Archive for the 'Ashford (8 shafts)' 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.

 

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 🙂

P2P2 Round 2 sample

The sample on the loom here is now cut off and finished (vigourous handwashing using olive oil soap and very hot then very cold water to promote fulling/felting/shrinkage). The photo shows before and after finishing.

The resulting fabric is quite soft, reasonable drape, and would be fine as a scarf. Both the novelty supplementary warps are reasonably attached to the base cloth – not enough for hard wear, but shouldn’t catch/snag too much as a scarf. I tried some fine gold foil type thread in both warp and as a weft inlay (plain weave, no floats). It didn’t felt in at all (as I expected – too smooth, wouldn’t absorb water). The warp looks generally OK, just a few slightly loopy spots (given it didn’t shrink at all). The weft inlay has larger loops at each turnaround point – not attractive. The long weft floats of the base cloth, which catch in and give wriggle room for the supplementary warps) are almost all OK in the sense of attaching in enough – just a couple of long ones in the central area aren’t great. However I do find the horizontal lines (vertical in the photo!) visually distracting.

In term of the wriggly lines I was looking for it’s definitely a success.

The process of weaving went quite pleasantly.  (A tactful silence on selvedges!). As mentioned previously my improvised threading was way off, but using pickup to create the floats gave a lot of additional flexibility, was only every 10-ish more or less picks so didn’t slow things down too much (I used the Ashford table loom) and I rather enjoyed playing with it.

As for the draft, I was very interested to see Jessica-of-Sharing-the-Fiber-Fever’s cannelé post here. It looked very similar to the “spider weave” from Sharon Alderman’s book that I used as a starting point. (I turned her draft then hacked it badly). I tracked down an old article about cannelé on handweaving.net – Master Weaver No 12 1953. There are a few variations with Fig 5 looking closest to Sharon’s. The big difference that I could see is in the warps that float over the fancy weft (remember my samples are turned). In Sharon’s draft the warps weave in with the plain weave cloth when not required for floating. The Master Weaver has them floating on the back. Yet another structure that seems similar but different is a “novelty weave” from Doramay Keasbey (draft b on page 270, discussed page 271). It has something slightly different in a corner of the plain weave base – just a couple of interlacements, but in weaving that could be significant. Don’t know.

The major question for now – could one or more elements of the sample be used to make an attractive scarf?

The Luce yarn is probably out (just half of one warp in the sample). Something about the chunkiness and the quick colour change makes it less graphic and interesting to me. Although it might be closer in feel to the original photo. Gold in the weft is definitely out. I think some staggering and being mindful of float length will reduce the visual distraction of the weft floats.

Hmm. Any thoughts?

2 questions + P2P2 round 2 update

First a couple of questions.

Do you know anything about the Open College of the Arts BA Textiles degree? A friend has been researching textile courses for a while and we’ve both got excited about this one. I’ve looked through OCA website, plus found quite a few “learning log” blogs of current students – http://ocacreativeartsjourney.wordpress.com/ is a good place to start since she has links to other students in addition to her own work. I’d love to learn more about the course and peoples’ experiences with OCA, so please leave a comment.

The second question was left in a comment from Isa Vogle: “Please, I am wondering if you or anyone else knows how to put short z-spun singles on a sectional loom not using a tension box. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Isa” I don’t know the background of the various constraints Isa is facing (other equipment available, width of warp etc) and have never tried anything like this, but it sounds like a potential world of pain to me. I think you’d need a nice long leader to attach to, or maybe tie onto a ghost warp? Plus there could be challenges relating to the amount of twist/energy in the singles, avoiding tangles and/or the yarn simply falling apart. Any other ideas for Isa?

Finally a brief update on P2P2. I’ve started a sample using some of the ideas from here. I came up with a threading on 8 shafts which I thought would give me the plain weave background and some options in the positioning of the floats that allow movement. It was immediately obvious that I had no idea what I was doing and the threading was rubbish (well, the plain weave base worked)! Fortunately my good friend the pickup stick has helped enormously and I think I have the hang of it, with the bonus of lots of flexibility. The proof will be in the wet finishing.

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.

Sampling supplementary warp

This title brings an unrelated-to-weaving smile. I had years of elocution lessons – “six silly swans swimming in the snow” and my husband can still judge my tiredness by the amount of lisp…

Focus. Yes. (now everything has an ess, and this was not deliberate).

Ahem. (OK. better.)

I’ve spent some time the last few days seeing if my bus inspiration actually holds water – will the design be readable and will the cloth drape for a scarf?

Here’s version 1 on the loom. Base warp is 20/2 silk. Supplementary warp a silk merino 2 ply, 650m/100g (the supplier closed her small dyeing business a while back). Sett 40 ends per inch (20 of each warp type), except in the selvedge area and breaks between pattern areas. The threading is pretty much the original idea seen at the bottom here, but with variations on the number of supplementary threads per block. From left to right I tried 3, 4, 5 and 1 threads. Weft was 20/2 silk. I didn’t pay much attention to picks per inch – just standard comfortable not light or heavy. As I was weaving I tried a few different numbers of repeats/length of warp floats.

Version 2 had warp unchanged, but 60/2 silk for weft.

Here are versions 3 (at bottom) and 4 on the loom. I resleyed to 30 ends per inch – 15 background warp plus 15 supplementary. I also added some undyed merino-silk to the selvedge/pattern break areas, so they would feel more consistent with the rest of the cloth and cope better with the more open sett. I made a major hash of this, threading the new warp ends in with the same heddles as the base cloth. Plus the back of the loom became a rats nest as my supplementary warp got short (I was using thrums from Geoff’s scarf). Not a pretty sight (the camera seems to agree – the colour went very odd).

I kept to the 20/2 silk for weft, but tried both my default beat (which worked out around 17 picks per inch) and a deliberately light beat towards the end (around 11 picks per inch on the loom).

The washed and pressed samples together – left to right samples, 1, 2, then 4 above 3.

All have good definition of the design, with the brown float/white background/mixed plain weave areas clear, even in the unpleasantly sleazy sample 4.

The big issue was getting a nice scarf drape. I really like the final sample 1 cloth, but it’s too firm for the purpose. I’d like to return to it another time, maybe as part of a light jacket (the patterning could be a bit strong all over).

Sample 2 draped a little better, but not enough plus I think the finer silk brings a slight harshness.

Jumping to sample 4, this actually feels nice but is crazy-sleazy.

So, we have a winner. Cue close up of sample 3. Overlook the fact that end-of -warp issues have introduced a few oddities. The drape and hand are nice, and (I hope!) suitable if not perfect for a scarf. The floats cover the background quite well. There is some deflection of the warp and weft around the background areas. I rather like the irregularities – not sure how much will be in the final, given a better tensioned warp. In any case the pattern is quite distinct (it’s not any actual bellringing method, just playing around).

Colours are chosen, so the next step is calculations of lengths and weights for dyeing.


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Goodyer girls long weekend in Hobart

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