Thursday, January 14, 2010

Some Finished Projects

Modelling both sides of Knit Hat

The days are still short, but I can feel them growing, which encourages me to get some work done. Making mental lists of what I need to do the next day is also helping. I finished my hat and have worn it with great satisfaction. It is comfortable, but when the wind blows it still penetrates all those layers over my ears. I saw a friend's knitted gloves, which had a soft flannel-like lining, which makes sense with the open stitch of knits, but it is too late to try and do something like that with this hat. I won't say next time because I doubt if there will be another one.

Roll of hand towels on front beam and finished on right

I also finished my hand towels--well, sort of. I was starting to worry that the roll was getting so big I would not be able to wind any more on the cloth beam, but it never got that big. This morning I stitched between the towels and cut them apart, then washed them in my washing machine and dried them in the dryer. I was worried about both processes but since these are intended to be functional, they have to function properly--which means getting thrown in the wash. They shrunk about three inches in the length and an inch in the width. Even before washing I realized I had made them smaller than I intended. I just measured a finished towel that I like and found it to be 30 inches by 18 inches, while my towels are ending up at about 22 inches by 13 inches. I am still in the process of sewing under the hems, but a few towels are finished and folded.

I want to be clear about this work that I am doing. One of the reasons I am still a weaver, after 41 years (how is that possible when I am only in my 30's?), is that there are so many ways of working as a weaver that it is impossible in one life time to cover them all. I think I told you this already, but maybe not. I began to weave with the intention of taking this skill to a commune--and in the commune I would weave whatever was needed. There was no intention of being an artist, nor, at that time, did I even realize that weaving could be an art form. Later, when I lived in Guatemala and studied brocading on backstrap weaving, I was entranced by the figurative motifs, sometimes abstracted, used by the Mayan weavers. And when I did my senior fiber studio for my BFA at the University of Kansas (which still has an excellent program), and began the body of work that started my reputation as a weaver, I used the brocading process to tell my own stories. Here and there, over the years, I have woven a scarf, or some dishtowels, but I have never seriously undertaken the work of a functional weaver. I have certainly admired other weavers who work this way, and right now I am testing the waters, seeing if I have the skills to make textiles that I would want to use in my own life.

Detail of a drawing by Bhakti Ziek

It is not an all or nothing proposition for me, more an addition to an already crowded room. I have an exhibition coming up in the Fall of 2010, and I want to do a new body of work specifically for the gallery space involved. At the same time, i want to keep going with my exploration of functional textiles, using several of my floor looms. I am not sure if I can actually balance several projects at once, but my idea is to devote one day a week, or perhaps part of each day, to weaving curtains for Mark's studio, scarfs for sale, and getting the hand towels right. The majority of my time will be focused on the work for the exhibition. I have an idea of a very long weaving, segmented, but linear, and have started some drawings, a detail of which is shown above. So it is good that some projects are done, clearing a space for new ones to start.

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