Marc Smollin Designs

Living a Making

Month: July, 2014

One For the Road

IMG_5161When I woke up yesterday morning, I realized that it was only 24 hours until my one-week trip with Andy to Rome and Naples!  However, the day before I had warped a two-meter piece on the Kromski, and I knew I just couldn’t possibly enjoy a vacation knowing there was unfinished work on the loom.

Still, I had to run a lot of errands — so it wasn’t until 6pm that I finally had a chance to sit down, thread, and start weaving.  We watched “Muriel’s Wedding” and episodes of “Drawn Together” while I wove non-stop.  By 2:30am this morning, the piece was finished, blocked, and drying.

IMG_5157For the warp, I used Dibadu Funnies.  It’s a great yarn for the warp, actually, because it’s really slippery, so you don’t have to deal with unsticking your warp threads ever.  This meant that I could work faster than I have been able to on other pieces.

For the weft, I used a high-twist handspun that I made last year.  And this is really where the problem with this piece comes in.  I was using the two-float warp texture again to attempt to create some sections with Xes in them.  I discovered the following things:

1. A high-twist, handspun (and therefore somewhat inconsistent-in-thickness) yarn will not lay comfortably in the weave.  This, in and of itself, is a kind of limiting texture, in that additional layers of texture tend to get lost in the overall picture. 

2. While diamonds and diagonals look great as a warp-based float, crosses do not.  They look much more pleasing to the eye as weft-based.

3. When I finally accepted that Xes were just not going to happen, everything became much easier and looked better. 

IMG_5166I managed to capture some nice pictures of the piece, and I particularly love the second half of it (when I finally gave up on the double-texture).  However, this was much more of a learning-how-to-deal-with-yarn-and-not-rushing moment than a showing-off-my-design-skills one. 

IMG_5149IMG_5165When I return from Italy I hope to be refreshed and ready for another round of obsessive weaving.  Until then…

Birthday Selfies/ I Made A Hat

IMG_5116Today is my birthday.  It’s been a thunderstormy day here in Berlin, and I didn’t feel like warping this morning.  Instead, I played with some of my fabric and turned it into a cap.  It’s pretty much the sloppiest thing I’ve ever made, but I wanted to know the form and shape of a baseball hat, and now I know it!


I used a 60cm x 60cm piece of handwoven fabric, and another 50cm x 50cm piece of cotton muslin.  The bowl of the hat is made of six double-thick triangles sewn together.  The brim is made with a cut piece of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal box wrapped in more of my handwoven fabric. 

The depth of the hat ended up a bit short, so I would probably make the triangles a little longer.  I would also use an overlock sewing machine instead of a needle and thread!  Hahaha…


Anyway, it is functional and charming, and it is my birthday gift to myself on this rainy birthday, so I thought I’d share it with you.


Diagonals ‘n Arrowheads

My moment of weaving obsessively continues, and I completed two more pieces since my last blog!  Each piece gets bigger (I’m up to about 300 threads in a 70cm-wide piece), and I’ve started honing in on a specific warp-based texture.


First came Diagonals.  I imagined a piece that was a series of diagonal warp-facing floats of different lengths.  The texture worked out great — it’s kind of like a twill, except “zoomed in.”  The warp is a multi-color Tosh sock yarn  that I picked up in Oregon at an awesome yarn shop called Twisted.  The weft is a solid brown Wollmeise, with a touch of Kito yellow alpaca thrown in at the end.



Next was Arrowheads.  The result of knitting top-down with short rows in stripes (a la Pterotactyl) is a series of Arrowheads.  I wanted to try and re-create this idea in a woven fabric.  So I employed the same two-thread warp float, only moving them away from each other every 4 rows.  The result is spectacular!


Again, the warp is made of two different multi-color Wollmeises, and the weft is a Blue Moon merino in dark green that is an good contrast.


In conclusion, weaving seems far superior than knitting right now.  A good-size knit shawl is usually around 1,200 yards of yarn, and it takes between 5 to 10 days to knit.  To weave the same size and quantity piece will only take between 1 to 2 days.  And this is just rigid-heddle weaving!  Imagine the possibilities with a 4-, 8-, or even 16-shaft loom!

So for now it’s multi-color warps, single-color contrast wefts, and discovering the range of texture possibilities within the rigid-heddle context.  Check back for the results!


I’m Still Here … Weaving

It’s been a while since my last post, and I haven’t done much knitting at all!  Instead, I’ve been spending almost every waking hour at the Kromski loom, weaving rigid-heddle style.  When it’s time for bed, I can’t fall asleep because I’m planning my next warp or thinking about pick-up-stick designs.


Thanks to my best friend, Sabine, I got to go to the Berlin Textile Art fair this past weekend.  There was some incredible weaving there and a lot of inspiration.  When I came back home, I started warping the biggest pieces to date (60 cm in width, 200 cm in length). 


Here are some of the pictures from the past week of weaving.  I hope you enjoy seeing them as much as I enjoyed weaving them! [See more at my Ravelry page!]