Archive for the 'Leno' Category

Weaving Nancy’s blanket

Weaving content!!

Back here I posted this photo of the blanket on Nancy’s bed at the nursing home and speculated on the weave structure. I thought I’d try it out as part of my development in the final project.

Then I read this post by Noreen Crone-Findlay on her blog Tottie Talks Crafts. She has a super-fast way of putting on a short warp using s-hooks and has some detailed video tutorials, including doing leno (look around at her posts before and after the June one in the link above, as there is a series). Brilliant!

I don’t have that particular kind of loom but the same ideas could be used on almost any, I should think. I decided to try with my Robinson loom, seen here in a photo from February 2010 when I was working on Cacophony. The castle (the high structure that holds the shafts with levers to raise and lower warp ends) can easily be removed, as can the beater, leaving the basic frame with a mechanism for adjusting tension.

Here is the same loom, castle and beater removed, and leno warped and in progress using Noreen’s method.

The closeup shows that as well as my shed stick I used a string and pin setup to keep the second shed. This is another idea from Noreen (here), using a knitting stitch saver instead of a kilt pin. I’ve attempted a slightly different version of continuous string heddles on a stick when playing with backstrap weaving, following instructions by Laverne Waddington (blog backstrapweaving.wordpress.com), but this slightly different form worked well here.

One of the beauties of Noreen’s warping method is that most of it could be improvised using stuff around the home or at the nearest hardware store – for example I used tent pegs for the metal bar supporting the s-hooks (the apron rod was too thick to use the hooks directly on it). Life is easier with a tensioning system, but Archie Brennan’s diagrams show how to manage that with copper pipe and a threaded rod (see his page http://brennan-maffei.com/Loom.htm and scroll down to the “small copper loom” diagram).

In a very short time this afternoon I had this little sample done. I chose a large, coarse string, thinking of the rough and impersonal treatment Nancy has experienced (not the nursing home particularly – the whole situation and sequence of events). It’s actually a single continuous piece of string, used for both warp and weft. There are various tension problems, but that seems to fit with the theme pretty well!

I think I’ve got the structure right.

I’m really excited about the fast sampling this method offers, especially with a weaving project coming up in the OCA course. I think that’s tapestry and experimentation focused, so this could fit. Imagine unhooking a few areas of warp and doing some braiding, or crossing warp ends over to create diagonal elements. Possibilities!!!

 

P2P2 reveal (late)

First, my apologies to Meg and all the participants in P2P2  for being late – poor management of time and energy yesterday. I’m really sorry.

This is my finished project together with the calendar reproduction of a John Bellany painting. Read here about the story I based on the picture and the idea of a scarf that blended in with the colours of the sea. There’s gruesome detail about the weaving structure here.

After sampling a series of wefts, and totally ignoring my previous statement that wool and mohair were too fluffy and warm for this project, I chose Fine Kid Veloute from anny blatt, 51% wool, 49% mohair, in a lightish blue-grey. The colour was perfect, the grip gave some needed stability to the structure, and the fuzz reminded me of a light mist over the water in the morning. The combination of the viscose/cotton warp, wool/mohair weft and leno structure has produced a light, softly draping scarf that feels lovely to wear and, I think, fits the watery theme.

This photo shows the status of the second P2P2 project I hoped to finish, plus part of the reason for the delay. In the background (how appropriate!) is the warp beamed but not threaded. In the foreground is a folding table I’ve put up to hold some of the overflow of tools and materials for my OCA course. On my main worktable (definitely not shown!) are more tools and A Space (many exclamation marks) for using them. I’m having a blast working on the course, but naturally time, as well as space, is at a premium.

So this is what I planned (and still intend) to do. I’ve previously blogged about this sample here and here, and my reactions to the inspiration photo here.

The draft is on the right and will require rather a lot of imagination.

First, ignore the bottom part with the squares of floats. That’s from Sandra Rude’s article “fulled merino scarves” in The best of Weaver’s: Fabrics That Go Bump. I’ve wanted to make it in this yarn for ages, so figured a threading and wound a warp to suit both. The top part shows a plain weave base in white cashmere/merino. The yellow stripes, evenly spaced and regimented, are a supplementary warp in shiny gold that will weave plain weave along with the base. You can see a hint of such a stripe near the right edge in the sample photo. The pink threads in the draft are a supplementary warp using Filatura di Crosa Luce yarn, a 40% rayon, 30% cotton, 15% kid mohair, 10% polyamide, 5% acylic blend that can be seen the third wriggle from the left in the sample. It’s threaded in groups of 3 – 2 – 1 – 1 (right to left), so regularity of a sort, sometimes aligning with a gold stripe sometimes not, but bobbling around all over the place.

I don’t know how it will look in practice – I think there’s a strong possibility that it’s lots of ideas that don’t work together as a design. The ideas are – free spirited, feathery spots of colour and texture, fiercely and exultantly individual (the multicoloured supplementary warp and the trombone guy). The base cloth is plain weave, very sensible and stable in a quality, even luxury, yarn, with regular stripes (clock-like regularity??) of gold (stashed in a bank account??) – being various aspects or caricatures of swiss people, products and facilities. The individual is experiencing freedom, but is actually one of a group (the band in the parade), working within a structure and constraints (swiss society and caught in plain weave even if it floats above). It seems very ponderous when I type it out.

Many thanks to Cally for a great set of photos and to Meg for making it all happen. I’ve really enjoyed being part of P2P2.

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 🙂

Doup leno scarf

While I’m busy doing, correcting and redoing my sums for the next warp, here is a previously unblogged project I completed last November (about the only thing I managed in Liz Calnan’s class at the Guild that term).

Scarf details: warp Bendigo Woollen Mills 2 ply wool. Weft Bendigo’s Mirage, a mohair / wool / alpaca mix that seems to have dropped from their line.

The warp is in stripes – plain weave and leno. From Liz’s notes, “Leno is an open weave structure, with warps twisted around one another”.

Pictures could help. This is from the first little sample I did, using the scrappy yarn bit at the beginning so it is easier to see. Ignore the “oopsie” bit! One is the sample, the other the same photo with markings added.


Looking at the markings, in blue and orange at the right we have two standard plain weave warp threads. They sit nicely side by side ignoring each other, each one going under and over weft threads.

In green and pink we have two pairs of leno warp ends. While weaving the green thread of each pair was pulled under the pink thread and up to form the shed. The weft was put across, holding that twist. Then the green thread was allowed to return to its normal position next to the pink and up – another weft across, and that position is fixed. I set up the pairs so that in one the green starts on the right of the pink but is repeatedly pulled to the left then allowed to return to the right, while in the other pair the green started on the left and is repeatedly pulled to the right. The green threads wobble left and right over the weft all the way down the cloth. The pick threads wobble around, always underneath the weft. The weft holds in the wobbles. This allows a very open but still stable cloth. In this particular scarf the weft is the star, and the leno area adds a lot of textural interest. Liz had a bundle of samples, many with the wriggling, wobbling warp threads the main interest. Different relative sizes of yarns give very different results – a huge area to explore (yet another!!).

There are a number of ways to pull the warp threads out of their position and form the twist. First, simple and flexible, is doing it by hand, as in my sampler of finger-manipulated weaves. There are some good photos and explanation in Robyn Spady’s article on Weavezine. Bead leno uses beads or pieces of drinking straws to connect two warp ends – when one is lifted, it pulls the other with it – I think! That’s based on an article by Kathryn Wertenberger in the November/December 1989 issue of Handwoven. I’ve also seen photos on a few blogs – here and here.

I used a third method – “doups”.  A doup is a carefully measured loop of yarn, say a nice strong cotton. I was going to try some diagrams, but why re-draw the wheel? Check out Irma Spaargaren’s article on Weavezine. In words, the pink thread is stationary. It just sits there and the weft passes over it. The doup is attached to a shaft, goes underneath the stationary pink thread and loops around the green thread on the far side. For one pick the doup shed is left down, the green thread is lifted in the normal way and the weft passes beneath it. For the next pick the doup shaft is lifted. The doup pulls on the green thread, taking it underneath the pink thread and up. The weft goes over the pink thread and under the green one – but this time the green is on the other side of the pink. Repeat as required.

Some random notes from my project:

* doup length is vital. It needs to be long enough that it doesn’t prevent the green thread’s standard lift, and short enough that when it pulls the green thread around and up you have a shed big enough to get through. And if your doups are slightly different lengths your shed and life will be miserable.

* denting. I don’t know a general rule. In my project the plain weave was set at 12 ends per inch in a 12 dpi reed – wider than I normally would for the yarn, but I was considering the weft and the overall light goal. The leno pairs were in separate dents next to each other, with 3 empty dents between each pair. However no gap before the last pair and a plain weave area – I didn’t want the plain weave spreading out.

* I used my ashford 8 shaft table loom. I had the plain weave threaded on shafts 5 and 6, the leno pairs on shafts 7 and 8 and used shafts 1 and 2 for the doups (in Liz’s notes this method is from Monograph 32 – Tacker and Skowronski. The doup is attached to shaft 2 and goes through a heddle on shaft 1 before looping around the green thread). In theory it gives a slightly better shed, but the way I set things up, shaft 1 pressed against shaft 2 and tended to push it up, giving a teeny tiny shed. I ended manually pushing down on shaft 2 (tried weights but didn’t have the space), then using a pickup stick to clear the shed on ever second pick! It still grew quickly, given the grist of the weft and the light/loose nature of the design.

I really like the end result – a nice combination of various reds, some sheen and some fuzz from the weft mix, lots of textural interest, very light… and I’m expecting very warm given the air pockets – but there’s still a way to go before I give it a try. Sydney has rather a short scarf-wearing season.


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In Basketry NSW Transformation exhibition Sunday 2 July. More info fibresofbeing.wordpress.com

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