Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas, God Jul og Godt Nytaar!, Happy New Year!

And it is the season of lights in trees, inside and out. Full fridges and sore belly skins which are stretched way too thin after too much eager tasting and chewing wonderful celebratory foods and treats.
My head is sorting out projects for next year, putting them on priority lists which will then 'be hung with care' in a very visible spot to keep me on track =-)
Started sorting out some of my piles today and it feels good.
Oh and sorting piles today could happen because ......... my celebration was last night and so that frees up this day to pure relaxation and blissful joy.

Merry Christmas Everyone,

and Happy New Year, this year 2009 will be done in about a week, where did time fly is what I would like to know.

Wishing everyone peace, health and days full of creativity and smiles galore for 2010 (hey did you notice how easy it is to type the numbers for 2010 - lots of fun on the horizon.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Paint/weave collaboration!

My sister, Henriette did 3 acrylic paintings for me some years ago. They measure 24cm x 30cm. They are not framed but the paint is covering even the sides of the frames.

The pieces are brilliantly vibrant and colourful and make me smile when my eyes rest upon them.

I had this inner urge to somehow frame these pieces, though a wooden frame just didn't seem to be the thing and they couldn't go 'under glass' which would subdue their visual zest and energy and my thoughts were aplenty and then ....... how about a woven frame?

The introduction of a textured frame to show off the brilliancy of the paintings was very enticing and the searching voice inside subsided and gave way to the voice which wonders about which yarns, colours, textures would be the necessary ones to really blend and pop with my sister's work.

On my tapestry loom at that point I was fortunate enough to have more warp still, from the last piece that I wove so getting started on the frame piece wasn't too time consuming. I just had to get it tied back to the bottom beam and start weaving.

As I got started the intent was to weave a tapestry which had holes in it where the paintings could slide in and look all natural.

This however didn't feel quite right since I didn't really know what would happen in the weaving and where in/on the weaving the paintings would go.

The hand-spun very orange, fairly thick yarns which a friend gave me several years previous to this day had initially been picked up at a yard sale, been in the friend's stash for years and now......
The yarn had finally ripened or my thoughts had ripened and it was time to execute an idea and go with the flow.

And this is what I did. I wove the piece in one solid piece, making use of the many different textures and thicknesses of the yarns available and with the subtle colour changes the piece wound its way along from start to finish.

The yarn was thick enough that when I cut the warp ends I could tie them in tight knots four and four and the piece holds together this way, the ends were sewn in on the back, approximately 1 inch up into the woven piece.

The finished piece on my wall is 94cm x 106cm.

I laid the finished piece on the floor and tried out different placements of the paintings to see what would have the desired effect, even though I couldn't have told you in specific words what it was that I was looking for.

My eyes know it when the 'PING' effect happens, the moment when your hands, head and eyes know that you don't have to change another thing right now.

The paintings were attached to the tapestry by using small paper clips which could slide into the weaving and the string at the back of the canvas could then loop over the paper clip, and voila, no sewing and not trauma to the tapestry, just happy paintings decorating and shining on top of an excitingly textured and colourful surface.

It was another journey where I had to follow the warp, the colour and the texture to where it felt good and right. Being able to trust your intuition in matters like these is such a blessing =-)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Flying Dutchman/Dane or big boys and their toys!

It really has been quite an inspiring and exciting fall, many new irons have been put in the fire, not only for me but also for my life partner Soren.
Danger lurks every where - or depending on how you define Danger, it could also just be adequate to use the word adventure =-)
One day Soren went in to look at boats on Kijiji - yes, Kijiji and he came back from behind his screen quite starry eyed and very eager.
I started doing a few breathing exercises, this was too much excitement for me.

On Thanksgiving weekend in October we drove up to visit with our son and then continued for about another 2 hours north east of Truro, On the coast close to Canso we found the civic number we were looking for, drove in and started to investigate and admire the beautiful Nordica 20 sailboat which Soren had an urgent need to get acquainted with.

One week later this contraption appeared in our driveway and I snug a 'first arrival at the house' photo from a bedroom window.
We weren't exactly buying the trailer as well, so the boat had to be lifted off the trailer and the cradle had to be moved to a safe place where the boat could overwinter without being too much in the wind. It weighs 3.500 lbs I think or thereabouts so it was not an option to call the neighbours in the area to ask for help for 'lift off'.
However Soren knows his phone book so he found a place where you can rent 'cranes' for 'little' lifting jobs like this.

At 2pm the enormous crane truck drove into our suddenly very tiny door yard!
I was standing at the top of the staircase to my studio, looking down onto and able to walk onto the top of this very sturdy piece of machinery which was going to do the hoisting, huffing and puffing of getting the Nordica 20 unloaded and placed in her spot.

It is kind of a case of big boys big toys and little boys little toys - and that I say because .... whilst showing off the catamaran which Soren had built some years ago to the now ex-owner of the Nordica 20, the men had found the old scooter which our son spent a summer or two on many years ago, 'racing' up over the fields and around the house, again and again and again.

The son of the ex-owner of the Nordica 20 was exactly the age where having one of those scooters means a whole lot and so....... since their weight bearing capacity had gone up considerably after the unloading of the boat ...... the scooter was strapped to the back of the pickup truck and everyone was happy as clams!
I wonder if the young man has gotten the oil out of his hands or hair yet from taking it apart and learning about its ins and outs.
Taking apart engines to get to know them is of utmost importance!

And now for playing with the engines - the crane was getting organized and buttons were being pushed!

Anticipation is rising and which one to pull on first - hm - the fact is, the boat had to be strapped in before any buttons could be touched and this happened with the help of a ladder and some mighty large chains covered in heavy fabric. Lots of agility and seriousness for the matter at hand was displayed.

Slowly the creature started doing something quite unnatural for her - really, she is a boat but suddenly she was flying - perhaps not at warp speed but she hung there, off the cradle mid air, and I am so happy we didn't ask the neighbours to come help us lift her off =-)

She is now covered with a big strong winter tent, metal loops embracing her shape and allowing for visitations without being impeded by weather conditions. Safe and 'warm' she awaits the coming of early summer when she will have another adventure with a hoisting crane and a trailer and my husband....... is visiting often and planning and scheming about where the sailing needs to take place next summer!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Glorious Cabbage!

A few years ago as I was cooking a Christmas supper - preparing pickled red cabbage which is a must with your pork roast with crispy top - I started to look more closely at the shapes and colours of the vegetables which I was cutting up.
Especially the red cabbage made me smile and bring the camera to the cutting board.
The beauty of this vegetable is almost gone by the time it has been boiled and spiced, but I took a look and enjoyed its magnificent crisp looks when it had been freshly sliced.
When I went to the Farmers' Market in Wolfville last Saturday and marveled at all the beautiful vegetables the farmers grow in this area my eyes fell upon the smaller cousin of the red cabbage.

This was a particularly beautiful cousin though which I hadn't seen before and so..... I had to bring it home.

Red/purple brusselsprouts.

The green ones are so beautiful and delicious and I was wondering what these rosy cheeked ones which shone in a colour that makes my face smile every day would taste like.

First though I had to take some more photos of the creature - and I observed it up close as best I could without bumping my nose on it!

On the very top is a beautiful crown, much resembling an ordinary red cabbage, but down along the rigid stem all the little gorgeous critters poke out their firm bodies.

In Danish the name for this kind of cabbage is Rose Cabbage - presumably because each little cabbage looks just like a rosebud - or at least that is my interpretation of the name. Rose Cabbage!

And here are all the little picked off rosebuds in a pile waiting for me to decide what to do with them next.

Interesting how the colour changes when you choose to photograph food or anything I suppose without your flash - now they are more red cabbage than purple cabbage.

Another 'experiment' was what came up before I could start the final preparation for the steamer - I cut a few buds in half lengthwise and cross wise and ....... this is what I saw
I am kind of torn as to whether I am seeing the angels of the season stretching their arms into the air or some shrimp-like creature which I cannot precisely name, intriguing it is!

And last but not least, in my wild appreciation of fresh foods of any kinds, here is a photo of a potluck dish I made for the last spinning meeting I went to. The beets are so .... inspiring, their white and red rings. Usually we only see the fully red beets but here I was very, very lucky and came home with delightful beauty for both eyes and tastebuds.

And now.... I am off to the looms, no, first the fridge I think, the danger of writing about food lurks in every delicious thought =-)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Revised class times!

Fall Weaving Classes 2009

For all the floor loom classes listed below we will go through the ‘science’ and fun of calculating the amounts of yarn needed for the chosen weaving project – making a warp, how to set up the loom (even if you have never approached a creature like that before) choosing pattern or plain weave. Classes are small, up to 5 persons only so sign up soon if you are interested in participating in a particular course. Pre-registration is always necessary.

Bring your own lunch. Tea/coffee/juice and a snack will be provided to keep the creative energy up.

Scarf, make it stripy or bumpy, textured or flat, up to you, fun!

$175 - 20 hours of focused learning( + $20 materials fee, all yarns from instructor's treasure chest)

Oct. 2, Friday 3-9pm, Oct. 3 Saturday 9am-4pm, Oct. 4 Sunday, 9am-4pm

Tea towel, colours and twills

$175 - 20 hours of focused learning( + $20 materials fee, all yarns from instructor's treasure chest)

Oct. 16, Friday 3pm-9pm, Oct. 17, Saturday, 9am-4pm, Oct. 18, Sunday, 9am-4pm

Placemats m's and o's (2 spots still available)

$175 - 20 hours of focused learning( + $20 materials fee, all yarns from instructor's treasure chest)

Nov. 6, Friday 3pm-9pm, Nov. 7, Saturday, 9am-4pm, Nov. 8, Sunday, 9am-4pm

Small tablerunner, overshot (2 spots still available)

$175 - 20 hours of focused learning( + $20 materials fee, all yarns from instructor's treasure chest)

Nov. 20, Friday 3pm-9pm, Nov. 21, Saturday, 9am-4pm, Nov. 22, Sunday, 9am-4pm

Pay-as-you-go hours in November and December

On Thursday Nov. 26 and Fri. Nov 27 and on Sunday Dec. 6, Monday Dec. 7,

Wonderous Woolerie Studio will be open from 9.30 am until 8.30 pm. I will be offering a special deal. Looms will be warped and ready for weaving in the studio, teatowels, scarves, tablerunners – all in neutral colours which can be spiffed up with your choice of funky weft, colour or texture.

You pay $22 per hour for the first three hours you choose to weave during these days and $18 pr hour for each hour after this. Weaving ideally happens in 3-5 hour parcels at a time.

Material fees will be calculated when you are done the project(s) you set out to do. If you have a particular wish for one of the three mentioned projects please book in advance so your particular loom will be warped and ready for you when you come to the studio.

I will be on hand to answer questions and give guidance if you should need it. Beginners are welcome. Again, I have up to five looms on the go at one time, so bring a friend and make it a special fun day for two or three or four of you, get twisted and warped, enjoy life!

Tapestry weaving

Tapestry weaving happens on a small portable wooden frame in the following classes:

We will go over the very basics of understanding how to build up a tapestry woven piece so it doesn't come apart. There are many tricks and tools of the trade in this course but we will stick with a wooden frame built by the instructor and a good dinner fork and of course there will be piles of yarns, colours and textures to work with. Frames can be taken home between classes so selfstudy is possible and encouraged. Once an initial sample piece has been finished to provide understanding of some important techniques students are encouraged to try out designs and ideas of their own and intructor will be ready to provide guidance and support along the way.

Tapestry weaving class, daytime (class is full)

$125 - 12 hours of focused learning (+$30 materials fee, includes weaving frame to keep and yarns necessary for project)

Nov. 18, Wednesday 9am-12am , Nov. 25, Wednesday 9am-12am

Dec. 2, Wednesday 9am-12am, Dec. 9, Wednesday9am-12am

Tapestry weaving class, evening (still a few spaces available)

$125 - 12 hours of focused learning (+$30 materials fee, includes weaving frame to keep and yarns necessary for project)

Nov. 18, Wednesday 6pm-9pm, Nov. 25, Wednesday 6pm-9pm

Dec. 2, Wednesday 6pm-9pm, Dec. 9, Wednesday 6pm-9pm

Looking forward to seeing you in one of these classes, it is a lot of fun, challenging, and a very worth while way of learning about an ancient art and a new potential passion! Pia

Pia Skaarer Nielsen

Wonderous Woolerie, Port Williams, NS

Thanks to the Wolfville Farmers' Market for this opportunity to showcase my studio on YouTube!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Visiting Super Weaver or was it Super Man???

I had a special visitor this summer. For three weeks I had the pleasure of spending just about every waking hour with my sweet nephew Emil. He came across from Scandinavia on an Iceland Air flight all by himself - it was magnificent.
What happens when having visitors coming from away one often tries really hard to cover all the most exciting opportunities and sights one can possibly think off sharing with the visitor - oh, and I was in luck.

For this young, smart, sporty and very smiley young man got all excited when I showed him my studio and asked him, if he wanted to try out a loom.
And so he learned how to behave with a loom in the house + of course all the fibre which comes with them.
A young student of mine had set up a loom months earlier and since her warp was so long and I had not had the chance to sit down and weave it off Emil got to tie it to the front apron again and then the fun could begin.

And it was fun! His thrill was great when he saw how to work the twill pattern which was on the loom, alternating between twill and tabby, trying out colours, lots of them. And he managed to weave a tablerunner for his mom, a pillow cover for his brother and I think one more piece on the cotton warp which he had tied on and tightened.

How to keep track of where he was was also an experience, and there were pieces of paper talking about sequence and place of stopping.

Now Emil was not tired or done with weaving after his cotton experience and so we discussed other weaving options for him and.... he decided to weave himself a poncho.
The grand thing about that is, that there are only 6 ends per inch and since his width was not to wide either, he quickly got his 6 meters of warp wound on the warping mill. First though he spent some time looking at colours, I brought the brightest and funnest colours out and ..... he went with very earthy hues, because, "Moster, these are really good colours for going to camp with the scouts in the summer, I will be the only one really warm and toasty at the camp fire at night" and he had the biggest smile of pleasure on his face.

He wove and wove, we listened to audio tapes - Oliver Twist was one of them - as we were both weaving along. He on his poncho and I had a shawl warp on another loom. We also listened to music, and when we needed it, a good break, walk with the dog or a snack was much in order.

In the end the 6 meter warp showed its last tail and Emil could unroll and start to untie the knots at the front apron - cutting it was no good, since his design required that he have fringes on the lower edge of the back.
Then he learned how to twist fringes, he got the piece fulled a little bit and ..... I sewed up the seams for him.

Voila, here he is, a little stunned at his great warped and woven adventure!

And also completely proud and delighted.
Maybe when he comes over next time we can do another project - by then of course he will be more than 11 years old, perhaps his colour sense has changed, perhaps not, perhaps he has had some other exciting thoughts on what he would also like to create. I shall be patient and wait and see.

It is just very delightful to get to share ones passion for fibre and the process of creation with a young person and the joy and strength a young person finds in him or herself when discovering that ..... he/she is fully capable of amazing things - in this case weaving - creating a piece of cloth which can be used for whatever they decide, well, that is in my eyes a thing to be very, very thankful for.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

This was the first weekend of teaching for me in a while and getting closer to the date I was getting really excited.
Four students had signed up - for a scarf weaving weekend - and all but one went home with a beautiful scarf, but .....

She wasn't left out in the cold, for she wove herself 3 teatowels by sticking to it and being very focused - most of the time =-)

And I bet you didn't know that you can actually wear teatowels, but you can - especially when they haven't yet been cut apart are are hot of the loom with everyone still attached to each other.

Kathleen hadn't ever woven before and as her work progressed she gasped at several things.
First, she didn't realize until her moments by the loom, how time consuming and involved one gets when creating a woven piece on a loom.
Second, she discovered how she could do twill patterns using more than just the two tabby treadles . Also it worked great for her to do double picks in each shed + in the end she wove her last little towel with a heavy multi-coloured crochet cotton. Her joy was great.

This student worked in woolen texture - fairly fine yarns, it was all set up at 12 ends per inch (epi) at first but when the boucle was really sticky and the handspun red single was hard to maneuver so we ended up changing the reed to a 6epi reed.
The fine yarn, a nice alpaca/wool blend went in at 2 to a dent for 12epi, but the boucle and the handspun single went in at 6epi, which left them with more breathing room and less chance of sticking to themselves.
For part of the weft Claudia used some of her own handspun wool from the flock of sheep she used to work with in Germany

She made alternating bands of grey handspun, seperated by two picks of red single handspun and another band of wool boucle yarn. It ended up looking very stylish and warm. We didn't have time to get it washed up and wetfinished, however, Claudia had woven before and knew where to go from here.

Claudia's daughter Birgit worked the brightest warp of all. It was all wool in very bright and bouncy colours. Birgit had never woven before but had taken to rug-hooking the previous weekend like a duck to water -

The sparkle in the colour choice of the warp was fun to watch as it was wound onto the warping mill and seeing it all stretched out on the loom didn't hurt the expression of joy in the least.
Ping effect in weaving is most desirable!

Birgit managed to do a few samplers as well, here is one, playing with treadling and seeing what will happen next.

Rolling off a very long, very bright and very warm woolen scarf, which Birgit was thrilled to have designed and woven - from scratch.
She has the right to say she knew this scarf when it was just a ball of wool!

Suzanne played with a mix of an acrylic novelty yarn, two-ply hand dyed wool and cotton chenille - going for optimum effect in texture when weaving is great fun.


Suzanne actually managed to do both a sampler and her warp was long enough to make a second scarf, quite different from the first one she wove. Proof that when you play with your weft yarns you can get fun, funky and amazing results and big smiles on people's faces.

And here they are, all the warped ones of last weekend, wearing their woven creations - hooked on doing more, or wiser in the knowledge that weaving not only takes time, it is also gratifying and brings lots and lots of happiness to the person involved in said activity.
Come visit my studio and take part in one of these most involved, focused and fun workshops =-)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A piece of work in progress!

In a previous post I promised to post something 'soon' about the third project which Viktoria and I launched into earlier this summer.
I had fully expected to write about it before now, but.... there are times when life just keeps running and finding writing spaces doesn't seem like a viable option.
In these early morning hours where my brain has reached back to the wonders which grabbed me when I started work on the AWAKENINGS project with my SEVEN group it is time to get impressions and thoughts on this project down, if not on paper, then at least on the screen.
AWAKENINGS – I awake to the morning sun on my blue bedroom wall every day. In the spring and summer the colours on the wall have a special intensity and pungency which makes my face smile and my day go well when I have had the time to observe the whole process before getting into gear and getting the day started.
Since I first set up Viktoria in my living-room 3 years ago I knew that one day I would be weaving some very fine cloth on her, fine as in light, delicate, with lots of ends per inch/centimeter.

The morning colours got my brain going on the silk which I had in long looped warp chains in the box of treasures for Viktoria and ..... the time had come to get some of these chains out.

The silk was a beautiful delicate eggshell, not exactly the colour of the morning light I had been enjoying so much. That however could be fixed since I was in possession of 4 little jars of fabric dye of Japanese descent which a friend's husband had found in the dump one day when he was doing a job delivery of garbage. This man has magnificent eyes for finding valuables where ever he goes and thus brought home several boxes of these dye powder jars to his beloved fuzzy (woolly) wife, who of course went straight to the basement to explore the usability of said powder for dyeing her favorite wools and other fibres.
I was fortunate to be there during one of those dye experiments and was given the 4 little jars which I had taken home and dutifully moved around, without loosing them – miracle of miracles!
When I decided to weave the panels for a shoji screen or a dress screen with the silk which Viktoria had been dressed in when she first moved to my house I also knew that using these dyes or at least trying them out on the silk would be step #1 in the whole process.
And so on a beautiful sunny day I made up several smallish skeins of silk, put them in warm synthrapol water and got the dyes and the newspaper coverings for the kitchen table organized and the water heated up.

It was a very methodical process, I had to get both the old yogurt containers out, the Q-tips and the jar of citric acid. The kettle was filled and plugged in to provide ample amounts of hot water.
It was fun and exciting and very gratifying to see the intense colours which appeared on the pale silk when it was immersed in the boiling hot water in the yogurt containers. I was pleased and decided on the blue and one of the fuchsia dyes.
Next it was time for the whole 16meter silk chain to soak in water and Synthrapol and I was frowning whilst figuring out how to hold the chain looped over a boom handle above the pot on the stove for the length it would take for the dyes to be absorbed into the silk. It took more than two seconds and in the end I had a big grin on my face, not a frown, I remembered an old pant hanger in the closet which would be the absolutely right thing for this fab project. I emptied it from pants and brought it down to measure it across the dyepot. It was a perfect fit.

Then the wet chain was looped back and forth across the hanger and the pot was filled with fuchsia dye and boiling water right up to the half point on the warp chain. I placed the hanger with the loops across the top of steaming pot and .... within a very short period of time all dye had been set in the chain and I was tickled pink.

I took the chain and pot outside to cool off a bit and when I could handle the fibre I turned all the pink parts up to hang across the hanger and the white parts which were previously up were now down and could be immersed in the blue dye when I once again placed the hanger across the top of the dyepot.

I was immensely excited, this was so...... exciting, I was fully awake and very, very happy.
Along the way I realized that due to the density of the chain the dye hadn't penetrated all the way to the center of the chain. For a few seconds I was worrying about it, but then I decided that it was part of the awakening and so I let it go.

The chain was rinsed in clean water and then I unchained the whole 16 meters and hung it in the shade over the laundry line to air dry for the rest of the day. Hanging there it looked positively blotchy and once again I had to close my eyes and just trust that it would work out fine.

Then Viktoria had to be dressed with her new silk gown, I applied the trapeze method which I had learned at Vavstuga in June with great success.

Rolled it on with my own two hands, slowly but surely and my eyes were celebrating the sensations of looking at waves of aurora borealis moving across the warp as it got rolled on. Suddenly the blotches from the drying warp chain was changed into something much more beautiful and organic.

When the weaving finally started and the little eyes turned up in the pattern like I had hoped they would I was over the moon with joy and although it takes a very long time to weave with fine silk at 45 epi I had the chance to listen to several books while weaving and watching the panels unfold.

A two meter sample was the first piece to come off and get washed and pressed – this made me realize that it was time for me to employ the tricks I had learned years earlier from Laura Fry when we were fortunate enough to have her come to teach several workshops here in the Maritimes. Laura Fry wrote her very excellent thesis on wet finishing fabrics which really, really is very, very important.

First though I had to weave the other 4 panels of 2 meters to cover each of the four sections on the oak shoji frame which I was working on in my head and my husband was working on in the barn.

Cold mangling is one way of finishing fine fibres like linen, cotton or silk this meant I needed to get hold of a marble rolling pin and a big marble slap. The rolling pins I finally found with the help from a good friend with sharp eyes and the slap of marble was at a good fibre and writer friend's house ( ) . This meant that I had to get organized to go down and do an overnight – one cannot possibly cold mangle 8 meters of cloth and drive 200km in a day. Naps, food and good company all need to be enjoyed without rushing around.

Elly's house got turned slightly upside down when I entered, used her bathtub for washing and her towels for pressing most of the water out of the panels, her marble slab was moved by the two strong women in the house to the top of the dining table

and then .... I was on a roll for a while, both in the afternoon and the next morning for a second spree, bit by bit and little by little the silk got shinier and shinier and my delight and amazement grew.

Well returned to my own green pastures it was time to apply my seamstressy skills which had been fairly dormant for several years. I did however manage to hem all four pieces and even added a little something along the hems on one side. Some freshwater beads and little pieces of rose-quarts seemed to be the right choice to decorate the screen.
And then it all came together and finally I could bring the whole creature down to the Gallery where it is exhibited amongst all the other AWAKENINGS pieces which the SEVEN group has created this time around. The Exhibit is up at the Harvest Gallery in Wolfville until Oct. 18th.
Oh, I am off to get warped!