Thank you all for the nice comments about Geoff’s scarf. It’s lovely and soft and luscious to touch. Andrew’s right, it’s mostly silk – 50/50 silk/wool warp and all silk weft. I still find it amazing to be able to create fabric at all, let alone something I really like – weaving is a wonderful thing! Peg, I will write about the Art Textiles Conference, but am hoping to get some photos from a friend first (I was too distracted to take any).
Earlier this week I finished my class double weave sampler. You can see it as a work in progress here. Double-weave involves weaving two layers of cloth at once. This was done on a four shaft loom. The grey layer was threaded on shafts 1 and 3, the blue layer on shafts 2 and 4.
This explanation is a bit wordy… For a top layer of grey cloth, lift shaft 1 for a pick, then shaft 3 and repeat. You end up with a layer of plain weave grey on top, and the blue warp is sitting underneath, not involved at all. For a bottom layer of blue cloth, lift shafts 1 and 3 to keep the grey out of the way. Then alternate lifting shafts 2 and 4 (with 1 and 3 kept up out of the way all the time) and you end up with a bottom layer of blue plain weave and the grey warp sitting on top, not involved.
Of course what you really want is to weave both layers at once, so alternate. Weave one or two picks of grey (shafts 1 and 3), followed by one or two picks of blue (lift shafts 1 and 3 up out of the way, then weave on shafts 2 and 4), using a separate shuttle of weft for each layer of cloth. In section 1 of the sampler I did two picks at a time, first two rows of grey cloth, then two rows of blue cloth, being careful not to let the two wefts wrap around each other. In section 2, I did one pick at a time – it’s a bit more fiddly but you get a more even beat. In section 3 at the top of the photo I deliberately wrapped the wefts together at the edge so instead of two separate layers there is a tube of cloth.
It gets a bit more interesting if you swap which layer is top. To get the blue layer on top, just weave on shafts 2 and 4, leaving the grey warp sitting at the bottom. To get the bottom grey layer, lift the blue (2 and 4) up out of the way and weave on 1 and 3. Each time you swap which colour is top, the two layers cross and you get a join across the width. Section 4 is playing with this idea – you get neater joins depending on exactly which pick in the sequence you do the swap on.
Keep swapping and you get pockets – in section 5 of the sampler I stuffed the pockets with polyester batting to get a 3D effect.
Sections 6 and 7 were experimenting with different wefts, changing colours and textures.
Double weave expands your colour options. Usually the warp gives a constant colour (assuming the yarn isn’t variegated), which optically mixes with the weft colour. With double weave you have the option of bringing up the other layer of warp any time, introducing more colour. Section 8 is very basic play with that, using clasped-weft on the top layer (more colours and colour interaction).
Section 10 shows double weave providing support to some Brook’s bouquet on the top layer – extra stability for the cloth, plus using the darker background to showcase the fancy bit.
You can also swap layers along the row, giving areas of pure colour. The lower, blocky part was done using two pick up sticks. I found it very tricky to do and didn’t get anywhere close to a consistent beat. You have to concentrate hard to keep the basic plain weave going as you swap the layers about. The top part was more freeform and in the lower part of it I clearly got into a huge muddle and lost the plain weave structure. I got better by the end – value of practice etc, etc.
Double weave also gives a way to extend the width of your weaving. On the left hand side of this photo, I used one shuttle of blue weft. The sequence was a pick right to left across the grey layer, a pick left to right across the blue layer, a pick right to left across the blue layer, a pick left to right across the grey layer. Using a single weft (and keeping the sequence right) you get a single piece of cloth twice the width.
In the centre of the photo is a section where I kept the top and bottom layers separate, then in the righthand section I wove only half way across the top layer, then used a second shuttle across the left side of the top and all the way across the bottom layer. I didn’t do the whole thing, but the idea is to create a simple shirt from a single piece of cloth, no cutting. The gap on the right is the neck, with a grey yoke below. The grey in the middle becomes the sleeve, the blue underneath folds around to become the front below the yoke. Sorry the explanation is clear as mud.
All of this was under the guidance of Liz, in our guild weaving class. If you can, get someone to show you how to do this – something not all that hard to show gets hopelessly bogged down when you try to put it in words!
Would I do it again? It was very fiddly in parts, difficult to get good beat and selveges in the bottom layer (since you can’t see it), slow to progress since you’re doing the two layers… At this stage it appears to me a specialist thing, giving options and maybe an elegant solution for particular projects. Maybe one day I’ll come back to it.