Knotted Pile with Sara Lamb

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So one of the things we arranged our trip around was a class I wanted to take with the fantastic Sara Lamb. The subject was knotted pile weaving, which for the layperson means rugs.

But we used small rigid heddle looms and made tiny pieces for bags. For one thing, a much more manageable size for a class, and for another, wow, you can do a lot with one technique.

The class was held at the fantastic and awesome Spinning Loft, in Howell, Michigan. I recommend this store unequivocally. Not only was the class managed very nicely (Beth arranged a terrific lunch both afternoons, and coffee in the morning, plus all the wool you could sniff while she had her back turned), but the store is crammed with the usual goodies like wheels and prepped fiber, but also the exceptional, like an entire room full of fleeces. Worth a visit for sure. While you're in town, sign up for a class. There's a 24-hour donuts and ice cream place across the street. Can you beat that?

So, um, back to class. I'm going to refrain from trying to ID everybody in every picture, but that's Abby Franquemont's ear in this one. This is Sara showing us how to do soumak, which is a twining technique. I absolutely must make better use of that than this silly little bag project.

Sara shows us how to get started

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We started out by doing a sampler. I had lots of colours of yarn to work with, and I was very pleased with how my sampler turned out. It would have been even better if I had used a heddle with more dents per inch, but that didn't work out. C'est la vie.

Knotted pile sample

As you can see, the knots go around two threads. You wrap the loose end of your yarn through the two threads, out the side and back over the top, then back through the threads, then you trim it. When you're finished with the piece you trim the whole thing flush.

Each row of knots is secured by what I think of as two swipes of the weft thread: back and forth. You also work the selvedge as you go, to make a nice secure piece of fabric.

Design work

After a day of making the sampler, I sat down that night and worked out a simple design for my bag, drawn with coloured pencils on graph paper. Very architectural and precise of me, though of course I almost instantly messed it up when I started weaving.

Knotted sample

But by the end of the day on Sunday, I had a piece I was pretty happy with. And fortunately, I have Sara's book so I can finish it off.

Beth did finish her piece in the weekend, but she cheated because she'd started hers years ago -- decades, perhaps (one of the myths fiber arts hobbyists have is that people like Beth basically get to play all day). But it was lovely, a little tiny piece that says "Spin" with a spindle for the I. We stood around giggling over it when she brought it out of the finishing wash.

Giggling over Beth's finished piece

That's Beth's extremely capable daughter/assistant Chelsea in the background, surveying the damage we had done to the carpet. She was going to get to clean up after us.

By the end of the weekend, the floor under each of us looked like this:

Denny's snippets

At the retreat with Judith MacKenzie McCuin, we talked about how useful it would be to have a simple sheet to drop on the floor under your wheel to control fiber. It would be incredibly useful for knotted pile, as well, if you are foolish enough to have carpet in your work room.

And OK, I said I wasn't going to go overboard with IDing people, but one of the things that makes classes great is the people, and this was an awesome class because all the people were wonderful, even the shy, quiet people who worked silently beside me not doing any yelling or getting in trouble and therefore finishing their piece by the end of class.

For example, we all got to see the tougher side of Sandi Wiseheart, as she shows us her mom face.

Sandi Wiseheart gives us the smackdown

And we got to see the giddy side, too, because she bought this fine new Schacht Matchless (which I helped her carry out to her car, so it has my cooties on it).

Sandi and her new wheel

On Sunday night, after class was over, we went to a hibachi restaurant (which turned out to be great fun), where I got to see Rachel work her Older Woman skillz on Beth's hockey-obsessed son.

Rachel and her younger man

More people than expected decided to stay for dinner, so we had to wait a long time for a table and then more time for our guy to come cook for us. Everybody was hungry and cranky.

We're all starving and want hibachi

Japanese soft drinks in funky flavours helped ease the suffering.


Then it was back to the hotel for Noel and me, to pack up the car (we planned a relatively early start the next day, which we ended up not getting off to, but good enough).

And yes, this was not exactly a day after the last post, but it's been several days of extremely iffy net connections, so I figured my vast readership (hi, Mommy!) could cope.


Thank you so much for coming and helping keep the Abbster in line. It was a great class!

Hmph, there's at least two of us :)

I stopped taking classes altogether because I got so annoyed at people who didn't pay attention, or who ignored the teacher, or made a loud fuss, and/or took over the class. I'll live vicariously through what looks like a very interesting class.

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This page contains a single entry by Ayse published on March 31, 2010 10:12 PM.

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