Archive for the 'Plain weave' Category

Eavesdropping at a half-open door

“one has to teach the skill of reading even to those who are no longer illiterate”

“uncultured readers… with a vague knowledge that there is something else here, and enjoying the text like someone eavesdropping at a half-open door, glimpsing only hints of a promising epiphany.”

Umberto Eco, on literature, pages 171 and 219.

Some days I have the confronting feeling that I’m a beginner in something I’ve practiced daily for almost six decades. Then I tell myself to stop being maudlin and self-indulgent, and just get on with it.

I have tried to make visible the work of reading. I have complained bitterly when I found reading challenging. I have made reading the foundation of every day. I write about attentive reading, focusing on every line and word… but lately I’ve wondered – am I getting all I can from all this effort? In particular, am I making connections, building usable knowledge. I note correspondences as I go, and the use of indexing glyphs in my notetaking has been useful in later consolidation around particular ideas. Possibly I need to be more alert to the need to extend my glyph set.

In my last post (7-Jan-2020) I tried to link books and authors with fabric swatches. That was step one in an experiment.

The previous data viz experiments were generally useful, giving me space and time to think, seeing from different angles, generating some surprises… I decided to look at where I was spending time reading, and to search for rhythms and flows in the mix of reading. Keep mine-ing the existing tool set and stash. The brief developed:
* Start recording time spent reading.
* Repeat the scarf form. This time with weaving.
* Begin simple, with options to elaborate as the process continues. So plain weave. I put a 2 metre warp of black cottolin on the 4-shaft table loom, a straight threading.

The result is a record of four weeks of reading – 30 November to 27 December. Information encoded:
* Length of weaving is proportional to length of reading. Four centimetres = One hour.
* Beginning of day is marked by 5 picks in cotton – white on Sunday, then darkening greys reaching black on Saturday.
* Indicate book by weft – torn fabric strips.
* Most reading was done in my workroom. If outside the house, a supplementary fine coppery weft was added (“sunshine”). If bedtime reading, a supplementary weft of silvery white was used (for the moon).
* When a book or essay was finished (not many were), mark by 5 picks in red cotton.

Detail – Wednesday 18 December 2019

In the detail above you might just be able to see the cotton picks at the beginning and end of the day. The book swatches all look quite different when squashed down and used for weft.

Umberto Eco on literature

John Berger
Selected Essays

In the morning I read Umberto Eco for 45 minutes. John Berger accompanied me on the bus, and in a cafe waiting for CPR training – a total of 50 minutes and a glint of sunshine.

Jane Hirshfield Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World

At that time I was reading Jane Hirshfield before sleep – hence the loops of white rayon. I wasn’t taking in much, just trying to find the flow, to get an overall sense, hoping to learn enough to be able to read it again with more understanding. Thirty more minutes, and a total of 8.3 cm.

Classic uses of a data visualisation are discovery (learn something new) and storytelling (communicate ideas). I can’t claim either here. Using standard viz software I would have waited to collect all the data before even starting, then probably run a variety of statistical analyses, experimented with multiple chart types, maybe colour themes and scales, transformations, brought in other data sets for context or comparison… There’s the faintest hint of this in the fringes.

By amazing chance, the number of warp ends was precisely four times the number of days woven. So each piece of fringe is one day. The fringing shown above records the total amount of time recorded reading each day (range from 0.67 to 2.75 hours). At the other end of the scarf the number of books read is shown – from 1 to 4 each day. Note the same information is already encoded in the weaving. This is simply a different chart type.

plump folds, showing more of the fabrics

Despite the proportions, the resulting textile can’t really be called a scarf. It does not drape softly and warmly around the neck. However while it sat on my desk over the last week, I came to love its edges. And to appreciate that “not drape-able” could also be described as “sculptural”

reading scarf sculpture

So perhaps wearable sculpture.

Click for larger image

Red warp coat

Back in 2013 I had a “window of time” and dressed the big loom with a red warp – 8-Mar-2013. The window proved narrow and the warp languished…

… for 6 and a half years.

Finally this September I finished weaving every last centimetre I could get from it. Beautiful luscious fuzziness.

And this week I finished sewing it into a coat. Very nearly every centimetre of fabric. Now a shorter and less patient pause while I wait for the right weather.

Workshop – Silk Tapestry

!!!!!Textile content!!!!!

silk_tapestry01silk_tapestry02silk_tapestry03silk_tapestry04silk_tapestry05silk_tapestry06silk_tapestry07I had a wonderful day yesterday learning to make small silk tapestries. The class was taught by Marie Clews and Yvonne Eade (see some of her work in my post 2-Mar-2013), and organised by ATASDA.

It was a really nice group of seven students. I thought it might be a relaxed, chatty sort of day, but apart from the breaks we were all very quiet and focused on our work.

We worked on canvas stretcher frames and wove 20/2 silk using a needle. The warp width was 5 cm and most of us chose to weave slightly less to keep a rectangular shape.

I am very excited about the possibilities with this – results with relatively small time investment; it’s small and portable, unlike most weaving; 20/2 silk is one of my favourite yarns and I’ve got lots of colours I’ve dyed in the past (for example see post 28-Jan-2011); it’s weaving!; although I haven’t done tapestry weaving before, I think some of the ideas learnt from a rug weaving class with Jason Collingwood (see 23-Apr-2011) may be adaptable, and there’s lots more learning potential; the results could be taken further with beading, stitching, etc; I’ve already started thinking about lots of applications as special little elements in a work.

On the right are all our results – unfortunately I didn’t make notes of names! Pretty little things, aren’t they 🙂

Edited later to add: I can’t believe I wrote “I haven’t done tapestry weaving before”. There was just Project 9 of Textiles 1: A Creative Approach (see for example my post 14-Oct-2012)! Ahem. It will be interesting to try some of those techniques on a smaller scale.

 

Red warp

20130308_redwarp01There has been warping, and even some weaving!

With my final assignment for A Creative Approach with my tutor and my course materials for my next module Understanding Art 1: Western Art on their way, there was a little window of time. I was poised to pounce – I bought an armful of various red yarns a while back in an end of year sale. At the time I was in the middle of design work for my final assignment and knew I would want a change of pace with no deep thought, no consideration of complex structure. Instead I wanted to work intuitively, glorying in colour.

20130308_redwarp02Rummaging through my existing stash added more yarns to the pile. This photo was taken partway through the selection process. The colour isn’t accurate – I always have trouble photographing red – but hopefully you get the general idea. The selection was based on some mohair and wool yarns in the “Ladybug” colourway from Creative Yarns in New Zealand (www.creativeoutlet.co.nz). There’s a whole mix of fibre types, mostly cotton, wool and mohair with touches of silk and cashmere, in a range of textures and weights. In the front of this photo you may just be able to see the provisional use of the planned fabric – a pattern from the Saori pattern book Shitate no hon (scroll down towards the bottom of the page at curiousweaver.id.au/books) plus a little model in tissue paper to make sure I understood the design (the book is all in Japanese, with diagrams).

20130308_redwarp03Continuing the spontaneous slash intuitive approach, I wound the warp with the yarns all in a mix, then dealt with questions of yarn size as I sleyed the reed at the table. My improvised cross-holder is at the front left – two clamps upside down on the table edge. To allow all this freedom I warped the loom front to back – a first. It was not without challenges. I don’t think I’ve used mohair in a warp before and hadn’t taken into account the loose fibres causing tangling between yarns. This combined with a rather delicate wool in my mix and resulted in 10 broken threads by the time the warp was on the loom (ouch! another first).

20130308_redwarp04All that is now sorted, together with a couple of threading errors, and weaving begun. I’m starting with a fine mohair and it’s looking pretty open. I’ll sample a couple of different wefts, then cut off a short length and see if it holds together. Despite the learning curve it’s been fun – hands full of lovely yarns, happy and absorbed in my comfort zone of weaving. And that’s just what this warp is intended to be – a place of colour and fibre, touch, rhythm and comfort, just in case I need the occasional refuge while I venture into the academic world of Art History. I think it should make a good combination.

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.

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. 🙂

Scarf requiring rescue…

Possibly a picture is worth a thousand words – but this one is lying.

Yes, you see a gleaming silk scarf with wonderful drape and soft hand. I’m pleased with the stripe sequence I used. My selvedges are improving. I’d do it all (or almost all) again. And yet… this post is something between a “help wanted” ad and a crime scene report…

WANTED: Ideas to save silk scarf.

Vital statistics: warp 20/2 silk. Weft 60/2 silk. Warp faced plain weave at 40 ends per inch. Finished width 24 cm.  Finished length including fringe 182 cm.

The problem: unsightly blotches.

The villain: Seen on the right hand side of this photo, taken after Linda Coffill’s workshop last summer.

The sob story: It could happen to anyone – a happy summer day with like-minded folk, a busy workshop atmosphere, a level of inattention to minor details such as how long that silk has actually been in the dye bath in fatal combination with an eagerness to see how it turned out.

A pleasant time weaving a scarf in stripes of pink/orange and (gulp!!) undyed white. We were so happy until (cue scarey music)… wet finishing. Then it all started to unravel – or more accurately, to run.

So it sat, for months. Christmas came and went – and this intended Christmas present sat, forlorn, ungifted.   A couple of weeks ago I finally decided Something Must Be Done – soaked it in acidic water and put it in the microwave in an attempt to set the remaining dye properly.

Whatever Something should have been done, that wasn’t it! I am feeling suitably chastened and foolish. I don’t think the scarf or I could take any more forlorn months so Something Else Must Be Done!!!

Current thought is some shibori clamping or stitching and an overdye. Introduce still more uneven colour, in an interesting organic contrast to the regular stripes (in a fibonacci variation). However all suggestions gratefully received and considered.

Finally, the victim:

brace yourself


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