Archive for January, 2010

Colour assignments 3 & 4

I’m continuing with the colour exercises, but have been thinking more about how these can be interpreted in weaving terms. The plain weave (or perhaps I should see them as blocks) I’m using on the assignments brings a lot of constraints.  Of course there’s surface design after weaving – a few well placed stitches or maybe experiment with patches.

I found a quote from Sharon Alderman, from a Weavezine podcast:

“…painters, if they want a little dot of crimson right there on the canvas, they just put it there. But if I don’t want it to appear in the warp direction and in the weft direction, I have to be ingenious to make it happen.

“And there are things that are different about weaving from others. Now, having said that, colour theory is colour theory no matter what your medium is, but the way that you handle getting the harmonies that you want is different for a weaver.
“The pointillists were trying to duplicate nature by making little dots of colour. Because when they looked at things closely, they saw the colours weren’t flat, that they were made of many, many colours.
“Well, that’s something that weavers can do better than anybody because if you use small threads you can have variety of colours and make a new colour by crossing one with another that is richer and seems to have more depth than what a painter can do.”
There’s another interview with Michael Rohde, which seems in my current state of mind to be all about colour.
I’d been thinking about the possibilities of double weave, then saw this piece by Elisabeth Hill. A few ends of a different colour has such an impact!
Is it wonderful or daunting, the way the world of weaving keep getting bigger?  Some days I just enjoy the wonder of it all, knowing I see and understand just a small part. Other days I focus down on my little corner and say “this is enough for me for now”.

Assignment 3 in David Hornung’s colour – a workshop for artists and designers is prismatic studies. “Prismatic” colours are high saturation, pure hues. I had mixed success.

prismatic, wide range of hue and value

Prismatic, narrow value range (high key)

Prismatic, narrow value range

Failed!! attempt at prismatic low key values

The major problem is the low-key violets. Dull, dull, dull! However not unexpected or unusual – in the book Hornung comments that mixed “pure” violets will always be disappointing. However, he recommends that despite this one should stick to mixing in the first four studies of the course. Ever obedient (hah!) I mixed, but have bought commercial violets and turquoise for the the later studies. The Lanaset dyes I use have particularly gorgeous violet and turquoise, and there’s no point learning about colour with that gaping hole.

Assignment 4 asks for Combined Saturation Studies.

Broad range of saturation, hues and values

On review I could have included something with stronger saturation.

Broad range of saturation and hue, narrow value range

Plus an extra for fun, since I often don’t like the studies I’m producing.

Broad range of saturation, hue and value

Assignment 1
Assignment 2

Runner in rosepath

The first un-Christmas gift is done!

This is a table runner – more a centre-piece since it’s quite short – requested by my mother. Mum liked my autumn bag (blogged here) and asked for something similar. The colour cues are shown in the photo – on the left, a snap of the turkish rug mum picked up on her travels, on the right an offcut of her upholstery fabric.

I think this is the first time I’ve used yarn wrapping to help decide on warp colours and placement. In the end I thought the more formal, symmetrical style better reflected the formal layout of the rug.

This is the warp seen here, lying all smooth and ready to go onto the Robinson loom on New Year’s day. It was finally tied on and ready to start weaving 11 days later. The warp was short – just 1.25 metres since I only needed 62 cm finished length including fringe. I didn’t consciously take short cuts, but I kept finding myself doing stupid things and getting into a mess.  I kept thinking of it as a small warp, but it was 290 ends which is on the high side for me. Anyway, I fumbled through winding it on, then made multiple errors (and, I think, an equal number of corrections) while threading the heddles and sleying the reed.

Another shot, just because I like it!

With this type of weaving not everything is planned before you start – there’s of lot of decision-making on the spot as you see how colours work together. At first I found it really difficult, trying to second-guess what mum would like. One fabric in particular I really liked but she wasn’t keen on – it has orange and turquoise in it and is visible about half way up this shot, so you can tell that in the end I decided the only possibility was to do what looked right to me, and hope mum likes the final result.

Some project details: Warp is cottolin, sett at 18 ends per inch. Threading rosepath (thread 1, 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, 1 and repeat). Weft – varied, includes torn fabric strips (mostly light silk), some fancy silk yarns, some of mum’s old embroidery yarns, odd and bobs. Woven on Robinson 4 shaft table loom. Lift sequence 1-2, 2-3, 3-4, 4-1, 3-4, 2-3, 1-2, 1-4 and repeat. A few bits of clasped weft. Final size 62×39 cm.

Started 31/12/2009, finally finished 28/1/2010 (it was off the loom much earlier, but the finishing and fringes have been done in work pauses on the next project, which has a deadline I’m going to miss).

The one outstanding thing is mum’s reaction. I’ll see that next week.

Warp painting with Linda Coffill

Last week at the NSW Guild‘s summer school I went to a great two day class with Linda Coffill, dyeing warps. It was excellent – great group of women, sufficient space to spread out our warps, hot outside (nice for drying) and cool inside, and most importantly a knowledgeable and generous teacher.

Linda talked to us about use of colour and flow – colour moving, changing, no harsh boundaries creating jerks and stopping movement. She brought along her enormous collection of Landscape dyes (being one part of Petlins,  Linda was able to bring along shop stock to supplement where necessary).

A great advantage of Landscape dyes in the class setting (and at home for those who choose, of course) is that all the auxiliary chemicals are already mixed in with the dye, so they are ready to use as soon as mixed with water (dyeing protein fibres only, such as wool and silk). Also they come in many, many colours (charts here), so we could concentrate on specific techniques with the warps rather than colour mixing.  (At home I’ll stick with Lanaset dyes – it’s not that hard to add the extra chemicals, and I’m a believer in mixing your own colours).

I’ve dyed yarns before, but never warps. Our first exercise was to wind a warp of 72 ends in 8 ply wool (suggested to keep things fast). Linda showed us how to lay out the warp, folding and positioning to create a balanced gradient on the scarf (ie both ends matching), allowing for loom waste etc. We could then dye a supplementary warp to use as an accent. There wasn’t time for weaving during the class – well, others managed it but not me :). This was one of yesterday’s unfinished items, now completed and very pretty, if I say so myself.

I haven’t tried a supplementary warp before. The main warp was the wool, threaded for plain weave on shafts 1 and 2. I wound that on the back beam sett at 8 ends per inch, then through the heddles and reed leaving space for the supplementary weft – empty heddles on shafts 3 and 4 and matching gaps in the reed. The supplementary warp was tussah ribbon yarn from Beautiful Silks. I wrapped each silk end onto its own plastic bobbin, threaded through the waiting spaces, and weighted them in groups over the back beam with S hooks and washers. Weaving was simpler than I expected – lifting shafts 1 and 2 in turn for the plain weave base, and on each pick adding either shaft 3 or 4.

The colour pattern (using landscape names) was meant to be:
* wool warp starting heath, fading into dusk, fading into granite, then back through dusk into heath at the other end;
* supplementary silk warp starting at granite, fading into heath and back to granite;
* weft dusk throughout (slightly darker than in the warp).

I had some trouble at the beginning working with the very stretchy wool and the not-at-all stretchy silk, so the gradations didn’t quite match up as planned, but unless someone else starts obsessively folding and measuring the scarf noone will know!

The rest of my dyeing from class will need to wait in the weaving queue a while. Experiments 2 and 3 were “crampot dyeing” – the yarn scrunched around in minimal water in a pan and dye colours added to different regions. For the one on the left in the photo I also dyed yarn in a single colour for supplementary warp and weft. I have plans pencilled in for these, subject to change. To save time and do more dyeing in class I didn’t wind warps first, I just dyed whole hanks, so I should have plenty for whatever I end up doing.

The final warp involved a couple of hours of winding and tieing in complex groups. This will be a warp faced scarf, warp in 20/2 silk, weft (at the back in the photo) 60/2 silk. There will be 21 stripes in all, using 4 base colours (coral, pacific and tasman with a little granite) in various combinations. Linda’s examples were beautiful (drat me forgetting the camera both days!), so I have high hopes, but not expectations!

Surfacing and swedish lace review

I’ve been pulled hither and thither lately, have a number of nearly finished projects and the mess in my work area had gone from creatively releasing and exciting to mind numbing and confusing. So this morning I did enough tidying to let me work without constantly moving things around and the energy is already rising.

Today is Australia Day and we’re going to visit friends soon for the traditional barbecue, but I have a little pocket of time to answer some questions from Vivian about the swedish lace sampler blogged here.

Here’s a part of the threading, tie up and treadling. It was intended to create squares of pattern, but mine turned out rectangles. Just add as many pattern squares as you need for your piece.

Warp and weft are 22/2 cottolin, sett 16 ends per inch. I didn’t record the on-the-loom measurements, but got around 10% shrinkage between off-loom and finished. I suggest sampling yourself before undertaking a large project. The finished sampler is 34.5cm wide (about 13.5 inches), with 5 colour stripes. It’s a nice, light airy cloth. I’d like it as a scarf. I haven’t woven a lot of towels (just the summer and winter ones, which are very thick), so don’t know if this would be suitably absorbent and sturdy. Certainly the fringe I used would have to go!

I’ve used this sampler quite a bit when planning other pieces, especially the interaction of two colours and the impact of similar or very different values (lightness or darkness, which seems to be more important than hue – green, purple etc).

Vivian, I think towels in two colours would be lovely. I’m sure I’ve seen projects for tablecloths like that. Good luck with your project and weaving group.

Colour Assignment 2

Assignment 2 in David Hornung’s colour – a workshop for artists and designers
is muted colour studies. The first study should show a broad range of hue and value. The second study a broad range of hue and a narrow value range. Here are my attempts:

muted colours, broad range of hue and value

muted colours, wide range of hues, narrow range of values

muted colours, wide range of hues, narrow range of values

I’ve continued mixing and preparing colour swatches for the strips but still need to do lots more.  I decided to go to 6 strips wide and deep which means 12 different colours for each study. I didn’t have enough to really narrow the value ranges.

Previously: Assignment 1

A day in the life of my looms

Meg at Unravelling suggested photos of looms on new years day.

Robinson 4 shaft table loom with fresh and very short warp ready to go on.

Ashford 8 shaft table loom folded up and waiting patiently at the back of the noble.

Noble 24 shaft loom, with the end of the last scarf (huck bellringing) “saved” in case I decide to tie on another.

I hope the new year brings you  joy and fulfillment in your weaving and life 🙂


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January 2010

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