Friday, November 30, 2007

Warping with Handspun

The other day I finished knitting a sock and needed to cut off the yarn. I was a passenger in the car and had forgotten to bring scissors. So I broke it. That is, I tried to break it. With my bare hands.

I've broken knitting yarn before, even yarn with acrylic in it. But this sock yarn would not budge. So I untwisted the yarn enough to get at the 3 single plies. Individually, each of the singles broke with practically a feather touch.

I have always known that singles yarns could be problematic on the warp because they are not as strong as plied yard. And even more problematic would be handspun singles, especially if the handspun is softly spun. I have known for a long time that a two-ply yarn is stronger than a singles. I have known for a long time that a three-ply is stronger yet. I had learned these things when I was weaving with linen and when I started spinning. But I didn't really "know" any of this until I tried to break the sock yarn with my bare hands.

Now I really know in my bones why my plied handspun does not break when I use it as warp.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Ready to Weave

The warp is lashed onto the front rod. And the front rod is attached to the front apron rod with Texsolv loop cord. I decided to try the Texsolv for joining the 2 rods in an attempt to keep the rods an equal distance from each other. This was hard to do just with tying them with pieces of string. The Texsolv keeps the two rods perfectly spaced.

And here is a picture of the trick I borrowed from Leigh. To support the two front rods while lashing on, Leigh had put a ruler on either side of the warp. The ruler rested on the beater lip and the front beam. Onto this the rods were slipped. I couldn't quickly find any rulers, but I did have pick-up sticks, so I used one of these on each end. It worked like a charm. It was much easier for me to get even tension because I wasn't fighting the waving around of the front rods.

This picture also shows more clearly how I used the Texolv loop cord to join the two rods.

I then decided to try a tip I had learned from Sandra Rude. When I had the warp evenly tensioned, I left it overnight. The idea was to get any soft spots to declare themselves in the dark hours of the night. Perhaps also the idea was to come back to testing on a good night's sleep. I discovered that it had softened up a bit on the right hand side so I tightened up the lashing cord there.

Then I proceeded to throw shots with blue 20/2 weft. I discovered a crossed thread on the right-hand side. Strangely, it was the last warp end on the right. Instead of sleying it in the dent with its partner, I had sleyed it one dent to the left. So I cut the offending warp end and rethreaded and sleyed a temporary end in the correct spots. Hence the pin you see on the right hand side of the warp. The pin is holding that warp end in place. The pin is visible on the right side in the following photo.

Visible in the photo also is a correction I had to make to softening ends on the right side. This time I couldn't simply pull the lashing cord tighter. The knots were just too tight to loosen up easily. So I got out a bamboo double-pointed needle and stuck it through the two end loops of the lashing cord. Then, to keep it in place, I pushed the ends of the needle into the holes of the Texsolv.

The warp is looking good. I am ready to start weaving.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


"Inspiration is found in the studio while you are working."

This is one reason I find it so important to weave every day. Weaving, by the way, does not mean just sitting at the loom. It also means things like warping, mending cloth, working on drafts. Most of my ideas come during these times. The remaining ideas generally come in the middle of the night. But without the actual weaving activities, they probably would not have come either.

Sometimes they come at fiber shows and art museums as well. A painting can just get me somehow and I dig out my notebook and pen from my purse and write frantically.

And this is why it is important always to have paper and pen/pencil at the ready. When my ideas come in the middle of the night, I can hold onto them till morning without writing them down. But if they come in the midst of weaving-related activities, or at galleries and art museums, the ideas are likely to be lost if not written down fairly quickly.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

More on Sett

The figures I gave on sett from the Osterkamp book are rather typical figures for her. In her tables she frequently has very peculiar numbers such as 19, 27. The only way I could achieve these kinds of setts is through uneven sleyings. Uneven sleyings occur when you do not put the same number of ends in each dent. The sleying might be, for example, 2-3-3-3-2-2-3-3.

I do not like uneven sleyings. First, I am much more apt to make a sleying error when I have to change, even in a regular fashion, the number of warp ends in a dent. Worse still, I would find it much too easy to miss a sleying error until I was in the process of weaving.

Also it is my experience that fabric weaves better with equal numbers of threads in each dent. There is less possibility of ends slipping around in the final fabric or, perhaps even worse, of the whole fabric simply not evening out in the final finishing. In this case, the warp ends would not be evenly spaced.

Uneven spacing of warp ends can be a design feature, but if it is, it ought to be intentional. Uneven spacings, skipped dents, crowded dents, are all ways of achieving this kind of design feature. But right now my concern is obtaining a regular cloth.

The result of this rejection of uneven sleying is that I have a large number of reeds. I would like more, but I would have to have them made to order. I don't consider this particularly a problem, but whenever I think about it, I cannot make up my mind which of several possibilities I would get the most use from. Reeds do not come cheap!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Crackle Yardage Sample

Here is a photo of the sampler piece that I saved to do some washing experiments on. I washed and hard-pressed the sample two times.

What totally surprised me was how fine and drapeable this little piece is. There is no feeling of the warp having been sett too far apart. Looking at the figures explains this unexpected result.

At the reed, the width of the fabric on the loom was 36.5"
The width on the loom, measured at the front, was 34.0"
The width off the loom was 33.0"
The width after the first washing in hot water and drying on perm press setting was 32.5"
The width after the second washing in hot water and hot dry was 32.25"

The total shrinkage in the width was 4.25" The total shrinkage in the with was a bit more than 10%

The length on the loom was 7.25"; the length after the first and second washings was 7.0" That is less than 5%.

I also computed the epi in the plain weave section. The epi turned out to be 34, in contrast to the weaving sett of 30 epi.

I also measured the picks per inch in that section,. The ppi turned out to be 32.

I find it humbling to hold finished cloth up to the light to see how evenly I managed to treadle. Perhaps I would be better to say, how UNevenly I treadle. Really humbling. And the cloth always looks like window screening. Here is a photo of that fabric, before washing, taped to a window:

And here is another photo of the same fabric, but after the final washing and pressing:

The closing up of the "window screening" is quite obvious. Also, the imperfections in the treadling have disappeared.

I have hopes for the fabric once I have mended, washed, ironed................ But, I will have to rethink what I was planning to make. A somewhat fitted jacket will no longer do. The jacket must be much looser and more fluid.

Friday, November 23, 2007

More Weaving Misadventures

I sat down this morning to finish sleying the reed. I had finished two-thirds of it on Wednesday. This meant that I was now working left of center. I pulled out the first group of threads and separated them into groups of two. I inserted my sley hook in the appropriate space and grabbed the first thread. As I did this I saw, to my immediate right, on the first shaft, approximately 30 empty heddles.

An occasional empty heddle is nothing to cry about. It happens. It can just stay there. If it doesn't mean re-threading too many threads, I will correct it. Otherwise I just let it stay there. But 30 empty heddles? No way.

How on earth did this happen? How on earth could I have skipped 30 heddles in a row on the first shaft? I did have a cold. I was also sick from my flu shot. But surely.....................

Fortunately I had tied my threaded heddles in groups such that each group represented one block. So it was very easy to figure out where I was in the threading draft. And I saw that this error had happened in an interesting place: at the beginning of the third repeat.

Anyway, I pulled all the ends out of their heddles, rearranged the heddles, put books under the shafts again to facilitate access to the cross, and am back at it.

Have been surprised that it's not really terribly awkward to thread in this way, with the front beam on, the cloth beam on, the reed in and the beater upright. The most awkward thing is getting on and off the bench because it is right up there close to the cloth beam. Fortunately I'm pretty agile. I just need to make sure that my coffee mug is out of the way so my feet don't kick it over in the process of mounting or dismounting!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Getting Sidetracked

I belong to the Online Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, affectionately called OLGA. This wonderful group sponsors month-long workshops on various topics, led primarily by list members. The next workshop, beginning in January, is on knitting with wire.

For several years now I have been intrigued with possibilities of working with wire. For a while I investigated weaving with wire. There were two HGA Learning Exchanges on the subject (for more on HGA Learning Exchanges, go here ). I was definitely interested but at the time I was involved with something else. I no longer remember what that something else was. I think I was also playing the coward.

At some point I was interested enough in this to purchase a beautiful book by Arline M. Fisch called Textiles Techniques in Metal. I would have purchased it for the photos alone. They are wonderful. She writes chapters on knitting, crochet, braiding, sprang, basketry, and knotting. Oh yes, she does have a chapter on weaving. The pages on weaving are getting a bit dog-eared.

And one year there was a seminar/workshop at HGA's Convergence on the subject, but I was unable to attend Convergence. Did I really want to attend? Did I really want to take that workshop?

Then a few years ago I took a weekend workshop sponsored by a jewelry group on crocheting with wire. Aha. I took it and decided I really didn't want anything more to do with it. I was a total klutz. End of story. Sure.

So now OLGA is sponsoring an online knitting with wire workshop. Learning that destroyed by weaving plans for the day. I was on the internet researching materials. I was on the internet Googling knitting with wire. I managed to find a book I had purchased for some unknown reason on knitting with wire. It's by Nancie M. Wiseman and called, appropriately enough Knitting With Wire.

Then I started thinking about weaving with wire. Not with my big floor loom. I was thinking how I might use my small tapestry loom. Then I started thinking in terms of a copper pipe loom where the loom itself might serve as a frame for the piece. And then I found Fisch's book again and saw possible off-loom techniques. The mind boggles.

Now it is dinner time. My hubby wants to go out for dinner. Huh? He wants to watch a DVD tonight. Huh? Well, he does begin his Thanksgiving vacation this evening so he's entitled. Maybe. Grudgingly (though not so as he would know that), I will give up my current temporary diversion and go out to eat, watch a DVD and have a very pleasant evening.

Tomorrow. No, tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I have other plans...........

Friday. Friday I will be back at the loom..................for at least some of the day.

8 Crackle Blocks on 4 Shafts: Sett

I am now in the process of sleying the reed. I am using a 12-dent reed sleyed 2 ends per dent. This gives me an epi of 24.

24 was the epi I had originally intended to use. But when I discovered that my warp consisted not of 10/2 pearl cotton but a combination of 10/2 and 20/2, I began to have concerns.

My previous warp (the fabric I am now finishing) was sett at 30 epi. It consisted solely of 20/2 pearl cotton. The result seemed to me a too loose sleying. The jury is still out on that decision by the way. However, the way I had woven that crackle was essentially a twill treadling, not a plain weave setting. Had a done a plain weave kind of treadling, the sett would have been fine.

The warp I am currently sleying is half 20/2 pearl cotton and half 10/2. Osterkamp recommends a sett of 19 for 10/2 and a sett of 27 for 20/2 if you are weaving clothing for garments. 24 seems comfortably in the middle. So, even though I will probably experiment with a bit of polychrome, I have decided to stick with a sett of 24.

Of course, having looked at Osterkamp, I now realize that if the warp had consisted solely of 10/2 pearl cotton, I should have tried a 20 epi sett instead of a 24 epi sett. The only reason, by the way, that I did not use 27 epi for the 20/2 warp is that I wanted the same number of ends in each dent and with the reeds in my collection, that would have meant choosing between 24 epi and 30 epi. I knew that 24 epi would be way too loose, so I settled for 30 epi.

Perhaps I should have named this blog, My Weaving Misadventures!

I like Peggy Osterkamp's books very much, including her sett charts These very detailed charts can be found in her Volume I, Winding a Warp and Using a Paddle. She also devotes a chapter to how to work out your own sett with a yarn which is not covered in her chart. I have found that chapter invaluable. Well, actually, I have found the whole volume invaluable.

For more on Peggy Osterkamp, go here. Or just Google her name!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Photographing Textiles

I don't really know anything about photographing textiles. So I was delighted when I saw that Curious Weaver has a very good piece on photographing textiles. She shares her setup for taking pictures of her own weaving. I really liked seeing her setup. This is a case where a picture (or two) is really worth a thousand words. Go here to read the piece.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Crackle Yardage Progress

The crackle yardage has been sitting lumped in my sewing room over a chair. Out of sight, out of mind. I try to devote at least a part of my weekend to sewing and/or spinning. Of course, when I went to my sewing room to continue work on a pair of slacks I am making, there it sat. An ugly lump on the back of my chair. OK, I promised myself that once I had zigzagged all the edges and cut the pieces apart, I could then move on to my slacks. I did just that.

In the course of the zigzagging I discovered just how vulnerable the yardage was. As I was adjusting and sewing, it would catch on edges of my sewing table (rounded edges, mind you), and groups of yarn would pull out of place. Here was but more evidence that the sett for the polychrome was too wide. Sigh..........

When I cut up the pieces I had, in addition to the three deliberately woven pieces, a series of sample treadlings preceding the third piece. I saw something there I rather liked so decided to save that.

I am going to use that sample piece to experiment with the washing process. I will measure it, wash it in hot water and dry it in the dryer. Measure. Wash and dry again. Measure. I will probably also hard press it after the first washing and again after the second washing. What I am trying to do is to shrink the fabric to see if that helps the fragility of the weaving caused by the too-wide sett. I will report back.

Meanwhile, I now have no excuse not to start examining the three fabrics for errors to correct and loose ends to cut off.

At the very bottom of the stack, barely visible, is the original yardage. On top of that (blue dominant) is the yardage I wove for trim. On top of that (yellow dominant) is the bit I wove with the same treadling as the trim fabric, but using 10/2 pearl cotton instead of 20/2. The top piece is the little sample I will be doing my washing/drying experiment on.

I do have, by the way, a couple of wool jackets I have made with some long floats. These floats do tend to catch and occasionally break. When they do, I cut them off. With wool this is not such a horrible problem because the wool will kind of stick to itself. Mercerized cotton, on the other hand, is much too slippery to do that. Another sigh.

Crackle with Handspun

Sunday I was still feeling a bit of head cold misery so I spent some lazy time plying some of my singles. I have been getting tired of knitting socks in my odd waiting hours when I am away from the loom (and computer), so had begun thinking of knitting a lace silk scarf or two with some of my handspun. . I thought, if I designed a simple lace pattern, this would be a pleasant change. And so I was motivated to get to work on plying. And I needed something easy and repetitive to do to put me out of my misery.

Normally I truly hate plying. It is boring, boring, boring, and I try desperately to play games to make it more quickly. Yesterday morning, however, it was a pleasant occupation. And I just kind of let my head run wherever it wanted to go.

I was very surprised. My mind started coming up with ideas for weaving with handspun. Weaving crackle with handspun. Clearly I must have been feeling a bit better than I realized. I began to think of the possibility of using two different colors of handspun as pattern wefts. I would then use the same two colors for warp and tabby binders. But these yarns would be silk.

As my mind continued playing with this particular possibility, I realized I already had spun one color of merino I really like, a very deep but heathered blue teal. I have not plied it yet, but when I do, I suspect/hope it will be about fingering weight. So, I thought about getting another merino from same source (link to source) and spinning and plying that.

Later that day I went to my source, Lisa Souza, and found the perfect red. It is called Garnet. You can find the color here. Look under "heathered solids." I ordered it. How soon it will come will depend whether she has it on hand or has to dye it. She is usually quite prompt in filling orders.

Lisa also has a lovely color called Warm Gold. Later I might order a bit of that to use as an occasional spark.

Here is a skein of the yarn I plied yesterday, washed and dried. 330 yards. I have two more bobbins to skein. One should be about 330 yards and the other significantly less.

A while ago, I figured out how much yarn I would need for warp and weft for a scarf roughly 12" wide x 72" long, including fringe. I figured the sett at 10-12 epi. 620 yards to 642 yards were the absolute minimum figures I came up with.

When I spun the singles for this, I came up with one full bobbin and one bobbin a little more than 3/4 full. All of this is helpful information for me in figuring out how much I will need for weaving. The one thing I did not document is how many ounces of fiber this was originally! Next time.....................

The source of the fiber for this yarn was Three Bags Full, sold by The Bellweather. I have their subscription which comes out 4 times a year with the latest samples. It is wonderful stuff and great fun to spin.

Friday, November 16, 2007

8 Crackle Blocks on 4 Shafts Sampling

Having just begun to emerge from the depths of a cold from Hades (my doctor did confirm that it was not the flu), I finally have energy enough to get back to work. I knew I was feeling better when I woke up this morning and found myself beginning to plan my day.

Anyway, I have managed to get the warp on the loom and ready to thread, as you can see in the photo above. The books are there to raise the shafts up to a level where it is comfortable for me thread the heddles. The bottom book is Black's Key to Weaving. The top book is a Spanish cookbook. Well, weavers have to eat as well.

Threading should be a quiet activity, perfect for someone in recovery. I must, however, be extraordinarily vigilant in the threading for I know that right now I am more vulnerable than ever to making mistakes.

Here is the threading:

It is simply the same ascending twill-type threading that I have been talking about recently, but with each threading unit repeated three times. The threading runs for 104 ends.The entire threading is repeated three times. So I have a total of 312 ends.

Well, that's not quite right. Yes, it is repeated three times. But somehow in the stupor of my cold (and yes, I did have a fever), I decided I needed an extra 22 threads, so I wound an extra bout with those number of threads. So now I had a choice. I could either drop those extra ends off at each side and thread the correct number of ends. Or I could add a block of units on each end and use up the extra ends that way. Since I had already wound everything on, I decided to go with the latter.

One thing really gripes me. As I was raddling the ends, many of the deep red ends really seemed much finer than the rest of the ends. Actually, when I started to wind the extra 22 ends I immediately noticed this and I switched to a different red cone. Today I checked. The red cone with the finer ends actually was a cone of 20/2 pearl cotton, not 10/2 pearl cotton. That must have been the cone I used for winding the greater portion of the warp. I would love to know why I didn't notice it when I began making the warp. It was so obvious when I went to make the extra 22 ends and again when I went to put the warp in the raddle.

In any case, another choice was tnow before me: 1) throw away the entire warp and start again; or 2) go on as planned. Since all I was doing was sampling, the first option seemed a bit excessive. I only want to see how this multiple-block crackle on 4 shafts actually works and also if I want to try it on my next silk warp. Also, the idea of alternating thick and thin ends sounds just a bit intriguing. I know it would provide an interesting texture in plain weave, and perhaps in some twill weaves as well. But how would it work in crackle? Do I sound like I am getting intrigued? Do I sound like I might be rationalizing? Do I sound like I still have a bad cold?

Perhaps the name of this blog should be Peg's Weaving Misadventures!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Weaving as Fine Art

I ran across a web site with woven pieces by Adela Akers What she weaves falls under the class of gallery art. Indeed, this excellent website showing some of her things is a gallery in Santa Fe. It is a gallery of crafts, but crafts which have been raised to a level competitive with fine art. And her work hangs in the prestigious Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC and in the Renwick Gallery in New York City. She is also Professor Emeritus of Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia

No, she is not a tapestry weaver. She is a weaver. She does use some unusual materials: horsehair and metallic foil. To learn more about her, go here. And here

Yes, inside of me is the desire to move my weaving into gallery art. Randall Darwall, whose work I greatly admire, elevated the woven scarf into art. Don't miss his beautiful web site. I would like to transform my crackle weaving into something more..........

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

8 Crackle Blocks on 4 Shafts, Continued

Here is another drawdown view of the ascending crackle treadled with no binders. This time, however, I have reduced the size of the drawdown so that it resembles a bit more what the fabric might look like. What has happened, inadvertently, is the beginning of the crackle threading treadled as traditional crackle and not as Summer and Winter at all. But not totally. If you look back at the treadling in the earlier post, there are places where the treadling does alternate rather than repeat. So this is really a mixed-up treadling.

On this next drawdown, I have changed the treadling so that all treadles alternate. First, here is the reduced-size drawdown to give an idea of the fabric:

This is clearly a different beast! This is clearly the beginning of a summer and winter treadling.

And here is a blowup of the draft which shows just that:

I have rearranged the treadles within each treadling block, so that they always alternate.
For a true summer and winter treadling, however, each set of treadles would be alternated repeatedly until that particular block is squared (traditional) or for the desired length of the block (contemporary).

So, I have learned that I need to be careful in picking out the order of the treadles for treadling a threading as drawn in. I need to have decided whether I want a Summer and Winter treadling or a traditional crackle threading. Or perhaps I might just want to be inconsistent……….?

But treadled as traditional crackle or as summer and winter, that binder thread on the opposite shed is always needed.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Making Choices

I love to sing. I have sung alto in church choirs since I was in high school. I also sang alto in a small group (three voices on a part) for over ten years. But in the past two years something remarkable has happened. I have gained confidence in my voice. Thanks to the church choir I now sing in and its director, my voice has improved in quality and power. I love singing more than ever. Over the years I have occasionally thought about voice lessons, but the thought has always quickly fled. Weaving is my passion and I have not been willing to give up any weaving time to something else, no matter how much I might lovethat something else. But not this time. Now the choice seems to be much more difficult.

A year ago our choir worked on a piece with an alto solo. We knew that this one particular week, the director was going to select the soloist. Oh, I wanted that so badly and I sang my heart out. And I was chosen. I was stunned. And I said no. I had to. I knew that in public my voice would not hold up. It would betray me. Saying no broke my heart. But I had to. And the alto I thought should have the part in the first place got it.

This alto and I are friends. She claims my singing inspires her to sing better. I claim just the reverse. She didn't do well on that solo by the way, but I would have done much worse. Now she has been chosen to sing a solo from a Handel piece for Christmas. Oh. And she is taking voice lessons. Oh. She explained to me that she does not want to make a fool of herself. She is very smart. And suddenly I now want, really really want, to take voice lessons.

The choice has suddenly become an urgent reality, not just a passing flight of fancy. I know I would put my heart into those lessons and into the practicing those lessons would require. I know that lessons would improve the quality of my singing and might even allow enough courage to grow in me to sing solo. But I wouldn't have to sing solo. The choir is where I belong.

It is hard to make choices when the heart is so much involved. It is hard to say no to something the heart so intensely desires. Deep down I have already made the choice. Deep down, it is the weaving that pulls me. I need to learn to accept the choice my heart has really made. I need to accept that I will always have to live with singing pulling at me. Deep down I have to learn to accept the great satisfaction choir singing gives me and not ask for more.

Friday, November 9, 2007

8 Crackle Blocks on 4 Shafts

Yesterday I started talking about some of the specifics of my next crackle project, specifically the treadling. I gave the (corrected) threading I planned to use but I also explained some things about the kind of threading I am using. This is a threading that allows you to have 8 crackle blocks on 4 shafts.

Now I have been starting to work out some treadlings. Here is the first treadling, and it is the first treadling that Zielinski discusses as well. The threading I have used here, by the way, is not the threading for my next project, but the simplified threading where each block as only one unit. Zielinski calls it a simple ascending diagonal. The only difference between this threading, however, and the threading that I am using in my project is that in my threading, each unit is repeated three times. So mine, too, will be a simple ascending diagonal, just a bit longer.

Here are the threading, the tie-up, the treadling, and the draw down:

Look at the treadling. If you look at the first treadle, then the 3rd, 5th and ensuing odd treadles, you will see what are called the pattern treadles. These are the treadling as drawn-in treadles.

The first treadle raises shafts 1 and 4 and the third treadle raises shafts 2 and 4. If you then look at the threading, the threading for the first unit is 1,4,2,4. These are the shafts that the first two pattern treadles are raising.

Looking at the next set of pattern treadles (5 and 7), treadle 5 raises shafts 2 and 4 and treadle 7 raises shafts 1 and 2. The threading for the second crackle unit is 4,2,1,2. These are the shafts that the second set of pattern treadles are raising. Note, by the way, that the incidental thread between these two units (the 5th thread, on shaft 1) is not counted in figuring the the pattern treadles.

The remaining six threading units and their treadling follows the same procedure.

But there is a problem. Treadling these pattern treadles creates floats more than 3 threads long. The answer to that, of course, is to treadle the tabbies in between the pattern wefts. This is always the solution in crackle structure. If you look at the tie-up, there they are, treadles 1 and 3 and treadles 2 and 4.

But, there is a catch. These treadles do not raise tabby sheds. Raising treadles 1 and 3 does not raise each and every alternate warp end. Nor does raising treadles 2 and 4. How, then, do we create a binder weft?

The binder weft is created like this. Each time a pattern weft is treadled, the treadle that raises the shafts opposite to the pattern weft shafts is raised. Thus, when shafts 1 and 4 are raised for the first pattern treadle, then the next shafts which are raised are shafts 2 and 3.

Looking at the next pattern treadle: here the pattern treadle is the treadle which raises shafts 2 and 4. This is then followed by the binder treadle which raises shafts 1 and 3.

And this pattern follows through the remaining treadling. Pattern treadle, then binder treadle which raises the opposite shafts.

Here is a simulation of what the fabric would look like. I call it a simulation because I have reduced the size of the drawdown to the point where it looks more like what the fabric would really look like when woven.

Here the areas of floats are more clearly set off from the areas without the floats. The blocks are a bit easier to see here. It is also easier to see that the blocks here are a bit more muddied than they are in ordinary 4-shaft crackle. That, however, is not necessarily an issue for me. In fact, it might possibly enhance my attempts to manipulate color. But only actual weaving will show me how true, if true at all, that is.

Here, to the right, is the same threading, also treadled as drawn in, but without the binding treadles. I did this because I wanted to get an idea of what the fabric would look like if I used a fine thread for the binder threads and a thick thread for the pattern threads. Weaving in this way makes the binder threads practically invisible, so presenting the draw down in this fashion is actually more realistic than just making the pattern threads twice as as long in the draw down.

Eliminating these binder threads, however, has also highlighted something interesting. There are times that the first pattern treadle from one unit is the same pattern treadle from the preceding unit. That this is going to happen actually follows from the threading.

My next step will be to try reversing these orders so that I no longer get two of the same pattern treadles in a row. As long as I keep the two pattern treadles for each unit together, it would not seem to make a difference which order I place them. Then I will see what happens when I put the binding treadles back in.

One thing that is illuminating here is the value of weaving software. It has the ability to bring into focus things that need to be attended to before I actually start the weaving itself.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

I Need a Proofreader

I was a newsletter editor for three years. After the second issue came out, a friend approached me to volunteer herself as a proofreader. I accepted. We are now good friends.

Now I need a threading proofreader! The correction in the last post is of the last threading. This is the threading I plan to use for my next warp. After I posted it, I was looking at the drawdown. Something didn't seem right. I looked at it some more. Was something wrong with the threading? So I went over the threading carefully. Then I studied the drawdown again carefully. The threading now seems to be correct.

I guess it is as easy to make threading errors on paper (or using weaving software) as it to make them when actually threading the heddles!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Next Crackle Project (Corrected)

Why did I change my mind? Why am I putting off the silk warp that I have done so much dye sampling for?

Part of this is, I believe, an unwillingness to get back to 60/2 silk. Much as I love it, it is fine thread and, while rewarding to work with, great patience is required in the dyeing and the warping. What follows may be really an excuse.

Anyway, I was checking out what Zielinski has to say about crackle. I knew he had some thoughts about getting more than four blocks out of only four shafts. So I dug out my Volume 8 of his Master Weaver series. There he explains how he has developed an 8-block crackle threading from something called a double diagonal twill. He discusses this particular twill in a volume of the Master Weaver series that I do not have. But he does here give us the threading for that structure:

Here it helps to remember that crackle threading is based on a point twill. Here are the usual four units but without the accidentals. The point twill basis is obvious here.

The point twill basis is not obvious in the double diagonal twill, but when he combines these units to create crackle blocks, the relationship to point twill becomes much clearer. And here are the individual 8 crackle blocks, again without the accidentals. Somehow it did not come through very clear but it is readable.

I have clearly left out much of Zielinski's thinking process here. What he is doing is joining the threads of the double diagonal twill threading in such a way that crackle blocks are created. Looking at the first threading unit on the left, he has joined together the first three threads of the double diagonal twill threading so that it forms one block. In other words he has put together first 1 and 4 and then he has put together 4 and 2. But that would create an impossible threading: 1,4,4,2. To correct this he has reversed the 4 and the 2. The resulting threading block is then 1,4,2,4. To read more of his explanations, check out pages 47ff in volume 8 of the Master Weaver series. One of the places this series is available, by the way, is Camilla Valley Farms.

And here is the threading I am going to use. It is nothing fancy. It is just each of the threading blocks repeated three times.

I will repeat this group of threads three times.

I am really excited to see the weaving possibilities for this threading. There will be issues, because no plain weave is possible. But I think exploring this will be fun.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Off the Loom but not Finished

The fabric is off the loom, and waiting....... The first and main yardage is, as I was beginning to guess, a bit sleazy. The reason for this is that the sett was for plain weave but the treadling was really a twill treadling. Twill treadlings require a closer sett than plain weave treadling. The photo does show how nicely it drapes, even unfinished, but it does not show the sleaziness of the fabric. I am hoping that washing and pressing will help reduce that. I'm sure it can be made up into the jacket that I planned.

The second yardage, designed for trim, is nice, not at all sleazy. It is woven on opposites. It is in essence a plain weave. The sett, really a rather firm sett, seems to have been just right. Washing and pressing will reveal the truth of this.

The colors are a little strange on the photo of this last sampling. I guess I was losing patience..........As in the second yardage, this sampling is not sleazy. However, it is a bit firmer and thicker than the second yardage. The fabric's resistance to draping seems quite clear. It is treadled in the same way as that yardage--on opposites. But instead of the 20/2 mercerized cotton, I used 10/2 mercerized cotton. The 10/2 is twice as thick. Perhaps a slightly looser sett was in order there? Only sampling would really tell the truth of that. But again, washing and pressing might change some things here.

So now I am ready to finish the fabric.

But first, there is the loom to clean up. Things to put away. Dusting to be done. Vacuuming to be done. Then my weaving space will be bright and clean and ready for work.

Then there is the machine zigzagging to do on the fabric to keep the ends from ravelling. But then comes one of my unfavorite activities: checking both sides of all three pieces for errors. In unrolling it off the loom I noticed one place which is probably a treadling error. Regularly long lengths of yellow weft appear across the width in one shot. Can this be mended? We shall see. In any case, I have a new warp to put on, so I can always take my time with the checking and re-weaving........ I'm fairly good at procrastinating.

Then there is the measuring. Lengths and widths.

Then comes the washing and then the pressing. And more measuring.

All in all, I am not unhappy with what the loom has produced. One way I can tell is that I am suddenly getting inspired to get the details of the next silk warp in order so that I can start the dyeing, so that I can make the warp, so that I can weave..........

However, the next warp is still going to be the dark red 10/2 mercerized cotton warp. I am much too curious about what that is going to teach me.

End-of-Loom Weaving

What happened at the end of the warp is not an unusual occurrence. The bar had come over the back. As I was weaving I heard these funny dull snapping sounds when I pulled the beater towards the fell. And then the whole warp broke loose. What had happened was that one by one, the cotton string I had used to tie the warp rod to the back apron rod had broken. I weave at very high tension. That string was just not strong enough.

I could have just stopped weaving, but I had a bit more yarn left. So I thought I would fix it up and continue weaving. I got some heavier cotton cord and tied the two rods back together. But only in three places. One I tied in the middle and the other two on the ends. What then was revealed was that bad left side (as I sit on the bench), the 10-15 warp ends that were looser than the rest of the warp. They had plagued me for a bit at the beginning. Well, now they were really looser. So I tied some weights on them.

I continued to weave. I could still weave with fairly high tension, but a notch below what I had been weaving at. So I had to do a lot of strumming of the left side of the warp, to get the warp ends that were supposed to go down to actually go down. But it worked. And then...................

I didn't have very much weft yarn left. I called it a day.

On the next warp, I will use Leigh's trick of putting two rulers between the beater and the front beam. Then I have something to rest the front rods on while I lash the warp onto the front rod. I will also try something a bit different with the knot on the lashing cord on the left side. I wish me luck!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Creative Intelligence and Weaving

In a recent email, artist and writer Robert Genn discussed something he calls "Creative Intelligence." He considers that for an artist to succeed, he needs this kind of intelligence. When he listed some of the traits he associates with CI (as Genn calls it for short), two traits seemed particularly interesting to me. First, artists with creative intelligence know "how to control the medium." But second, they also know "how to let the medium control the art.

In my work with crackle I have been talking quite a bit about my exploits in learning to understand the structure. Only by understanding crackle can I learn how to manipulate it to the ends I want to. And manipulating the structure has been what I have been about. Or so I thought.

But the crackle structure also controls what I create. The structure has possibilities and limitations. It has possibilities for exploiting color that plain weave (and other structures) does not allow, for example. I can do things with color I cannot do with these other structures. On the other hand, there are things I cannot do with crackle that I can with plain weave (or with other structures). So, while crackle gives me what seem to be almost endless possibilities for exploiting color, it also restricts what I can do. I cannot, for example, weave a tapestry, or at least a traditional tapestry.

There is a push and pull here and it is in working within this push and pull that ideas can arrive.

But Genn is suggesting something a bit more subtle. And this is what I am struggling to understand. He says that the creatively intelligent artist knows "how to let the medium control the art." It is the notion of knowing how to let the medium do the controlling that is intriguing.

It would seem, then, that the artist/weaver needs to be in control of the medium/structure, in control to the point that he actually controls the medium's controlling. This is worth thinking about...

For Genn's entire piece, including comments, go here.

Next Crackle Warp

The next crackle warp is not going to be the silk warp that I have been dyeing the samples for. Instead, it is going to be another cotton warp. This time the warp is 10/2 pearl cotton.

Here are the colors: a deep slightly blued red and a deep reddish orange. I have wound the bouts, alternating one end of the red with one end of the orange. These are colors I had. I thought this might be interesting.

So yes, the warp is made. But no, the current crackle warp is not yet off the loom. Still those last five or six inches to weave off. But now that I am ready with the next warp, I am motivated to finish up weaving the current warp.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Colors for Silk Crackle Warp

This is a picture of the colors I am thinking of using on the next silk crackle warp. On the left are two versions of the major color: blue. Then there is a series of neutrals which will make up the greatest area. And the last two colors are sparks that will be used much less frequently. Also, I want to work in a tiny bit of black.

The colors here come from the yarn wrappings I made from the dye samples. I have a screen capture program called Snag-It. I went to the photos of the yarn wrappings and used Snag-It to capture each of the colors I wanted. Each color I captured I pasted into a Word Perfect document. When I was done, I could manipulate each capture to get the size I wanted and arrange it on the page where I wanted. When I had them all lined up the way I wanted them and the size I wanted them, I used Snag-It to capture the group and saved it as a png file. It is that png file that is the picture at the top of the page.

The colors are relatively accurate. But what I like about the resulting montage is the lack of flatness in the colors. If I had simply pulled pure colors out of Paint Shop Pro and created a montage like that above, the colors might have been "prettier" but they would have lacked the interest that the yarns show.

I had fun doing this (maybe too much fun?!). I could play with the arrangement by changing the proportions. I could make copies of some of the colors and add them to the montage. I could create a picture of what I would like the entire width of the warp to look like. I could change the png file to a PaintShopPro file and play with it there. I could try some of the neat stuff that Karen Madigan has done. One example is here. But check elsewhere in her blog for other neat stuff she had done with computer software.

I am too easily seduced by the computer.

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.