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Wooly Ice Cream: Weaving Notes

I know I have a few weaving friends who care about the weaving process, and partly to document it for myself, here is a bit about how “Wooly Ice Cream” came to be.

I was asked to participate in the upcoming exhibit at the Textile Center of Minnesota, “Artists in the Kitchen: 50 works of art by women artists inspired by 50 women chefs & restaurateurs.” Read more about my inspiration business collaborator, Ashlee Olds, in “Two Great Things in Life: Deadlines and Ice Cream.”

Back from the course I taught at North House in February, I was under the gun! At first I thought I needed a really big piece, and pulled out all of my Swedish heavy singles yarn. Unfortunately I no longer had substantial amounts of any one color to work as an anchor, just a mass of skeins of slightly different colors (this may be my next rug challenge). I then took out my stash of Rauma prydvev yarn, along with any similar yarn; this included Rauma billedvev yarn, and Norwegian Hoelfelt Lund Kunst yarn. Now the resulting piece would be less heavy-weight, and not so large, because there are only so many weaving hours in a day.


I sorted the yarn and thought about the colors I would use, and which skeins I would have to order, ASAP, from Blue Heron Knittery in Decorah, Iowa.  I decided to use my favorite gold and green as anchor background colors, and ordered a bit more of the green I needed.  (Think of the old days: shear sheep, spin wool, and dye it.  New days:  call on phone, wait for the mail–almost instant!)

I spent a day sampling. I don’t like to beat hard to make the weft cover the warp completely, and I was using a fairly heavy linen warp, so I ended up switching from 8 epi to 7.5 by switching out the reed. I decided that I liked using loops for the ice cream texture rather than soumak. I realized that I had to weave five shots for each tiny square of the ice cream cones, or the cones would be even more squat than they ultimately turned out. One thing I like to do when sampling is to use whatever colors are around and on spools (unless you are sampling for color, of course), because then it is satisfying when it looks so much better when you actually begin the piece.

After weaving a band of zig-zag krokbragd, I wove a row of female figures referencing the conference celebrating women chefs and restauranteurs.

Can you find the similar symbols in these medieval Norwegian billedvev pillow covers? I remembered that this symbol is a female or goddess symbol, but when I couldn’t find that documentation easily at hand, I checked with Annemor Sundbø, who agreed it was a female figure and could also be a tree of life symbol.

A Russian Instagram friend sent a link to a photo of a similar symbol in Russian embroidery. I plan to do more with this symbol in the future; some research, some weaving.

The next band of krokbragd was a bit broader, and then I moved into the ice cream cones.  I planned to make them various flavors of Ashlee’s ice cream, and even picked out the colors I would add to each cone.  With forming the loops over a stick after every shot, it was going to be too time-consuming to add the colors while weaving, so I planned to needle in the flavor colors later. However, after weaving the white cones I decided that adding colored areas would lessen the graphic punch of the cones. No berry crumble!

After the cones came one more broad krokbragd band; I love the look of the field of stars.

I added a row of stars, traditional symbols of good luck and prosperity, which in this inspiration piece means a hope for a successful business venture when Sweet Science Ice Cream opens in a free-standing shop in St. Paul this summer. I wasn’t so happy with the proportions of the stars, but didn’t have time to rip them out and come up with a better plan.

After the stars, I unrolled it from the front beam (I know, you’re not supposed to to that; it might mess up the tension) to look at the full piece and decide what was needed at the very top for balance. After weaving a narrow krokbragd band, off the loom. Whew.

It curled a bit on both ends.  On the bottom, it turned out that I didn’t like the first band I wove, so I turned it over as a hem and it was flat and fine.  The top curled even more, but when I added a fabric band an velcro for hanging, it was flat and fine, too.

Finally, ready to hang, in time to deliver for the show and to leave for a great trip to Paris.

View from our room!










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