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Bead leno detail

With seven wefts tried on my leno sample there was a clear and totally unexpected winner. Which will remain unseen until the Big P2P2 Reveal.

In the meantime I have a few detail shots of the bead leno setup.

In leno warp threads swap positions instead of running along neatly beside each other. Check my photo in this post from February to see a diagram. Back then I used “doups” to get the swapping. This time it’s “beads” – or pieces of a drinking straw in this instance. The first photo shows the setup between the heddles (at the top) and the reed. I used a straight threading for the warp – that is, starting from the right, a thread on shaft 1, the next on shaft 2, then shaft 3, then shaft 4, and repeat in sets of 4 threads, so looking at the loom from the front you have 4-3-2-1 – 4-3-2-1 – 4-3-2-1… Note that each set of 4 go together through a single dent of the reed – very important because otherwise the swapping wouldn’t work.

Here’s a closeup of a 4-3-2-1 group (click on the photo to see bigger). The threads on 4 (beige in this example) and 1 (light blue) are threaded through a piece of plastic straw underneath the threads on shafts 2 and 3 (both dark blue). Underneath – another very important detail. This is still with the shafts behind and the reed in front. (I just put a pickup stick under warps 2 and 3 to make it easier to see.)

While weaving leno the threads on shafts 2 and 3 just sit there – the world revolves around them.

The third photo shows what happens when shaft 1 is lifted. The light blue thread on shaft one goes up (yellow arrow). This pulls on the straw. The beige thread on shaft 4 is pulled over because it is threaded through the same piece of straw. The red arrow points to where 4-beige has been pulled across under the dark threads on shafts 2 and 3 and up. The photo is still between shafts and reed, but in front of the reed the order of threads is now

3 (down) – 2 (down) – 4 (up) – 1 (up)

I put through the weft in front of the reed and that order is captured. Thread 4 has swapped position.

Next (photo 4) I put down shaft 1 and lift shaft 4. The beige thread on shaft 4 goes up (yellow arrow). The light blue thread is pulled across, under the dark threads (red arrow), and up. In front of the reed we have

4 (up) – 1 (up) – 3 (down) – 2 (down)

A pick of weft captures that swap.

Repeat those two picks. The warp threads on shafts 1 and 4 appear first on the right of the group, then on the left, then the right, wobbling their way down the length of the cloth. You can see it a bit on the loom in the last post, but you don’t get the full wobbly goodness until off the loom and wet finished.

I think it’s amazing – magic! Easy to set up, not too tricky to weave. The shed is not as good as standard weaving – after all the warp being pulled across is pulling down on the straw, and also pulling up on the stationary threads as it goes underneath them. Plus in this particular example I am using textured yarn with blobs of cotton and I have to be gentle given the abrasion of all the warps rubbing as they are pulled around. So I am gently separating and spreading the shed with my pickup stick every single pick. This sounds slow, but the main work has already been done automatically by the bead setup and there are so few picks per inch that it’s wizzing along very happily.

Information sources:

  • notes from my weaving teacher, Liz Calnan.
  • “A new twist on Bead Leno” by Kathryn Wertenberger. Handwoven November/December 1989.

P2P2 Round 2

Post edited to add a warning! This is a rambling post with poor grammar and (I suspect) a poorer grasp of what is weaveable / worth weaving. The Del key has been hovered over, but I thought this may be of passing interest in the context of the P2P2 challenge. Besides, I like to post on a Sunday evening as a weekly review and I haven’t got anything else!

Off and on over the past couple of weeks my thoughts turned to Cally’s photo taken “the day the Bern bear mascot goes into hibernation. There was a very Swiss atmosphere of deliberate and dutiful jollity.” (see the rest of her comment here and more photos here). I already found the photo fascinating, and strangely enough I too have had an encounter with a crowd in Bern, back in ’82 when Geoff and I were freshly married and exploring the world together. The town centre was full of football fanatics, packing the trams and roaming the streets, chanting (Geoff, who has a phenomenal memory, supplies “Basel ist besser” and “Allez Sion”). A few followed us down the street, heckling – which only got worse when I made the mistake of speaking in english. Then last weekend a friend happened to talk about making parades and making costumes when she was living in Switzerland – and again there was a bit of an edge to her stories.

Using the above, my first impressions of the photo and general stereotypes of the Swiss, I have: pops of colour; exuberance; texture; dissonance; good quality; methodical.

First idea: inlay of blocks of colour. base of solid quality – linen in neutrals/undyed? rosepath inlay (since I like it). Which reminds me of Susan at Avalanche Looms – say here. Very close. Too close.

Next idea: go shopping. A yarn store near work had a sale and I just happened to pop in – you know how it goes. Either of these could provide nice pops of colour and texture. I’m thinking wriggly lines of supplementary warp, with something grey/plain/regular as base. Maybe bits of glitz warp (thin metallic) describing boundaries for the wriggle – freedom within limits.

A vague something in my head, I started leafing through books. Honeycomb? thick outline weft. But I don’t want solid bands, and I need to use the yarn in the warp to take advantage of colour changes. I could turn the draft?

After going round in circles for a while (inlay honeycomb in blocks, with blocks of glitz overlay, sometimes overlapping, with basketweave in places to assist tension … ouch!) I’ll spare you the gory details – no need for everyone to get a headache or unsettled stomach 🙂

Final (coherent?) thought is spider weave (my reference is Sharon Alderman Mastering Weave Structures, pages 118 – 122). I got out all my old class samples while wondering about the base cloth. Current fav 20/2 silk might be a bit light to carry the supplementary warps. Bendigo 2 ply wool is much heftier and would give a nice contrast of wool base to the sheen of the Noro (Silk Garden Lite – 45% silk, 45% mohair, 10% wool). Ixchel cashmerino – the strong shrinkage might emphasise the supplementary squiggle. Has the solid quality effect.

At this point I quite liked the idea, so the next step would be to put on a sample warp.

Which hasn’t happened.

Because I have a couple of things in progress that are  progressing and I want to finish but aren’t finished and won’t be finished if I get too sidetracked. They’re also not bloggable because they are so nearly finished and would be much more interesting to read about and see photos of if they were finished.

Which they’re not.

 

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 AraucanĂ­a 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. 🙂

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…

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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