Archive for the 'Collapse' Category

Deflected doubleweave scarf

20091025_deflected5Deflected double weave, differential shrinkage.

This piece combined and extended two earlier class projects.

I wrote a bit about double weave back here – you effectively create two layers of cloth on the loom at once, and can play with which layer shows on top (with 4 shafts), or which part of each layer shows (using 8+ shafts).

Another class topic was collapse weave – deliberately creating a textured (not flat) cloth. First attempts used columns of 3/1 and 1/3 twill with a range of weft yarns. I got mixed results – blogged here and here (the “what not to do” version).

20091025_deflected8You might be able to see the two layers here, in the cloth off the loom and hemed but before wet-finishing.

One layer of the double weave is 20/2 silk, sett quite loose at 12 ends per inch.

The second layer is Ixchel laceweight Cashmerino (70% merino, 30% cashmere) very widely sett at 4 ends per inch. The distribution of yarns isn’t even. In a 10 dent reed I had .i.i.S.S.S.i.i.S.S.S. – where i is one end of ixchel and S is two ends of silk and each pair of “. .” is a dent of the reed.

The two layers are both plain weave and interact in a diagonal progression. The draft is based on an article and photos in Vicki Masterson’s article “Texture with deflected double weave” and published in The best of Weaver’s Fabrics That Go Bump (page 92). The article didn’t include full threading and tieup details, but I think my re-creation is pretty much the same.

20091025_deflected3This is a corner after finishing. Shrinkage was 29% in length and 57% in width.

The ixchel felts and shrinks up very easily. The silk doesn’t shrink much at all, but is caught in with the ixchel in the weaving and has nowhere to go except bubbling up.  (An aside: I’ve done a fair bit of “real” felting in the past, going direct from animal fibre to textile with no spinning or weaving involved. Some felters don’t like the use of the word for finishing a woven article, which I believe is more properly termed “fulling”. Guess I’m not proper).

20091025_deflected1The end result is around 17cm wide and 214 cm long (that’s about 84 inches – on the long side for a scarf, but I’m on the tall side for a woman so it works out). It drapes beautifully.  The undyed fibres are very slightly different creams. It’s just the right weight for a Sydney winter.

20091025_deflected7Here’s another “before wet finishing” shot.  I took care and did some extra fiddling  while weaving, to make sure the ixchel never wrapped around the edges. The silk selvedges give a gentle frill effect. At the bottom I did a couple of picks of ixchel, then 12 picks just silk. Once off the loom I folded it up and quickly tacked down using ixchel and it made a nice bottom edge finish.

The one thing that wasn’t so pleasant about this project was the actual weaving. First was a loom problem, blogged here. Eventually that was solved by a very nice fellow in a fishing tackle shop (similar weight cable is used in fishing for large toothy creatures such as sharks). He didn’t have a crimp-making device in stock to sell me, so very kindly did the job for me. The second problem was user error. I have two back beams on my loom, and for the first time used both so I could beam the ixchel and silk separately. I had twisted bouts in the ixchel and think I had it rolled on the wrong way. Anyway, I couldn’t see how to remedy it and ended manhandling the beam each time I needed to wind on. The loom was not happy and I had to be on guard constantly for missed or wrongly lifted shafts. Still, I persevered and the end result was definitely worth it.

Commitment problems

Sometimes when I’m surrounded by wonderful possibilities I freeze. Making an initial choice is difficult but it’s the first few steps after that which are critical. A point comes where I have an emotional attachment, a commitment, to a project – but getting to that point I can dither and dally and thoroughly irritate myself.

So this post is really about the current top contender – let’s see if working on it “out loud” helps make it real.

The Reluctant Dragon in her lair has given me a Kreativ Blogger award, which is very nice and much appreciated. I’m going to save it up and pass it on a little later. It came with a question about my recent experiments – “Is the grid of colors the finished piece, or a step in preparation for something else?”.

Partly  the colour extracts are intended as an exercise to build my skill with colours. I have a stack of books about colour theory and it fascinates me, but at some point I want to go further. I want to develop a fluency with colour, to be able to create a sense of mood or of place with colour in textiles. Some of my earlier attempts have been very literal (you can see a few in my member gallery with ATASDA). Also I live a busy, urban life and sometimes seem to be racing along on the surface of life. I want to learn to stop and not just look, but see.

Weaving brings exciting additional elements with the interlacing of colours, the textures of yarns and weave structures, the tactile draping cloth…

I have taken some baby steps. The first was my autumn scarf. The image in my mind was a still-warm autumn day, the sun shining in a cloudless blue sky, the drying leaves fluttering down and the skeleton of the trees being to show. Next was the ocean scarf. My mental image was of standing on a cliff on the Sydney coastline, watching the waves run across the rock-shelf below, looking out at the container ships on the horizon, the amazing range of colours in the water, the smell of salt in the air. For both I studied life, photos and memories, trying to look beyond the obvious in colour, and then dyed yarns and chose weave structures to try to express the idea.

collapse_v2_2collapse_v2_1Back to the present. In weaving class we’ve been exploring collapse weaves. My first attempt was a stumble. Here’s a couple of sections of my second attempt. The photos don’t show the world of difference. Almost all the weft yarn choices collapsed well across all stripe widths (stripes were 3/1 and 1/3 twill, with sets of 8, 12 and 16 ends). The first photo shows left to right a silk sewing thread, Ixchel laceweight Cashmerino (70% merino, 30% cashmere, felts beautifully) and 10/1 silk noil (from Walters Imports). The second photo, top to bottom: superfine merino (non-felting, left over from this scarf), 20/2 silk and a buttonhole weight cotton sewing thread.

The non-felted sections in particular are inspiring. There’s a bounce and movement that photos can’t capture. The bright red of the superfine wool flashes then is hidden, especially in the narrower stripes, and reminds me of glowing embers in the logs of a campfire. This is very different to the towering walls of flame which brought such grief to so many down south (close to Ixchel bunny – see her photo here).

colour_extract_3_fireMy much more benign photo is this. Not a great photo, but what I had. It’s cropped from a larger photo, taken a few years ago on a weekend in the mountains (Megalong Valley) with friends.
colour_extract_3gHere is a grid, based on my photo – plus some others on the web and my memory. Possibly here is my problem. The grid is different colours taken from the fire photos, but the proportions are all wrong and it doesn’t look reminiscent of a camp fire at all. Not inspiring.

The current plan is – dye a warp in the colours of the glowing logs – browns and greys, hints of some others. Dye weft yarn in colours of flame and smoke and the general glow. Use stripes of 3/1 and 1/3 twill. A camp fire scarf??

The other question is yarn. The collapse sample is bendigo mills 2 ply wool – not what I want for my scarf. I’d like to attempt a pure silk scarf and was considering 2/20 warp and hand-(over)spun silk hankies for weft, but without conviction. Looking at ocean and autumn has reminded me of the 50/50 wool/silk yarn. Maybe that for warp with 2/20 silk for weft would work…?

This post is certainly long enough (and thank you those who made it this far!). Is the idea strong enough? Am I committed enough?

Down with a bump

a rollercoaster??

a rollercoaster??

My last post I talked about roller-coasters and unexpected curves. Oops. This is not quite what I was looking for – I guess that’s why we call it “unexpected”!

The plan was collapse weave using structure – stripes of 1/3 and 3/1 twill, various wefts all finer than the bendigo two ply wool warp.

collapse_wrong_2What happened? It looked good on the loom. The photo shows the section done with superfine wool (left over from the double weave scarf) on the loom with tension relaxed. Definitely the initial signs of collapsing!

I used six different wefts, 15cm of each. Behaviour varied off the loom.

collapse_wrong_3Three sections with significantly finer weft all showed signs of collapse – bright red on the left is the superfine wool again, in the centre is 20/2 silk, to the right is 12/2 cotton (aurifil Mako – a heavy machine sewing thread really).

collapse_wrong_4Some didn’t look so exciting. These were all specialist yarns supplied by Liz, my weaving teacher. On the left is 110/2 tex wool, a shrinkable merino as used by Anne Field of Collapse Weave (and other) fame. In the middle, a beige colour, is a 98% wool 2% elastomeric yarn – passed on from other weavers, of dubious vintage and many breaks on the cone. To the right, an overtwisted wool – I’ll need to check the details with Liz, but it was hard to the touch and uncomfortable to work with.

installation art??

installation art??

Another view while we contemplate what could have gone wrong? It was a lesson I’m meant to have learnt already, and wrote about back here – “no matter how keen I am, no matter how much I want to finish the next little bit, no matter how careful I think I’m being, I need to STOP when tired.”

In this case, I shouldn’t have started. I got home from work, super tired, the standard million chores to get through, and decided to wash the sample. Down to the laundry, warm water, swooshing away a few minutes – nothing. A big nothing. Did I mention tired? I noticed the pile of towels on the floor waiting to be washed. Front-loader washing machine, nice and gentle… in it all goes sample and towels, and I trudge upstairs to cook for ravenous teenagers. Time passes………. Finally, I remember the washing – but the machine is still going! The towels were unbalancing the spin cycle so it had just kept tumbling. and tumbling. and tumbling. Oh.

I took the pathetic result, complete with pathetic story, to weaving class. We actually found quite a few pluses, in the sense of a sample providing lessons. The three “specialty” wefts had all fulled to the point of having the drape of corrugated cardboard, pleats felted permanently in place. The Bendigo Mills 2 ply warp survived remarkably well. The section with red superfine wool actually feels almost soft, and I like the bright colour peeping out.

I’m feeling quite positive about it at the moment. I’ve still got warp on the loom, so I’ve tied on again at the same sett and will repeat the experiment – all except the washing machine and decision-making-while-tired part!


poisedIt’s that breathless moment, poised at the top of the roller-coaster. Some hard work has been done on the climb up.  Exhilaration, possibly terror and some unexpected curves lie ahead.

In the foreground – cottolin warped and ready to go for some more ringing tea towels, similar to this. Normally I deliberately don’t keep track of time , given it’s the process that counts and this is my recreation.  There’s a good chance other ringers will ask for a towel, so just for once I decided to keep timing notes.  There should be enough for 3 towels, and while everything has gone smoothly so far I’m over 8 hours before starting to weave! I’m a long, long way from doing this for anything other than the love of it… and that’s fine by me.

poised_8sIn the background above is the 8 shaft table loom. Here’s a closer look – just because I love the sense of order and the promise of a warped loom. It’s ready to go too – a class work sample of collapse weave.  This is Bendigo Mills classic 2 ply. The plan is to get collapse from structure – stripes of 3/1 and 1/3 twill. I’ll use a variety of wefts, some overtwisted which should aid the collapse. It’s sett at 20epi, and I should have enough to cut off the first section, finish and review, then re-sley at a different sett (to be determined).


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