Friday, March 20, 2015

My Fibery Year, Part the Third, in Which We Weave More Tartan!

I did promise some more tartan, didn't I?  Here are some photos from the Tartan Weaving class I taught in September 2014 at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC.  Here we see the intrepid students, pausing en route to lunch.

Before the class began, we communicated by email and each student chose a tartan pattern for their project.  The sequence of different colored threads for a tartan warp is called a sett.  We used The Scottish Register of Tartans website to locate and identify the specific tartans.  This is a very useful tool for finding and sharing tartan designs and setts.  Anyone can search the registry website or you can join to have access to thread counts, notification of new tartans as they are registered or to register your own tartan design.  When I first started teaching tartan weaving I would mail color copies of tartans from a particular book, but now students have thousands of tartans to choose from.

For the class, each student planned a scarf using a fine yarn set at 30 ends per inch - three students used Jaggerspun Superfine Merino 2/18 and one student opted to go with the Jaggerspun Zephyr 2/18 which is 50% wool and 50% silk.

Here are the warps in the process of being wound on warping boards. I teach my students to wind their warps with 4 or more threads at a time, using a spool rack to hold the spools of yarn.  I love to see the clear colors of the warp threads, side by side on the board.

Here they are on the loom - clockwise from the top left these tartans are MacPherson, Burns, Royal Stewart and WRNS (Womens Royal Naval Services Association).

And here we all are on Friday afternoon with three of the scarves off the loom - Royal Stewart was still in process.  I am sporting my most toothsome grin - this reminds me of the line in John McCutcheon's song, Kindergarten Wall - one of the things you are supposed to learn in Kindergarten is "how to smile for a picture without looking like a dope".  I guess I was absent for that lesson!

Kit, Norman Kennedy, Nancy & Liz

This class took place during Scottish Week at the Folk School and we were very fortunate to have Norman Kennedy in residence that week as a cultural commentator.  Norman is originally from Aberdeen, Scotland and was my first weaving teacher in 1980.  One of the phrases we coined during this week of class was What Would Norman Do - thus the acronym on the white board in our class photo - WWND?  One of the students also started a list of Oh My God (OMG) moments.  We had a lot of fun together!

Once I got my students busily working, I wound a warp for a pair of small tartan blankets in a variation on one of the tartans that appears in the Outlander mini-series.  I wove this on one of the big Swedish countermarche looms and by spending several evenings weaving I had my blankets woven and off the loom by Friday morning.  I basted this long warp together at the ends into a big loop and finished the cloth with a waulking at the Waterford Fair in October 2014.

Here is a collage of the tartans woven during our week of class.  If you are interested in having a tartan sett prepared and/or purchasing a yarn kit for a small blanket, a scarf or a dance stole, leave me a message in the comment section.  (To protect your privacy, I will not publish your comment if it contains an email address.)

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