Monday, November 20, 2017

Designing with Echo Weave: An Advancing Point Twill Makes It Easy

Pictured above: a drawdown for Echo Weave on 8 shafts. While the design appears to have four colors, there are just two colors in the warp and one in the weft. The design is based on a draft of mine that I call "Fun House" because the swirls and swoops remind me of images in a fun-house mirror.

How do you design something like this? Let's start at the very beginning -- which, with computer drafting, means a design line. Here's the one I started with.
Simple enough, right? Concave and convex curves and then curving lines. Based on this, I created an advancing point twill threading, substituting a point-twill block of four or five ends for each square on the design line. Here's what that looked like when finished.

If you look at the first square in the upper-right-hand corner of the design line, this corresponds to the first five ends of the point-twill in the threading (threaded on shafts 8, 7, 6, 5, and 6). The second square in the upper-right-hand corner of the design line becomes the next five ends on the threading (shafts 7, 6, 5, 4, and 5). So every square in the design line represents a block of point twill threading.

Next, I created a parallel threading, so that I could weave Echo Weave. (A parallel threading on eight shafts usually means that every thread in the original single threading will now have a parallel thread -- usually 4 ends above it.) Here's what the advancing point twill threading above looks like when woven as Echo Weave.

You see the parallel lines? That's what gives you Echo Weave. And here's what the entire draft looks like when woven using the pattern of the original point-twill threading, with a twill tie-up of 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2.

There is a long threading pattern, which is hard to see, so here's a detail.

I like it -- and you may too, if you're still reading this! How did I create a parallel threading -- for Echo Weave -- so that there are now two lines of point twill? This is easily done on Fiberworks by going to the drop-down menu under "Warp," clicking "Parallel Repeat," and then clicking "Extended Parallel," shafts shift by 4, and "Apply."

The original point-twill draft looks great on its own, tromp as writ. So why go to all this computer-drafting trouble? 

If you're interested in learning more about Echo threading and color interaction, Marian Stubenitsky's book, Weaving with Echo and Iris, is an invaluable resource. Many of her designs use four parallel threadings in four different colors to achieve what she calls "iridescence." (Add the additional color of the weft, and the results are truly beautiful.) Although my design uses just two colors in the warp and one in the weft, the result is a four-color fabric -- and it's just a one-shuttle weave!

Echo Weave and extended parallel threadings are the subject of my 2 1/2-day workshop at Convergence 2018 in Reno. The official title is "One Warp, Many Structures: An Exploration of Extended Parallel Threadings." The workshop begins on July 10.

Here's another variation of this drawdown, just to pique your interest.
And here is the same draft, this time treadled as Turned Taquete.

If you've read this far, you need to sign up for the workshop! General registration begins December 6. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Weavers' Guild of Rochester Holiday Sale Starts Tomorrow!

This hand-dyed cotton dress (pattern courtesy of Marcy Tilton) is just one of the items I will have for sale at the Weavers' Guild of Rochester Holiday Sale -- starting tomorrow, Friday, November 3. There will be hundreds of one-of-a-kind items created by our talented group of 170 weavers and fiber artists. The results are truly awesome and it's the biggest fundraiser of the year for our guild.

Come by and come buy! Free parking, free admission. Buy local, buy handmade and avoid the crowds. Below are all the details.

Oh and by the way -- the dress DOES have pockets ;o)

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.