Sprang at the Textile Center

I like taking classes and learning new techniques. I enjoy the process of learning, and I’ve tried various things over the years. This time, I tried sprang, a technique that has been used throughout much of the world and dates back to at least the Bronze Age.

The Weavers Guild of Minnesota offers a series of Try It! classes, and sprang was my second time learning a technique through this kind of survey class with them. The class was taught by Karen Searle, a local fiber artist particularly known for her figurative crochet, and with an excellent teaching reputation.

Sprang is an odd thing. You work in the middle, and the weaving (and any ensuing mistake) then happens at both ends. You can use your fingers, which is what I did, or an extra thin stick – which is what is needed at the middle when there isn’t enough room for fingers. Also, anything wider than your hand wouldn’t really work without a stick, I think.

What’s needed to weave sprang is an adjustable bar to hold tension at each end, and four smaller dowel-type things to hold the weaving in place. This is a frame for a canvas, with cotton twine to hold the end bars, and two pairs of knitting needles. The wooden ones are much better than metal or plastic, which can slide out. I broke a pair of plastic ones; this is under tension. As it looks now, it appears to be a warp-faced weave.

When you’re done, you take it off the loom and use some method to keep it all from unraveling. Chain stitching it works, or you could weave with some extra thread. This is linen.


Folded at the center chain, and the sides laced together into a pouch, with the twine through the end loops created by the rods of the loom.

Spread open. The standard weave is the top part of the pouch, changing directions is the variation in the middle. The lower left? A mistake. At this point, I’ve taken it back a couple of times, and I don’t expect to use it, but keep it as a sample piece (along with the actual sample with variations that I made in class). I saw the mistake a couple rows past, and decided to leave it.

I’m going to continue to explore new techniques, just for fun. One in the Try It! series I hope to schedule sometime is spindle spinning. I have three spindles and some roving in my stash, waiting for me. I would definitely take another class from Karen, she was a great teacher.


A gift for a friend – it has been opened and I can share. This is mostly cotton, some rayon, a little superwash wool. It could be a shawl, or it could be cut up and made into something. I’ve got some single strands of heavier weight yarn inlays, a little bit of clasped weft work, a wandering warp of gold, and some log cabin. Each warp and weft is two strands to make a denser fabric, except for the gold which is a heavier yarn.

Next on the loom might be something for me. Or it will be another planned gift, I haven’t yet decided.

Occasional beadwork project: fossil coral cab

Taken in the sunshine, which isn’t the best for showing the beads or for accurate color – but shows the cab well – is an occasional beading project sitting on my work table. It’s fossilized coral, and the large beads are carnelian. I don’t think I’m going to do much more around the cab, but finish the row I’m doing of the 15s, and trim and back, with an accent hanging off the bottom tip. I think I’d like to do the necklace part with some interesting structure, and not just stringing.

Julie Powell in Ornament Magazine

Ornament is a lovely magazine. Subtitled the “Art and Craft of Personal Adornment,” it really is. The current issue has a feature article on Julie Powell and her beadwork, and is fully available online. Powell’s work was the inspiration for my recent multi-strand herringbone necklace. Enjoy!


I realized I forgot to blog this, a gift I made in July.

It’s a mixture of mostly mohair and mohair blends, wool, and cotton. This was my first foray into mohair, and it was a bit of a challenge. I thought I was being smart by bracketing each mohair warp with a slick cotton warp (or at least not two mohair together), but that just wasn’t good enough to make it easy. When I crossed the warp, they stuck together with great familiarity.

Off the loom, pre-washing, you can see the variety in the warp – something like two cottons, three mohairs, and the gold wool. The weft was just two different mohairs, the lighter and darker grey.

I made this as a gift, finishing it at 1pm for an evening wedding. I hand washed it, and then draped it over an air conditioning vent with an additional fan.

A light open weave, it dried with hours to spare.

SAORI Six is on the loom. NO mohair. (But I have a mohair boucle with gigantic loops that emulates Persian lamb. When I feel like a challenge again, I’m going for it.)

Ubuhle Women: Beadwork and the Art of Independence

Now at the Dayton Institute of Art are grand, elaborate, beaded tapestries made by Xhosa (and one Zulu) women from rural South Africa, “Ubuhle Women: Beadwork and the Art of Independence.” Ubuhle means “beauty” in the Xhosa and Zulu languages. In the article on Dayton Local, Amy Dallis writes that the beadwork is contemporary in style, and covers contemporary issues such as HIV/AIDS as well as the universal themes of family, community, and hope. The largest of the 31 tapestries is 15 feet high, and seven women worked for a year to complete it. I wrote about this exhibition earlier, during it’s inaugural showing at the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum, and now it’s on tour.

This touring exhibition is in Ohio through September 10th. The tour is being managed by International Arts & Artists, and tour dates so far include the Flint Institute of Arts; the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (a lovely museum, I’ve been there); the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk; and the Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts, Melbourne, FL. I’ll see it when it gets to Iowa next summer.

Meet Nosey

I took a dimensional needle felting class at the public library, taught by Marlene, a teacher from the Textile Center. Here’s the progression, first body-head-nose:

Front legs and shoulders.

Out of time at the class, now working later at home to assemble most of the rest:

Next to a more realistic panda, I see that this one has quite the nose. Much needle felting of the nose commences, to try to bring it more into line. Now, ears!



Still on the nosey side!