A Cheater’s Lace

The song says “A Cheater’s Love Will Set You Free”.  Don’t really know if it’s true, but I was thinking of those words when feeling the pressure to produce appropriate gifts for this Mother’s Day show:

The Spring Show

Much of my scarf inventory was diminished with the recent show less than a month ago. And with the weather warming up, tightly woven scarves were out of the question.  So I decided to weave some lacey scarves which really hadn’t been in my repertoire that much.  After much research and deliberating, I settled on a weave pattern based on a modified Atwater-Bronson lace.  The end product was a lightweight airy fabric that draped beautifully and was perfect for cool summer evenings, a rare occurrence here in Memphis.  So this shawl really had to be pleasing to the eyes.

The warp is a 10/2 perle cotton which was sett loosely at 20 ends per inch (epi).  These three colors were used in the warp.

10/2 perle cotton in natural, bleached white, and pale pink

I threaded a simplified variation of the more traditional 6 thread unit of the original Atwater-Bronson lace pattern. I used a 4 thread unit instead which utilized only 3 harnesses on my 8 harness loom. Sweet! Threading was easy.  In a 10 dent reed, I threaded 2 ends per dent and in the heddles, threaded in this order:  shaft 1, shaft 3, shaft 1 and shaft 2.  This 1-3-1-2 threading was repeated for the entire 15″ width of the shawl. Treadling and tie up were even easier.  I used only 4 treadles:  treadle 1 raised shaft 1, treadle 2 raised shaft 2, treadle 3 raised shaft 1 and treadle 4 raised shafts 2 and 3 together.  And so treadling was an easy to remember 1-2-3-4 !

Cotton/bamboo lace shawl on the loom

The weft was 100% bamboo yarn, Bambu 7 from Silk City Fibers. Here is the detail of the lace weave with the Bambu 7 weft of  “Rice”.

Detail Atwater-Bronson Lace weave with Bambu 7 "Rice"

And here is a detail of the lace weave with a weft of the Bambu 7 yarn in the color “Tide Blue”.

Detail Atwater-Bronson Lace weave with weft of Bambu 7 "Tide Blue"

The finished lace shawl on my faithful model Velma who accompanies me to every show:

Handwoven cotton/bamboo lace shawl

So, was this simplified version of Atwater-Bronson lace weave a cheater’s lace?  Definitely yes!  And did it set me free? Absolutely yes! And Velma looked pretty good in the finished shawl.

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Basket Case

I hit the wall this summer.  I was in a desert of creative ideas.  I played around with lots of media: book arts, silk fusion, beading, needle weaving and sadly spent little time at my looms.  My Macomber and Baby Wolf sat mostly empty. Only my Leclerc saw a little weaving action.  I managed to finish these few things which are now in my etsy store, MemphisWeaver.

"White Stripes" handwoven cotton scarf with warp floats

"White Stripes" handwoven cotton scarf with warp floats

"Pretty in Pink" handwoven bamboo/cotton/metallic scarf with warp floats

"Pretty in Pink" handwoven bamboo/cotton/metallic scarf with warp floats

"Purple Passion" handwoven bamboo/cotton/metallic scarf with warp floats

"Purple Passion" handwoven bamboo/cotton/metallic scarf with warp floats

"Luscious Lavender" handwoven shawl in twill weave, cotton/flax/rayon/metallic yarn

"Luscious Lavender" handwoven shawl in twill weave, cotton/flax/rayon/metallic yarn

All my weaving years I had been struggling with commercial vs. art. I wove scarves and purses in limited production to sell to those who appreciate a fine handmade object.  Though always keeping in mind price points that the market could bear. And so the time and expertise involved in the production  had to be largely ignored.  Mama, don’t let your babies grow up to be weavers. (Thanks, Willie!) Doing what you love only to be under-appreciated is frustrating indeed.

Then there it was. I was reaching for yet another medium, this time my knitting, when I noticed what my unfinished projects were sitting in:

Handwoven Papago basket

Handwoven Papago basket

Handwoven Papago basket

Handwoven Papago basket

Papago Indians live mostly in the northern desert of Sonora and Arizona.  They are known for their narrowly coiled baskets made from yucca splints. More of their baskets can be seen here. One of my best friends in college is originally from Tucson, and over the years, her family has given us these beautiful baskets.

The simple yet striking designs of these baskets reminded me of a weave structure that I favored in many of my wall hangings, but that had given way to the demands of the fashion accessories market. The weave is of Swedish origin, known as ripsmatta and often referred to as rep weave by American weavers. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed weaving this structure as the actual weaving takes very little time.  It is the designing and dressing of the loom that is most time consuming – but that is the weaving component that appeals to me most.  A few of my earlier wall hangings done in rep weave:

"Turkish Kilim" handwoven wall rug woven in rep weave

"Turkish Kilim" handwoven wall rug woven in rep weave

"Night Crawlers" handwoven wall rug woven in rep weave

"Night Crawlers" handwoven wall rug woven in rep weave

Untitled handwoven wall rug, woven in rep weave

Untitled handwoven wall rug, woven in rep weave

"Moonshadow" handwoven wall rug woven in rep weave

"Moonshadow" handwoven wall rug woven in rep weave

"Nesting" handwoven wall rug woven in rep weave

"Nesting" handwoven wall rug woven in rep weave

The Papago basket designs in their simple beauty will inspire me to weave more of these rep weave wall rugs. After revisiting my handwoven pieces, I see how much fun I had designing and weaving them.  My three looms are empty now, but not for long.  Rep weave wall rugs will be the next sensation!