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.
The last time I posted about this particular project I had left it wondering what the heck I was doing wrong because the pattern wasn’t looking quite like the draft. My weaving instructor looked at it (under the cloak of darkness) and emailed me that I had been treadling it wrong. I was close but not quite right.
The structure for this project comes from a back issue of Weaver’s Craft – Issue 11 Vol. 3, No. 1 Spring 2002. I’ve added a link for my weaving friends because so many people asked me to explain it. Honestly, I’m not deep enough into the project to do so. I had an aha moment while I was weaving the other day (and doing it properly). I realized when throwing the white shuttle that I was weaving the same pattern on the back side. How cool is that?
I love the thickness of this fabric – perfect for placemats. They will be totally reversible, light on one side, dark on the other.
The best thing about this structure for me is that I can use any overshot pattern and weave something that doesn’t have long floats that snag and pull. Perfect for baby blankets, table linens, anything that will be used regularly. Overshot has enough complexity to keep me interested while weaving and looks far more complicated than it is. Threading and weaving requires a little more concentration but it’s totally worth it in the end as you can see.
There are some projects that just don’t go the way you expected. This is another new structure for me – complimentary doubleweave. I pulled out a couple of cones of 5/2 mercerized cotton using the colors that were in the studioand wound my warp. I picked a simple overshot pattern, I figured simple would be better since I would be weaving the pattern in a whole different way.
I started Tuesday with what seemed to be little more prep than usual. The loom only had 3 harnesses on it and all of the harnesses required more heddles. Things went onto the beam smoothly. Uh-oh, I just know things can’t go that easily. The woman on the loom next to mine is doing the same project, different pattern and colors. She was a few hours ahead of me and started to weave while I was threading my heddles. It didn’t look the way she had expected. The weaving was taken out and the sett changed.
I’m thinking this is a good thing. I changed my sett to what she was now using. Crisis averted. I was feeling pretty smug about the whole thing. I tied the warp on but had a lot of trouble getting the tension even. I left it at the end of class and figured I’d tackle it today.
When I arrived at class I began weaving and found a couple of threading mistakes. I rethreaded one and tied a string heddle for the second but now I had to tie on the warp all over again, what the heck?
I wove about 5 inches – two repeats of the pattern – and it just doesn’t look anything like I expected it to. I took photos and if I squint my eyes it looks like there is some sort of repetition to the pattern but . . .
Yup, I got up and walked away. Now I’ll think about it until next week and then we’ll see what can be done with this. One way or another I will be getting 6 doubleweave placemats out of this but at this point what they’ll look like remains to be seen.
There may be a bit of a problem with weaving two entirely different projects at the same time. The project on my loom at home is an 8 shaft pinwheel pattern in 20/2 alpaca silk. It requires a really soft beat in order to keep the required picks (to keep it from looking squished).
The fiber is more elastic and so soft. Everything about this has gone smoothly. Stark contrast to the red and white.
I’m thinking it could be in my best interest to work on similar projects at class and at home. I have to say at this point I’m wishing I was weaving wool in class but I’m sure after another couple of hours the cotton will turn into something I like and I will be able to flip from one project to the other with ease. Until then I’ll just fret.
I surprised myself with the short amount of time it took to weave this runner. I wound and warped my loom last Wednesday and took it off on Monday morning to fringe and finish. There were a couple of rainy days but I don’t think I spent more than a few hours a day on it and not at all during the weekend.
This table runner is 18″by 72″ with a tencel warp and cotton weft with tencel tabby. This particular overshot was easy to do although I must confess I had to make two string heddles to fix a threading mistake. That’s when weaving lessons pay off – I’ve been taught how to fix some of my mistakes without taking it apart and starting all over again.
I have one class left for the year and some of us will be doing some other fiber related craft since our weaving projects are finished. Meanwhile I’m thinking about what to put on my loom next.
Last night this is what I did at the beginning of class. I had to decide how to weave my third towel in the series. What I had initially thought I was going to use for treadling was not what I ended up doing. The pattern for lattice didn’t take into consideration that I have 2 inches of plain weave on either side of the towel so I ended up with very large weft floats with them caught on the edge with a floating selvage. My brain just wasn’t willing to figure out a way around it (or even if I could) so I just switched to the lacy huck border. It was only a little confusing.
After finishing the requisite 28 inches of pattern (and 3 other towels) I’m finally getting a feel for what this is doing. I read the article about making warp and weft floats with the plain weave involved but somehow it always takes me to the end of the warp before I figure it out. That’s the advantage of a long warp I guess.
The structure of huck is beautiful but it really can’t be appreciated until the weaving is taken off of the loom. The release of tension allows the cloth to pucker in the most wonderful geometric ways. One more towel to weave next week then they will be hemmed and washed. That’s when their beauty will really shine.
Last night’s weaving class was one disaster after another it seemed.
My towels were tracking funny in the loom, the more I wove the worse it got until the weft had taken on a decidedly diagonal line. I asked Pam if I should take off the toweling and tie the warp back on but we started out trying to see if we could just start over again and make it straight. We checked all of the mechanics of the loom, tightened every screw, nut and bolt. A few picks into it the problem was still there and it became obvious that the tension was more loose on one side than the other. I had to unravel a good amount of weaving to save the warp length. Wasn’t as bad as it sounds, once I got going it was almost relaxing.
As I’m unravelling my mess, Jan, to my left is having the exact same problem. It was hard to believe that both of us, doing completely different projects had the same thing going on. It was true. After tightening up her loom and measuring and remeasuring to see if it could be anything else she had to unravel her project as well.
As we were rebeaming my warp we found a problem with the brakes on the loom that might have been a factor in my whole fiasco so we had to pay attention to that before I continued. All in all a rather stressful night for Pam.
While we were talking about warp tension she told me I should post a few photos of another project that has turned into what I would consider a nightmare. A class member decided she wanted to weave yardage for a jacket out of chenille. The pattern is lovely and they thought they had beamed her warp perfectly until she began weaving.
In the process, while moving the warp forward, all hell has broken loose with her warp. This may be the nature of chenille since none of us has ever woven anything wider than 10 inches.
The only way to salvage this was to use lease sticks in the warp while weaving. This holds the tension evenly (although I couldn’t tell you how at the moment).
Every time the lease sticks get to the heddles everything behind it has to be untangled as the sticks are pulled back.
I’ll be honest with you – this might just be the project I would walk away from. Or it might have turned into yardage for a vest instead of a jacket.
All in all last night was the first night I might have thought for a second we were the biggest April fools of all.
This week in weaving class I continued to work on my huck towels. I finished the requisite 33″ on the first draft discussed last week – not without an issue that was causing me no small amount of aggravation. Occasionally my shed would not open properly and I would miss threads on a pick. Ugh. The worst part was when I didn’t notice it until I had woven and inch more. Un- weaving is not something I enjoy I have to say. I want it perfect the first time.
I had a lot of trouble getting into the groove of things with the last pattern. I never really did and had difficulty seeing where I was in the draft as I wove. If I lost count or my place I couldn’t figure out where I was. This happens normally in the beginning of the project but not usually to the end. I was very happy to see that towel finished.
This pattern is huck squares and it’s very obvious where you are at any moment in the weave. Whew! The shed problem seemed to correct itself and I was really moving along with this one. I’m pleased with how even the weaving is and my edges look good so this is turning into a pretty exciting adventure. It’s not so complicated that I can’t get into my zen mode yet looks amazing when it’s woven. Just look at this structure, wow.
Once the tension is taken off of the weaving the towels will pucker – each in their own way. So it’s another project that amazes me while I’m weaving it and will thrill me once again when I take it off of the loom. What more can you ask of any craft?
Wow, what seems like months was finally finished last night. Between illness, snowstorms and other cancellations I haven’t been able to work on this at all. Finished the warp last night and am proud to say only one little threading mistake. I fixed that and will be throwing a shuttle next week, finally.
Tonight I’ll be reading up on what exactly I’m doing, try to understand the structure. Hopefully that will free me up to just enjoy the weaving next week.
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.