Archive for the '4 shafts' Category

Bead leno detail

With seven wefts tried on my leno sample there was a clear and totally unexpected winner. Which will remain unseen until the Big P2P2 Reveal.

In the meantime I have a few detail shots of the bead leno setup.

In leno warp threads swap positions instead of running along neatly beside each other. Check my photo in this post from February to see a diagram. Back then I used “doups” to get the swapping. This time it’s “beads” – or pieces of a drinking straw in this instance. The first photo shows the setup between the heddles (at the top) and the reed. I used a straight threading for the warp – that is, starting from the right, a thread on shaft 1, the next on shaft 2, then shaft 3, then shaft 4, and repeat in sets of 4 threads, so looking at the loom from the front you have 4-3-2-1 – 4-3-2-1 – 4-3-2-1… Note that each set of 4 go together through a single dent of the reed – very important because otherwise the swapping wouldn’t work.

Here’s a closeup of a 4-3-2-1 group (click on the photo to see bigger). The threads on 4 (beige in this example) and 1 (light blue) are threaded through a piece of plastic straw underneath the threads on shafts 2 and 3 (both dark blue). Underneath – another very important detail. This is still with the shafts behind and the reed in front. (I just put a pickup stick under warps 2 and 3 to make it easier to see.)

While weaving leno the threads on shafts 2 and 3 just sit there – the world revolves around them.

The third photo shows what happens when shaft 1 is lifted. The light blue thread on shaft one goes up (yellow arrow). This pulls on the straw. The beige thread on shaft 4 is pulled over because it is threaded through the same piece of straw. The red arrow points to where 4-beige has been pulled across under the dark threads on shafts 2 and 3 and up. The photo is still between shafts and reed, but in front of the reed the order of threads is now

3 (down) – 2 (down) – 4 (up) – 1 (up)

I put through the weft in front of the reed and that order is captured. Thread 4 has swapped position.

Next (photo 4) I put down shaft 1 and lift shaft 4. The beige thread on shaft 4 goes up (yellow arrow). The light blue thread is pulled across, under the dark threads (red arrow), and up. In front of the reed we have

4 (up) – 1 (up) – 3 (down) – 2 (down)

A pick of weft captures that swap.

Repeat those two picks. The warp threads on shafts 1 and 4 appear first on the right of the group, then on the left, then the right, wobbling their way down the length of the cloth. You can see it a bit on the loom in the last post, but you don’t get the full wobbly goodness until off the loom and wet finished.

I think it’s amazing – magic! Easy to set up, not too tricky to weave. The shed is not as good as standard weaving – after all the warp being pulled across is pulling down on the straw, and also pulling up on the stationary threads as it goes underneath them. Plus in this particular example I am using textured yarn with blobs of cotton and I have to be gentle given the abrasion of all the warps rubbing as they are pulled around. So I am gently separating and spreading the shed with my pickup stick every single pick. This sounds slow, but the main work has already been done automatically by the bead setup and there are so few picks per inch that it’s wizzing along very happily.

Information sources:

  • notes from my weaving teacher, Liz Calnan.
  • “A new twist on Bead Leno” by Kathryn Wertenberger. Handwoven November/December 1989.

Getting distracted

Last week I had a sample based on one of Cally’s photos and was making plans for a scarf. But I’ve allowed myself to be distracted.

East Neuk by John Bellany. This image was one that really attracted me from the beginning. I could imagine standing looking down at such a harbour, cheeks glowing from the walk up the hill, hair a bit sticky from salt spray, a slightly chilly breeze buffeting me. I’d play with the image in my mind at odd moments, trying to figure a weaverly response.

Perhaps a scarf to wear against that chill, not too heavy, blending into the sea colours. Leno could be a good structure – the twisting of the warp ends (threads) provides stability and allows lighter, more open weaving. The threads move back and forward, possibly reminiscent of waves. The image from a post in February gives an idea of the effect – although then I used wool and mohair, too fluffy and warm for the current idea.

It took a while to find a yarn that I thought might work, but I had a big surprise when I got home and compared my colours with the picture – nothing like!! It’s not just a matter of colours not matching in different lights. More that there simply is no dark blue in the image, just for starters. I’ve been remembering times I’ve stood on hills, looking at harbours and sea, and my memories definitely tinted my purchasing!

At this point I’ve decided that the idea is to use the image as a starting point for a design, and if I’ve continued on to somewhere a bit different then that’s fine.

Yesterday I wound a warp with lots of room for both sample and a finished scarf. The photo shows a section that was a third of the width on the loom – 4 inches. I really enjoy using the warping wheel to mix colours in the warp (and be nice to my back), however I really need to improve my methods of getting such warps onto my table loom (which I often prefer for samples and experiments).  It didn’t get nasty or tangled, just very slow, painstaking and inefficient.

Today I finished dressing the loom and have started sampling. The warp is Patons’ Sorrento – 62% viscose, 28% cotton, current sampling at 10 ends per inch average, although obviously not evenly spread. I really wanted a yarn with some shine and some slubs (ruffled waters). This might be a bit tender and catchy for weaving leno, but seems to be standing up OK at the moment. I’m trying out bead leno and gently easing the shed with a pickup stick every pick. Fiddley but rather pleasantly absorbing. I’ve tried a few wefts so far – cottolin, Xie bamboo and 20/2 silk. I need to do a bit more then will see how it behaves off the loom and in the finishing.

Meg asked me about where I was going with my sample last week. I guess my approach has been to take some of my impressions of the photo and mix that up with ideas that occur to me as I think about it. For that sample the idea that the photo was taken in Switzerland became important, and self expression in a structured society, in addition to some colour and texture cues from the photo. Some of my weaving is focused on building skills, adding techniques. P2P2 feels quite exposed in a way – starting from the other side I’m trying to express at least a little bit a mix of thoughts and emotions, looking for the right mix of yarn and structure to do that. I really have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m enjoying it 🙂

When you’re juggling lots of things…

…some get dropped.

This ikat-ish project was last seen as a damp warp back in May.

I wound the dried yarn into a cake, then wound the warp using the warping wheel with little excess loops of yarn where I tried to get each end to line up according to the plan. This went moderately well. My ties to resist dyeing weren’t exact distances apart, then there was some slippage and various inaccuracies in handling, not to mention yet another muddle in my calculations (I really need to learn to read the planning notes I make. Going by memory, I gaily changed from 25 to 20 to 24 epi, and ran out of yarn while warping. Nothing like necessity to encourage flexibility!). Given all that was going on I decided to hand stitch the shibori threads in the finished cloth rather than adding extra warp ends to do the gathering.

Here is the warp shown from the back of the loom. The edge areas are narrower than intended. It’s not a great photo but you might be able to see that overall arrangement is not too dissimilar to the sketched plan. The dark dashes kind of line up – viewing from a galloping horse in the dark may assist in seeing it.

The actual weaving was straightforward – plain weave in undyed 20/2 silk. I had enough warp length to do a little extra to use in sampling the next steps.

I did running stitch up each side of each red/orange stripe and gathered tightly, then dipped in a mix of yellow and brown dye and steamed.

It’s ugly. So, so wrong. The colours don’t work. The values don’t work. The patterning is a mess. There is no particular definition or variation in the brown. There are all the technical problems in winding the warp already mentioned, plus the previously dyed areas bled.

Lydia Van Gelder. Twice Dyed #8

I based my efforts on a piece in Lydia Van Gelder’s Ikat II. I didn’t expect it to be the same of course – “slightly” different levels of expertise (!), plus I was working from a photo and deliberately changed a few of the things I saw/understood, let alone the things I didn’t see/understand. I’ve included a shot from the book, which I think fits within fair use.

I was careful to wash the actual scarf before gathering and redyeing – there was no sign of colour in the water. I used the same stitching. I had some ideas to try in the hopes of a better result. The photo shows the gathered cloth ready to be soaked and dyed.

Then I dropped the ball. I put it to soak (a couple of hours is good), thinking I would have time for the dyeing later that day. Time passed – two weeks worth.

This morning I finally brought myself to look at the sorry, soggy thing. The soak water was a pale blue. The dyes had clearly bled and run. In a spirit of “let’s just get this over” I went out to the garage, grabbed the bordeaux dye stock and applied it, undiluted, with a brush. I’ve been writing this up while I waited for it to steam.

…Next day…

What do you think?

For me it very nearly works. All the dyeing errors are still there, but not so intrusive. The narrower range of colours helps. The stronger value of the overdye and its horizontal tendency gives some balance to the verticals. In person the fabric has a nice sheen, drapes well and is very soft and smooth to the touch. (I ended at 24 epi for the 20/2 silk plain weave).

I don’t love it, but I expected to hate it.

For my own memory, rather than that the world needs to know, what else has been happening the last few weeks:

  • Visiting The White Rabbit Gallery, a collection of contemporary chinese art plus lunch at the Mission Restaurant under the Ng Gallery nearby, rounded off by a quick visit and some remnant-box-diving at Elsegood Fabrics (can’t find a working website, but come out of the restaurant, walk across the laneway and you’re there). I’m usually a bit wary of contemporary art (I like happy and beautiful, not so keen to spend leisure time with tortured, depressed or self/society-flagellating). The current exhibition here had lots of beautiful, including very interesting textile work, with intent and meaning but not dark-dark-dark.
  • Nalda Searles drifting in my own land exhibition at Mosman Art Gallery.  Really beautiful, thought provoking textile artworks. Nalda had come over from WA and gave a floor talk – to quote the website “revealing the imagery and processes that have informed the art practice and vision of one of Australia’s unique and evocative practitioners”. And they didn’t over-promise. Nalda spoke very directly and personally. Plus lots of people to natter with afterwards.
  • The poetry of drawing – Pre-Raphaelite designs, studies and watercolours at the Art Gallery NSW. Stunning details and pattern-making. I always find it interesting to see preparatory work and all the adjustments and changes in the finished artwork. Sample, sample 🙂
  • The Sydney Craft & Quilt Fair – lots of inspiring work, talking (on the ATASDA stand and just running into people) and just a touch of shopping.
  • Family lunch (my original nuclear family) at Ottomans for mum’s 83rd birthday, which was so nice I took Geoff and the boys (current nuclear family) there this week for Geoff’s 55th.
  • Some clearing and re-arranging in my workroom-formerly-known-as-the-dining-room. The idea was to display as much as I could of previous work and larger samples (smaller odds and ends of sampling are in folders) – basically to remind me of possibilities and actually use the samples actively. The photo shows the area behind the loom, with two of the five hangers.
  • Mending socks – yes, there was enough to make this a separate item. I knit socks for all the family and with colder weather arriving there has been a mini-avalanche of holes to be darned and toes to be cut off and re-knit.
  • Plus bellringing, work, gym, shopping, cooking, laundry…
  • Which may not sound much to some, but I really like lots of quiet time pottering around by myself and all of this in a couple of weeks is … phew.

Spontaneity

My last two projects each took ages.

The colour gamp shawl began with dye mix experiments in December. In January I chose a draft, sampled and continued dyeing. Weaving began early February, progressed slowly and finished late that month.

The end result is a great resource, looking at the colour interactions, plus I wear it as a scarf and shawl (slightly less successful since the overall flow of colour was constrained by the colour sampling rather than design aesthetics).

The bellringing in supplementary warp scarf popped into my head in February. There was sampling that month, a few attempts at dyeing in March and onto the loom, then late in March I hit a speed bump which put the project on hiatus while I considered options. Finally in late April the scarf was finished, though even then I used the end of the warp for some more samples.

Now, I enjoyed the process with both projects. I met my objectives, I like and use the results, I’ve had positive feedback from others, I’ve learnt. But it took a long time to realise the original spark of idea, and each time once I’d warped up and sat at the loom each pick was already determined. Which is fine, the act of weaving is very pleasant and I have lots of room to refine skills… just the whole process began to feel a bit ponderous and overplanned.

So in my last week of holiday I decided to see if I could just weave something from conception to completion in under a week.

Monday – day 1: concept and plan. I’m booked in Helen MacRitchie‘s Bag for All Seasons class for ATASDA in June. I already have the hydrangea freestyle rosepath fabric to use and want some co-ordinating fabric to give me some design choices. I recently got the Handwoven 2006-7 CD collection and was very taken with Kate Lange-McKibben’s project “Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall” using 4 block summer and winter on 4 shafts (May/June 2006). So the concept was some relaxed colour play, using cottolin, to co-ordinate with the hydrangea fabric.

I chose colours – groups of pinks, purples, blues and greens. My old notes suggested 20 epi for cottolin summer and winter would give a good weight fabric. A quick sketch decided stripe layout (unit width based on fibonacci sequence) and a pencilled drawdown helped decide lift sequence and allocation of colour groups to blocks. Finally I used Fiberworks PCW, entered the stripe design in profile then used the block substitution tool to get detailed threading and liftplan in 4 block summer and winter, X style. My threading printed out (and annoted with colours due to ink outages!) I was ready to go.

Tuesday – day 2: Warp (almost) on the loom. I tried my AVL warping wheel with multiple colour changes for the first time. Combined with my low-tech spool holders (storage baskets and knitting needles) it made warp winding faster and easier on the back. The 335 thread warp was wound, beamed, threaded and part-sleyed by the end of the day.

Wednesday – day 3: Finished sleying, tied on and started weaving.

Well, no. A few attempted weft colours, pattern and tabby, and I decided it just wasn’t right. Not that some of the colour interaction wasn’t interesting, and I was enjoying the weaving, but the result was too busy and I thought would fight against rather than enhance the main fabric. Perhaps plain weave… after all, with no great investment or master plan it was easy to switch tracks.

Thursday – day 4: Plain weave and a paler weft looked better. I relaxed and wove, a couple of bobbins each of a few different colours. It could be useful to have a few different colourways to mix and match in the bag – and if not, I’m sure the fabric will be handy one way or another. It was fun and I wove every last millimetre I could get from that warp.  Then off the loom, a quick machine zigzag to hold the end, and into the washer and dryer with the rest of the laundry.

Friday – day 5: Pressed, done and dusted. There are some skips and flaws, but given I’ll be cutting it up that’s fine. To my eyes the plain weave areas work nicely with the rosepath – interesting but subordinate.

On the other hand, some of the 4 block summer and winter colour interactions are really interesting and I definitely want to revisit that at some point.

Overall a good outcome – fun, useful cloth, ideas for the future and improved skills. 🙂

Rosepath revisited

A friend recently asked for some info on the “freestyle rosepath” I’ve done. (Hi Fliss!) Which has spurred me on to document some weaving I actually finished back in the summer holidays.

This is intended to become a bag, a gift for someone who suggested “hydrangeas” as a colour reference. I missed Christmas (oops), then thought that maybe the simple shoulder bag style might not work well for the recipient. So the length is still waiting patiently for plan whatever-letter-I’m-up-to (subject of the next post, maybe).

Threading: What I know as “Rosepath”, though there may be other names (or other things with the same name!). This snapshot from fiberworks PCW shows the draft. I think a floating selvedge helps.

Warp: 2/22 cottolin (60% cotton, 40% linen), sett 18 ends per inch. In other projects I’ve used stripes, but this time I wanted to suggest light and shadow flickering in a spring garden so I did a lot of swapping colours in and out.

Weft: This time I used a tabby (that is, a plain weave pick between every pattern pick), a very fine cotton, with the idea of increasing durability slightly. Most other times I’ve done this I haven’t bothered. The bag I made in November 2009 has been used almost daily and while it needs a wash and a few repairs it hasn’t done badly.
Pattern weft: This is where you can go to town. I gather a pile of “stuff” that fits the colour scheme, then pick and choose as the whim takes me. There are yarns – some silk (fancy spun, a thin ribbon yarn, a boucle…), wools, maybe cottolin. If they are fine I tend to wind a few yarns together (I use a stick shuttle for this) so the pattern isn’t too small. Thrums (leftover warp) from other projects are good. I also tear fabric into strips and use that. I like the raw and shaggy look, but I suppose you could cut on the bias if you want. I also deliberately play with which side is showing to get colour variation and texture – for example in the red/pink/white mass about third section down in the photo on the right. The fabric is mostly silk, plus some cotton and probably a couple of synthetics. I have various bits and pieces from old dye experiments, plus bits of old kimonos etc. It just needs to be pliable enough to sit happily. I’ve used habutai, tissue and organza silks. I deliberately tear stripes of different lengths and widths, to keep up the randomisation factor. I also try to repeat things a few times as I’m weaving – you can only see a few centimetres of recent weaving, so I tend to have two piles. I select a piece of cloth from one, tear a strip, throw the remainder into the second pile. When I’ve finished the first pile I start with the second and repeat the process. Or cheat and pick something that catches my fancy out of whichever pile.

To make the strip I use scissors to nick the edge of the fabric and tear almost to the other side. Then I cut a nick on that side and tear back. This gives you a longer strip of fabric weft, with little extra tags of fabric at each turnaround point (which I quite like as extra texture).

Lift plan: I’ve shown the few simple ones that I use in the draft above. Mostly the “as drawn in” bit, but not entirely.

The other major technique I use is clasped weft. Kaz has a brilliant tutorial here.

A couple more photos you can click on for details if you like.

Previous projects using these ideas (clicking the photos takes you to the relevant blog entries:
Bag CardsTable runner Wall hangingDetail

None of this is new or original to me. Among lots of influences two blogs stand out – Susan at Avalanche Looms and Terri at Saori Salt Spring.

Jason Collingwood at the Textile Fibre Forum

Last week was TAFTA’s Forum in Orange and I had a wonderful time. I struggle to describe these weeks (this was my 5th) – a couple of hundred textile fanatics, lots of learning and friendship and craziness – exciting, stimulating, sometimes overwhelming… There’s a lot of exuberance and fun but also the opportunity to really get into your particular subject since you spend Monday to Friday in the one class.

Mine was Three-End Block Weaves with Jason Collingwood. I was so impressed by him, the intense focus and depth of knowledge, every detail considered to produce the best work he can – in his rug weaving, but also in his teaching. He had samples and could demonstrate and explain lots of options, but could also explain the reasons, the choices in pursuit of excellence in his own work, which mean he works almost exclusively with a reduced set of techniques. He doesn’t see it as restricting or constraining, but as working in harmony with the structure/technique. He also takes a very practical non-precious approach to his equipment (loom), modifying it in all sorts of ways to make his work efficient and achieve the best results he can.

I admire this enormously. After considerable reflection I am comfortable that I don’t aspire to it myself. Part of course is that weaving is Jason’s profession, but my hobby. Part is the joy of exploration and discovery (which still counts, no matter how many have discovered it before me – and I agree can be found in deep as well as broad studies). Achieving mastery – perhaps one day I will be ready to make that investment, but quite possibly never.

A brief look at what we did – with the warning that there are no details or how-tos:

Sunday afternoon pre-class get -together: general introductions and background.

Day 1 – Monday

Most of us brought looms already warped and part threaded. In 3 end block weave you have tiedown ends on shafts 1 and 2, then a pattern/background thread on either shaft 3 or 4. Jason’s instructions had us put the pattern/background thread in each block between empty heddles on shafts 3 and 4. That way we could change individual threads/blocks between pattern and background by tieing the individual thread to one of the empty heddles. Fiddly, but do-able.

Going from bottom to top of the photo we have the header; twining (done to space the warp, then each day to divide up the sampler); some solid colour; pattern blocks, counter change and general play.

We spent a lot of time on the details that make a difference – bubbling the warp, managing the selvedge, starting and ending weft, darning in ends, tension, beat…

Day 2:

We worked with “constant lift”, using weft colours to pattern, and “constant colour” where the weft colour order is maintained and the lifts change. We produced vertical and cross stripes, aligned and staggered dots, introduced a third colour (used in my “frame” section). As well as plain background we used different patterning in the two blocks.

I ran out of time and didn’t get a log cabin sample done.

Day 3:

Wednesday was a half day for class. The afternoon was free to take a break, explore town, or (in my case) continue work.

We worked on clasped weft, using very precise techniques and positioning – quite unlike the bits I’ve done in the past such as with “freestyle rosepath” .  The focus was always kept on producing a structurally sound rug.

We were able to use the lifts and patterning we had already learned, combined with the multiple colours. Once again I ran out of time – others in the class tried clasping 3 colours at once. There was also a rather neat “disappearing block” trick.

Day 4:

On Thursday morning we changed structure to 2/1 double faced twill.  I liked the graphic shape and colour combination I got in the blue/red area. The twill line wasn’t reversed, just the positioning of the clasped weft. Again I ran out of time and didn’t try reversing twill lines, let alone having different colours / patterning on front and back of the cloth.

In the afternoon Jason introduced us to shaft switching. Through the week we had been changing blocks to and from pattern and background to suit the various samples. As I mentioned in “day 1”, it was just a matter of tieing the pattern end to one of the empty heddles, either shaft 3 or 4. Flexible, but slow and fiddly.

Now we did an arrangement of ties and knots to make it faster and easier to change each end – shaft switching, although a more primitive form that didn’t require any modifications to the loom. It’s beyond me to explain and a photo of my loom just looks a messy tangle. I found this article by Thelma Bodkin – the “threading detail” shown in the diagram seems to match what we did, but instead of all the fixings we used “boa” knots to select which way (to which heddle/shaft) the warp end was tightened. Naturally I used a bellringing pattern to test it out. That jagged red line is “stedman doubles”, at least in my eyes 🙂 I was changing the pattern end every 4 picks and actually started building some rhythm in the movements.

Day 5:

The final day we looked at raised end pick up. Jason tried to demonstrate on my loom – that thin area just above the blue/orange twining. He pronounced it the worst shed  he’d ever had. Actually close to non-existant. All 8 of us in the class were using table looms, and this was just a step too far for mine.

Jason also presented dovetailing – still on my “to do” list. Instead I tried a rather crazy counterchange pattern (the bit below the green tuft is where I misunderstood the directions and nothing was happening). The arrangement of blocks is actually easier to pick out in the photo – towards the top centre you may even be able to see a lozenge shape where I was combining shaft switching with the crazy counterchange.

We finished off with lots of information about finishing, some ideas for useful loom adjustments and general design considerations.

Non-weaving, but a personal triumph: As a wrap up to the week, Friday night was LA PARTY! Last year I was too tired and sore to go – I crawled into bed at 8pm with the distant sounds of music mocking me. The next week I joined a gym, started overhauling my eating and used LA PARTY as my focus. A year later and 29 kilos down, I got there and was on the dance floor most of the night! A great end to a great week!!

Well, not quite the end. Saturday morning was “open  house”, where classes displayed their work for each other and visitors from town. There was also the “Heathen Bazaar” and final chats with old and new friends.

I still have some warp on the loom, so the next plan is to do some of the samples I missed. Plus I want to try some of the same techniques using lighter materials  – aiming for something in a bag weight first off I think. Then – well, probably something totally different…

Scarf requiring rescue…

Possibly a picture is worth a thousand words – but this one is lying.

Yes, you see a gleaming silk scarf with wonderful drape and soft hand. I’m pleased with the stripe sequence I used. My selvedges are improving. I’d do it all (or almost all) again. And yet… this post is something between a “help wanted” ad and a crime scene report…

WANTED: Ideas to save silk scarf.

Vital statistics: warp 20/2 silk. Weft 60/2 silk. Warp faced plain weave at 40 ends per inch. Finished width 24 cm.  Finished length including fringe 182 cm.

The problem: unsightly blotches.

The villain: Seen on the right hand side of this photo, taken after Linda Coffill’s workshop last summer.

The sob story: It could happen to anyone – a happy summer day with like-minded folk, a busy workshop atmosphere, a level of inattention to minor details such as how long that silk has actually been in the dye bath in fatal combination with an eagerness to see how it turned out.

A pleasant time weaving a scarf in stripes of pink/orange and (gulp!!) undyed white. We were so happy until (cue scarey music)… wet finishing. Then it all started to unravel – or more accurately, to run.

So it sat, for months. Christmas came and went – and this intended Christmas present sat, forlorn, ungifted.   A couple of weeks ago I finally decided Something Must Be Done – soaked it in acidic water and put it in the microwave in an attempt to set the remaining dye properly.

Whatever Something should have been done, that wasn’t it! I am feeling suitably chastened and foolish. I don’t think the scarf or I could take any more forlorn months so Something Else Must Be Done!!!

Current thought is some shibori clamping or stitching and an overdye. Introduce still more uneven colour, in an interesting organic contrast to the regular stripes (in a fibonacci variation). However all suggestions gratefully received and considered.

Finally, the victim:

brace yourself


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Fabulous figure sculpting workshop with Kassandra Bossell!

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