V ä v a! V e v e! weaving cloth one thread at a time

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Cabin Series II Spa Towel in Pine Design, in colors Slate, with Violet accent band.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Seeing things anew.

When we take pictures we are usually recording something for a memory. But taking pictures can also open one's eyes to a fresh view. I have things coming into my studio here and there all the time, and the things that were there before get pushed further back in my attention. The excitement of something new overtakes the old and my eyes tend to not see what is right there in front of me. So today, I took my camera and looked . . . really looked at all the color, fantasy, and detail in my studio.  It was fun to see things with a fresh eye.


Monday, May 5, 2014

I am beginning to feel assured that we will get no more snow, but I am not yet secure in that notion.  After all, this is Minnesota, and here we are always waiting for that 'other shoe to drop' when it comes to the weather.  In other words, if it is nice today, it will probably be either really hot and muggy tomorrow, or it will snow and sleet tomorrow.  It has happened that way long enough that people in this state are always waiting for the bad news.  We have been trained by the weather to be suspicious of a nice day and anticipating that it won't last long.

But even so, I am in good spirits!  I am in count-down mode to make a road trip to Chicago to pick up a another AVL loom.
 This is the loom waiting for me in Chicago.

This one has air assist mechanisms for the harnesses and flybox shuttles!  My plan is to take the air assist mechanisms from this new loom and install them on my current AVL.  I will have to do some adapting because I have 24 harnesses on my loom rather than the 16 on the loom from Chicago, and I have the newer version of the flyboxes which uses a rubber tube as an elastic powered return for the fly mechanism . . . .

 Newer flybox shuttle mechanism.

. . . . rather than a spring, which in the case of the loom from Chicago (far bottom of photo below) is replaced by the air assist mechanism.

It will take some thinking to get that one to work, but I have confidence . . . .

 . . . . I should be able to figure it out!

The unaltered original loom will probably placed on the market for about $3,500.  It is a 60" - 16 harness AVL mechanical dobby loom, with a sticky (sand paper) breast beam, auto cloth advance, auto cloth storage, and a 1 yard sectional beam.  The loom is in excellent shape.  The loom has been maintained very well, which explains the wood oil marks on some of the wooden pieces.  Buyer will pay shipping (as is standard).  It will not have the fly shuttle boxes, since I may need those in adapting the flyboxes onto my current loom.

 The heart of the mechanical dobby.
 The counterweights for the auto cloth advance.

 16 harnesses

 1 yard sectional beam.

 Auto cloth advance system.

 Sturdy enough for rugs or silk!

Areas of oiled wood

If interested, contact me through this blog or through my website:  http://www.vavaveve.com/contact

Sunday, May 4, 2014

150 mile wardrobe: local fiber, real color, Gandhi economy

I ran across this video showing Rebecca Burgess talking about Fibershed.  It gives you a little more information and leaves you with the thought that just one idea can really have an impact!  Just one person, one idea.  And we are seeing her idea sweep the nation!  Fibersheds are sprouting up all over the United States.  This is something that everyone is deciding they CAN do and that they WANT to do it!  It is very exciting to be part of this movement!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Selvedge Magazine and me . . . we're like 'THAT'

 Every once in a while something really fun and unexpected happens!  Back at the beginning of 2011, I received an email from Polly Leonard.  Polly Leonard is the editor of "Selvedge Magazine", a magazine published in the UK.  In their 'About' section online they describe the magazine as follows:  "Selvedge is a design-led, 100 page, bi-monthly magazine that covers every facet of textiles – interiors, fashion, art, craft, travel and shopping – in an intelligent and inspiring way.  Founded in 2003 the magazine revolutionised the way textiles are presented and quickly became the world’s leading textile publication. Six times a year we cover textiles made with time, thought and skill in a magazine produced in exactly the same way – with quality writing, stunning photography and original illustration. Focusing on textiles doesn’t mean we turn our back on the rest of the world... the exact opposite is true. We see the world though a textile lens but cast our eye far and wide looking for links between our subject and achievements in other fields from architecture to archeology. More flexible than other textile magazines – Selvedge fits seamlessly into a creative lifestyle."

Sounds pretty awesome, huh?!  Well, Polly Leonard wrote to me asking if they could mention Väva! Veve! in their magazine.  As far as I was concerned, they didn't even have to ASK!  And could I please have 2 MILLION copies?!!  Polly explained that she had been perusing Etsy.com and she wanted to feature her favorites!  So, I picked myself up off the floor, and wrote back saying that of course she could and what did she need from me.  We worked all that out, but you know?  I never mentioned it in my blog~

So here is Editor Polly Leonard's Etsy faves featured in Selvedge Magazine!  I'm #11!  Wheeze! Cough!  Snort!!

Local Sourcing and Fibershed.com

We are finally seeing some sunshine here in Minnesota, after more than a week of dull gray, low ceiling clouds.  People have been getting pretty crabby without the sunshine, so today is a special day for everyone!! 
 It is like being reborn!  It is joy in a sunbeam!!  Today people will be in such a good mood!  Perhaps springtime has finally reached us.  (it snowed this past week!)  

Such unpredictable and unusual weather!  This is why I am working with Fibershed.com and involved in getting our textile industry back to our country.  We need to change some basic ideas in order to shift our current impact on climate change!  I am currently working with Rebecca Burgess, the founding member and Executive Director of http://www.fibershed.com, and Dustin Kahn, also of Fibershed, and second in command, to develop the fiber community in the United States.  Besides having a good and huge impact on the greenness of the textile industry, my motivation is to eventually establish the first linen fiber mill in the United States since the Civil War!  I don't know that 'local' linen will be any less expensive in terms of $$ but I do know it will cost the earth a lot less in terms of fuel used for shipping, not to mention the horrible working conditions forced on people in 3rd World countries.  We have a lot of work ahead of us before we can approach my linen mill dream however.

Currently we are researching and working on the Hemp project, establishing it's uses, setting up farmers willing to grow it, finding out what equipment is needed for harvesting, and processing hemp into fiber, and learning about the characteristics of hemp blended with other fibers.  It will help reduce the carbon footprint of such a massive industry.  And by connecting farmers to local processing mills to small local textile mills to the end users, we are creating a small economic hub with a very small carbon footprint.  Also by encouraging farmers to grow organically, and by encouraging the mills to process with little waste, again we are reducing our carbon footprint.  By doing this, we will help reduce the carbon footprint of a very massive industry.  It is an incredible opportunity to work with people so concerned about our earth and to actually be making a difference!

I recently gathered a group of accomplished fiber artists to tour a newly established northern Minnesota woolen mill located in Fosston, MN to find out about the various machinery used in processing wool, and to learn a bit more about what type of machine would be needed to blend hemp and wool.  The mill is aptly called Northern Woolen Mill and after a 4 hour drive we finally arrived, late and a bit disheveled.  But the energetic owner of the mill, Stephanie Anderson still took the time to take us around the whole operation, telling stories of the birth of a new woolen mill. Some of the stories were humorous, some were agonizing, but all helped us to see the determination, creativity, genius and sometimes just pure luck that Stephanie Anderson has had in starting this new business of hers.

Stephanie is explaining how she heard about a place where bison were being raised for meat, but were burning the hides. She negotiated a deal where she bought the hides, and is now processing bison fiber into yarn. Bison fiber, that is taken when the winter coat is thick, is as soft as cashmere! Her mill is also singular in accepting black fleece.

First stop is the receiving dock, where we saw bags and bags of various fleeces. Here Heidi Goldberg, Professor of Art at Concordia, listens to the stories being told by Stephanie.

The washing room has a screened surface as a picking station on the right where organic animal matter and vegetation is removed from the fleece to ready it for washing. Sharon Marquardt and Charlie Hovde view the Washing Room.

The impressive array of sink stations available for different fleeces is located on the other side of the room.

The large dye vat and table are just the start of the dye lab that Stephanie envisions.

As we proceed into the drying room, we are struck with a wall of heat. The right side of the room was lined with racks of merino that had been washed and were drying overnight. 

 The left side of the Drying Room was lined with racks drying multiple levels of Bison fiber.

Each piece of equipment throughout this facility was often designed on-site, put together on-site, and even constructed on-site.

Stephanie told one story that would have made most people walk away from this project in defeat. It left me absolutely amazed at this slight woman's strength of character and determination. She had contracted with a man who's credentials she had thoroughly vetted, to find the various machines she needed, bring them to the facility, put them together and teach her staff how to use them. Well, she got most of the equipment, but the man skipped the country, and she was left with crates of machine parts.

 What she does next is amazing! She decides that the only thing to do is to dump each crate out on the floor and try to figure out how to put it together. Each machine's operator was empowered in this process by now knowing exactly how their machine works, down to each nut and bolt!

This Roller Machine is next in the line-up. It takes the picked and cleaned wool fiber and rolls it in a combing action through 6 different rollers, with each pass processing the fiber to a higher, cleaner state each time, until it comes out the end in what is called a sliver, which is about a 4" X 2" fluffy batting of fibers all running in the same direction.

 This sliver is inserted into a combing machine, for further alignment.

The sliver runs down this channel and through the combs, coming out the other end as roving.

This is one of the Spinning Machines, spinning the roving into yarn. Yarn can come in either an 'S' or a 'Z' twist, which can be done to order at this mill.

Bobbins at the ready by the Spinning Machine 

 Bobbins needed for the spinning and plying process.

Dawn Tommerdahl inspecting a spinning/plying machine.

Some of the freshly spun and plied yarn is wound onto cones via this Cone Winding Machine. Cones are usually used by professionals needing yarn in larger quantities, in an easy form to use. 

 Other yarn is wound into skeins for use by hand knitters and other fiber artists. 

We learned so much during our trip to Northern Woolen Mills, and I plan on going again, if only to luxuriate in the wonderful yarns made there!  

They are spinning wool yarn for Bemidji Woolen Mills, and spinning private label yarn, and they even have spun yarn for Ann Taylor! They are experimenting with Bison (which surprisingly is as soft as cashmere!), They need to get a few suppliers who can provide enough wool on an ongoing basis to last throughout the year. I am hoping to work with Stephanie in the future to see if we can get a Hemp blending experiment off the ground.

Northern Woolen Mill has been featured on CNBC!  'Crazy' innovative: How one entrepreneur is reviving 'Made in USA' wool