Friday, March 13, 2009

The Wild West [Guest Scarf 2]

The Waldron Island schoolhouse circa 1922. Big, isn't it? Note the much smaller teacherage behind the building. Why is this picture here, you ask? Read on, fair reader, read on...

Here it is again: guest scarf Friday! Or, in this case, guest boa Friday. :) That's right folks - get ready for a walk on the wild side!

I'm really happy about sharing this guest boa with you guys for lots of reasons, but in particular because this is really where the guest scarfing all began. When I first wrote to the Weaving List to ask if anyone was interested, Margaret Thorson was the first person who responded. You've no idea how much that meant to me, knowing that others out there were actually interested and willing to participate in my crack-pot ideas. :) It's all very well to say you're going to have guest scarves every week but it all falls a bit flat if no one else will play ball. So thank you, thank you, thank you to Margaret for picking up that ball and running with it.

I'm also really happy about this guest boa because it is totally unlike anything I've ever woven; boas are another of those things (like plying commercial yarns) that I've considered as being technically possible but somehow never thought applied to me, either as something to weave or as something to wear... but now that I've seen Margaret's I'm not only anxious to try weaving one of these, I'm really seriously tempted by some of the boas I've seen in her Etsy shop - I can SO see myself wearing this great Orangles, Lemons and Limes one in particular, and I did just sort out my PayPal account... hmmm....

And finally, the most exciting this about this particular guest boa has absolutely nothing to do with weaving. Margaret mentioned to me that she lived in the San Juans; I spent a few summers at Camp Orkila on Orcas so I'm vaguely familiar with the islands. I asked her which one she lived on; turns out that she lives on tiny, tiny Waldron Island which is only accessible by private boat - no bridge, no ferry - and where, according to the 2000 census anyway, only around 100 people live. This is pretty remarkable on its own, I'm sure you'll agree, but here's the kicker: my great-grandmother, Jessamine Wiggins, taught school on Waldron in 1904. Margaret lives in a house built in 1905, so its original owners would have known my great-gramma, and she even sent me a picture of the little schoolhouse where Tutu would have taught. Isn't that amazing!? It's a small, small world, isn't it? Wowzers.

The little teacherage behind the new schoolhouse was the original school. This picture, taken in 2002, shows the school house where my great-grandmother would have taught back in 1904. Amazing!

And now, without further ado, here's Margaret's post:

"I learned to weave at the University of Washington in the late 60’s. I was taking a general art course and signed up for the weaving class taught by the Home Ec. Department. One touch of those big floor looms and I was hooked. When I moved to Waldron Island in the San Juan Islands of Washington State in 1972 I brought with me a handmade loom made by a friend. I wove presents for friends and various household items for years, but it wasn't until I married Joel Thorson in 1984 and moved to what is now Thousand Flower Farm on the island that I started production weaving.

A friend gave us three bummer lambs, lambs whose mothers wouldn't take care of them. Joel wanted to learn to spin, to use our wool and to find a way to sell it that would bring in a reasonable income. So I dragged the loom out of storage where it had been put to make room for children and started making rugs from his handspun wool using a cotton warp material. They were an immediate success and we were off on the fiberarts part of our venture.

I'd toyed with the idea of boas for several years before I made my first one. I had a lot of leftover bits and pieces of novelty knitting yarns used to decorate my felted hats. Boas seemed like a good way to use up some of this yarn.

My first step is to dump my big basket of yarns onto my bed and start making piles of yarns that will work together. I use 5 or 6 different yarns for the boa itself and a knitting worsted weight yarn for the core yarn.

I wind a 3 yard warp of 8 threads of something about the grist of 8/2 or 10/2 cotton. After threading it onto the loom at 24 epi (2 per dent in a 12 dent reed) in a plain weave I add two floating selvedges 2 inches either side of the 8 threads and weight these over the back of the loom.

The boa wefts are would together on a flat shuttle and the core yarn weft onto a boat shuttle. I measure about 32 yards of boa weft on my warping frame. This makes a boa about 60" to 80" long depending on the thickness of the yarns,

Weaving is started with 4 shots of the core yarn. This yarn always starts and ends each time on the same side of the warp to create the twist you see when it is finished. After 4 core shots one shot of the fancy weft is put in over the first floating selvedge and under the other one. Again 4 shots of core yarn, and one of the fancy wefts ending with 4 shots of core yarn.

The boa is cut off the loom with about 6 inches of wefts and warp at the end. These yarns are looped back and tied with what we called a hangman's knot when I was a kid. (there is probably a more politically correct name for this knot these days but I don't know what it is.)

Wrap around the neck or use as a belt."

Isn't that fab? Like I said, there are more pictures of boas done in different colourways in Margaret's Etsy shop. You should go check 'em out and see some of the amazing variety you can acheive with these babies, not to mention all the beautiful Swedish rag rugs she weaves! Her weaving and knitting can be purchased through her Etsy store, at Island Studios in Friday Harbor, at the Friday Harbor Farmers’ Market and at Roche Harbor during the summer.

Margaret also talks about weaving and life on Thousand Flower Farm on her blog.

. . .

And now for a bit of naggy stuff that I've been avoiding for a while but really can't put off any longer now that I've got guest scarves on der blog:

All the projects and photos you see on Scarfaday are copyright by their respective authors. Please, please, please be inspired by these projects and even try them for your own personal use and for gifts! I wouldn't be blogging about all this stuff if I didn't want to share, and I'm sure the same is true for everyone who's willing to share guest scarves with us. :) So please go right ahead and scarf-lift (to use Karen's word - hee hee!) these projects as long as it's for personal use or gifts.

However, just like projects in magazines, it's not okay to copy what you see on Scarfaday to sell or to exhibit. What counts as a "copy" is a very grey area, I know, but there have been some really good articles on the subject in Handwoven in recent years. If there's something you want to do and you're not sure whether or not it's too close to the original to be your own design, you can always write to the author of the post (write to me if you can't find contact info for him or her) and ask. :)

And, if something you see here inspires you to create something new and original that you are going to sell or exhibit, it'd be awfully nice if you gave a shout out to whoever posted the original project. :)

And finally, if you do decide to weave something copied from, based on, or inspired by something you've seen on Scarfaday, please send pics! I'd really love to see them and post them - either as their own guest scarfa or as addendums to the original project so we can see the relationship. :D

1 comment:

jackie said...

OH WHAT FUN!!!!! I WANT TO MAKE!!!! Too bad I have 3 warps that I just made up that need to be woven first!