Monday, October 9, 2017

More Pleats, Please: Collapse Weave on a 60/2 Silk Warp

Off the plane, out of the box, off the grid – however you phrase it, collapse weave is three-dimensional and non-rectilinear, unlike any other kind of weaving. In addition to the beauty of color and structure, texture is another gift from collapse weave. That's why I love it so much! I like to call it “Tactile Art.”

Studying collapse weave over the past year, my mantra has been “Sample, sample, sample.” (Never mind that I used to think I just wasn’t a samplin' kinda gal.) Sampling offers so much information, because structures, yarns, and finishing can create so many different results. And, to my surprise and delight, just 4 shafts can produce beautiful fabrics that, at first blush, appear very complex.

Which is the case with my latest round of samples, on a warp of 60/2 silk in purple and black stripes. I was in search of pleats – the kind that people weave when they have two back beams that they advance at different intervals, with one layer of a double-weave warp on each of the two back beams. 

My guess is that, in this technique, one layer is woven for just a few picks, in a “short” section, and then the second layer is woven as a longer section – many more picks. The shorter layer draws the longer layer in – and after washing, the layer with more picks flattens out into nice neat pleats. Ironing might enhance the effect, depending on what you're going for.

Which is a great technique, except that I don’t have two back beams on my loom. So I set about finding an alternate method. 

Here is my first sample, aiming for horizontal pleats.

No ironing, just washing, although I think ironing might help. The piece was set at 96 epi -- 48 epi per layer -- which sounds grueling, but it's not so bad with a small sample on a table loom.

Here's what it looked like, front and back, before washing.

You see all the floats on the back? That's what draws in the pleats on the front. The back yarns relax because they are not held in by a structure, while the plain weave in the front has to curve because it IS held in by a structure. 

Is collapse weave all about relaxing? About yarns and structures doing what they want do naturally? I often wonder about the metaphors in there....

Here is the drawdown, as seen from the front.

So then I got to thinking: If the pleats work well with a horizontal structure, they could work well with a vertical structure, using the same yarns. Plus, I would be able to experiment with different wefts, using a variety of exotic and overtwisted yarns. So I recreated the cross, put the lease sticks back in, pulled the threads out of the heddles, and re-threaded them for vertical pleats.
Here's the drawdown. Different shade of purple, I know.... 

Funny thing: You would think that if I wove the exact same structure -- a double weave where the two layers alternate as stripes, one layer weaving plain weave while the other layer floats behind it -- and I just turned it, the results would be the same. 


No, not at all. The warp threads that draw in vertically with the first structure DO NOT DO THIS when they are weft threads. Take my word for it. I do not know why. (This happens all the time in collapse weave: When you turn a draft, the yarns do not behave or misbehave the same way.)
Undaunted, I proceeded to try a variety of energized and exotic yarns as weft, weaving double weave and plain weave and playing with floats. For instance, I do not recommend warping with crepe silk from Habu -- it seems to be about the grist of human hair -- but it's wonderful to use as weft. Here are some photos of the results.

Before washing: 60/2 silk warp, 30/1 S-twist wool. Bottom third is woven in plain weave.

Same swatch, after washing, showing double-weave structure

Same swatch, after washing, showing plain-weave structure

After washing: double-weave structure using 60/2 silk/stainless steel in ecru as weft. The first photo in this blog post shows a detail of this swatch. 

After washing: a double weave sample using silk crepe as weft.

It's tough to show the dramatic shrinkage of the sample above. It was 12" in the reed and is now about 3" wide, mainly because the weft is a gossamer-weight silk crepe from Habu Textiles. The grist is roughly 33,000 yards per pound. (Compare that with 60/2 silk, which is 15,000 yards per pound, and you get an idea of how fine this is.) It shrinks up amazingly well, but you have to weave an awful lot of fabric at a shrinkage rate of 75 per cent.

Later this month, I will be teaching a workshop on collapse weave at the Etobicoke Handweavers and Spinners Guild in Toronto, Ontario. Looking forward to collapsing and relaxing! Thanks for reading.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Echo... Echo... Echo... Weave

12-shaft Turned Taquete (acute accent on the "e") currently on the loom, 
woven on an Echo threading. 20/2 handpainted silk warp 
(really two handpainted warps) and 60/2 silk weft, 
advancing point twill threading and treadling.

The drawdown for the above pattern (the treadling has a long repeat)

Echo Weave enjoys so much popularity these days, thanks to Marian Stubenitsky's wonderful book, Weaving with Echo and Iris.

Above and beyond this groundbreaking book, however, is the beauty and potential of Echo Weave itself. Because it's woven on an extended parallel threading, the possibilities are pretty much endless. You can change the treadling and tie-up in myriad ways that will alter the pattern and still weave Echo. Or you can add plain weave to the treadling and weave Turned Taquete -- which again can be woven in a variety of patterns. Or you can weave Double Weave. Or Shadow Weave. Or Rep. And you can change to a networked treadling. And on and on.

Looking ahead to Convergence in Reno next summer: I am scheduled to teach a 3-day workshop on "One Warp, Many Structures: An Exploration of Extended Parallel Threading." (For more information, please take a look at the course description here.) Weavers will come to the workshop with their looms threaded in a two-color warp in an extended parallel threading, with enough weft to weave a range of structures using different tie-ups and treadlings. If there's time, we may even cut off and re-sley to weave double weave and shadow weave. As I've experienced myself with the 12-shaft structure above, it's a process of endless discovery.

Preparing for the workshop, I've been playing with drafts for 4-shaft and 8-shaft looms. Below are some of the designs I'm working on to date. Woven samples will come later.

 A 4-shaft advancing twill on an Echo threading, 
advancing point-twill treadling
 An 8-shaft networked design on an Echo threading
A traditional point-twill design known as the Earl on 8 using an Echo threading

4-shaft Cat Tracks and Snail Trails (also known as Wandering Vine), 
woven as Turned Taquete on an Echo threading

Comments, questions, ideas welcome! Much work to be done and lots of discoveries in the making. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

More Collapse Weave Samples: This Time, Double Weave with 30/2 Silk and 30/1 S and Z Twist Wool

To me, that looks like happy cloth! All crinkled and intricate with blocks in black that remind me of fish swimming upstream.

So often, collapse weave mimics nature, with its organic forms and energy. Nothing flat or two dimensional about it, which is why I love it.

The samples I'm sharing in this blog post hark back to a workshop I took in London with Ann Richards, author of Weaving Textiles That Shape Themselves. That workshop was in 2014 and it continues to inspire me.

One of the drafts Ann shared with us was a double weave structure on 8 shafts using a warp of 30/2 silk and 30/1 Z twist or S twist wool -- your choice -- to create alternating layers of silk and wool. The weft was the same -- and you could again choose either 30/1 Z twist or 30/1 Z twist wool for the second layer. (If you chose the same twist for both warp and weft, you would get a more subtle collapse effect after washing. If you used yarns with twist in opposite directions for warp and weft, you would get a greater collapse effect. I used 30/1 Z twist in the warp and 30/1 S twist in the weft.)

Here's Ann's original structure.

Here are my samples.

Front before washing

Back before washing

Front after washing

Back after washing

Pretty cool, huh? As always, I stand in awe of the laser-sharp focus that Ann brings to her designing. I tried my hand at modifying the tie-up and treadling, so see if there were some new forms I could create from this. First I decided to weave linear stripes.

Here's the drawdown, same threading.

And here are my results. In order of appearance: front and back before washing and front and back after washing.

The vertical pleats on the front are crisp and linear, which I like very much -- but the back also has some visual appeal. There's potential here, perhaps to develop a draft that turns the stripes into boxes. More playing with Fiberworks, which I don't mind at all!

(As I write this, I realize that this post is mostly photos. But that's what we do, right? Create visual art that is often hard to describe verbally, although we do the best we can.)

So here's the last drawdown, this time with interrupted lines of black on the front. The fabric is the image I started with in this blog post.

And here's the fabric, again showing front and back before washing and after washing, in that order.

So often for me, weaving samples prompts as many questions as it answers. What can I do next? What kind of garment would this make? Would it work with painted warps? How can I alter this structure to make it appealing in a new way? I never considered myself to be a weaver who follows the code of "Sample, sample, sample" -- but I'm beginning to see the benefits of doing so.

And so, dear reader, beam on! And thanks for visiting.