Category Archives: VavStuga

Drawloom Weavings at VavStuga

This post is of photos of drawloom or double harness weavings, all but two taken during the Sept. 17-21, 2012 Drawloom Basics class I attended at VavStuga.  These photos are posted here with the knowledge and permission of VavStuga, and my thanks to them for sharing these and so many more examples with their students, and allowing me to share a few of them here.

Opphamta weaving.

Shaft draw weaving.

Shaft draw blanket.

Shaft draw blanket.

Single unit weaving.

Smalandsvav coverlet with sheepskin backing, woven by Becky Ashenden.

Becky’s coverlet, larger view (photo taken Nov. 2011).

Smalandsvav coverlet, by Susan Z. Conover, quilted, with handwoven band trim.

Susan’s coverlet, prior to finishing, with reverse side shown on the right.  (Photo taken Nov. 2011)

Smalandsvav coverlet by VavStuga apprentice Terry Slagel, Sept. 2012.

Smalandsvav weaving.

Smalandsvav weaving.

Smalandsvav weaving.

Smalandsvav weaving.

We were shown so many other examples of double harness weavings, and I wish I had photos of all of them.  (Any errors in identifying the types of weaving shown here are mine.)  So, now it’s time to learn more and begin weaving my own.

Drawloom Basics Class, Part 2 of 3

Smalandsvav sample.

My next weaving experience that week was Smalandsvav.  We had gone over basic design possibilities, and with that sheet in hand, and a bobbin with two shuttles, I decided to weave two colors at once.  It must come from my using three colors when cranking socks? 

Smalandsvav is a double harness weave.

Smalandsvav is not woven on a drawloom but is a double harness weave, requiring two sets of shafts.  The above photo was taken to help me with setting up a loom at home when I weave this at home.

Small extension added to the loom.

Smalandsvav was set up on an Glimakra Ideal loom with a short extension added to help with achieving the shed.  A double-bobbin shuttle was used.

Cattail design being woven on a shaft draw system.

For weaving on the shaft draw system, also set up on a Glimakra Ideal, I chose a design of cattails.  What I did not realize (and still need to understand) was there was an “x shaft” in the design.  Though I worked from the center of the design when pulling the cords, you can see there are “double” cattails in the photo above that should be single.  I need to get “Damask and Opphamta” out to read and understand what was going on here.

Loom with shaft draw system.

Shaft draw systems are for weaving designs that repeat across the width of the fabric.  (The opphamta attachment also produces designs that repeat.)

A better view of the weaving, nearly completed.

My last weaving was on a loom with the Myrehed single unit draw.  With that setup, you can do freeform designs, though the design I had chosen (the first day of class) was a balanced design, with border I added. 

Drawcords are in front of weaver instead of overhead.

This loom had the newer Myrehed single unit attachment with drawcords coming down in front of the weaver, instead of the older style single unit drawloom with drawcord warp overhead (as in the single unit with lashes in the previous post).

The charts/designs used at the looms were kept on a magnetic board that sat on the bench next to you.  Pull the cords according to the chart, weave the required rows (depending on structure), release the cords, pull the new cords, weave,…. until design is completed.

A better view of the weaving in progress.

The warp was black, and I chose a bright red weft.  The only issue I had was getting used to focusing my bifocals on the cords so as not to have errors in the weaving.  I did end up with one error, but there was not enough time to cut it out and re-weave.  At home, I would never have left it in no matter how far back I had to go.  However, it was the last afternoon and I decided having a finished design was more important at that point.

Looking at the shaft draw piece.

Class Photo from Drawloom Basics, Sept. 17-21, 2012.

Part 3 will have photos of my samples (off-loom), and brief information on fibers used, sett, and so on.

Next will be one or two posts with photos of woven samples we viewed during the week as well as woven pieces on display.

Following those will be a post on the Helena Hernmarck tapestry exhibit “In Our Nature,” at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis, along with a few pics from Swedish handknits and Swedish lace exhibits that were on at the same time.

Drawloom Basics Class , Part 1 of 3

Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls, MA.

I returned to Shelburne Falls, MA to take another weaving class at VavStuga, this time “Drawloom Basics,” Sept. 17-21, 2012. Arriving early afternoon, first I checked out the Bridge of Flowers.

Bridge of Flowers, in bloom!

I had been here last November, and most of the flowers were no long in bloom. This time, the bridge was a riot of color, something you need to see!

VavStuga, Shelburne Falls, MA (photo from Nov. 2011).

I travelled back to VavStuga to take their Drawloom Basics class, September 17-21, 2012.  Though we would be weaving off-site, most students stayed and had meals here (see three posts from January 2011 for photos from VavStuga Basics class, including the wonderful accommodations).

Susan Conover & Becky Ashenden at the start of a VavStuga lunch.

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are available at VavStuga and are delicious!  Meals are served in the room at the back of the building with a wall of windows looking out onto the river and foothills.  At each meal, the table is set with different handwoven runners, placemats, and napkins, making each meal even more special.  Conversation and laughter accompany each meal with Becky, Susan, and the apprentice.

Accommodations at VavStuga are very confortable.  Each room has handwoven curtains, rugs, blankets, coverlets, and table covers, that make you want to go home and do the same!

During Drawloom Basics, we would have the opportunity to weave on  several different types of drawloom setups including opphamta, single unit with lashes, Smalandsvav, shaft draw, and single unit (Myrehed).

The VavStuga Drawloom Annex (as I call it).

The drawlooms had previously been set up when needed at VavStuga, but late last year the drawlooms had been moved to a farmhouse (above) about five minutes away, belonging to Becky’s father.  The looms fill several rooms on the first and second floors in the right side of the farmhouse.  

You can clearly see I am enjoying the week!

One room has two long tables and chairs, used for lecture, drafting, viewing many, many samples, and where we worked on designing. 

Weekly Schedule.

Copy of schedule.

Becky had prepared a weekly schedule showing what loom each of us would be working on each day, and for how long.  A daily schedule was also available.  Some projects were allowed 7.5 hours, others were 3.5 hours.  Days were broken up with lecture, explanation of looms and how they work, drafting, and designing.  It was always a treat to be shown many examples of the different types of weaving done on the various drawloom setups.  Photos of those as well as older pieces on display in the rooms were will be in the third post.

The first day began with designing.  We could design our own or use a design from any of the many books/charted designs available.  I chose a design from a book, and that evening added a border.  This design turned out to be the last project I did, on Friday of that week, woven on the drawloom with a Myrehed single unit setup.  Photos will be in the next post.  More designing went on during the week as well as drafting.

Loom with “opphamta attachment.”

On Day 2, I started weaving Opphamta, on a loom with a 20 shaft attachment (not all 20 were not tied up and being used).  This was a 3.5 hour project.  I didn’t have much time and may have made an error on my charted design, but this is what I came up with.  Opphamta has a ground of plain weave, and the design of floats.

My weaving, in progress.

My weaving after having rolled under the warp as another student was weaving.

Single Unit Draw with Lashes.

My next weaving session was on an Oxaback single unit drawloom with the design we would all weave saved in lashes.  This was a BIG loom, heavy, beautiful,… and I found it physically a bit more challenging to weave on simply because I am 5’4″, shorter arms and legs, and as I say, this was a big loom.  I tried weaving standing up, but that didn’t work.  Sitting on the bench, I couldn’t move the lashes far enough to the back and ended up using the cloth protector piece to push them to the back of the loom.  Where there is a will, there is a way!

Here you see the lashes hanging down and the cords pulled for a particular line on the chart. 

My view while weaving.

Completed “double-dragon” weavings.

On this loom, because the design was saved in lashes, we all wove the same double-dragon design, linen warp and weft, and name tags on each so we would have our own to take home.

Tomorrow, I’ll photograph my weavings, meanwhile, I’ll get to work on the photos for Drawloom Basics Class, Part 2.


Glimakra Bandloom

Freshly assembled Glimakra Bandloom.

For many, many, many years, I had been wanting a Glimakra bandloom.  My trip to VavStuga last fall was just the excuse I needed.  We had the opportunity, evenings, to weave on one up in our living quarters, so by the time the week was over and my purchases were being added up, I asked to have a bandloom shipped to my home.

Bockens cotton.

While there, I also chose five colors of Swedish cotton for a first warp, not as fine as I would have liked, but probably a better choice while learning to warp the loom.  It was mid-November, a long WI winter was ahead of me, so I chose cheerful spring colors to work with.

Bandloom weaving supplies.

The bandloom came with one small stick shuttle, a number of small warping sticks, two extra pegs, as the loom can be used as an inkle loom or as a two shaft loom, a pair of lease sticks, and heddles.  I chose to set it up as a two shaft loom since it comes with two treadles, and I have a tabletop inkle loom.

Beaming the warp.

I made a three yard warp on a warping board (and forgot to take a photo), then worked out a way to beam the warp, along the lines of Swedish warping methods when you are working alone.  As you can almost see, I did not have the warp up over the top back beam, but did have it winding on in a straight line.  I also should have spread my warp threads out a bit, which they did while winding on.  I turned the loom so the back beam was right in front of me, and holding and applying tension to the warp, wound it on.  Lease sticks were in place before beaming.

Then came threading the heddles.  Note,… when sitting at the loom, start threading with the heddles furthest away from you.  I did not, and ended up two heddles short, found it difficult to add them to the inside, so pulled the warp out and threaded a second time.  Many lessons were learned that evening!

Warp tied on, just need to advance it for better shed.

The warp was then tied on, advanced, a quill filled with the turquose, the outermost color of the warp, and I was ready to weave. 

A beautiful shed.

Beating the weft into place with a bandloom knife.

The bandloom knife was purchased at VavStuga, they are made in Shelburne Falls, MA, especially for VavStuga.

Just the beginning…

I try to weave a bit each day on this loom, developing a new habit, and looking forward to weaving towel hangers, curtain tiebacks, trims, and more.  

VavStuga Basics Class, Part 2

Entrance to VavStuga Shop

I had an early morning flight from Madison, WI to St. Paul, MN, where I briefly met Diane, another student that week, before we boarded the flight to Bradley Intl. Airport in CT.  From there, we shared a shuttle van ride to Shelburne Falls and VavStuga, giving us a chance to chat and get to know each other a bit.  Arriving an hour before we could go into the building, we “hid” our suitcases and set off in search of dinner at a small local cafe.  When we returned, we took our belongings up the flight of stairs to our “home” for the next few days and settled in. 

The space is decorated in Swedish style, simple, comfortable, and very welcoming. 

Upstairs kitchen for students.

The kitchen is an open, very pleasant space.  The coffee pot was almost always on, as was hot water for tea or hot chocolate.  Though all our meals were provided that week, there are classes where they are not, so the kitchen has a stove small refrigerator, and a microwave for preparing meals.

Breakfast was brought up around 8 AM by Sara, the current VavStuga apprentice, and we all sat around the table (seats 8) together.  When we were finished, we were welcome to go down and begin working, or browse through books in the school library.

Sitting area.

The sitting area has two comfortable Swedish chairs, and a bookcase filled with Swedish weaving books and magazines.  Handwoven curtains adorn the windows, and a beautiful old Swedish rep weave rug is on the floor.  We couldn’t believe we were walked on it daily. 

Glimakra bandloom.

When we arrived there was a Glimakra bandloom between two bedroom doors that we were welcome to weave on anytime.  Susan came up and gave us a demonstration, and a couple days later, this second bandloom (above) was brought up as well.  Before I left for home, I had ordered one as I had wanted one of these small looms for 16 years or so, since seeing one in a Glimakra catalog as well as in an early VAV magazine. 

Single bedroom.

I had been assigned the very pleasant single bedroom.  Each bedroom had a duvet and cover, and this room also had a beautiful coverlet as well as a handwoven blanket.

My bedroom window, complete with handwoven curtains and a beautiful Japanese maple just outside, in full glorious autumn color.

Another bed, with handwoven coverlet and blanket.

A beautiful handwoven rag rug.

At the other end of the warping porch was where we dined.

A delicious lunch and dinner were served daily at the far end of the warping porch.  At each meal, the table was set with beautiful handwoven table linens, changing at each meal.   

The Bridge of Flowers, with the entrance next to VavStuga.

The Bridge of Flowers is a most pleasant way to cross the river on your way to shops and galleries.  It was November, so there weren’t too many blooms left, but I’ve seen photos taken in summer and it is beautiful. I’m looking forward to seeing it again in September.

Looking across the river.
If you followed the reports of damage in New England from Hurricane Irene, you may have seen the flooding here.  There are videos on YouTube.  

The rear of VavStuga as soon from near the entrance to the Bridge of Flowers.
Susan told of being about a minute before being evacuated from the building with the very real fear of never seeing it again.  Though the retaining wall stayed in place, most of the backyard, up to within a few feet of the building, was washed away.  Thankfully, the building was untouched, the backyard has been replaced, and hopefully this will not occur again.

Part 3 will be of my finished weavings and a bit more of what I learned at VavStuga.

VavStuga Basics Class, Part 1

VavStuga in Shelburne Falls, MA, Nov. 6-12, 2011.

My journey to VavStuga began nearly a year ago.  After 20 years of putting my life on hold for husband and children, I now had an empty nest and decided,… It Is My Turn!  I would now focus on my weaving and fiber interests, and a very real need, hunger, to learn new methods and techniques.

My paternal grandparents emigrated from Norway, so I have long been drawn to things Norwegian/Scandinavian, including weaving.  VAV Magazine had long been an inspiration as were my growing collection of Scandinavian weaving books.  It seemed to me the best way to merge my weaving and the need to learn would be to take classes at VavStuga where traditional Swedish techniques are taught. So I called, paid my deposit, and waited nearly a year for this class. 

My dream was to take a drawloom class at VavStuga, but I found out that first I would need to take their “VavStuga Basics” class, required before taking most of their classes.  That was fine, I had no doubt I would learn a lot, and so I did.  The class was Nov. 7-11, 2011. 

VavStuga classes are taught by Becky Ashenden, and Susan Conover, her business partner, keeps everything running smoothly. 

Becky Ashenden

Susan Conover

Wrap samples.
Monday morning began with a table covered with dozens of tubes of cottolin, a rainbow of colors, and we were to experiment with color, stripes, symetrical and non-symetrical designs.  Two looms were warped up with the group favorites. 

After the “wraps,” we were off to the warping porch, with warping mills, cone/spool holders, large electric ball winder, and more.  We took turns working on the blanket and towel warps.  A blanket warp was used to demonstrate warping with a trapeze.  With no extra hands at home to help warp looms, that is next on my “must have now” list.

Wool blanket warps on two looms, threaded for twill.

My first weaving at VavStuga was a blue & green blanket, also my first time weaving that wide with wool.

My blanket, in progress.

Tan and black cotton tablecloth warp.

Blue and white cotton tablecloth warp.
Looms were beautifully warped!

Next came threading all the looms we would be weaving on,…

…followed by weaving.

Weaving completed and off the looms.

In one week, each student completed a blanket, a towel, a small tablecloth, and a two-block 8 shaft weave.  If anyone had time and inclination, they could also weave a floor mat (bottom, center in pic above).  I was the last to start weaving and the last to finish, completing my fourth piece 10 minutes before we were to put shuttles down.  Whew!  One evening we made braided fringe on our blankets, and the next day they were fulled.  All other pieces were serged and brought home to finish hemming.  Photos of my completed pieces will be in another post.

L to R:  Becky, Janice, Maggie, Jody, Amanda, Diane, Nikki, Margo, and Sara (Becky’s apprentice).
I wish I could say I have photos of every technique and new-to-me thing I learned that week, but I do not.  Rather than be distracted by taking even more photos, I wanted to focus and hopefully be able to remember what I was seeing and doing when I returned home.
Parts 2 and 3 will be up this week.  A drawloom class?  I will be back at VavStuga in 2012 for Basic Drawloom!