Archive for the 'Robinson (4 shafts)' 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!!!

 

Rosepath revisited

A friend recently asked for some info on the “freestyle rosepath” I’ve done. (Hi Fliss!) Which has spurred me on to document some weaving I actually finished back in the summer holidays.

This is intended to become a bag, a gift for someone who suggested “hydrangeas” as a colour reference. I missed Christmas (oops), then thought that maybe the simple shoulder bag style might not work well for the recipient. So the length is still waiting patiently for plan whatever-letter-I’m-up-to (subject of the next post, maybe).

Threading: What I know as “Rosepath”, though there may be other names (or other things with the same name!). This snapshot from fiberworks PCW shows the draft. I think a floating selvedge helps.

Warp: 2/22 cottolin (60% cotton, 40% linen), sett 18 ends per inch. In other projects I’ve used stripes, but this time I wanted to suggest light and shadow flickering in a spring garden so I did a lot of swapping colours in and out.

Weft: This time I used a tabby (that is, a plain weave pick between every pattern pick), a very fine cotton, with the idea of increasing durability slightly. Most other times I’ve done this I haven’t bothered. The bag I made in November 2009 has been used almost daily and while it needs a wash and a few repairs it hasn’t done badly.
Pattern weft: This is where you can go to town. I gather a pile of “stuff” that fits the colour scheme, then pick and choose as the whim takes me. There are yarns – some silk (fancy spun, a thin ribbon yarn, a boucle…), wools, maybe cottolin. If they are fine I tend to wind a few yarns together (I use a stick shuttle for this) so the pattern isn’t too small. Thrums (leftover warp) from other projects are good. I also tear fabric into strips and use that. I like the raw and shaggy look, but I suppose you could cut on the bias if you want. I also deliberately play with which side is showing to get colour variation and texture – for example in the red/pink/white mass about third section down in the photo on the right. The fabric is mostly silk, plus some cotton and probably a couple of synthetics. I have various bits and pieces from old dye experiments, plus bits of old kimonos etc. It just needs to be pliable enough to sit happily. I’ve used habutai, tissue and organza silks. I deliberately tear stripes of different lengths and widths, to keep up the randomisation factor. I also try to repeat things a few times as I’m weaving – you can only see a few centimetres of recent weaving, so I tend to have two piles. I select a piece of cloth from one, tear a strip, throw the remainder into the second pile. When I’ve finished the first pile I start with the second and repeat the process. Or cheat and pick something that catches my fancy out of whichever pile.

To make the strip I use scissors to nick the edge of the fabric and tear almost to the other side. Then I cut a nick on that side and tear back. This gives you a longer strip of fabric weft, with little extra tags of fabric at each turnaround point (which I quite like as extra texture).

Lift plan: I’ve shown the few simple ones that I use in the draft above. Mostly the “as drawn in” bit, but not entirely.

The other major technique I use is clasped weft. Kaz has a brilliant tutorial here.

A couple more photos you can click on for details if you like.

Previous projects using these ideas (clicking the photos takes you to the relevant blog entries:
Bag CardsTable runner Wall hangingDetail

None of this is new or original to me. Among lots of influences two blogs stand out – Susan at Avalanche Looms and Terri at Saori Salt Spring.

Jason Collingwood at the Textile Fibre Forum

Last week was TAFTA’s Forum in Orange and I had a wonderful time. I struggle to describe these weeks (this was my 5th) – a couple of hundred textile fanatics, lots of learning and friendship and craziness – exciting, stimulating, sometimes overwhelming… There’s a lot of exuberance and fun but also the opportunity to really get into your particular subject since you spend Monday to Friday in the one class.

Mine was Three-End Block Weaves with Jason Collingwood. I was so impressed by him, the intense focus and depth of knowledge, every detail considered to produce the best work he can – in his rug weaving, but also in his teaching. He had samples and could demonstrate and explain lots of options, but could also explain the reasons, the choices in pursuit of excellence in his own work, which mean he works almost exclusively with a reduced set of techniques. He doesn’t see it as restricting or constraining, but as working in harmony with the structure/technique. He also takes a very practical non-precious approach to his equipment (loom), modifying it in all sorts of ways to make his work efficient and achieve the best results he can.

I admire this enormously. After considerable reflection I am comfortable that I don’t aspire to it myself. Part of course is that weaving is Jason’s profession, but my hobby. Part is the joy of exploration and discovery (which still counts, no matter how many have discovered it before me – and I agree can be found in deep as well as broad studies). Achieving mastery – perhaps one day I will be ready to make that investment, but quite possibly never.

A brief look at what we did – with the warning that there are no details or how-tos:

Sunday afternoon pre-class get -together: general introductions and background.

Day 1 – Monday

Most of us brought looms already warped and part threaded. In 3 end block weave you have tiedown ends on shafts 1 and 2, then a pattern/background thread on either shaft 3 or 4. Jason’s instructions had us put the pattern/background thread in each block between empty heddles on shafts 3 and 4. That way we could change individual threads/blocks between pattern and background by tieing the individual thread to one of the empty heddles. Fiddly, but do-able.

Going from bottom to top of the photo we have the header; twining (done to space the warp, then each day to divide up the sampler); some solid colour; pattern blocks, counter change and general play.

We spent a lot of time on the details that make a difference – bubbling the warp, managing the selvedge, starting and ending weft, darning in ends, tension, beat…

Day 2:

We worked with “constant lift”, using weft colours to pattern, and “constant colour” where the weft colour order is maintained and the lifts change. We produced vertical and cross stripes, aligned and staggered dots, introduced a third colour (used in my “frame” section). As well as plain background we used different patterning in the two blocks.

I ran out of time and didn’t get a log cabin sample done.

Day 3:

Wednesday was a half day for class. The afternoon was free to take a break, explore town, or (in my case) continue work.

We worked on clasped weft, using very precise techniques and positioning – quite unlike the bits I’ve done in the past such as with “freestyle rosepath” .  The focus was always kept on producing a structurally sound rug.

We were able to use the lifts and patterning we had already learned, combined with the multiple colours. Once again I ran out of time – others in the class tried clasping 3 colours at once. There was also a rather neat “disappearing block” trick.

Day 4:

On Thursday morning we changed structure to 2/1 double faced twill.  I liked the graphic shape and colour combination I got in the blue/red area. The twill line wasn’t reversed, just the positioning of the clasped weft. Again I ran out of time and didn’t try reversing twill lines, let alone having different colours / patterning on front and back of the cloth.

In the afternoon Jason introduced us to shaft switching. Through the week we had been changing blocks to and from pattern and background to suit the various samples. As I mentioned in “day 1”, it was just a matter of tieing the pattern end to one of the empty heddles, either shaft 3 or 4. Flexible, but slow and fiddly.

Now we did an arrangement of ties and knots to make it faster and easier to change each end – shaft switching, although a more primitive form that didn’t require any modifications to the loom. It’s beyond me to explain and a photo of my loom just looks a messy tangle. I found this article by Thelma Bodkin – the “threading detail” shown in the diagram seems to match what we did, but instead of all the fixings we used “boa” knots to select which way (to which heddle/shaft) the warp end was tightened. Naturally I used a bellringing pattern to test it out. That jagged red line is “stedman doubles”, at least in my eyes 🙂 I was changing the pattern end every 4 picks and actually started building some rhythm in the movements.

Day 5:

The final day we looked at raised end pick up. Jason tried to demonstrate on my loom – that thin area just above the blue/orange twining. He pronounced it the worst shed  he’d ever had. Actually close to non-existant. All 8 of us in the class were using table looms, and this was just a step too far for mine.

Jason also presented dovetailing – still on my “to do” list. Instead I tried a rather crazy counterchange pattern (the bit below the green tuft is where I misunderstood the directions and nothing was happening). The arrangement of blocks is actually easier to pick out in the photo – towards the top centre you may even be able to see a lozenge shape where I was combining shaft switching with the crazy counterchange.

We finished off with lots of information about finishing, some ideas for useful loom adjustments and general design considerations.

Non-weaving, but a personal triumph: As a wrap up to the week, Friday night was LA PARTY! Last year I was too tired and sore to go – I crawled into bed at 8pm with the distant sounds of music mocking me. The next week I joined a gym, started overhauling my eating and used LA PARTY as my focus. A year later and 29 kilos down, I got there and was on the dance floor most of the night! A great end to a great week!!

Well, not quite the end. Saturday morning was “open  house”, where classes displayed their work for each other and visitors from town. There was also the “Heathen Bazaar” and final chats with old and new friends.

I still have some warp on the loom, so the next plan is to do some of the samples I missed. Plus I want to try some of the same techniques using lighter materials  – aiming for something in a bag weight first off I think. Then – well, probably something totally different…

Cacophony

Cacophony. Part of The Maharajah's Garden exhibition

Many travellers to the Indian subcontinent talk of being overwhelmed and left disoriented by the colours, sounds, smells when they first arrive.

I imagine a Garden full of exotic flowers and birds, fountains, gazebos and sunshine – so many wonders, so bright and beautiful, that all I can perceive is a blur of colour and light. Slowly my eyes refocus until I can see a single bloom.

Detail

ATASDA (The Australian Textile Arts and Surface Design Association) is launching a new exhibition soon – The Maharajah’s Garden. It’s a suitcase exhibition – a collection of textile art pieces, banners to decorate the venue, techniques boards, publicity material, white gloves for handling work etc, all fitting into one large suitcase (actually two suitcases, due to the amount of work submitted). Each suitcase will travel independently around Australia for the next two years, visiting schools and communities. Anyone can ask to host the exhibition – the only cost is postage to the next venue.

Banner section

ATASDA has had a couple of suitcase exhibitions in the past which were very successful. This is my first chance to participate and I was keen to make sure weaving was included – ATASDA members use a huge range of textile and surface design techniques. We were asked to respond to the theme The Maharajah’s Garden with rich, brilliantly coloured artworks.

Banner detail

Each suitcase will include 20 – 30 banner sections, each with ribbon ties so they can be used flexibly to decorate the different venues. I used an offcut from my main piece on my banner, with a flower shape based on the sequinned bloom on the hanging.

Some specifics:

Handwoven wallhanging, unlined, 47 x 40 cm.

Warp: 22/2 cottolin sett at 18 ends per inch.  I put out all the cones I had in “garden” colours and wound with 4 threads at a time. Each trip round the warping board I changed 1, sometimes 2, colours. When threading I chose fairly much at random from each group of 4 threads. I wanted a not-too-stripey “sunlight dappled” effect.

Threading and liftplan: rosepath (slightly more detailed explanation here).

Weft: mainly torn and cut strips of fabrics – organza, chiffon, lamé, silks and synthetics. I created big piles of torn pieces, then knotted them together in a semi-random order (that is, I picked up a piece at random and threw it back in the pile if I didn’t want it at that point).

I have some big cones of metallic thread (from a knitting machine supplier), and two colours of metallic were wound onto the shuttle together with the knotted fabric strips.

There are also sections using some of my mother’s embroidery threads. Plus there is a fine cotton thread used as a tabby (plain weave pick between each “fancy” pick). The hanging will do a lot of travelling over the next two years, and the tabby gives some needed stability and strength.

Weaving: I used the clasped weft technique throughout. Kaz of curiousweaver has a great video tutorial here. Most of the time I used a weft from each side, but here and there I used three at once – a shuttle from each side and a third yarn source in the middle (in the photo some of mum’s embroidery thread). Also in the photo you can see the shuttle of fine cotton for the tabby weft. Although the weft was knotted randomly I could juggle placement by seeing what was coming up and choosing my clasping points.

I don’t know the age of the sequinned and chain-stitch flower. It’s worked on a fine purple silk chiffon and was given to me a few years ago (by another ATASDA member).

A major part of the exhibition’s purpose is to enthuse viewers (school students and others) to go home and try a new technique using textiles and fibres. We were all asked to include an A3 techniques board, giving basic instructions in a technical skill. It would be great if someone decided to give weaving a go after seeing the exhibition, but there will be such variety and such strong work from others that cacophony could get lost in the general blaze of colour!

If you’re in Australia and would like one of the suitcases to visit your area, check the ATASDA website for contact information. They are already taking bookings and have venues pencilled in for every state.

Runner in rosepath

The first un-Christmas gift is done!

This is a table runner – more a centre-piece since it’s quite short – requested by my mother. Mum liked my autumn bag (blogged here) and asked for something similar. The colour cues are shown in the photo – on the left, a snap of the turkish rug mum picked up on her travels, on the right an offcut of her upholstery fabric.

I think this is the first time I’ve used yarn wrapping to help decide on warp colours and placement. In the end I thought the more formal, symmetrical style better reflected the formal layout of the rug.

This is the warp seen here, lying all smooth and ready to go onto the Robinson loom on New Year’s day. It was finally tied on and ready to start weaving 11 days later. The warp was short – just 1.25 metres since I only needed 62 cm finished length including fringe. I didn’t consciously take short cuts, but I kept finding myself doing stupid things and getting into a mess.  I kept thinking of it as a small warp, but it was 290 ends which is on the high side for me. Anyway, I fumbled through winding it on, then made multiple errors (and, I think, an equal number of corrections) while threading the heddles and sleying the reed.

Another shot, just because I like it!

With this type of weaving not everything is planned before you start – there’s of lot of decision-making on the spot as you see how colours work together. At first I found it really difficult, trying to second-guess what mum would like. One fabric in particular I really liked but she wasn’t keen on – it has orange and turquoise in it and is visible about half way up this shot, so you can tell that in the end I decided the only possibility was to do what looked right to me, and hope mum likes the final result.

Some project details: Warp is cottolin, sett at 18 ends per inch. Threading rosepath (thread 1, 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, 1 and repeat). Weft – varied, includes torn fabric strips (mostly light silk), some fancy silk yarns, some of mum’s old embroidery yarns, odd and bobs. Woven on Robinson 4 shaft table loom. Lift sequence 1-2, 2-3, 3-4, 4-1, 3-4, 2-3, 1-2, 1-4 and repeat. A few bits of clasped weft. Final size 62×39 cm.

Started 31/12/2009, finally finished 28/1/2010 (it was off the loom much earlier, but the finishing and fringes have been done in work pauses on the next project, which has a deadline I’m going to miss).

The one outstanding thing is mum’s reaction. I’ll see that next week.

A day in the life of my looms

Meg at Unravelling suggested photos of looms on new years day.


Robinson 4 shaft table loom with fresh and very short warp ready to go on.

Ashford 8 shaft table loom folded up and waiting patiently at the back of the noble.

Noble 24 shaft loom, with the end of the last scarf (huck bellringing) “saved” in case I decide to tie on another.

I hope the new year brings you  joy and fulfillment in your weaving and life 🙂

More freestyle rosepath

The recent flurry of posts is nearing an end, as I approach my self-imposed deadline and also bring my weaving story right up to date.  This was on the loom a couple of weeks ago, and reached its final form earlier today.

20091108_bag2The card fronts (blogged yesterday) were fun –  I wanted more. This bag is the same idea of cottolin warp threaded in rosepath, all sorts of yarns and torn silks as weft. I deliberately left loose ends and created even more by tying small bits and pieces together, to get lots of texture.

20091108_bag3I used the fabric to make a bag in the  Doni’s Delis style. I decided to go all the way with lining, pockets and zip closure (complete with pull tag of some of the weft yarn, knotted with crown sinnets using instructions from 200 braids to twist, knot, loop or weave by Jacqui Carey. I really like this book – great photos, lots of options and clear instructions). I also tacked together the selvedges in the part that goes over the shoulder, to help the bag sit nicely (the cloth is a bit stiff to drape or bunch well).

20091108_bag4One of the things I like about “allsorts” wefts is the changes in scale using the same liftplan. Another favourite is using clasped weft with the rosepath lift. You can get a really interesting broken line effect.

I tried to use every weft at least 2 or 3 times and also kept to just plain weave and a single rosepath pattern, to get some coherence over the fabric as a whole. However I did try to keep varying the combinations. 20091108_bag5

The colour theme was “autumn” – although for me that encompasses a lot! I couldn’t capture the richness of the colours in these photos.


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Fabulous figure sculpting workshop with Kassandra Bossell!

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