Archive for the 'Doubleweave' Category

Contemporary Weave with Liz Williamson

Some images from last week’s class with Liz Williamson, in Mittagong at Sturt Summer School, starting at the end with our final day exhibition.

My 4 Trail Markers on the left. Des's work in black on the right.

Natural dyeing, and tube in fishing line by Des - a brand new weaver.

Chris, also a new weaver, used her own prints and handmade paper

More dyeing and weave from Chris. She picked up the pine needles on a class shopping excursion.

Exciting weft selection from Chris

Mary produced a prototype piece ...

... developing extensive work done previously.

Gail played with colour, texture, openings...

A closer view of some of Gail's work

Susan created a "book" using double weave

Dianne made mobile phone pouches and jewellery. Now you see it...

... now you really see it. The flash doesn't do justice to the subtlety of mother of pearl buttons captured in reflective tape double weave

The weave room

Unfortunately I didn’t get decent photos of the other class members’ work. There were nine of us in the class with Liz, a particularly pleasant and companionable group. Liz provided a really rich and varied learning experience. We examined examples of cloth that interested us – everyone brought some, including heaps from Liz, and talked about how they could be explored or reinterpreted for contemporary designs.

mud cloth

stripes, dyeing, colour

cloth weft and beautiful colour

Liz demonstrating

Liz had a fast way of getting a sampling warp onto the loom, demonstrated various options for warping, gave us extensive notes… but most impressively was able to help two brand new weavers do some really interesting work. Liz gave them just enough theory at each stage for what they were doing, to avoid problems and produce a viable structure while exploring and expressing themselves. Both Des and Chris brought lots of experience in other areas of textiles and creative work, and I think both are now enthusiastic about learning more and incorporating weave into their repertoire.
Liz also organised visits to the weave room by Elisabeth Nagle, a master weaver from Europe who ran the Sturt weave studio for around 50 years, and Melanie Olde who currently teaches there. Plus a number of us sat at dinner with weaver Sally Blake and her fellow exhibitor Vedanta Nicholson following their floor talk at the Rain Gauge exhibition in the Sturt Gallery.
With all that inspiration available, Liz guided each weaver in their own chosen exploration. Many of us used double weave as a structure, but with widely different materials as weft. I decided to challenge myself by avoiding strong colour, instead focusing on texture, light, and shadow. I tried to be really free and spontaneous, exploring the properties of some new-to-me materials – a couple of different paper yarns, cut strips of hessian, garden jute twine, paper rope… I struggled for much of the time, but was very happy and excited by the results. I like the things in themselves, but also that as weaving progressed I continued to learn, to experiment, to examine what happened in one piece and build on it in the next. In the end (!) it was a very satisfying process that I want to continue in my OCA work.
There was one part of the class I didn’t participate in, and I want to write about it here not to get into any big discussion but because in the past I’ve had definite opinions which I’ve later reversed and I’m wondering if this will be another. So to my future self, wondering if one day I won’t believe I thought this… I don’t get natural dyeing and its current huge popularity. Yes, there can be some incredibly beautiful results, but use of synthetic dyes can also give really stunning results – and both can produce blah. It’s the assumption that “natural” dyes are somehow intrinsically gentler on the environment, safer for the user, and generally “better” that bothers me. There may be studies out there which looking at the whole chain of production and use (mordants?, commercial cultivation/production of madder/cochineal/…?, packaging and transport?, …). I don’t know, and in any case as a hobby dyer I suspect the difference would be negligible in comparison to my impact on the environment as an urban dweller who is happy to drive my car around the state going to weaving classes.
Rant over. This was a great week, I really hope to keep in touch with the others in the class because they were an amazing group, and I’m looking forward to seeing influences from the class in my future work.


Backed Fabrics

Weekly weaving class with Liz Calnan at the NSW Handweavers and Spinners Guild started up again last week after the summer break. Our first topic is Backed Fabrics.

Nisbet’s definition (Grammar of Textile Design, available here on the
On-Line Digital Archive of Documents on Weaving and Related Topics):

“Backed” fabrics are characterised by an additional series either of warp or weft threads employed for the purpose of increasing their strength, weight, bulk and warmth, or any one of those properties, without affecting their surface appearance”.

It seems traditional industrial use was to use cheaper/coarser/inferior quality threads, hidden on the back of the cloth, in very practical applications such as men’s clothing.

Liz had photos and student samples using the technique to showcase and make the most of some of the fancy and often heavier yarns now available. You can give them the space to shine without sacrificing stability by “stitching” them to a second layer of cloth. It’s a variant of doubleweave, but instead of the two layers of cloth (or blocks in the cloth) changing sides (see my 4 shaft sample here, and 8 shaft scarf here), there is a definite “front” and the two layers are just attached in spots.

I couldn’t make head or tail of the theory, so decided just to give it a go.

Here’s front and back of sample 1. The front layer uses a fancy textured yarn (slubs, glitter, loopy bits, you name it) for warp and weft in a 2/2 twill. It’s set at 4 ends per inch, which would collapse into a nasty tangle left on its own.

The back layer is a fine cotton (no idea of the formal spec – it was on sale at a knitting machine group get-together). It’s in plain weave, 20 ends per inch.

I’ve laid out the draft to try to make the concept behind it clearer. The thin cotton weaves plain weave on shafts 5, 6, 7, 8 – over on the right of the tieup. The fancy yarn weaves twill on top. Where a fancy weft is hidden between two fancy warps floats, a cotton warp is raised to trap it. You can see it in the draft – when 1,2 are lifted for the twill, up comes shaft 7. It’s pretty much invisible from the front, but it’s “enough” to attach the two layers together.

The trouble with this sample is that it isn’t really enough. There aren’t enough attachment points to keep everything firm. It would be nice to have a link on every weft – but either they would not be hidden between two warp floats, or I would need extra shafts (I was working on the 8 shaft Ashford loom).

Sample 2 solved the problem (well, Liz gave us the solution!).

Instead of attaching the layers by raising cotton warps, attach by lowering (ie not raising) fancy yarn warps. The fancy yarns are already on separate shafts for the twill, so I can move them independently (in each repeat of the twill) without needing extra shafts. The sample’s set was slightly different – I actually had only 4 cotton for each fancy on this one (I forgot when recreating the draft), with 20epi for cotton and 5 epi for fancy. I haven’t wet finished this one yet, but it definitely feels much more stable, although still a bit too loose for most uses. The fancy yarn is plied very loosely and could do with even more stitching points.

Sample 3 is exactly the same structure and epi as sample 2. The only difference is the fancy yarn used. This is also a thick and thin slubby affair, but overall thicker and more tightly plied. It is holding together very nicely. The back layer is a bit puckered (also not wet finished), but it’s quite  attractive.

Sample 4 is based on a photo in Doubleweave on 4 to 8 shafts by Ursina Arn-Grischott. This is the same warp, weft and set as sample 2, with a change in threading. Top and bottom layers are both plain weave. As well as stitching points there is an actual exchange of blocks as in normal double weave. The sample is structurally stable, but I think there is too much show-through in the cotton layer, so you don’t get a good impact from the exchanged blocks.

On sample 5 I used doubled cotton threads in warp and weft – a purple and a red held together. Everything else is as in sample 4. The thicker “back” cloth has much more visual punch. I really like this one. It’s very stable, the simple cotton squares and lines provide a good contrast and foil to the fancy yarn. I like both sides (backed fabrics are generally one “public” side). The only question is how to use it – possibly a cushion cover?? It’s not drapey enough for a scarf. BTW I don’t have a proper draft for this. The book didn’t give details (and the photo fabric was different and I don’t think could ever be done on “4 to 8 shafts”! – it had at least 3 blocks of double weave). I constructed this from the photo, input from Liz, some scrawls on a spreadsheet, then some trial and error on the loom).

This is just a scratch on the surface of backed fabrics. I’ll have to come back to it one day, but class has already moved on to the next topic…

Doubleweave wrapup and onward to overshot

8s_double_wornThank you for the comment Trapunto – I can’t provide the Aztec princess but I did get some nice remarks at work this week. Although a bit short for a scarf, it worked well as a sort of shawl collar. Peg, it’s 8 shafts – this is one of the second year class weaving projects. Our first year class was too small to continue, so two of us accelerated into second year. It was an effort for our weaving teacher Liz, since she’s been coming early each week to continue first year theory with us. Tatiana and I have both fallen behind on the practical work, but my hopes are high to do some catching up over the summer break.

overshot1First cab off the rank – overshot. The warp and tabby weft are cottolin. The pattern weft is two strands of bendigo woollen mill’s two ply classic wool. The threading is Ancient Rose Design from Marguerite Porter Davison’s A Handweaver’s Pattern Book. My original intention was to change pace and try using neutrals, but on checking my shelf it became apparent that my shopping is rather skewed and slightly dusty pink is the closest I had.

I’m having some trouble with getting the beat right. The warp is set at 18 ends per inch, so I’m aiming at just over 16 picks per inch while under tension on the loom. This is only considering the pink tabby weft, which is intended to produce a nice balanced plain weave. It ignores the claret wool pattern weft, which is meant to smoosh down in between. Trying to beat harder didn’t actually do the job, and the little table loom and my shoulders and neck started complaining. Plan B is to put the weft in at a steeper angle – the greater length allows the weft to move up and down around the warp threads more and so pack down better. Sorry, I can’t give proper attribution for this idea – I’ve been reading lots about overshot in the past week and can’t remember the source. However, it is helping. I’ve found it slower since I don’t have a lot of space in front of the beater and have to fiddle about. I only need to do it for the tabby – the pattern weft started looking a bit loose and messy on the floats.

Extra ideas welcome – and to those who aren’t familiar with overshot my apologies. I’ll try to give a bit of an explanation on how it works when the sample’s done and I can review what I’ve learnt.

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.

Double Weave Sampler

Thank you all for the nice comments about Geoff’s scarf. It’s lovely and soft and luscious to touch. Andrew’s right, it’s mostly silk – 50/50 silk/wool warp and all silk weft.  I still find it amazing to be able to create fabric at all, let alone something I really like – weaving is a wonderful thing! Peg, I will write about the Art Textiles Conference, but am hoping to get some photos from a friend first (I was too distracted to take any).

Earlier this week I finished my class double weave sampler. You can see it as a work in progress here. Double-weave involves weaving two layers of cloth at once. This was done on a four shaft loom. The grey layer was threaded on shafts 1 and 3, the blue layer on shafts 2 and 4.

This explanation is a bit wordy… For a top layer of grey cloth, lift shaft 1 for a pick, then shaft 3 and repeat. You end up with a layer of plain weave grey on top, and the blue warp is sitting underneath, not involved at all. For a bottom layer of blue cloth, lift shafts 1 and 3  to keep the grey out of the way. Then alternate lifting shafts 2 and 4 (with 1 and 3 kept up out of the way all the time) and you end up with a bottom layer of blue plain weave and the grey warp sitting on top, not involved.

Of course what you really want is to weave both layers at once, so alternate. Weave one or two picks of grey (shafts 1 and 3), followed by one or two picks of blue (lift shafts 1 and 3 up out of the way, then weave on shafts 2 and 4), using a separate shuttle of weft for each layer of cloth.  In section 1 of the sampler I did two picks at a time, first two rows of grey cloth, then two rows of blue cloth, being careful not to let the two wefts wrap around each other. In section 2, I did one pick at a time – it’s a bit more fiddly but you get a more even beat. In section 3 at the top of the photo I deliberately wrapped the wefts together at the edge so instead of two separate layers there is a tube of cloth.

It gets a bit more interesting if you swap which layer is top. To get the blue layer on top, just weave on shafts 2 and 4, leaving the grey warp sitting at the bottom. To get the bottom grey layer, lift the blue (2 and 4) up out of the way and weave on 1 and 3. Each time you swap which colour is top, the two layers cross and you get a join across the width. Section 4 is playing with this idea – you get neater joins depending on exactly which pick in the sequence you do the swap on.

Keep swapping and you get pockets – in section 5 of the sampler I stuffed the pockets with polyester batting to get a 3D effect.

Sections 6 and 7 were experimenting with different wefts, changing colours and textures.

Double weave expands your colour options. Usually the warp gives a constant colour (assuming the yarn isn’t variegated), which optically mixes with the weft colour. With double weave you have the option of bringing up the other layer of warp any time, introducing more colour. Section 8 is very basic play with that, using clasped-weft on the top layer (more colours and colour interaction).

Section 10 shows double weave providing support to some Brook’s bouquet on the top layer – extra stability for the cloth, plus using the darker background to showcase the fancy bit.

You can also swap layers along the row, giving areas of pure colour. The lower, blocky part was done using two pick up sticks. I found it very tricky to do and didn’t get anywhere close to a consistent beat. You have to concentrate hard to keep the basic plain weave going as you swap the layers about. The top part was more freeform and in the lower part of it I clearly got into a huge muddle and lost the plain weave structure. I got better by the end – value of practice etc, etc.
Double weave also gives a way to extend the width of your weaving. On the left hand side of this photo, I used one shuttle of blue weft. The sequence was a pick right to left across the grey layer, a pick left to right across the blue layer, a pick right to left across the blue layer, a pick left to right across the grey layer. Using a single weft (and keeping the sequence right) you get a single piece of cloth twice the width.

In the centre of the photo is a section where I kept the top and bottom layers separate, then in the righthand section I wove only half way across the top layer, then used a second shuttle across the left side of the top and all the way across the bottom layer. I didn’t do the whole thing, but the idea is to create a simple shirt from a single piece of cloth, no cutting. The gap on the right is the neck, with a grey yoke below. The grey in the middle becomes the sleeve, the blue underneath folds around to become the front below the yoke. Sorry the explanation is clear as mud.

The final section of warp was resleyed at double the ends per inch to try out warp-faced weaving. I tried a series of different weights of weft – all entirely covered by the warp except at the edges.

All of this was under the guidance of Liz, in our guild weaving class. If you can, get someone to show you how to do this – something not all that hard to show gets hopelessly bogged down when you try to put it in words!

Would I do it again? It was very fiddly in parts, difficult to get good beat and selveges in the bottom layer (since you can’t see it), slow to progress since you’re doing the two layers… At this stage it appears to me a specialist thing, giving options and maybe an elegant solution for particular projects. Maybe one day I’ll come back to it.

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.


The 3 brothers afterwards.

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