Thursday, January 2, 2020

And so it begins again

A New Year.

Last year held highs and lows both personally and professionally. I won't go into any of those because I don't want to. Suffice it to say that I was more than glad to see the back side of 2019. Didn't stay up to see in 2020 but could hear fireworks in the neighborhood somewhere. I'm glad someone felt like celebrating. Their time is coming when the celebratory mood might be dampened. I don't wish it for anyone... but it comes for us all, those dark and trying times.

Even though the year was not the best ever I continued my tapestry diary practice and having that as a daily respite was a good thing. Some days I would only weave a single pass of weft but I was still practicing what gives me most pleasure in the world--weaving tapestry.

I even managed to finish a large tapestry during the year, one I'd started with the hopes of having it off the loom in just a few months. Instead it was on the loom for almost a year. I don't have a title for it yet. Based on a painting I made while in residence at Lillian Smith Center a few years ago it's the fourth tapestry I've completed from the several paintings done in about two weeks time at the Center. All are of leaves that are woven much larger than life. Maybe I'll post all of them together along with the paintings from which I worked at a later time. For now, here's the latest:

Back to the tapestry diary practice. It's something I've been doing for a decade now--weaving a small bit each day. In 2015 I decided to also incorporate a larger section of weaving among the daily parts. I began by doing four things throughout each month. I liked the finished piece but it really became a chore to accomplish four small tapestries each month, essentially what that turned out to be, in addition to the other studio work. In 2016 I changed the idea to have each month as a single design element within the multiple days of the year. Here's a link to several of my ten tapestry diary years at my website. I've continued that concept for the next years from then to now--and that's what I'll be doing once again this year. However, what I will weave each month for 2020 is still a bit of a puzzle for me. I have a couple of ideas... and I'll begin something soon. After all, it's already day 2 of the month of January! I must select my subject soon!

For last year I decided that I'd roll a die each day to determine the color I'd use for the daily part. I had quite a bit of the natural dyes remaining from an earlier tapestry so I put those into six color groups: red, yellow, blue, green, orange, and violet. I assigned each pip of the die to a color: 1=red, 2=yellow, etc. Each morning I threw the die and recorded the number that turned up, then selected from my several values of each of the colors what I'd use.

My subject for the year was flowers that were growing seasonally wherever I happened to be for a particular month. I started January with the Lenten Roses that were blooming outside the house then, followed by daffodils that were coming out in February here in north Georgia. It was quite interesting to see how much color there was in the natural world in the winter months. The only month that I didn't use a flower as the design was October. That was represented by a single black square. October was the month our beloved kitty died and I just couldn't bring myself to have any other image there.

Here's the whole thing when I cut it off on December 31, 2019. 

Next, comes the finishing of the back and the ends. I'm working on that for the next several days. There's an exhibit coming up soon and it needs to be completed to include in that.

Lots of ends to clip shorter and those near the edges to tack back with thread so they don't show when the tapestry hangs.

I have the warp for 2020's tapestry diary tied on now and have woven two days into the new year. For that process, I wound a three yard warp on the warping mill (I use 10/3 linen sett at 8 epi), then tied the ends of the new warp onto the remains of 2019. I've done that for several years; that serves two purposes--I don't have to totally re-thread the loom, thus saves time, and it also symbolically links the new year to the old. All of that was completed yesterday and I wove the first day of the new year as a green band across the bottom marked with one small line of a dark rust color to indicate month one of 2020.

Here's the new year's tapestry diary in the second day. Green band for January 1, brown rectangle for January 2. On and on it will go for the next 364 days. May this year be a good one for one and all.


  1. Thanks for all the tapestry diary details. May 2020 be a better year.

  2. Thank you for sharing your process, I am looking forward to completing a largish piece that I had to leave since Mid October. Two smaller tapestries need to be completed before I can weave the large piece. I've been tapestry weaving daily, are there other strategies that you use to get back into a pieces rhythm?

  3. Sometimes I have to get started into a piece I've left alone for a long time, then be willing to take out some passes. It's almost like reacquainting myself to what I was thinking as I wove and remembering those thoughts to be able to get back in the rhythm. The main thing is to do it! Not to just worry about it sitting there, unattended. Get to the loom bench, plop myself down, and start weaving.
    Good luck with completion of the large piece!