Monday, December 31, 2012

Thoughts for a New Year

As editor of my weaving guild's newsletter, I write a letter every month to our members. Several members have suggested I share January's letter here. For those of you who are not weavers or spinners, remember that you 'make music' in your own special way.

Dear Weavers and Spinners,

"It was a year of storms, of raging winds and rising water, but also broader turbulence that strained our moorings." So read Wednesday's paper in an article recapping the top ten news stories of 2012. Most recent, and certainly most raw, is the incomprehensible horror in Connecticut that shattered our hearts earlier this month. Two weeks later officials in Newtown have asked people to stop sending gifts to the town, saying they're deeply grateful but unable to process the overwhelming volume of items.

I understand the response of those who have sent something to the residents of Newtown, and I'm heartened by their care and concern. In the face of immeasurable tragedy, our hearts aching, our minds straining for answers to the unfathomable, we feel helpless to turn the tide of grief that we know threatens to overwhelm those directly involved. How can we help? Is there anything we can do that will truly matter? Our love and our prayers are meaningful, enduring gifts, and yet, we long for tangible offerings.

One answer, an antidote for our sorrow and sense of helplessness, came in the days following the shooting. Someone posted, on Facebook, this quote by American composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein, champion of peace and humanity; “Let this be our reaction to violence — to make music more intensely, more beautifully and more devotedly than ever before.”  As that concept resonated within me, I realized that, as weavers and spinners, our looms and wheels are our instruments; we make music with thread. The harmonies, the melodies, and compositions we weave and spin are joy to create and share with our families, our friends, and our community. Let us resolve to tip the balance between despair and hope by "intensely and devotedly" making handwoven music …and sharing it with our world.

May you find peace in creating. May your creations be songs of love. May your special music uplift and encourage those you share it with. And, as you ply your craft, "…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."

Sarah H. Jackson, editor

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Dogwood Lace Tunic

Finished! The label is sewn in and it's ready to wear. Well, actually... ...ready to wrap and mail to Handwoven. The wearing will have to wait. 
Someone in the publishing business once told me that greens and blues are the most difficult colors to photograph accurately. I believe it! The true color is somewhere between these first two.

Making the Chinese ball buttons and frog closures was an experience in itself! Definitely a challenging project, but I'm happy with the final result.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Dogwood Lace Tunic

I've been working for several weeks on a lace project using Silk City's Bambu 12 from Cotton Clouds; sett at 30 ends per inch and woven at 30 picks per inch, 36" in the reed. Definitely not a quick project, ...but interesting to weave and satisfying to watch develop on the loom. I love the finished fabric; it looks and feels remarkably like silk.
The color is a soft, muted green, most accurately seen in the photo below:
This project is for the March/April issue of Handwoven magazine featuring designs that recreate or are inspired by heirloom linens. My inspirations were a vintage lace bodice from Paris and a 1930's quilt; each tells a story of one of my grandmothers  ...but I'm saving that for the magazine.
An Oriental-style tunic, Vogue 8830, seemed a good fit for the fabric. I shortened the sleeves to 3/4 length, omitted the cuff, and lined it with a printed rayon. The final stitches will go in tomorrow. Yea!
(photos of the finished tunic in my next post)

Thursday, November 15, 2012 

A Sneak Peak For You!

At just a few of the many handwoven creations you'll find at our Annual Exhibit & Holiday Sale!

Sarah Jackson, Crackle Purse

Purses by Sarah H. Jackson

Deb Shoenberger, Slot Canyon Tapestry
Slot Canyon, Tapestry by Deb Shoenberger

Mary Saxton, Jacket
Jacket by Mary Saxton

Designing Weavers
Annual Exhibit & Holiday Sale

Saturday, November 17 &
Sunday, November 18

10am to 4pm each day
Women's Club of Sierra Madre
550 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre, CA

Click here for a map

Celebrate the Season with Fiber!

You'll find unique, handmade gifts:
Wearables, Basketry, Jewelry, Scarves, Rugs, Hats,
Sculpture, Tapestry and More!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Turned Atwater Bronson Lace Kimono Vest

Recently I wrote about a turned Atwater Bronson lace sample I had just completed, but I hadn't decided exactly how I wanted to use it.  

I decided to weave the fabric for a vest using a pattern I'm familiar with, Dana Marie #1007 Kimono Jacket and Vest. The vest is finished!
 ...and in the mail heading for Handwoven magazine's offices in Loveland for the January/February 2013 issue which focuses on varietal wools. 

For the lining I used a rayon batik; I love having something colorful and fun inside the vest, and the fabric has a soft drape with just-right support for the woven fabric. 

If you sew, you know that sometimes the trickiest detail in finishing a garment can be finding the right button, and that was certainly true for this vest. While it only took two days to thread the loom and weave the fabric, it took half of a morning and three stores to come up with the button; buttons in this case. The final solution? Three stacked buttons; the large square one on the bottom is black, the round one in the middle is green, and the top one is shell which has the perfect mix of iridescent blues and greens.
The collar fabric was woven on the same warp with a treadling variation I came up with while sampling. Proving once again the value of sampling! 

I loved working with the yarn, Webs 2/10 Colrain Lace, a blend of 50% merino and 50% tencel. And, no matter how many times I warp my loom and weave, I'm absolutely fascinated by the idea that I can start with this...

and, one thread at a time, end up with beautiful fabric...magic!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Designing Weavers Welcomes a New Member!

Last May I was invited to attend a meeting of Designing Weavers and to present my work for membership consideration. After waiting on pins and needles until mid-July, I received an invitation to join. Yea! I'm excited and honored to be part of this extremely talented group.
"Established in 1975, Designing Weavers is a nationally recognized juried fiber guild known for the diverse range of work produced by its members and is based in Los Angeles, California. The group believes in motivating and encouraging excellence.

The September Newsletter from Designing Weavers arrived last week:

Meet Our New Member!

Sarah H. Jackson

A frequent contributor to Handwoven magazine, Sarah is also a member of Handwoven's technical editing team. Active in her local weaving guild, she writes for and edits the monthly newsletter, a position she also fills as a member of Wearable Arts Connection of Southern California.
 She has recently been exploring and teaching reconstructed clothing design; several of her designs have been published in Altered Couture magazine.
 Her entry, "Ebb and Flow" was juried into the Handweavers Guild of America "Longitudes" Yardage Exhibit for HGA's biennial international Convergence® 2012 where it was awarded the prestigious HGA Award for weaving.

Copyright Handwoven Magazine 2012.
Photograph by Joe Coca. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Not to be reprinted.

Watch for Sarah's latest article in the November/December issue of Handwoven Magazine
"Squares within Squares Atwater-Bronson Beaded Top"

Saturday, August 25, 2012

8-Shaft Turned Bronson

This morning I finished a sample of 8-shaft Turned Bronson using a new yarn from Webs; Colrain Lace, a 50/50 blend of merino wool and tencel. The yarn is gorgeous; soft with a slight sheen and lovely drape that make it perfectly suitable for clothing. Here is the sample on the loom:
Bronson, like most handwoven lace, looks very different on the loom compared to what it looks like after washing and finishing. It's often difficult to tell exactly what's happening with the lace while weaving, but the use of two colors in this piece make it easier to see. When taken off the loom, it relaxes somewhat. Here you can see the weft (darker blue) and warp (light teal) floats:
Notice how square the spaces are between the lace motifs? Magic happens when the fabric is washed; the ends in the lace areas shift and collapse creating a very different fabric:
Look how dramatically those square areas shifted, creating the illusion of circles. I love that! Weaving tends to be very "square" by nature, so I think it's exciting to see such a dramatic difference in the final appearance of the cloth.
I wove samples with two different colors of weft; the dark blue in the previous photos and a darker teal seen here on the right:
It's interesting to see how the weft color impacts the perceived warp color: with the blue weft, it looks more blue; with the dark teal color, it appears more green. I like both of these, but especially the sample woven with blue, so that's probably what I'll use for the garment I'm planning. A vest? A jacket? I have to decide so I can get back to weaving!


Monday, July 23, 2012

HGA Award for Weaving

I couldn't be more excited! Handweavers Guild of America (HGA) held their biennial international Convergence conference this past week in Long Beach, California. The winners of all the exhibits were announced at the close of the "Pacific Currents" Fashion Show Wednesday night, and I almost fell off my chair when my name was announced as the winner of the HGA award!

I was thrilled when my entry was juried into the "Longitudes" yardage exhibit several months ago, and it was exciting to see it as part of the display in the lobby of the convention center. Winning the HGA award is more than I ever imagined. 

From HGA's website:

The HGA Award honors outstanding exhibited works. It is a prestigious award and may be presented only to work which clearly demonstrates excellence.

The HGA Award includes a certificate of accomplishment and a handwoven ribbon. Award winners receive further acclaim through publication in Shuttle Spindle & Dyepot, HGA’s quarterly award-winning magazine, and an opportunity to have their work appreciated by an international readership of fiber artists, enthusiasts, and collectors.

Award Criteria
  • Must embody a unique interpretation; demonstrate a fresh, individual approach, and express personal creativity.
  • Must exemplify a complete understanding of both aesthetic and functional considerations.
  • Must demonstrate excellence in technical skills. 

I am honored beyond words.
The upper level of the lobby allowed access to the 8 x 8" touch panels that were required for each piece. These allow viewers the chance to examine the fabrics closelyThe panels also include information about materials used, weave structure, etc.
Guess whose panel this weaver is looking at! 

I had a wonderful, fun, inspiring week made more special by the many weavers and fiber people I met from all over the world. I can't wait for 2014!

Note: If you would like to read the post I wrote just after weaving the fabric, you'll find it here: Summer and Winter in Bambu 7

Thursday, May 24, 2012

An Atypical Transparency

The May/June 2012 issue of Handwoven magazine arrived last week with my article about using the technique of handwoven transparency in the design of a garment. It's always interesting to see how the photo stylist presents my work, and I like the absence of a model for this photo which allows the transparent quality of the weaving to be seen more clearly.
 Photo by Handwoven magazine
The inset photos are some I took during the weaving process that accompany my instructions for weaving the inlayed squares. 

According to Editor Anita Osterhaug, the editorial team was disappointed that the final photo didn't clearly show the true colors of the inlays, but you can see them here in the detail photos; luminous gold, a little pewter, and earthy shades set off by the taupe background.

And now that the blouse is back home, I can finally wear it!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Atwater Bronson Lace Sample and Fabric

My Weave Structures Study Group has been focused on various lace weaves this year, and I recently discovered a draft for "Concentric Squares" by Dorothy S. Burton in Carol Strickler's 8-Shaft Pattern book. 

I thought it would be interesting to see if the squares could be woven in different combinations and/or with some solid, some open areas. After a lot of experimenting with a computer drafting program, I wove a sample-- a portion shown here:

While I have several ideas for using the squares-in-squares possibilities, I also worked out a way to weave open and closed squares across the width of the cloth. That fabric is now on my loom:
The limitation with this particular combination is that, in addition to the shafts for tabby (2), each square requires two more shafts; so eight shafts can weave three different squares. I used three of each square for a total of nine across the fabric, alternating weaving them solid or open.

The fiber is white tencel and natural 8/2 cotton woven with the warp floats on the surface. But... I think I'll use the reverse side of the fabric for the right side. I like the look of the weft floats, and, on that side, the pure white tencel creates a tiny bead-like spot between the lace squares which will look great with the beading I plan to do on the finished garment. 

Now, back to my loom!


Friday, April 13, 2012

Diversified Plain Weave Vest, Plan C

While I was eventually able to straighten out my tangled chenille warp and weave it, the resulting fabric was not what I'd hoped for. So, on to Plan B: I warped my loom again; different yarn, different colors, but after weaving four or five inches, my reaction was (as Snoopy would say), "Bleh!" It looked like mud. I cut that warp off and moved on to Plan C. Again, different colors, different yarn, but this time the result was just what I was looking for.
I love this weave structure-- a variation of diversified plain weave-- the same I used for the black and natural tote bag I wove a couple months ago, and it's fascinating to see how the yarns used impact the finished fabric. The tote bag fabric is woven of 8/4 cotton rug warp and produced a sturdy, durable cloth while the vest fabric yarns--primarily rayon-- resulted in a soft, silky, lustrous fabric.
Diversified plain weave is difficult to visualize when reading an explanation of how the threads interact, so I took some photos that, I hope, will make sense. Notice how the balance of colors raised in each shed shifts from less to more of the gold, allowing more or less of the rose-colored weft to show on the surface. The colors appear in opposite positions on the reverse of the fabric.

In the photo below, the colors are more accurate (not sure why I was getting such strong red and orange in the ones above).
And, finally, the finished vest! to the loom to sample for my next project!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Elemental Huck-Lace Top, Etc.

The huck-lace top I designed for the most recent issue of Handwoven magazine is now available as a kit from Cotton Clouds, and owner Irene Schmoller has asked me to share a little more about the weaving and construction process here.
Photo from Cotton Clouds website

The design for the top was inspired by a challenge in my Clothing study group to create a garment made of strips, the huck-lace my weave structures study group was exploring, and my interest in using Bambu 7 (100% bamboo) for the first time. I chose four colors of Bambu 7 and a coordinating Luna ribbon.
I wove a sample using all four colors...
but decided to use only two for the top; Walnut for the warp and Water Chestnut for weft.
Below is the photo I submitted to Handwoven for their consideration. Please note that the top is unfinished; the hem is only pinned in place, so it looks a little strange at the hem. I finished it before sending it to Handwoven, of course!
Back view:
 And a close-up of the back:
I love the way this top turned out; it feels silky and soft, drapes beautifully, and is loaded with textural interest. I wish the photo in Handwoven showed more of the fringe on the one front panel; it adds another element of texture. 

The Handwoven article includes three process photos I took that provide good visual instruction for joining the woven panels with ribbon. If you are weaving the top and have any questions, please feel free to contact me. And... please! send me a photo of your finished top. I would love to see it.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Elemental Huck-Lace Top

The latest issue of Handwoven magazine finally arrived in my mailbox yesterday. The March/April issue is the first solo effort for Handwoven's new editor-in-chief, Anita Osterhaug, and she did a fabulous job! I'm excited for this issue for three additional reasons: First, it includes one of my designs...
Photo by  Handwoven

First page showing the back of the top
Second, an article I wrote after sampling some new yarn from Habu Textiles...

Page 1 of  2
And, third, it is the first issue I worked on as a technical editor!
I learned a lot, thoroughly enjoyed working with the editorial team, and have a new-found, huge appreciation for what goes on behind the scenes to pull an issue together successfully. We're finishing up the initial tech edits this week for the May/June's going to be another good one!