Archive for the 'Bookmarks' Category

Advancing Twill silk bookmarks

“Advancing twills are another name for “skip” twills… they are wonderful design tools for creating large patterns.” (class notes from Liz Calnan).

Earlier this year the weaving class worked on advancing twills. Liz took us through a series of exercises on paper.

20091103_draftLooking at this threading example (right to left), there is a run of 5 threads using shafts 1 to 5, then another run of 5 starting 1 shaft up, 2 to 6, then another run and so on until it repeats. So that’s a 5 end block, left twill, advance 1. We tried varying the number of ends per block, left or right twill, and advance. Some combinations don’t work – a simple example being a 4 end block, advance 4. You’d never use the other 4 shafts. Liz also advised us to choose a combination that works for plain weave for more colour combinations when weaving – warp dominant, weft dominant or mixed.

20091103_tieupNext design choice is tieup. Liz’s tip here is to restrict the length of the float to one less than the number in the run, to avoid huge floats in the weaving. She also suggested we try part of the tieup upturned, giving areas of left hand twill and right hand twill for more interest in the cloth.

Treadling can be as drawn in, or straight or … well, best to try things out and see (preferably on the computer!). Just remember to check regularly for floats on front and back.

I went into more detail in drafts 1 and 2 of this post – both eaten by the technology in different ways (and different levels of user clumsy fingers). So if you want something on expanding the threading and transition ends, leave a comment and I can try again another day.

20091103_bookmarks1Faced with all these design possibilities … I opened a book! The best of Weaver’s Twill Thrills which has Doramay Keasbey’s article frost crystals in twill. I used one repeat of her threading, with just a little sateen threading at the sides. Silk bookmarks in 20/2 silk, the weft various colours I’ve dyed in the past.

I really didn’t enjoy this weave. Liz had kindly lent me a Padget 8 shaft table loom which had recently been refurbished – it and I just didn’t get on.

20091103_bookmarks2Another shot of the bookmarks (sorry about the dull and inaccurate colour) shows the results of problem 1. The cloth beam is varnished and my ties kept slipping when I tried to put any tension on the loom. The bookmark on the right was the first woven. It has an extra repeat and is still very short (and thick and ridged). I cut it off and used some rug grip around the cloth beam which solved the slippage, but still found I was unable to get into a comfortable rhythm. I think partly it was the arrangement of the levers to lift the shafts (not what I was used to), partly I was unhappy with the sett I’d chosen especially at the selvedges, my variable beat, and just lots of other little niggles.


Closeup of bookmark #1, in all its ridge-y glory!

I’d planned a dozen bookmarks as gifts and a couple went quickly, before I took the photos. These ones are “resting” in a folder – I’m not at the stage I could give them away without fussy apologies. I think I could do better. The last few were never woven – life is too short and weaving time too precious to stick with something that just isn’t working. There are lots more possibilities out there!

Looking for change ringing weavers???

In a comment Trapunto wrote “And my question would be, how many bellringing weavers are there??”.

Well, there’s me. There’s Anthea in the Handweavers and Spinners Guild of NSW. The guild meets in the church hall behind St Paul’s Burwood (a suburb of Sydney), which has bells. Anthea heard the bells one day and went up the tower to see what it was all about.

There’s been an article in Handwoven which I came upon by chance – “Oranges & Lemons Say the Bells of St. Clement’s”, Pauline Drake, September/October 2000, pp. 32-34. The author used the simplest change ringing method (or pattern), plain hunt, to select stripe colours. However on checking I find she learnt about ringing from a book.

There’s a draft on with the note “I have a cousin who is an enthusiastic change-ringer. This is one of several patterns I’ve worked on as a gift for her and her “happy ringers.””

I’ve also found a project exhibited at Liverpool Cathedral UK in 2008 – an artist worked with ringers and “weaving technicians” to produce banners depicting bellringing methods.

So I haven’t discovered a lot, although I’m still convinced about similarities:

  • An attraction to patterns and permutations.
  • A love of process, not instant results.
  • A somewhat unusual interest – although something most people know a bit about (or think they do).
  • A wealth of jargon with very specific meanings, some of which is used rather differently in “mainstream” language.
  • A lot of underlying theory that can enrich the experience, but you don’t have to know to get along.
  • A certain level of dexterity required and some physical demands.
  • With both I try for an “alert rhythm” – physically repetitive motions that benefit from constant fine-tuning, plus following a pattern where your mind can drift a bit but with the risk  of undesirable results.

The major difference I can think of is that weaving is solitary while change bellringing is done in teams (one per bell – or one person per two bells with handbells).

bristol_bookmarkMy overshot experiment is finished. I first described it here. I was working on my four shaft table loom, so had four blocks possible.

Without getting too distracted by ringing theory, on the left is the beginning of Bristol Surprise Major (diagram created in the online method database). The bells start by ringing once in turn, highest note to lowest. Then we ring again in a different order according to set patterns or methods. The path of the treble (bell with highest note) is shown in red. The path of the 4th bell of the eight is shown in blue – and the same path is traced in the bookmark I wove.  It’s repeated because I wanted some width and also to experiment with creating a visual break with limited blocks (any pattern of the black weft is hidden by the black warp).

bristol_summerandwinterIt’s more a novelty thing – I don’t have a lot of use currently for such heavy fabric (cottolin sett at 48 epi). I’m now interested in the possibilities of summer and winter – especially given my big loom has 24 shafts to play with. Initial experiments in my weaving software (Fiberworks PCW) gives this possibility for the beginning of the path of the 4th bell in bristol major.

bristol_sandw_trebleIf I juggle with three shuttles this could be possible – the path of the treble in red as well as the 4ths place bell in blue.

Maybe fun for teatowels . Step two is lots of sampling and playing in fiberworks – for a start this is the back view and I’ll probably have to flip things around to avoid getting a mirror image. Plus all the treadling options to explore – Leigh has some wonderful posts on Summer and Winter, including this one.

Step one is finishing the undulating twill  currently on the loom – more on that another day.

Overshot misses the mark

I showed the beginnings of my overshot sampler back here. I was having major trouble with my beat and not close to the balanced plain weave ground I wanted.
overshot3Thanks to the wonders of blogland, and more specifically comments from Barbara and Lynnette, I did get closer. The upper row of the motif is definitely rounder – but not round. Use of a temple immediately helped. That’s the object at the left – two pieces of wood slotted together, with sharp pins at each end.  The pins hook into either side of the cloth you are weaving and helps keep it to the width of the warp in the reed.  One benefit is that it helps you to pack the weft down more closely.

I wasn’t able to take advantage of Lynnette‘s suggestion to reduce the warp tension. I dislike blaming my equipment (classic sign of a poor workman), but my little table loom went straight from my standard tension to sloppy and unweavable with just one click of the ratchet.

This overshot was woven on 4 shafts. The warp threads on two adjacent shafts form a block which gives 4 blocks – A= (1,2 or 2,1), B= (2,3 or 3,2), C= (3,4 or 4,3) and D= (4,1 or 1,4). When designing you can repeat blocks, say AABBCCCD, which is 1,2,1,2,3,2,3,4,3,4,3,4,1.

The warp ends highlighted in red are at the change of blocks where you miss out a thread rather than repeating. So the red 2 is the last thread of the A blocks and the first of the B blocks. This has the advantage that the ends alternate on odd and even shafts, which means you get plain weave by lifting 1+3 then 2+4.

The pattern is produced by using twill lifts: 1+2, 2+3, 3+4 and 4+1.

Generally you alternate two shuttles. One shuttle has yarn similar to the warp and produces the plain weave background. The second shuttle weaves the pattern using twill lifts and the yarn is generally a contrasting colour,  soft and compressible so it squeezes down when it goes between warp threads but spreads out to cover the plain weave with the floats. The sequence could be:
1.  lift shafts 1+2, use pattern weft
2.  lift shafts 1+3, use background weft
3.  lift shafts 1+2, use pattern weft
4.  lift shafts 2+4, use background weft
5.  lift shafts 2+3, use pattern weft
6.  lift shafts 1+3, use background weft
7.  lift shafts 3+4, use pattern weft
8.  lift shafts 2+4, use background weft

In this example picks 2, 4, 6 and 8 give the plain weave background so you have a stable cloth. The pattern picks are the decoration and given the repeated blocks and twill lifts you get the pattern weft floating (shooting?) over areas of the cloth. You get areas of colour (the weft float), areas of non-colour (where the weft float is on the underside and the background cloth is showing) and areas of “half-tone” (at the edges of the float which are the adjacent block and the pattern weft actually does plain weave).

The sampler design in the sampler is Ancient Rose Design from Marguerite Porter Davison’s A Handweaver’s Pattern Book.

overshot4Right near the end of the warp I returned to the attempt to get a square ground. This time I used a finer weft – 8/2 cotton (Borg’s Bomullsgarn) instead of the 22/2 cottolin. It’s not quite but very nearly there and has the plus of being a slightly different pink which adds visual interest. You can see here I also used a brighter pink weft, although still Bendigo Mills classic 2 ply. Another not-so-successful aspect of this sampler, in that I originally planned to go for neutrals in the colour scheme. I need to change my shopping habits to address that.

What else? Did you notice the threading issue in the earlier photos? (Just noticed the second photo is of the back of the cloth, which is why the problem moves). I missed out 2 threads in the draft – in the pink photo the centre “flower” on the left is lobsided. This was a mistake at the computer during planning, when I was doing a copy and paste and didn’t repeat a block the right number of times. I didn’t notice until I’d done quite a bit of weaving.

overshot5It’s not all bad news.  Here are some variations which I find interesting. From top to bottom:

* Polychrome – two pattern picks (different colours, adjacent lifts eg 1,2 then 2,3) followed by a plain weave pick.

* Feather stitch – 3 picks in a sequence: pattern, plain weave, pattern (same lift as the first) eg 1,2 then plain weave then 1,2.

* Shadow fashion – the pattern weft is fine (I used aurifil 12/2 cotton sewing thread). I used the same cottolin plain weave weft, but in theory should have used something heavier.

I don’t expect to use anything directly from this sampler any time soon. So why was my very next warp also threaded as overshot?

overshot6I am a bellringer – not tunes and such but change ringing. Without going into a lot of detail, bells are rung sounding in a pre-set order or method. I think every bellringing weaver has looked for ways to represent ringing methods in weaving.

I came across an article by Leslie Killeen:  Fiesta Cloth – coloring by numbers in March/April 2007 Handwoven. The fabric is a non-traditional overshot, warp dominant so the half tones don’t show, and a single thread is used for both pattern and plain weave. The cloth in the article looks like “plain hunt”, so I had to give it a try. In the photo is “plain bob minimus”. This is attempt 3. The first was set at 36 epi and too loose. I cut it off and re-sleyed at 48 epi – much better, but I hadn’t mixed up the background colours well. Off that came and I did some judicious swapping. There’s still a way to go, it’s not quite what I want – but I will be coming back to this.


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October 2021

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