Friday, March 15, 2019

Go Big and Bold or Go Home: Some Thoughts on Colors and Yarns for Echo Designs

8 shafts, 4-color Echo pattern

Over the past couple of months, I've been weaving up samples for an April workshop with the New Hampshire Weavers Guild. I've learned some great lessons, mainly in terms of choosing colors and yarns that optimize the look of 4-color Echo.

(Some background: 4-color Echo uses 4 different colors in the warp, each on its own parallel threading. You can read all about it in Marian Stubenitsky's Weaving with Echo and Iris. Here's just a sample of how it may be threaded.)

Anyhow, my takeaway from all this sampling: Go big and bold or go home!

First I'll talk about going big -- that is, yarn grist (a.k.a. weight and thickness). The sample at the top of the page, on 8 shafts with a 4-end parallel threading, is my favorite of everything I've woven so far. The warp is 10/2 pearl cotton and the weft is 20/2 pearl cotton.

For comparison, here's a similar pattern on 16 shafts.

16 shafts, 4-color Echo pattern

This too was woven on a 4-color warp, using different color combinations for each motif. However, the warp yarns are much finer, in 20/2 pearl cotton. (The weft is silk sewing thread.)

To me, the second piece isn't as successful. There are lots of reasons, but the simplest is the difference between the 10/2 and 20/2 cotton warps. The 20/2 cotton is too fine a yarn to display the Echo pattern strong and clear, while the 10/2 cotton provides a much better display. I'm not saying that this is a binary choice, because I do like the 16-shaft version using 20/2 cotton -- but the heavier yarn defines the pattern better. 

(The challenge, for me, is the hand of the fabric: I really prefer the lighter weight of the 20/2 cotton fabric. For garments like long vests and tunics, it's not as heavy as a fabric using a 10/2 cotton warp. But I won't belabor the point! That's just the way it is.) 

And what about going bold -- that is, in terms of color? 

I could write a book on this (so many people have), but the point I want to share is that your warp colors are barely half of the story. Weft and pattern can make huge and surprising differences in the look of your fabric. And the more colors you have in the warp, the more surprises you may have in your results.

So let's look at choosing colors for 4-color Echo. (This is better termed "polychrome Echo," because we're not looking at a straight vertical in the fabric for each warp color, but rather an interplay of warp colors as the pattern shifts. With polychrome weaves, what you see in the warp is not what you get in the weaving.)

Choosing colors for polychrome Echo is counterintuitive: The colors in the warp may not look at all harmonious to you, while the end results can be beautiful. Take a look at the color diagrams below (these thanks to Widewalls, an online art gallery and magazine based in London, which you might want to check out for its excellent article on color theory, "Color Theory Basics You Need to Know"). 

For a four-color Echo warp, your best bet is to choose a square color scheme (the example in the bottom right corner of the diagram), with each of your four colors taken from the corners of a square drawn on the color wheel. The rectangle color scheme (the top right example) would also work.

And here's what I did in my samples. For the design that appears at the top of this post, my warp was 10/2 pearl cotton in yellow, orange, purple and turquoise -- which is a square on the color wheel (start at yellow, move three blocks counterclockwise to orange, continue three blocks over to purple, and then three blocks over to turquoise).

And you can see the colors as they emerge in the pattern (above): first orange, then yellow, then turquoise, then purple. (That was the color order for my threading.) The weft was 20/2 pearl cotton in turquoise.

As for the second sample -- this one, using 20/2 pearl cotton for the warp...

I wanted to try a color sampler, so each motif has a different set of warp colors. The first, on the far left, uses lime green, turquoise, red, and royal blue -- again, not quite a rectangle on the color wheel, more like a trapezoid, but I like the way it works. The second motif uses very subtle colors: teal blue, dark turquoise, olive, and brass, and it doesn't hold a lot of interest for me. The third motif uses pink, fuchsia, purple, and royal blue and, although the pattern is relatively distinct, I find the colors too sweet for my taste. The last motif, on the far right, was really just a shot in the dark: I used beige, gray, black, and tan in the warp just to see what these neutrals would do. And the results are... neutral.

I'm so glad I did this analysis, because in the future I will have some rules to go by in choosing colors for 4-color Echo. Then again, maybe I will have some rules to break.

Thanks for reading. And happy weaving!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Weaving Heartfully: Happy Valentine's Day!

"heartfully." With the whole heart; with enthusiasm, conviction, or intense feeling; warmly, cordially; devotedly.

What a great word! And what a great draft. I found it online, probably on Pinterest, and I have no idea where it came from, unfortunately. (Please let me know if you recognize this from someone or somewhere.) In any event, here's what it looks like in Fiberworks.

16 shafts, a 36-treadle repeat -- perfect for my Toika compu-dobby. I had a 10/2 Tencel warp on hand (wound from hand-dyed yarns by Teresa Ruch, with a solid purple yarn and a variegated red and purple yarn, purchased at Convergence 2018) and I sett it at 28 epi (for twill). The weft is 10/2 pearl cotton in red. Judging from the hand of the fabric on the loom, it's a bit too dense and heavy for a scarf. Perhaps it would work for a purse or a bag for my yoga mat? Then again, the hand might change substantially in the washing....

And then I got to thinking: Valentine's Day is here. So why not take this design and turn it into heart shapes, just by altering the tieup?  

Take a look at the scallop shapes in the tieup above. It's a damask weave, so the tieup is warp-emphasis for the purple sections in the drawdown and weft-emphasis for the turquoise sections. [Damask is defined as a fabric formed from satin (warp yarns floating over 4 or more wefts) and sateen (weft yarns floating over 4 or more warps) weaves, used to create reversible figured designs.] And the motif is split in half, because when you thread a point draw (shafts 1 to 16 and back down to 1), the motif reverses itself, creating the second half of the scallop shape.

I played around quite a bit, working to create a warp-emphasis heart shape against a weft-emphasis background, which required tie-down warps and wefts placed strategically. I had to keep in mind that there would be floats, because you really can't expect to have tie-downs in total symmetry. What's more important is the silhouette of the heart shape.

So here's what the draft looks like now.

I haven't woven it yet, because the original design is still on the loom -- but I could change that easily, right? That's the beauty part of having a computer loom. 

So there you have it, a heartful draft for Valentine's Day! Thanks for reading.

Oh and one note before I close: Google Plus will be shutting down in March, which means that people who subscribe to this blog through Google Plus will no longer get my posts. So please change your method of receiving posts by clicking "Follow" in the blue rectangular box below all the miniaturized photos on the left-hand margin of my home page. Or you can click on the red box under "FeedBurner Subscribers." 

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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Midwinter Night's Dream: How to Design 4-Color Echo

From this...

To this...

And this...

And this...

And this!

Four-color Echo seems to be at the top of every weavers "To Do" list these days -- chiefly because of the flowing lines and delightful iridescence. There are lots of drafts out there, certainly, and many gifted weavers creating patterns.

But how do they do it? And, more important, how can you do it on your own?

It's all through the magic of weaving software -- in my case, Fiberworks Silver for Mac. Here are some basic steps I've learned in preparing to teach a workshop for the New Hampshire Weavers Guild in April. 

Step 1:
Choose your yarn in 4 colors for your warp. This is not as easy as it sounds! I recommend starting with 10/2 cotton (or something similar in grist). To keep it simple, start with two colors that are analogous (next to each other) on the color wheel or close to it -- in my case, that was orange and yellow. Then move across the color wheel and choose two more analogous (or close to it) colors -- in my case, purple and blue. You'll want four colors that give you a broad chromatic range.

Step 2:
Calculate your sett, width in reed, and number of warp ends. For Echo, choose a sett that is denser than twill but less dense than double weave. So for 10/2 cotton I chose a sett of 36 epi. My warp was 400 ends, giving me a weaving width of about 11 1/6" in the reed.

Step 3:
Now for the designing. Let's work on 8 shafts, which is what I did for my samples. As always with the curves of Echo, you start with a design line, using the Freehand tool on Fiberworks. Here is a sample design line. (I am showing you a different design from the one I wove for the samples, because I don't want to give away my drafts before the workshop.)

Step 4:
Create a parallel threading. On the Warp dropdown menu, click on "Parallel Repeat." Then click on "Extended Parallel," then enter the number 4 in the box that says "Shafts Shift By." Make sure all the other boxes are unchecked, and then click "Apply." You'll get something like this.

Each warp end in the original design line now has a parallel that is four shafts above it. (Sometimes the parallel appears to bounce around. The reason: For a warp end on shaft 8, the parallel thread that is 4 shafts "above" it is on shaft 1. Because we have only 8 shafts, we have to treat shaft 1 as the "9th" shaft, just as we would with a corkscrew twill.)

Step 5: 
Create a 4-end parallel threading. Fiberworks has instructions on how to do this (which you'll find if you hover your cursor over the "Interleave" command in the drop-down menu under "Warp"). Essentially, it involves opening a second draft and cutting and pasting (really, interleaving) between two drafts. I found that a bit complicated, so I tried to do it another way. And it worked! How I did this: Starting with the parallel threading I created in the image above, I clicked once again on the "Parallel Repeat" option in the Warp dropdown menu. Like before, I clicked on "Extended Parallel" -- BUT this time I entered the number "2" in the box marked "Shafts Shift By." (And of course I made sure the other boxes were unchecked.)

Makes sense, doesn't it? For a 4-end parallel threading on 8 shafts, you'll want an interval of 2 between each warp end (interval of 2 x 4-end parallel = 8). So this is how our 4-end parallel threading looks.

Step 6:
Add your colors. For the PC version, you have to add your colors by hand. For the Mac version, you follow these steps: On the Warp dropdown menu, click on "Fill Warp Colors," then scroll all the way down in the box at the top right to select "ABCD." Four colors will appear in the boxes and, for our demonstration purposes, just click "Replace." (You can play with colors to your heart's content once you've read this tutorial.) Here's how our threading draft looks now.

Step 7:
But what does the full drawdown look like? That, dear reader, is for you to determine. From this point on, you can follow the instructions for Echo tieups and treadlings that I laid out in my blog post here (on February 17, 2018), giving you steps to begin designing your own extended parallel threading drafts. But just to give you an idea of how our demonstration drawdown might look, here's one version. (I'm using a blue weft -- and don't forget, if you're working with 10/2 cotton for your warp, you'll want to use a 20/2 cotton -- about half the grist -- for your weft. And also don't forget that your weft colors will have a big impact on the overall look of your fabric.)

It could use some tweaking for sure -- but not bad for starters. The design possibilities are endless! Thanks for reading.