Archive for November, 2008

Double weave = double++ time

My toughest assignment yet is done!!

double weave

double weave

You first saw a glimpse of it here (right at the bottom of the post) at the beginning of the month. Here it is today, not quite in all its glory since I can’t get the colour right despite playing with white balance in the camera, colour levels in gimp, etc. In life it is richer and brighter.  It is soft to the touch – and did I mention done?

2/20s superfine wool from tutor Liz, set at 20epi each layer (for a nice light drape with the double layers – 24 epi would be more usual).

fine wool + 2 layers = x hours weaving, where x is a BIG number.

Double weave on 4 shafts gave two layers of cloth and the flexibility to choose which layer showed on top. This sample was on 8 shafts. Still two layers of cloth, but threaded to give two blocks, so part layers could be brought to the top.

Dark layer – purple through blue and back to purple – block A on shafts 1 and 2, block B on shafts 3 and 4. Lifting (1 + 3) then (2 + 4) gives a purple/blue layer of plain weave.

Light layer – red through oranges to yellow – block A on shafts 5 and 6, block B on shafts 7 and 8. Lifting (5 + 7) then (6 + eight ) gives a red/orange layer of plain weave.

I can have:

block A red on top plus block B red on top (= red layer on top)
block A purple on top plus block B purple on top (=purple layer on top)
block A red and block B purple
block A purple and block B red

Weaving is in sets:
a pick of purple (lift 1+3)
a pick of red (lift 5+7)
a pick of purple (2+4)
a pick of red (6+8 )

But each set I have to decide which colour of each block I want on top. To keep a layer of colour on top, I have to lift it up out of the way when I weave the other colour. For example, if I want block A red and block B purple, then when I weave purple I have to lift Block A red (5+6) out of the way, and when I weave red I have to lift block B purple (3+4) out of the way, giving:
a pick of purple lift (1+3)+(5+6)
a pick of red (5+7)+(3+4)
a pick of purple (2+4)+(5+6)
a pick of red (6+8)+(3+4)

It all sounds complex (did I mention extra time in the weaving?), but I did get into a rhythm of sorts.

There’s extra visual interest because the layers overlap in the middle, but the purple layer extended out to the left, so that always shows, and the red extended out to the right and always shows there. The extra challenge is that you can’t always see the selvedges in the overlapped part.

Do I like it?? Hmm. I love the colours. I was thinking dancing flames when I chose them, when weaving I saw sunsets, parrots, campfires and glowing coals… The patterning is busy. I wanted to experiment with lots of combinations and patterns in which blocks I used. So there are checks and windows of colour and bits that look like keys and so much more happening. Bright colour + busy patterning = visually challenging. It’s a sampler more than a scarf. Still, I’ll definitely wear it as a scarf when cooler weather returns.

Naturally this just scratches the surface of double weave. Each week in class Liz gave us new approaches to the theory, brought in samples, gave slide shows… Weaving reminds me of fractals (as a non-mathematician) – each time you go to a new area there is more detail, more variation, more possibilities, more to learn.

So, what’s next? The double weave was with the second year class. We’re still working through first year theory as well, and in the time I’ve been doing the double weave Liz has taken us through theory on 4 shaft undulating twills, Ms and Os and last week started overshot. I’m going to jump into overshot, and come back to the others during the summer break.

Swedish Lace sampler

Trapunto commented to my last post about how useful a sampler can be – “8-shaft twills, how boring and cluttered a photo from a certain treadling can look in a book … turn out to be very interesting and definite in person”. I can only agree – there are well over 100 different patterns in that twill sampler, all with potential for development, and that’s before you bring colour and yarn choices into play.

swedish_ironing1I don’t have time to dwell on those possibilities just now, it’s on to the next sampler. However I am happy to report that this will bring me almost up to date, after a hectic month focused on activities other than weaving and blog reading/writing. Today’s sampler is fresh from the loom yesterday and the ironing board today. In fact the cover on the ironing board still bears its imprint.

Lace on the loom

Lace on the loom

Off the loom, unwashed

Off loom, unwashed

Swedish lace is mostly plain weave, with areas of floats (warp and/or weft) that move when you wash the cloth to give an open, lacey, textured effect. You can’t see much of this on the loom or before it’s washed. This sampler is probably easier to see than most since I decided to make it a colour experiment (how out of character!), rather than the more traditional cream or white. The yarn is Cottolin – 60% cotton, 40% linen.

After finishing

After finishing

You can see the impact of finishing (a vigorous handwash in hot water ). For the “after” photos I put a black cloth underneath to show up the holes.  There was 9% shrinkage between just off the loom to finished size.

You work with little sets of 5 threads. For example, for weft floats going across 5 warp threads:
weft 1 does plain weave
weft 2 floats over all 5 warps
weft 3 does plain weave
weft 4 floats
weft 5 plain weave.

During washing, the 2 floats sit up a bit and the 3 plain weave threads snuggle together underneath. You get some texture from the floats up top and spaces either side (before weft 1 and after weft 5) because of the snuggling.

A closer look

A closer look

There’s a “normal” thread between each set of 5 to give a bit of structure and hold things together – which gives the little “window pane” cross thing. Plus you can use a similar idea with warp floats instead of weft floats. This photo shows a combination of purple warp floats and turquoise weft floats.

This was a 1st year, 4 shaft project. I decided to make colour experimentation my focus, partly because I’m on a colour jag and partly influenced by the March/April 2008 issue of Handwoven – especially the Beginners Corner section. I kept the actual weaving design simple and (I believe) traditional – a mixture of both warp and weft floats on the face, plus plain weave so that I got all the possible colour mixes. I was interested in areas of pure colour and areas where warp and weft colours combine. I was also keen to try for an iridescent effect by using two very close colours.

Turquoise and green

Turquoise and green

On my monitor this photo is just a fraction brighter than life. Bottom left corner is green warp and weft. Top right is all turquoise. Top left and bottom right are combinations – in my opinion, in real life, more interesting.

The two light greens might be easier to see, and also very attractive “live”. In fact I like most of the combinations, the subtle and the more extreme, so I’ll show a couple more.

Two light greens

Two light greens

Pink and Green

Pink and Green

Purple and green

Purple and green

More detail on this project here.

Twill sampler

Way back when, a twill sampler on four shafts was the second thing we did in weaving class. With the leap to join the second years we started with a twill sampler on eight shafts. It just so happened that I finished the colour and weave out of order, since I put it on my big loom (given it’s easier to use and gives me lots more width and heddles to play with).

8s_twill_1Following standard sampler procedure, the warp was threaded in sections:

* straight – threading on shaft one, then shaft 2, 3, and on to 8 then repeat;

* pointed – changing directions, for example shaft 1, 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, 1 and lots more jiggling about. It can produce some attractive patterns but at the price of some long “floats” in the weft at the turning points (a potential weakness and the chance of getting snagged when using the cloth);

* herringbone – changing directions, but with a little jump each time, for example 1, 2, 3,  7, 6, 5, 4. This avoids the float problems.

* skip – no actual direction changes, but jumps, eg 4,5,6,7, 3,4,5,6

* transposed – swapping in pairs – 2,1, 4,3, 6,5, etc. I like this because it reminds me of bellringing (another interest of mine and I’m always on the lookout for ways to interpret bellringing methods in weaving).

Having set up the warp (all almond-coloured Bendigo Mills 2 ply classic wool), you have to figure which sequence of shafts to raise when weaving. Suddenly the world gets very big and scarey. …imagine a pause here, where I look at my notes and realise there is no way I’m going to explain this…

Say you decide to lift half the shafts each time you place one row of weft. You could lift:

shafts 1, 2, 3, 4

then 2, 3, 4, 5

then 3, 4, 5, 6


Or you might decide to try a different combination, eg

shafts 1, 2, 3, 6

then 2, 3, 4, 7

then 3, 4, 5, 8

Or you might decide to only lift 3 shafts at a time, eg

shaft 1, 2, 4

then 2, 3, 5

then 3, 4, 6

Or… well, Liz’s handout informs me that there are 22 possible 8 shaft combinations of 8 shaft twill lifts.

8s_twill_2The world of weaving possibilities keeps getting bigger. The central part of this photo is really four variants of one thing. All of them are weaving “on opposites” – that is, you weave a pick, say lifting 1, 2, 3, 4, then on the next pick you lift the opposite shafts – 5, 6, 7, 8.

The first bit I used wool for both wefts – one weft of red lifting 1, 2, 3, 6, then one of pink lifting 4, 5, 7, 8, then pink lifiting 2, 3, 4, 7, red lifting 1, 5, 6, 8. I tried to keep the beat similar to the rest of the sample.

Next I used very fine wefts of pink and cream. You can see the same “mountain” pattern at the right, but all squashed up because of the tiny weft.

After that I stayed with the thin wefts, but changed to a 1,2,3,4 lift. Then back to wool, this time beating harder to pack in the rows of weft.

Well, if you’ve got this far you are probably both brave and confused! At least the colour scheme this time is nice and simple – almond and red, with pink to divide up the sections. Just so you don’t think I’m turning sedate, here’s a glimpse of what’s on the loom now:


Colour and weave

cnw8s_fanThe 8 shaft colour and weave sample I showed last post is finished and I find it fascinating. Lots of colour interactions, and even where they repeat the look is different with the different lifts used. Although there is so much happening, for me the cloth works as a whole. Ignoring that it’s too wide for a scarf, too narrow for a wrap, and too short for either, I’ve used it a few times for extra warmth on mixed-up weather days.

cnw8s_2The basic idea is the same as in the four shaft sampler. This time all the warp sections followed a 2 light/2 dark/2 light etc sequence, using a lot more colours. The exercise was meant to include cutting off and rethreading with 4 light/4 dark, but I didn’t put on enough warp for that.  The patterns can look quite different depending on whether the weft colours match that section of warp.  All the wool is Bendigo Mills 2 ply classic wool, and almost all their standard colours (the very last weft pair were overdyed).



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November 2008

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