Archive for the 'Twill' Category

Twill sampler

Way back when, a twill sampler on four shafts was the second thing we did in weaving class. With the leap to join the second years we started with a twill sampler on eight shafts. It just so happened that I finished the colour and weave out of order, since I put it on my big loom (given it’s easier to use and gives me lots more width and heddles to play with).

8s_twill_1Following standard sampler procedure, the warp was threaded in sections:

* straight – threading on shaft one, then shaft 2, 3, and on to 8 then repeat;

* pointed – changing directions, for example shaft 1, 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, 1 and lots more jiggling about. It can produce some attractive patterns but at the price of some long “floats” in the weft at the turning points (a potential weakness and the chance of getting snagged when using the cloth);

* herringbone – changing directions, but with a little jump each time, for example 1, 2, 3,  7, 6, 5, 4. This avoids the float problems.

* skip – no actual direction changes, but jumps, eg 4,5,6,7, 3,4,5,6

* transposed – swapping in pairs – 2,1, 4,3, 6,5, etc. I like this because it reminds me of bellringing (another interest of mine and I’m always on the lookout for ways to interpret bellringing methods in weaving).

Having set up the warp (all almond-coloured Bendigo Mills 2 ply classic wool), you have to figure which sequence of shafts to raise when weaving. Suddenly the world gets very big and scarey. …imagine a pause here, where I look at my notes and realise there is no way I’m going to explain this…

Say you decide to lift half the shafts each time you place one row of weft. You could lift:

shafts 1, 2, 3, 4

then 2, 3, 4, 5

then 3, 4, 5, 6


Or you might decide to try a different combination, eg

shafts 1, 2, 3, 6

then 2, 3, 4, 7

then 3, 4, 5, 8

Or you might decide to only lift 3 shafts at a time, eg

shaft 1, 2, 4

then 2, 3, 5

then 3, 4, 6

Or… well, Liz’s handout informs me that there are 22 possible 8 shaft combinations of 8 shaft twill lifts.

8s_twill_2The world of weaving possibilities keeps getting bigger. The central part of this photo is really four variants of one thing. All of them are weaving “on opposites” – that is, you weave a pick, say lifting 1, 2, 3, 4, then on the next pick you lift the opposite shafts – 5, 6, 7, 8.

The first bit I used wool for both wefts – one weft of red lifting 1, 2, 3, 6, then one of pink lifting 4, 5, 7, 8, then pink lifiting 2, 3, 4, 7, red lifting 1, 5, 6, 8. I tried to keep the beat similar to the rest of the sample.

Next I used very fine wefts of pink and cream. You can see the same “mountain” pattern at the right, but all squashed up because of the tiny weft.

After that I stayed with the thin wefts, but changed to a 1,2,3,4 lift. Then back to wool, this time beating harder to pack in the rows of weft.

Well, if you’ve got this far you are probably both brave and confused! At least the colour scheme this time is nice and simple – almond and red, with pink to divide up the sections. Just so you don’t think I’m turning sedate, here’s a glimpse of what’s on the loom now:


Geoff’s scarf

It’s been a busy few weeks. We had ATASDA’s AGM and I’m still national president. ATASDA also presented a one day conference “Art Textiles” which was fabulous, with excellent speakers, venue, no technology hitches (well, a font that was fixed in 60 seconds) and organisationally very smooth on the day (the result of course of frantic work leading up). Still, all of that is mere distraction – back to the focus of the day, which is Geoff’s scarf all done!

I am so pleased with it! Impossibly smug!! I can’t (don’t want to) help it, I’m just so happy with how it turned out!

Before I’m too obnoxious, a little reality check. The beat is uneven, especially if you compare beginning to end. It’s also a bit less than I intended, because I forgot to look at my notes based on the sample and relied on memory. There are skipped threads and spots where a shaft didn’t lift.

Don’t care. I love it. It’s soft and drape-y and the colours work and the selvedges are pretty good.

Best of all Geoff is almost as happy as me. He was involved throughout – his choice of base design, of colour, of dimensions. He’s been taking it around showing it off and pleased as anything with us both.

A detail. The base pattern was from Thrilling Twills. I figured out the little transition bits to change directions. You can see a bit more about the planning here, and a shot of work in progress here.

First day in big school

I can remember my kids being a mixture of daunted and excited when they finished pre-school and went to “big school” for the first time. So many people! So much happening! What is all that stuff? Will you be my friend?

OK, it wasn’t quite like that, but there was distinct excitement plus an element of daunt when my little first year weaving class (all three of us) joined the big kids in second year weaving last Wednesday. We had already had a class with Liz on Tuesday – all theory. The first half was to introduce us to 8 shaft twills and plan out the sampler we will be doing. The second half was back to our four shaft double weave exercise, looking at how we can use it as a support structure (more opportunities for leno, brooks bouquet etc), and ideas for garments (for homework we’re weaving small scale bogshirts, with slits and double width and two layer parts, needing minimal assembly once it’s off the loom).

8 shaft loom all ready to go

8 shaft loom all ready to go

Wednesday we arrived half an hour early to finish our basic 8 shaft theory. The “big kids” started arriving as we were finishing that up, so on to another round of theory with them – this time colour and weave on eight shafts. With heads full to over-flowing, we actually got to spend an hour or so working on our looms. For me that meant finishing up putting on the warp for my 8 shaft twill sampler.

I didn’t quite use the full width of the loom – there’s one empty dent in the reed! However that’s as far as I can go until next class. We decided that it was too much to do the double nights, so Liz and the first years are going to meet half an hour early each Wednesday and try to do any necessary catch-up or bridging work in that time.

Doubleweave progress

Double weave progress

Most of my weaving time this week has been spent on the doubleweave sampler. It’s really fun. There’s basically twice as many threads in the warp as you would normally use for the same width. They are woven in two layers, one (the “face”) on top of the other (the “back”). You can have two shuttles and take turns – shuttle A a row on the face, shuttle B a row on the back. Repeated, that gives two separate layers of cloth. You can also get the face and the back to swap over, which is how I got the stripes of colour in the photo. Slots or pockets are formed. In the middle of the photo, I padded the slots with varying amounts of wadding to get a raised or cushion effect. Near the top of the photo I started playing with colour.

No photos of 8 shaft colour and weave. We are working through the theory with the second years, but not actually doing the sampler. I have spent a fair amount of time with my weaving software (Fiberworks PCW), trying out a few of the many combinations.

Beginning of scarf for Geoff

Beginning of scarf for Geoff

Of course I also have my home project on the big loom – Geoff’s scarf that I started planning a while back. After sampling we decided on a 20/2 silk weft. The warp is the wool+silk yarn from theknittery that I used in my autumn and ocean scarves. There was quite a bit of chopping and changing on colours (on future “commissions” I think I’ll try to keep the “client” a little less closely involved). I like our final choice, although I did take two attempts dyeing the blue. I’m really pleased with the weaving so far ( all 26 cm of it – less than a foot), even if the photo shows up the uneven beating that I was blissfully unaware of.

I should mention that this frantic pace is quite unlike my normal approach, especially when you add in the day job and preparations for ATASDA’s AGM and Art Textiles Conference. It’s only for a short time, thank goodness.

Mission Accomplished

The first sample on the Noble loom is finished. Washed and pressed, it is 255 x 18.5 cm (around 100 x 7 inches) with 15 patterns.

Most of the patterns came from the Thrilling Twills CD from Fiberworks. A couple were from . The yarn is classic 2 ply wool from Bendigo Woollen Mills.

Since this was my very first warp, difficulties were expected – and experienced! Getting the warp on was an adventure, and I’m hoping doing it twice will have moved some of the learning into long-term memory. I used a 16 shaft point threading and patterns direct from the sources (apart from adding a plain weave selvedge), since the focus was simply to achieve weaving, not design.

The weaving definitely improved. I tried the same circle design near the beginning and at the very end of the sampler. Side by side, it’s easy to see that the later ones (on the left) are beaten much more consistently and actually ended up close to circular 😉 I’m not sure if you can see in the small photo, but I also got much better with my footwork and the early troubles with missed or stuck shafts were much reduced, although not entirely gone. The selvedge loops were eliminated, although I’m not at all convinced by the plain weave I used. In class we used a floating selvedge with twills, but I decided to avoid that in this sample because I had the impression somehow that it would be more difficult to manage on the larger loom. I’ll have to keep looking for a better way to handle this.

The sampler has also provided the basic pattern for my first “proper” project on the loom. I want to make a scarf for Geoff (husband) – not just a supporter but an enthusiastic enabler of my fibre-y pursuits. He likes the feather pattern from Thrilling Twills (16SF055, if you have the CD), so I’ve been playing in the software to change it up a bit.
This is a screen shot of part of the plan. I’m still feeling my way with the software. At the moment I am totally confused by the different ways of ordering and reading a draft – starting at the top or bottom, reading from the left or right. The only solution I’ve found at this point is to make it totally symmetrical. Front and back of cloth and which I see as I weave remains a mystery. That’s still a way in the future – first I need to dye some yarn.

Three looms full

Just for a few days I have an embarrassment of weaving riches.

Nearing completion is my colour and weave sample started in weaving class last term. I’m playing around with other colours to finish up the warp. This is on a 16 inch 8 shaft Robinson table loom that I hired from the guild after the unfortunate Monk’s Belt experience. Once the colour and weave is done I’ll return the loom to the guild – I hired it because I was using my own table loom on home projects, but now those will go onto the big loom.
Yesterday I dressed my table loom ready for our next class sampler – a series of finger manipulation techniques – leno, spanish lace, soumak, clasped weft and more. I used grey cottolin for the warp. The loom is a 24 inch 4 shaft Robinson, a bit heavy for carrying to class (which involves stairs) but manageable.
Finally, progress continues slowly on the big loom. I went to a 2/2 twill for a while, working on selvedges and beat. As that improved I noticed that the shafts were lifting erratically – some sticking and repeating, some missed lifting. Geoff and I tried some trouble shooting and decided the major issue was inconsistent tension in the wire cables that run past the control box, with some contribution from weaver inexperience treadling and maybe the carpeted room (Kaz’s floor is wooden). I emailed Kaz for advice and received a gentle comment about her “crisp” treadling. Hmm… “crisp”… let’s try a bit more trouble shooting… yes, that would be 99% user error causing the problem. I found I was resting my right foot on the pedal all the time. Lifting it off cleaning solved the problem. Progress!!!

Short and long stories

The short story is – we have weaving!!! Beat wildly uneven, selvedges amusing, a little altercation with the software regarding forwards and backwards, rather too keen on winding on so the beater couldn’t reach… All irrelevant. It’s weaving!!!

There are two longer stories. The most important one is the one today starts – my weaving history with this loom. I’m am so looking forward to that story – the first bits where I’m hoping to improve fast (since I’m starting at such a low base I think improvement is pretty much guaranteed) and the later part, where I start refining and designing and finding my own weaving voice.

The second long story was putting on the warp. I wound, beamed, threaded, sleyed, tied on… and had no tension. Back to the photos which I had looked at so carefully the other day. Ohhh! the warp winds that way around the beam.

Strange as it may be, I didn’t really mind at all. I actually enjoyed the process of figuring out how to fix it. I was able to recreate the cross pretty much by lifting treadles and lots of ties. Moving the cross back along the warp had me stumped for a while because the wool yarn was getting very sticky and matted. I finally thought to use a … well, I’m not sure what it is, a dog comb? a fleece preparation thingy? … whatever, I was able to comb the warp so the ends separated and played nice and I could move the cross back. I re-beamed, the right way round. As I went I made little improvements to my first methods, weighting the warp, moving and supporting the lease sticks etc. Both times I used the threading method from Sandra’s Loom Blog, which I think is so clever. Everything was a little bit easier second time around.

The weaving itself I’m still finding my way through. You want to see? I’m happy to bring a smile to your day!

Going solo

Term one finished with the twill sampler and Liz challenged us to design and weave whatever we wanted to over the holiday. I decided to try a twill scarf dyed in autumn colours – possibly fall color to you.

I had some undyed merino/silk yarn from and dyed the warp in five uneven stripes, a mixture of leaf colours with a glimpse of sky. Around this time I went on a week-long spinning course (part of the Orange fibre forum organised by TAFTA). Jenny Hopper was the tutor – hugely experienced and generous with information. So I decided to use some of my new skills by spinning some silk hankies and plying that with the commercial merino/silk yarn. The idea was to get some extra shine and texture in the weft, like leaves fluttering in the sunlight.

The sample was disappointing – I hadn’t got enough depth of colour when dyeing the weft and the silk hankies didn’t have the impact I wanted (another time I’ll try it again, but dye the component parts separately before the spinning and plying.) So I dyed up some of the plain merino/silk and sampled a couple of different twills, wanting something not too orderly and structured.

The scarf is 17 x 175cm including fringe, beautifully soft and warm. 20dpi, broken twill. I’m sure there’s lots that could be improved but I’m really happy just the way it is.

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June 2020

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