Friday, January 30, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

I am definitely mathematically challenged so that I should be using the above words in a blog title is nutty.  How did such a thing happen to someone who has trouble adding 7 and 13?

I found a blog. Nigel’s Weaving Blog. I found this blog because I read Dorothy’s wonderful blog.  And Dorothy recently mentioned another blogger and linked to it.  I followed the link.  I skimmed through a few posts and realized that this was a blog to be reckoned with.

I have now started reading Nigel’s past posts more carefully. 

The post that has stopped me dead in my tracks is called “Two Workshop Sessions.”   Go here to read it.  A musician and composer, Nigel describes how he uses binary sequences in composing music. 

I have studied music.  I have even studied composing.  It is not hard for me to follow what he is doing with binary sequences in music.  But weaving? 

Here is what he says about using 4-bit patterns in composing music:

I use 8-bit binary sequences to create rhythmic patterns in the music I compose. I have a library of 4, 8 and 16-bit patterns such as this example from a 4-bit pattern: 1000, 1100, 1111 etc. I then decide how many different patterns I want for a particular phrase or section and how many occurences. I can even build a template like this; a a a b  a b a b and the library system picks a sequence of binary patterns such as: 1000, 1000, 1000, 1101,1000, 1101, 1000.

It is easiest for me to think first in terms of stripes.  A binary system is a system involving 2 units.  So I will work with 2 colors:  B(blue)and BG(blue-green). And I will say that each unit is 1/2” long. So I could do something as follows in designing stripes:

1000 (sequence a)
1/2” B
1 1/2” BG  (3 units x 1/2”)
1100 (sequence b)
1” B
1” BG
1111 (sequence c)
2” BG

And then I would just repeat this.  I think it would be quite pleasing.

Or I could do something a bit more complex. Instead of just having one sequence follow the other, I could vary the final design through repetition and changing the order of these three sequences. To do this, I could create a template, much as Nigel created one.  Since I have three color sequences, the template would be built on a, b and c, a separate letter for each sequence.  I will use this as a template:  a a a b c c b b.

The stripe sequence would then look like this:

(1/2” B + 1 1/2” BG) repeated 3x (a)
1” B + 1 1/2” BG (b)
2” BG x 2 = 4” BG (c)
(1” B + 1” BG) repeated 2x (b)

I made the template up with no particular reason.  I could have used one of the formulas from Dietz’ monograph, “Algebraic Expressions in Handwoven Textiles.”  But that would be a lot more complicated, and right now I am trying to stay with something a little simpler.

Also, there is no reason I couldn’t use different colors in each of the binary sequences. I could use two different colors in each of the sequences.  Or use one color from one sequence + one new color.

Using longer rhythmic patterns and/or more rhythmic patterns, using more colors, using complex templates, well, the possibilities are mind-boggling.


Dietz’ monograph is available for free download here. A very good article by Lana Schneider on the subject is available here.

I found an interesting web page called “An Introduction to Binary Arithmetic.”  I also found an interesting discussion of Pascal’s triangle here.  This discussion suggests several possibilities for using math in weaving.

Related Post:  Designing and Mathematics

"Binary Sequences and Designing" was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on January 30, 2009. ©2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

At least one person caught the second clue:  the label at the bottom.  Yes, four-shaft crackle.  I am weaving it with two colors.  This means three shuttles, since the tabby is required.  I weave the blocks by alternating first treadles 1 and 2, then 2 and 3, then 3 and 4, and finally 4 and 1.  This obviously gives a twill order to the blocks---a diagonal line.

4 shaft crackle from side on loom Forgetting the weird thing my camera did with the fine red tabby threads in the photo, I don’t particularly like what I see on the loom.  I used the red for tabby on purpose because one of my questions is what would happen if I used a contrasting weft for tabby.  Right now I don’t like it but I don’t know what will happen when I wash and full it.  I am trusting that I will like it enough to send off to the Complex Weavers’ Crackle Study Group exchange in March.  Yes, I have decided to weave this for the rest of the warp.  That should give me enough length for the samples I will need.

So far, washing and fulling wool samples has in general produced results I quite liked.  If I hate the results I may still send the samples in as the results of a “learning experience……..”

Will I return to weaving crackle with wool?  Will I return to weaving crackle with thick yarns?  I do not know.  But when I am done with this, I will have a base from which to start if and when I decide to try some more.  But I would first have to answer the question:  why?

Why would I move from fine silk to heavy wool?

One answer would be the desire to weave crackle in a much larger format.  But that simply brings up another question:  why would I want to do that?  I am very happy weaving crackle with 60/2 silk.  It is the difference between painting with a very fine water oil brush and painting with a large one.  Painting with a large brush needs a large canvas;  a small brush needs a small canvas.  Large brushes are bold;  small brushes are more subtle.  Not that there can’t be boldness or subtlety in both approaches;  it is the basic approach that is different.  I like the intimacy of a small canvas.

On the other hand, I do like the softness, the fuzziness of wool.  This is one reason I miss living in the north.  This is probably why most of what I spin is wool, despite the fact that I live in South Carolina. So the chances are that I might turn to wool, but it would probably be fine wool.

Related Post:  A New Threading: More Sampling

"Four-Shaft Crackle" was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on January 29, 2009. ©2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

cracl;e treadled twill order from a distance I took this photo and zoomed way out. Then I copied it and treated it as a separate photo. I wanted to get some idea of what this will look like as fabric when it is off the loom….when it is no longer window screening.

Can you guess the structure?


Perhaps this photo might make it easier to figure out the structure.

crackle treadled in twill sequence

A clue:  the thin red threads are tabby threads.

P.S.  I’m not sure I could guess the structure on the basis of these photos!  It’s not the photos per se that is the problem.  It is the change of warp colors from blue to light gray back to blue again.

"A New Threading: More Sampling" was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on January 28, 2009. ©2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina


Janice Zindel (of Shuttleworks Studio) and I have been having an all-too-brief discussion in the comments section of her recent post called “Simple Towels. The discussion started with my comment on her artist statement. To read her statement, check out the sidebar on her blog.

To my recollection, this is the first weaving blog I have seen that contains an artist statement. I was impressed by it. And I have now begun to think about writing one for my blog.

Though this was not the reason behind its creation, she explained that she has found this statement very helpful because writing it caused her to “…define the kind of weaving I enjoy doing most….” Having there up front “….helps keep me focused on that.”


What happens without focus? In Janice’s words,

It's so easy to be "all over the map," trying everything that catches our eye.

Anyone who has read my blog for any length of time knows that I have a very definite focus: crackle. Crackle for me offers what seems to be endless possibility for playing with color and with the combining of color with other elements of design. I have worked with crackle for perhaps two years now, and I still feel as though I am only scratching the surface.

At the same time, I feel that my weaving has become greatly enriched by this focus and that is so rewarding that how can I not continue this study?


Crackle is a structure. There are all sorts of structures one could choose from. Crackle chose me a long time ago in the first workshop I ever took as a beginning weaver. I didn’t have a clue about what was going on when I wove on that crackle sample in the workshop. What I did sense was the possibilities it held for the exploration of color. And what I did know is that, when I had learned more about the craft of weaving in general, I would come back to crackle.


There are all sorts of interesting structures one could focus on. Sara Lamb and Bonnie Tarses have focused on plain weave. At the opposite extreme, Alice Schlein focuses on jacquard weaving. Investigating the learning opportunities that Complex Weavers offer shows groups studying double weave, crackle, lace weave, jacquard, tied weaves, and group that picks a particular structure each year for study.


But the kind of focus that Janice (and I) are talking about does not have to be a focus on structure. Janice is focusing on something which I would define as elegant simplicity. The structure can be anything. It is the final outcome of elegant simplicity that is desired. And often elegant simplicity does require complex means.

Again, turning to the Complex Weavers website, I find some of the following areas of focus: weaving with beads, weaving fabric for garments, collapse weave, ecclesiastical weaving, weaving with fine threads, gauze weaving. I learned recently that there had been a group, now defunct, on mathematics in weaving. I wish that group would start up again!


Also, anyone who has read my blog for any length of time also knows that I do weave in structures other than crackle. Usually that structure is a simple twill, but sometimes it is a lace weave, as in the current canvas weaving samples. And I have just recently been playing with shadow weave. And you would also know that I move away from the fine threads I use with crackle. Doing this gives me much needed refreshment. It is not that I tire of crackle; it is that I recognize that I am a person who does have to give a little to that urge to try everything that catches my eye, to paraphrase Janice’s words from above. For me, that is as much of a necessity as the need to focus.

And this seems to be true of other weavers with an intense focus also. Sara sometimes weaves twills. Bonnie, for example, has recently woven an elegantly neutral scarf. Alice, that most complex of complex weavers, also weaves on a rigid heddle loom.


I notice now that another weaver/blogger appears to be thinking about focus. Check out Dorothy’s latest post: Plain Weaves with Quality Threads. I can hardly wait to see where she is going!


I don’t know that I will ever get an artist’s statement written. It’s probably one of those things that I would like to do, that I think is a good idea, but will somehow just not find the time.

Related Post:
Why Crackle?
I Learn (a Little) about Crackle
Focus: A Postscript

"Focus" was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on January 27, 2009. ©2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina

Monday, January 26, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

Another shadow weave sample Here is a photo of the fabric that I wove on the loom. At the very bottom, the original mess created with the wrong tie up is visible. After that, the weaving is on the corrected tie up. There are a few clear treadling errors.






And here is a photo of the same fabric, off the loom and fulled. It looks just a bit different…….



Now, if you don’t know what shadow weave is supposed to look like, check on the example in this recent blog post of the Weaving Discussion Group, Weave Meeting January 20.  Scroll a little over half way down to find the example, but do enjoy the rest of the post as well.

Back to my second photo. Despite those treadling errors, however,  a glimmer of the shadow weave effect is visible in the diagonal lines.  You can even see it in the earlier photo of the fabric still on the loom, but it is much more pronounced with the fabric off the loom and fulled.

These diagonal lines are different in the parts woven with the correct tie up.  These different lines result from different treadlings. 

I have done now what I have wanted to do for a long time.  I have wanted to see what would happen if I threaded shadow weave on a plain color but wove it with two colors.

This is the first time that I have had an easy warp to rethread, plus two colors to work with.  So  jumped at the chance.  Doing this does create an interesting effect.  Not one, however, that I want to use for the final shawl.

"Shadow Weave Continued" was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on January 26, 2009. ©2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina

Friday, January 23, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

But to understand how the tie-up went wrong, I need to explain that this is a shadow weave threading. For those of you familiar with shadow weave, I know that sample did not look anything like shadow weave. I will get to that later. Just accept that this is a shadow weave threading I am now working on.

I knew shadow weave was not a structure. It is a threading, not a structure. Its structure, I had thought, was plain weave. I looked at the tie up I had been using. It was the traditional 4-shaft twill tie-up of 1-2, 2-3, 3-4, 1-4. What on earth was I thinking?! No way was I going to get plain weave with that tie up.

An aside. I’ve always had trouble understanding tie-ups. I have had it explained to me. I have heard lectures about designing in the tie-up. I just didn’t understand. Now, for the first time, I think I am just beginning to grasp the concept.

I looked at my source* for this threading and studied more carefully the tie-up. This is not as easy as it sounds. The book is not transparent. It requires work to figure out threading, tie-up and treadling. One could say it is written in its own kind of code. I looked at some of my other books, but there is precious little written on shadow weave so I was left with trying to work out the code. I had done so with the threading and the treadling. The tie-up was my Waterloo. All I knew was that a twill-tie up would not work. But neither would a plain weave tie-up.

After much frustration, I finally navigated the code. The tie-up was supposed to be 1-3, 2-4, 2-3, 1-4. Well, that helped a lot but it still didn’t make a total sense. How would this tie up yield plain weave on a shadow weave threading?

Something echoed in my head: shadow weave is BASED on plain weave………… That is very different from saying something IS plain weave. I was an English major…….once upon a time……..long ago. Finally I understood the tie-up. The first two tie-ups (1-3 and 2-4) do produce plain weave. I didn’t try it but I knew that just a plain weave tie-up would result in just as much of a mess as the standard twill tie-up did. Something more was still needed.

That something more is a tie-up that allows the weaver to treadle opposites: 2-3 and 1-4. The result is not plain weave but a structure very similar to plain weave except for its occasional short floats in warp and weft. And it is those floats which produce (when both warp and weft alternate colors) the shadow weave effect.

wrong and right This photo of the fabric still on the loom shows what happens 1) at the bottom with the wrong tie-up and the resulting too-long overshots; and 2) at the top with the correct tie-up and plain weave with very short overshots.

More to come........

*My source is Marian Powell, 1000(+) Patterns in 4, 6, and 8-Harness Shadow Weaves. Yes, the book is written in its own kind of code. I have used it a couple of times before and each time I have tried to figure it out all over again, just as I had to this time. But it is an invaluable book. It has all those patterns, but it also has photos of all those patterns. Each threading, moreover, has many treadling possibilities, and the photos show that as well. So for anyone interested in shadow weave, I cannot recommend the book too highly.

"The Tie-up Was Wrong" was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on January 23, 2009. ©2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

what is wrong here This is the first weaving on the new threading and tie-up. What a mess. What went wrong? Pay no attention to the red threads at the bottom of the weaving. That is simply thin cotton yarn I wove in to get the warp ends aligned properly.

"What is Wrong with this Picture?" was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on January 22, 2009. ©2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

While I was processing the canvas weaving samples, I worked out the threading for the next set of samples and prepared the loom for its new threading.

When I cut the canvas weave samples off the loom, I left plenty of warp yarn at the front to make it easy to re-rethread the heddles.  But as I was cutting and tying slip knots I suddenly thought, oh my gosh, I have no cross!  A moment of silent panic. 

Loom ready for rethreading But I did have the cross. The lease sticks were still there holding the cross.  But they were at the back of the loom, as you can see in the photo. They are being held there by “angel wings,” a neat little tool made by Purrington Looms. What I had not done was to remove the lease sticks from the angel wings and move them from the back of the loom up close to the heddles. 

With the tension totally released,  moving those lease sticks forward would be extraordinarily difficult. But then I tested and learned that I could still pick the cross from the lease sticks in order to thread.  It will just mean a little standing and sitting in order to see what I am doing.  But it is a narrow warp, thick yarn and a wide epi, so picking out the ends from the lease sticks will not be all that difficult.

Before I cut off the woven fabric and the warp was till under tension, I should have removed the lease sticks from their angel wings and brought them up to the heddles.  Will I remember this when I cut off again for another new threading…….?

Related Post:   Getting Ready to Thread

"Preparing for Next Sampling" was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on January 21, 2009. ©2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

I couldn’t wait for the washing machine to be returned.  I soaked the samples in very hot water with a bit of Johnson’s baby shampoo for 45 minutes.  Then I squeezed and churned them for a few minutes with my hands.  I rinsed them twice, each time squeezing and churning them a bit more.  The last rinse was in cold water—to shock the cloth just a bit more. 

No more window screening! 

They are fulled and soft.  Most have a great deal of nice texture.  But the texture inhibits the drapeability and so are not really suitable for the shawl I am planning. However, my handspun is more airy than this wool, and I am taking that into consideration in my decision.

Canvas Weave Sample 1

This sampling is the group that I beat to death.  It did turn out soft but very heavy.  This would have its uses—think upholstery.  Not meant for a shawl or scarf.







The second photo is of the first half of the more softly beaten group of

Canvas Weave Sample 3

samples.  There is nothing here that I am particularly fond of for the shawl that I am planning.  I don’t care for the color effects and the fabric is still quite heavy.  It would be very very warm!



Canvas Weave Sample 2 The samples in this third photo do have some promise.  The bottom group of samples consists of a number of rows of pseudo plain weave followed by a double overshot.  This group drapes nicely, is the right weight, but I don’t like them.  Mostly I don’t like the way the colors interact.

In the middle, however, is a sample I really like.  It is woven with white weft.  I like how the weft appears both on the white and on the blue. I also like a bit the sample below it.  It is treadled slightly differently, with blue weft, and has kind of a quirky basket-weave effect that I like. I like the color effects in both: when the blue and light gray combine, I like that the two colors seem to appear in non-equal amounts.  That is true of the sample at the top as well.  

So I am thinking right now that I like that white on blue and I think I might like the identical treadling with blue on white.  So I could envision the shawl as either all one color warp with a different color weft.  Or I could envision it as large blocks of color.

Meanwhile I’m off on a new threading. 

And I have ordered the silk yarn for the next crackle shawl, a project that is coming up quickly but needs more thinking and planning to be followed by more dyeing.

To learn a bit more about how to full woven (or knitted) fabric, go to this essay on All Fiber Arts.  To learn quite a bit on the history of fulling, go to this essay on Wikipedia.

"No More Window Screening" was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on January 20, 2009. ©2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina

Monday, January 19, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

Burnt oranges

A book I recently purchased is called Confident Color: An Artist’s Guide to Harmony, Contrast and Unity, by Nita Leland. I have enjoyed her earlier work and now am finding this book to be quite interesting. Or at least I find that it stimulates my thinking about what I might do with color in weaving. It is probably the photos in the book that are most important, but they are in the context of commentary, which is also helpful.

The picture at the top of this post I created in Paint Shop Pro, using a picture on page 44 as my inspiration. I used two processes. First I created the various squares and rectangles (but not the yellow not the little red square at the top right) with the rectangle tool and filled them with various colors using the flood fill tool. Then I did some blurring and applied some filters. Last I put in the yellow thin rectangle with its square at the end and then the dark red tiny little square at the top.

What is here is far less subtle than what is in the inspiring photo, but it gives me the general idea. The major issue, which I see only now since I have inserted it into this post, is that the yellow line should be farther down. There should also be a bit more pure black.

Despite the limitations of this interpretation, I still like it and think it would be possible to create a piece based on this idea. Not a literal interpretation, any more than this is a literal interpretation of the piece in Leland’s book.

What I am taken with is the use and placement of yellow and dark red. It could work in an art piece, but I think it could also work in fabric meant to be worn or used in furnishing. That would require repetition. But I would like to try it with crackle and see what I can do.

Here is one attempt with my weaving software:

Crackle interpretation

The visual effect is far too much of a plaid and also the background colors are too spotty. The only colors which I want to stand out sharply are the black warp stripes and the bright red and yellow weft stripes. It is difficult for me to get this in the weaving software. But I could do better.

Of course, I have some other irons in the fire to deal with first.

"Playing with Color" was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on January 19, 2009. ©2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

Sample Weaving almost done Here are the last three samples I wove.  In the first picture is what I would consider the traditional canvas weave treadling.  In the bottom I have used blue for the overshot wefts and light gray for the pseudo-tabby.  On the top I have reversed the colors.

The second picture is the same treadling but here the colors are split up with a shot of blue and a shot of light gray both in the overshot and also in the pseudo-tabby.Last of the sampling

My source for most of these treadlings has been from The Handweaver’s Pattern Directory by Anne Dixon.  Also helpful has been Donna Muller’s Handwoven Laces. Muller’s book has been especially helpful for helping me understand the structure of 8-shaft canvas weave and so in convincing me that 4-shaft canvas is what I really wanted, not 8-shaft. 

Now what I have woven comes off the loom to be wet-finished.  And then what?

I  had thought of tying on a very short warp of the handspun, enough to give me maybe 6” of width.  But then I decided against it. I have to admit that my laziness is cutting in here.  But it is not just laziness.  I want to use every last bit of the handspun I have for the shawl.

Tying on a narrow bit of the handspun would be the prudent way to go. But I am going to take the risk of not doing it.

Unless the washing reveals something new about the fabric, I am either going to use the red-orange for the warp and weave with the dark green, or bands of red-orange and dark green and weave with both colors.

Which treadling will I use?  I won’t make a decision until after I wash these samples.  And then I will use the beginning of the handspun warp to sample just a bit.

What about all the remaining warp on the loom?  Tune in later and find out!

"Canvas Weave Sampling Done" was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on January 17, 2009. ©2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina

Friday, January 16, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

On Creativity – Tien’s Blog

Tien published her post the day after I published mine (Freeing the Creative Spirit).  I wrote mine in response to a post by Meg.  Tien wrote hers in response to an email.  I like her focus on what she calls “doing,”  that creativity is a doing, but it is a doing with a goal, using a particular medium and requiring technical skill.  Well, she really didn’t say technical skill, she used the work “mastery.”  I prefer technical skill because it allows those of us who have not mastered the techniques the ability to be creative.  But the implication is clear, especially as she gets into her subject in more detail, that greater technical skills foster the possibility of more creative work. 

One thing Tien does not mention.  It is an obvious part of her excellent work.  And I think it is an essential(?) attribute for an artist.  Intensity of focus.  Tien herself is very intense.  But the intensity is strongly focused, not just on weaving, but on the particular aspect of weaving that most interests her right now. 

Four Excellent Questions – The Painter’s Keys

This arrived in my mailbox the day after Tien’s blog.  Perhaps there is something in the water?

Thinking about the Edges – t’katch

Cally’s post about selvedges quite moved me.  It is a beautifully written brief essay about her own struggle with selvedges.  The combination of transparency and beautiful writing is hard to beat.

Colours – Theory and Practice – Dot’s Fibre to Fabric

This is a wonderful post on color with a discussion of many books I am NOT NOT NOT going to buy………sob, tempting as they might be.   I am NOT NOT NOT going to buy the books she mentions that I do not own...NOT NOT NOT......sob. 

Dorothy has trouble with color rules.  I do too. So often the rules just do not work.

I also have trouble with color theories because they really don’t help me. 

What has helped me immensely is a series of dye experiments I engaged which involved gradation dyeing from opposite or near opposite sides of the color wheel.  These experiments opened my eyes to all the wonderful wonderful colors in between the pure colors (and NONE of them is mud—they are all glorious, especially on silk—or maybe it’s the silk that makes them all glorious?!).  These experiments helped me understand at a much deeper level how colors work together.

I am actually not done with these experiments.  Reading Dorothy’s post is reviving the itch to get back and do more.

Right now an issue for me is how to use white in a weaving where brilliant and/or rich colors dominate.  I see white beautifully used in paintings using rich colors.  But every time I try to figure out how to incorporate that into weaving, I draw a blank. I simply cannot see how to make it work.

"Recent Blog Posts of Interest" was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on January 16, 2009. ©2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

Sanoke weaving 4th attemptSampling continues.  Here my selvedges have improved considerably because I reduced the weft tension in my Bluster Bay shuttle (photo to the right) so that the shuttle went over only one Bluster Bay Shuttle hook instead of two.  For some perspective on this, when I weave with fine silk, I thread the weft yarn over four hooks.

One problem does occur, however, when the overshots occur over the selvedge edge of a sample, even with floating selvedges. It’s not all that clear in the photo, but there is really excessive looseness of the weft at the selvedges. This happens in the top sample, the sample treadled with light gray weft.

The best solution for that seems to be to have a bit of plain weave threaded at the selvedges.  It won’t be true plain weave because of the doubled warp ends.  But it will be close enough to control better what could be very messy selvedges.

Or alternatively, I could take advantage of the fact that I have four empty shafts (grin!) and thread those to genuine plain weave.  I  have not yet tried this with my 8-shaft loom.  Indeed, being able to do that is one reason I justified the purchase of an 8-shaft loom.  So perhaps the time is come.

Sample Weaving 5th attempt

Again, the selvedges have improved greatly with the change in threading the shuttle hooks. But the messy selvedge issue is clear on the bottom sample of this next photo as well, though not as bad as in the first photo.

Also, the samples at the bottom and top are, despite their have been beaten just as softly as the rest, definitely weft-dominant.  The middle fabric is less so.

One thing I am learning is that I rarely like blue warp with light gray weft.  But I like the reverse.  This might suggest that I would like a red warp with dark green weft.  In at least some of the samples, that would create an effect of over-all dark green with red peeking through.  At least that is what I am currently guessing.

Related Post:  Weaving with Multiple Shuttles

"More Canvas Weave" was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on January 15, 2009. ©2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

Meg wrote about this topic near the end of last year. This is how she began her post:

“Which brings me to this point I've been thinking for a while. You know there is this big movement, most vocally in the Julia Cameron/New Age/Oprah universe, to free ourselves from constraints and let the Artist do as s/he pleases. Gazillion writers have called it by gazillion different names, but you know what I mean. Follow the muse; that kind of thing.”

Go here to read her entire post.

This kind of thinking that Meg is talking about here always upsets me. Yes, in my search for I-don’t-know-what, I have read lots of this stuff, including most of Julia Cameron’s books. And I have come to the following conclusion: this notion of creativity is terribly misleading.

Constraints are part of the game of life and no one can do what he/she pleases. Peak experiences, visions, great art, none of these comes without much preparation. Even that child-genius Mozart spent many long arduous hours studying under his task-master father before he published anything, and the first pieces he published are all imitations.

Read Geoff Colvin’s Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else. Colvin is writing for the business world, but his book is must-reading for anyone interested in creativity at any level and in any area. Reading this book is the best antidote to the Cameron/New Age/Oprah fantasy that I can think of.

Related Posts:
Aiming for Excellence
Creative Intelligence and Weaving
Some Interesting Blog Posts
Weaving Resolutions for the New Year

"Freeing the Creative Spirit" was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on January 14, 2009. ©2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina


Next I wove with the same treadlings I had on the first set of samples but with a difference: I did not beat the warp to death.  This time, as in the second set, I gently pressed and then carefully squeezed the beater.  So these samples look (and feel) much different from the original first set.

One of the issues was how hard to squeeze those overshot threads which are thrown twice in the same shed.  I decided to barely place the first shot, then throw the second shot and barely place it.  Then I treadled the next treadle and pressed and squeezed the beater until those doubled threads seemed to be where I thought they needed to be.

Beat this way, the bottom sample with blue weft measured 8 picks per inch;  the top sample with gray weft measured 9 picks per inch. In counting the picks I counted the doubled wefts as 2 picks.

These samples seem much more promising.  But again, only removal from the loom and washing will tell the full story.


Normally when I photograph my weavings I have the bright colors settings on.  But photographing these blue and gray wools have given me trouble. The only way I could get close to the right color was to turn off all the color settings. Even so the colors were still too bright.

So today I decided to play with the software as well.  The result is much closer to the real thing.

Sample Weaving Continued daylight setting But I took another photograph as well.  I had no lights turned on when I took the photo at the left, only the ambient light available from bright sunlight coming through the windows.  So I decided to try a daylight setting and a cloudy daylight setting.  With the cloudy daylight setting, this is what I got.  I almost didn’t take the picture when I saw it on the LCD screen because it seemed so wrong.  Then I looked at the fabric.  I was surprised to see that actually, right then, with the fabric at the distance it was from my eyes, these were pretty close to the colors I actually saw!  Color is definitely magical.

Related Posts:
Window Screening
Discouraged But Not Totally

"Window Screening Continued" was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on January 13, 2009. © 2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina

Monday, January 12, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

My second attempt proves to have a great deal more promise than my first Sample Weaving second attempt attempt.  I wove the same thing twice:  once with light gray and once with blue.  I watched the little empty squares between the warp and the weft.  I tried to make those spaces square. Clicking on the photo will enlarge it and reveal those spaces even more clearly.

I decided to weave a lot more of the “plain weave.”  It’s not true plain weave.  Note the doubled warp ends.  But I knew doing that would make it easier for me to read what was happening.

In the first attempt, with gray weft, the picks per inch were 7.  Almost square and the warp sett at 8 epi.  I was clearly moving in the right direction. 

When I started with the blue weft I concentrated very hard. I didn’t settle the weft in for its final placement until I changed the shed.  Then I pulled on the beater ever so slightly more.  For me, unused as I am to this kind of weaving, my concentration was fiercely intense.  But I won!   8 ppi!

The fabric looks better.  It feels better.  It is still coarse, but that will disappear in the washing.  The yarns now have plenty of room to expand and soften.

But before I cut this sampling off for washing I want to weave another sample, but this time with the overshots close together, as on that first sampling, but still keeping the plain weave shots open as they are here.

Related Post:  Discouraged But Not Totally

"Window Screening" was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on January 12, 2009. © 2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina

Friday, January 9, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

The warp is on the loom for the handspun shawl sampling. For probably Sample Weaving Starats the first time, I threaded the loom without any tools. Why? None of my tools satisfactorily grabbed onto this heaviesh yarn. Being right-handed, that was the first way I tried it. Didn’t work because everything seemed to get in the way. Working left-handed, however, did work quite nicely. I tend to be slightly ambidextrous. I cannot write well with my left hand, but I do use it for other tasks. Fingers, however, will not be my tool of choice for threading 60/2 silk!

The photo shows that I have made a start. But I am not happy. Not at all.

First, the warp consists of two panels of blue on the outside and a slightly larger panel of light gray on the inside. When I weave with blue weft, the gray warp in the center is barely visible. When i weave with the gray weft, the blue warps are barely visible.

What is more, the feel of the fabric is just awful: thick and rough. Coarse. I immediately thought about trying a new threading—something like huck lace or Bronson lace. Then I remembered my tendency to beat wool to death. And the way the colors have occurred in the weaving, I am clearly beating a weft-dominant fabric. I don’t want a weft-dominant fabric.

It is so very hard for me to beat wool softly, loosely, so that it truly looks like window screening while it is on the loom. So that, in short, it looks like something the cat dragged in and I’d just as soon she get out promptly. Beating like that just always seems counter-intuitive to me.

When I am weaving plain weave or twill with wool it is easy to check the beat. I can measure or, in the case of twill, I can check the angle. When I weave with wool, I have to do this almost constantly. Perhaps this is a reflection of how little I weave with wool.

But this is canvas weave. Here is the threading.

4shaft canvas weave

In this case, the weaving does not provide me with an easy visual guide. At least not at the moment. So I have woven a few rows of bright red (visible at the top of the photo) to separate this off from the next sampling where I WILL weave window screening. Then I plan to remove this weaving from the loom, separate the two and wash them, full them, whatever, to see if they soften, bloom, to see if I really want to use this structure after all.

Meanwhile, a vigorous walk in the welcome (relatively) cold weather that has finally returned to South Carolina, is definitely in order. Sometimes, but only sometimes, I do long for the snow and freezing temperatures of Wisconsin………..

Related Post: Next Project: Handspun Shawl

"Discouraged But Not Totally" was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on January 09, 2009. © 2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina

Thursday, January 8, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

Leigh has gone and done it.  She has made me feel so guilty that I had to write yet another post about these towels…….just when everybody thought it was safe to come back to my blog!

Leigh made the following comment, which was the source of my guilt:  

        I need to heed your advice and do more washing
my samples.

OK, I never wove any samples for these towels so of course I did not wash any samples either.  These towels, after all, were not meant to be perfect, were not meant to be shown to the public, were not meant to be submitted to any show, not meant to display my amazing skill (irony here!) as a weaver.  These towels were meant to be useful (primary) and attractive (secondary).

Also I had woven towels years ago using the same yarn, though that, I realize, is probably not the best excuse.  Still, I did know something about sett and shrinkage rates.  Besides, there is some flexibility in the size of a dish towel.

I was trying for squares when I wove, but I knew it wouldn’t bother me or affect the usefulness or attractiveness of the cloth if they turned out not to be square.When I saw that the outer squares were a bit narrower than the rest of the squares I must confess that I did wish that I had sampled and washed. But when the squares turned into rectangles after all, I didn’t mind so much.

In truth, I did a bit of sampling at the beginning.  This was to test the beat.  I learned that I had to beat quite hard and still could not get the ppi to equal the wpi.  Thus I could not get the perfect 90-degree angle in the twill. If I had needed to be exact about this, I would have resleyed to a slightly wider sett. 

If I had felt that resleying would  have had a positive effect on the hand of the cloth or on its absorbent properties, I would have resleyed. Testing the effect of the hand of the cloth would have required washing the samples…….  I did not believe this kind of testing was called for. 

"Guilt and Samples" was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on January 08, 2009. © 2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

Laziness – The Painter’s Keys (Robert Genn)

Robert Genn writes a twice-weekly newsletter, really another variant of a blog.  And recently he wrote this piece on laziness.  Much of what he says here spoke to me.  One statement especially caught my attention:

“Know that acquired proficiency breeds love of work.”

I was intrigued by this statement and as I thought about it I began to realize how true this has been for me.  But it is also circular:  love of work breeds, if not proficiency itself, the desire for proficiency and the willingness to do what is required to gain proficiency.

Experiment with Knitted Blanks – Tien’s Blog

I am always interested in reading about experiments with color and Tien’s experiments are a fascinating read.  I was particularly taken by this post on her latest experiments because of the careful analysis she does, both of what is happening and what happens to her predictions.

How to Build Your Own Loom – The Twisted Warp

Here, thanks to The Twisted Warp, I found a video on making your own loom to weave a scarf.  This is fascinating free-style weaving.  Quite the opposite of high-tech computerized weaving.  I was mesmerized. The source of the video is Threadbanger.  This as well is an interesting site to explore.

Fore and Aft Scarf—Off the Loom – Honeysuckle Loom

Though I have only dabbled a bit in it, double weave has always fascinated me.  I still have notions of combining crackle and double weave somehow. This post is an interesting report of the weaving of an unusual double-weave scarf from directions given in a 1998 Handwoven. I am almost tempted……

Reflections on the Berry Warp – T’katch

I do not know whether or not Cally’s post was stimulated by the New Year.  Not only did I enjoy her reflections, but it reminded me of how important it is for me to reflect carefully on what I have woven.  I find it much too easy just to move on to the next thing.  After all, the new holds much more fascination than the old. 

For another good reflection post is Fibre of Being’s Undulating Twill.

"Some Interesting Blog Posts" was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on January 07, 2009. © 2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

My planning in terms of threading is to start with the threading I used Starting Draftfor the crackle art pieces last year. Part of that draft is to the left. This is the right half of the draft. The left half is, more or less, a reflection of this right half.

The treadling is not polychrome. But because this treadling shows more clearly what happens in each individual block it should help me with designing this next piece.

Examining the draft shows where the pattern wefts will dominate depending on the treadling, or, more accurately, depending on which shafts are raised. And this is what I have learned so far:

Treadle 3 (raises shafts 1 and 2): pattern shows in blocks B and C
Treadle 4 (raises shafts 1 and 3): pattern shows in blocks C and D; G and H
Treadle 5 (raises shafts 2 and 3): pattern shows in blocks A and H
Treadle 6 (raises shafts 1 and 4): pattern shows in blocks D and E
Treadle 7 (raises shafts 2 and 4): pattern shows in blocks A and B; E and F
Treadle 8 (raises shafts 3 and 4): pattern shows in blocks F and G

Example of pattern blocksThe photo to the left shows the beginning of art piece number 5 that I wove last year. This was treadled polychrome style, one treadle after the other. Blue is the background color. Yellow is the pattern color. In the first group (at the bottom of the photo), I have treadled through the sequence four times. I used blue throughout except on treadle 3. There I used yellow. Yellow shows up on blocks B and C.

In the second group, I have used yellow when I treadled 8; yellow shows up on blocks F and G. In the third group, yellow shows on blocks A,B, E, and F when I treadled 7. And in the the last group, yellow shows on blocks D and E when I treadled 6.

This shows one way that I can uses individual units to compose a design motif: I simply repeat the given unit. And this also shows one way I can group motifs to form a larger design. I simply move from one treadle, treadled multiple times, to another treadle, treadled multiple times, and so on.

So an individual unit can be repeated so that it becomes in and of itself a single design motif. Units can be combined with each other. Units can be repeated and combined. And to make life just a bit more complex, I can weave simply background color with no pattern color in order to separate out the motifs along the length of the warp.

Exactly where these blocks show depends on the block design. The block design for my crackle art piece was this:


This meant two things:

  1. The motifs were automatically mirrored
  2. There was the possibility of a long center motif

But before I can work any more with actual designing of the motifs, Original Inspiration I need to determine how many blocks I want. Then I need to decide on the block design and that will depend on how I want the motifs to appear. I have some initial ideas based on my sampling at the end of the previous warp, shown at the left. But these are only initial ideas.

Related Post: Art Piece 5 Begun

"Crackle Shawl: Initial Thoughts on Design" was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on January 06, 2009. © 2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina

Monday, January 5, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

Towards the end of 2008 I realized that I was not studying weaving. The difficulty and expense of attending workshops has precluded that experience. But, wonderful as they are, there are other ways to learn.

I may not have been attending workshops but neither was I reading books or articles—things that would help to advance my knowledge. What led me to realize this? A paragraph from a book I had been reading: Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin. Here is part of that paragraph:

“Imagine the difference if you made domain knowledge a direct objective rather than a byproduct of work. If you set a goal of becoming an expert on your business, you would immediately start doing all kinds of things you don’t do now. You would study the history of the business, identify today’s leading experts, read everything you could find, interview people inside your organization and outside it who could provide new perspectives…. The exact steps would vary depending on your business…..”

Colvin is clearly address peoples in business fields but, my gosh, what he has to say is just as important to me as a weaver. I have no desire to become a so-called “expert” but I do have an intense desire to grow as a weaver. Growth as a weaver requires more than just weaving. And it requires more than just thinking about weaving. It requires on-going and continuing study. And that, I realized at the end of last year, was my weak area.

At the same time I realized that using the best hours of my day—the morning hours—for weaving is not necessarily the best idea. I began to feel that these best hours should, when possible, be used for study and for creative design. Only when the weaving itself involves study and design in the process, as is often the case in sampling, will I start the day with weaving.

So that, last December, is what I started to do. And that is what I intend to continue doing in this year of 2009.

"Weaving Resolutions for the New Year" was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on January 05, 2009. © 2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina

Friday, January 2, 2009


A week with daughter and grandson was wonderful, exciting, and.........just a tiny bit tiring! After taking them to the airport in Charlotte (about two or so hours away), we spent two days in Charlotte recovering. Recovering, of course, included therapy shopping. When we returned home last night, the house seemed empty. but my mind was busy. I was eager to get on to the next warp.

Unfortunately my computer is in the computer hospital. Fortunately all the information I need for the next warp is not only in the computer but is also printed out on paper.

This next warp is a test warp. I want to learn how canvas weave, a new-to-me structure, works. And I want to get some idea of just how I want to use my hand spun yarns in this structure.

I happened to have some wool yarn roughly equivalent to my hand spun: Harrisville Highland. This yarn is left over from a blanket I wove a few years ago. It is a little finer than the hand spun yarn I am going to use. It is also much less bouncy and springy. Despite these differences (which are not insignificant), working with the Highland should give me some helpful clues.

Making this warp has been a far cry from my usual silk warps of 60/2 silk sett at 60-72 epi and wound in 2" to 1 1/2" bouts. This Harrisville warp, on the other hand, consists of 68 ends wound into two bouts. That is the whole warp.........

Now I need to be very careful that I do not think that this is going to be a quick and dirty warping process. Thinking that way can lead all too easily to disaster.

Related Post:
Next Project: Handspun Shawl