I'm Alice Schlein, a weaver and book maker in South Carolina. Occasionally I write about Photoshop, Network Drafting, bread baking, and whatever else strikes my fancy. Thanks for stopping by! Comments are welcome.
Explorations in Double Twill Two-hour lecture at the Complex Weavers Southeast Gathering. June 17-18, 2017, at the Yadkin Valley Fiber Room. For more information on the Gathering, click on above link.
Spin Your Own Yarn Jan. 17 - Mar. 13. Learn to use the simple drop spindle to spin your own woolen yarn for knitting, crochet, or weaving. This hand tool of prehistoric origin is inexpensive, portable, and easy to use. Create a mid-weight yarn suitable for garments, accessories, and household items. Pack all your spinning supplies in a lunchbag-sized tote and take it with you on vacation! Click on Winter Brochure 2017.
The Woven Pixel: Designing for Jacquard and Dobby Looms Using Photoshop® Co-authored by Alice Schlein and Bhakti Ziek. 362 pages, many illustrations. Now available for free download on handweaving.net. The accompanying CD with 1400 pattern presets is not included with the free download, but may be purchased separately. Email me at aschlein[at]att[dot]net for more information.
Network Drafting: An Introduction By Alice Schlein. Break away from the block. Curves for your dobby loom. Originally published in 1994, now available as print-on-demand from www.lulu.com.
A Crepe Is Not Just a Pancake 52 pages of text, b&w and color diagrams, and drafts for multishaft tradle & dobby looms. Many color photos of actual cloth. Methods for drafting your own crepe weaves. Annotated bibliography. Pdf available for immediate download. $21. USD. Payment by PayPal. Email me at aschlein[at]att[dot]net for payment instructions.
Echo Weave Based on the 1996 article in Weaver's, Issue 32. With brand new diagrams and high resolution scans of original fabrics. Pdf available for immediate download. $7. USD. Payment by PayPal. Email me at aschlein[at]att[dot]net for payment instructions.
A school holiday was the perfect opportunity for a sewing lesson. Here Catalina is making friends with the Singer Featherweight. She cut out a pair of flannel p.j. bottoms, then sewed them up, just in time for lunch.
Today I introduce you to two of my favorite tools. First is my Singer Featherweight, manufactured in 1941. I took it out of its case and gave it a thorough oiling, in preparation for a sewing lesson with Catalina tomorrow. Here is a bottom view. This little machine just purrs along and makes the most beautiful seam. Just forward & reverse, no zigzags, but the nicest straight stitch you have ever seen.
Another favorite old tool is my garlic press. I though it was lost, but it just turned up again a few days ago. So happy to see it! Hooray! There will be fresh garlic in tonight's chili, and my hands won't stink for a week, either.
I just finished reading Hermione Lee's biography of Penelope Fitzgerald, "Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life". Two of my favorite Fitzgerald novels are "Offshore" and "The Bookshop." Read them! Fitzgerald is a master of understatement, irony, and the deft combination of the tragic and the comic. One of the many delicious moments in Lee's bio is the revelation of some notes for Fitzgerald's projected (but sadly never written) novel about grandmothers:
A grandmother clock is smaller than a grandfather clock and, by inference, weaker … A granny knot is one that comes undone at once, granny bonds are or were a saving scheme which was simple enough for even the densest to understand, a granny flat is a subsection of the main house where the damage granny may do through absent-mindedness will be under kindly control. Grannies lose things, which they call not knowing where they’ve put them … I suppose the expression “Teach your grandmother to suck eggs” implies that grannies know how to do something , but not anything of any practical use.
Today's studio time was spent in finishing the bottom hems of the Double Twill Project. This makes me think of an old friend who once offered me a job indexing a book about Asian bureaucracies. "I've observed that you enjoy repetitive tasks involving a lot of detail," he said. Hm-m-m. I would rather say that I enjoy tasks that involve a lot of detail, with scope for meditation. In any case, I did complete 90% of the index before childbirth intervened. As I am now an old Granny in a retrospective mood, I will say that handstitching is more fun than indexing.
"By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes" is a line from Shakespeare's Macbeth, also the title of an Agatha Christie novel. And—although I haven't seen this myself—the title of an Outlander episode on TV.
But for me, it's the perfect title for today's stint in the studio. My thumbs are sore and bleeding from seasonal winter dry skin and from endless handstitching on the velcro'd top hems of the Double Twill Project. To protect my hands and to keep from getting blood on the fabric, I wrap cloth bandaids around my thumbs while I am stitching.
Well, the inevitable happened. I stitched the bandaid to the panel. Clever me. But easily corrected. Then after stitching the final panel, I turned it to the right side to inspect it, and to my disgust saw that I had trapped a pin inside the hem. So I ripped out part of the hem, retrieved the pin, and restitched it.
Here's a view of the little numbers woven into the bottom hems to indicate the order in which the panels are to be hung.
As I hadn't yet seen the Blue Ridge Fiber Show, and it's closing in January, we headed up the mountain today. The skies looked like this. We were undeterred.
This is always an enjoyable and varied show, with work by professionals and beginners alike. There's a good helping of weaving and felting, and I noticed a generous amount of very accomplished spinning this year. The garments were outstanding. You can check out a listing of award winners, but you'll need a magnifying glass to see the pictures. The conditions weren't optimal for me to photograph the work with my phone; however, I did manage to get a decent picture of this wonderful garment by Teena Tuenge:
Afterwards we drove to Teena's for a studio visit and I asked her about the very versatile structure she uses for many of her garments. She reminded me that she wrote an article about it in Issue #100 of the Complex Weavers Journal. If you're lucky enough to have this issue, look it up. It's a fascinating study.
I'm sewing some black hook & loop tape onto black fabric which will in turn be handsewn onto the tops of woven panels, which will then be affixed to a hanging rod covered in the corresponding hook & loop tape. Black on black, with black thread in the sewing machine, is a challenge for the best of eyes. Whew! But the hard part is now finished.
Time to take a break and go outside for the mail. There I was met by a very appealing pink sunset. What a reward!
It's been raining for the past several days, a very good thing. This morning, as the rain tapered off, the fog settled in for a while, which made for some interesting effects as I took my walk (I almost expected a few vampires to jump out from behind the trees). This photo looks better if you click on it to enlarge.
Back in my nice dry studio, I snapped the #10 foot onto my 25-year-old Bernina and set to work on the selvedges of the double twill project. I want all six panels to hang separately, but together; I thought it would be a good idea to reinforce the selvedges with some unobtrusive stitiching. This foot has a vertical metal barrier down the center, so you can butt two pieces against each other and stitch, with great accuracy. For a trial, I placed a piece of an old sample on the left, and a perle 3 cotton on the right, and zigzagged over them. Thken I pulled on the perle cotton cord to straighten the edge. Here is the foot:
And here's the fabric, with the stitching finished. Note the ripple.
Now here it is after pulling on the cord. All straight!
Looks like it's going to work.
Flash!!! This just in!! Bruce has published some great pictures of our trip to The Woolery. Take a look.
This morning we awoke to the welcome sound of rain. But it didn't last long enough, and the sun came out before noon. The air is still very smoky from all the forest fires in our region.
Weaving proceeding. I've been careful to pace myself. I quit after two hours today, and have this to show; the sixth (and final) panel is begun.
I've been looking for a jacket with a high visibility color for my neighborhood walks. Last night Bob & Suzanne came over and I admired Bob's orange jacket. "This would fit you," he observed. Want to trade?" We went down to the studio & looked through some longstitch books and he found one he liked with a lampas cover. Deal! Everybody happy, and I have a nice new (to me) orange jacket. Here's a detail of the sleeve.
Back to the hanten. I placed the fronts & sleeves on the back piece, and then laid a folded black cotton fabric on top to judge the effect of a plain collar band. The commercial fabric was all wrong, I will have to weave another piece for this jacket. Not the same fabric, of course. I think it will be a plain weave in black cotton warp & weft, with a few random stripes of red & green placed in the warp--the red & green yarns are still in my stash.
The problem is that no looms are vacant. This hanten will have to go on the back burner for a while. In other words, another UFO.
A funny thing happened this week. One of my spinning wheels found a new home and I had to quickly finish spinning & plying this batch of gray wool in order to empty the bobbins. It was nonstop spinning for a few days, but I got it done.
It is time to cut up the yardage from a few months ago and make something of it. I'd like a new hanten type jacket. Unfortunately, my fabric shrunk to 11 inches wide, and some piecing has to be done. I cut some strips from the hanten front sections and spliced them in between the back sections. Then I think I will splice in some plain black fabric (to be purchased) to make the fronts wide enough, and also make the collar strip from black fabric. There is enough of the handwoven for sleeves. Maybe even for a pocket. I know pockets are not traditional, but where else to put my cell phone?
My beat is not consistent, so you can see some pattern shift in the center back seam, as you go from the top to the bottom. I'm not bothered by it; I'm certainly amused.