A few weeks ago I met a long time friend on the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls. As a gardener I am always amazed at this wonderful place.
I posted this photograph after shooting my way along the bridge and a fellow weaver used it as color inspiration. I thought I would as well. (Of course hers was finished within days of the picture going up).
I also decided to move out of the realm of safety and work with new materials, sort of. I’m using 20/2 mercerized cotton and a draft from Twill Thrills to make a scarf.
I did the math. Ordered the cotton. Did the math again. Then started winding the warp.
Truth be told this is my least favorite part of weaving and it took me three days to do it because there were a few moments when I just had to walk away.
I finally got it to the loom and threaded it. It’s an advancing twill pattern at 40 E.P.I. Yes, forty ends per inch. At this point I’m saying to myself “You must be out of your mind” but it got better . . .
I had 32 threads leftover at the end. Not usually a problem unless you decide to do graded colors, ugh. Not happy at this point. It was sort of a random twill so I decided to just to a repeat of part of the pattern and see how it turned out. At this point I was not going to rethread it.
Yesterday I began sleying the reed 4 threads per dent. I got halfway through and decided to break until this morning when the light was better. Finished an hour or so ago. I’ll tie it on, spend some time on the floor doing tie-ups and finally start weaving later today with any luck. Then I’ll be able to see what kind of mess I truly made and if I can live with it or start over.
The interesting part to me is the weavers I have that surround me, that inspire me. I weave with a woman who weaves nothing but twills. She threads her loom without a draft starting in the center and working her way to either edge designing it as she goes along. Her work is amazing. I felt like I was channeling her as I threaded all of those extra ends. I don’ begin to think I’m capable of doing what she does but it’s having weavers around me giving that inspiration. They’re all mentors without knowing it.
I think that’s what makes it so important to show and share your work – no matter what kind of work it is or what your skill level. You never know who you’re going to inspire.
I had grand plans over the holiday break to weave some towels as gifts for family and friends. As often happens the best laid plans . . .
This is the first project I have put on the new/used loom I purchased in November. The photo above is the second towel in progress. I had some issues with the first one but wove it until the desired length anyway. It was supposed to be about 27 ppi (this is the number of weft threads per inch – it has to do with the density of the weave) but I think I was only getting about 15 ppi. I didn’t want to stop halfway through the towel so I just kept weaving. I have a thing about things being uniform and even.
Once the towel was finished I got out some tools and tightened up every nut, bolt and screw on the loom (something I should have done to begin with). I started the next towel and was relieved that the whole process was much, much better on a much more solid loom. In my excitement to use the new loom I forgot the most fundamental thing – make sure your loom is solid.
These are the first striped towels I’ve done and the colors are fantastic. The towels are a nice size too – 23″ x 36″. They are done in an M and W twill pattern. I had a difficult time getting into the swing of the treddling initially because it wasn’t making sense to me but I finally got into a rhythm and it went along fine. This is also a little different to weave because the weft threads are counted to make the design instead of measuring the piece as you weave. It’s very precise and as you know that is something I love.
Once this towel is finished I will weave the original towel again – it’s an advancing twill treddling pattern. I’m sure this one will look completely different than the first attempt. That will teach me not to lose sight of the most basic rules just to get a project going.
Wow, I have a confession to make. I wound this warp for the newest loom in what is rapidly becoming my fleet. I picked the loom up over the Thanksgiving holiday. It’s an upgrade, it has 6 treadles instead of 4 so I will be able to weave a little faster and not have to figure out all of my drafts for a direct tie up. There will be less thinking on my part. I have an overshot scarf on my other loom. I now have looms in two rooms of the house and one in pieces in the shed. It’s a little out of hand. The confession part . . . I really like it that way. I’m going to miss the older Harrisville when it goes. You see, I made sure the older one had a home before I bought the new one knowing full well that Bill would have a bit of a fit thinking every room in the house would have weaving equipment in it.
The warp I wound on Saturday and Sunday is for a set of M&W twill towels done in 10/2 mercerized cotton. These are going to be stunning. The best part is that in addition to the M&S pattern they can be woven in an advancing twill on the same threading and tie up – BONUS! I warped it for 5 towels with the idea that I could get them done in time for Christmas. Ha! That means that’s probably all I will be doing on the weekends between now and then.
Hmmmm, I may have to enlist the help of others for the decorating.
I had to travel to Boston for most of the day before weaving class. The bonus was I was there an hour and a half early so I picked a more complicated twill to work on. This is an advancing twill done in 10/2 mercerized cotton. I had been thinking about this one for the past week looking forward to weaving it and the moment when I finished most of the first repeat. I love that part. In your head you know what the draft is going to do but when you actually see it in fiber is magical for me.
I wound my bobbin, made myself comfortable in front of the loom and started to weave. It didn’t look like I had pictured it. The pattern wasn’t as defined as I thought it would be. I questioned my use of the white weft. I’d woven about 6 inches when my instructor entered the room. I stopped to visit (this pattern required some serious concentration). I told her I was having trouble keeping track of what I was doing – I honestly just thought my head was not in the game. She went to reprint the treddling pattern so it wasn’t so small – I walked away from the loom for a few minutes.
When I sat back down I realized that I had been treddling the pattern as if it didn’t have tie-ups – damn it! I had tortured myself for an hour in my excitement. Soooooo, I put in a line and started over . . . at the same time I would have started if I had just come to class.
This pattern is quite beautiful when done correctly but I have to say I had to pay attention throughout the whole thing. It wasn’t one of those patterns that you get into the groove once you’ve been through a few repeats. I struggled with it the whole time. I was sure I would have to come back to finish weaving my 27 inches but at 8:50 I wove the close and was done. It was a relief really.
I always really look forward to weaving class as a meditative time. This was different, probably due to the error in the beginning. I can be compulsive in perfection, a serious curse. Once the project went off the rails I had a difficult time refocusing. I struggled through it and walked away thinking I will never weave that pattern again. I’m still thinking that today so my grand plans for that draft will probably never come to fruition. Of course I have grand plans for every single draft I see. That’s been the real beauty of this round robin. I get to weave what are really great samples, something different every week without the work of warping the loom. It allows us all to really get a feel for the structure of the twills and what can be done to change them up within each project. Even though the first 6 inches were woven in a crazy wrong way it still looked pretty cool, the pattern just wasn’t as defined. Maybe this time a wrong was kind of right.