Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Convergence 2022 in Knoxville: I Stayed Home -- But My Garments Were There!

 Tabard for a Gentle Knight

Detail: 24-shaft 4-color double weave on an Echo threading

Tabard for a Covid Warrior, 16 shaft double-weave, all natural dyes

My husband and I were all packed, just double checking everything before we headed for Knoxville, when he took one final rapid test for Covid. He was feeling pretty good, a little congested, nothing much, but he conscientiously took the test.

"I'm positive."

OK, all right, let's figure this out. (You kind of start talking to yourself when stuff like this happens.)

"What to do?" 

"Not much, because we're staying here." 

"First, we unpack." 

"No, I don't want to." 

So I didn't unpack my teaching supplies and samples and notebooks, because I hoped that, by Zoom and the grace of technology, the show could go on. I was going to give a seminar at Complex Weavers (my first, on how to weave collapse fabrics) and then give a 3-hour workshop on Dorset Buttons at Convergence.  

Quick pivot to Zoom presentations, which called for shipping a big box of materials, to be received by my intern, an MFA student at the University of New Mexico, Rosalba Breazale. She deserves a round of applause for all the work she did, way above and beyond what she signed on for! 

And how about a projector? Giovanna Imperia, a wonderful weaver and friend, came through by lending me her projector for both Complex Weavers and Convergence. The work got done, somehow....

Here's a look at some of the Dorset Buttons in progress at our Zoom workshop, "Beaded Dorset Buttons":

Top to bottom, on the left: Lyna Rizer and Joan Beebe; center: Rebecca Voris, Elizabeth Keller, and Jackie Heller; on the right: Brenda Osborn and Penny Morgan

Most important, my husband feels great; I continue to test negative; my 94-year-old Mom tests negative. My son and daughter-in-law-to-be both have mild cases and they seem to be doing well. You know how the story goes!

Still, I really wanted to see my garments on the runway at the Convergence fashion show, "Seasons of the Smokies." My good friend, Mimi Anderson, took this video of my piece, "Tabard for a Gentle Knight," which was fun to watch.

Hard to see, but this is the garment in the first photo of this blog post.

The conference went well, as far as I can tell from reading about it on Facebook and talking with friends, but I think that the pandemic still played a role in keeping folks away and even, in my case and that of one or two others, changing the way courses were run or cancelling them altogether. I think I appreciate even more how wonderful it is to gather with friends and talk about our favorite subject.

Until then, take care.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Weaving on the Curve in 20/2 cotton

Sampling on 16 shafts with different wefts (top to bottom): 
S-twist linen crepe, Z-twist silk crepe, 60/2 spun silk

16-shaft sample with 60/2 silk weft after washing (and coaxing the pleats to curve)

Same sample with pleats before washing

Take note: I wove these samples on the end of a black-and-white warp that was left over from another project. Really, I was just curious about how to weave curving pleats. No way would I use black and white yarns if I were weaving this for a garment! 

Anyhow, I'll get to the point. As we all know from that inspiring book, Fabrics That Go Bump, when you weave a turned twill on 8 shafts or more, you can create vertical pleats. The secret lies mainly in the structure, which is basically a turned twill that alternates between weft-emphasis and warp-emphasis blocks.

Here's a look at a design from this book by the late, great Erica de Ruiter. I found it inspiring.

De Ruiter designed her treadling in the liftplan, which looks like this.

I think it's ingenious -- but I decided to use a networked curve instead, which looks like this in the liftplan.

Truthfully, I think de Ruiter's design is better, as there are more warp floats per pleat. But why compare? The important factor is that both designs allow for floats of three in the warp yarns alternating with floats of three in the weft yarns.

How does this structure create pleats? It's the mechanics of how yarns relax after washing, really. The weft floats (in white on both drafts) relax and draw in, creating a concave shape, pulling on the warp floats on the other side (which are vertical, so they align vertically, sort of like Venetian blinds folding up on themselves, and create convex pleats).

The ratio of grists -- warp vs. weft -- can help with this effect, in my experience. In my sample at the beginning of this post, the warp is 20/2 cotton threaded in black and white at 8,400 yards/pound, while the weft at the bottom of the photo is 60/2 silk in black at 14,800 yards per pound. So the ratio in grist of warp to weft is about 5:3. I prefer a ratio of about 2:1, but I didn't have any other yarns in my stash. (You know how that goes.)

Another way to achieve pleats is to use the same design (warp floats alternating with weft floats) with an "energized" or "active" weft, such as crepe or overtwist or elasticized yarn. First, I tried an S-twist linen crepe from Lunatic Fringe. (You'll see this sample, vaguely, at the top of the photo at the beginning of this post.)

Gevolve Yarns linen crepe in S-twist at 10,400 yards/pound

The sample is definitely textured and pleated, but you can't see curves at all.

I don't really have a theory on this, other than that the yarn draws the warp in so much that the curves are lost because they are too subtle.

The same thing happened when I tried silk-crepe yarn from Habu, a Z-twist gossamer-weight yarn that's about 33,000 yards/pound (and not at all fun to wind on a pirn, because it's constantly plying backwards on itself). The photo at the beginning of this post shows this sample in the middle of the fabric.

The spool above has lasted forever: I purchased it back in the day when Habu was based on West 29th Street in Manhattan! This yarn shrank the sample about 50% width-wise -- again, overkill as far as the curves I was looking for.

What did I learn from this? 1) That it's useful to design in the liftplan, especially when you want precise curves and patterns. 2) That you don't necessarily want to use active yarns for collapse effects, especially when you're working with turned twills. 3) That sampling, sampling, and sampling some more always pays off.

Perhaps, like me, you tuned in to "Textiles and Tea" with Kathi Grupp from HGA interviewing Anita Luvera Mayer on Tuesday, June 21. That was a big part of Anita's message: We need to sample and, even if we feel our samples aren't successful, we have learned something, so we've moved forward. I've certainly learned something, even if I'm not thrilled with the results.... But then again, maybe a long scarf with curving pleats, using de Ruiter's liftplan along with a variety of active and inactive yarns in the warp? In beautiful colors?

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Teaching and Touring in Oregon and California

Deflected double weave scarf by Robin Korybski, on the loom 
at the weaving studio in the Multnomah (Oregon) Arts Center

If you love to weave, you need to travel -- because you can gain so much inspiration from extraordinarily gifted weavers the world over. The techniques, colors, textures, and uses may vary widely, but there's a high level of fiber talent to be found almost anywhere, provided you know where to look. 

Let's start with Portland, OR, where I taught a workshop on Echo threadings to the Portland Handweavers Guild, thanks to the efforts (and beer, bread, and coffee) of program chair Lynne Fitzsimmons. It would take up way too much space to post all of the photos of all of the beautiful samples we wove, but here are a few highlights.

Echo sample on 8 shafts woven on two hand-painted warps (beamed together as one) by Bertha Kao

Another 8-shaft Echo pattern woven on two hand-painted warps by Kathy Goetz

Two 8-shaft samples woven on two hand-painted warps by Lynne Fitzsimmons, in Rep (top of photo) and in double weave (bottom part of sample)

Bertha, Kathy, Lynne, and others in this workshop had painted their warps a couple of months ago in a Zoom workshop I taught, "Paint Two, Beam One." The technique involves painting two warps in contrasting color palettes (varying in both hue and value) and then beaming them together on a loom to weave structures as varied as plain weave, twill, Echo, and double weave. It's a great preliminary workshop for my course on parallel threadings, because weavers can then thread their looms in the alternating color palettes (A/B/A/B) and weave them on an extended parallel threading. The results are a play of pattern and color, as you can see, creating surprises with optical mixing in the fabric.

Prior to the workshop, I gave a talk to a group of on-site and on-Zoom guild members, followed by a wonderful show and tell. I fell in love with an eco-printed scarf by Eva Douthit (below). The technique calls for cutting out rectangles of black kimono fabric (which contains indigo dye) and finding leaves and other plant life that you then sandwich between the kimono fabric and a silk-scarf blank -- a dye process that resulted in the other-worldly images below.

Detail of a scarf by Eva Douthit

So much to see and savor! I'm grateful to my iPhone, which to date has nearly 20,000 photos on it, which is ridiculous....

The second leg of the trip was to northern California, where I taught at the Conference of Northern California Handweavers. From what I've learned from teaching on Zoom over the past two years, the entire West Coast -- from Alaska to San Diego, including British Columbia in between -- is full of weaving inspiration.

And natural inspiration, of course.

Take the redwoods, for instance. I have never seen anything like them. Walking through Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park in Felton, CA, near Santa Cruz, was like walking through a grove of grand and ancient friends. We had stopped to visit my sister and her husband and son at their new home in Boulder Creek, CA -- itself nestled in the redwoods, but what Californians call young redwoods.

Redwoods near my sister's home in Boulder Creek, CA

Then on to San Mateo, to teach at the Conference of Northern California Handweavers. It was a reawakening, of sorts, for most everyone there, because everyone had been quarantining for the past two years....

A photo of my classroom, taken by conference organizer Nancy Williams-Baron

Again, I was struck by the degree of talent, as you can see below on this 24-shaft sample woven by Donna Kaplan of Seattle.

Susan Maturlo wove an 8-shaft parallel-threaded version of the ever-popular pattern #728 that I adapted from Carol Strickler's book.

Rep variation of Strickler #728, parallel threading on 8 shafts, woven by Susan Maturlo

There were exhibits, of course, and vendors, of course, and wonderful food and friends. I ran into Suzanne Woodhead of the Reno Fiber Guild, who wore a shawl of  deflected double weave fabric based on a pattern in a Zoom workshop I taught, organized by Suzanne for her guild. The fabric uses energized yarns that create puckers and ruffles in the cloth in the washing process. She looked elegant!

Suzanne in her deflected double weave art-to-wear

The entire trip was about fiber, friendship, and family -- and wouldn't have been possible without the lovingkindness and support (and driving skills on those mountain roads) of my husband, Larry, seen here on the left with my sister, Buff, me, and her husband, Jim, among the redwoods in Cowell State Park.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, April 15, 2022

April 28 to May 1: The Weavers' Guild of Rochester 75th Anniversary Celebration!

The Weavers' Guild of Rochester celebrates its 75th anniversary this month. We are so proud of our longevity and our growth that we've planned a four-day-long series of events, all free and open to the public. Hope you can join us!

Most important is our exhibit, featuring beautiful pieces that are woven, spun, knitted, dyed, felted, beaded, and crocheted (among other fiber-art techniques) by our members. These works will be on display for four days at the Eisenhart Auditorium of the Rochester Museum and Science Center. Some will be for sale and some will be juried -- by Wendy Marks, director of Shop One and the University Gallery at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Prizes will be announced at 3 p.m. on Thursday, April 28.

The opening reception takes place on Friday, April 29, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

On Saturday, April 30, from 4 to 5 p.m., Marcia Weiss, director of the textile design program at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, will give the keynote presentation.

And on Sunday, May 1, we'll have a fashion show at 2 p.m. 

In addition, we'll hold demonstrations of loom weaving, tapestry weaving, spinning, and knitting throughout the exhibit.

American Sign Language interpreting will be available during the announcement of the awards, the juror's walkabout after the awards presentation, and the keynote address.

The Weavers' Guild of Rochester was formed in 1946, with early meetings taking place at the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester. As the guild grew, we met at a variety of different venues, most recently at the First Baptist Church of Rochester. More than 75 years since we began, we have our own Weaving and Fiber Arts Center, a highly successful Holiday Show and Sale, and nearly 200 members active in all of the fiber arts.

And what will I be entering in the exhibit?

The theme of the exhibit is "Diamonds," in honor of our diamond anniversary -- so I had to enter this 16-shaft deflected double weave infinity scarf, of course! It's woven with two hand-painted warps in 18/2 merino and 10/2 cotton, then fulled by hand to create the puckering of the cotton layer.

A second piece I'm entering is the coat above, which I call "Blue Rills" because of the cascading blue motifs that cover the burgundy ground cloth. This is woven in 8-shaft deflected double weave using two hand-painted warps. Like the scarf above, I used differential-shrinkage techniques, washing the fabric with hot water, soap, and agitation so that the ground cloth (in 18/2 merino) fulled and the pattern layer (in 20/2 cotton) collapsed into curves that look like lace. The pattern is by Marcy Tilton.

Finally, I'm entering this scarf of degummed reeled silk, woven on three hand-painted warps in a 12-shaft extended-parallel threading tied up and treadled as Rep, without the thick-and-thin wefts. I call it "Pagoda" because the pattern reminds me of the curves of the pagoda roofs that are so famous in China.

Thanks for reading!


Thursday, March 17, 2022

More Explorations in Parallel Threading: Playing with Strickler #728

Among the 10 or 20 most popular contemporary weaving patterns, Strickler #728 (first photo) is among them, I would guess. I've seen many iterations on Facebook and it never fails to dazzle. And if you "Google" the pattern, the variations go on and on, as you can see in this screen shot from my computer....

Credit goes to Joan McCullough, who designed this intricate, ornate gem -- a Rosepath motif in multiple tabby, which is one of the favorite structures of my "weaving mother," Joyce Robards. (Shout out to Joyce, whose "Many Friends" design appears on the facing page in Strickler.)

It's the endless possibilities for interactions of color and pattern, I believe, that entice most weavers. But for this post, I would like to play with the design potential of #728 using an extended parallel threading, otherwise known as an Echo threading. Once again, McCullough's pattern shines!

The original draft of #728

Above is the original threading, tieup, and treadling you find in Strickler. To create the same pattern in Echo, all you need to do is click on the "Warp" dropdown menu in Fiberworks, choose "Parallel Repeat," then "Overlapping Repeats Shifted by 4," and then "Apply." (Please note that the "Parallel Repeat" command is available only with Fiberworks Silver. Also, I am using a Mac, which has slightly different commands from a PC.)

Here's what you get:

Yes, there are some threading issues: above, you see there are eight sections where two sequential warps are threaded on the same shaft. My answer is simply to alter those threads by moving one of each pair up a shaft, reflecting the pattern below them (on the right) and above them (on the left). Here is the result:

Now we have a viable Echo design, using the same tieup and treadling as the original twill pattern.

I could see using different-colored stripes in the warp as weavers love to do with the original twill design, so that the linear motifs are outlined and clarified.

What about Jin? Using the same parallel threading, all you need to do is create a 4/4 descending twill tieup and add tabby shots in between. (Note that I changed the weft color to black to emphasize the patterns.)

The appeal of 728 continues. So let's try Shadow Weave, which is also on a parallel threading -- as well as a parallel treadling, with a 4/4 ascending-twill tieup.

"Instrestring," as my son used to say when he was a toddler. This may be a bit dizzying, but then again, it all depends on the colors you choose and the function of the piece.

Not much different from Shadow Weave is Rep: same threading, tieup, and treadling. The only changes are that the sett goes from plain weave to denser than double weave and the weft has alternating thick-and-thin yarns.

I like this. Again, I see a lot of potential for playing with different-colored stripes in the warp. 

Last, there's double weave, yet another structure that can be designed on an extended parallel threading. 

728 in double weave, front

And back, although not much different

McCullough's design comes through in so many variations -- and on just 8 shafts! I got to thinking: I have a 32-shaft Megado, so I wonder what would happen if I expanded the threading to 32 shafts, using a 4-color, 4-end parallel threading?

The way I see it, this pattern is something like Beethoven's Ode to Joy, endlessly pleasing, whether it's performed as a piano solo or with a full symphony and chorus. 

And who knows? Maybe I could develop a workshop on this? From Echo to Jin to Shadow Weave to Rep to Double Weave, from 8 shafts all the way to 32...

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Collapse Techniques: Some Active Yarns and How They Work

Pictured above: A scarf woven on 4 shafts in deflected double weave. The warp is 20/2 cotton in stripes of teal and purple and the weft uses these yarns plus a wool/stainless-steel yarn (see the floats above, in fuchsia). The scarf looks like gauze on the loom, but when you wash it in gentle soap and lukewarm water, the wool/stainless floats crinkle up and draw in horizontally, creating vertical pleats in the fabric.

I love these surprises in the finishing! And one of the easiest ways to achieve them is by using active or energized or exotic yarns -- a large category that includes yarns that will shrink, twist, collapse, and/or relax after washing.

Right now I'm teaching a Zoom workshop for the Reno Fiber Guild, "Deflected Double Weave for Collapse Fabrics." I put together a short handout on the active yarns we're using and how they work and I thought it was worth sharing in a blog post. Here's the list -- of course, it's not comprehensive -- along with photos and images of the yarns under magnification.

Fine Gold Gimp (Metallic Yarn)

The thicker version of this yarn doesn't work well for creating texture in fabrics, but the finer version can add a lot of interest. It's really 77% polypropylene and 23% metallic. And it's hard to find: The only vendor in the States that sells it is Made in America Yarns, a Philadelphia company that lists it under the name "fine metallic gimp yarn."

This is what a single strand looks like at 60X magnification.

And here's what it looks like after weaving and washing.

The polypropylene shrinks up with warm water and soap, bending and crimping the metallic coils around it. When used as weft, this can create some interesting motifs as it shrinks the fabric width-wise.

Wool/Stainless-Steel Yarn

This yarn, available from Habu Textiles, is what I used as weft in the scarf pictured at the beginning of my post. You can achieve similar effects with silk/stainless-steel yarn, available from Lunatic Fringe. Here's what it looks like under 60X magnification, unwoven (first photo) and woven and washed (second photo).

The wool shrinks in the washing and the stainless-steel filament bends with it, so that the sample is drawn in. I find that you can actually shape the garment, either flattening it out or stretching it vertically to create vertical pleats. It all depends on your mood ;o)

Deflected double weave sample on 8 shafts

Deflected double weave sample on 12 shafts

18/2 Merino Wool

Nothing beats wool for differential-shrinkage effects. Combine it with cotton or silk or some other inactive yarn and you'll get pleats and poufs and lots of texture. (Note: I don't recommend using JaggerSpun Zephyr, because the silk component doesn't full in comparison with the 18/2 superfine merino. Also, be careful not to purchase super-wash wool yarn, because these yarns are chemically treated NOT to full or shrink.)

Hand-painted warp of 18/2 JaggerSpun superfine merino

1 strand of 2-ply yarn, before fulling

Magnified image of the yarn after weaving and fulling

16-shaft deflected double weave sample after fulling, using 18/2 merino and 10/2 cotton in both warp and weft (hand-painted warps and wefts)

Venne Colcolastic (and Other Elasticized Yarns)

This yarn has two components: a fine 2-ply mercerized cotton and an elasticized single. Here's what it looks like under magnification:

And here's what it looks like under magnification and after weaving and washing:

My explanation for this effect is that the elastic draws in and the cotton is drawn in with it, crinkling and twisting up as it goes. Below is a sample of a 4-shaft deflected-double-weave piece I wove with long weft floats of the Colcolastic. (You're viewing the warp horizontally.)

This second sample, below, has no floats on the front and narrow floats on the back, simply because there are just 4 warp yarns in the block it floats over. It's a 12-shaft deflected double weave. Colcolastic is used as weft for the middle section only.

Active yarns are just one way to create textured fabrics. You can also achieve dimensional effects just by weaving structures that lend themselves to texture: turned twills, honeycomb, waffle weave, and of course deflected double weave will create curves and pleats even without the aid of active yarns.

Weavers will sometimes get preoccupied with color and structure, forgetting about that third invaluable characteristic of our craft, that of texture. In her definitive book, On Weaving, Anni Albers devotes a chapter to "Tactile Sensibility," focusing on the importance of matière:

"Matière is the word now usually understood to mean the surface appearance of material, such as grain, roughness or smoothness, dullness or gloss, etc., qualities of appearance that can be observed by touch.... Surface quality of material -- that is, matière -- being mainly a quality of appearance, is an aesthetic quality and therefore a medium of the artist...."

Weaving, in her view, brings us back to our ancient tactile sense. Of course, the yarns we use are central to this achievement.

Thanks for reading!

Convergence 2022 in Knoxville: I Stayed Home -- But My Garments Were There!

 Tabard for a Gentle Knight Detail: 24-shaft 4-color double weave on an Echo threading Tabard for a Covid Warrior, 16 shaft double-weave, al...