Archive for the '8 shafts' Category

Down with a bump

a rollercoaster??

a rollercoaster??

My last post I talked about roller-coasters and unexpected curves. Oops. This is not quite what I was looking for – I guess that’s why we call it “unexpected”!

The plan was collapse weave using structure – stripes of 1/3 and 3/1 twill, various wefts all finer than the bendigo two ply wool warp.

collapse_wrong_2What happened? It looked good on the loom. The photo shows the section done with superfine wool (left over from the double weave scarf) on the loom with tension relaxed. Definitely the initial signs of collapsing!

I used six different wefts, 15cm of each. Behaviour varied off the loom.

collapse_wrong_3Three sections with significantly finer weft all showed signs of collapse – bright red on the left is the superfine wool again, in the centre is 20/2 silk, to the right is 12/2 cotton (aurifil Mako – a heavy machine sewing thread really).

collapse_wrong_4Some didn’t look so exciting. These were all specialist yarns supplied by Liz, my weaving teacher. On the left is 110/2 tex wool, a shrinkable merino as used by Anne Field of Collapse Weave (and other) fame. In the middle, a beige colour, is a 98% wool 2% elastomeric yarn – passed on from other weavers, of dubious vintage and many breaks on the cone. To the right, an overtwisted wool – I’ll need to check the details with Liz, but it was hard to the touch and uncomfortable to work with.

installation art??

installation art??

Another view while we contemplate what could have gone wrong? It was a lesson I’m meant to have learnt already, and wrote about back here – “no matter how keen I am, no matter how much I want to finish the next little bit, no matter how careful I think I’m being, I need to STOP when tired.”

In this case, I shouldn’t have started. I got home from work, super tired, the standard million chores to get through, and decided to wash the sample. Down to the laundry, warm water, swooshing away a few minutes – nothing. A big nothing. Did I mention tired? I noticed the pile of towels on the floor waiting to be washed. Front-loader washing machine, nice and gentle… in it all goes sample and towels, and I trudge upstairs to cook for ravenous teenagers. Time passes………. Finally, I remember the washing – but the machine is still going! The towels were unbalancing the spin cycle so it had just kept tumbling. and tumbling. and tumbling. Oh.

I took the pathetic result, complete with pathetic story, to weaving class. We actually found quite a few pluses, in the sense of a sample providing lessons. The three “specialty” wefts had all fulled to the point of having the drape of corrugated cardboard, pleats felted permanently in place. The Bendigo Mills 2 ply warp survived remarkably well. The section with red superfine wool actually feels almost soft, and I like the bright colour peeping out.

I’m feeling quite positive about it at the moment. I’ve still got warp on the loom, so I’ve tied on again at the same sett and will repeat the experiment – all except the washing machine and decision-making-while-tired part!

Undulating twill scarf finished

Undulating twill scarf

Undulating twill scarf

This is the completed scarf, from the same warp as the sampler I wrote about here.

sine sample

sine sample

I spent some time in Fibreworks PCW, trying to modify the sine curve pattern to avoid long floats without having to resort to an extra tabby weft (since I didn’t like the impact on look or handle in the sampler). What I ended with, after washing and pressing, is a long way from the original design. Instead of a sinuous vertical line along the length of the fabric, I have an angular line. The straight twill at the pivot point of the “curve”  has become a horizontal band which is very apparent both visually and to touch.

Original sine curve

Original sine curve

modified curve

modified curve

Some lessons:

  • small changes can have a big impact
  • using a temple helped improve consistency of beat and selvedge
  • be careful the conclusions you draw from a sample. I didn’t like the moss green section of the sample and was worried when my MIL chose that colour for the scarf. I love the colour in the final product – maybe the yuk pattern or the impact of other areas of the sampler put me off.

Although it didn’t go according to plan, I love the end result. It drapes nicely and to my eye has an elegant and classic look.

Undulating Twill

Twill weave structures were the second project we did in first year weaving class in 2008 – you can see a very boring photo here and a somewhat better view here.  (red herring – it’s fun going back to an early post and remembering the bliss of discovering that I could create cloth! I still find it amazing). In the last couple of weeks I’ve been working through a second year exercise – undulating twills on 8 shafts.

An aside – I began this blog with a self-focused primary purpose – a record of my progress learning to weave. It’s a nice bonus if it’s of interest or help to others but there’s bound to be mistakes (learning process), so corrections and suggestions are always very welcome.

twill_slopeInformation from the Handweavers’ Guild of America’s website describes twill structure as loom controlled with floats formed over at least two threads, offset with every shot (see HGA’s Weaving Structure Classification). The classic example is denim jeans, with the offset causing a characteristic diagonal slant in the appearance of the cloth.

The start of my original twill sampler shows a 2/2 twill. The (reddish) weft goes over two threads then under two. The next row up does the same thing, but shifted over one warp thread. In theory if everything is done just right the slope should be at 45 degrees (shown by the black line).  Hmm… well, where would the interest be if it was easy? You’ll have to cut me some slack since this was the first centimetres of my first twill weaving.

With an undulating twill, you deliberately play with the slope (instead of accidentally!). There are a few different ways of achieving this:

undulating1 * By varying the beat – how hard I packed down the weft with each row of weaving. Section (1) was a light beat, around 13 ppi (picks or rows per inch);
(2) medium – around 19 ppi;
(3) heavy – 32 ppi.
You can see the twill angle getting more acute as the beat got heavier.

* Varying the warp tension – how tightly stretched the warp is as I’m weaving. If it’s tighter I should end up with more picks per inch in the final, relaxed cloth. Sections (4), (5) and (6) are sections of increasing tension. I found this tricky, since everything gets sloppy and difficult if you go too loose and I fretted about things snapping if I went too tight.

undulating2* By changing the offset. In the earlier examples the diagonal moved across one thread of warp each row of weaving.  In (7) I skipped every 4th row (ie moved across 2 threads of warp);
(8) missed every 3rd row;
(9) missed every 2nd row.

* By repeating rows.
(10) repeated every 4th row;
(11) repeated every third row.

Again I found the weaving challenging – repeated rows slide together easily, when skipping a row the picks keep away from each other. I wasn’t within cooee of an even beat. My selvedges were also wildly uneven (not shown – there are limits!).

I also find the jagged edges of the twill line visually distracting – like a pixelated photo.

There are other methods not included in the sampler.
* Varying the threading. Everything above was on a standard straight threading, shafts 1 through 8 and repeated until arriving at the cream section and reversing to 8 through 1. Liz (weaving teacher) supplied notes and drawdowns showing the impact of skipping or repeating threads in the warp instead of, or as well as, the weft.

* Varying the denting. My sampler was 18 warp threads in every inch, threaded as evenly as I could (given I only have a 10 dent per inch reed). Liz showed us a stunningly beautiful sample of “crammed and spaced” twill, where the number of threads per dent varied from 1 to 3 in a long, smooth progression. The sample was in undyed silk and the final product was a wedding shawl.

* Playing with colour, lustre and texture. Opportunities for optical tricks.

undulating3Having tried basics, the next step in the sampler was to mix up some of the techniques.

The green section here used a combination of skipping and repeating rows.

For the black weft section, I used a line based on a vase I have. I drew it on graph paper and reduced it to fit 8 shafts  – if the line fell on column 2 of the graph paper, that meant lift 2. If the line fell on column 8, that’s lift 8. If it fell on column 9 that didn’t fit (I only had 8 lift combinations), so it’s wrapped around and becomes lift 1. Column 10 wraps to lift 2 etc. Clear as mud??

I really like the line it creates but there were some long warp floats which can cause problems in use.

undulating4Next up in burgundy another design from Liz’s notes.

The green is another from me, trying to create a design while avoiding some of the things I found unappealing earlier – long floats and jagged lines.  The result is a definite no!

I haven’t gone into the variety of twill lifts  – another design choice where you try to balance appearance (clear strong lines) and practicality (eg floats).

undulating5The final section of the sampler are four variations of the same “sine curve” sequence I found in Liz’s notes, originally from Handwoven November Decemaber 1989.

(12) was the sequence of lifts from the notes – a nice shape, but very long floats, even after I adjusted the design a little to remove some of the repeats.
(13) followed the note’s suggestion of a pick of plain weave between each twill pick. I used a black sewing cotton – visually disruptive and harsh to feel.
(14), (15) and (16) all used fine threads from cone ends I picked up at an ATASDA meeting. (14) is darkish brown, (15) mid brown and (16) light brown. I don’t know the fibre content, but they were quite loosely plied and the impact on the handle of the fabric is not so strong. I think visually the light brown is the least intrusive.

Some other experiments and lessons from this sampler:

* I made some adjustments to the loom, replacing some of the ties to texsolv. I’m continuing to improve my warping process.

* lashed on the warp instead of tying on. I’m somewhat clumsy and found this much easier.

* My warp was long enough for a project – a scarf – as well as the sampler. In the past I’ve cut off a sample, then retied for the next section. This time I tried a process based on Leigh’s example using a 2-stick heading. It got ugly at times in the process (see “clumsy” above), but I did get good warp tension throughout.

* Colour challenge – I chose neutral warp colours, and experimented with the interaction with different weft colours.

The project scarf came off the loom this morning. I’ll post a photo when it’s washed and finished.

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.

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).


Award and colour

My thanks to Susan of Thrums, who has presented me with this blog award. Susan wrote: “This is a relatively new blog having been started in July of 2008 but already has my attention! Judy has a great teaching style and I for one enjoyed the mini lesson on dukagang and finger manipulated weaves. Actually she was doing a working sampler of techniques but it sure worked as a lesson for me!” As a new blogger and weaver this is a real boost – I started to blog as a kind of diary for myself of my weaving journey and it’s great to think I have something to contribute to others.

I really enjoy Susan’s blog. So much beautiful weaving and good information – and I can’t wait to see how she goes with the new looms.

Copied straight from Susan’s blog, here’s what goes along with receiving this award:
1. Post this award on your blog.

2. Add a link to the person who awarded you.

3. Nominate at least 4 other bloggers, and add their links as well.

4. Leave a comment at the new recipients’ blogs, so they can pass it on.

Susan’s personal criterion was to award weaving related blogs. I’ve decided to focus on colour – a major passion of mine and I’m looking forward to learning about how to use it well in weaving.

Knitting on Impulse is written by Ruth in Whistler, British Columbia. Ruth does beautiful work both knitting and jewellery making, but what particularly attracts me is the way she photographs the wonderful landscape and nature around her, analyses it carefully, then dyes yarns in colour-ways based in that inspiration. I love the insight Ruth shares into the creative choices she makes through the process.

Kris’s color stripes is another blog showing how the artist is inspired by the colours in her surroundings. Kris lives in Italy, an artist and fashion designer, and has the ability to really see colour everywhere she looks, in streetscapes, household objects, memorabilia… Again I’m attracted to the creative selection of colours, inspired by her source material but not straight-jacketed by it.

Sandra’s Loom Blog is amazing. Stunning work, incredible generosity of sharing information. Keeping with my colour theme, Sandra’s work is not only inspired by the colours around her (see her hummingbird and fire series), in her wood series she uses yarn dyed from wood chips.

Udaipur - Fiona Wright

Udaipur - Fiona Wright

Of daydreams and memories is packed with colour and feeds into my love of vicarious travel. Fiona doesn’t directly write about her colour inspiration, but her work shows both a joy in colour and her response to the colour around her. I am fortunate to have one of Fiona’s textile pieces in my room – Udaipur, purchased at this exhibiton. I’ve also had the pleasure of taking a few classes with Fiona, a very warm and genuine person. It’s fascinating to follow her adventures.

Reviewing these blogs has led me to reflect on my own colour explorations.

I’ve been dyeing fibres for a few years now and have folders full of samples and colour “receipes”. At the bottom right of the photo is the dye sheet for my Ocean scarf (although I see I called it “Blue Waters” at that stage).

I’ve recently started the exercises in colour – a workshop for artists and designers by David Hornung, working in gouache. I read through the book first, intending to absorb the contents and jump straight to experiments in dyes. I found it so rich in information that I decided it was worth the time and “distraction” to acquire and learn to use the paints and do the exercises as presented. You can see the book here.

Of course it’s a whole new ballgame with the optical colour mixing you get when weaving. As it happens my 8 shaft colour and weave sample is currently on the big loom. The yarn is all classic 2 ply wool from Bendigo Woollen Mills. In the picture of the cones, and using the company’s naming, the colour pairs are:

Top row, left to right: Raven – to divide the samples; Ensign and Aztec (blues) – same hue, different in value; Claret and Guava – complementary hues, different value;

Bottom row, left to right: Peony and Mulga – a pink/purple and a neutral, high contrast in value; Java and Plum – a neutral and a purple, a bit closer in value and intended as a hue light/dark switch from the Peony and Mulga; Tuscan and Burnt Orange – close in hue, close in value.

The sample will end with lots of combinations, since I’ll be using different weft pairs in each lifting plan. With so many colours, some quite strong, the overall result could be a visual mess (a dog’s breakfast or even a technicolour yawn in the Australian vernacular), but I’m hoping the individual squares will yield some interesting possibilities.

Thanks again Susan – for the award and for triggering some useful (to me) reflections. It even led me to learn about customising the white balance on my camera – the photos of the yarns and weaving in progress are the most accurate colour reproduction I’ve managed, on my monitor at least.

First day in big school

I can remember my kids being a mixture of daunted and excited when they finished pre-school and went to “big school” for the first time. So many people! So much happening! What is all that stuff? Will you be my friend?

OK, it wasn’t quite like that, but there was distinct excitement plus an element of daunt when my little first year weaving class (all three of us) joined the big kids in second year weaving last Wednesday. We had already had a class with Liz on Tuesday – all theory. The first half was to introduce us to 8 shaft twills and plan out the sampler we will be doing. The second half was back to our four shaft double weave exercise, looking at how we can use it as a support structure (more opportunities for leno, brooks bouquet etc), and ideas for garments (for homework we’re weaving small scale bogshirts, with slits and double width and two layer parts, needing minimal assembly once it’s off the loom).

8 shaft loom all ready to go

8 shaft loom all ready to go

Wednesday we arrived half an hour early to finish our basic 8 shaft theory. The “big kids” started arriving as we were finishing that up, so on to another round of theory with them – this time colour and weave on eight shafts. With heads full to over-flowing, we actually got to spend an hour or so working on our looms. For me that meant finishing up putting on the warp for my 8 shaft twill sampler.

I didn’t quite use the full width of the loom – there’s one empty dent in the reed! However that’s as far as I can go until next class. We decided that it was too much to do the double nights, so Liz and the first years are going to meet half an hour early each Wednesday and try to do any necessary catch-up or bridging work in that time.

Doubleweave progress

Double weave progress

Most of my weaving time this week has been spent on the doubleweave sampler. It’s really fun. There’s basically twice as many threads in the warp as you would normally use for the same width. They are woven in two layers, one (the “face”) on top of the other (the “back”). You can have two shuttles and take turns – shuttle A a row on the face, shuttle B a row on the back. Repeated, that gives two separate layers of cloth. You can also get the face and the back to swap over, which is how I got the stripes of colour in the photo. Slots or pockets are formed. In the middle of the photo, I padded the slots with varying amounts of wadding to get a raised or cushion effect. Near the top of the photo I started playing with colour.

No photos of 8 shaft colour and weave. We are working through the theory with the second years, but not actually doing the sampler. I have spent a fair amount of time with my weaving software (Fiberworks PCW), trying out a few of the many combinations.

Beginning of scarf for Geoff

Beginning of scarf for Geoff

Of course I also have my home project on the big loom – Geoff’s scarf that I started planning a while back. After sampling we decided on a 20/2 silk weft. The warp is the wool+silk yarn from theknittery that I used in my autumn and ocean scarves. There was quite a bit of chopping and changing on colours (on future “commissions” I think I’ll try to keep the “client” a little less closely involved). I like our final choice, although I did take two attempts dyeing the blue. I’m really pleased with the weaving so far ( all 26 cm of it – less than a foot), even if the photo shows up the uneven beating that I was blissfully unaware of.

I should mention that this frantic pace is quite unlike my normal approach, especially when you add in the day job and preparations for ATASDA’s AGM and Art Textiles Conference. It’s only for a short time, thank goodness.


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October 2021

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