Archive for August, 2008

First day in big school

I can remember my kids being a mixture of daunted and excited when they finished pre-school and went to “big school” for the first time. So many people! So much happening! What is all that stuff? Will you be my friend?

OK, it wasn’t quite like that, but there was distinct excitement plus an element of daunt when my little first year weaving class (all three of us) joined the big kids in second year weaving last Wednesday. We had already had a class with Liz on Tuesday – all theory. The first half was to introduce us to 8 shaft twills and plan out the sampler we will be doing. The second half was back to our four shaft double weave exercise, looking at how we can use it as a support structure (more opportunities for leno, brooks bouquet etc), and ideas for garments (for homework we’re weaving small scale bogshirts, with slits and double width and two layer parts, needing minimal assembly once it’s off the loom).

8 shaft loom all ready to go

8 shaft loom all ready to go

Wednesday we arrived half an hour early to finish our basic 8 shaft theory. The “big kids” started arriving as we were finishing that up, so on to another round of theory with them – this time colour and weave on eight shafts. With heads full to over-flowing, we actually got to spend an hour or so working on our looms. For me that meant finishing up putting on the warp for my 8 shaft twill sampler.

I didn’t quite use the full width of the loom – there’s one empty dent in the reed! However that’s as far as I can go until next class. We decided that it was too much to do the double nights, so Liz and the first years are going to meet half an hour early each Wednesday and try to do any necessary catch-up or bridging work in that time.

Doubleweave progress

Double weave progress

Most of my weaving time this week has been spent on the doubleweave sampler. It’s really fun. There’s basically twice as many threads in the warp as you would normally use for the same width. They are woven in two layers, one (the “face”) on top of the other (the “back”). You can have two shuttles and take turns – shuttle A a row on the face, shuttle B a row on the back. Repeated, that gives two separate layers of cloth. You can also get the face and the back to swap over, which is how I got the stripes of colour in the photo. Slots or pockets are formed. In the middle of the photo, I padded the slots with varying amounts of wadding to get a raised or cushion effect. Near the top of the photo I started playing with colour.

No photos of 8 shaft colour and weave. We are working through the theory with the second years, but not actually doing the sampler. I have spent a fair amount of time with my weaving software (Fiberworks PCW), trying out a few of the many combinations.

Beginning of scarf for Geoff

Beginning of scarf for Geoff

Of course I also have my home project on the big loom – Geoff’s scarf that I started planning a while back. After sampling we decided on a 20/2 silk weft. The warp is the wool+silk yarn from theknittery that I used in my autumn and ocean scarves. There was quite a bit of chopping and changing on colours (on future “commissions” I think I’ll try to keep the “client” a little less closely involved). I like our final choice, although I did take two attempts dyeing the blue. I’m really pleased with the weaving so far ( all 26 cm of it – less than a foot), even if the photo shows up the uneven beating that I was blissfully unaware of.

I should mention that this frantic pace is quite unlike my normal approach, especially when you add in the day job and preparations for ATASDA’s AGM and Art Textiles Conference. It’s only for a short time, thank goodness.

Working hard

Well, I’ve been quiet lately, working hard. For various reasons the weaving class is now very small – just 3 of us. Liz and the guild have been generous to keep us going, but something has to give. So we’ll be joining the Wednesday night second year class and for a few weeks at least also meeting on our normal Tuesday night, trying to cover the bare essentials of the last half of first year and first half of second year. So that’s two looms working – double weave for Tuesday and threading up an 8 shaft twill sampler for Wednesday. Plus I’ve warped up the big loom for Geoff’s scarf and done a sample of various wefts.

My biggest, hardest lesson the last couple of weeks – no matter how keen I am, no matter how much I want to finish the next little bit, no matter how careful I think I’m being, I need to STOP when tired. Then after a break I need to DOUBLE-CHECK that I am restarting in exactly the right place. This is so, so frustrating. I started threading the twill sampler tonight, I have to wait up until my son phones to collect him from a party, and I must not touch the loom. It’s sitting on the table, calling to me… but there is no point when I’d just have to fix all the mistakes in the morning (that’s if I find them all).

Leno

Leno

Leno

Leno

Brooks bouquet

Brooks bouquet

To stay productive while not creating a huge headache of a mess on the threading I have been sorting out photos of the last class sampler – a mix of lace and embroidery and finger-manipulated weaves. (apologies for rotten colour).

Leno involves using a pickup stick to create crossed over warp ends. The weft holds the twist in place. This lets you create a gauzy effect while still being reasonably stable. Practice should definitely help build some speed. It felt like every row took 5 minutes – and a moment’s clumsiness meant starting over. Still, some of the results were really nice and in the right place would make a very pretty detail.

I didn’t do much Brooks bouquet. This is a wrapping technique, a bit like backstitch, pulling the warp together in little bundles. I kept with the main colour, but it can look good using a contrast weft too.

Danish Medallion

Danish Medallion

Danish medallion

Danish medallion

Danish medallion

Danish medallion

Like all the other techniques we tried, we only scratched the surface of what can be done with danish medallions. This involves using a contrast yarn to weave one pick of weft. A little later in the weaving you use the contrast again, this time working with a crochet hook to pull a loop of yarn up. You can snug the loop up a bit to encourage the medallion shape.

Inlay

Inlay

Dukagang

Dukagang

We tried a few different things with inlay. This is basically some extra weft that you insert to create pattern. I particularly like the meandering line (at the bottom on the photo) and the wavy line (at the top). The meander you get by taking a contrast yarn for a wander with a row of the ground weft between each row of contrast. For the wavy line, do two rows of the contrast without anything between. I found that the yarn you use for the inlay makes a huge difference. Also if you need something thicker you get better coverage by using a number of strands of thin yarn rather than one strand of thicker yarn. The three experiments in the middle look like messy satin stitch embroidery, but are actually firmly anchored in the weave in the back.

I enjoyed the dukagang, which is a particular type of inlay. I was using borg sn2 wool which sat and covered very nicely (the base warp and weft is cottolin). The contrast yarn floats over 3 ends then is tied down by the fourth. I think it would wear very well as a sturdy bag.

[Parent taxi service update… Geoff has gone to collect the party-goer, so I may be able to finish this post tonight].

Spanish lace

Spanish lace

Spanish lace was rather tricky. You need just the right yarn to get good movement. I haven’t shown a couple of examples that were a bit of a non-event. The one here is at the other extreme – I was determined to get it to show, so used a thick, shiny, non-compressible and very red cord. It’s also a bit unstable.

You basically do some plain weave in sections of the warp. Some movement could be seen even when it was on the loom, and a lot more appeared when I did the wet finishing. I think there’s room for a lot more experimentation, but it’s not one of my favourite effects.

Ghiordes knot

Ghiordes knot

Ghiordes knot is also called rya and turkish knot and uses a larks head knot. I tried two variations. First I outlined a shape using knots of pre-cut yarn. It felt very awkward, but I’m sure that as usual practice would make a big difference. The second experiment was a continuous loop, using some dowel to keep the loops a consistent size. I really like the neat little zigzag at the top where the loops are anchored. Of course you could do both types much more densely, moving towards a rug effect, but I think the highlight effect could also be useful.

[The boys just arrived safely – fortunately I’m at the last photos].

Mixed bag

Mixed bag

Mixed

Mixed

The strong line (it’s actually a triangle and a line) is soumak, in more bright red. Then we have some red loops (aka bouttone), formed over knitting needle and placed in varying density. The mix of red and orange is spanish loops – the same idea, but using two different contrast wefts in combination. There’s also some clasped weft visible, but you’ll get much better information on that from Kaz.

Good night!!!

ATASDA exhibition and conference

There has been a lot happening lately and I’ve fallen behind on blog reading and writing. My thanks to those who have left comments.

ATASDA’s Out of the Blue exhibition is one reason. If you can get to Sydney between now and next Tuesday morning make sure you visit – the Palm House in the Botanic Gardens, open each day 10 – 4 except Tuesday (the last day) when we close at 2.

There are major pieces, employing a wide variety of textile techniques and materials (my Ocean Scarf plays a very small part), plus the results of our charm challenge. We had groups of 9. Each person chose a theme and made a base and the first charm, then posted the result to the next in line. Each month we’d make another charm, fitting with the originator’s chosen theme. After 8 months my original piece came home, including all the charms made for me by the others in my group. My theme was memories of a walk along the water with friends, based on a quote from Nick Lyons. I sent a little book around and got some wonderful comments and thoughts from the others. Thank you so much Margaret, Chrissy, Val, Barbara, Christine, Norma, Dinah and Terry – plus Kirry, our amazing mastermind.

Another ATASDA event coming up is our Art Textiles Conference (supported by COFA) on Saturday 13 September. We have 8 fantastic speakers, with the keynote from Jane Dunnewold on her first visit to Australia. We’re in the final frantic weeks of organisation (with our AGM the week before). There are still some seats, so come join us if you can. I’m in that mixed state – really looking forward to it, since I think it will be inspiring and thought provoking (Liz Williamson at COFA is an excellent weaver and spoke at a recent ATASDA NSW meeting. She’s not presenting but is closely involved with the conference organisation), but rather daunted by what needs to be done in the meantime.

Colour and weave

With excellent timing, Dot left a comment asking about the colour and weave sample. I finished it during the week and took some scans last night.

With colour and weave, pattern is produced by using a variety of colours (or more importantly values) in the warp and weft.

The sample warp was a straight draft on 4 shafts. Going from left to right in the photo, part one alternated one dark end/one light end; part two: 2 light one dark; part three: 2 light 2 dark; part 4: 4 light 4 dark; part 5: a log cabin, with one light one dark for 5 repeats then switching to one dark one light. There were some slight adjustments at the beginning and end of some parts for balance.

When weaving, the same patterns of colour were used in the weft. So the band at the bottom was one light pick followed by one dark pick, repeated. For the sample I worked through the same 5 combinations of colour using plain weave, then went through everything again in a twill.

Liz (weaving teacher) always whets our appetite with each new exercise by showing us examples of finished pieces as well as samplers she and earlier students have made. She had a lovely black and white scarf using colour and weave – not all over but giving a huge amount of life and interest, the restraint increasing the impact.

Once the base sampler was done Liz encouraged us to play with other colours and ideas. I don’t have a stash of weaving yarns (yet??). The sampler used Bendigo Woollen Mills 2 ply classic wool that I bought from the guild, in maize (yellow divider), aster (lighter yarn) and prussian (the blue/purple darker value). I overdyed some maize with a turquoise in two depths of shade, getting greens in roughly the same values as the aster and prussian. I was also interested in trying a very slight variation in colours, so overdyed some aster and prussian with just a little red – not too much since I didn’t want to darken it a lot.

The combined photo shows three parts of the sampler. All alternate one dark one light in both warp and weft, in a twill. The top is the original colours. You can see the effect of colour and weave is the normal diagonal to the right of twill is replaced by a diagonal of colour to the left.

In the middle the turquoise overdyed yarns were used in the weft. Close up, to my eyes the colour dominates and I see diagonal to the right of the green. At some angles and at a distance the left diagonal of values is more prominant.

The bottom shows the lightly overdyed weft. The colour is much closer to the warp, so the value effect dominates. It’s not a huge difference, but to my eyes it is definitely a richer effect and in some of the patterns there is a more three dimensional element.

A world of possibilities!

Mission Accomplished

The first sample on the Noble loom is finished. Washed and pressed, it is 255 x 18.5 cm (around 100 x 7 inches) with 15 patterns.

Most of the patterns came from the Thrilling Twills CD from Fiberworks. A couple were from handweaving.net . The yarn is classic 2 ply wool from Bendigo Woollen Mills.

Since this was my very first warp, difficulties were expected – and experienced! Getting the warp on was an adventure, and I’m hoping doing it twice will have moved some of the learning into long-term memory. I used a 16 shaft point threading and patterns direct from the sources (apart from adding a plain weave selvedge), since the focus was simply to achieve weaving, not design.

The weaving definitely improved. I tried the same circle design near the beginning and at the very end of the sampler. Side by side, it’s easy to see that the later ones (on the left) are beaten much more consistently and actually ended up close to circular 😉 I’m not sure if you can see in the small photo, but I also got much better with my footwork and the early troubles with missed or stuck shafts were much reduced, although not entirely gone. The selvedge loops were eliminated, although I’m not at all convinced by the plain weave I used. In class we used a floating selvedge with twills, but I decided to avoid that in this sample because I had the impression somehow that it would be more difficult to manage on the larger loom. I’ll have to keep looking for a better way to handle this.

The sampler has also provided the basic pattern for my first “proper” project on the loom. I want to make a scarf for Geoff (husband) – not just a supporter but an enthusiastic enabler of my fibre-y pursuits. He likes the feather pattern from Thrilling Twills (16SF055, if you have the CD), so I’ve been playing in the software to change it up a bit.
This is a screen shot of part of the plan. I’m still feeling my way with the software. At the moment I am totally confused by the different ways of ordering and reading a draft – starting at the top or bottom, reading from the left or right. The only solution I’ve found at this point is to make it totally symmetrical. Front and back of cloth and which I see as I weave remains a mystery. That’s still a way in the future – first I need to dye some yarn.


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