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.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Laundry Days?

Many of us know the joy of taking fresh laundry off the line and breathing in the wonderful fragrance as a reward for our labors.  I do that with our household laundry and, though I started hanging out clothes before it was popular, I still take some pride in being a little more 'green'.

But, the handwoven yardage that comes from my looms needs to be put through the machine wash and the machine dry to bring about the maximum shrinkage in consideration of my buyers.  During these "laundry days", the magic is when I take the yardage out of the dryer!

I always grin from ear to ear when I see 'batches' like this.  Each piece, whether yardage or "This-N-That's", has been zig-zag stitched to protect them from unraveling during the washing and drying processes.

These photos show just a few of the many 'behind the scenes' efforts that are never seen when my yardage is hanging in my booth or when I show cloth to a visitor to my studio.

If I were to make a complete list, it would include, but not limited to, the following: shop for and buy the warp thread, measure the warp into up to 15 chains of up to 70 yard lengths, dress the loom (a huge sub-list!), tie on warp, choose weft(s) and wind (load) bobbins.....weave weave weave, cut off the yardage, zig-zag each end of the yardage, wash it, dry it, hand roll it onto the display roll, tag it, smile, smile, smile.

I charge by the yard after all these steps have been taken to create the maximum shrinkage so, depending on the fiber content, I might weave a yard and a half to get that yard that I sell.

I've been asked about my pricing and, in my booth especially, I've even been criticized for the rates I charge!  Off of Jimmy, and basic fabric off of Margaret, I get a lovely bunch of fabrics that are only $35.00 a yard...what a deal, huh?

When I explain my pricing, visitors do seem to settle down and understand and what I say is....  In the industry, shops will double, or even triple, my price, so that $35/yard quickly becomes $70/yard or even $105/yard.

Though I think the shops are wonderful and I would be honored to be in them.... I have tried to resist putting my yardage in shops ONLY because, in my booth or my studio, the deal is you buying directly from the artist....and I get to meet YOU in the process, too!

Though I've started an Etsy Shop at CatBryschCreations on Etsy, I will continue to keep my prices as low as I can there, too. I can take PayPal and credit cards now, so I can offer more conveniences to my buyers... with a little added cost to me, but this is worth a try!

My dream is to find the adventurous individuals who sew and want one-of-a-kind fabric to do it with!  Also, I hope that some clothing designers will find me for special limited lines or art pieces.  I am continually in awe of the creativity and spirit of people who want to sew with handwoven goods.  They are all fearless!

And now....HERE'S A Trick of the Trade!

We've all been have dressed the loom, wound bobbins, put in the header and now...there in front of you is a minefield of hang-ups everywhere!!

If you are weaving with 20/2 like I do, or LUREX at 88,000 yards per pound (no kidding!), these weft threads will catch of anything...they will catch on the knots of the warp, whether you use knots, bows or lash on and they will catch on the loom parts, making the first part of your fabric s l o w . . . . to say the least.

AND, there's no safe place to put your shuttles, if you are using 2 or more. There's the photo above of what used to be a torturous problem for me that would not go away until you weave enough to advance those knots around the breast beam and down.

Well, there's a little thing I do that helps and it takes me less than 10 seconds to do....the materials I use are 2 alligator clips, 2 clothes pins and a piece of fabric (mine's a piece of old sheet) which is as long as my widest loom and about 15" in width.  Mine is folded to create that size.  Check out the photo at left which is speaking 1,000 words....

Now, the photo at left shows after one advance...and to advance the whole affair until those knots are all the way around,  remove the alligator clips and leave the sheet wrapped around the tie-on bar....the pressure at the beam will hold it fine.  The clothes pins are underneath there pinned securely to the tie-on cords (or cloth if you have that) to give a stable 'cloth' for the shuttles to rest and not fall through....we don't want that!!!

This cloth goes from loom to loom until all my fabrics are well on their way and the booby traps are GONE!  I hope that, if you have this problem, that this trick will help you.  This has cut my weaving time, in this early stage, down to 1/4 of what it used to be with all those hang-ups!

I'm sending out happy weaving thoughts and Miles and Miles of Smiles, Cat B.

Friday, June 24, 2011

When everything is running smoothly....

WOW, it's been awhile since I posted because I've been lashing on just about every loom and getting them started weaving.  Also, I have a plan brewing to put on Hazle which I hope to submit to HGA's Convergence yardage exhibit in 2012.....this fabric would have 3 background colors and 2 squash blossom colors and a continually 'rolling' blend and change.  MAN, can't I think up something simple?  I just don't seem to have that tendency.

Another thing I've been busy with is....I've gotten myself on Etsy!  I have put my little Raggy Cat Pin Cushions on there and a couple of scarves! In time, I plan to put more scarves, more Raggy Cats (if they sell), my Fabric Flower Pins and my stoles!  It's fun and easy and I just decided to give it a try.

My shop is called...Cat Brysch Creations Studio by CatBryschCreations on Etsy.
Wish me luck!

I've often been asked where I got my training.  I have never had a lesson, never. I sure have taught a few of those, but never had one.  The closest I can come to a lesson was when a very dear lady, Judy, loaned me her Baby Wolf to try a real draft on, so I could see what a commercially constructed loom was like.  Before that, I was using a loom that I made myself, and, at the time I wrote for Handwoven in the '80s, I submitted a 13-Harness draft that they had to alter so people would know what to do with it!  They had to really work at it, and I felt a little bad (and so honored) that they made such an effort.  That's when I knew I had to learn these conventional looms and weaver's language called drafts!

The integration was almost weaver brain very quietly went....oh! and that was that!  I was amended.  I realized, too, that these looms added a great deal of speed and convenience!  Wow, but I must have been living in a cave or something.  But, during that "time of not knowing", I got a special kind of training... instead of the loom doing it FOR me, I was designing every single thread.  I could 'see' where every weft thread was traveling, under, over, when it was floating above the web to make a pattern element.  And that was a good thing!  It seems that many weavers today just learn to follow the instructions and don't necessarily learn to see what each treadle produces.  This is why some weavers have trouble seeing, and then interpreting, errors.  So, if you are a new weaver, take the time to recognize what each harness does for you. Even today, when I look at a draft, my brain still 'sees' where every single weft thread is traveling...

I was trying to develop a space on this blog where I could add tricks of the trade that I might pass along..... things I've worked out over my 37 years.  But, the blog space filled or something, and would not let me add or change anything anymore, so I had to just delete it!  So, instead, I'm going to try to offer a few tricks of the trade in my posts.

HERE'S A Trick ~  This trick is offered assuming that you have taken out all threading errors and are just weaving along happily.  When I am weaving, I have a "watch spot" that I watch very might hold one whole motif of the entire pattern, and if it doesn't develop right or look right, I've made an error! This "watch spot" adds efficiency because I can see instantly if something is not right!  Now, of course, I do let my eye cover the whole fabric as I weave, but that spot insures I haven't missed a treadle sequence or doubled up on something.
This, to the right, is my "watch spot" on Doris.  Now, Doris has 1,500 warp threads on her and there's no repeats of design until you get to the center and then everything is mirrored.... so, there's a LOT to watch!

But my eye falls upon that one circled motif row to the right side of this's the rounded oval surrounded by upper and lower part circles.  I know it well, so, when it doesn't look right, I need to check my work!

I will have more 'tricks' in my posts, because there's nothing better than weavers sharing!  I hope you are weaving today.  I know I'll be weaving and sending out as many good, and watchful, thoughts as I can in my Miles and Miles of Smiles, Cat B.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Happiness Is.....

Now, if you've been reading this blog, you know that I've been traveling and have done 2 shows back-to-back and a wonderful visit to Rosepath Weaving in Lindale as well.  What fun I've had.  Then, when I get home, the 'work' begins.... unloading the rig and taking contents of all those boxes apart to rearrange everything and packing it up for the next show!  Well,  okay, it's taken me awhile, but now I'm beginning to prepare my looms to, again, help me make fiber magic.

Now, except for the volume of yardage that I weave, we are all weavers together, right?  So, you know what happiness is......

Happiness is when you have tied your warp threads onto the front cloth beam, you've wound your bobbins within a thread of STUFFED, you have even woven in your HEADER, that moment comes when everything is right with your world... and you begin to this is happiness.  Weavers everywhere unite in one great big happy grin....I'm gonna go weave on Jimmy now...e'ya later!

I am sending out much of this happiness and Miles and Miles of Smiles,  Cat B.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Rose Path Weaving and Other Adventures

I am back from a long journey through Texas on my way to CHT ~ Contemporary Handweavers of Texas which held their state-wide conference in College Station this past week.  But, on the way to be a vendor at that event, I stopped at Rose Path Weaving to visit one of the shops that my husband supplies with his weaving and spinning tools.  While there, I offered a 4-hour demo/workshop on Jim's Hokett Would Work Hand Looms to all comers.  What fun it was, and what a fun bunch of people!!!
The photo can't say it all, though, as it cannot show the wonderful atmosphere in there, the beautifully arranged stock, the knowledgeable brainpower in the place or the giving spirit of the people inside.  For that, I hope you will go visit in purrrrrrrrrrrson.  To visit on line check out and get an eye-full!  They offer classes and one is coming up on the Hokett Would Work Hand Loom, so you can learn all about weaving on these fantastic little looms.
Here is a close-up of my work "Tierra Persona" (Earth Person) which won first prize Fiber Arts Fiesta where I was also a vendor.  This piece took many, many hours to complete, holds sculpted fibers and threads of cottons, rayons & silks and cast fibers that were all combined by using collage, couching and beading with glass beads. I hoped it would sell for it's modest $695 price, but, regretfully, it did not.  It hangs again in my hallway where, I must admit, I would miss it if it sold.  My goal is to sell it someday.  I will begin another fiber art piece with my goal to enter it into the Mixed Media section of AFAF in 2013.  I wanted to show this close up because people who came by my booth said that the close-up just astounded them....if you will notice.... even the irises of the eyes and the lips are renditions of leaves.
Here is my booth at Contemporary Handweavers of Texas Conference in College Station.  I had some of the most wonderful neighbors at this event who made the experience much more FUN.  Peggy and Penny at SkyLoom Weavers (find them at brought such humor and help to all their customers and they are from Cat Spring, wouldn't I like to go THERE!?!?!  Chele at Fiberlady (find her at is so full of knowledge and works so hard at what she does!

This trip was tiring after having done a show the week before, but I will recover quickly because I HAVE ORDERS TO FILL!!!!!!!!!!!  With all my best wishes, I am sending Miles and Miles of Smiles, Cat B.