Monday, December 7, 2015

Christmas Party with a Pacific Rim Theme

The Reno Fiber Guild annual Christmas party was held yesterday at Jen's home.  The weather was overcast - just a little nippy but not too cold and we all enjoyed a fantastic view of Mt. Rose with snow on its ski runs from Jen's sunroom. 

Each year the guild tradition is to bring a gift for a raffle basket.  This year, the theme was Pacific Rim (which it turns out covers a pretty big area).  All the gifts are stowed away in the basket (see photo above) waiting for the lucky winner to take everything home.  But before the raffle drawing, we all lined up for a fantastic feast from pot luck dishes (again the theme was Pacific Rim).  There was a glorious array of different foods from all sorts of exotic places.  I didn't get the camera into the kitchen until after the crowd had descended on it and the other side had the deserts - yum!

 After we had eaten all we could hold, the raffle ticket was drawn and Nancy S. was this year's winner.

Nancy's basket was filled to the brim and overflowing with Pacific Rim gifts.  Of course there were origami kits, sashiko embroidery kits, and a kumihimo disk in the basket, but also unique handmade items, showing off the skills of this creative group. 

handmade coin purse

kimono pin
Handwoven dévoré by Anne Field
tote bag with Japanese style motifs

As you might imagine, Nancy was having a terrific time opening all the gifts in her treasure basket.  In the photo below, she holds up one of a pair of knitted bath mitts (Pacific Oceanic fishes we must presume). 

Nancy is now the holder of the basket for the coming year and she will decide the theme for next year's raffle basket.  

 Happy Holidays from the Reno Fiber Guild!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Linen Workshop with Sara von Tresckow

Sara von Tresckow, of the Wool Gatherers, presented a three day workshop in warping and weaving with linen.  The evening before the three day workshop, Sara and her husband, Hans, brought lots of examples of linen and hemp cloth to help illustrate Sara's lecture about the qualities of both linen and hemp.

On Friday, workshop participants learned Sara's approach to warping their looms with previously wound warps that had been sized with starch.  After warps had been beamed on and threaded, everyone settled down to weave a structure that they had chosen to be their project for this workshop.

You can tell from the little slide show below,(best watched from U-Tube)  that everyone was enjoying their linen experience.  I'm sure everyone went away with valuable new knowledge about the quirks and advantages of this fabulous fiber.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Weaving - demonstrations and hands-on at South Valleys Library

Reno Fiber Guild was invited to participate in Artisan Saturday at the South Valleys Library in Reno on September 19. At the event, were basket makers, quilters, a beader, a needle felter and several spinners from Carson Sierra Spinners and Weavers Guild.

RFG brought three warped looms, two for the public to weave on and one for demonstration only.  In addition there was a card weaving project on an inkle loom and a couple of display racks with handwoven items for the public to enjoy. 

Kids (of all ages) accepted our invitation in a big way to weave on a real loom.  We also had cardboard loom kits with enough yarn for a tapestry project  and these were handed out to our participants and also those interested in weaving, but not yet ready to take the plunge for a "big loom" and the space it requires.

There were many photo opportunities at the event, but most of the time we didn't want to tear ourselves away from our interested public.  We did manage this short video clip.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Japanese Textile Studies - A Year Long Adventure

Jill  showing a garment that she constructed and dyed using Shibori techniques.

September means the beginning of a new guild year and this year Reno Fiber Guild is on a Japanese Textile adventure.  At our meeting, we invited two members who have been on textile tours in Japan and several more who just love  Japanese textiles and techniques  and agreed to share their work and textiles with members.

Diana  shows a scarf made of polyester that has been heat set so that the textured surface is permanent

The guild is interested in learning new skills and one of those that has a lot of potential for use in jewelry and decorative bands and braids is Kumihimo. 

Suzanne shows off her Kumihimo technique on the Marudai.  This pattern is using 16 tama in an 8 move sequence.

Nancy is braiding with eight tama and changes the colors after a certain length is braided so that she will have materials for three neckpieces.


Mary explained some interesting facts about Sashiko embroidery in her presentation.

Sashiko (an embroidery technique) is also something that seems quite plausible in decorating cloth for a variety of uses.


Julie purchased Haori from Kasuri Dyeworks in Berkeley quite a few years ago.  She brought her collection which had interesting surface design work.

For the grand finale, the members showed items that they had in their own private collections. Some of us had enjoyed the "old days" in which used kimono could be purchased by the 200 pound bale. Diana explained that now, the used kimono are being sold directly in street fairs instead of allowing them to be exported.  However,  prices still remain reasonable for cloth that was painstakingly created and still gorgeous.

This very long textile is an elegant obi embroidered with real gold threads.  Toni says she has used it as a table runner for holidays.

We ended the evening enjoying all the books and textiles on display with an eye on a full year of indulging our passion for weaving, dyeing and surface design.  Stay tuned for more posts as we learn and create our own Japanese style textiles

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Weavers in Training

Our group of students started out at the beginning of May with a warped loom and directions for weaving a four shaft sampler.  We hoped to get them hooked on weaving before we got down to the nitty gritty of winding warps and dressing a loom for the first time.    

This past weekend, a group of seven got their feet wet with the real stuff. 

You will notice that student and mentor faces aren't quite so relaxed as they were on the first fun day of weaving, but everyone worked without complaint and even when there were errors to fix, did it with composure and good grace.

These are the toughest days for our newest weavers; learning how to handle the warping process on their own.  As a guild, we are attempting to provide a safety net so the offer is open to help them whenever assistance is needed.  We keep our fingers crossed that our new weavers will stick with it until they can fly solo.
Watch this little video to see everyone absorbed in the weaving process.


Saturday, May 9, 2015

Second Annual Learn-to-Weave Class

Suzanne welcomed our seven students to the Second Annual Learn to Weave class.  We are fortunate to have meeting space available to us, free of charge thanks to generosity of Sky Peaks Retirement Community.

The space has everything we could ask for except for curtains.  Before we could begin anything, we had to hang sheets over the windows so the PowerPoint presentation would be visible.

Our approach requires a lot of volunteer time from guild members who warp up the looms in advance and then attend the session as mentors.  We want students to have a positive weaving experience.

The guild has acquired a number of looms for the equipment library so students can use them in this class and use them while they begin their weaving journey.

Not every one is starting from scratch. Sally was a weaver 40 years ago but "life got in the way."  She is refreshing her skills and recently purchased a used floor loom locally.

Jen demonstrated how to repair a broken warp thread because it will happen and it's really not a terrible thing to repair, once you know how.  She said her weaving teacher would snip a warp thread as she was weaving so she could learn how to repair it.

While everyone was busy at work, Suzanne was winding balls of yarn for the students to take home.  They each have two bobbins that will need to refilled a number of times before they weave all the 60+ samples in the Weaver's Craft Issue 13  instruction book.
We concluded with a discussion on how to read drafts.  This was a lot of information for our students to digest in the 5 1/2 hour instruction period, lunch break included.  We packed everyone up and sent them home to work independently.  They'll be back here again for two days at the end of this month to learn how to warp a loom.  I enjoy dressing my looms as much as I like weaving, so I hope we'll be successful in passing on some more of our enthusiasm.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Death-by-Chocolate Dye Day

Today was our death-by-chocolate and dye-day meeting and it was a beautiful day for our 2014/2015 guild year finale.  Thanks Gayle and Jim for letting us once again meet at your place - it was the perfect setting.

Jen was our dye-master for the day, mixing the colors and tending the indigo pot, which is a fickle bit of chemistry.  Yarn had to be slowly lowered into the pot to avoid introducing oxygen, and by the same stroke, when a skein was removed, Jen quickly popped a bowl under it to keep the drips from introducing oxygen - a long process for our dedicated leader.

And this is the said fickle bit of chemistry.  It looks like an experiment gone wrong, only this is exactly what it's supposed to be like when the pot is healthy and full of dye potential.

And gloves are advised unless you don't mind your hands becoming the same shade as your fiber.  Notice the deep indigo skeins already hanging in the back.

We had two acid-dye pots, one red and one yellow, in addition to the indigo pot.  Although acid dye is designed for protein fiber like silk and wool, some adventurous folks did a tie-dye combo using both indigo and acid dyes with fun results.

The indigo pot was giving such deep rich colors, some folks dipped quickly for royal blue and variegated results.  Everyone seemed to have a plan in mind, so I look forward to seeing how we use these skeins.  Mine, a deep blue 8/2 Tencel, is on the left.

And then there was the aptly named death-by-chocolate table.  The selection was varied but all chocolate.  The favorite seemed to be the Kentucky Derby bars, which were a pecan-pie in the center with tollhouse cookie on the outside - recipe to appear in a fall newsletter.

We got a little silly near the end as we waited for yarns in dye baths or indigo skeins to aerate. Gloria pulled out a silk blank and asked for suggestions, and someone produced a roll of vinyl tape so she could tie off sections.  This is the result.
That's all there is to it, and now she has a lovely shawl.  Beryl and Igor's pup is our model's assistant. It couldn't have been a better conclusion to a guild year.  Our next guild meeting will be in September at the South Valleys Library.  But the good news is that starting in June, we will have weaving clinics the second Saturday of each month to keep our momentum going.  As Frank Sinatra sang, it was a very good year!  

Saturday, April 4, 2015

April Weave-In

Our April meeting was held on a Saturday instead of the first Wednesday evening of the month.  We met at Gayle's home because, while she awaits the delivery of her new loom, she has enough space to set up five Schacht floor looms, the favorite of our guild members.  The sixth loom is an eight-shaft table loom.
This is the culmination of a year-long study of profile drafts, which we evaluated by breaking into interest groups according a style of weave, e.g., summer-and-winter. We've been trying to put a face on profile drafts and now we're putting what we've learned to work.  Each loom is warped for one of the weave structures and then everyone is invited to try the looms.  Sally is trying turned taqueté and liking it very much.
This loom is warped for an eight-shaft turned twill.  The idea is that each drawdown represents a profile draft. The lovely thing of Schacht looms is the little stick in the middle that holds the directions. This is Nancy's new loom that she just got and warped up for us today.
This direct tie-up Wolf Pup is warped for huck lace, which doesn't seem to lend itself readily to profile drafts.  It took a lot of attention from four seasoned weavers to finally get the correct treadling.  But collaboration is part of the fun in weaving.
Collaboration goes for loom maintenance as well.  Two looms needed a little mid-session tweaking.  It's good for the new weavers to see this kind of problem solving - a learning experience I'm sure they hadn't anticipated today.
The eight-shaft table loom was a collaborative effort too.  We decided that it takes three people to create a smooth weaving experience:  One throwing the shuttle, one to flip the levers on the top to raise the harnesses and one to read the draft to the one working the levers.  We took turns with this and instead of being a frustration, it was quite fun.
This Wolf Pup is warped for  summer-and-winter.  Nancy got the draft figured out and then walked me through a turn on it.  Most of the looms were warped in rayon so this one warped all in wool was a fun departure and I thought the stick shuttles were interesting too.
This was a four-hour program with a break for lunch and also for a guild meeting.  The rest of the time we milled around, sampling the different warps and the treats in the kitchen.
I am confident when I say - a good time was had by all.