Archive for April, 2010

Imagery in Woven Fabric – Kay Faulkner

What a fabulous week at the Textile Fibre Forum in Orange! I’m finding it hard to write without excited, incoherent and somewhat embarrassing burbling.  I enjoyed Kay Faulkner’s teaching – she encouraged, led and supported, but made us think for ourselves – and the interaction with the other 9 students was great. The actual material covered… at one moment on Thursday morning (I think) I felt like a doorway had opened in my mind and there was a dazzling blaze of light and possibilities ahead that will take a long, long time to explore. Since then there’s been a series of flashbulbs going off in my head as I begin integrating the new information with the solid foundation of theory and structure that I’ve gained from the weekly guild classes with Liz Calnan. (an aside – hearing the experience of others in the Forum class who work and learn in isolation, I have a new appreciation of how lucky I am to have easy access to the Guild, Liz’s teaching and the camaraderie of my weaving class.) (second aside – yes, I am jotting down notes in the hope of coming back to some of these ideas in the future).

Each morning Kay presented us with some theory and design exercises. Afternoons were spent weaving, using a variety of weave structures and pick up techniques to produce images in cloth. We worked on the elements of design (point, line, shape, space, texture and colour), design development and refinement, design principles (unity, balance, rhythm, emphasis, proportion and scale), design units, building blocks and working to a theme. We wove on a straight or “universal” threading, and also looked at how to blend drafts to combine two independent weave structures.

Since getting home I’ve wet-finished my 14 samples and put together pages in my workbook. Here’s a selection of pages.

This page shows the progression of the first design exercise. Kay asked us to use our initial(s) to as a starting point in a design. Constraints were that it should result in a 4 inch /10 cm, not too complex design.

We were asked to work quickly, building and developing from one possibility to the next. That photo on the top right was actually an A3 page.

The end result was transferred to graph paper at the required dimensions, then transferred onto woven interfacing. The interfacing was pinned under the warp as we wove samples, acting as a template. The various lines help keep distortion under control.

This sample used the structure of summer and winter to render the design. (You can click on the photos to see a larger version). As I mentioned above we used a “universal” straight threading that could produce a range of weave structures. This post on waffle weave gives the idea.

In summer and winter you weave tabby pick, then pattern pick, tabby then pattern. Two threads in each repeat of threading are used to tie down the pattern weft.

In the summer and winter towels I wove last year (blogged here) the areas of pattern were controlled by the loom, with multiple blocks threaded – and the effect was, indeed, very blocky. Kay taught us to select the areas to show pattern using a pickup stick. Once you get into the rhythm it goes fairly easily, and it certainly opens up all sorts of possibilities for producing imagery without wanting more and more shafts. I think I’m right in saying this design and much more complicated could be produced on 3 shafts, if you were prepared to invest the time.

Unfortunately the weaving in this sample is ordinary at best, but I found the idea behind this amazing. It’s Tejido Holandes – dutch inlay – and is a combination of plain weave and twill. Click on the photo, and hopefully you’ll be able to read the description of how it’s done.

The sequence of samples Kay gave us was so helpful in seeing structural connections. Summer and winter uses two tie down threads and a tabby. Taquete uses two tie downs, no tabby and a kind of weaving on opposites. Half satin uses three tie down threads and a tabby. Samitum uses three tie down threads, no tabby and weaving on opposites. Quigley uses four tie down threads… How logical is that? (apart from the naming, which seems pretty random!)

A final selection. We were asked to develop a pattern that would repeat with smooth joins horizontally and vertically. We made then made a stencil and tried it out in various combinations. We took one print from the stencil and used it for a lift plan. The possibilities went on and on. It was really interesting to see the different results everyone in the class got as they worked through the exercise.

There was lots more – 5 days of class and months to come completing and re-doing exercises, experimenting with the structures… I’ve got some wild ideas about combining Theo Morman and double weave, which may or may not see the light of day.

Many, many thanks to Kay and everyone in the class. Forum is always a stimulating week, but this went way beyond. I wish everyone could have such an experience! (I’m pretty sure Kay could be persuaded to travel… 😉 )


These beautiful, wriggly, squishy waffles are around 1.75 cm or 0.6 inches across. The cloth is just as thick!

When the first row was woven, on the loom and under tension, you could see the 3D starting to happen. After machine washing and tumble dry – amazing, beautiful, totally impractical. One day I will find the right yarn and the right purpose to make this work.

So, this is my week 2 report for virtual weaving class. I wrote about planning the waffle weave sampler last week. Obviously the first section has been woven, cut off and wet finished.

As I described earlier, having a straight threading on 24 shafts gave me lots of options. This first section has waffles on the equivalents of 4, 5, 7, 9 and 13 shaft pointed threadings. Hopefully you can see the increasing texture, increasing cloth thickness and decreasing cloth width as the waffles get larger.

In the end I didn’t do much colour play with the weft. A lot of my attention was on the loom itself. I’ve had trouble in the past with incorrect lifts or shafts dropping, so it was a calculated risk to use all 24 shafts. As it turned out, some sections of design were really helpful in showing the pattern of problems. I found a number of ways to do finetuning and I think it’s just about there. By the end I was very happy with the loom’s performance.

Another big waffle photo 🙂

This has a plastic bobbin for scale (maybe the 1 inch grid on the cutting mat is more helpful). At the top is a “fancier” waffle. It’s the top section from this draft I showed last week. It’s an effective 13 shaft pointed threading, the same as the deep waffles below it. The addition of areas of plain weave  make a huge difference.

Here’s another mixture combining plain and waffle weave. This was inspired by weave #519 in A Weaver’s book of 8-shaft patterns edited by Carol Strickler. I wasn’t able to map the threading directly, so had some fun playing in the software to get a result along the same lines. My final version is the 3rd from the top in the section of draft above. I’m pretty chuffed with the result.

The front and back can look quite different. This is the bottom section in the draft shown above. I started using the same colour weft, but quickly changed to a contrast colour to allow the pattern to show. I’m not sure about this pattern. The top/front has a strong horizontal element which doesn’t appeal the me. The bottom/back I like better, but probably not enough to use any time soon.

A final photo, this time of a section I think does have potential.

In our last class meeting we speculated about the use of bands of waffle and plain weave, especially given the different amounts of dimensional change when the cloth is finished. I like the scalloped edges, perhaps at the ends of a scarf. Verticle stripes of waffle with plain or basket weave could also work. (right at the top of the sample is a bit of basket weave).

I won’t have a virtual class posting next week – I’ll be in a week-long class at a Tafta ForumImagery in Cloth with Kay Faulkner!

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April 2010

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