Sunday, October 22, 2023

The ruana saga.

Lynne Cantwell 2023

Time for a less controversial/uncomfortable post. I can now relate the entirety of the saga of the ruana.

A ruana is similar to a poncho. But while a poncho has a hole for your head, a ruana is basically two long rectangles that are sewn together along the long edges about halfway. You drape the unsewn-together ends over your shoulders and hang the sewn-together part down your back. There are other ways to wear one, I guess, but the point is that their construction is stupid easy: make two long rectangles and sew two long ends together halfway up.

So of course I had to make it complicated. I found a weaving draft in a pattern book for a couple of interesting twill patterns. Never mind the little boxes that look kind of like guitar chords; the crucial point here is that with this threading of a four-shaft loom, you can do either the chevrons or the diamonds. 

From The Handweaver's Pattern Directory by Anne Dixon.
I desperately wanted to do the diamond pattern because it looked so cool. The treadling was a lot more complicated -- 16 steps in the repeat instead of four -- but I had plenty of time to get it right. So I found a pattern online that gave me the dimensions for each rectangle (I did not do her double weaving) and warped the loom for the first one. 
This is actually the warping for the second rectangle. I can tell because of the wall color behind the loom. 
Lynne Cantwell 2023
That was Memorial Day weekend. I was in no rush -- I didn't need the ruana 'til mid October for Spirits of New Mexico at El Rancho de las Golondrinas. This annual event is a lot of fun -- it's at night, with the placita rooms lit by candles and fires in the fireplaces, and we volunteers wear ghostly face paint and pretend to be the ghosts of local folks long dead. Last year, I wasn't dressed warmly enough and nearly froze. So I knew I had a hard stop on October 21st to get this done. Five months! Plenty of time!

In June, I spent my free time creating my tote bag for the ranch. I still had plenty of time for the ruana, though -- almost four months!

In the first week of July, my upstairs neighbor's plumbing sprang a leak, and all of the water ran down into my apartment. The worst hit was my office/craft room. The loom itself wasn't damaged, nor was the warp on the loom (phew!), but the mitigation took more than a month, during which time the room was all torn up and the loom was under a plastic tarp. (Part of the mitigation was to repaint both the craft room and my bedroom. I blogged about the new and old wall colors -- you can see them here.)

It was now very late in August, and I had just about two months to go. So I started weaving the diamond pattern -- and I kept getting lost in the treadling, which messed up the design. I asked Mokosh (the Slavic goddess of weaving and spinning, among other things) for advice, and immediately understood that I needed to give up on the diamonds and do the chevrons, or I'd never get the thing done. I resisted for another couple of weeks, which was dumb -- when a goddess gives you advice, you really ought to take it -- but I finally admitted defeat and switched to the chevrons, which had a much less complicated treadling. And it worked. 

Lynne Cantwell 2023
I finished the ruana with about a week to spare, and I was able to wear it last night, as you can see in my selfie up top. Although I kind of didn't need it. It only dropped to about 60 degrees by the end of the evening -- which figures, right? But it's done, and I can wear it for this event from now on.

Next up on the loom will be a runner for the bathroom. Luckily, I have no deadline for that project.


These moments of bloggy snatching of victory from the jaws of defeat have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Stay safe!

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