Thursday, November 1, 2007

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

The warp has come up over the back beam. That means I'm just about done. Done with the actual weaving, that is. But still not really done. I have maybe six inches left of weaving? We shall see.

Coming to the end of a project leaves me with most peculiar feelings. I guess it's really kind of a depression. On the one hand I am depressed because the woven fabric does not meet my early expectations. Still I suspect that nothing we create lives up to our original hopes and expectations. Besides, experience has taught me that the final fabric, washed and hard pressed, will result in something much more satisfying than what comes directly off the loom.

On the other hand I am depressed because I am kind of in love with the weaving and hate for it to end. It has been part of my life for quite a long time!

I used to be seriously depressed at the end of the warp. I greatly resented that I had put all this work into weaving the fabric but I was still not done! Not fair! Slowly, as I started to refine it, I began to understand the finishing process. Gradually I built up enough faith in the finishing process that I started looking forward to it. Finishing has become a part of the whole magical process of bringing a piece of fabric to life.

This kind of thing happened to me when I did a lot of sewing. However, because I simply used patterns and did no designing, the emotional involvement was not nearly so intense. And I solved the problem by always have another project waiting in the wings. Pattern, fabric, all the notions ready in a box waiting to be opened.

I do the same thing with weaving. I now have the next warp designed and the details worked out. I have the yarn. But I have yet to work out the dyeing details. Still, even as I weave off this current warp, some subtle design changes continue to happen in the planning of the next warp.

As I have neared the end of this project my critical eye has been working hard. And I used the work "critical" in a neutral sense, not a negative sense. I have been analyzing, as I weave, what works and what doesn't work. One thing I have figured out is that for the effects I am trying to achieve, wide blocks do not work. 1/2" wide blocks seem to be a good average size. Changing the size of the blocks is effective, but there should be no blocks wider than 1". If I were weaving a narrow scarf, 3/4" would probably be the maximum. And I will have to consider how many I would have of them and where I would place them for they do become focuses of attention.

One of the problems with the above picture is that it gives the effect that the weave is weft-faced. It is somewhat weft-dominant, but the warp colors are clearly visible on the fabric itself and so have an effect on the entire fabric. Consequently one of the most important things that is not visible above is how effective changing the warp colors within the blocks is. Most effective are fairly quick changes with at least three colors. By quick changes, I mean 2-8 warp ends of a given color. At least for a weaving at 30 epi this seems to work.

In terms of weft, I liked keeping one color constant and changing the other two. I used only two other colors because this is meant for yardage and I needed to make life a little bit easier for me when I cut out the fabric. The color that I kept the same was the blue. The other two colors were gold and a medium brown. But what would look better, to me, is having 3-5 of the changing colors so that the color positions and relationships would change with each block. This would still keep the gold as a dominant color but a bit less intrusive.

Also, it is looking like weaving the pattern with a yarn twice as heavy as the warp is creating a more attractive fabric. Perhaps there is less fighting for attention between warp and weft. Weft clearly dominates but is affected by the warp colors. There is no way, however, that I can really determine that until all three fabrics are washed and pressed.

However, and this is a big however, as I make preparations for dyeing the silk yarns, I have another crackle warp designed and ready to be wound on the warping board. More on this later.

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