The swatch swap is a fun group activity for a bunch of very creative weavers who belong to the Houston weaver's guild. We met last Sunday afternoon to exchange our swatches that were created using the theme or requirements that were picked last spring. As long as you stick to the requirements you can weave anything you want. And most of the time you can interpret the theme as you like.
My first swatch swap was three years ago. The theme was Literary Threads. Hmmm. That leaves a lot of wiggle room for interpretation. I chose a line from Christopher Cross' song Sailing as my inspiration. The line is "the canvas can do miracles, just you wait and see..." I wove a canvas weave pattern in cottolin to be used for kitchen towels.
Two years ago the theme was Cotton to the Power of 10/2. 10/2 is a specific size yarn so we could weave anything we wanted as long as we used only 10/2 cotton yarn. I wove a turned overshot pattern to make fabric for Peggy and I to use as aprons for our Civil War era costumes. Overshot is a technique that uses a ground cloth or background of one size yarn and overlays it with a pattern of much thicker yarn. We had to use only 10/2 yarn for this project so I simply doubled the yarn for the pattern. It worked out pretty well. Those pieces of fabric are sitting with my sewing machine right now. I need to add a waistband and ties before they will be easily useable.
This year the theme was Wholly Lace. We had to weave lace of some sort although we could use any yarn we wanted. Some of the group wove sturdy lace fabric like the picture above while others wove very thin lace fabric using thin linen or cotton. Completely stunning. One of our group used actual strips of lace as part of her weaving. Very cool idea.
My project this year used a pattern I found in my faithful 8 shaft pattern book (Carol Strickler, 1991). It is a color & weave huck lace pattern. Color & Weave is a technique that uses the same stripes in both the warp and the weft. The pattern only emerges when the stripes are the same. You can weave with all one weft color if you want but you get an interesting stripe pattern rather than the houndstooth or pinwheel pattern you get with the stripes going in both directions. Color & Weave is my favorite technique and the pinwheels are my most favorite of them all. I do these as kitchen towels often. This pattern was a houndstooth. I dressed the loom with 15 yards of cottolin warp so I could weave a whole run of kitchen towels. I must say they are wonderful! I'm really pleased.
It took us nearly an hour to decide on our theme for next year. We picked Seasons which we then changed to What Time is it? This could be "It's Bath Time" and I could do the linen bath towels I've already gotten the yarn for. Or I could pick "Fall" which has my most favorite seasonal colors. Or I could pick "Kidding Time" and use lots of different colors of mohair yarn. I have lots of time to decide since our final swatches aren't due till next spring.
The cool thing about having this be a year long project is the ability to ruminate on your ideas and spend some time picking out what you want to do. The downside of this is that most of us procrastinate through months and months. We end up waiting till just a few weeks before the swatches are due and then run around like crazy to get them finished.
These kitchen towels should be appearing on the website soon. And I'll be thinking about my What Time is it? pattern for later this year.