Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Juried into the Convergence Fashion Show in Reno...

Every two years I set myself a challenge: weave fabric for a garment for submitting to the Convergence fashion show, a biannual conference sponsored by the Handweavers Guild of America. This year, the conference will be held July 6-13 at the Peppermill Resort in Reno, Nevada -- and I'm happy to announce that two garments of mine were juried into the show.

This coat took me two years to complete, from conception to winding warps to dyeing them to weaving the fabric to dyeing the lining and sewing the coat.... It's called "Summer's Lease I," after William Shakespeare's beautiful words, "Summer's lease hath all too short a date" (from his sonnet, "Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day").

I wove the fabric on my 12-shaft Macomber, using a draft I created with extended parallel threading. Then I wound two warps of 20/2 silk, painting one in a range of fuchsia, rose, pink, and lavender and the other in gold, lime green, sage green, and turquoise. The fabric is woven in Echo Weave and Turned Taquete and the weft was 60/2 silk in orange.

Here's the image that inspired my pattern and colors.

I kept it on my computer for years under the title "Paint this Warp." I have no idea where I found it!

For the lining, I purchased yardage of Habotai silk, then dyed it in a range of bright pinks using low-water-immersion dyeing.

I wove about 10 yards of fabric and, having taken Bonnie Inouye's workshop, "Opposites Attract," I began experimenting with other structures, alternating my treadlings for Echo and Turned Taquete and then venturing into Rep and Double Weave. The Double Weave wasn't successful because I did not re-sley my reed for a tighter sett. But the Rep turned out really well, with a weft of hand-dyed Habotai silk ribbon alternating with 60/2 silk.

Here's the second garment that was juried into the fashion show, this one named "Summer's Lease II."

The top is woven in Warp Rep and the skirt is Turned Taquete, cut on the bias. Here's a close-up of the top.

As for patterns: the coat is my own pattern, fashioned after a swing coat I own and love. The skirt and top are my own designs. Photo credits and thanks to Timothy Fuss of Pixelwave, who does a wonderful job photographing handwoven garments.

Hope to see you in Reno!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

How to Warp from Back to Front

As I teach workshops here and there, I'm learning that many weavers dress their looms from front to back -- happily so -- or using a hybrid method rather than beaming back to front.

To my way of thinking, because I like to use fine yarns, back to front is the only way to go. Mainly, you avoid that extra pass through the heddles and the raddle, which can abrade the warp and invite knotting and other problems.

So I thought I would blog about a method that I hope most weavers will try at least once, just to see whether it works for them.

(For more information, see Madelyn van der Hoogt’s notes on the Weaving Today website:

1) Place a sturdy rod in the uncut end loops near the cross. Attach the rod to the back (warp) beam.

2) Lay two slats length-wise across your loom, inside the shafts (with the heddles moved away to either side), spanning from the breast beam to the warp beam, one on each side of the castle. These slats – I use 1-yard rulers on my table loom – will support the raddle and the lease sticks so that they don’t sag or wobble as you dress the loom.

3) Laying the raddle on top of your slats, affix it to the side arms or base of the loom, wherever you can attach it (I use small bungee cords). Place the lease sticks through the threading cross in your warp, laying the lease sticks on top of the slats. Secure the lease sticks to the sides of the loom between the back beam and the shafts (I run shoelaces through the holes in the lease sticks and then bring the shoelaces around the sides of the loom, tying the ends of the laces together so that the lease sticks are secured). Once the lease sticks are secured so that the warp ends can’t fall off, remove the yarn that secured the cross in the warp.

4) Spread the warp in the raddle.

5) Once the warp is spread in the raddle (with the heddles pushed to the sides and the reed removed), drape the rest of the warp chain through the castle, over the breast beam, and down to the floor in front of the loom.

4) Keeping the lease sticks tied in place behind the castle, begin winding the warp onto the warp beam. If threads tangle at the lease sticks or anywhere else, go to the front of the loom and pull the warp firmly in sections, combing the warp when necessary to smooth out the threads.

For proper beaming, your warp should look like 
the top photo – NOT the bottom photo.

5) As you wind the warp onto the warp beam, begin inserting heavy paper at least 2" wider or warping sticks 2" longer than the warp width to separate the layers of the warp. Continue, winding a complete turn and then tightening each section of the warp, pulling from the front of the loom. Beaming becomes kind of a dance, where you wind on at the back and then move to the front of the loom to tension the warp – back again to wind on and to the front again to tighten the warp. (Unless you’re winding on with a friend, that is!)

6) Thread the loom.

7) Remove the lease sticks (unless you prefer to weave with them in).

8) Sley the reed.

9) Tie the warp onto the front apron rod. 

And then -- weave away! Thanks for reading.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

How to Design 8-Shaft Echo Weave Using Fiberworks

Just finished: this sample above on 8 shafts, in preparation for my workshop at Convergence this July. (For details, click here and scroll down to the eleventh listing.) I'm using 10/2 pearl cotton in the warp, sett at 36 epi, with a 20/2 pearl cotton weft (in black). I like to call it "Many Rivers" because of the vertically flowing design.

In this blog post, I'll try to outline the steps it took to design this in Fiberworks. No easy task, learning how to do this! But it's so worth it: While weaving most any pattern can be a delightful journey, it's a great pleasure to create your own designs and then weave them up to see exactly what happens. I encourage you to try.

So here goes! (Note: I have a Mac, so keep in mind that the commands in Fiberworks may differ slightly for PCs.)

STEP 1: Create a design line

Using the "Draw Freehand" button, I designed curves that change in shape and size. Try it! Any rounded forms will do for starters.

STEP 2: Create a networked threading based on the design line

Click on the drop-down menu under "Warp" and then click "Redraw on network." A box will appear and you want it to have these settings: "No reduction," "Straight Twill" (under "Style of Initial"),  "4" (under "Height of the Initial").  (You do not need to enter anything under "Set Result to X Shafts.") Then click "Apply" and "Accept." Voila! You've created a networked threading.

Notice how the curves in the threading, based on a twill structure, follow the curves of the design line. If you want to learn more about network drafting, the definitive book is written by Alice Schlein.

STEP 3: Create an extended parallel threading

Again in the drop-down menu under "Warp," this time click on "Parallel Repeat," then "Extended Parallel," "Shafts Shift by 4," and then "Apply."

This threading may look at little strange if you're not familiar with extended parallel threadings. (For more on this, read the first four paragraphs of my blog post here.) But look carefully at the threading and compare it with the threading in the previous image: The first and second warp threads in the earlier image are on 1 and 2. In the second image, the extended parallel threading shown above, the first warp end is on 1, followed by its "echo" four shafts higher on 5. The second warp end is on 2, followed by its "echo" four shafts higher on 6. Echo Weave means that the threadings are in two parallel lines. Corkscrew twills are based on this concept as well. The threading goes round and round.

STEP 4: Assign colors to your extended parallel threading

In the "Warp" drop-down, click on "Fill Warp Colors." In the next box, set the colors for "AB," then drag the colors you want from the color panel into boxes A and B. Then click "Replace."

Why use two different colors? As each thread in the original networked draft is followed by its echo or parallel, so you have to distinguish these parallel patterns by using different colors. Otherwise, you wouldn't see the echo! So the colors are always A-B-A-B, etc. (In Marian Stubenitsky's book, Weaving with Echo and Iris, she often designs with as many as four different colors on four parallel threadings, for the beautiful effect that she terms "iridescence.")

STEP 4: Create a twill tieup

That's a simple twill repeat, rising, with 4 shafts up and 4 shafts down. This means that, for any warp thread and its parallel (for any pair of purple and black threads), one is up and one is down at any given time. This is the 4-shaft interval for the parallel threading, allowing the patterns to play one against the other.

STEP 5: Decide on a treadling pattern, based on a twill

For the treadling, I usually "draw" it in by hand, using the "Draw Freehand" button at the top left. There are lots of other ways to do this, but it's my preferred method.

I chose an advancing point twill, with a pattern of 1-2-3-4-5-4-3, 2-3-4-5-6-5-4, etc. I love the way the "points" in the treadling seem to sparkle in the drawdown! But there's a problem: there are long floats in the warp. If you can't tell just by looking at the drawdown, it's a good idea to check: You do this by clicking on the "Tools" menu, and then clicking on "Float Search." You can search for floats of any number in both warp and weft -- but I suggest that, with Echo Weave, you don't want floats of more than 5 ends or 5 picks. That's a lot, particularly if you're using threads that are as thick as 10/2 cotton or thicker.

STEP 6: Change the tieup, if needed, to reduce the number of floats

This means that you will have to add more variety in the tieup, so there are more tie-down threads in the warp. You may have to play with the tieup a bit to see how it works and what you like.

So that's the how-to. Hope it's clear enough to get you started. And then, if you're really ambitious, you can begin designing other patterns using different tieups and treadlings. For instance...

STEP 7: Bonus! Add tabby for Turned Taquete

This is a structure that automatically precludes floats: Turned Taquete! Just by adding tabby to a 4/4 tieup for an extended parallel threading, you can create a Turned Taquete design. (It's not TRULY tabby, as Turned Taquete is compound warp-faced tabby, but that's another discussion for another time.)

In any event, here's how to do this: Under the "Treadling" drop-down menu, scroll to the end and click on "Insert Tabby." What you'll get is a form of tabby -- but you'll have to adjust it so that treadle 1 lifts shafts 1, 3, 5 and 7 and treadle 2 lifts shafts 2, 4, 6 and 8. It's always a reward to see the design nice and clear and neat -- which is why I love Turned Taquete.

Here, in conclusion, is a detail of the back side of my Echo Weave sample, which is quite different from the front, pictured at the beginning of this post. Thanks for reading!