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.
Today I hit the halfway point in my little weaving project. A friend’s comment,”Simple to warp, forever to weave” was right on target with this one.
To make my life a little easier I numbered the three shuttles that I am using to correspond with the treadles I use while weaving. Krokbragd, done on three shafts, is threaded 3,2,1,2,3. The tie ups are 1-2, 2-3, 1-3. One pick really consists of throwing all three of the shuttles in sequence – you just treadle 1-2-3 over and over again. This allows each of the warp threads to be covered by the weft. It is very densely packed, requires a heavy beat and takes forever to do quite honestly.
I’m using Harrisville Shetland for the weft of this mat and have to go through the treadling sequence 32 times to make the 1 1/2 inches for each color sequence. Next time I will use a heavier wool but this has woven up beautifully. I thought I’d be crazy with boredom going from overshot to this but I have to tell you this whole process is fascinating and ripe with possibilities. As usual I’m planning out the next project while weaving this one.
Handwoven magazine has a number of issues over the years with krokbragd projects. This mat is one of them. I like to have good instructions when I learn a new structure. Usually by the time I’m finished with it I have enough of an understanding to begin to run with it. Sampling always seems to come second with me.
A YouTube video called Talking Threads 17 Krokbragd explains the whole process really well for those of you who are really interested in this structure. I found it really helpful.
I started weaving camp last week. This is a short course for the month of August on a technique of my choice (although it was really with the help of my instructor Pam that the decision was made). We decided to do a rug technique since it is something new to me. This will be a 24″x 36″mat done in Krokbragd, a Norwegian rug weaving techniques known for its color and design.
I don’t know what my problem was the past week but getting this project warped has been an exercise in frustration. It’s 4 doubled epi, so it should have been quick. Between threading mistakes and a heck of a time sleying the reed (missed all kinds of threads, did it over TWICE) it took me about 8 hours to get to the point of throwing a shuttle. 8 hours – to wind and warp – there must be something wrong with my brain that doesn’t allow projects to happen in August.
Finally, towards the end of class yesterday I began to weave. I’m using Harrisville Shetland yard so it doesn’t work up as fast as it would with a thicker yarn but oh, is it beautiful. I chose Shetland because of the colors that were available to me (and I had a lot of it). I have to say I’m very excited about the possibilities in color and pattern for this.
Another woman in my class woven a runner over the summer and brought it in last week for me to photograph. It is stunning.
She started out with a couple of muted tones and then took off with color. It’s so much fun to look at and so exciting to think this is something I can do that isn’t terribly complicated.
I love it when I’m learning a new structure. The drive home from class is always filled with thoughts of how to use this new-found technique. I’m thinking of color combinations and patterns the whole way. I can’t wait to get back into the studio with a serious block of time devoted to weaving. Let the magic begin.
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.
The newest project in class for me is Huck lace. I was threading the warp last night with 10/2 mercerized cotton. The pattern is simple although a little time-consuming with so many ends, there are 552 in the warp. Fortunately it’s easy to stop and pick it up from week to week. I left class last night with about 50 or so ends left to thread, I stopped there because there weren’t enough heddles on shafts 1 and 2. I just wasn’t going there once I figured out there weren’t enough to finish threading.
Adding heddles isn’t difficult to do. I should have counted first and had everything set before I started threading them. Once you’re in a rhythm in threading you just want to keep going until it’s done. This is what I love about weaving, there are defined steps that are taken in sequence for the set up to be right. There are little nuances that make it better or worse and knowing your particular piece of equipment helps. It’s a long process learning this craft – there is so much information, so many ways to screw up.
Each project I do, whether on my own or in class affords me the opportunity to learn something new (sometimes many things). I think this is why I love weaving so much. Other crafts afford challenges but most of the challenges for me have to do with perfection and not actually the mechanics of the craft itself. With weaving the perfection enters a little but it is really the mechanics that I love. There are so many things that can go wrong – or right. When it all comes together I really feel as though I’ve conquered something.
Having an instructor like Pam feeds right into this for me – each project is about a different structure in the weave. I could see myself doing overshot or twill for the rest of my life because they are comfortable and there are a million ways to change the project within one of those structures. The classes push me outside of my comfort zone. It also allows me to do finer work which is a challenge in and of itself.
At the moment I have three looms with wildly different projects on them. Depending on where I am I work on what’s available. That can be a challenge in itself, but a most welcome one.
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 was winding a warp for a scarf out of Alpaca on Sunday and took a few photographs of it as it progressed. I love the way this fiber feels – who doesn’t really? The color is a wonderful light green with flecks of yellow.
I wind my warps on a table made for me in front of large window facing east. The light is always beautiful and I can never resist recording a project from beginning to end. There is so much beauty in every step.
I moved the loom to another room for the Christmas projects. I have another loom I’m picking up this coming weekend and this one will find its way to its new home after the holidays. Hmmmm, is it possible that I could have two projects going on at the same time in the same room?!? Wow, talk about ADD. We will see what happens. I’m just thankful to be running my fingers through wool while there is snow and wind outdoors.
Last night I wove a Dornick Twill in 8/2 unmercerized cotton. This went very fast – 27 inches in less than two hours. It was mindless and beautiful. Mindless is quite often just what I need. The act of weaving itself being totally meditative for me (and the counting, oh how I love the counting). Yeah, OCD is me.
I finished this towel and moved onto my last one. I’ll post about that one next week because my phone died before I could take its picture.
Yardage is coming off of the looms each week now and I came home with three of my towels ready for finishing last night. I’m looking forward to seeing them washed. I see hemming in my future.
Isn’t it amazing what threading and treddling can do? How beautiful.
Last night’s weaving adventure was extended twill. The warp was 8/2 unmercerized cotton in a mint green. I chose to weave it with a dark green tencel and was really pleased with the result. I had been looking at these towels and different weavers choices in color and I have to say before I started weaving this I was not a fan. It is a really quick weave though and once I was into it I have to say that it’s one of my favorites so far. I probably say that every week about whatever I wove in class so take that for what it is. This one was a little different in the fact that the entire time I was weaving it I was thinking about different ways to change this up. I’m thinking of doing this with a striped warp and a dark weft, maybe towels but maybe a wool scarf. The possibilities are endless and having something that looks complicated be so easy helps to get those creative juices going.
We are coming to the end of our round robin and I am pretty sad about it. This has been a wonderful experience giving me (and I would say many others) the opportunity to weave out of our comfort zone. The results are beautiful. Only 2 more towels to do and then onto finishing. I had thought that these would make great Christmas presents but I’m not sure I will be ready to part with them by then. Maybe a they will go off for birthdays later.
One of the best aspects for me was photographing them as I went along. I now have the drafts along with the photograph of the finished product and in the long run that is all I really need.
In weaving class last night I decided on a Rosepath Point Twill. This was woven on a Leclerc counterbalance loom (my first experience). It is warped and woven in 8/2 unmercerized cotton.
The draft for this one was interesting because it gave me choices. It was drafted with 5 different weave structures and I had to decide how I wanted my towel to look. I decided to do a 4″ band of one design, a 12 pick band of plain weave and the body in another simpler design (which I modified even further to satisfy my symmetrical OCD). It was warped in a soft pink color and I chose a chocolate brown for the warp.
All in all I was pleased with the end result. We are coming to the end of this weaving adventure. Fabric is coming off of the looms now as people finish it up. As a sewer this takes on a different feel. I looked at the 8 yards of towelling that was taken off a loom yesterday, folded and looking like a bolt of beautiful fabric and couldn’t help but think I may have to weave something to make into clothing at some point. It is just too beautiful to use just for a dish towel.