Sunday, July 11, 2010

Dyeing the windows!

Ok, so I had this long plan in my head with specific and precise information and a gizilion photos of steaming dyepots with different wools in mind ..... but perhaps I had better look at my timerestraints, for they truly do exist these days and only do one of the dye explanations before I put up the tapestry.
 The thing is ..... when I weave tapestry I like to see what the yarn wants to happen rather than being in full control of every square millimeter. As you saw on the previous post in the water colour painting the window panes, reflecting the drawn curtains inside my window did have a rather intriguing and fluent colour motion in them. This worried me a lot and I was trying to combine my knowledge of both this and that into something that would make sense in the decision making of how I wanted the windowframes to look  and 'feel'.

Then suddenly what sprang into my mind was a sock yarn dye workshop which I once took from my good friend Marilyn Rand (who is bringing her fabulous silk fusion pictures, sculpture and some felted pieces to Denmark with me and the rest of SEVEN) Marilyn's workshop was on how to dye yarns yourself so you automatically knit a pattern in your socks without having 4 balls of yarn hanging out from behind 5 different needles. And then I knew .....
 I have two hooks above my kitchen door from which I hang, ..... well stuff, they are a door width apart. In the living room I have two nails over the wide glasdoors into the tv-room, where usually the christmas tree lights hang to decorate the entry way in the dark season and thus I had all the tools needed for making a 29 feet skein of yarn.
I only wound about 20 rounds of 29 feet, for I had to do several skeins to be sure that I had what I wanted. I sectioned off the skein and folded the 'ends' of each section towards each other until I had almost an octopus. I had 12 or 16 arms on each octopus.
These creatures I died very yellow and once that had happened I picked out my sections to over dye with red and which sections to over dye with burgundy. I left every other 'arm'  yellow since I knew that I wanted a yellow background with the red and burgundy being .... whatever they wanted to be, I hadn't quite seen it yet.

By dyeing the yarn like this I was able to put aside some of the responsibility of how these windows were supposed to look - since I would have to go with the flow of the yarn, always making sure that the yellow was the background and would cover each shape satisfactorily to separate them all from each other.

All the red squares are very square and straight to weave but the window panes were very wavy and never on a straight horizontal line. It was fun to work with two such different images in the same piece. I also had to use the beating fork extensively when I wove the whole piece with the windows in it since there were no straight lines, as opposed to the bottom part, where the wall is all red and by evenly traveling back and forth across the piece, using the beater is a grand way to keep yourself on the straight and narrow.

Every once in a while I had to move the tapestry down and roll it onto the bottom beam in order not to hurt my arms and back from reaching up + to make more room in the shed where I need to lay in the weft threads. Before each move down though I also had to get to the back of the loom to tug into safety all the little ends which appear when you tapestry weave, since one is not able to use a large shuttle as we normally do on the big floor looms. I work with nice little very handy butterflies which slide through easily.

And here we are the grand finale, I have braided under the linen warp threads so they make a nice edge and hold the tapestry together at the same time and the wide bias tape will be sewed on to the top and the bottom of the piece, so I can slide rods through them in order to hang and display the piece nicely.

In my next life I will take a photography class so I can learn how to take photos nicely and properly of my work. This is the finished tapestry hanging from two of the aforementioned hooks which helped me wind the 29 feet long skeins of yarn for the window panes. The piece is done, along with its green sibling it is ready to head to Denmark in just a couple of weeks from now and will be shown to ...... anyone who would care to come to Basal Elin Kunst or to Kerteminde  to rest their eyes upon it for a little while and feel  ..... exactly whatever it is that it will make the viewer feel or experience. This is my outside house wall, hope it can stir some of the same happy feelings for other people as it does for me, when I walk out to the sheep and see it, or watch the guinea cock and his little black hen meander by through these windows. They have seen a lot!
The piece measures 117cm x 95 cm it is called Red Wall, and was woven for the exhibit Exchange/Udveksling 2010 in Copenhagen, Hørsholm and Kerteminde, Denmark


  1. Wonderful! i love the colours. I am a bit confused about how you used the multi-coloured yarn you dyed. When a red or burgundy came along did you weave a blip, and then weave yellow around as you continued?

  2. yes, that is it, the blip happened when I got to a red/burgundy piece, and the I judged by the length of it how wide I should make the bottom of said blip made the shape and worked the yellow around the blip to separate it from the next blip, often the yellows were a little longer than the red/burgundy pieces. It was fun =-)