We learned Mary’s ikat weft dyeing technique and made manageable 12″ wide pieces. While the dye-resist wrapping took us a couple of hours, Mary and her assistants might wrap for seven days when making huge pieces. Our resulting bundles of yarn were the size of a thin skein; Mary showed photos at her lecture of giant octopus-sized bundles ready for the dye bath. When we warped our looms, pulling the linen threads tight took a blink. Mary said that tying a ten-foot wide warp can be murder on your fingers. “Linen is like a fine grade of sandpaper,” she said. She wraps surgical tape on her fingers to avoid blisters that can get infected with little linen fibers. Ouch.
The final day could have been devoted just to weaving, but I chose to use Mary’s ikat boards and tape to prepare a band of squares to top a planned rya in shades of indigo.
Mary spent time on Sunday discussing finishing techniques and professionalism in packaging and presenting your work. She honed her finishing techniques early in her career, when she spent two years in Northfield, Minnesota, working for liturgical weaver Joyce Harter. Eight people from around the country wove for Joyce, including one who was so evidently a chain smoker.
Those of us who live locally were lucky enough to be able to finish up after the workshop. When I returned on Tuesday to finish weaving, Katherine Buenger was finishing her piece, too. It will likely become a pillow.
I finished mine, and today I finished the edges. Should the X be up, or the oval? Perhaps it will be a pillow too, and then it won’t matter. I look forward to the last step, which Mary emphasized as so crucial–steaming. “The second one is the transformative one,” she said, and many more, up to ten, will make the hand of the textile like butter. I’ll see!