Vävstuga Basics at Vävstuga Weaving School

It is a year since I travelled to the Vävstuga Weaving School in Shelburne Falls, MA, to take the Vävstuga Basics class with Becky Ashenden. Little did I know that this would be the last in-person class I would be taking for the entire next year. 2020 was absorbed by a big black hole, and now it is time to reclaim the memory and document the experience.

February, 2020. Cold weather was certainly expected. And despite the fact that there was still snow on the ground, and tempestuous weather, for the most part it stayed in an almost spring-like mode (occasional flurries included) for the week I was there. Traveling from Phoenix made for a long day – no direct flights, transfer in Dallas, and over an hour drive from Hartford airport.

Things were certainly different this year – planning was a series of mishaps that finally culminated in meeting my weaving buddy Laura up in Shelburne Falls, then rushing back to Arizona at the end of class so I could be with my husband as he went through radiation treatments for prostate cancer.

Be that as it may, I had not been in Massachusetts since 1979 – a weekend in Boston with record snowfall and low temperatures. Flying into Hartford was a more direct route, and I enjoyed being able to observe the scenery and the towns as the drive morphed from Connecticut to Massachusetts and ultimately the isolated and quaint town of Shelburne Falls.

I stayed in a Bed and Breakfast that was a five minute walk from the school, so it was very comfortable and convenient to get a wale-up walk there and a wind-down walk afterwards. There were twelve of us in the class, from all parts of the country – New York Vermont, Maine, California, Washington State, and of course, Arizona. Lunches were a fun group event, gathered around a large table that also served as our teaching area during the class. Dinners were a mix of either dining with the group, or Laura and I exploring the town. It was fun browsing through the local shops, a good coffee shop, and just a nice walkable experience in general. Thursday night Becky treated us all to an authentic Swedish meal at her Farmhouse – it was a magical experience, meal and music included. She has a wealth of weaving samples and an extensive library and so many looms in different project phases. It was a place a weaver could easily get lost in and lose all concept of the outside world, in a good way.

Both Laura and I consider ourselves experienced weavers. The class is presented as a basics class, and it has a wealth of information that is a must for anyone who is serious about using a countermarche or counterbalance loom. Personally, I find them more ergonomically friendly, although there is much more to do for set up as compared to a rising shed/jack loom. Becky has a distinct and disciplined process that really helps you understand the workings of the loom. Mysteries of the temple as a tool are solved as you work with it and appreciate its effectiveness. Of course, I love working with linen, and we had plenty of opportunity. It was also lots of fun to work on a 50-inch wide loom to weave a blanket – you put your whole body into throwing those picks!

Everyone was involved in the entire process of measuring the warp, warping the loom, and weaving four different projects that are usable items for when you get home. I use all my projects at home – even in Arizona this winter it was cold enough to cuddle up on the couch with my wool blanket.

All in all it was a great experience. And I have a real appreciation for Becky’s passion for weaving and wanting to share it so that people will keep the craft alive. Her store was well stocked and had so many things I mentally added to my wish list. I am sorry that she had to close the Shelburne Falls location because of the events of 2020, but there is still the Farmhouse studio. And I look forward to when she has her online classes up and ready to go.

Round robin, clockwise – linen block weave sample, wool blanket completed, dishtowel, wool blanket in process, tablecloth.

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Deflected Double Weave – with Denise Kovnat

On February 15 through 17, 2020 at the Mesa Historical Museum in Mesa, Arizona, Denise Kovnat visited members of the Telarana Guild to hold a workshop on Designing Deflected Double Weave.

This particular structure is one that is near and dear to my heart – it all started with research on Katniss’ District Twelve Scarf from The Hunger Games movies. I have found, through research, all sorts of shapes and sizes and names for this structure all across the board and across the ages (literally, Mary Meigs Atwater has a version in her recipe books). But it is really gratifying to see teachers and artists like Denise take this structure and push it to the max. I wish you could see up close some of the amazing results Denise has achieved in her weavings – you can see some of them in the following pictures:

We each had a choice of 4 or 8 shaft drafts, as well as several structure styles. Lucky enough to rent a table loom for the event, I chose the 8 shaft “quilt squares” drawdown for my experimentation. I found it amazing that Denise specifically created non-wool sample versions just for our workshop after she found out that we mostly work with hot weather materials such as cotton, bamboo, linen, etc.

The days were a nice mix of weaving, group instruction and personal instruction. We were all able to sample specific treadlings, then cut loose on our own with experimentation. Some of us were able to finish the basic samples, cut them off and wet finish to see the effects of shrinkage with the variety of threads used. Here is my cut-off, both before and after a rigorous hot bath and dry:

Overall I was pleased with this particular mix, mostly because it yielded a VERY soft cloth and a pleasant drape, even though the warp was a bit on the sticky side – I was clearing my shed with almost every pick.

One of the special challenges of DDW is handling the selvedges – I found that tracking which side of the fabric was up and where the shuttle needed to be for its next pick was easiest for maintaining nice edges:

Armed and dangerous, I mixed a few of the treadle patterns and used the organic cotton as the main weft, alternating a merino wool and mercerized cotton – both about the same weight but sure to experience a differential in shrinkage after finishing. Here it is both on the loom and off the loom:

And, after finishing!!!!!!

When I took the scarf off the loom, it measured 12 1/4″ wide, and 65″ long, without the fringe. After washing by hand in hot water and throwing it in the dryer (plus some stretching to get it to the shape I wanted), it measured 9″ wide and 59″ long without the fringe. So the weft merino did drive a lot more shrinkage, which produced the desired effect. This could have been more pronounced without manipulation – I don’t care for skinny scarves so I was able to manage it within my expectations.

I hope you get a chance to experiment with this amazing structure!

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Damask Adventure – Weaving at the 66th Parallel

This article was originally published in the May 2019 edition of The Damast Network Newsletter, Su Butler, Editor

It’s midmorning in Arizona. The sun is climbing to its zenith, bathing Arizonans in its inescapable warmth. The tans and browns of summer are overtaking the last colors of spring. And I am in the cool safety of my home, recalling my recent journey to Norway for a weaving experience that has been a turning point in my weaving journey.

Norway! It’s a long, skinny country, which if pivoted upside down from its top point, would reach all the way to Italy. Bjorn, Norway is a little Norwegian town, located on the 66th parallel, tucked in the crevice of a fjord. Bjorn is where Anne Nygård keeps her weaving studio and shop Damaskvev. Her specialty is damask weaving, and her passion is to share it with the world. It was a posting on Facebook that announced her class, in English, in Norway, in April 2019. Five eager souls, mostly new to drawloom weaving, responded and travelled to this tiny nook in the world, to expand our knowledge and expertise in this craft – two women from the Toronto area, one woman from North Carolina, my dearest friend Laura from Northern California, and I, currently located in North Phoenix, AZ.

Laura and I go way back, having originally met in a guild in Northern California. My retirement move to the Phoenix area created a chasm that we bridge by meeting at some location or other once a year where we can expand our weaving expertise and encourage each other to grow in the craft. When we attended Madelyn van der Hoogt’s The Weaving School in 2017, Madelyn enabled us with her two workshop drawlooms all set up and ready to go – one single pull and one pattern draw. That has started us on a journey that I can only predict is still in its infancy. Eager for more information, we joined online groups from Complex Weavers and Ravelry. It wasn’t easy to find very many venues to learn drawloom weaving that would fit our time, place and schedule constraints. But Laura persisted in her search, so the following year we journeyed to Joanne Hall in Montana to learn more about the setup and operation of a drawloom. It is amazing how many talented and expert people there are out in our community that have been keeping this craft alive. And all are so helpful and generous with their knowledge.

The drawloom – so many possibilities! Too many directions to dive into can lead to confusion, feelings of being overwhelmed, and ultimately discouragement. Damask. A weave that has been around for centuries. It made sense for us to focus on one aspect and build up our knowledge from there. So here was our opportunity, in an historic setting, with an enthusiastic and talented weaver who specializes in damask. Operation go!

Getting to Bjorn is quite the journey – a mini adventure of sorts that involves trains, buses, ferries and car transport. For our part, Laura and I flew from our respective locations to Trondheim, which is 310 miles north of Oslo. In Trondheim, there is a Sentralstasjon (Central Station). From the Sentralstasjon anyone can take a bus, tram, train or ferry to just about any connection in the world. (This is a fantastic Scandinavian concept that we would learn to navigate during the second week of our trip.) The actual town is quite charming, and very easy to walk around. Most people are fluent in English, and it is easy to get an English menu. Dating back to the early 12th century, it is mostly known for the Nidaros Cathedral, where the King of Norway was coronated (Norway is a Constitutional Monarchy), and also the notable Gambly Bybro (Gate of Happiness).

Well worth spending a day or two. Trondheim is, however, 122 miles south of Bjorn. So on to the task at hand – getting to our destination.

Gamle Bybro
Anne’s damask weaving of bridge

Serendipitously, we met up with the other women who would make up the rest of our group at the ferry in Sentralstasjon and we all took the ferry together. Just about an hour later we landed at Brekstad, another town much smaller than Trondheim, a ten minute drive from Bjorn. It was there that Anne and her husband met us with their cars and dropped us off at the Hotel Bjorn.

This hotel is small and quaint, has everything you need. Apparently a lot of skiers stay there. The plentiful and varied breakfast is included, the rates are reasonable. The town supermarket is right next door. And Anne’s shop is just a quick 7 minute walk away.

View from hotel of overnight snowfall

When I had left Phoenix, the temperature was 88 degrees. In Bjorn it was a brisk 42. And windy! Oh boy. Layers, and wool, kept me operational. One look at the scenery, however, just took my breath away. The air is so clean and clear, the sight of the mountains in the background, being on the water with nearby birds and trees just calm the spirit and the feed the soul. Of course, I quickly learned to appreciate the efficacy of heated floors, too. It was still light outside, so after checking into our rooms we made the three minute walk across the road to have dinner with Anne and her husband at the main restaurant in town, the Palermo. By the end of the week all the wait staff at the Palermo knew us well!

View of fjord from Anne’s shop

Our small group coordinated to walk over together the next morning. We were all so touched to see that Anne had hung our countries’ flags outside her shop in greeting.

Anne’s Shop in Bjorn, Norway Damaskvev

Our morning meeting table was located in the center of the classroom, which held seven class looms around the perimeter.

Our working table in the studio

Five of the looms were handcrafted by local Norwegian woodworkers. Each of us had a full day to weave on one of the five looms, each configured slightly differently, and we rotated to a new loom each day. The sixth loom – Opphämta – was available as we had free time, and the combination loom was available after the draw pull and single pull set-up was completed as part of the class instruction. All the warps were white 16/2 cotton except the combination loom. This loom had a blue warp. The sett was roughly 40 epi. For the wefts we could choose any color we wanted of 16/2 linen. Anne has a well stocked supply in her shop, and quick access for restocking from her local supplier, Monica at Fosen Vevgarn AS. The loom setups were:

(1) 10 Pattern shafts, 5 point satin, 595 warps threads, 119 groups
(2) 10 Pattern shafts, 4 shaft cross twill, 620 warp threads, 155 groups
(3) 20 pattern shafts, 5 point satin, 625 warp threads, 125 groups
(4) 20 pattern shafts, 6 point satin, 750 warp threads, 125 groups
(5) 15 pattern shafts, 5 point satin, 615 warp threads, 123 groups
(6) 7 pattern shafts, Opphämta; 285 warp threads, 57 groups
(7) 20 pattern shafts, 5 point satin, 715 warp threads, 143 groups; 14 border threads on each side (This is the combination unit.)

Claudia Cocco sample 10 Pattern, 4 point cross twill
Claudia Cocco sample 15 pattern, 5 point satin

At first many of us dutifully started off with the patterns that Anne had compiled for each of the pattern shaft setups (10, 15, 20). By the time she covered the design portion of the class we quickly adapted new patterns and did a lot of experimenting. It was an interesting exercise to modify a pattern for different quantity pattern groups. There were many books in the shop that we could research for patterns and motifs, and we exchanged a few amongst ourselves as well. There was a lot of collaboration and cooperation among us! It really added to the synergy in the class.

Claudia Cocco 10 Pattern, 5 point satin
Claudia Cocco 20 pattern, 6 pt. satin
Laura Schickli sampler

Each morning’s class started with lectures and demos from the topics in the folder handouts, as well as answering questions and issues as they arose.

Anne during a class lecture
Claudia Cocco 20 Pattern, 5 pt. satin
Laura Schickli, Norwegian shapes

Lunch – a spread of classic Norwegian foods – was served in the break room, adjacent to the shop entrance, and we also broke for a 4 o’clock pick me up and general discussion of how things were progressing and what we would cover the next day. Coffee, tea and water were always available. And we were free to spend the evening weaving past class time, if we so desired. The basic class fee does not include materials – at the end of class the warp lengths are measured, all purchases are tallied up and accounts settled. I was surprised to find that I wove over three yards of fabric!

Once the class completed the task of the combination unit assembly, it was all hands on deck to maximize our designing time and organize our turns weaving on it. It worked out perfectly.

Building the drawloom
Anita Caldwell Combination loom sample
Combo Cups by Claudia Cocco using draw cords and single pull design elements.

Looking back, I wish I had taken more time planning my design. I had prototyped a few of my teas cups on the draw cord looms and was feeling a bit overconfident – notice that in some of my samples my cups look like candles from my ten pattern 5 point satin sample. But there is a bit of an intricacy in the interaction of the draw cord and single pull. My tea cups progressed to look like diner coffee cups. That’s what sampling and learning are all about. It really pushed us all to another level: going through the steps of assembling the combination unit helped us to understand the interaction of the two components, and led to a new perception of design technique.

Thursday night – the fourth day of class – we were treated to a tour of the fjord, a special tour of Anne’s home studio, and a special traditional Norwegian dinner at Anne’s home.

Wild elk and reindeer stew, served with clove-infused loganberry compote, wild picked mushrooms and roasted vegetables was quite the veritable feast! Coffee, tea, carrot cake and ice cream cake topped off the dinner. Eventually we had to chase ourselves out, as the night was late and we had a full day ahead of us.

Dinner of traditional Norwegian Elk and Reindeer stew, lingonberry compote, roasted vegetables, and wild picked mushrooms from Anne’s property.
A view of landscape on the drive to Anne’s home.

Anne’s home studio is an amazing utilization of space, tucked in the upper level of her home. We were able to see the loom the Anne adapted with a double draw cord system in combination with a single unit that she utilized to make a frame, motif and signature combination on the wall hanging that she created for her son’s wedding. There are eight looms in that small studio space, and I can’t even begin to describe all their capability as each has its unique configuration and purpose.

The week just flew by – and no wonder at all the material we covered! Each of us had a personalized handout. Our lesson plan covered (1) A quick guide for dressing the drawloom in the Norwegian tradition and methods of warp and pattern calculation; (2) Mounting the drawloom attachment and Separating the pattern shafts; and (4) Making/designing your own patterns. All this while weaving on different drawlooms and assisting in mounting the components of a combination unit. Poor Opphämta was more of a second thought for everyone, though some of us managed to squeeze it in.

It was an education in comparing the results of the same or similar motifs in the various satin structures. Clearly each person can champion the case for their favorite satin – and it does depend on what you want to weave and the ultimate use. No fast and set rules, just different preferences and practices. We discussed the benefits and pitfalls of how to treat selvedges and when sewing hems makes more sense. And also how expedient it can be to use only one pattern heddle per pattern unit – maybe more of a Norwegian approach? Anne also demonstrated the use of the ladder to tension a warp when space is a premium – utilizing the rungs of the ladder for tension can be effective and space saving, especially when you’re weaving alone.

Using a ladder to keep a warp tensioned. In Anne’s studio
Completed warp from one of the class looms. Each color was completed by a different student
Claudia Cocco class certification

In so many cases, Anne has the unique perspective of evaluating different approaches and then using the most efficient method for the task at hand. She is a great proponent of making things more simple, not more complicated, and certainly not at the expense of beauty, craft or structure. This ultimately leads to a perspective of innovation and really does help break down the barriers of what is perceived as an intimidating craft.

All in all it was marvelous. The uniqueness of traveling to Norway, meeting an amazing group of women who are all passionate and artful in their craft. We had many discussions of weaving, and life, and craft, and the gratitude in having weaving in our lives and the opportunity to be on this adventure.

So now I am armed and dangerous. My very own course completion certificate is in hand! I have purchased a countermarche loom that I will be converting to a drawloom. I just have to get the loom from California to Phoenix. I feel like Wonder Woman now…..

All photos © Claudia Cocco, 2019, Anita Caldwell, 2019 and Laura Schickli, 2019

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Exhibiting at the FCF Holland Gallery

It was an exciting start for me in 2019, as I was able to exhibit two of my weaving pieces in a local gallery. There were sixteen local fiber artists in the exhibit. Three of us are members of the local weaving guilds. The exhibit was open from January 2nd through the 24th. On the 12th I was able to perform a weaving demonstration on site so that visitors could see how cloth is constructed. My trusty four shaft workshop loom is portable stood up to the test with a two color huck lace pattern.

Sonoran Spring – Globe Mallo is a green runner that was inspired by the globe mallo plant seen everywhere in central Arizona – mostly in Spring but also in early Winter. It’s a mixture of several different colors and textures of green and the light orange of the globe mallo flower. Cotton, Linen and Tencel.

White Black and Gray is a double cowl. The interplay of various grays with black and white creates the illusions of multiple weaves.

The warp threading is a basic point twill, using 20/2 weight mercerized cotton. But by alternating the colors of the warp by section, and changing the colors of the weft as the weaving progresses, you can observe the differences in the pattern outcome. That’s why I like to work in a color and weave environment – it’s an interesting way to bring texture and shape while using the same warp threading.

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Summer and Winter with Rosalie Neilson

Truth be told, for as much as I have fallen out of love with my transportable LeClerc four shaft, we’re still joined at the hip. That is, for as long as I need it for local guild workshops that require a loom, and as long as four shafts are enough for the workshop requirements.

That said, I am also in the mood to de-msytify how that loom fits into my MINI Cooper – voila!


All packed up and ready to go. I have the packing-ties down to a science, and it works well without messing up the warp in transit. That hasn’t always been the case, but there you go.

Summer and Winter has never been a big attraction for me. But with a little pressure from my friends, and the recent publication of Rosalie Nielson’s An Exhaltation of Blocks, I couldn’t resist the challenge of attempting something new for me. Besides, it being February (which is such an in-between time of year – post holiday, pre-Spring, you get the picture) a little challenge would definitely keep seasonal boredom from setting in.

At first it was dicey on whether I could participate with a four shaft loom, since the class was based on eight shaft designs. However, since Rosalie is such a gracious and accommodating teacher, she provided four shaft drafts for the two of us who had this predicament. So now, no excuse, and it was off to the workshop – a mere ten mile drive from my home.

Rosalie Nielson is an incredible weaver and a really patient teacher. You never have to worry about being left out or overlooked. And she really explained the whole block concept extremely well. Once in a while an AHA thought bubble appeared in my brain – this picked up a thread of block theory from when I was in Madelyn’s class, and I realized how relevant this was to my fascination with drawloom weaving.


Rosalie Nielson, the Master at work!

Granted, at the end of the day, there are many limitations as to what you can do with Summer and Winter blocks on four shafts. However, with the block concept, using Rosalie’s methodology and more shafts, there are over one thousand combinations that she was able to discover. Amazing! So Summer and Winter does not have to be boring, and one can challenge oneself for a long time exploring the structure.

Yes, I am really glad I was able to take this class. I finished off my left-over warp in no time at all after the workshop was over, and I have some nice samples to remind me how great weaving is, and will always be.

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Drawloom Weaving with Joanne Hall

There comes a point in time during any weaving experience when you know to either run the other way, or travel down the rabbit hole and learn as much as you can about a new structure. What’s compelling for one weaver may be anathema for another. I have always looked at the drawloom configuration and said – Too big! Countermarche? No way! That said, my friend Laura and I both got the drawloom bug at The Weavers’ School, and we had to pursue it.

The weather was unsettled as we landed in Helena Regional Airport in Montana. Mid-40’s, scattered rain in the distance and big clouds threatening activity everywhere. Montana! Big Sky country! And home to Joanne Hall, drawloom weaver and teacher extraordinare. We were looking forward to three days of devoted weaving, plus two days of actually warping a shaft drawloom in the Swedish tradition.

Joanne’s home is built in the Swedish style, so it is comfortable and cozy. Her studio is filled with plenty of natural light. And looms. Mostly Glimakra, and countermarche. Having learned on a jack loom, I can only say that any perceived complexity in warping a countermarche is more than compensated for in ease of treadling. It’s so light on the knees, I found I could weave for much longer periods of time on the countermarche than I could on a jack.

Drawlooms have two sets of harnesses (a group of shafts). One set is for the ground cloth, the other (located above/behind the ground cloth shafts) is for the pattern. There are two basic configurations for the drawloom – single unit, where you can create tapestries and pictures and all sorts of designs on the fly. The other is the shaft drawloom, where there is a series of drawcords that are organized by units of threads (the number of threads is driven by the quantity of shafts in your ground cloth). With the shaft drawloom, you can weave patterns that repeat, and also modify them as you go along.

Some people modify a countermarche loom by adding “half heddles” behind the shafts, and use a sword to raise the half heddle (imagine how backstrap weavers manipulate patterns on their looms). It was this approach that I used for my first weave structure.


My repeating circles sample on the Glimakra Julia with half heddles.


Half Heddles on a Glimakra Julia (photo by Liz Burle)

My next sample was on the single unit drawloom. I have to admit that I had a lot of fun playing around with the different configurations. You can “save” a pattern by using a similar approach to the half heddle method, on the pattern shafts. But those kinds of decisions are driven by which loom configuration you have, and the type of design you’d like to weave. At this point I was just playing. And, having fun.


My favorite design on the single heddle. The weft is tow linen.


The single unit drawloom. With drawcords, you don’t need a drawboy as was used in the early days of drawloom weaving.

At this point I do have a slight confession to make. It’s a challenge for me to get a good selvedge on the drawloom. There is a combination of new muscle memory and technique that I found I need to work on. The drawloom shuttle is narrower and longer than your typical Schacht open shuttle with a bobbin. They have quills, and I have never used a quill while weaving before. Always a first! But, as with everything, with a lot of practice comes expertise.

My third sample was on the draft drawloom. At this point I had developed my confidence and was going to town on arranging and modifying the selection of repeats that Joanne had created for Laura and me.


My draft drawloom sample. What fun!

After three days of weaving and enough lecture to make us dangerous on the looms, we were joined by two more students, and went through the process of warping the draft drawloom. Joanne was very wise to have us review the process on the Vavstuga video before attempting it. Having that information floating in our heads and then grounding it with the actual experience was most helpful and a good learning process.


Joanne Hall grouping the pattern heddles during the warping process. Not for the feint of heart!

As always, there are always new “hacks” to pick up whenever weavers are weaving together. We learned the most incredible way of tying the warp onto the front beam. It really reduces the warp waste, and quite frankly maintains a great even tension.


Those five days passed way too fast. I love being immersed in a weaving experience where the demands of our fast-paced lifestyles can be put on hold for just a bit. It’s a renewal for the soul, and I become a better person for following a mindful practice with a satisfying craft. Good food, good company, and even good weather came around and followed us home. Thank you, Joanne, for getting me started on this phase of my weaving journey!


The view from Joanne Hall’s home and studio.

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The Weavers’ School

Once again Laura and I set our sights on weaving, this time in Coupeville on Whidbey Island, off the coast of Seattle, Washington. I will not lie and say I was in a high state of anxiety. Our instructor was Madelyn van der Hoogt, and the class was Weaving II: Beyond the Basics. Learning from the Master!!!! What was I thinking? But all my anxiety was for naught. It was a great class, with a nice group of women, and we had a fabulous time.

Whidbey Island is an idyllic setting for a weaving class. The crisp October weather is very reminiscent of a Scottish coastline. We had sun, rain, and a few pretty nippy days.

The class schedule was a good balance of lecture and weaving time. Amazingly, there were thirty two looms all dressed and ready to go! With twelve of us in residence, there was ample opportunity to get working on the various weave structures that we were reviewing in class. Madelyn is very good at honing in on the point at hand, and almost has a sixth sense towards her students. You know, like a Mom that has eyes in the back of her head. Anyway, it wasn’t long before she had Laura convinced to try the single unit drawloom, and before I knew what was happening I was on the shaft drawloom happily weaving away. It wasn’t as intimidating as it looked, once I got moving on the pattern. It turned out to be my favorite piece of the class!

I learned the importance of advancing the warp to always weave in the “sweet spot”. And although I had used a temple at home with disastrous results, I finally got the hang of it and now I can use a temple without fear. I also have some really fun samples. It’s really freeing when the teacher encourages you to experiment and see where the weaving takes you.

All in all it was quite the experience. Many of the students are repeat, and sign up for the next available class. Madelyn doesn’t teach drawloom anymore, so Laura and I had our sights on our next weaving conquest – drawloom weaving!  Thanks Madelyn, for introducing us to that world!


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Playing for the Raptors

Today was one of those fabulous pre-winter Arizona days. Temps in the lower 80’s, partially overcast sky providing shade in the perfect amount. It was a great day to be outside feeding the raptors in recovery at Wild at Heart right here in Cave Creek, Arizona.

In keeping with my flute journey, today after the 3pm hawk feeding (which includes Kestrels, Turkey Vultures, Harris and Redtail Hawks, a Bald Eagle as well as a Golden Eagle), I pulled out my trusty flute and played for them for a half hour in the outdoor courtyard.

Most of it was improv, some of it was trying to play practiced songs from memory. But it was all for those amazing birds of prey that have fallen victim to the vagaries of civilization. With luck they will recover from their afflictions and be returned to the wild. Some make it, some don’t. But it was my small tribute to help, in a small way, towards their recovery. I sure heard more bird calling then usual, and one of the permanent workers though that she observed some of the birds actually listening. I’d like to hope so!

It has to be shock to be a wild bird and then suddenly finding yourself maimed and then caged. Some are submissive to their fate, others rage against it. But I think nothing can vanquish the drive for survival that these birds have, constantly adapting to the changes we humans force on their environment.

Happy fluting!





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More Deflected Double Weave – 14/2 Linen

One goal I had set for myself after my trip to CNCH was to make a sturdy flute bag. I had one false start with all cotton that ended up as two little bags (got some good practice sewing the bag shape – picture at the end of this post). Then my adventure with mixed cotton and linen (in 20/2 and 16/1) ended up purposed as something totally different than what I had intended. So I decided to up the ante and go back to the 14/2 to get the sturdiness that I wanted for the flute bag cover. Jane Stafford Textiles has a great color selection, and in no time at all I had the linen and a warped loom.

Linen so far is my favorite fiber to use with deflected doubleweave. There is something about the crispness while weaving that keeps me thinking that the project will turn out ok, no matter what happens in the meantime. Euroflax 14/2 is a great weight to use if you want to make something sturdy, like a flute cover, for example. It holds the structure really well, with the added benefit of getting softer but not less strong over time. One thing that surprised me about this project was, after washing and sewing, there was still a bit of a drape to the fabric. A nice surprise!


This is the basic pattern I used. You can tell it was from a book, and now I can’t find it to tell you the name. It’s in a pile somewhere…….


Warping had its challenges. I managed to get all the color alternation correct except for that one twisted section. I did unwind that section and rewound it, but made the same mistake. The funny thing is that it didn’t impact my weaving, although I did add an S hook towards the end of the warp.


No accounting for color truth when taking pictures – the lighting in my room is much different between daytime and evening, with no natural light. But you can see the openness of the weave on the loom. It fills in quite nicely after finishing, even with a hand washing.

This was warped at 24 epi – two per dent on a twelve dent reed. 364 ends, roughly 15 inches wide on the loom. I measured a four yard length, and wove about 60 inches, adding plain weave hems. After weaving, I had enough left over for another piece. To my horror, I had made a mistake smack in the middle of the extra piece. Not to worry, it sewed up perfectly into a cowl where the mistake is not noticeable. You could even call it a design separation.


Finished flute cover, with its owner just waiting to jump in. The flute is a Gm made by Charles Littleleaf from Warm Springs, Oregon.



Ignore the woman behind the curtain – this is the finished cowl. I’m really happy about the drape!

As promised, here is the picture of the cotton “little bag” experiment. I had started at 12 epi, one per dent in a 12 dent reed, then ended up re-sleying to two per dent. End count was 144. I had thought an open sett would work, but I have to re-think the approach on a twill with a plain weave stripe. You can imagine that they are sturdy.


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Sett and the Deflected Weave

Several of my flutes don’t have covers. And they certainly need a cover for safe transport.  I’ve been buying up a lot of 40/2 linen, with the hope of making something pretty grand. And then I noticed I had some 20/2 cotton and a 16/1 linen that would get me primed, so to speak, for working with a finer thread. Grabbing a Santa Fe-ish type draft from Handweaving.net, I found three colors that balanced nicely, and went for broke.

Now, sett has been an issue with me ever since I stared on my weaving journey a LONG time ago. My thought was always to follow the pattern then beat the heck out of it, which resulted in a lot of stiff scarves and miscellaneous projects that never really found a good home. Sampling I can eventually warm myself up to, but I hate making something for the sake of it and then not having a good use for it. That’s one of the reasons why you’ll find so many wall hangings and table scarves scattered around my home. (I am fortunate enough to have a husband who will tolerate this!) With my history of beating it till it’s dead hand, when I see something that calls for a 30 epi sett I cringe on how to proceed. How can that be woven without turning it into a ironing board, even if I have a thin thread?  Trial and error, plus adapting to a new environment are the personal growth phases I have to go through to get confident in establishing sett to get the right drape I am looking for in a fabric. And the experiments continue.

That said, I chucked the planned 30 epi out the window, and went with a 24 epi – two threads in each dent of a twelve dent reed.


It wove up pretty nicely. At first it took a while to get through one repeat. It’s not that the repeat was long – it was changing the shuttles for each color change. My final technique was to break and tuck the blue linen thread every time its turn came up, but keep the brown and grey cottons, and travel them up the side. Also, I didn’t really have to pass the shuttle through the last block of color on the right side (see Elisabeth Hill’s YouTube video on this selvedge technique) since I broke off the thread for the blue color change. The edges aren’t perfect because I hadn’t planned on them being perfect since my original purpose was to sew a seam along the sides. I’ve been a little nonchalant about my edges (based on the purpose of piece) ever since I watched a Donegal weaver at the loom. Very impressed with his speed, I had the chance to talk to him about edges. He surprised me by saying that he and his weavers didn’t dwell on them since they were making fabric which would be cut so the edges really didn’t matter. Duh. Another myth debunked, and another incentive to go to the next level and create yardage for sewing garments, or whatever. Sometimes the most simple truths can knock me for a loop.

After all that, weaving went pretty quickly. The piece was finished at the planned 60 inch plus hem allowance and ready to cut –  and not a moment too soon, based on how much warp I had left – which was a big fat zilch.  After I washed finished the piece, I found that it had such a wonderful drape that I couldn’t bear using it for a flute bag. My edges really aren’t that bad, either, and they will work for the final re-purposed piece. (Confession – I really do care about how my edges look.)

Look at this drape! I’ll be using the hemming to join both ends, and it will be just long enough to double wrap for a cowl (infinity) scarf. That makes me a happy weaver.


You can see the plain weave stripe that will be the seam when the cowl is joined. No fringe is visible on the final product (see below).


All sewn up! Folded so that it is doubled. Love that drape! I added a tie through the seam so that I could scrunch it. It’s a really fun cowl.

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