Friday, November 6, 2015

Rep Mats, Yarn Painting, House Projects, Oh My!

My group portrait of my entire stock of 5/2 cotton

was transformed to this







after I finished warping my loom for a bazillion (well, 10 yards worth) rep weave mats. 13" wide, 32 epi, and 432 warp ends.
I was basically making everything up as I went along. I kept to some basic color groupings, choosing colors just as much for how little there was on a cone (which meant that I would use another one up!) as for how good they would look in pairs. My process was long and convoluted and neither you nor I would last through an explication of the design. Suffice it to say that I chose colors in pairs that corresponded to dark/light or light/dark. I threaded the loom using all eight shafts, keeping to four independent blocks. The tie-up adhered to the four independent blocks rule as well.
By the time I got the warp rolled on, I was feeling just a bit ... overwhelmed. So much so, that I felt I needed to weave a... (da da daaaaaa) .... sample.
My thick weft is 16/8 mop cotton, and my thin weft is (what else) more 5/2 cotton.
So I did. I wove this sample, just combining blocks as I felt like it, feeling my way, deciding what I liked and what I didn't. I wove 3" hem headers at beginning and end. Then I cut it off, sewed the hems, and washed it in the washing machine. I wanted to see how it would perform, what the shrinkage would be, etc. Before washing, the mat was 13" wide and 23" long. After washing, it was 13" wide and 19 l/4" long. Shrinkage was approx. 20%. Good to know.
It washed beautifully, but it was a good thing I used a color catcher in the machine ;-)
So now I'm weaving more mats, but very slowly. Not because I'm naturally slow, but because of all the other things that take up time in a day.

Lately, I've had a big run of special orders of my handpainted yarn in my Etsy shop. I love the business, but it does take away from weaving time.
In addition, we had painters in my weaving studio (AKA the sun room). There was at least a week when I absolutely couldn't get any weaving done at all. But, the painting's done now and looks great. However, there aren't any window coverings on the 12 windows in there and there won't be until I can sew some. The good news is that the fabric arrived. Still waiting for the tension rods to hang everything with.
We're having the nicest Fall ever in Iowa, with lots of sunshine. You would think that would be wonderful, but tryng to weave in the sun room and being blinded by the sun is really not that much fun. So I try to duck in and out when the time of day is more commodious.
Oh my.




Monday, September 7, 2015

Mushing On

Here are the scarves I blogged about in the previous post. Aren't they awesome? Very drapey after wet finishing and pressing. I used a different tie-up And different weft for each scarf, but treadled all the same. These are just preliminary iPad photos. As soon as I take some more photos I will list them in my Etsy shop.

The next photo is a group portrait of all of my 5/2 cotton cones. I've been thinking of some ways to use all of them up. Fast. Short of tossing them in the charity shop box. I was thinking of double weave runners. Although tempting, the double weaving is a bit slow. Then I hit on a better idea: Rep weave placemats and runners. Rep weave uses up lots of warp. I'm thinking about 30 epi, and at a take-up rate that is blindingly fast. I think that will put a big dent in this pile of yarn, and in record time.

Technical Note: This photo is probably the 10th or 12th one I took yesterday. It's a panorama on my iPhone. Panoramas are fun, but if you're trying to shoot a subject that is a straight line, most of your photos come out bending and jagged in ways that are not attractive. I finally found something to prop my phone on, that would slide easily, and not move up and down (much). Short of using a mono-pod on wheels, this is the best photo, though still not perfecto.

I scored the ebook Rep Weave and Beyond by Joanne Tallarovic for half price over the weekend. Well worth it! Lots of good, non-traditional ideas for rep weave projects. But what the heck. I'll probably still make it up as I go.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Kids, Don't Try This at Home

[The project pictured here was woven by a specially trained stunt weaver in a locked studio. Do not attempt.]

Just kidding.

This weaving is a scarf and it is yet another example of my mission to destash, sweep clean, and make presentable my studio space, AKA sun room. It is a scarf warp that only destash-crazed weavers would ever attempt, but yet. Yet, I still went ahead and gave it a go. It seems to be working.

The warp I used is a shelf-full of hand dyed balls of 6-ply rayon mill ends that I accumulated over the years. I bought a lot of this yarn a few years ago, mostly in white. It dyed beautifully, and I wove things from it. I painted skeins and sold them on Etsy, and then the source dried up, and I just had a whole bunch of colors in yarn cakes of varying sizes.

I didn't even weight it all. I just started winding the warp. I decided on 24 epi and it was going to be a twill threading, but completely unplanned. I wound enough for 3-4 scarves, roughly 8 yards, and I ended up with just almost 10" of width.

Here is an image of the warp chains going on the loom. Front to back.

I wasn't pleased. There was something about this warp that was really not right. Basically, it looks like two scarves side by side, and it wasn't going to get any better when woven.

But wait! I thought of a risky yet it-just-might-workable strategy to fix it:

I took the middle chain and the left hand chain off the lease sticks, preserving the cross. I flipped the middle chain and put it back on the lease sticks, then put the left hand chain back on as well. Voila. I got a better distribution of color and value. I had a bit of trepidation, but what else is 40-odd years of weaving experience good for, if not for such wild and crazy stunts? (Only once in a while.)

I got to use my new Angel Wings for winding on, which was lovely. The warp went on super fast, and very smoothly. I don't know why I waited so long to get this fabulous gadget:

But I digress.

Before I wound on, I threaded the reed and the heddles, making up the twill pattern as I went along. I had made a record of the color order in my notebook as I wound the warp. So, in the notebook I went back to each color section and did a little twill riff, each color a little bit different. After each chain, I went to my iPad weaving software (WiIF 'n Proof) and entered the twill riffs and the colors. I could see how balanced (or unbalanced) the design was as I threaded.

It worked pretty well. I will probably change the tie-up for each scarf for a bit of variety, but I will be treadling the same order for each one.

So, now I'm weaving the first scarf, and I have enough of the 6-ply rayon dyed gold on a cone. But (wouldn't you know) that is the end of the 6-ply. So I gleefully bought some 6/2 rayon tencel in white for more weft colors. This rayon tencel is just about the same yards per pound as the 6-ply mill ends, and such a lovely blank canvas. It has a fabulous hand and soft feel.

Do you see where this is going?


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Stashbuster Turned Taquete Towels

I am slowly cleaning out my studio, going through my yarn, some of which has been on the shelves for literally more than a decade. We plan to pull up stakes next year and move to be near the grandchildren (yay!), and moving every last little cone of yarn doesn't really make sense. To that end, I decided to finish up all the mini-cones of 10/2 cotton that I bought in the 90's in a Turned Taquete Dishtowel warp. I supplemented judiciously with newer 10/2 cotton that I bought last year, but I did it! I can cross one more thing off my inventory list.

I designed a very simple Turned Taquete warp:

This is my standard straight draw threading. I alternated dark/light threads for the first block, then alternated light/dark for the next. The third block is back to dark/light. You can do that as many times as you want to get the width that you want. For the treadling, I go 1314 with a color, then I might switch to 2324 for another color, but you don't have to. You could treadle 1314 for the whole towel, and just change colors without changing the treadling at all. Easy peasy.

For blogging purposes I took some informal iPad photos of the towels before they are cut apart and wet finished.

This is Destash Towel #1:

On all of these I was aiming for 1" checks, but I wove them 1 1/4" or so to allow for shrinkage. I had six colors on bobbins in a rotation that I repeated 4 times. My notes are bad on this one, but I think I alternated 1314, then 2324.

This is Destash Towel #2:

For this one I again used six colors in rotation. I wove each color on 1314, then 2324. I still ended up with 24 checks, but this time I would have 2 repeats of the rotation.

This is Destash Towel #3:

This one was more complicated, using 5 colors in rotation, but alternating them like this:

[color] a on 1314, [color] b on 2324, [color] a on 1314, [color] b on 2324

[color] c on 2324, [color] b on 1314, [color] c on 2324, [color] b on 1314

[color] c on 1314, [color] d on 2324, [color] c on 1314, [color] d on 2324

[color] e on 2324, [color] d on 1314, [color] e on 2324, [color] d on 1314

[color] e on 1314, [color] a on 2324, [color] e on 1314, [color] a on 2324

[color] b on 2324, [color] a on 1314, [color] b on 2324, [color] a on 1314

I was starting to do anything to keep the interest up....

This is Destash Towel #4:

Desperate to finish at this point. I just treadled 1314 for the whole towel, using 6 colors in rotation, repeated 4 times.

Destash Towel #5:

Oops, I had enough warp to weave another half of a towel, and save it for myself. It's kind of a tradition now.

I treadled 2324 with just one color, going for the stripes.

Now I am moving on to all those odds and ends of 6 ply rayon for a stashbuster rayon scarf...


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Back in the Day [2]

This is the second in my series of occasional postings about my earlier days weaving.

We left off with my description of Taquete (or Polychrome Summer and Winter on Opposites) rugs. I wove these rugs on heavy linen warps sett 5 epi. For some rugs I used heavy rug wool that I ordered undyed. I then dyed the wool in small batches and created a whole range of colors that would blend together as I wove. The rug pictured above is titled Plaited Rug #2, and was designed and woven in Feburary of 1988, following from the rug titled "Plaited Rug" in the previous BITD post. That first Plaited Rug was more straightforward. The blocks were all the same size, with only the colors changing. Plaited Rug #2 combines color progression creating a sense of receding space with stretching and squashing the motifs' sizes. I exhibited this rug with the title "Flying Carpet".

Here is a detail of that rug:

The profile draft for this rug was a straight draw, using each block twice. The design resided in the tie-up and the treadling draft followed an undulating twill. To wit:

Later that year, in December 1988, I did another one of these Plaited Rugs. The idea was pretty much the same, creating a sense of space with color blending and bending and stretching the design motif in various ways.

Here is a detail:

Here is a scanned page from my notebook showing the color gradations (which didn't scan very well!) I used and my profile draft:

Eventually I decided that these kinds of weavings were too expensive both to make and to sell, and too cumbersome to store and exhibit.

I did some rugs with commercially dyed rug wool, and it was this one that set me on a path:

Ironically, that path was not to weave more rugs, but to weave small tapestries with cotton warps and cotton wefts. The technique, though, Taquete, would remain the same.

I called this rug Straight Draw Rug #1 (working title, not exhibition title). and it was the prototype for my method of design from quite a while after that.

More next time!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Jitterbug and Turned Taquete: Step By Step

I've always been intrigued with this design.

I found it in the book A Handweaver's Source Book: A Selection of 146 Patterns from the Laura M. Allen Collection, edited by Marguerite Porter Davison. It is the first pattern in the book, appearing on page 12. This pattern collection differs from most in that the draft is given in a shortened version and it is assumed that the weaver will be able to derive a useable draft from the information given. Certain conventions apply: a standard twill tie-up and tromp as writ treadling.

Meanwhile, I have been studying Marian Stubenitsky's Weaving with Echo and Iris. I love the designs in this book, and I wanted to weave them, but I also wanted to understand how to take a profile draft all the way to a Turned Taquete draft. Not easy. Not intuitive. Also, when I try to get my head around network drafting, which Stubenitsky relies on a lot, my eyes roll up in my head, and I reach for a glass of wine.

In this post I will take you through the steps that (I hope) will get any weaver from a four harness pattern draft to an eight harness Turned Taquete fabric. (Disclaimer: I've only done the one design, so this process is only for the bravest of the brave. Expect setbacks. But persevere.)

First Step: Take the pattern and write it as a four block profile draft. Treadling is tromp as writ.

Second Step: Rewrite the four block draft as eight blocks. (You will need eight blocks to translate to eight shafts in order to interleave the threading.) Treadling is still tromp as writ.

Here is the eight-block threading, also known as the Design Line:


In her book, Stubenitsky devotes a huge amount of space to four-color threadings, but I was more interested in two-color threadings. I zeroed in on interleaved threadings that can be woven as Turned Taquete, see pages 195-199. Once the eight block Design Line is established, the next step in the book is to take the line and pair each end on a 1/1 network. Since I don't do Network Drafting, I prefer to just say, Pair each end with its up or down partner without increasing the total number of ends. As I see it, this pairing of ends in the Design Line will create more of a flow in the design, easing the blockiness of it.

So this is the Third Step and this is what that draft looks like:


Notice that the tie-up is now 4/4 and the treadling is still tromp as writ. Here is the threading:


The next step is to interleave the paired threading at an interval of your choice. I decided on an interval of 4, but you could do 3. This is why we haviing weaving software. I went to Threading, Interleave, and chose my interval, and then voila.

Fourth Step:



Now the number of warp ends has doubled, and has two alternating colors. Later I will change the black and gray to aqua and magenta. The weft will be lavender.
Fifth Step:
Adding tabby treadles to the tie-up (10 treadles are neceessary here) and inserting tabby shots to the treadling draft. One repeat of the threading is 264 warp ends. One repeat of the treadling is 264 weft shots. I doubled the threading to 528 ends. One, because you really need to do that to get the full impact of the design, and two, because my warp was sett at 56 epi and I wanted more than four inches in width. Here is the treadling draft and tie-up:
This color draft shows the final result.
I was a bundle of nerves getting the warp on the loom and starting to weave. The warp is 20/2 tencel sett at 56 epi, and it took forever to thread the heddles. The tencel itself is a joy to work with and it wound on just fine. I wove a few inches and was so overjoyed that it actually worked that I forgot that I was weaving top to bottom instead of bottom to top. In addition, I am weaving the back as the front. Yikes!
I threaded the warp colors magenta/aqua instead of aqua/magenta. Turns out that makes a difference ; - )
A few photos:


I'm using 20/2 tencel as the weft, but I've been reading about projects with 30/2 tencel or 60/2 silk as weft. If I had used a finer weft, the pattern motif would weave with less length. I will wait and see what the final result looks like once off the loom and washed and pressed. That 30/2 tencel is kind of hard to find, and silk is really not in my budget.

I've got enough warp for a second scarf, and I will try a different color weft instead of lavender for that one. Meanwhile, back to the loom!


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Back in the Day...

In which I begin an occasional series of blog postings on the body of my work that began seriously in the late 1980's.

Back in the day, I produced a lot of weft-faced rugs and small loom-controlled tapestries based on block weaves, mostly 6-block Summer and Winter, woven on my 8-harness loom. I could squeeze a lot of design out of six blocks. There would be a background, and for contrast, up to three other shuttles with different colors. I rotated the shuttles carefully, always keeping them in a certain order, and would change the colors out as the design progressed.

While I referred to the technique I used so often as "Polychrome boundweave on Summer and Winter", many now have replaced those six words with the very economical term Taquete. Woven without a tabby, the pattern blocks are woven on opposites, combined and definined by the weft colors.

The rug above is an example of this technique and was part of my Master's thesis, written in 1987, titled "Computer Design in the Handweaving Process" at Iowa State University. (There is a scanned copy of my thesis available on-line now (sans pictures). You can find it here.) Titled "MacKintosh Variation #2", this rug is one of several riffs I did off the design work of Charles Rennie MacKintosh, a Scottish architect working at the turn of the 20th century. I did two other rugs as part of that thesis. Then I graduated.

Another piece titled "Plaited Rug", woven later that same year, and using the same technique, is shown here:

Here is a detail, which shows the color blending a lot better:

Here is a copy of the page from my weaving notebook, showing how I planned this piece:

The draft shown is a profile draft with 6 blocks. (Going back through my old records I am constantly amazed at how consistent my design ideas have remained!) My rubric was using a straight draw in the threading quadrant and in the treadling quadrant, and finding the design in the tie-up. I wanted to express the image of a plaited twill. I used at least two shuttles. When there was solid gray, I used two shuttles to maintain the same texture throughout. Mostly, I would alternate between gray and a pattern color, but there were times when I would need three shuttles, when there were three different color areas across the same row. Since this didn't happen often, I guess I must have figured the overall look of the rug wouldn't suffer. I only have ten treadles on my loom, and the combinations of tie-ups were many more. I would have had to do a a lot of crawling under the loom to keep making changes (I think I've blocked that memory out...).

Anyway, this Plaited Rug really marked the beginning of the series of loom-controlled tapestries that I worked on for the next 8 or so years. I quickly shifted to a smaller format, from wool to cotton, from the floor to framed pieces. I have been scanning the slides of the work that I did, and am just beginning to appreciate the intensity and consistency of this body of work.

More to come! I'll keep you posted ;-)