Archive for the 'Noble (24 shafts)' Category

When you’re juggling lots of things…

…some get dropped.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lydia Van Gelder. Twice Dyed #8

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

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

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

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

…Next day…

What do you think?

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

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

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

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

Fake ikat scarf

Last week’s ?? warp is now a not quite finished scarf (slightly damp, fringes to twist) and I’m very happy with the result.

With such stretchy yarn I took the standard weight off the back beam tensioning lever (thingy – too lazy to look up the correct name) and used a much lighter fishing weight. Using the avl warping wheel to get an ikat-ish effect in the warp worked well enough for me. There’s a lot of shifting around (I suspect I didn’t identify the repeat plus there was variability through the skein of hand-dyed yarn), but enough blocks of colour to give the desired result overall.

After washing my sample of 9 potential wefts I was surprised by my final choice – “sweet pea”, which I would describe as a fuschia. The purple which was my favourite on the loom drabbed down the shifting colour stripes and didn’t add anything to the purple stripes. The brighter colour gave a spark and warmth to both. The texture given by the twill also suits my taste. It’s more visible at a medium distance than I anticipated – I thought it would be a kind of extra as you got close – but I like that colour isn’t the whole thing. The twill also gives a wobbly edge to the stripes and the whole scarf, which appeals to me.

Overall a good result, lots of lessons learnt and lots of leads for future exploration.

On a related note, this week my copy of A Fiber Artist’s Guide to Color with Laura Bryant arrived. I’ve watched it all once and will be watching again. I always like reading and learning more about colour, and to have a weaver’s presentation is a real bonus. Her own work is amazing – complex double weave with very complex colour.

A [insert adjective here] warp

Don’t jump to conclusions – so far all adjectives are appropriate for polite company.

My husband’s was “pretty!” as he wandered past. It’s Araucanía Ranco Multy from Chile, 75% wool, 25% polyamide, around 344 m/100gm. I wanted to try adapting Bonnie Tarses’s “almost ikat” technique to use the avl warping wheel. See Bonnie’s YouTube tutorial, and her blog. I combined the multi-coloured yarn in stripes with an almost-solid skein. I’ve been reading Lydia Van Gelder’s Ikat II – a beautiful book with great projects to guide experimenting with ikat. I’d like to try incorporating some elements or loose interpretations in my work, and this seemed a good place to start.

The yarn brings up another adjective – “bouncy”. It was sold as sock yarn and is spun quite soft and lofty. I did a couple of samples on my ashford table loom with no difficulties, but on my big noble floor loom it’s hard to get enough tension to form a shed without a lot of stretching. Plus I noticed a lot of fluff as I was threading and sleying, so I am dubious about “durable”, at least when used as a warp.

“Puzzling” refers to weft selection. In the photo there are 9 different colours of wool weft (Bendigo Woollen Mills Classic 2 ply). I want a slightly weft dominant fabric (trying to make the most of the shifting colour), in a twill (for drape). I like the idea of some secondary patterning, so I’m using herringbone twill threading and lift. (not exactly. It’s a straight 8 shaft twill with lifts that make it act like a 4 shaft herringbone threading). “Uncertain” relates to me – I don’t how much of the above is rubbish.

Which brings us to “stalled”. I’ve run out of weekend, plus I want to cut off and wet finish this first little bit. I did sample earlier, but a bit too small, with different colours plus at 15 and 20 ends per inch rather than the 18 epi which I’m actually using (since my 12 dpi table loom reed is busy elsewhere).

Spontaneity

My last two projects each took ages.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bristol Maximus in Supplementary Warp

This has been a long time coming.

Back in February inspiration struck – could I represent complex bellringing methods using supplementary warp floats?

I did some sampling – the idea held some promise if only I could get the right sett. Advice from Liz and the weaving group was very welcome.

In March I was dyeing yarn, then redyeing!

Next step was warping using my new AVL warping wheel. It went very smoothly, onto the sectional beam for the ground warp and the plain beam for the supplementary. Tension held nice and even throughout weaving 🙂

However the weaving didn’t go well. The first few centimetres looked streaky, obscuring the patterning.

Weeks passed, some pleasant (Forum in Orange), some less so (virus in tummy). Finally I bit the bullet, and on Monday unwove all that had been done and resleyed.

Weaving restarted, all looked well – until I realised I had mucked up the ringing pattern.

Deep breaths.

Unwove.

Wove.

Yes!

There is still some streakiness, but the patterning is clear and readable  (I tested it on the other ringers this morning). The hand and drape of the cloth is good and with finished measurements 184 by 19.5 cm plus fringe it’s a great weight and size to wrap around the neck in Sydney’s autumn.

I was able to include 4 leads of Bristol Maximus – a ringing pattern with 12 bells. The brown ground cloth squares show the path of the treble (highest note) – it follows a path ringing first, then 2nd, then first, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th etc, forming a jagged but regular line going from 1st to 12th and back 4 times. The blue supplementary warp float blocks show the path of one other bell – it could be any of the other 11 bells since they all follow the same Bristol Maximus pattern, just starting at different points (it’s a bit like 4 people singing “row row row your boat” in rounds). If you’re a ringer and the photo doesn’t quite look right, the pattern is mirrored and doesn’t start exactly at a lead end.

After all the palaver it was pleasant to weave. I did some experiments at the end of the warp to see if I could further reduce the streakiness and did manage to get improvements, but only with a lot of fuss lifting and manually clearing sheds that I didn’t actually weave in order to keep the ground and supplementary warps in proper alignment. Given I like the final scarf, the cost/benefit of the extra fussing isn’t worth it. Maybe playing around with reed size and denting would be useful if I revisit this.

Denting issues

I got the warp on – all seemed to go well. Wove a few test centimetres to check threading. It looked OK, but somehow a bit streaky. The pattern definition wasn’t as good as in my samples. Perhaps it was the closer values of the foreground and background colours. Obviously the sett had changed – the samples were 40 and 30 epi, with the new reed I had changed to 36 epi.

The photo shows where I stopped, while partway through hemstitching. Clicking will get the larger version, and I’ve arrowed the two single blue ends which outline the edges at the pattern reversal. The one one the right shows clearly. The one on the left is almost completely obscured. Plus there’s a general streaky and lumpy effect going on.

I’m using a 12 dent per inch reed and each of my warps (ground and supplementary) is 18 ends per inch. The ground is plain weave on shafts 1 and 2. The supplementary is on shafts 3 to 15, but in the area arrowed they are all on shaft 3. All the supplementary ends lift with shaft 1, unless they are involved in one of the float areas.

Sometimes figuring things out in weaving does my head in, and after stomping around the house a while I decided to post about it – partly for advice, partly because just sorting out the question can help find answers (I tend to see this blog as my work diary, which happens to be public and occasionally of interest to others – though I’d be surprised if anyone gets this far!).  The incomprehensible sketch (playing with yet another new toy, a wacom bamboo tablet) helped me see the problem. The ground warp is 18 epi in a 12 dent reed, so 2 ends in one dent, 1 in the next etc. The supplementary warp is 18 epi, so 2 ends in one dent, 1 in the next. The way I’d done the two warps I ended with a total of 4 ends in one dent, 2 in the next. So there’s some lumpiness!

So I could redent to even it out with 3 ends per dent – 2 ground + 1 supplementary in one dent, 1 ground + 2 supplementary in the next. I suspect this will help, but not solve my problem. The threading has ground ends alternating with supplementary ends – eg 1 3 2 3 1 3 2 3 1 3 2 3 (1 and 2 ground, 3 supplementary). That is, the supplementary ends sit either side of the ends on shaft 1, rise and fall with it, and are sometimes dented with it. So I think it’s in the nature of things that they won’t necessarily sit nicely side by side. The current craming isn’t helping.

If I had an 18 epi reed I could dent: 1 in one dent, 3-2-3 in the next etc, and overall maintain my 18 epi per warp (the ground warp 1 end per dent, the supplementary 2 ends every second dent). But I don’t. And I’m now in frugal mode (all those new toys to pay for), even if such a fine reed is available and such spacing didn’t give me warp abrasion problems.

Hmm…

The post that got away

Last week’s post didn’t happen. It was a distraction from the weaving that wasn’t happening, but I was waiting for some brighter weather to take (distracting!) photos. Being in a frugal phase I now offer last week…

Here’s some impressive weaving I noticed recently – a building facade, part of the revamped Centrepoint Tower building in Sydney. The artwork is by Dani Marti, who created a woven rope sculpture which was then cast in glass-reinforced concrete. There are some more photos and information here (click on “Construction” at the bottom to see the original work) and here. I haven’t been able to find out anything about the patterned glass canopy, but to me it looks a bit like a weaving drawdown. (photo to come??? – in the meantime check the links – I think they’re worth it.)

On the home front, there’s nothing going on with the supplementary warp project – the new reed is still on its way, the new warp is still damp. While waiting I’ve been doing some dabbling.

First up was braiding or kumihimo, using a beginner’s marudai I got secondhand from the guild shop. I’m happily improvising the rest of the equipment while I try out this craft.

Photo shows marudai (the stand that holds the braid while you are working), the improvised tama (weighted bobbins) and my first two braids. For more photos and info see wikipedia. The teal warp-faced weave is my backstrap attempt.

I’ve also been played with backstrap weaving, following Laverne Waddington‘s brilliant instructions. So far I’m only partway through step one – backstrap basics on WeaveZine, but at least I have the satisfaction that despite significant tension issues the second half of my first weaving was much better than the first (which does set the bar very low indeed!).

Now fast-forwarding to today’s exciting episode…

In the last few days the sun has come out, the dyed warp has dried, the new reed has arrived (I’m very happy with the service from Luke at Independent Reed Co – no website but email indreed at bigpond dot com dot au.)

Yesterday I wound the dry silk/merino supplementary warp, using the AVL warping wheel and chaining off the sections so I could put it on the second back beam. The winding went well, the beaming got ugly at times – but it’s done.

The photo on the left shows the two warps, the silk for the ground cloth on the sectional beam, the silk/merino on the plain warp beam which is a bit lower. I’ve only used the second beam once before, for the deflected double weave scarf, when I made a total hash of it – hopefully this will weave up more easily.

I’m currently threading and so far it is going better than I expected. I’ve put the two warps on separate lease sticks, one set hung high, one low behind the heddles.

Working from the front, it is not too bad to reach both warps and select the alternating ends I need. With recent projects I’ve become much more careful of counting out the heddles I’ll need, moving un-needed ones out of the way, and pulling out sets of threads and heddles to work with. It seems to keep me more accurate, giving additional check points along the way. Just hope writing this doesn’t jinx me!


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

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