On this week's episode, LaChaun speaks with Christine Jablonski, the Director of Operations for Gist Yarn, and designer of Twofold, our upcoming subscription box for rigid heddle weavers. Her theme for this project is double weave. Over the course of a year, she will take you step by step through this exciting technique to weave four projects of setts, textures, and widths not available with single-heddle weaving. In addition to her duties at Gist, Christine has taught extensively and is also a weaver and exhibiting fiber artist.
Sarah Resnick: I’m Sarah Resnick.
LaChaun Moore: And I’m LaChaun Moore.
Sarah Resnick: And we are the hosts of the Weave Podcast, a project of the weaving yarn shop, Gist Yarn & Fiber.
LaChaun Moore: Hello. Hi, everyone. I hope all is well. In this week’s episode, I have the pleasure of speaking with my wonderful coworker, Christine. Christine is Gist’s director of operations, wholesale and customer service. Her career path has taken her from Wall Street to the yoga world, and finally into the world of fiber. I’m excited to talk about her fiber journey, as well as her new subscription box, Twofold. Twofold is a quarterly subscription box launching this week for rigid heddle loom weavers, so stay tuned to hear more.
Hello, Christine. Welcome to the podcast. Thank you for joining us today.
Christine Jablonski: Thanks, LaChaun. It’s great to be here.
LaChaun Moore: Can you start out by introducing yourself and telling our listeners how you began working with fibers and textiles?
Christine Jablonski: Sure. My name is Christine Jablonski. I’m a weaver and a fiber artist, and the director of operations, as you know, for Gist Yarn. And I came to fiber… Well, I guess it was late in life for me. I was artistic, but I was more of a painter than anything else when I was growing up, and probably in my early thirties I started knitting, and honestly, it was because I was going on a knitting and meditation retreat with my aunt, and I figured, “Well, I can get myself through sitting on a cushion, but I probably ought to actually learn how to knit.” And I had tried to. Several people had tried to teach me over the years, but it never really took, and then I was in the situation where I was going to Vermont and was gonna be knitting for a couple of days, so I figured I’d better figure out how to do it.
And that was my introduction to fiber, and to knitting, and from there, it’s just kind of evolved.
LaChaun Moore: That’s so amazing. I had no idea that you had a sort of previous life in painting.
Christine Jablonski: Yeah. Well, life in painting… I was a painter in high school. Well, I guess I had sort of always grown up doing… I would see things, sand art painting. I had a wonderful, wonderful elementary school that was very sort of artistically oriented. And I ended up taking a number of art classes in high school and actually it’s funny, there were a couple of kids now… I say kids now as we’re in our 50s. Kids who were in my class that we actually reconvened and did an art show put together by our old art teacher in high school, from high school, and we did that a couple of years ago, and that was great fun.
But yeah, I’d always loved color, and that’s… and then the painting kind of evolved. It’s a little less portable than knitting, for example, so knitting kind of took over for many years, and then weaving took over from there.
LaChaun Moore: Wow. And I have to say, your weavings are so amazing, and I can definitely see that you have a real talent for colors, and patterns, and putting things together, and it shows so well in the various projects that you’ve done for Gist, and you have this really amazing subscription box that’s coming up called Twofold, and I’m wondering if you can talk about that, and what inspired you to start it, and what are the things that people who decide to subscribe, what are the things that they will receive?
Christine Jablonski: Sure. Thank you for those kind words. The pattern design thing was something I had developed a pretty extreme interest in over the last couple of years, but I never thought that it would sort of develop and flourish the way it is now, and I’m so grateful to Sarah, and Emma, and Gist, and our customers for sort of serving as a platform for letting me develop that.
But Twofold is fantastic. I love this project and it has been a year in the making. So, last spring Sarah and Emma and I had been talking about subscription boxes for weavers, and the one that was really on the table at that point wasLÅDA, with Ariana Funk as the designer, that had been in the works for quite some time. But they wanted also a similar offering for rigid heddle weavers, and so they asked me to do that, and I of course said yes. The inspiration behind it was one, kind of carrying on a bit from our work with Liz Gibson and her… The Weaver’s PlayBox series that we had done over the last couple of years. And this is just… I want to say and I would be humbled to say an extension of that. Liz does such terrific work and she’s such a wonderful, wonderful partner with Gist.
And the point of Twofold really is, at least for me in my mind, was to really help rigid heddle weavers have a lot more fun and explore other possibilities with their looms. And the whole focus of Twofold is going to be weaving with two heddles. So, another word for it is called double weave. So, we’ll be weaving with two heddles in order to achieve sort of more intricate textures than you can with weaving with one heddle. We’ll weave double width, which to me is like the holy grail of weaving in general, is to be able to weave cloth that is twice as wide as your loom I think is just magic. And we’ll be working with the in-house yarns and I just could not be more thrilled about it. It’s just gonna be a lot of fun.
Customers will get four projects, so once per quarter over the course of the next year, and each project… The skills developed in each project will then build or serve as the foundation for the skills needed in the next project. So, for example, the first project we’ll do will be a couple of projects for your bathroom. It’s a spa set, a bathmat, some towels, and washcloths, and so for that project we’ll be using beam, and it’s really gonna get people comfortable, I hope, learning to thread two heddles, when you thread and weave with two heddles. And it’s not particularly complicated. It’s just it can be a little tedious, but it’s… I’ve developed that particular project with two warps so that we go through it twice, so you get really comfortable putting two heddles on your loom.
And then we take those skills and in the next project will be a really beautiful shoulder shrug, which is duet on one side and Mallo on the other, so there you’ll take your threading skills learned in project one and work on learning how to keep your layers of fabric separate when you’re weaving them. And we’ll be weaving two layers of cloth, but they will be attached at the edges, so it’s almost like a tube, but we’ll finish it with a beautiful, beautiful hem stitch. Not the typical hem stitch on the loom that we normally do.
And then the third project will be a double wide throw, so one piece of cloth, twice as wide as the loom, or twice as wide as our warp. And then the last project will be a set of pillows, which will sort of pull all of the previous skills together and then add an inlay on the top. And it’s funny that both Ariana and I finished with pillows as our projects. We never, ever discussed it. We just kind of converged on a couple of similar themes in our subscription boxes, so it was kind of a fun little kismet situation that we had there.
So, the customers will get four projects, all the yarns needed for each one, and detailed instructions every quarter for each project, and some sort of helpful tips and tricks and hints from me along the way.
LaChaun Moore: That sounds so amazing and I’m so excited to see how everything turns out. I’m kind of thinking, like I have this new rigid heddle loom, I should subscribe!
Christine Jablonski: You do have a new rigid heddle loom. Yes, you should.
LaChaun Moore: Yeah. And I’m so interested in working with double wide fabrics or making fabrics that are double wide. Can you go more into depth about how you’re doing that? I know you kind of explained it just in there, but can you talk a little bit more about what that means?
Christine Jablonski: In terms of weaving double width? Yeah. You can do it on both a shaft loom… Actually, we just published a pattern that covers that, the double wide baby blanket in beam. Say that several times fast. That is done on a shaft loom and the concepts are actually very, very similar for a rigid heddle loom. So, what happens is you weave up, or sorry, you warp up your yarn, you thread it through two heddles, and then we’re gonna use… We use pick up sticks. We insert pick up sticks behind the heddles in different configurations that will give us all of the different sheds that we need, because really what happens is you put your sheds into one, you create one shed and you weave your top layer of cloth, for example, and then the next shed is the bottom layer you have to weave, and then you weave back across the bottom layer, and then your fourth shed is finishing the top layer.
So, you were weaving like four picks. Through four picks, you weave both layers of cloth on the loom, but you also do it in this particular sequence so that the fabric is only connected at one side, so that when it comes off, and it’s really important that you keep the sequence straight so that you don’t end up inadvertently connecting your cloth at both edges, which I have done. And it is… You can fix that. Trust me, you can fix it. But it’s just easier if you keep the sequence consistent so that when you take it off the loom, you open it up, and you’ve got this beautifully wide cloth. So, as a friend of mine said, it’s a little bit of alchemy there, but it is doable, and like I said, it is absolute magic when it happens.
LaChaun Moore: Amazing. And do the kits come with pre-selected colors or can customers choose their colors?
Christine Jablonski: Yes. So, the kits come, there are two options. There is the originals we are calling it, and then there’s the neutrals, so the original kit, or the original colorway, I guess I should say, is… Emma and I worked on those and putting the colors of yarn together to work with sort of the seasons, and the mood, and just sort of the inspiration that was behind these projects. So, you know, with mine in particular, it was more of a sort of a… My colors tend to be a little bit more classic, but what we found was we had a little bit of a kind of a midcentury modern twist to it. So, the colors are a little bit moody, but we’ve got like… We’re using icicle, for example, in the throw, which kind of just has a slightly different vibe to it.
And so, we’ve mixed those up pretty nicely, and they’re all, at least in the last two, the pillows and the throw are designed to coordinate with each other. So, the colors of the pillow project speak to the colors of the throw. You don’t have to weave them as a coordinated set, but the intent behind it was to have sort of a kind of a consistent theme through all of those. So, that was the original colorway.
And then the neutral colorway is just a series of neutrals, so they’ll work with anything, and it’s just it’s a really nice option. And I have a sneaking suspicion that once people start working with one colorway, they might actually be tempted to get the other one, as well. So, that’s how that developed.
LaChaun Moore: Yeah. I’m excited to see these colors.
Christine Jablonski: Yeah. They’re fun. They’re really, really fun.
LaChaun Moore: And how can people, if they haven’t already, sign up to receive or partake in the subscription box?
Christine Jablonski: If you go to the website, to the Gist Yarn website, and you search Twofold, a page will come up which is sort of announcing it or announcing the ability to sign up for the email list that will alert you to when it is ready for primetime, which is not too far off. Certainly, I think within the next couple of days we’ll be getting ready to launch that, so if you go and sign up on the email list, you’ll get advanced notice of when that’s available, and you can get started.
LaChaun Moore: And we’ll make sure that we have links to everything on this post when it’s time for it to be published into our feed. So, I know you’ve heard me ask this question a million and one times, but I would love to hear your perspective and get your feedback. Do you have any advice or words of wisdom to share with weavers and textile enthusiasts?
Christine Jablonski: Oh, LaChaun, part of my job is customer service, so I have a list of advice. But I’ll give you my top three. Let’s see. The first is learn to love sampling, and I know sampling is not exactly the thing you think about first when you want to start weaving. I know that when I was knitting, I was always told you have to knit a gauge swatch and know two by two inches for a gauge swatch does not count. You actually have to knit a real size, or a significant enough size that you can get an understanding of how your fabric is going to react. And the same is true for weaving. Sampling is such an incredibly important part of weaving and it’s an incredibly powerful tool, also, because there will be a time when you find a draft or weaving pattern that you desperately want to weave, but not in the yarn that has been described for it, or that it’s been designed for, and you’ve got something in your stash, and you really want to use that instead.
And unless you actually do a little sample of that yarn on your loom with that pattern or that particular threading, you’re just not going to know exactly how it’s gonna turn out. And while sampling may feel like a waste of time and money, you’ll waste a lot more time and money if you weave up an entire project and then discover that it’s not what you… It doesn’t look like what you thought it would. And you will be heartbroken, and it will be very sad, so really learn to embrace sampling.
The second piece of advice I have is don’t be afraid of math. You know, again, and incredibly powerful tool. To be able to understand how much you’re going to need for a project when you want to start designing your own projects, or want to start modifying other projects, knowing how much you need is really helpful, because there really is nothing worse than winding up short in either warp or weft. And there are some terrific yarn calculators out there. We have a yarn calculator on our website under the resources page, or if you just search for yarn calculator on our website it will come up, and that will tell you if you put in certain required metrics, then it will spit out exactly how much yarn you need and it’s really, really helpful. So, don’t be afraid of math. That’s critically, critically important in my book.
And then the third thing I would say is the third piece of advice I would have is be kind to your body and learn how to take care of it, especially with regard to weaving. With regard to anything, but with weaving in particular, it can be a little rough on neck, back, hips, shoulders, elbows, wrists. You know, there’s… It’s really important that the ergonomics of our loom kind of work for our bodies, because when you think about it, you’re sitting at a loom, you’re doing all of these little, repetitive motions, right? Over, and over, and over again, and they’re small ranges of movement, and that can really deteriorate your joints over time, and you know, we all love weaving, and I consider it a lifetime activity in that it can take a lifetime to get good at, but we want to be able to do it for a good long time.
So, stretch, foam rollers, little therapy massage balls, anything to help release kind of the repetition that can wear and tear on our joints with weaving. So, those would be my three things. Sampling, math, and self-care.
LaChaun Moore: Wow. And that’s such wonderful advice. Thank you so much.
Christine Jablonski: Thank you.
LaChaun Moore: That’s a wrap. If you’re interested in signing up for Twofold, you can visit www.gistyarn.com/pages/twofold. That’s www.gistyarn.com/pages/twofold. Thank you for tuning into this week’s episode. Until next time, happy weaving!
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