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Thursday, March 8, 2018

Miniature Pottery Flower Vases... Garden Clubs Anyone?

Spring!  I am getting ready for my spring shows. I make and sell thousands of my mini pots every year. 

When I demonstrate pottery-making at fairs, I run into a lot of folks who want tiny pots for the fairs' Miniature Flower Arrangement section of the agricultural department.  Some garden enthusiasts have asked if I would come to their garden club with my mini vases while a presentation of miniature flower arrangements is being offered.

Sure!  I pick weeds for tiny arrangements or those little rose buds that accidentally get clipped while pruning.  It is amazing how many tiny flowers are under your feet if you get down there and look! 

What about little pots for those tiny flowers the children and grandchildren bring you.  Put a tiny vase above your sink... so pretty while you are washing dishes.  Place them at your table plate settings for yourself or when guests come to a dinner or tea party.  And enter them in your local fair.

You can only buy these at my shows which are listed on my web site, or have me come to your garden club this spring just as the pretty little flowers are blessing our yards!

Scores of styles, clays, colors, patterns are hand thrown and decorated... from 1" to 3" tall, something for everyone!

Contact me at  to schedule a meeting in or near Connecticut, or come visit me at a show.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Shaker Rug with Chevron Twists and Woven Band

Sometimes my head hurts. Things to make pop into my head almost every minute and there is only so much time in the day.  I am a potter, sew period clothing, pluck my angora bunny, card my friends wool, boil maple syrup, fix this old house and barn and weave.... it's exhausting...but great fun.

This past week, I finally got time to weave rug number 11 on my new old barn loom. This time, I wanted to weave a chevron twist into my rug and attach a plain weave band to the bindings.

The Shakers here in New England wove rag rugs which incorporated a Chevron pattern. Hancock Shaker Village was active in the early 1800s. They also had small looms to weave bands that they used in chair seats, ties and for finishing the edges on their rugs.

Hancock Shaker Museum, Pittsfield MA
Hancock Shaker Museum, Pittsfield MA

Hancock Shaker Museum, Pittsfield MA

This newest rug is wool with cotton chevron twists and a cotton, plain weave band. The finished rug is 26" x 44". 

I made the twists as I wove.  I only needed 10 feet for each section of four twists, so I knotted the end of 3 colors together and tied them to a curtain hook on my upstairs hall window, walked down the hall 10 feet, twisted the three strands together with my fingers into an S twist, wound this onto a shuttle and wove in the four rows of S twist.  On this rug, I inserted a row of my brown wool and then repeated twisting another piece of  three colored yarns into a Z pattern.  Finished my middle section of the rug in wool. Then repeated the twists starting with the Z pattern rows, row of brown wool and then the S pattern rows.
The shakers liked to use a plain weave band, unlike the Europeans who favored the warp faced bands. Keeping the threads spread apart is tricky on a band loom, there is no beater so my warp kept wanting to scrunch in. Still, I like the way my bands came out.

The band was woven with two shuttles. Alternating two rows of red thread and then two rows of blue thread.

The first band I used green in my warp which came out too dark, a nice plaid, but too dark.

The second band I dyed some of my Webs 8/2 white cotton with a strong tea bath to tone down the white.

Here is the threading  pattern.

And the finished rug. I tend to give my work names, this one is
"In the Forest". It would look great in a cabin next to a wood stove in winter with the wind and snow outside blowing.

And so, on to another rug... more chevrons this time!

New to weaving?  Weaving is so easy. Once you get any loom warped!  There are several ways to warp a specific loom. See what works best for you.  My barn loom was warped a couple of years ago front to back and I keep adding about 12 yards to my warp and pulling them through the beater and heddles when I run out of warp.   The small looms for bands are easier.  Having less threads to warp. I usually only warp 6 to 12 feet at a time.  I use my bands for specific projects and when each is done I can move on to new colors and patterns.

You can learn how to weave on a band or tape loom in my book Tape Loom Weaving....simplified, available on my web site, or on Amazon. 

Try this Shaker Chevron! Weaving Shaker Rugs by Mary Elva Congleton Erf is available on Amazon. Incorporate it into new patterns and projects and share with us when you are done!  Happy Weaving!