Sunday, May 3, 2015

Cochineal - The Red That Colored the World

"Throughout art history, a broad red brushstroke has colored the finest art and expressions of daily life. Yet, while most people know red, few know of its most prolific and enduring source: American Cochineal, a tiny scaled insect that produces carminic acid. Fewer still know the story behind its explosive global spread after its first encounter by Spain in 16th century Mexico."  From the  Santa Fe Museum of International Folk Art's  website. This month, they will be opening a new show entitled : The Red That Colored the World. See more information about that HERE.

This show got me thinking about doing something different and was my inspiration to weave a collection of wool hatbands, using yarn dyed with cochineal.
I went shopping on the web and found some New Mexico Churro yarn, handspun and hand dyed by volunteers at El Rancho de Las Golondrinas. In nearby Santa Fe, it is a museum dedicated to the history, heritage and culture of 18th and 19th century New Mexico. They have a very active fiber arts program!

 I purchased several shades of cochineal-dyed yarn in red-orange, maroon, pink, and purple. To that, I added some white and yellow. Using this yarn proved to be a challenge as it was all single ply and some was thick and thin.

The results were good, I think. It was fun to challenge myself to make interesting and varied patterns using only 19-25 threads. It is unusual for me to weave such narrow pieces with such thick yarns. I used my Ashford Inklette loom and wove these one at a time.

Some surprising color changes occurred during the rinsing process. The yellow turned to a rich gold color which I find particularly beautiful. The red-orange darkened to maroon. Fun!

After the first few, I started combining these yarns with some from my stash to create more varied color combinations. Mostly, I stuck with other yarns which were made in New Mexico.

After using up all six skeins from that original purchase, I found another source of naturally-dyed  yarns on Etsy. The skeins pictured below were purchased from Heritage Yarn's Etsy shop.
It is a nice two-ply wool. The blue was dyed with indigo, and the gold with onion skins. Her yarn prices are VERY low and it is nice to work with.

Since there is more yardage in these skeins, I didn't feel as though I needed to be as conservative in using them. I am weaving on my Schact loom, and am able to warp it to weave two  hatbands at a time. So far, I'm on my fifth one. Because the two-ply yarn is easier to work with, as is the larger loom, this group is going faster!  

Some of these will soon be listed for sale in my Etsy shop and at other various locations in New Mexico.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Two Pickup Patterns

After seeing the last post, someone asked me to share the pattern for the strap with the rainbow diagonal pickup, so I drew it up to share here. And since the chevron is a very closely related pattern, I thought I'd include it also. It would be great to see how other weavers use these patterns to create their own designs, so send me photos if you do!! The following information assumes that you already know how to do the Baltic style pickup patterns and to read the charts commonly used with them.
If you are new to pickup patterns, I recommend that you start with something simpler and have a tutorial over here that you might like: Greek Key Pickup Tutorial

The above pattern uses a progression of 5 pattern colors, almost a rainbow, against a black background.  The visual effect makes the color bands appear balanced to my eye in spite of the fact that they don't all use the same number of threads. With some of the colors, I used 3 of each and some 4 of each. Below is the threading draft for this pattern. The top row are heddled and the bottom row are open warps.

The pickup pattern is below. White squares represent the background threads in my woven design (black) and colored squares correspond with the colors in the draft above. 

The strap shown in the picture below was done as a custom camera strap for a very colorful guy. You can read the story about that here: From Oaxaca City to New York City - Sharing My Love of Color With Other Artists.  See how the pattern on the front and back sides appears very differently.

Below is the threading draft for it. The top row are heddled and the bottom row are open warps.

And here is the pickup pattern. (Again, white squares represent the background which is actually black in my woven design and the colored squares correspond to the colored pattern threads in the woven design.) You can see how I achieved a nice effect by alternately picking up two chevrons and then creating a space in between by allowing the background to show through, The plain weave pattern in between the pickup areas appears as speckles. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Weaving The Rainbow

I like playing with color! 

My husband tells me that I can't have too much yarn. How can I create beautiful designs if I don't have all of the colors of the rainbow to choose from? I love him! So, I am forever adding to my stash. 
The photo below is of a guitar strap I made a few years back. It was inspired by a yarn bomb discovered in Santa Cruz, CA.   Read that story HERE.  While it includes all the colors of the rainbow plus a few, they are not in typical rainbow sequence. 

Once upon a time, I decided to use up small bits of may colors by creating a rainbow using as many shades of each color as I could find in my stash. 
As it turns out, I put together these 22. 

Several people, having seen photos of the first one, have asked me to make them a 
version of it.  This one is slightly different. I never want to make any two exactly alike. 

For the one I just finished this month, here's what the yarn selection looked like when I started. I swapped out a couple of colors after taking the photo. Then, once I started
 weaving there were two that just seemed too dark. So, I unwove, replaced them
 and moved the order of a couple of others. It was worth it. 

Really like this one! 

It looked amazing on the loom while I was weaving! 

Here are few other straps which have used some version of the rainbow.

The one below with diamonds just sold last month at the Tempe Guitar Show. 
It was woven in a pickup pattern using the horizontal bar background. 
One shed was all black and the other shed incorporated red, orange, golden yellow, 
yellow, yellow-green, green, blue-green, blue and purple. 

The below strap was a custom order inspired by an album cover from the band MGMT, called "Electric Feel". It also uses black as the background color with a pickup pattern. 
This pattern was done on the "Basketweave or Baltic" threading.

Below, this strap, also a custom request, used 5 of the 6 colors of the rainbow, 
 but with the 6th, red, being replaced by pink.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Weaving the Mountains

These are the Sandia Mountains which we see from our house in central New Mexico, USA. 
During sunset, they are known to light up in various shades of red on the west face. 
This earned them their name, "sandia" which is the Spanish word for watermelon.
 Recently, I was asked by an Albuquerque native to weave him a mandolin strap using the colors of the Sandias. After some consideration and two tries, I came up with a nice landscape type pattern which we thought created the look and feel of the mountains. 

At first, I selected 9 colors to represent the vegetation, earth, mountains, sky and clouds as seen in the photo. I have some pretty great colors! In the end, I used only 5 of them. 

In this photo, you can see both the front and back of the strap. 
The back side appears quite differently than the front. 

The customer sent me this photo of the strap on his mandolin. You can see how he used the long braids on the one end to tie around the F-scroll on the mandolin. 

This week I got confirmation that I will be a vendor at the Albuquerque Folk Festival.
Check out their logo and how fantastically it shows the "Watermelon Mountains".
Love this! Looking forward to a great musical time! 

Check out my Events page to see where else I will be showing!