July 2021

A new pattern, remixing old patterns, and lots of colour-talk


In this month’s newsletter you’ll find:

  • Bloom Table Squares

  • Patterns, remixed

  • Natural dyes

  • Gist articles - back to basics

  • Blue baskets

Bloom Table Squares

I’ve recently published a new weaving pattern with Gist Yarn called the Bloom Table Squares. This is a fast and easy introduction to a technique that weavers call overshot. This project is designed for beginner weavers and uses Gist’s Duet and Beam yarns.

I’ve always loved the floral motifs that you can create through overshot, and I hope you’ll enjoy weaving the pretty little bloom created with this draft. The pattern is available exclusively through the Gist website which you can visit by clicking the button below. If you’re weaving it, please let me know!

Bloom Table Square

Colour fun

I had some leftover tubes of 2/8 cotton from a pattern I wrote (coming in September!), and I thought I’d use them + some of the odds and ends I’ve had for ages to make some quick tea towels as gifts. Instead of designing something new, I used my own Dash Tea Towels pattern and adapted it for what I had. I thought I’d share it here in the newsletter in case you like the pattern but maybe don’t have or like the specified materials or colours — I am all for remixing and reimagining!

My modifications:

  • I lowered the epi/ppi by 4 ends per inch for 2/8 cotton

  • I used Brassard cotton in Sierra (1391) for my background colour, Saumon (1317), Plum (1732), and Chambray (368) for the stripes, and some random deep blue (a $2 thrift store find) for the selvedges that would be closest to Royal (963). I probably wouldn’t use plum again - it was too close in value to Sierra, and sort of disappears, but I do love purple/brown together).

I have wanted to do this for ages ever since seeing the version my colour-genius friend Emily made with a very similar dark base (see below!).

Weave your own Dash Tea Towels here!

Natural Dyes

While we’re talking about colour - I’ve got natural dyes on the brain. I don’t generally do a lot of dyeing, but now is the perfect season to try it, so I wanted to share two people who are also working with natural colour.

The first is Anita Cazzola, another Ontario-based weaver and editor of the fabulous Guild of Canadian Weavers bulletin (which is the best money you can spend on a real paper quarterly!). Anita has been exploring “sad spaces,” urban sites that are “a natural space that has experienced severe human-inflicted environmental disruption, but has begun a return to a natural state through the re-introduction of indigenous and invasive plant species.” Eventually this project will culminate in a collection of textile-based artworks using natural dyes harvested from these “sad space” plants. I’m particularly keen on her samples using willow, curly dock (which I saw just yesterday tenaciously growing out of concrete rubble), and sumac. Visit the Dye Plants in Curious Places website or follow Anita on Instagram!

My neighbour has a huge black walnut tree that hangs over a section of my yard. It’s begun lobbing apricot sized fruits this month; by September, they’ll be more like baseballs and you have to watch out when you’re standing too close. A few years ago at Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto I attended a lecture by artist, dyer, and quilter Carola Jones. Through her Seed 2 Runway project, she aims to grow her own indigo, marigold, and madder, eco-print on fabric, and then make her own clothing for everyday and ceremonial use. She had big energy & enthusiasm for dyeing and I have a black walnut dyeing handout from her somewhere that I’m hoping to find and use.

Back to Basics

On the Gist blog I’ve been diving in to weaving structures. June’s article focused on plain weave (the name really sells it short - it’s not ‘plain’ in the slightest!) and all the wonderful things you can do with it.

July’s focus is on twill, the next step for a lot of new weavers, and where I think drafting starts to get really exciting.

Read about plain weave here!

Read about twill here!

Blue Baskets

At the end of June I went to my friend Deborah’s beautiful cottage, where I have been lucky enough to spend a weekend each summer weaving willow baskets with friends. Every year my baskets get better — the weave tighter, the shape slightly more uniform. If you’ve never woven a basket before, it’s hard work; even when soaked for hours, the willow has a mind of its own, and your hands need to be decisive. The first year I didn’t think I liked it — but now that my hands have the rhythm I really enjoy this other kind of weaving, and I have such extraordinary respect for perfectly round baskets.

We’ve been weaving together long enough that our individual baskets seem to have recurring personalities — Deborah makes round and very feminine shapes, Margie makes strong and adventuresome baskets, and I seem to make small baskets — which doesn’t surprise me too much, since I’m always making small, contained things that can be held in the hand.

This year we used stripped willow and dyed some in an indigo vat to get blue weavers. This month’s newsletter seems to be all about colour, so it seems appropriate to show these rocks gleaned from the beach below the cottage, since I pocketed them in part because of their natural palettes. I am already dreaming about how I can weave them together…

It was the beach at Lark’s Nest Cottage that was behind my thoughts for a commissioned runner for Deborah. Lake Huron is very changeable — I’ve never seen the same lake twice. This piece was woven in linen and dyed with indigo. Parts of the weft were tied before dyeing to give the impression of rolling waves, and I’ve used twill to create rounded infinity or stone-like shapes that, I hope, remind her of the lake and cottage even when she’s not there.

I do take private commissions and projects — if you’re interested in working together on a special gift for someone, please be in touch via email (amandarataj (at) gmail . com).

Thank you for reading my rambling newsletter — please forward it to a friend if you’ve enjoyed it, or leave a comment!


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