Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sampling for Acrylic Afghan

I did finish the samples on the left-over baby blanket warp. I tried several different tie-ups. I'm kind of glad I did that because frequent changing of tie-ups has changed my previous attitude of wanting to avoid changing them. And I tried a lot of different treadlings. I enjoyed seeing the results. Here are two of my favorites.

When I washed and killed the samples, the fabric did soften nicely. But I really don't like the samples at all. None of them is right for the afghan I envision. I can't explain why. Perhaps the patterning of the threads conflicts/disturbs the plaid effect of the colors. I suspect that adding a third color would intensify the disturbing effect.

Or perhaps I'm really not a structure person at all. Sara Lamb had an excellent post recently on structure and color people. For more, take a look at her post for July 27. I definitely fit into the category of a color person. However, I do use structure, but for the purpose of exploiting color.

I think I will go with the good old plain twill from the baby blanket. Sometimes simple really is better.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Designing and Color

Usually I try not to engage in weaving activities on the weekend. Rest from such intense activity is, I believe, helpful. I tend to focus on gardening, though fiber activities are also usually included. Fiber activities include spinning, knitting and sewing.

I have been slowly working up to designing my son's annual Christmas sweater. On Sunday, I finally finished the process and began the knitting. I looked at the design and the yarn. The design is stripes, but the design of the stripe continually changes up through the entire sweater. I have never designed a sweater like this. And I thought, what about a woven scarf....... OK, I know it's Sunday, but I continued on with the thinking process anyway.

I could weave a crackle scarf in a stripe design similar to the stripe design of this sweater. The same color would sometimes repeat for a long time. In that instance, I could continue to change the treadling, but just keep the colors the same.

Then I looked at the colors I was working with in my son's sweater: a dark brown, a beige, a dark blue, and a dark red. These have not been typical of my usual color choices. And the brown and the beige dominate. The neutrals dominate. The colors are accents. And then I thought about the crackle jacket fabric. The neutrals dominate, the colors are accents. Without realizing it, I have been moving forward on a path in color designing a path which began with the use of bright and saturated colors almost exclusively. Yes, there were occasionally dark colors, but they were always clearly colors. There was nothing neutral about them.

And then I began to think about the next crackle fabric after this one. I had already thought of it in terms of deep browns and golds and blues, with slashes of black. There on the left is the original inspiration. Things could be getting interesting.

Meanwhile, it's time to get back to that warping board.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Weaving and Blogging

I subscribe to a newsletter by Robert Genn. The newsletter is intended for artists. It arrives in my inbox twice a week. As a weaver, I find much of interest in his newsletters. Perhaps a reason for this is that I have been learning to think of myself as an artist. Or perhaps it is his newsletters that are teaching me to think that way.

Recently someone posed a question to him about how to good at making art and also make a living at it. He responded with a list. If you are interested in seeing the entire list, go here. One item on that list in particular attracted my attention:

"Cut back on impedimenta and outside distractions"

I think the word "impedimenta" has such a nice sound to it. But what does it mean? Is blogging
an "impediment?" Is it an "outside distraction?"

I had hesitated to start blogging because of the time it would take from my weaving. I feared it
would be an impediment, an outside distraction. But when I finally plunged into the world of blogging, I discovered something quite different. I discovered that the more I blog the more I weave, or do things closely related to weaving. And the more I blog, the more intensity goes into these weaving activities and the more focussed they become.

And another surprise: the more I engage in weaving and weaving-related activities and the more focussed I become in this area, the more I have to blog about. And also the more I engage in weaving activities, the more intensity goes into my blogging. So I find weaving and blogging actually feeding each other.

I have been blogging about 6 weeks now. I would have thought by this point I would have lost interest in blogging. Blogging, however, has become much more for me than just blogging; it has become journaling, but journaling with an important difference. Because the blog is public, I think about what I am writing and take some care with it. I put more thought and care into my posts than I would into journal entries. I don't quite understand, but I think that in someway this care and thinking is the key to the intensification of my weaving and so of my blogging as well.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Crackle Jacket: Making the Warp

The color planning I have done for the warp does make for difficulties in winding the warp. Winding it on the warping board is going to go very very slowly. I am used to winding on 2-4 ends at a time; I have to wind this warp as individual ends. I normally make 20 trips around the board for thread-marking purposes. But in this case I am making only 10 before I put in the marking thread. And, of course, the color changes usually do not coincide with the number 10. So, at the same time, when I finish with one color, I mark it off on the piece of paper. This is another reason why I felt there ought to be more regularity in the design of the structure itself. Much as I like asymmetry and randomness, I believe there must be some order or all I would have would be a mess.

I have decided, however, I am not going to agonize over the exact number of ends so far as the color changes go. If I get confused in the winding process and can't figure out exactly where I am, I am not going to obsess over the issue. The changes do not coincide with block divisions. They are not supposed to coincide with block divisions.The end effect is supposed to be kind of free flowing in terms of color changes. I made a plan for the changes only because I think that too much randomness results in something unreadable and unpleasant. I think that as long as there is some kind of order, even if that order cannot be perceived but would have to be discovered through analysis, that there will be an underlying sense of order.

Winding this warp on the board will nevertheless be very slow going It will be awhile before I have finished making it,

Crackle Jacket: Slight Change in Design

It was the middle of the night. I woke up.The block design for the crackle fabric needed just a tiny bit of loosening. I went back to sleep. After breakfast in the morning, I opened up the computer file and played with the design. Here it is.

Here is what I changed. The first time the C block appears, I changed it from 6 to 3 units, and did the same thing later when the blocks moved from D back to A. Then, on the much smaller motives, I changed the turning point of each motive (the C block in the case of the first motive, and the D block in the case of the second) from 2 units to 3 units. My aim is to make the weave pattern just a little more fluid, while still retaining the sense of pattern.

The pattern I see 2 small rises and falls within a larger rise and then fall. I want the pattern to be there, but diffused. I hope for it to be diffused both my these subtle changes and, more importantly, by the use of color. I am getting very eager to see how this will all turn out!

The practical result is fewer warp threads. The warp will still be a bit wider than it needs to be, and that is good. I have already finished one bout so it will have a few more warp ends in it than the other 5 bouts, 14 more to be exact. Because I weight the bouts individually as I wind the warp onto the warp beam, it is important that all the bouts weigh the same. That way the bouts should all wind on the beam with the same amount of tension. I do not think (or at least I hope!) that 14 fewer ends in one bout of 10/2 pearl cotton is going to have a significant difference. And the warp is only 7 yards long, which will also help.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Crackle Jacket: Designing the Fabric

Since I got my computer back and it's working fine, I have gone back to work on the crackle jacket. I had already decided from the earlier samples the particular sample I planned to use as the basis for the jacket fabric. And here it is.
The colors are fairly close to the actual
fabric, but the actual fabric has a great deal
more subtlety. The warp colors are a medium
greened blue, a medium brown and a medium
browned gold. The weft colors are a pastel blue, a pastel yellow, a pastel lavender and the medium browned gold of the warp. All yarns are 20/2 pearl cotton. It might be remembered that I had some initial reservations about the lavender. There were some sample treadlings where it just did not work. But here the lavender, subdued by the other colors, creates a little surprise which in fact, does work.

None of this would be revealed on a computer screen. Or perhaps I simply cannot project in my head from the computer screen to the actual fabric. This is why I can use the computer only for suggestions and finding errors and technical problems. It simply is of no help with color. And for me, manipulating color is in many ways what weaving is all about.

By the way, I have used computer software to pull this sample out of the fabric of samples. I know there are ways to get rid of the unwanted black parts, but I have yet to learn how to do that.

I opened my weaving program and designed a 4-block symmetrical design. I have created it as a 4-shaft design because, despite the fact that the sample I am using for the basis of this fabric was designed on 8 shafts, it is really a 4-shaft design. It just seems easier to thread and weave on 4 shafts than on 8. Had the threads been any finer (my favorite 60/2 silk, for example), I would have used the 8 shafts simply to separate the heddles a bit. Then there would be less likelihood of shed problems when it came time to weave. But this is only 20/2 pearl cotton and the yarn is very slippery.

The design for the crackle exchange and subsequent sampling had been quite wildly assymmetrical, but I decided that some kind of symmetry would make for easier making up of a garment from the fabric. Here is the block design for the threading.

Each individual unit of a block is indicated by one square. Each square consists of 4 threads. These four threads make up the individual crackle unit. What you see (rather dimly, I am sorry to say) is a block representing, when drawn out as threading, 278 individual ends. This thread grouping will be repeated 4 times across the warp. The total number of ends thus should be 1,112.

I am using the same color ordering as I used for the exchange and sampling warp. It consists of 3 colors appearing at apparently erratic intervals. There is, however, a plan and I have used my spreadsheet program to block out the 3 colors with the number of repetitions each time. The ordering and repeating of the colors, however, has nothing to do either with the blocks or the repeated design units.

Reflections on the Baby Blanket

The acrylic baby blanket is done and my computer has returned to me. I am celebrating with some pictures, and also with some reflections. Above is the blanket, folded. Below is a detail of the crochet border.

And I just couldn't resist posting the picture of all three blankets my daughter will get, as well as an afghan I knit for the baby. The other two blankets, by the way, are in cotton. I do hope she will be pleased. It should be easy to guess that this will be her first child and my first grandchild.

Now to some reflections on the baby blanket. They center on the finishing. I do like the way the crochet edging turned out. However, the way I prepared the edges with just plain zigzagging on the machine created a small problem. I found it difficult, if not impossible, to remove every little tuft of fiber that broke loose when I simply zigzagged those edges.

Next time, I think I will try a two-step process. First, I will straight stitch the edges on the sewing machine. I will cut as close to that stitching as I dare. Then I will use a stitch on my machine that mimics a serged edge, making sure that the needle actually goes off the edge of the fabric so that, hopefully, every last tuft will get enclosed before I start the actual crocheting.

I could also just fringe the blanket. But fringe is dangerous for infants. And fringe wears thin with wear and constant washing. I do hope these baby blankets will be used all the time, I trust they will be washed frequently!

I could twist the fringe ends as many people do. I have done that, but never have been happy with either the process or the results. I think twisted fringes can look quite elegant on silk scarves. But there is a sameness to them that I do not like. So, when I do finish off a fringe, I use a braided fringe. My braids are not terribly even, for I don’t get the practice that would be needed for really even braids. But they have, in my eyes, a unique look not possible with the polished finish that twisting the fringes gives. Braiding fringe, for me is is not unlike dyeing my own yarns. And there are so many different ways of braiding! It is always fun to try something new. And, perhaps most important to me, it is nice to feel the yarn in my fingers as I braid.

Here are my two favorite books for fringe designing:

Finishes in the Ethnic Tradition by Baiserman and Searle

Finishing Touches for the Handweaver by Virginia M. West

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Killing Acrylic Yarn

Donna had a question about the acrylic yarn I was using. She explained that the yarn she has used does not result in a very soft fabric even when woven in twill. I don’t think it is the brand of yarn that is the real issue. As a point of information, however, the yarn I have been using is 2/14 Kitty by Tamm. My source is the KnitKnack Shop The yarn is designed for the knitting machine but it work very well on the loom. Because it is designed for the knitting machine, the yarn has a kind of oily finish to enable it to go through the machine easily. That oily finish washes out just fine.

I suspect that the real issue involves the finishing of the fabric. I killed mine. I suspect she did not. Killing? That is the term for pressing/steaming acrylic yarns. This creates a very soft fabric which drapes nicely. But it no longer feels quite like wool. And the effect is not reversible. If you do not like it, you cannot undo the effect you achieved with the iron. It is permanent. You may decide that instead of feeling soft, the fabric feels limp and you just don't like it.

Warning: washing it again will not undo it, hence the term “killing.” So my advice is to “kill” a sample first to see whether or not you like it.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Dyeing Pale Neutrals: Inital Notes

My computer is still at the computer hospital. I therefore cannot access my weaving software. So, except for some vague in-my-head thinking, I cannot really do any work towards getting the threading design worked out for the crackle jacket. Until I do that, I cannot wind the warp. So I am stuck.

Yes, I have the acrylic afghan sampling yet to finish. But it seems there will be only 3 more samples. So, even though I have to retye the treadles for them, this is not very much to do. Of course there will be removing the samples, cleaning up the loom, washing, ironing, pulling together the notes. Time enough for that.

So, I am stuck. But I am not stuck. Writing about the book I bought on color got me going. I took a look at the book I bought. I put markers in the pages that I liked. Then I got out my silk dye samples and my color wheels, and began working out possibilities. I dismissed the book I had purchased. Was buying it a thus a waste of money? No, it got me thinking and moving. And I will turn to it another time.

I came up with a color scheme I like. It is based on yellow-green, orange and red-violet, with blue as the spark. I think that’s a pretty good color scheme. The tough part is going to be the neutralizing and the paling of those colors. Well, maybe not so tough. I know how to do it. I think the tough part is going to be the decision making after I have done the sampling.

Here are my initial plans:

Yellow-Green, Orange, and Red-Violet with Blue as the “spark.”

YG = 95% SAB Sun Yellow + 5% SAB Royal Blue
O = 40% SAB Sun Yellow + 42% SAB Mustard Yellow + 13 % WF Acid Magenta
RV = 52% SAB Violet + 14% SAB Scarlet + 34% WF Acid Magenta
B = 80% SAB Royal Blue + 20% SAB Sun Yellow

G = 70% SAB Sun Yellow + 30% SAB Turquoise
V = 95% SAB Violet + 5% SAB Scarlet

YG + V
B + O
RV + G

Now I need to decide on formulas for the depth of shades I will be experimenting with. Or, it other words, I will need to figure out how much dye I will use to achieve various degrees of paleness. This I will express in percentages, just as I expressed the color formulas above in terms of percentages.

Once I have done this, I will start working with actual figures. First, though, I will get back to the sampling that is on the loom.

Perhaps, however, my computer will be ready today? Then I can return to the cotton crackle jacket. But these dyeing notes will be carefully filed away so that I can pick up on them when I am ready. I will probably be ready when I actually start weaving on the crackle jacket.

Monday, July 23, 2007


I did buy another weaving related book while I was in Washington, D.C. It is a recent book called The Beader’s Color Mixing Directory: 200 Failsafe Color Schemes for Beautiful Beadwork. It is by Sandra Wallace.

I have tried my hand at beading in the past, but this book is not to help me with beading, or even with using beads in my weaving. It is to help me with color schemes.

I am not sure that there is anything that can be called a “failsafe” color scheme, for the best of them can be ruined in the application of them. And I actually cringe at the concept of such a thing. But there are some really interesting neutral color schemes in the book. And neutral color schemes are a foreign country to me. Give me brilliant colors, deep colors, toned colors and I feel totally at home. But neutral colors? I don’t know where to begin.

This book offers me some places to begin.

Developing a neutral color scheme for a crackle project has been in the back of my head for awhile now. What brought the vague thoughts to me head was Sandra Rude’s series of wood grained scarves. To see some of them, check out her blog’s April archive here. Her scarves are multi-shaft wonders. Mine, on the other hand, will continue the crackle theme. I don’t want to limit myself to browns, but when I see how beautiful a neutral such as brown can be, I am inspired to stretch myself in a new direction. And that new direction, to be more specific, will be pale neutrals.

Dyeing the colors will be a challenge. Sandra used natural dyes. That was part of her overall theme. On the other hand, I will be using Sabraset/Lanaset dyes, which, for all practical purposes are considered as acid dyes. This is where first real stretching will take place. I suspect a lot of dye sampling will be in order. I have come up with some interesting neutrals in past dye samplings, so I will first take a look at those and figure out where I want to go from there. Then, when I have the colors, the second stretching will be designing a crackle structure to exploit them.

By the way, if you haven’t already done so, check out Sandra’s recent postings as well She always seems to be working on something new and phenomenal. Now she has got hold of some amazing variegated yarn that she is going to use on her next project.

Thoughts While Weaving Samples

One of my intentions in weaving these samples is to find a design I might like for an afghan. I have envisioned the afghan in the same acrylic yarn I used for the baby blanket because it is so light, soft, and cuddly. Also, way back in my machine-knitting days I knit a lace afghan for our bedroom which I have truly worn out, I have liked it so much.

Why acrylic? Why not a nice soft merino or merino-silk? Yes, these would make lovely afghans. And I am not allergic to wool. However, in this case, the ability to throw the piece in the washer and dryer is a definite plus. The older I get, the more of a plus it becomes. This is not because I am lazy---which I am. It is because I am now old enough that I can imagine myself ending up in some kind of facility where everything I own will end up in the washer and dryer. So I am taking precautions against a possible future which I am working hard to avoid.

I have envisioned this new afghan in the same squares as the baby blankets, but in 3 colors. Actually, the idea came upon me because I have a lot of leftover yarn and was trying to think how I might use it up. I thought it might be fun to get a third color of the same yarn and weave an afghan with it.

As I have gotten into weaving the samples and have begun feeling the woven fabric between my fingers, I have discovered that this fabric seems to be thicker than the baby blanket fabric. Also, it feels like it will not drape so well. But really, this is not a surprise. The baby blanket was woven with a straight twill treadling on a straight twill threading, and this comibnation will probably yield the most drapeable fabric possible with any given yarn. And pressing only makes the fabric drape more nicely.

Why should I want an afghan to drape nicely? To me, a soft fabric that drapes well feels much more warm and comforting than a fabric which does not have these characteristics. So I will definitely have to wash and press the samples to see if pressing brings out softness and draping.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Even Warp Tensioning

Leigh made the following comment on my previous post:

It seems that (in my haphazard experience) the overall warptension usually seems tightest in the center of the loom, and it loosens toward the sides. I always assumed it was just me.

Like Leigh, when I have problems, I generally tend to assume that they are "just me." Implied in this, of course, is that nobody else has such a problem. In fact, nobody else has ever had such a problem!!! I wonder how many of us have a tendency to feel this way. Even after 8 years of weaving experience, I still do.

I have noticed the tendency in my warps tending to be looser on the sides than at the center. I wonder if this becomes more possible the wider the warp? Still, on the blanket warp which I was talking about, it was only the left side which was looser, not the right. I do have some ideas vis-a-vis knotting, mason twine and techniques for tensioning that I will try out on the next warp.

Also, Leigh goes on to say:

I have used Peggy's 2 stick header even when I haven't cut projects off the warp, and find that it really evens the tension out.

And this is one of the things I will try on the next warp. Usually just throwing those first shots of yarn to separate the warp ends also evens out the tension pretty well. I always find it interesting to see the various ends bubbling up and tightening in the process. And I always wonder, did I do that lousy of a job?! Anyway, if I really seem to be having problems, I will add Leigh's suggestion to my arsenal.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

More Time, Please

When I arrived home from Washington, D.C., I found a very sick computer. She is still in the computer hospital. But I also arrived home to the additional cotton yarn I need for the crackle jacket I am designing. Yes, I wanted to jump immediately to that project. Forget unpacking. Forget washing clothes. Forget eating dinner. Well, maybe not the last. Forget the extra blanket warp left on the loom for tie-up and treadle experiments.

I didn’t forget any of those things. Most of all, I did not forget the left-over blanket warp still on the loom.

Oh, if only I had two looms! I could then do both. There are many times I yearn for a second loom, just so I could start another project while I am weaving off a current one. Or I could use it to weave samples for the project going around in my head as I weave off the current project. A second loom would be the answer to all my prayers.

But wait a minute. How could I do both at the same time? I could alternate, and indeed I frequently do this. I will be designing, dyeing, or making a warp for the next project during those times when I am not actually weaving on the current project. This works very well for me. So a second loom really isn’t the answer.

Or is it? One time when I really really want one is when something like a swap deadline comes up. Then I could just stop weaving on the current project, temporarily, of course. I could proceed with the swap project and, when that is done, come back to the current project. I’m afraid that planning ahead is the answer there.

There is only one answer to my problem, and it is not a second loom. It is, quite simply:. more time, please.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Selvedges and Temples

I am now weaving some 8-shaft twill samples on the remainder of the blanket warp. I am not using a temple. The selvedges appear to be perfect. Both selvedges. Not just the right. The left as well.

This is the same warp on which I wove the blanket. I did a double-stick header which allowed me to remove the blanket while keeping the threading and sleying intact.That heading also allowed me to tie the sticks back on the apron rod without tying (and re-tensioning) the whole warp again. I learned how to make this heading from Peggy Osterkamp's Warping Your Loom and Tying on New Warps, Number 2. The result is the same even tension across the width of the warp that I had when I wove the blanket. Also I am using the same end-feed shuttles.

There are two differences. The first is that I am using different tie-ups. I don’t see how this could affect the selvedges, especially since I am still using separately weighted selvedge warps on each side.

However, here is the second difference: I removed some of the edge warp threads. So, instead of weaving on a 43” wide warp, I am weaving on a 33” wide warp.

Could the different width really have such a marked effect on selvedges? I remember reading somewhere that one shouldn’t weave the full width of the loom. I don’t recall why. And since my computer is still in the hospital, I can't check to see whether or not I made a note of that information. The weaving width on my loom is 45”. 43” is precariously close to full width. Perhaps there is a relationship between arm span and throwing a shuttle properly? Perhaps I didn’t have the tension set quite right on the shuttles? I will have to keep this issue in mind as I weave future projects.


I cannot resist books, especially books having to do with weaving. And The Textile Museum’s gift show has a goodly supply. The difficulty is choosing but one.

After looking at all the possibilities, I settled on a book published just this year called Weaving and Dyeing in Highland Ecuador. It is a collection of essays edited by Ann Pollard Rowe. The book discusses primarily backstrap weaving but focuses on many of the manipulative techniques used in backstrap weaving. Of these techniques, supplementary warp patterning dominates. But there is also considerable discussion of ikat techniques, something which especially interests me.

There are, as well, chapters on treadle loom weaving and on natural dyeing.

The book is going to be a heavy read, something not to be skimmed through quickly. But there are also lots of photographs to break up the text. I look forward to starting the book.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Baby Blanket

During the Washington trip I actually did engage in a weaving related activity. I did not just go to The Textile Museum.

I took with me the baby blanket I had just finished weaving and crocheted an edging around it. I had done this on a blanket a few years ago and liked the appearance of it. I used the same acrylic yarn on that blanket as I did on this blanket. I only changed the colors from lavender and pale yellow to baby blue and pale yellow. And I changed the size of the squares from 5” to 2 ½”.

On that earlier baby blanket I had zigzagged the raw edges with my sewing machine. Then I had made a hand-turned ½” hem, turning it under ¼” to hide the zigzagged edge. When I crocheted the edges, I crocheted into the hem, as well as into the selvedge lengthwise edges. I did not like this particularly as the hemmed edges seemed too bulky. When I wove the blanket, I could have used a finer thread for weaving the hems, but I did not have any acrylic yarn any finer than what I was weaving with. And I did not want to weave it with something like cotton sewing thread. I was afraid that that might affect the washing in a way I would not like. So I tried something different with this blanket.

I did zigzag the raw edges with my sewing machine. This time, however, I did not turn those edges under. I simply crocheted directly into the fabric, taking a deep enough pick with the crochet hook to cover the zigzagging. This did create a slight bulge at those two edges, but it looks much better than the version where I actually made a hem.

I did 7 rounds of crochet. Instead of crocheting round and round, however, I returned in the opposite direction whenever I reached the end of a round. This seems to make the crochet edge look a little more balanced.

I did the first two rows in single crochet. Then I alternated a filet crochet row with a single crochet row. I did this a second time. I put in the single crochet rows to give the edging a bit of stability. But the third time, I did only the filet crochet row and that was it. Nothing particularly fancy. After all, it is for a little boy!

I have to admit that crocheting round and round does get to me after awhile. I finished the last round on the ride home. I thought I would never finish. But I desperately wanted it done, finished, kaput by the time we arrived home. I made it with about 30 minutes to spare.

I still have a little bit of trimming of some tiny bits and pieces, but I think it will wash and press quite nicely. Yes, I am going to press the acrylic………

I have no pictures of this to share yet. I arrived home to a very sick computer. She is now in the computer hospital being, hopefully, fixed. But here are the directions are used for the filet crochet rows:

3 ch (counts as 1 dc), skip first sc, 1 dc into next sc, *1 ch, skip 1 sc, 1 dc into each of next 2 sc; rep from * to end, turn.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Textile Museum, Washington, D.C.

When I go visit Washington, D.C., I always try to manage a trip to The Textile Museum . One of its exhibits is an ongoing display of various weaving techniques. The display is designed for children and probably also adults who know little or nothing about weaving. I find it fascinating however.

This time, however, I went to see their special exhibit on the tent bands of central Asia. I didn’t know what to expect. Something like contemporary inkle bands, I suppose. What I saw was something quite different. They were much wider than I had expected. They were much sturdier bands than I had expected. Before I went to the exhibit, I had had no idea that these bands were woven for the purpose of the tent structure to keep it upright. These bands were clearly thick and strong. And the bands were very beautiful.

Not unlike inkle bands, they are warp-faced. But they are also decorated with pile. On some of the bands, only the decorations are done in pile. The pile was created by knotting pieces of wool, or sometimes silk, onto the cloth created by the warp-face plain weave. On others, the whole band is done in pile. The basic weave structure generally uses wool.

Bands were also woven purely for their decorative effect. Instead of being wrapped around the outside of the tents to support the structure, these were hung inside the tents.

These tents were designed for use by nomads. Thus they were easy to take down and put up. At least it was easy for the nomads! When these people settled down in one place, however, they no longer had any use for these tents and therefore no further use for the bands. So they sometimes chose to recycle them. Sometimes they used them as furniture coverings. The use I found most intriguing however, was their conversion to rugs.

To convert the bands into rugs, they were cut into pieces. The pieces were then sewn together. The pieces did not necessarily match. In fact, sometimes pieces were cut from different bands and sewn together. But they were beautiful nonetheless

There were also black-and-white photographs of the period which showed some of these tents and bands. There were photographs as well as of weavers at work. As seems to be true of so many ethnic weavers, they wove while sitting on the ground. And the looms, by our standards, were primitive. These photographs were interesting, but it was the visual effect of all those bands that was the heart of the exhibit.

The exhibit is on until August 19, and I very much recommend it.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Design Boards

I did get the design boards done before leaving for Washington, DC. I love them. Even my husband loves them. Thank you, Valerie!

The first image is part of the group of samples I wove for 4-shaft effect. Somewhere in there is the sample treadling and colors that I am going to use for the crackle jacket I am designing. And somewhere else in there is the sample treadling and colors I am thinking about for some 30/2 silk. The colors will be a bit different, but they will probably reflect the intensity and depth of the coloration of this sample.

I did two boards, by the way, because the samples were so long. Now on reflection, I see it would probably have been better to have made three. Also, I did not cut the samples at the break between 4-shaft and 8-shaft treadling. Who knows why. I just wasn't thinking. I was in a hurry. In any case, in about the middle of the sampler there is an thickish orange line. This is the color of the yarn I used to weave the separations between the treadling samples. Everything to the left of that orange thickish line is treadled for 4-shaft effect; everything to the right for 8-shaft effect.

I have cropped the images, so not much of the board itself is visible. And I have turned the images 90 degrees because they seemed to me to make read that way. One thing that is interesting is the narrowing of the warp, primarily on one side. This is not something I worry about on samples since I am not concerned about technical issues. I won't mention the weft skips.

So I am ready to leave. I have even figured out some of the tie-ups and treadlings I want to try on the remaining baby blanket warp.

Panic Time

In putting together the weaving samples with the documentation, I discovered........I am missing the notes on the last 5 treadlings! What that means is that I never took my handwritten notes and entered them into the computer.

Before I wove each of the samples, I made decisions about treadling and colors and wrote them down on lined paper. After I wove a few, I would transfer them to the computer. This is my normal pattern in weaving a set of samples. If I don't do that fairly quickly I am in danger of not being able to read my handwriting. I am so focussed on the weaving that I make those notes as quickly as possible and so my handwriting does get a bit sloppy, well, very sloppy if truth be told.

Somewhere there are some missing handwritten notes..............

The good news. I can easily reconstruct the information for the last 3 treadlings because they were treadled overshot style, 2 with 10/2 as pattern weft and one with 20/2 as pattern weft. And because of the overshot treadling, the color order is easy to identify.

And I remember the treadling of the first 2, though not the exact order. And it will be a little difficult to reconstruct the color orders, but not impossible.

In any case, I did not much care for those treadlings anyway! Actually it was the overshot treadlings that I really didn't care for. I hadn't thought that I would like them, but I had never tried treadling overshot style. In the past, I had been skeptical about my liking overshot-style treadling, so I hadn't wanted to "waste" precious warp. But I finally decided that I really did need to try it. Maybe the fact that I didn't care for the results contributed to my negligence with my handwritten notes?

Is there a moral here? Well, there is for me. Best of all, get those notes into the computer sooner than later. Next best, if I can't do that, make sure they go in the right folder and the folder kept in the place it belongs.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Of Dyers and Weavers

Or, in this instance, of one in particular.

Karren Brito recently left a comment on this blog. I know her to be a marvelous dyer whose shibori pieces are works of art. But she is also an educator. She has written Shibori: Creating Color and Texture on Silk. I consider this an indispensable book for anyone working with acid dyes. And on the Dyers Email List she is generous with her help.

But, as Karren informed me, she is also a weaver. She has multiple looms but no room for them in her dye studio. I suspect with all her creative dyeing work, she has no time right now for weaving either. She says, however, that the weaving is waiting for retirement. I hate to see her retire from her shibori dyeing, but I look forward to see the marvels she creates at her looms.

I especially wonder what Karren's incredible dyeing skills will bring to her weaving. A long time ago, I was looking at a tapestry exhibit. I had been playing a bit with tapestry weaving at the time. As I looked at those tapestries, I could see some tapestries as having been woven with a certain manufacturer's yarn because I recognized the colors. I found that so distracting that I was glad that I had already embarked on my own dyeing adventures.

By the way, my links are now visible, thanks to Leigh's help! Little did I know what I had to do to get them to be blue.

Weaving Records

Valerie made some interesting comments on weaving records. She had suggested keeping a basic information page, using either the HGA pages as a model or, if you have weaving software, the printout from it. Then she suggested mounting the sample on a piece of card and keeping it and the printed record in a large ring-binder.

This is an excellent idea for a project such as the baby blanket I have woven. There is only one sample and I have the printout from my weaving software.

The problem for me is the weaving of multiple samples before I even start the project! For example, the crackle samples I just finished have something like 22 different treadlings on 2 different tie-ups. Following Valerie's idea, I could cut the samples apart, create a separate printed document for each sample, and put each sample, with its corresponding print-out, into a large ring binder. Perhaps that is what I need to do in the end, though I think with this technique I would fill up ring-binders pretty quickly, yes, even the monster ones! And this would be especially true where I weave a second set of samples based on what I have learned from the first set.

As I think about Valerie's suggestion, I am wondering if, in the case of these multiple-sample projects, it wouldn't be better to dedicate a smaller ring-binder for each such project. This would be a great deal of work, but I think it might be worth it.

Right now, however, I need the samples in one piece and the documentation altogether. But I think, once I am actually weaving the jacket fabric, I may cut them up, etc., and dedicate a separate notebook for it.

Here is the second suggestion Valerie made which I think is so super I am quoting it:

"In the tapestry workshop I just took, Ann had us mount our samples onto mat board w/ sticky back velcro. Then you can hang or prop the mat board in your studio to let the learning sink in. I think you're on the right track to want to keep them in view for awhile."

This particular sample is quite long, but I could easily cut it in half at the point where I change the tie-up and then mount the two on separate mat boards, either hung or propped. That would make them more visible than they currently would be hanging them over the rack.

Thank you, Valerie!

Can I get this done before I leave for Washington, D.C. on Friday morning? We shall see.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Crackle Samples for Jacket

I have been trying to get things pulled together before I leave this Friday morning for a mini-vacation in Washington D.C. I want to have stuff organized well enough so it is easy to pick up and work on the crackle jacket designing when I get back. Actually, I would like to have all the preparations finished so that all I have left to do is to order the yarns I need.

But I will never get that far. I always seem to plan to get farther than I can, finish on an earlier date than is possible. That used to bother me for a long time. Now, unless there is truly a real deadline, it doesn't bother me. I know I get farther than I would have had I not set those goals that turn out to be unattainable.

So I have been going through the written work on the crackle sampling, comparing the tie-ups, treadlings, and colors with the actual woven samples. My dilemma (as always) is how to organize the stuff. I want the information to be useful in the future. That means, each sample needs to be associated with the tie-up, treadling and color information.

At first glance, it seems like the best way would be to cut the samples apart and attach to each of them the necessary information. But the necessary information is often quite long, extending at times to 3/4 of a page. OK, so then I could put each sample, with its paperwork, in a see-through plastic envelope that goes in a ring binder. This seems unnecessarily bulky and perhaps not even really useful.

Another thing I could do is to keep the samples intact and the paperwork in one piece. I like this idea best because sometimes it is really helpful to compare samples. And seeing them all together sets of different kinds of thinking about them.

OF course, I could play with the individual samples like puzzles, but then I would have to have an easy way to keep the paperwork with them. It could be difficult with some of them to identify them correctly because the differences can be fairly subtle.

So I really am coming down to the notion of keeping the samples in one piece and the written work in one piece and finding some convenient way to store them. The trick, of course, in storing them, is not to bury them so that out-of-sight becomes out-of-mind. So far what I have done is simply to put all the written materials in a file folder. Then I put the file folder in my filing cabinet. Out of sight..........

Then I have to put the woven samples some place else; they do not fit in the file folder. I have some in a box, but right now my tendency is to hang the ones with possibilities on a towel rack so they are always fairly visible. And I can easily pull off what I want to get a better look at. This may not be a pretty sight, but it does work.

Filing stuff has been an issue for each of my more creative problems. I have not solved it.l I don't know when, or even if, I will solve it. I keep hoping.

Akihiko Izukura

My interest in dyeing yarns, painting warps and learning ikat techniques, led me to join the Surface Design Association . Their magazine appears at Barnes and Noble and Borders, perhaps at other bookstores as well. But to get their newsletter, one has to be a member. And it is the newsletter which I have found most rewarding.

I just received the summer issue of the newsletter. Included in it was a discussion of the classification of acid dyes by Karren K Brito . She is not a weaver, but she has amazing dyeing skills and willingly shares what she knows with others.

Another article was about the Japanese Dyeing Ceremony as performed by Akihiko Izukura. But not only is Akihiko and master dyer, he is also a master weaver. So I looked him up on the internet and found some of the one-of-a-kind garments he has created. He has his own website where you can look at some of these. Clicking on the blue link should take you there.

He has two collections I was particularly interested in. One is called the Signature Collection. The garments here are black and white. I find them inspiring in their simplicity, simplicity which I am sure is deceptive. The other collection I liked is called the ReLuxe Collection. Here he uses color. Sometimes the colors are quite bright. But, bright or not, color is always used in a most elegant fashion, again a simplicity which is surely deceptive.

Akihiko's weaving is quite different from mine. His goal seems to be an elegant simplicity. My goal is one of much greater complexity. Not complexity of structure but complexity of color. That is why I like crackle so much: crackle allows me to explore, seemingly endlessly, complex color arrangements.

I wonder if someday this exploration in complexity will lead to a greater simplicity? I have found in the past with individual designs that as I work on the designing, the ideas become more and more complex, and then at some point it all just becomes too complex and I start simplifying. Perhaps I must struggle with complexity in order to move through it into a simplicity that is not really simple at all.

No, I will never be the kind of weaver Akihiko is. But I think that he is a good model for me.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Crackle tieups

Last time I talked about 2 tie-ups that I used for the crackle sampling. Here they are in diagram form:

The first tie-up (on the left) is a typical (but not only) tie-up for 8 shaft crackle. On it you can weave 8 blocks.

The second tie-up (on the right) is a tie-up which turns an 8-shaft threading into the equivalent of a 4-shaft sampler. On it you can weave 4 blocks.

Note that in both tie-ups, the last 2 treadles are for plain weave. Pay no attention to them; they do not matter for this discussion.

Looking closely at this second tie-up closely shows how this happens. Think of shafts 1-4 as one group of shafts. And think of shafts 5-8 as a second group of shafts. Every time 2 shafts in the first group (1-4) are tied up, the equivalent shafts of the second group (5-8) are also tied up. For example, when shafts 1 and 2 are tied up, so are shafts 5 and 6.

Next, notice that tie-ups in rows 5-8 simply duplicate the tie-ups in rows 1-4. I might have actually treadled only treadles 1-4 when I had the treadles tied up in this way. In fact, I did actually treadle all 8; doing that just seemed easier.

Question: why would I even consider weaving a 4-shaft crackle on an 8-shaft loom, when weaving an 8-shaft crackle gives me twice as many blocks? OK, I cannot really answer this right now except to say that for what I am doing I like the 4-shaft blocks better. Not a very helpful answer? I agree. Let's see if I can do better.

8-shaft crackle creates block designs, things like crosses, flowers, waves. You do not get blocks across the entire width. Here is an example of some crawdowns resulting from treadling variations of the 8-shaft crackle I wove for the Complex Weaver's crackle exchange:

The blocks are broken up by areas of plain weave.

Compare this with this 4-shaft drawdown. Here there are no plain weave areas setting off blocks of either weft emphasis or warp emphasis structures. So with this kind of structure the focus can be on color play instead of on the design revealed in the structure.

These kinds of blocks can be done with 6-shaft threadings as well. However I have not figured out how they might be possible with 8-shaft threadings. Perhaps they cannot be. Perhaps I have yet to discover that they can be.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Sampling for the Crackle Jacket

Two days ago I hand-washed the sampling I had done on the warp left over from weaving the samples for the crackle exchange. Then I gave the sampling a fairly hard pressing. And here is the piece. The whole is not quite visible as I had to loosely pleat the fabric to fit into the photo.

What you see here are the results of 22 different treadlings and/or color experiments combined with 2 different tie-ups. The first tie-up was the same one I had used for the crackle exchange samples. The treadlings on this tie-up are visible on the left side of the picture.

The second tie-up converted an 8-shaft crackle into the equivalent of a 4-shaft crackle. And you can see those treadlings on the right side of the picture. You can even see that the weaving on the right side is reminiscent of a 4-shaft piece I showed some time ago.

By the way, as soon as I had pressed this sampling, the particular sample I plan to use for the jacket fabric immediately jumped out at me.

More later.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Selvedges Once More

In an earlier post, I had made a passing comment that my left selvedge was creating more problems than the right selvedge. I didn't pay this too much mind as my understanding is that for most people, one selvedge is not as good as the other. A solution commonly offered has been to change seating positions. I have hesitated to try that as moving away from center would affect the evenness of my beat.

This morning, the left selvedge was becoming progressively worse. I did some feeling around with my fingers/hands, testing for tension. I couldn't quite tell, but it seemed like the threads on the left side might be just a tad looser than the others. So I got out a wooden double-pointed knitting needle (size 7), and inserted it between the back beam and the first 5 threads on the left selvedge. The selvedge immediately improved. The left and the right selvedges looked virtually identical.

Yes, this is magic, but not without its own problems. As I continue to weave, the added tension to those 5 threads will result in those threads gradually stretching and getting looser and looser. Another knitting needle will have to be added. And later, I will probably have to hang weights from those knitting needles. Except in this case I will probably not have to do the last as I have only about 12 more inches to weave off.

And what effect will this gradual stretching of those 6 warp threads have on the appearance of the finished weaving? I don't know. I expect that in this case, with washing and hard-pressing (or, in this case "killing", for I am working with acrylic yarns) there will be no discernible difference. Perhaps it might affect the wear and tear on that side? I don't know, but if one wove for a long time with these few threads specially weighted and growing more and more stretched out, I wouldn't be surprised.

In any case, this "magic" solution is only for emergencies. The real issue is that I muse figure out how to keep this from happening on future warps.

I do have a suspicion, and therefore a solution for, of what may be happening. I attach my warp to the front beam by lashing with very slippery mason cord. I lash from left to right. To begin, I attach the cord with several knots on the left side. My suspicion is that there is some slipping on those knots. I do have a book of knots and I might investigate that for solutions. But I think I will also use a separate, non-slippery cord, to tie the warp rod to the apron rod. There should be much less tendency for the knot in this cord to slip, We shall see.

8-Shaft Crackle

There are at least two things that can be observed about the crackle samples I wove for the Complex Weavers' Crackle Exchange this spring. First, I wove them on 8 shafts, not the 4 that is normally associated with crackled weave. Second, neither the draft nor the woven sample resemble the 4-shaft crackle stuff I have been showing so far on the blog.

Now this is not a bad thing or a good thing. It is just a different thing. And I'm not sure that it suits my current interest in color play.

Meanwhile, I wait to see what the end-of-the loom sample weaving brings to light. Of course, I have some ideas, but they are only ideas right now. In the midst of weaving sample treadlings, ideas tend in the heat of the moment to seem either brilliant or horrid. But that is an exaggeratedly close-up view sitting at the loom. Probably none of the ideas is either. So I await partial drying and pressing so I can get a bit more impartial view of what went on as I sat at the loom. Actually, if truth were to be told, I am a bit nervous............ I do hope for one small bit on that warp to speak to me.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

A Mouse in the Loom?

A mouse in the loom? Well, not really, but I was beginning to wonder. I was quietly weaving the blanket but every few shots, a shaft would not drop. I couldn't even push it down. Rarely the same shaft. I tried to look through the threads and heddles and shafts to see what was keeping a shaft from going down. I couldn't see anything. When I would push on the shaft in an attempt to get it down there was a weird kind of soft resistance, look it was actually pushing against the warp. But it wasn't. A mouse? Well...........one last look revealed that this little rubber bumper, one of two which rests on the bottom to soften the blow on the shafts when they drop and make the whole operation a little less noisy, had flipped off its resting place and was getting caught in the shafts and getting in the way. Problem solved.

Of course, with the loom warped, the front and cloth beams in the way, I cannot easily replace that bumper, so there is only one bumper on right now. But I will put it back on when I am done with this blanket. With masking tape.

Masking tape? When I was putting the loom together when I first got it, I couldn't figure out what these rubber things were. When I finally figured it out, I had dislodged the staples that were meant to hold them onto the loom. So.......masking tape it was. I am definitely not a carpenter.

Crackle Jacket Continued

A while back Iwas talking about the Spring 2007 crackle exchange (Crackle: the Incidental Threads) and this brings me back to the first rumblings of designing the crackle jacket. The yardage idea I had talked about (Crackle Jacket: First Rumblings) had faded from my conscious mind. But late in the spring I realized that I had only one month to weave samples for the spring crackle exchange. I had just begun weaving some baby blankets, and I am not a fast weaver, so I was pushed for time. In fact, I thought seriously about not weaving samples for this exchange. In any case, I knew it couldn't be fine silk sett at 60 epi. I had to use a heavier yarn for faster warping and weaving. And I certainly didn't have time to dye anything.

Inspired by Leigh's use of her stash to weave some really lovely Summer and Winter stuff, I decided to look at my 20/2 pearl cotton stash. I have never much cared for weaving with this fiber, though at one time I had thought it might be a good way at exploring colors in crackle using a less expensive yarn. I never did anything with that idea because I dye my own yarns. Dyeing silk greatly reduces cost, though that is not my reason for dyeing them. And the dyeing, which includes lots of sampling, the planning and the weaving all take so much time that the cost of silk really becomes negligible. So all my crackle sampling and weaving has been pretty much with silk yarns.

When I checked my stash I discovered that I had some of the colors I had originally planned on using. They were not identical to the original color scheme, but close enough. So I threw together an 8-shaft crackle draft using different using different size blocks in an asymmetrical design and with no threading repeats. I had wanted to explore this kind of threading for awhile. And I decided to use 3 colors in the warp. I wanted, however, to have the colors change, not according to block changes, but according to a mathematical sequence based on Fibonacci.

Here is a part of the drawdown, in black and white (black warp, white weft). The drawdown does show the complete treadling sequence but only a small part of the threading.

For treadling, I decided to try a kind of improvised version of an advancing twill treadling. No tabbies. A one-shuttle weave. Aha, very fast to weave. Well, yes, I did weave with more than one color, so it was really a two shuttle weave. But this is still faster than a 3-shuttle weave. Once the warp was on the loom, I played around with this idea until I got what I kind of liked, both in terms of treadling sequence and in terms of weft colors. And here is a picture of part of the weaving:

The warp colors are blue, gold, and a very grayed brown. The weft uses these same colors with the addition of a pinkish violet.

And here is a closer view of one of the samples:

I rather like the pink-violet as a kind of a punch. But it stands out a bit too much, especially in the closeup. So, if I do use it in the final piece, I shall have to do some careful thinking.

When I finished the crackle exchange samples, I still had warp on the loom for some explorations. But that story is for a another day. The day may not be too far away as it is now off the loom and has been washed and is drying and awaiting a hard press.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Temples: A Correction, an Addition and a Warning

In my last post I talked about using fishing line under special circumstances. When I said that it prevented draw-in, I was incorrect. What the fishing line does is more effectively to keep the warp ends at the selvedge so spread out during the actual weaving that the draw-in is equalized across the entire warp enough to result in selvedges that look (hopefully!) the same as the rest of the fabric.

Now, why wouldn't one always want to do this? Isn't this a desirable effect? Well, it certainly was in my case, where I wanted to made virtually invisible joins between panels of fabric. But otherwise I don't think it is usually desirable. The closer draw-in at the selvedges serves a very important purpose: to protect the edges of the fabric. The edges of a fabric are the most vulnerable to wear. The cuffs on men's long-sleeved shirts are a good illustration. So having the warp on the edges of a fabric a bit closer than the rest is really a good thing. I have read of weavers who actually sett those edges closer for just that reason.

A warning about my posts. I am always learning. What I say here today may well be different next year. I may have learned, for example, that my current skills (or lack of them) at winding on warps may have been leading me to use a temple as a crutch. I don't think so, but it's always possible.

An example of always learning. I "know," and have "known" for a long time that one is supposed to move the warp frequently while weaving. Every 1 1/2" to 2 1/2" are the general guidelines I have read. Sometimes I kind of abide by that; sometimes I don't. The temptation to weave and weave before I finally am forced to move the warp forward is very great.

Today as I watched the weaving of the blanket progress, I noticed something I had not noticed before. As I wove, the angle of the weft thread kept getting smaller and smaller. The left selvedge also started getting pretty bad. Now I "know" that the angle of the weft thread affects the amount of weft pushed into the fabric. And I "know" that the less weft pushed in, the more draw-in there will be. But this morning, knowing started turning into understanding.

So I moved the warp and after about 1" of weaving, I noticed the selvedge beginning to tighten up. So each time after I threw the shuttle, I used my free hand to pull up the weft thread closer to the reed. This made the angle of the weft about what it had been in the previous inch. It worked!

Now that I finally understand a bit more, moving the warp frequently will not bother me, at least wide warps. My suspicion is that a narrow warp can be woven a bit longer before having to move it. But I will have to test that out.


Leigh asked if I always use a temple in my weaving. The answer is no, I do not. When I am weaving fairly narrow (10-14") and fine (60/2 silk) silk warps, there seems to be no need for a temple. I think that may be due to the fact that I ratchet up the tension on the warp to maximum. Silk is very strong and seems to have had no tendency to break at such high tension. And it is also fairly easy to get the number of picks per inch at those widths.

Also I have not used a temple weaving my own handspun, though again the warps were relatively narrow (15" to 20"). Also, I found I could keep the warp tension quite high. This surprised me as my handspun is quite soft and very stretchy. The first time I made a warp with some, I was amazed at how it snapped back to a much smaller size when I took it off the warping board. Needless to say I made a mental note to calculate for that in planning the next handspun warp! Also, I did not need a temple because I was not packing in the weft tightly, as I do with the fine silk.

When I do use temples should become fairly clear now! I use them on wide warps. The temple keeps the whole warp stretched widthwise so that it is easier to get the number of picks into an inch that I need/want.

One thing a temple does not do is to prevent draw-in. When you remove the temple that fabric is going to draw in. Draw-in is just the nature of the beast. What it does do is to keep the warp stretched at the point of weaving so that you can pack the weft in more easily and to distribute the draw-in a little more evenly across the entire width of the fabric.

The top left picture shows a very small temple from the top side. The top right picture shows its business side. You can see the prongs on the side that is lighted (I do have to work on my photography skills!). The bottom picture shows the temple with the two pieces separated. One part of the temple has a little upright piece that fiats into the holes you see on the other piece. The white band you see in the top two photos then slides across both pieces to hold them in place. A wicked, wicked piece of equipment.

Draw-in is just the nature of the beast. You can, however, weave with virtually no draw-in if you use something like fine fishing line for the selvedge edges and then remove it when you are done. I have done this when weave a blanket in 3 pieces. I put the fishing line on those edges that were going to be joined. I wanted those edges to look just like the rest of the blanket after seaming. And, thanks to fulling, you have to look for those seams to find them.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Baby Blanket

I have finally started weaving the baby blanket. An easy straight twill. I weave slowly. I don't mind weaving slowly. I use a temple. The temple is the red piece which stretches across the width of the cloth. There are metal teeth on each end which grab into the cloth and keep the cloth tightly stretched out. The result is a more even fabric.

Temples are adjustable, within certain limits, perhaps 5 inches. Consequently I have several temples in different lengths.

Using a temple does slow down the weaving a bit. I move it approximately every 1/2 inch. Again, I don't mind that especially since it does give me better cloth.

And so I watch the weaving grow, keep track of the 45-degree twill angle, and basically just relax. A soothing job in between intense crackle designing and weaving. Well, soothing until I spot a knot in the warp. It is there in the blue section. Well, I did say I like weaving slowly. I'm used to knots and broken threads in warps so they no longer hold terror for me, though once they certainly did. A knot I find is really easy to deal with, easier than dealing with a broken warp thread.

I wind off a few yards of new warp onto a knitting bobbin (knitters use them for intarsia) thread the end through the same heddle that the knotted end goes through, sley it through the same reed opening, and attach it to the front of the weaving with a T-pin. I put a small weight at the other end and hang it off the back of the loom.

I then weave, with both warp threads attached for about 1 inch. Then I cut off the warp thread with the knot and hang that thread loosely at the back so that it doesn't interfere with anything. When I have woven long enough so that that warp thread, with its knot cut off, will reach to the front of the loom with enough length to go around another T-pin, I will reverse the procedure. I will pull it back through the heddle and reed, attach it to the cloth, weave for about 1 inch, and then remove the substitute warp yarn. So then the warp will be like new, and I will no longer have to worry about unwinding the substitute thread from the bobbin to get enough length to continue weaving.

Note that the color in the first picture is accurate. Not so in the second two pictures, though I rather like the second of those two!

About Designing

In my last post I mentioned that I had run across an idea for a crackle project to follow hard on this one. It is essentially a spin-off of the current design. This kind of a process is what many artists call working in a series. It is also a way of building a consistent body of work. I think of it as a kind of follow-your-nose thing. Anyway, I put a note of the new idea in my file.

When I work on a project, the act of working frequently inspires ideas for the next project. So, on my computer I keep a spot to collect those ideas. Often, by the time I am starting to weave the current project, I find myself working up the plans for the next project in greater detail, ordering the yarns, and doing the necessary dyeing, including dye sampling, By the time I finish the weaving, I have sometimes found that the next warp is ready to go on, or at least close to ready.

One of the benefits of this approach is the protection of my body. My body simply will no longer let me sit and weave all day. So having other things to do, sample dyeing, for example, keeps me busy doing different things. It may take me a long time to weave something off, as a result, but I am still being productive.

A confession: I am also thinking of starting a file on warp crackle. I am beginning to think that there are interesting possibilities for warp painting if I turn the crackle drawdown so that the threading is the treadling and the treadling the threading. I love weaving on painted warps because I am always wondering what it's going to look like up there where it is not yet woven. And I am always wondering as well when to change weft colors. I love weaving when decisions need to be made during the actual weaving. The result is that it is very hard for me to stop weaving a painted warp, not necessarily a good thing if I want to protect my body!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Crackle: The Incidental Threads

CORRECTION: these extra warp ends are really called accidentals, not incidentals. 9.2.09

I am a member of Complex Weaver's and, as such, belong to their Crackle Exchange group. We have two exchanges, one in the spring and one in the fall. Last week I received the samples from the spring exchange. I found one sample of particular interest. It was produced by Susan Wilson. Her sample consisted of differently sized blocks. The warp threads were silver, but the incidental threads were adobe.

Now, in case you've forgotten what the incidental threads in crackle are, go to Threading 4-Shaft Crackle and you will see that they are the "extra" thread inserted as you move from one block to another. My first thought was, aha, for the crackle project after this one, where I want to incorporate some black threads in the warp, I could use them for those incidental threads. Whether I ultimately will, I do not know, but in the notes I have begun for that project, I have included that idea. It's an idea I don't want to lose.

But then another light went off as I looked at her sample. If I want to make warp blocks different colors and have the colors aligned with the blocks, those incidentals mark the division! I had not been able to understand just exactly where in the threading, one block became the next block. Now I understand why I have hesitated to make the blocks themselves different colors, why I could not figure out exactly where a new block began. And I now finally realize that, should I use two or more color warp blocks, I will have to make a kind of arbitrary decision as to which block each incidental belongs. Yes, I can be very slow. Thank you Susan!

Here are some very simple 4-shaft drawdowns illustrating this. On the left is a one-color warp (orange) with black threads for the incidentals. On the right, is a two-color warp (blue and orange) with no separate color for the incidentals. I have made arbitrary decisions about the colors of the incidentals. However, if and when I do design a warp with different color warp blocks, I will have to work on systematizing the arbitrariness of the decisions!