Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Teaching Echo -- and Playing with Echo -- at the Weaving and Fiber Arts Center

This is the playing part: for more on this draft, read on.

Let me start by boasting about my home guild, the Weavers' Guild of Rochester. Mind you, Rochester, New York, is not a big city, with maybe one million people in the entire seven-county region. Nevertheless, we have a large and dynamic weaving community. This includes our guild, with nearly 200 members, and our Weaving and Fiber Arts Center, featuring dozens of classes each year in weaving, knitting, felting, dyeing, lace-making, kumihimo, shibori, and lots of other fiber-art techniques.

The Center, as it's known, began in a small one-room studio in January 2002 and now includes two spacious rooms, one for dozens of looms and one for off-loom classes and meetings. Here are a couple of photos, to give you an idea.

More important are the scores of talented fiber artists who come to learn, create, and share. Give them some tools and some yarn and these folks are good to go!

Case in point: Just this past weekend, I taught a workshop there, "One Warp, Many Structures: An Exploration of Extended Parallel Threading." And sure enough, everybody produced skillful, beautiful samples. Here are some photos.

This above is a 12-shaft Echo design woven by Mary Ann Proia on 10/2 cotton with two colors in the warp, terra cotta and sage green, and three different weft colors. My favorite is the blue on the bottom. This photo shows the sample after it had been washed, which added texture to the pattern.

This is an 8-shaft Echo design woven by Marianne Antczak on a warp of gold and beige. The weft colors changed the appearance of the fabric dramatically: a green weft appears on the top and a soft purple weft is on the bottom.

Above is the same 8-shaft design in Echo (top of the photo) and in Double Weave (bottom) woven by Lee Donely. Her warp yarns were also in brown and tan 10/2 cotton.

Judy Fox wove a 4-shaft Echo design using fuchsia and black 10/2 Tencel as warp yarns. The bottom section uses a turquoise weft and the middle a yellow weft. The top portion, seen only slightly, features a Turned Taquete version of the same threading, woven with a green weft.

The workshop is designed so that you can weave five structures on the same threading: Echo, Turned Taquete, Shadow Weave, Rep Weave, and Double Weave. In the photo above, Nancy Kanniainen has woven Rep Weave on a warp of 10/2 cotton. The center section has warps of olive and teal and the outer borders have warps of teal and sage green.

Above, Amy Parker chose three different color sets for her 8-shaft warp: from left to right, green and navy, beige and purple, and salmon and cranberry. The bottom part of the sample is Rep and the top section is Double Weave.

And then we got to playing, looking at Marian Stubenitsky's book, Weaving with Echo and Iris. Specifically, we wanted to design a pattern of circles, as she shows on page 96, that called for no more than 10 treadles (the design in the book requires 32 treadles because it's Double Weave).

So, this is what we came up with, working together (this is the draft that appears at the beginning of this post, but I've enlarged it). It's not Double Weave, so you need just 8 treadles. (I call this draft "Circles Designed by Amy," because Amy Parker was so good at pointing out just what we needed to do, step by step, as we designed this as a group.)

We started with a profile draft.

Then, using FiberWorks PC, we created an "Advancing Repeat" that repeated 5 times, advancing one shaft up each time, in the "Warp" dropdown menu that listed "Repeat in Threading." It looked like this:

Very cool, yes? Next step, we completed the profile design by adding a straight draw for a tieup and "tromp as writ" (weave as drawn in) for the treadling, but inverted. Using FiberWorks, you can simply draw in (using your mouse) the first curve of the treadling profile, making sure it's exactly like the first curve of the threading profile, but inverted. Now you click on "Repeat in Treadling" under the "Treadling" dropdown menu and in that box, click on "Advancing Repeat" and insert the number 5 in the box that asks for the number of repeats. Here's what we got:

You see the different circle motifs? That's because of the advancing repeat, which shifts the threading patterns up.

Then we decided to do a simple block substitution using FiberWorks. Under the "Tools" menu, we clicked on "Block Substitution." We chose "Classic Weaves" and then "Crackle -- Twill Form." And with that one click, this is what we got.

After changing the warp colors to alternating blue and green (threaded ABABAB, etc.) and then changing the weft color to coral, we had with the colorful design shown at the beginning of this post. Most excellent! We were all very happy!

Except for one problem, immediately noted by Debbie Fister: The motifs are HUGE. Each one is about 170 ends wide. Even if you were threading your loom at 40 epi (not unheard of for 10/2 cotton in an Echo threading), that's more than 4" wide per motif. Something to think about. 

I went home and went back to the drawing board (in this case, the weaving software program) and came up with another, similar design with motifs that were just shy of 120 ends each. So that's 3" wide at 40 epi. And I could show you all the steps in how I got there....

But that's another story for another time ;o) Thanks for reading!

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Salvaging Your Selvages: Beating on an Open Shed

I want to call this a "Midway Through the Month Mini-Post," because I typically write a blog post every month and this is the second one I've written in just a few days. But I have an important point to make....

Beating on an open shed: Let's discuss.

All my weaving life, until just a few months ago, I would beat the weft on a closed shed. It just seemed more snug and secure and that was the way I was taught.

Some background: Weaving is ambidextrous, right? Both hands throw the shuttle, both hands beat the beater. But people are not ambidextrous, typically. So, because I'm right-handed, my right selvages were never truly even, while my left selvages usually looked better. And the opposite holds true: Left-handed weavers usually do better on the right selvage, because for this they're catching the shuttle with their left hand and pulling the weft across nice and even and tidy.

(You might ask why, but think about it: For the right selvage, you throw the shuttle with your right hand and then catch the shuttle with your left hand, which tends to draw in on the right selvage.)

I tried a lot of different remedies, including holding the selvage in a pincer grasp as I closed the shed. Yes, that's right. It worked pretty well but it took a lot more time and effort. And then one day, when I was teaching a workshop, we got into a discussion about beating on an open or a closed shed. The weaver I was talking with insisted that she always beat on an open shed -- that this was the right way to do things.

So I tried it on my next warp. I have to admit it did not come naturally after 20 years of doing things the other way. But I kept trying. And then I took a look at my selvages. Lo and behold...

Take a look at the right-hand selvage (or selvedge) in the photo at the beginning of this post. The warp is 20/2 cotton, which calls for precision when it comes to the selvages. They look pretty good, right?

I'm not writing this to brag about my selvages; the point is to advocate for beating on an open shed. It stands to reason, when you think about it: An open shed allows the weft yarns to wiggle about more and snuggle into place as the beater places them against the fell line. I think of it sort of like the "bubbling" that tapestry weavers do before they beat the weft in. And I swear that, when I beat this way, I can even see the weft wind off the bobbin after I've thrown the shuttle, as the beater moves toward the fell line. (I tried to capture this in a video but it requires some really close camera work.)

Another advantage to beating on an open shed, which also stands to reason when you figure you're pulling less on your selvages: There is less draw-in of the fabric, which puts less stress on the yarns at the selvage. Here's a photo of how minimal the draw-in is on my warp:

Too much draw in is just plain tough on the fabric. Weaving is more about gentleness, in my view -- unless you're a rug weaver!

That's all for now. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Collapse Fabrics with Deflected Double Weave

One side of the fabric

The other side

While it may not look like it, the above sample is Deflected Double Weave. Because it's woven on just 4 shafts, it's a very simple two-block pattern -- but it's Deflected Double Weave nonetheless, woven as a collapse fabric.

Here's the drawdown.

It looks pretty simple, eh? The warp is 20/2 cotton in stripes of purple and teal, sett at 36 epi. The weft is 20/2 cotton in a deep purple alternating with a fine wool/stainless steel yarn in fuchsia. This yarn is what creates the collapse effect: See the weft floats across the second block in the warp? At 75% wool and 25% stainless steel, these weft floats will relax and collapse when washed with hot water and soap, because the wool fulls while the stainless makes it crinkle. You can actually take this fabric and flatten it out or you can scrunch it up to get the crumpled effect you see in the photos. 

Here's what it looks like on the loom. -- gauzy, flat, and simple.

I used another yarn for the second weft in another sample: silk crepe from Habu Textiles. It's about 33,000 yards per pound, so fine that you can hardly see it!

It's very tough to wind this gossamer thread on a pirn (I always use an end-feed-delivery shuttle for fine and overtwisted yarns). It breaks so easily, as you can imagine. I actually used a doubling stand to help me, where I place the large bobbin that holds the silk crepe at the bottom of the stand and feed the yarn up through the tube that's used for doubling. It keeps the yarn nice and straight, which helps as I wind it onto the pirn.

So in this case I've substituted the silk crepe for the fuchsia-colored wool/stainless. The silk crepe floats and draws the warp ends in dramatically, making neat pleats!

One side of the fabric

The other side

Here's what it looked like before washing, in loom state:

To me, this fabric presents a real problem, because the sample is only about 7" wide! On the loom, it's 24.44" wide. -- that's more than 70% shrinkage, width-wise. So I like the first sample better, because it's about 12 to 14" wide after washing, which seems like a better width for a scarf. (That's what I want this fabric to become.)

Votes, opinions? I welcome you to voice your choice before I start weaving!

But before I end this post, I wanted to add a couple more photos. If you read my blog regularly, you may remember last month's post, showing a baby wrap I just finished for our new grandson, Owen. This month I finished knitting a sweater for him, using Elizabeth Zimmerman's Baby Surprise Jacket, knitted on #5 knitting needles with Kauni Effektgarn in space-dyed rainbow colors. I love the autumn colors and the vegetable buttons, especially since my daughter and son-in-law love vegetable gardening.

That's all for this month! Thanks for reading.