Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Crownpoint Navajo Rug Auction

The Crownpoint Weavers Association holds a monthly rug auction in Crownpoint, New Mexico, every month. Here, Navajo weavers bring their rugs to auction directly to the public. 

Held at the elementary school in Crownpoint, the auction gives buyers the most direct access to rugs from the Navajo weavers. With no middle man taking a cut, the auction purchases benefit the buyers and weavers alike.

The drive to Crownpoint is one of the loveliest in the state.

Crownpoint Elementary School. Don't bother to arrive before 4 pm.
They really won't let you inside earlier than that. 

Weavers registering their rugs for the auction.
Each rug gets a lot number and is labeled with the weaver's name and where they are from.
Once registered, the rugs are then sorted by size and put on different tables for buyers to touch, measure, examine and admire.
Things are piling up on the medium-sized rug table.

Little treasures on the small rug table.

Inspecting the rugs. Canny buyers come equipped with measuring tapes to check size and notebooks to note lot numbers so they can be ready to bid when their desired rugs are on the block.

The XL rug table holds room-sized rugs that will become the centerpiece of any decor.

A contemporary design in a modern colorway is coveted by many.
The young weaver is there to tell her story and add some nice history to the rug.
More weavers waiting in line outside to register their rugs for the auction.

Buyers examining the rugs while weavers await the auction on the bleachers.

See anything you like? 

There's a style, size and colorway to please everyone!

The auction begins at around 7 pm and continues until all lots are put up for auction. The weavers put reserve prices on their rugs, so they are sure to get a minimum for their efforts or the rug is withdrawn. It's a lively Friday evening and worth a look for anyone who appreciates expert weaving and textiles.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Shifty, a saga

This warp has been on the loom for entirely too long. I wasn't happy at first with my weft choices and it sat until I found a weft that was thin enough to show the pattern well, but not too thin that the fabric is sleazy. "Sleazy" is a weaving term that is used to describe a fabric where the warp and weft relationship is too loose and the threads can shift, ruining the structure of the fabric. A sleazy fabric is not a sound fabric. My fabric is just straddling the sleazy/sound line right now. 

Shifted warp being woven with end-feed shuttle and pirn filled with thin weft.
Woven fabric on the loom

The weft is a very fine coned yarn of unknown origin that I discovered in my stash. It is probably a 30/2 unmercerized cotton. The color is a very pale lavender and I have a huge cone of it that weighs close to 7 lbs! It works to give a gauzy effect to the cloth that I am liking at the moment. And if I can use up some of that huge cone, I'll be happy.

Detail of spot "floats" on fabric

The weaving started okay and I like the effect of the Spot Bronson lace threading on the ikat pattern. But my tension brake on the loom was too loose and every time I beat in the weft, the entire warp would advance a little. It became very frustrating and I put a time out on the weaving until I found a solution.

Aerial view of shifted warp fabric, waiting to be woven

More spots on ikat fabric

I figured that I had to weight the back beam so that the tension brake would hold better. This is the temporary fix.

It uses ankle weights and an old antique iron tied onto and hanging off the back beam.  I have an antique loom in Paris that uses ropes and weights on opposite sides of the back beam to provide tension to the warp. This is a variation of that idea.

No, it's not particularly pretty, but it is effective. The weaving is going much faster! According to my notes, this is a 9 yard warp, so fast is relative in this case.