Thursday, July 19, 2018

What We Wove at Convergence: Echo Weave, Turned Taquete, Shadow Weave, Rep, Double Weave, and Even Collapse Weave

Echo Weave on 8 shafts on a warp of light blue and dark blue 10/2 cotton. 
The weft is 20/2 cotton in golden orange. Woven by Virginia Lee.

You've heard about Echo Weave, which is based on an extended parallel threading that weaves a warp-emphasis fabric with lots of color and strong patterns. But do you know about all the different structures you can weave on the same parallel threading? In addition to Echo, you can weave Turned Taquete, Shadow Weave, Rep Weave, Double Weave and even Collapse Weave, simply by changing your tieups and treadlings.

I taught a workshop on this subject last week at Convergence, the biennial conference for the Handweavers Guild of America, held this year in Reno, Nevada. "One Warp, Many Structures: An Exploration of Extended Parallel Threading" looked at all the possibilities I mentioned above. To teach this, I designed 9 different patterns -- 3 for 4 shaft looms, 3 for 8 shafts, and 3 for 12 shafts -- and invited students to choose a pattern and wind a warp using two colors of 10/2 pearl cotton. (I also named all of these patterns, using simple descriptions as a mnemonic device -- otherwise I couldn't remember them all!)

Below is a photo essay showing some of the beautiful samples the folks in my workshop created, with brief descriptions for each. It was a visual feast!

Above on left: Echo Weave sample using 8-shaft pattern, "Many Rivers," in light blue and off-white warp yarns. On right: the same pattern, this time in Double Weave, with top layer woven in off-white 10/2 cotton and bottom layer woven in 18/2 merino. The bottom layer fulls with hot water, soap, and agitation, making the top layer collapse and pucker. Woven by Roberta McKinney.

 Echo Weave in the 8-shaft pattern, "Falling Stars," using different colors of weft yarns in 20/2 cotton. 
Note how the the weft color completely changes the color of the fabric. Woven by Teresa Edmisten.

Left to right: Double Weave and Shadow Weave samples woven on 8 shafts in the "Fun House" pattern. 
Woven by Judith Rees.

 Clockwise, starting from top left: Echo Weave,
Double Weave, and Rep Weave on a 4-shaft pattern called "Op Art."  Woven by Diana Abrell.

Rep Weave in the "Fun House" pattern on 8 shafts. Woven by Virginia Lee. 

Shadow Weave on 8 shafts in the "Falling Stars" pattern. I think this was woven 
by Rachelle Weiss -- my apologies for not knowing for certain.

 Above, the 8-shaft "Fun House" pattern on a warp in two shades of blue for warp yarns. 
The red weft creates the impression of 4 different colors in the fabric. Woven by Judith Rees.

The two photos above: front and back of the "Falling Stars" pattern on 8 shafts in Double Weave. 
The warps alternate between a golden yellow and a hand-painted yarn in shades of green and blue. Woven by Sharlet Elms.

The two photos above: front and back of Collapse Weave in the 8-shaft "Falling Stars" pattern, woven as Double Weave. The weft alternates between 10/2 cotton in gold (front) and 18/2 merino in purple (back). With washing, soap, and a lot of agitation, the merino fulls on the back, making the layer on the top collapse into pleats. Woven by Sharlet Elms.

"Many Rivers" design woven on 8 shafts. Pictured from top to bottom: 
Echo Weave, Shadow Weave, and Turned Taquete. Woven by Virginia Glenn.

Pictured above, clockwise from top left: 8-shaft "Falling Stars" pattern in Shadow Weave, 
Double Weave, Rep Weave, and again in Double Weave. Woven by Ruth Ronan.

Blooming Leaf pattern on 4 shafts woven as Turned Taquete. Woven by Sharolene Brunston.

Above, top to bottom: "Fun House" pattern for 8 shafts. The top two samples are woven using a different Echo Weave tieup and treadling from the bottom 4 samples. The bottom 4 samples are all the same tieup and treadling for Echo, but using different colored wefts. The warp yarns are light blue and turquoise. Woven by Carie Kramer.

Thanks for reading! And many thanks to the staff of HGA for putting together another wonderful gathering of the clan!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Fishing Line, Gold Gimp, and Wool/Lycra: What a Difference a Weft Makes!

You know what it's like when you're at the end of a warp -- and you decide to just throw something in to see what happens? And you LOVE the results? That's just what happened to me a few days back, as I was weaving up samples for my upcoming workshop at Convergence, "Deflected Double Weave as a Collapse Weave."

Let's start at the beginning of the warp, with a design I created for Deflected Double Weave on 8 shafts. I wove up the first sample with 10/2 cotton in purple and 18/2 merino in red in both warp and weft, aiming for a collapse effect using differential shrinkage. (The wool shrinks in the washing and the cotton doesn't, so it puckers and collapses and creates lots of texture.)

Here's the original draft.

Here's how it wove up, before washing.

I was worried, before I washed this, that it would collapse diagonally. But it didn't, because each diagonal "step," with a vertical line of red connected to a horizontal line of red, actually has two opposing vertical and horizontal lines on the back of the fabric, making a square shape of yarn that will shrink. That's the nature of Deflected Double Weave: not only do individual yarns weave plain weave -- but groups (blocks) of yarns will weave in and out of each other, as warp or weft floats.

Here's how the sample looked after washing with hot water and agitating with dish soap.

So, skipping to the end of my warp -- remember where I threw in an unusual weft yarn just to see what happened? In this case, I chose a lambswool/lycra yarn that would easily collapse. Here's what it looked like before washing.

I'm posting this photo extra-large in hopes that you can see the wool/lycra: Looking closely at the squiggly red weft yarns, can you see a bit of white here and there? That's the lycra, very loosely plied with the lambswool. It's hard to imagine it will collapse much -- but it does. A lot, to the extent that the fabric shrinks maybe 50 percent width-wise. And you can stretch it back to its original width! Here's the finished sample.

And what about the fishing line? It's also called "monofilament," and it's a great way to create interesting effects with yarns that DON'T shrink but instead make the fabric curve and undulate.

Here's the original sample, before and after washing, using the 10/2 pearl cotton and 18/2 merino in both warp and weft. (You'll note that I varied the tieup and treadling from the first draft.)

And here's what it looks like, before and after washing, substituting 14-pound fishing line for the 18/2 merino in the weft. (Picture a weaver walking into Gander Mountain to purchase weft yarns....)

Wild, huh? I can see this writ large, for a wall hanging or even a window hanging, much like a stained-glass piece that lets the light shine through. One of my favorite weavers of all time, Liz Williamson, uses monofilament as an accent weft in conjunction with a wool or other collapse weft, which makes her fabrics curve and wind in graceful and unexpected turns.

As for the gold gimp: Here's the original sample, before and after washing.

And here's what happened, shown before and after washing, when I substituted gold gimp yarn for the red merino in the weft.

Gimp is a metallic-looking yarn, typically used as an accent. (Gimp is made of a core, such as cotton, wrapped in a sparkly thread and used in embroidery and trims.)

Still more samples to weave for Convergence. This is why we don't get a lot of housecleaning done these days.... but it's way more fun. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Book Review: 'Hidden Tapestry: Jan Yoors, His Two Wives and the War That Made Them One' by Debra Dean

     Jan Yoors, "Written in Fire," 1977, 7' x 21'

"It is what is unseen in a person or drawing that makes them interesting."
-- Jan Yoors

Among the great tapestry weavers of the 20th century is Jan Yoors, a Flemish-American artist who was also an author, photographer, humanitarian and World War II Resistance fighter. At the peak of his fame in the 1970s, as a Greenwich Village bohemian, his massive works were shown in museums, galleries, public buildings and collections worldwide.

As a weaving blogger, I received a review copy of this book and pretty much devoured it, thanks to Debra Dean's eloquent portrayal of an extraordinary life.

Dean -- author of the best-selling novel, The Madonnas of Leningrad -- recounts how she came to write this: "Eight years ago, my friend Mitchell Kaplan and I were talking in his Coral Gables, Florida, bookstore, Books & Books. 'I've got your next book,' he said. Authors hear this a lot, and it's never, ever true. Except this time."

The story would be unbelievable if it weren't true. As a child growing up in Antwerp, Belgium, the son of a social-reformer mother and an artist father, Yoors ran away with the Romani Gypsies when he was 12, returning home six months later. He did this every summer for years, learning their language and free-spirited ways. As an adult, he wrote about his life with the Romani: I'm reading The Gypsies right now, a document of a vanishing way of life that has immense appeal.

The most gripping part of the story is his work with the Resistance during World War II, much of which couldn't be documented. As an adult in war-time France, speaking multiple languages and working with the secretive and elusive Romani, he risked his life in fighting the Nazis, first as a saboteur and later as a guide to freedom for Allied soldiers trapped behind German lines. He was successful to the extent that he was twice imprisoned and tortured by the Gestapo.

Still he survived, marrying after the war and moving to New York City, where he gained fame as an artist. The life of mid-20th-century Greenwich Village, knowing Warhol and Pollack and the community of artists and free spirits who lived there, is another chapter in his amazing story. The details of his married life -- living with his first wife and her best friend, who had been one of his many models and lovers -- are noteworthy but somehow unsurprising for his culture and background. To me it's a side story, rather than a one of the most telling parts of the biography. (The fact that the three together did all of the weaving of his massive works is a lesson in domestic harmony, for sure!)

At the end of the day, I highly recommend this book as it captures the imagination in so many ways. If you're interested in art, in textiles, in the history of World War II, in the life of Greenwich Village in the mid-20th-century, in the mind of a free thinker and humanitarian, then read it by all means. Thanks to Dean and her team for sharing it with me.

Jan Yoors, "Conquerors Will Be Conquered," 1956, 7' x 6'