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 ;-)


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Theory and Practice and Weaving from Times Past



Ok, I am working on a dishtowel warp and this is just a quick follow-up post to my last post. That post was all about how my Turned Taquete threading (which is actually just a straight draw) could be tied up for twill treadlings.

I've got enough warp for four towels and this is number three. And looking pretty good. As I explained before, threading stripes of solid color in between the stripes of contrasting color will ensure that the twill will show well.


Now, on a completely different subject, I have begun "scanning" my slides of weaving from times past. I finished my Masters Degree in Craft Design in 1987 and began weaving and exhibiting for a period of time after that. I took many slides of my work, and have just finally begun the process of sorting these slides, and reproducing them digitally.

My gizmo of choice is this:

The Lomography Smartphone Slide Scanner works with my iPhone to capture the slide images quickly and easily. While not the super quality of the slide scanners I used to work with in my former life as a Curator of Visual Resources, the images I am getting are good enough and sometimes even great. I edit them in Photoshop, and upload them to Flickr. Some blog readers may have already noticed them on the Cooliris Flickr Wall on the right. More are coming!

And I will talk more about these weavings in a future post. For now I will say that I did a ton of work in boundweave with Summer and Winter threadings. Inspired by Peter Collingwood's book on rug weaving, I called it polychrome Summer and Winter on opposites. Now everyone calls it Taquete. (Who knew?)


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Turned Taquete Twill Variation [or] The Weave That Keeps On Giving

I hope everyone had a good holiday and isn't too tuckered out after all the festivities. On my to-do list for January: a blog post about my latest batch of Turned Taquete dish towels.

I decided on colors reminiscent of the desert, or clay pots (or something), so I called them Desert Sands. I did four, and I decided to try some variations with weft choice and tie-up/treadling. The results were suprisingly interesting and downright fun. The first two were like the one above. Changing colors and blocks in a sequence that I decided on beforehand, and I like those just fine.

But, I needed a change, so I decided to weave one towel using one color and treadling just one block. It wasn't boring at all, and it was faster, since I wasn't changing bobbins every inch or so. The result was the towel below. Suddenly, instead of checks, we've got stripes! And I do love me some stripes.

But the fun doesn't stop there! I really geeked out on the fact that the towel stripes are completely reversible. Voila:
The edges were the only part of the color sequence that were a solid color. All the other threading blocks alternated either dark/light/dark/light or light/dark/light/dark. By treadling a single block with a single color, the alternate warp color, whether or dark or light, always stayed on the back. BTW, this happens with any of the towels that I weave, checked or not, but with the stripes my delight in the process went a little overboard.
I wove the last towel using the stripes idea with a different color weft, but with this one I decided to go out on a limb and try a completely different tie-up and treadling sequence. Because I could.

If you look closely at the edge of this towel on the right, you will see a zig-zag twill. That twill appears across the whole towel of course, but you only see it on the edge, because I threaded the edge with the sequence light/light/light/light (same/same/same/same). The middle stripes all aternate, so the twill is a bit more, umm, subtle.
Keep in mind that this version of Turned Taquete is threaded on a straight draw. Never mind the color sequence. Straight draw means you can tie up for twills and you can treadle any twill sequence you want. (Light bulb going off in my head!) However. The twill only shows up in the stripes that do not alternate colors. Check it out. I blogged about this Turned Taquete design earlier:
By inserting non-alternating color stripes in the warp, I was able to create a step-ladder effect in the checks. Now look at it with a twill tie-up and a zig-zag twill treadling:
I know, right? (The black sripes are twill too, but they're black/black so you won't see it.)
Now, let's look at roughly the same drawdown in color:

You can really see the zig-zag in the non-alternating color areas. The fact that this is a straight draw threading, while seemingly simple, just upped the potential number of variations on one warp by a ton!

For all the four-harness weavers, it doesn't make a difference if you do this on four or eight harnesses. I do eight, but I like to utilize all the harnesses on my loom for any project. Saves the dreaded moving heddles chore. So here is the same design on four harnesses:

You're welcome!


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Stash Buster Gold

Here's a stash buster rayon chenille scarf hot off the loom that has me totally in awe.

I wanted to try the interleaved, echo threading technique that has everyone buzzing. I wanted to use that threading with a Turned Taquete tie-up and treadling sequence. Plus, I wanted to try all that without taking the time to work out my own design. Lazy? Maybe, but I wanted instant gratification.

This is the result, a dramatic, luxurious scarf that had me before the end of the first repeat.

I used odds and ends and bits and pieces of the last of my 2000 yards per pound rayon chenille. I wanted good contrast, so I overdyed half with black, and the other half was comprised of magenta, iris handpaints, blue, green, and whatever I could grab that would plausibly work in the mix. I sett the warp at 24 ends per inch for a warp-emphasis weave. I used the same weight rayon chenille for weft, in black.

(FYI: if you are planning on using fiber reactive black dyes for overdyeing other colors, don't bother tub dyeing. Just paint the dye on and let it set for at least 24 hours. Otherwise it will never cover the old color sufficiently.)

Here is the original Turned Taquete design on which I based my scarf. It was purchased from WEBS in PDF form at least a year ago. You can find it here. The original is woven with 8/2 tencel warp and 20/2 cotton weft. I bought the pattern before doing much research on interleaved weaves, so when the light bulb finally came on, I was anxious to give it a try.

Glad I did!

I liked doing this so much I ended up buying a huge 4+ lb. cone of 2000 ypp rayon chenille to do more. Though I won't use this particular design again, I plan to work on my own designs with an eye to weaving in this technique for my Etsy shop.


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Straight Draw

So I had some bits of 6 ply rayon: a cone in gold, about 4 balls of handpaints in various colorways, and some other colors, the origins of which are lost in the mists of time. But all this was just enough to get started on a warp for some scarves. My plan was for a warp of four scarves, each 60" long and 8" wide, plus fringes, on the loom. I would use up all the balls of handpainted colors, carefully blending so that you really couldn't tell one colorway from another. I planned to use a lot of the plain gold for weft, and then other colors when I got bored.

That part worked mostly according to plan. I had to work some of the plain gold into the warp when handpainted balls came up short, but I've done that any number of times when winding warps for my rayon chenille scarves, so no biggy.

The concept was to use a straight draw threading sett at 20 epi, on eight harnesses, changing the tie-up, treadling order and weft color for each scarf. And that worked very well. Crawling around on the rug each time I had to change the tie-up was no picnic, but oh well. At this point they are finished, off the loom, fringed, washed, and pressed. I've been posting views of these scarves on my Facebook page as I was weaving them, and today I was setting up their glamour shots for my Etsy shop. (The kitties are excited!)

So I thought I would share the weaving drafts and also reprise those Facebook snaps here. Enjoy!

Scarf #1: Undulating Twill, tie-up and treadling from A Weaver's Book of 8-Shaft Patterns, edited by Carol Strickler, page 12, #11



Undulating twill scarf on the loom:


Scarf #2: Plaited Twill, also from Strickler, page 101, #357



Plaited Twill Scarf on the loom:


Scarf #3: Zig Zag Twill Scarf, from Weaving with Foot-Power Looms, by Edward F. Worst, page 155, Fig 309 (my personal favorite!)


Zig Zag Twill Scarf on the loom:
Scarf #4: 8 Harness Straight Draw Twill from Weaves: A Design Handbook, by Eleanor Best, page 143



Straight Draw Twill Scarf on the loom:


As I've been handling the scarves for photography, I have loved watching the play of light on the warp and weft. They are lovely and irridescent, soft and drapey. How cool is that?