes the "back" of the fabric looking just wonderful!

I wove many yards of this fabric before my show schedule started for 2011, and I only have about a 1/2 yard left!  I plan to do much more of this fabric with different colors.  And I want to pursue this concept much further!  And this fabric feels so yummy, I can "feel" it from the photo!

I have a little one-day show...or should I say a six-hour show coming up in February of 2012.  I have never gone to this show/event before.  I will be offering my yardages (and some white-on-white stoles and scarves) to fiber artists.  I have no idea how it will go, but I am hoping that some of those incredibly creative folks will be interested in adding my cloth to their artistic journeys .  They are so talented, knowledgeable, FEARLESS, they have such sophistication in what they do.

This show is in Kerrville, Texas and I can hardly wait!  I'm weaving bleached white and natural whites in cottons, cotton and silk blends, and the natural honey color of the tencel and silk with white silk weft.  I'll also be offering dark colored fabrics that would be good for resist and stamping, just as a start.  I can imagine so many possibilities and I hope they might see them, too!

I hope you are enjoyed your holidays!

I'm wishing you the happiest of A Happy New Year!

And, I hope you are enjoying your winter.... whatever it may be!

Thanks so much for reading, enrich yourself with nature's wonder, stay warm.

I'm sending Miles and Miles of Smiles,  Cat B.

Friday, December 2, 2011

It is a Structo Artcraft Loom!

Okay, I just had to post another more comments about my dear friend, The Old Structo....YES it IS a Structo!  I was in quite a long discussion about my loom over on Weavolution, because I saw that they had a group called STRUCTO.  Well, I decided to join that group and, once in, started cruising around looking at photos of everyone's looms and projects and such.  Well, I couldn't find ANY photos of a Structo like mine!

So I asked them all in a conversation and WOW, did I get a bunch of information... except part of it was that maybe I didn't have a Structo at all, and maybe it just had a Structo label on it.  I'm sure I stated the wrong dates as I was recounting seeing an old sales receipt for the sale of this Structo to the first president of the San Antonio Handweavers Guild back in the very early days....I was told that...I guess it's okay to write her name, Nancy DePew, was a dedicated weaver and valued the history old textiles and learning how to produce quality new textiles.  She was also devoted to the Witte Museum, and, I was told, she made Mary Meigs Attwater (please forgive the spelling) sit out on the porch to smoke because there 'shouldn't be any smoke in a museum'.  This old loom is steeped in Texas history and, once I cannot weave on it any longer, I hope it goes back to Texas to continue living and working, long after I'm gone from this weaving realm....

I must admit I was quite unhappy at that thought that maybe it wasn't a Structo at all, because there's been so much history with this loom and it's the strongest connection I now have with my beloved mentor from way back in the Southwest Craft Center days....and I just would have been very sad if it had turned out not to be a Structo.

I had no idea how rare these looms are...nooooooo idea at all.  But, on Weavolution, I learned from one of those knowledgeable fellow Structo members, about a lady who is an expert in old looms and has quite a huge library to do research.  I wrote to her and she says it really IS a Structo Artcraft Loom, it is VERY rare and boy am I HAPPY!  I will ask her permission to put her name on my blog because she is an incredibly important resource for all weavers and all looms EVERYWHERE and, if allowed, I want everyone to know about her and the important service that she provides!

Here's another view that I've never posted, and I'll put another one up here below.  There room for TWO sectional back beams on the Old Structo, but I never felt the need.  Also, it used to have little pegs in the holes which made it a sectional, but, after years of rolling on miles of warp, I decided to remove them (they were part of my months of refurbishing and were not antique).  Now I use the simple old paper method, it's a little strange with such a huge warp beam (which is one yard around), but it's so much easier and more efficient to wind on....I put on 40 to 50 yards at a time on there at a time which doesn't even begin to make it look loaded!

Here is another photo that I've never's a photo of all those 14 treadles that I've been dancing on since 1985.  This loom, the first manufactured loom I ever owned, has been in continuous use and is such a happy loom, too.  Before my mentor told me about it coming up for sale, it sat, sadly, unused and unloved for 30 years in a dirt floor, not-weather-proofed, OLD garage in the heart of San Antonio, sad, what a waste of TIME, but, now it's suuuuuuuuuuuch a happy loom!

I don't know what the tie-ups were made of originally, but I chose to create a chain system that is detachable from the center, permanently attached to each lamm and to four places along the treadle and is works for me!

Yes, those are pieces of carpet on the bottom of  it's feet....The Old Structo has "stockings" on it's feet to avoid contact with the concrete floors of my is that love or WHAT?!?!  Well, I'd better get this thing posted and go start setting up for a Studio Tour that's taking place in my Village Saturday and Sunday.  I am sending out happy holiday cheer, hope for the future and most of all....Miles and Miles of Smiles, Cat B.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Here's a Mystery!

I have always thought that I was weaving, for YEARS, on my old Structo Artcraft Loom because of this metal plaque which is affixed to the front of the castle....Now, I've been inspired to look into the background and history of my sweet old friend and have found out that it might not BE a Structo at all!!!!!  I'm in a discussion on Weavolution and could not get this photo to come up there, so I'm putting it here for viewing.

Let's see what transpires....I'm not getting upset....really I'm not....discovery is truly being alive, so I'll just live every moment of it!  Many thanks to the people who are helping me in my search!  I'm sending my thanks and Miles and Miles of Smiles, Cat B.

Friday, November 18, 2011

"Texas Adventures"

YEP!  That's the name of this great event in Texas.  My husband, Jim, and I go to it every year.  It's a wonderful show.  Going there is like visiting good old friends and having 3 days to catch is a great joy!  It's well run, well attended and totally delightful.  If you put the name in your search engine, it will forgive my 2 "l"s in llama, and take you there anyway (I just can't stop that second "l"'s all I have ever known as the way to spell it!).

There's just one little problem....not with the show, that's GREAT....what else can I say...I'm allergic to Texas.  I always come back home sick or very sick and, as last year, I am recovering now.  I am grateful that, this year, I kept my voice.

I do recommend going to K-N-E, as a vendor, as a student, as a teacher or as a shopper!  It's well worth the drive to Boerne, Texas, Hyw 46 at the Kendell County Fairgrounds.  Keep watching that site for cues as to when to sign up for something!

Every now and then, I go as a vendor to Kid-N-Ewe and I did this year.  Most years I go just as a helper to my husband, Jim Hokett of Hokett Would Work.  This show is very, VERY good for him and everyone there just looooooooooooves him and the beautiful things he makes.

But, as can be seen in the photo above, I thought it might be fun to go as a vendor, but not take my yardage, so I could be more helpful to Jim in his booth set-up. Things went well and my little half-booth looks pretty good....I used only the front part of the booth so Jim could display his newest production line in the back part with an entrance in there from his booth.  Look at that gooooooorgeous line of saddle stands above!  The right-most was a delivery of an order, but he made many of them!  We didn't know if they would sell at a fiber event that focuses on llamas and sheep, but it was worth a try!

It worked purrrrrrrrrrfectly and I'm so proud of how what I saw in my head actually fit!  I sold some Raggy Cat Pin Cushions, quite a few This-N-Thats, a stole and a blanket, which is MY new line item!  I have wanted to weave blankets and have a line of them for years, and now they have begun!!!!!  My dream was to weave blankets using wool from the wool mill that was located here when me moved here, but that just didn't work out, so that dream when south.  But, now my dream is alive again!

Here is my first blanket....or should I say was, because it sold.  I plan to make another, similar, but never the same.

I thought of the colors of winter here, of snow, of the trees limbs contrasted against the snow, of stones, even of the spent leaves we all tread upon.

Here's the next blanket I wove.  Such fun, what a work-out.  All these will be made on Doris of about her under "With a little help from my friends...." on this blog.

This blanket caused quite a stir, but did not sell yet.  It's the 16-Harness Twill I wrote myself called "Cat's Garden" and I wove the first color, then blended that with the second color, then wove the second color pure, then blended it with the third color and so on.  Lots of work, sometimes 3 shuttles going, complete and total fun.

Yes, that's what I've been calling it in my head, this journey of learning how to "put myself out there" as my friend, Rachel says.  I have been fortunate enough to have someone come into my life and I have found myself repeatedly wondering if she is really an angel.

Angel is just what she is to me, but also, I know that her feet are firmly planted on the ground.  Our friendship grew gently but quickly as though our souls recognized each other.  She is so rare, personifies pure love and is so treasured in my heart.

Rachel and I used to collaborate on creating garments together....I would weave the fabric and give it to her, not knowing what might result.  That fabric would "live" in Rachel's fabulous Moonbeam Studio until it "spoke to her and told her what it wanted to be". Then she would go to work and make wearable art so unique, so inspiring, so incredible.  I felt so proud to be a part of the process.

I have always said that the definition of an artist is someone who overhears the conversations between the heart and soul and is wise enough to just be still an listen....this is inspired by my sweet Rachel. She is fearless, adventurous, totally open to whatever comes to her.  By example, she has inspired me, too, and, early on, had a profound effect on me.  When I taught at the then-named Southwest Craft Center in San Antonio, TX, I often described myself as a 'technician in a sea of artists'. Rachel was instrumental  in me seeing that I am an artist with good technical skills in my field...I gained confidence in myself to believe in what I was hearing in those deeply felt conversations that I had been hearing from age three!

Well, during Rachel's visit this past August I was, needless to say "in heaven" to have her for 2 weeks.  But, more was going on and, after she left, I found myself determined to meet 3 deadlines that I would have thought impossible just a few short weeks earlier...yes, she is so inspiring.

FASA~Fiber Artist of San Antonio....I used to be a member of this delightful group of some of the most sophisticated fiber artists that this country has EVER had! Put those words in your search engine for only the smallest of views of what this group is about.  The FASA Annual Exhibit is one of the Texas shows that Rachel recommended I enter.  She saw a This-N-That in progress on Deedle and said "You should enter something like THAT in the Annual Exhibit! I was surprised to learn that they accept yardage at a fiber art exhibit and thrilled at the chance. I wove a piece especially FOR that exhibit, called it "A West Texas Dawn". Needless to say, this work came off of Deedle and is part of my Desert Daze Series 6.

Rachel took this photo of it because they actually accepted it!  I was sooooooooooo thrilled, I was on Cloud 9 for days!

Here is the other piece I decided to submit because I thought it was SO different from the Desert Daze that I hoped that at least one of them might be accepted.  But they took them BOTH ...okay, Cloud 18 here....I was completely shocked that both were accepted and showed me that they were considered each on it's own merit.

This one is "Blocks and Boxes" and comes off of Stanley.  The texture is so wonderful on this fabric and the black Cotton, silver Lurex and white Rayon Chenille played well off of each other.

Even when she is taking a photo, Rachel makes it "artsy"...look at that moon and the reflections.

Thank you so much Rachel for bringing this into my life.

TMFA~Texas Museum of Fiber Arts....without Rachel's counsel, I would never have known about this!  Get this wonderful title...."Texas By The Yard and Yarn"!  This is another show that Rachel encouraged me to submit pieces.  The one at right, "West Texas Dusk" was accepted and hung (no onsite photo) and has only recently come down.

This fabric came off of Margaret and was in progress (about 6") when Rachel was visiting in August.  She loved it and that's when I heard about Texas by the Yard......"You've just got to put that in THERE," she said.

I forget the actual measurements, but I wove over 4 yards to get a good amount, washed it, completely hemmed up BOTH selvedges, hemmed the bottom, make a self-casement at the top and hand sewed in a hanger.

TFFA~Texas Federation of Fiber Arts.....I also entered this show at Rachel's encouragement and 2 days ago, she and I learned that our pieces will be included in "FIBERWERKS 2012" at the Hill Country Arts Foundation, 120 Point Theatre Road South in Ingram, Texas.  I don't think it would be proper to show my piece here, because this show will not be up until February 4th through the 25th of 2012!

This FIBERWERKS Exhibition will be on display at the same time as the state-wide Texas Federation of Fiber Artists Conference in Kerrville, Texas.

Well, there's my Texas story.....and I'm stickin' to it!  As I am getting stronger, of course I'm thinking of all the things I want to be weaving.  I am going to participate in the Village of Magdalena Studio Tour on December 3rd and 4th, and I haven't even unloaded my things out of the trailer....okay, even in my weakened state I can still MAKE MYSELF REST, count all my blessings and send out happy thoughts, good wishes and, of course,
Miles and Miles of Smiles,  Cat B.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Story of This-N-Thats

This-N-Thats are what I call my small handwoven pieces of cloth that have been created all onto themselves... which is why I couldn't call them remnents or left-overs. They are completely original, one-of-a-kind pieces of handwoven cloth.  They are always less than one yard, so most often they are hung on a hanger on the This-N-That Rack in my booth or just laid flat.

Oh....this and that....and the other....These words are how This-N-Thats were created.  My This-N-Thats are 1) the need to empty bobbins, 2) the need to test a new weft thread or 3) the need to test out a new draft or pattern.  The creation of This-N-Thats is very fast, ever-changing, mostly fun and never the same!  Most of the photos here are showing about the NEEEEEEEEED to empty bobbins!  Look at all those bobbins....and that's only about 1/6th of my problem!

As you can see, I have a LOT of bobbins to empty and they are such lovely yarns and threads that I just have to use them somehow in some meaningful, This-N-That's were born.

These photos show my beginning on Jimmy and Stanley, but I've moved on to adding This-N-That's on Deedle, too now.  Half my days are weaving them on Deedle while I finish a blanket on Doris that I want to take to Kid-N-Ewe in Texas in November.

This photo at left shows that I have so many shuttles loaded up and ready to go that I have to lay them on their sides to make them fit onto my funky old folding tray....I think I have 15 or so here.

I don't have a set size for these smallish pieces of handwoven fabric.  I just weave until I run out of the chosen combinations of wefts.  What's so great about creating This-N-Thats is the totally free thinking that's going on in my head....I remember that there would be times when a student would be having great difficulty deciding what warp or wefts to use and would become rather agitated in the decision making....I'd say, "This is just your first weaving, not your only!" 
 That was usually all they needed to just PICK!  Well, while making This-N-Thats I have no picking to do once I have looked for the preferred contrast or color combination....I just WEAVE!  I have found that these little creations work well on shadow weave and This-N-Tha's are a purrrrrrrfect time to test patterns.  In the photo above, you can see the end of one This-N-That and the beginning of's all rather fast and furious and totally creative!  My mind is free to PLAY and what results is lovely and useful.

The photo directly above is a wild and crazy This-N-That of all those colors on the old folding tray.  The caption shows where you can see it in my Etsy Shop...just click to go there! I've woven it on Stanley, 12-Harness Bronson Lace, but, as you can see, I've chosen just one of the lace elements to repeat over and over while changing only the threads that I want to weave in.  There's lots of texture and color and fun and I've found that they wash up just fine!

The photo below.....HERE'S THE REWARD!!!!!  Need I say more?

Okay here's ANOTHER reward for This-N-Thats!  The photo below shows them after they have been zig-zag stitched on each edge so they can be washed and dried and tagged.  Now, here's some eye candy!  Isn't this why we weave?


I think these This-N-Thats are a pretty good trick of the trade....oh, I've got soooooooo many trade tricks in my head.... so I'll post again with one I have in progress right now on Doris.....

Okay, several days have passed and, as you can see, I have several shuttles in progress right now.  When I have this situation, I like to carry the inactive shuttle/wefts up the side of the piece, if they are not too bulky.  So, in the photo at left, you can see how I "hold" inactive shuttles on Doris (she's a Macomber, but any high castle works great for this) so that weft can be carried easily up the side of my work.  Just treat this weft thread like you do the floating selvedge (over going in, under coming out) and the active weft with surround the inactive weft thus carrying up the side without any inconvenience.  I have had as many as 4 going up one side or both sides at a time, though here you can see just one.  Out of the photo is another one on the other selvedge.

Let's get a close-up of you can see I've made my "hangers" out of wire from my stash.  Out of the photo, there is a piece of tape holding the wire firmly in place on the INside of Doris' castle, so I can just take the shuttle off easily without the wire wanting to follow!  I used a square of duct tape there.

Since Doris is a HUGE Macomber, it took more wire to fit neatly over the top of the castle.  Use some needle-nose pliers here to get nice clean want this to look NICE!  This method works well for my Old Structo Artcraft Loom, too, and will work with any high castled loom.

NOTE!  Look back up at the first photo of Doris with the beater bar you see that?  This is the beater bar position needed to estimate the proper amount of thread to leave out of the shuttle.  The way I made my wire hangers, they do not allow for easy feed-out of weft thread while the shuttle is hanging on them, so they won't start to feed out when I don't want them to do so.  You can figure out how to make your, they don't need to be copper....that's just what I had on hand.  Any really stiff wire will do, yet I could bend it by hand....sorry,I don't know the specific gauge, but the shuttles don't weigh very much, so you'll know when it's right.

Okay, so let's keep weaving and creating and sending each other Miles and Miles of Smiles, Cat B.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sunshine and Thunder

What an incredible contrast....yet, right now at this writing, sunshine and thunder is exactly what I've got.  My eyes see my studio in a glowing wash of brilliant golden light, while my ears hear roar and boom of thunder all around me, shaking the walls...and the looms, echoing off the mountains and rolling down the canyons to me. How enriching to my life that I can be experiencing something that is as gentle and warm as a kiss, while at the same time feeling such frightening power.

It's almost as though the universe is telling me something, but, though I hear it and see it, I just don't know how to speak the language.....

I feel so small, so weak, so utterly insignificant, like just a little speck in the big picture....and, at the same moment, blessed to be alive, so honored to be in this place at this time of my life.  While these powerful contrasts of life are so completely filling every inch of my immediate space, I am ever in wonder of this place and where I fit in it.  I feel so thankful to the universe for this life that I lead.... and for this life that leads me...

It's sunny in the picture above, but there are times we are driving down off the mountain and on our left is clouds and rain, heavy with darkness and lightning and on our right is bright gentle sunshine with not a cloud to be seen.  I'll never grow used to it all.  I will witness everything, appreciate it all, even when it's difficult, and remember forever.....

Contrast continues in my weaving as well as I am currently weaving heavy blanket weight fabrics on Doris and also weaving fabric so light it's mostly air on Hazle and Grace.

One of the things I like most about having so many looms in progress is that I have variety and can literally chose my mood.  I try to keep them on a schedule because that's best for my "busy head", but it's challenging and enjoyable to have such contrast in what I'm weaving from size of threads to width of work to complexity of design and demand on the brain!

On Doris, I've finally started to weave blankets, which has been a long-time dream of mine, and now they have begun! They are sofa throw size, about 4 feet wide and 6 to 7 feet long after washing, though they can also be great on twin beds.

Some will have fringe and some will not.  I've got such a long line of color ways planned that I could be weaving into next year!  Some of the blankets will be all cotton, some cotton blends and some will be cotton warp and wool weft.  I am going for texture and color and lots of FUN!

While the blankets are progressing on Doris, I have light, gentle fabric in progress on Hazle with rayon, tencil and silk.  I have 3 shuttles going right now, which I am getting very comfortable doing in an ever changing background of colors with soft pink flower forms in Bronson Lace going goal is 6 or 7 shuttles going at one time.

The gradation of background colors is actually showing up in the photo at right, but viewing 'in purrrrrrrrrson' it's more subtle and interesting.

Then, on Grace, I've got the next reeeeeally light fabric in progress with a new design in the 10-Harness Huck Lace.  It's like a party over on her because I have only one shuttle going and the fabric is not very wide!  See below.....

HERE'S MY Trick Of The Trade:

How do you count rows of chenille, especially when that chenille is BLACK?!? The photos above will tell all.  Every 10 rows, I place a very small straight pin from the top of the tenth weft thread to the bottom of that same thread, so that I know for sure that the pin is ON ten.  For me, it's easy to maintain a mental note of 10 rows at a time, so this is easy and fast.  The pin marking 50 rows is a different color, so at that red one, I start using the ones from below to continue, using less you can see it works well for chenille and for smooth wefts, I was counting 88 rows before a change of weft and this helped me SO much!

Okay, so the phone rings and I lose COUNT!  Okay, what NOW?  I always have a flash light in a handy place and in my studio is no different!

This works with any color chenille, but is most especially appreciated with BLACK!

As you can see, this pin marking method is easy, stays out of the way of progress, doesn't catch the weft threads in process and is easy to put in and take out!  Need I say more?

At the wise advice of my dear friend, Rachel, I have submitted several works for jury in hopes that they might go into different shows and exhibitions around Texas.....I have been extremely busy getting these works woven (yes, I have created them JUST for these events) and washed, finished, hemmed, hanging forms sewn carefully into casements and I am now at the ready to await the fate of these works.  Let's see where they might take me.... I'm thinking of this as my Rachel Journey...and she will never steer me wrong.

So, now that I've met all my deadlines, I am planning on just weaving and enjoying the light in the studio, the peace of the place, and a quiet so profound that I can hear the birds' little beaks crushing the food I have offered them.  Yes all's, no thunder right now, but I never know when it will visit in this high mountain desert world in which I am merely a happy speck.  Oh, did I mention, that our lightning here is legendary and there is even an observatory on top of Magdalena Ridge. put there because of our huge abundance of lightning.

Abundance...yes, that is the word, isn't it...  There is such abundance of all things here, the easy and the difficult, the beautiful and the brutal.  Life is good and I'm sending out Miles and Miles of Smiles....Cat B.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Good Bye Joseph Leisey

It's not as though he'll even notice that I am gone.  It's a rather long see, Joseph Leisey wrote a beautiful threading draft way back in 1783.  When I discovered it at an exhibit table put there by the Complex Weavers, I was astounded that this draft was almost as old as our country.

Here's the text:  Joseph Leisey's 1783 Draft Book, 8 Harness, 12 dent reed, 3 to dent, 36 epi, 44/2 Linen, trompt as writ, "Weave a Kerchief".

I just had to weave this draft...

Now, shortly after acquiring Stanley, I decided to go for this draft....but Stanley is a 12-Harness Macomber...  "This is just like me," I thought, "I can't leave anything ALONE!"

So I modified this 8-Harness draft for my 12-Harness Stanley....even my looms are required to do their best! I wove beautiful stoles with Joseph Leisey....I hoped he would have approved.  I wove some yardages, as well.  But, I was curious about the draft "as writ" and felt, in order to really do it justice, I must do that, too.

So I moved Joseph Leisey over to my dearest and oldest loom, The Old Structo. This Structo Artcraft loom (see under "With a little help from my friends") isn't so efficient for my 'speed weaving' of yardage, but, thanks to Joseph Leisey, I discovered that it is purrrrrrrrrrfect for stoles!  (And, I weave stoles on the Old Structo to this day...)

As I begin weaving another stole, I discover that, as the 12-Harness version of the old draft is strong and stable, the 8-Harness draft, "as writ", was not to my liking.  Okay, I've only got 40 yards on this Structo, I'll be okay.  I supported the draft by weaving "as overshot" with tabby rows alternating with the lacey floats.  It was stable, but no fun at all.  So I isolated the most stable parts of the draft and vowed not to use the unstable blocks at all....then, by adding 2 tabby rows between each group of lacey float rows, I had one fine fabric!

So, happily weaving Joseph Leisey for a couple of years, I made stoles, I made baby blankets and I wove lovely yardages.  Several hundred yards have gone through getting blessed by the lovely old draft as I "dummied on" several times, changing warp colors, changing weft colors, taking that sweet old draft apart, shuffling it about, enjoying it frontwards, backwards, right-side-up and up-side-down.  I cast it asunder and then put it back together again.  I could weave it in my sleep....and have...

But, all good things must come to an end and, as you see to the left, it has.  It obviously shook me up more than I realized until processing this photos.  The rest of the photos were entirely too blurry to even show details at all.

I think this blurry photo might be showing me that I was more affected by leaving Joseph Leisey than I ever would have thought it would.

So, again I say, good bye Joseph Leisey, with my most profound thanks.  I can only hope that I may someday give some future weaver as much joy as you gave me...possibly in the year....2238.  I am ever aware of the timelessness of what we do and how we, all weavers, touch each other.  We read a language like none other, and, even across time and space, we continue to bring joy to each other.

Some years back, I wrote some words about this weavers-in-the-fabric-of-life situation and here they are....

"Past Weaver, Future Cloth"

The hands of this weaver did tire and slow
And it seemed that the fabric was done.
Yet here I strive to take up this work,
Since one weaver is never just one.

And when I tire, please see this cloth
And be moved to continue it on.
To keep alive our web of life,
The weaver's dance can never be done...

Cat Brysch

I don't have so much a Trick of the Trade this post as just a handy-dandy thing that I have done for years.  There are times when we all have so many 'irons in the fire' that it's difficult to keep track, right? Well, in this case, what is happening is I need lots of well-lighted, roomy work spaces and I need several!  So, what do I do?  See the photo above....that picture is worth a thousand words!  I have put a cloth over the  warp threads on Jimmy and, since he's not tied on to weave at present, I only needed the long narrow cloth that you see at the reed over the shuttle race.

Then I have put a work board (I have several sizes available at all times to use) over the shuttle race across to the breast beam.  Nothing is harmed in creating this wonderful work space and I have the best light in the world right there.... comfortable seating, too!

Here's a smaller work space over Arlene.  The green cloth (an old pillowcase) is draped over the whole scarf that is in progress, so the board will not touch the delicate, tiny warp or the hand-dyed silk scarf. And there is another work space!

I have a huge board that I've put over Doris in the past when I was really needing some space and this works great.  At present, I have 4 separate work spaces going on at looms that are not a part of my numerous deadlines.

Multi-purrrrrrrrrrrpose looms....nuf sed!

Thanks so much for reading.  Now, I'm off to do fiber art, paper work, hand sewing, Raggy Cat assembling and weaving again and am sending Miles and Miles of Smiles,  Cat B.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Back from Intermountain Weavers Conference

It is so very good to be home.  Even when the trip away was wonderful, there's truly no place like home.  And what have I been doing?  They say a picture is worth a thousand words so.....look UP!  Whenever I am in my booth, I feel like I am standing in the middle of my dreams made real.  The fabrics that I think up in my head are there to be seen and felt.  And the most fun is that people actually can visit me in my dreams!

Two of my most satisfying dreams have been "Desert Daze" (the bottom several fabric rolls on the rack, and "Desert Nights" (the top 3 fabric rolls).

"Daze" has proved very popular over the years and I'm now weaving on my seventh warping of this fabric.  As of yesterday, I have had the colored warps sitting on the breast beam on Deedle (the loom on which I weave this fabric) and it will be my eighth 70-yard warp!  I still need to buy the 'sand' for this warp, but I have to colors all planned out.

"Nights" is new and already showing some interest.  I had two quite nice sized rolls which I took to Texas to that show in College Station, and sold out of I came home with orders for more to mail out, wove those and then began to weave more for IWC in Durango, CO.  I feel that I haven't really had time to explore "Nights" yet, but will in the coming months.

I have recently been asked how someone can order something off my blog. Since I'm rather new at this, I just assumed that anyone interested in any of my fabrics would email me and the dialog would begin.  But, I guess I should say that.  Since I don't have Product # connected or any listing, I can see how it might be confusing.  So.....if you go to "THE WORK ~ With a little help from my friends..." area very near the top of my blog, you'll see a list of "friends" which are the names of my looms.  Say you click on Margaret and look at the photos, read the pricing and the description of the fabrics that I weave on Margaret.... then, you are really interested in making yourself a skirt from one of the fabrics. Nice for ME!  You email me directly (or you could leave a comment, I guess) and I will email you back.  The great thing about emailing me directly is ....then you and I are having a one-on-one conversation and I can send you photos directly that show all the varieties of fabrics that I have woven off of Margaret.  Then, if you see something in particular, I can send close-ups of that fabric so there are no surprises should you decide to order.  I can include for you the exact measurements of width and length and such, so you would know what you are getting. You can look at your patterns, OR, as with the skirt I made from Margaret fabric, it's just a TUBE with elastic at top and a nice turned, hand-stitched hem!  I hope is has been a helpful addition and I will also put up a "sign" somewhere on my blog....I'll figure out where very soon!

I will post more later and add another "Trick of the Trade" as time allows!  The garden is calling, there's beans and squash and okra to pick, there's looms to tie-on, there's paperwork to shuffle!  Keep smiling........ and purrrrring!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Cloth for Janie

I've been busy finishing up some orders that I received from my trips in Texas and here's my last one for this go-round.  As I weave this cloth, I remember this dear lady who came into my booth in College Station and, when I didn't have enough, ordered 4 yards of it!  I am so thrilled and honored to be weaving away for Janie!

I am enjoying weaving on Jimmy so very much and this fabric, one of my newest creations called "Desert Nights" has been quite popular indeed.

Next I plan to weave some 20/2 rayon in, as it will make the fabric even more light weight and have a drape that is to live for!  I am weaving with relatively small weft threads of purple 20/2 cotton and chartreuse 10/2 cotton and there are 48 rows to a series, so it's not a fast fabric to weave, but I think the result is worth it!

When the Village Vixens visited my studio recently, there was discussion about why not choose one of the lovely colors that is IN the warp and weave with that as one of the wefts of this Shadow Weave.  My answer is that, if I did that with, say purple, the eye would go immediately TO that spot where the purple weft meets the purple warp and I don't want that.  Our eye will always go to the "difference" in something....the variable, so I would rather keep all of the colors in a state of change and contrast....I hope that makes sense.

I've also been thinking that I should mention that, yes, I have cut my hair!  There was more than one shocked look in my booth by old friends in Texas who said "What did you DO?"  Well, I cut my hair!  I gave 19 inches of it for making wigs and, because there was so much of it, my hair will help make about 1/3 of a wig.  I thought I'd better cut it soon, because I am graying pretty fast now....moonlight, I call it.... and I love it this way.  But, the wig makers cannot use gray hair and, when I found that out, I was so disappointed and little insulted!  BUT, I went on line and found out WHY no gray hair, so I feel okay now.  The reason is that the average pony tail, 8-10 inches long, make about 1/6 of a wig, so they have to combine other donations to make an entire wig and then, to make all that match, they have to dye the hairs.  Gray hair doesn't take the dye as well and won't keep it well once it's in there, so they just can't use it if it's got like 6% gray.  The ends of my hair were still pretty brown, so, just before my 61st birthday, I cut my hair and donated it.  That's my story and I'm stickin' to it!

Okay, so besides weaving for Janie, I am getting ready to IWC....Intermountain Weavers Conference which takes place at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado from July 21st through July 24th.  This is such a lovely event for everyone and, as a vendor, it's heaven itself.  We don't have booth numbers, but I can still be found at the Student Union Hall, the Vallecito Room and it's FREE to the public!  The exhibits are also free and absolutely amazing.  Now, I must say here that this conference is also of interest to ALL fiber artists.  No matter what you do with fiber, you'll find the supplies, the books, the inspirations and many kindred spirits!  You can find out more on the website by putting in Intermountain Weavers Conference 2011.  I would say just put in IWC, but that brings up a lot of wine things, too, so better spell it out, okay?  Please come and say hello!  You'll be happy you did!!!

HERE'S A Trick of the Trade!!!!
P A P E R ! ! ! ! !
It would be fair to say that, with 9 looms, I use a LOT of paper.  I dress my looms front to back and don't prefer the sectional system which I used for years.  For non-weaving readers, we put paper in our warp as we are winding it on the warp beam, so the outer layers won't sink into the inner layers, making for terrible tension problems.....I've often said that we weavers are so happy because all of our tension is IN OUR WARPS!!!!...Okay, I'm corny!

First suggestion, note how I store my paper by rolling gradually tighter lengths into another roll until I have tons of paper in a really small space...see the box.

Second suggestion is that you can purrrrrrrrrrfectly lovely paper at HOME DEPOT!  Go to their paint department and ask them where the rolls of floor protecting paper is.  It's pretty tough stuff and helps me in rolling my really long warps.  Note that there are usually 2 sizes....get the 36" length.  With that length, since all of my looms are wider, I turn the paper to cut my lengths...then, every time a put on a paper, I've wound on ONE YARD!  Cool, huh?  I have a paper count as I wind, so I know how far along I am progressing!
Third suggestion is near and dear to my heart.  As I wind on my woven fabric onto the cloth beam (see photo), from the very first, I put in a paper that has been folded at least 4 times to make it reall thick (I'd use the corrugated paper here, but have none wide enough).  Years ago, I used to take off my fabric and see the ugliest distortions in my lovely cloth and (oh YUCK comes to memory) I started doing this.  I used to do it only for my lighter fabrics and stoles, but now I do it at every loom every time.  Each loom has it's own paper, pre-folded, ready to go at wind-on, stays with the loom at all times and is used again and again and again...that's for the Scottish!

Now, see how smoooooooooooth that fabric will be from it's very beginning to it's lovely end.  AAAAAAAAh, now I'm happy.  I am sending out happy thoughts of weaving and gardens growing and everyone getting just enough rain and Miles and Miles of Smiles, Cat B.