Saturday, June 17, 2017

Using a Warping Reel: a Short Video

If you're a weaver, you know that summer is conference season. (Well, I guess autumn is also conference season, and then again, if you live in the southern hemisphere, winter is summer up north, so winter is also conference season.... But I digress.)

Anyhow, I'm getting ready to teach at MAFA (MidAtlantic Fiber Association) in Pennsylvania and  at the Hartford Artisans Weaving Center in Connecticut. And I'm winding warps for both workshops. LOTS of warps. For MAFA, I wound ten seven-yard warps and for Hartford, I'm working on 18 eight-yard warps. I am not sure I will ever set up another workshop where I wind so many darned warps ahead of time.

So, what to do? My warping board is big enough, certainly, but it requires a lot of moving back and forth and up and down. Which is inefficient and slow.

The answer for me was a warping reel. I can stand in one place and, moving slightly, wind an eight-yard warp in less time than it takes on a warping board. While I'm not one who aims to weave as efficiently as possible (if I wanted efficiency, I probably wouldn't have become a weaver in the first place), I do appreciate saving time on production work.

I borrowed a warping reel from my friend Leslie Mendelson and it helps a lot. (Thank you, Leslie!) Which is why I made this video, in hopes that someone else could benefit from a demonstration. Thanks to my husband, Larry, for directing, production, and financing ;o)

Monday, May 15, 2017

Still More Collapse Weave -- This Time on 8 Shafts

This summer, for me, will be all about collapse weave: I'm teaching a workshop at MAFA and a workshop at the Hartford Artisans Weaving Center, plus I will give a lecture on the topic to the New York Guild of Handweavers.

To prepare, I have been weaving up lots of samples and learning A LOT from the results. (Re-learning a lot, too -- for example, that sett can make the difference between a good fabric and a wonderful fabric. We all know this, but we need to be reminded, particularly if a project should be re-sleyed at a different sett and we get -- well, lazy....)

Anyhow, the samples I've blogged about to date have all been on 4 shafts, because that's the focus of my first workshop at MAFA. In Hartford, we'll be working on both 4 and 8 shafts, so now I've begun sampling on 8. Here are some photos. 

I call these "Before" and "After" shots. The photo above is a "Before" shot of fabric just off the loom. I got the draft from a workshop I took a few years ago in London with Ann Richards, author of Weaving Textiles that Shape Themselves. The warp in this case uses both wool/stainless-steel yarn (the taupe-colored warp, available from Lion Brand and from Habu) and 16/2 bamboo (in red and orange). The weft is 72/2 linen (to give the fabric stiffness) alternating with the wool/stainless yarn.

Here is the "After" photo:

In this case, you have two elements that make this a dimensional fabric: structure and energized yarns. The structure is plain weave with floats alternating weft-wise and warp-wise, so that the floats make room for the fabric to pleat in and out. The wool/stainless draws in and twists when washed, which encourages the pleats to form. Finally, the stability of the linen weft adds crispness to the fabric. Pretty clever, huh? All thanks to Ann, who approaches her art with the mind of a scientist.

Another fabric, this one an 8-shaft double weave, pictured in its "Before" state, showing both front and back views:

The red sections are 18/2 superfine merino from JaggerSpun, which fulls beautifully when hand-washed. The black is 24/2 superlamb from JaggerSpun, which resists fulling because it's a superwash wool. Here's what it looks like, front and back, after hand washing in warm water and agitating with dishwashing soap:

To be honest, the black squares on the front of the fabric don't "pop" the way I had hoped. I was looking for a real dimensional "pouf" in the cloth -- but still I think it works.

Here's another structure from the same warp, before washing, front and back, same yarns.

And after washing:

This sample had a lot more texture, thanks mostly to the floats on the back. It's very thick, suitable for a warm jacket or coat.

If you're interested in any drafts, let me know. It's great add texture to your fabric! And here's one parting shot, of another sample just completed, using the same warp and weft as the first sample in this post but with a different treadling. (This is the sample that you see in the close-up photo that begins this post.)

Happy shape-shifting, y'all!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

More Collapse Weave Samples on 4 Shafts

LOTS more! I have been preparing more than a dozen samples for a workshop I'm teaching this summer at the MAFA Conference at Millersville University in Pennsylvania: "Collapse Weave on 4 Shafts." And, without giving away the drafts and all the details, I'd like to share some photos and descriptions of the results.

Pictured above: a 2-block weave on a warp of 60/2 silk, using a weft of 60/2 silk alternating with 18/2 JaggerSpun Superfine Merino. Here's what the sample looked like before washing, just off the loom:

Pretty different, right? That's the beauty of collapse weave: What is geometric and two-dimensional on the loom becomes a fabric that is far more organic and three-dimensional. All it takes is a little bit of warm water, soap, and agitation. In the case of this sample, the wool will full and shrink, drawing the silk in width-wise. The geometric squares of orange, red, and dark blue in the warp become concave ovals. Very interesting and very forgiving for weavers like me who aren't always exact about selvages, picks per inch, even treadlings (but don't tell anyone).

A few more before and after photos below.

18/2 JaggerSpun Superfine Merino warp and weft. Above is the front of the piece before washing, and below is the back.

 And here's what the sample looks like after washing, front and back.

 Fun, I think! Much more quirky and natural-looking.

Above, a pretty ho-hum piece of fabric woven in plain weave -- red, gold, and lavender 16/2 bamboo in warp and weft -- with a pattern weft of embroidery cotton in white. I pulled the embroidery cotton tight to create a woven-shibori resist. (Looks like some kind of sea creature to me.)

Wash and scrub and agitate, check to make sure everything is working, repeat -- then take out all the embroidery cotton and...

Here's a close-up:

So for me, the weaving advice of "sample, sample, sample" has helped immensely -- to learn and to share with others who love this technique. After MAFA, I will be teaching collapse weave on 4 and 8 harnesses at the Hartford Artisans Weaving Center in Hartford, CT. And in September I will lecture on the subject at the New York Guild of Handweavers. More sampling to come!