Monday, March 26, 2018


For the last thirty years or so, I've been weaving curtains for a lodge on top of Mount LeConte. The lodge is awesome. The only way to get there is to hike up one of several trails in the Smokey Mountains. I can see the mountain from my house and it's nice to know a part of me is up there. Hiking up is no small feat. The shortest is 3 miles, almost straight up. We've usually gone up Teillium Gap and then down Rainbow Falls. Both about 6 miles long.  It's been years since I've gone up but we've stayed up there a few times. Reservations are very difficult to get. 
I've woven curtains in bursts of time. The first time I wove for a few cabins each January. They have to be done by the end of February because they become part of the air lift each March. They get special permission and a small window of opportunity for a helicopter to fly up with huge skids of supplies, enough for the year. During the season a bunch of llamas goes up several times a week with perishables like eggs and laundry. They have this down to a science! 
After I weave all they need which takes 3 or 4 years, there's anywhere from 5 to 7 years before I need to replace anything. He calls in November to see if I can do it. I always have.
A year ago was the last time. I had replaced everything that needed doing. I suspect some windows have been done 3 times. They used to have kerosene heaters which were hard on the curtains...and yes, the kerosene was part of the air lift...but they've changed to something else that's easier on it all.
So I wove curtains. I actually used carpet warp because the lodge is quite rustic and the yarn is almost indestructible. I weave, wash and hem the curtains and they're ready to go. I learned to sew the casing on top with just a straight stitch but the hems, well, that's different. I sewed the sides as well so there's no chance of hanging them upside down. I have a fairly deep hem for added weight as a bonus. I get paid for just the actual finished length so the deeper hem is my gift to the lodge.  I pulled out a few pictures from past weaving times.
Mostly just natural with bands of the red or sometimes blue. The dining room used to be blue but may be red now. Haven't been up in about 15 years.
Near the bottom a double bunch of pattern and near the top of the curtain just one set of a pattern.
So in weaving you try especially hard to be accurate. For the curtains I was so careful. However, things happen like you weave five inches too short or you miss a repeat on about 3 panels, etc. So the last couple of years, I had to wind another warp to weave the panels correctly. That meant I ended up, now that I'm done for awhile, with about 6 panels that were not usable. You know us weavers.....we don't want to waste all that work. So here's what I did. 
I took the panels and cut them into lengths of about 8 x 24 inches and serged around them. All of it got cut up into these small pieces. Then on dye day in fall, I mixed the pieces up into pairs. No pair had the same pattern in it. Each of the pair was different. Then I dyed the pair together in a bowl of different colored dyes. The last month or two, I sewed them into little handbags. They're all lined with a different patterned batik fabric. 
Each has a pocket inside.
The handles, shoulder straps were all wound with my incredible rope machine using coordinating carpet warp yarns.
I ended up having to re dye about 10 pieces but so far I have 30 bags done. Each looking so cool. The dye isn't always smooth. I liked the mottled effect I got. 
What I also find interesting is how the red took the dye. 
Also, some bags have the pattern in the back because of how I cut the panels. It took a lot of work but I'm liking them.
I belong to a co-op downtown called The Art Market Gallery. They have featured artists each month. A 2d and a 3d use this one wall. I don't sign up for it unless I have something new. I signed up for April with the idea of the bags so I had to make it work. I set up this coming weekend and will post pictures of what it looks like. The 2d artist I'm with is so talented with her paintings. They flow and should look good with these colorful bags.
That's what I've been up to lately. Not weaving but using what I wove before.
Until next week, keep weaving!


Theresa said...

Lovely bags Carol! I think that kelly green is my fav! So happy.

LA said...

Please take pictures of your display!!!!

Tina J said...

I loved seeing the bags today, very clever use of some ooops fabric. I know I have some laying around!