Thursday, July 11, 2019

You Can't Judge a Warp by Its Color (and Other Musings on Hues)

This photo proves my point: You can't judge a warp by its color -- and certainly not by any color in isolation. Weaving is all about connections. And typically the colors we enjoy in a woven fabric (especially with latter-day designs like Echo and network-drafted Jin) are the end result of those connections.

The warp yarns in the photo above are blue and burgundy and, while you might guess this if you looked at the sample at the top of the photo, you really can't tell from the sample at the bottom. The overall look changes dramatically based on the colors of the wefts: salmon in the bottom sample and coral at the top.

(I am tempted to deploy a bad pun here: You can't judge a warp by its color -- because there's always something weft....)

A warp is not a finished product. To me, this is such a valuable lesson. Equally important, a single color of yarn doesn't give us much information about the look of the fabric. Always, always, colors connect and play and contrast with each other -- and any fabric that delights or dazzles results from a combination of warp, weft, pattern, texture, light, individual perception, finishing, embellishment, perspective and so many other factors.

More evidence: The photos below show samples woven on the same four-colored warp. (Yes, these are all different patterns, but please just consider the overall palette of each sample.)

Coral-colored weft

Navy weft (I think -- maybe royal blue)

Bronze weft

What surprises me even more about Echo samples like these is that the weft yarn is just half the grist of the warp yarns. And yet it has such an impact.

And yet another example, a favorite of mine from a workshop I taught in Edmonton, Alberta, last May. Maryanne Hawryluk wove my 8-shaft parallel-threaded pattern "Falling Stars" for this sample in double weave. Can you guess the colors of her warp yarns? How about her weft yarns?

Here's the answer: Her warp yarns are red and green and her weft yarns are purple and the same green, all 10/2 cotton.

What makes this sort of color-bending effect happen? A while ago I posted a couple of images on Facebook that blew my mind: Images from computer drawdowns of an 8-shaft pattern I wanted to weave. Keep in mind that THE WHITE WARP COLOR DOESN'T CHANGE in the photos. But our perception changes with the different colored weft yarns.

Above draft uses an all-blue weft (of course, the fabric isn't weaveable because the wefts aren't tied down. I hadn't gotten to that point when I noticed the effect you see in the next photo.)

This draft uses alternating wefts of blue and black (again unweaveable -- but unbelievable!)

So I posted this and the comments were really helpful. Marg Coe told me that it demonstrated the principle of "Simultaneous Contrast." Still skeptical that I wasn't seeing things, I then posted a comment wondering whether the image on the screen itself had changed with the weft colors. Michael Stearn wrote back to tell me he had cropped the image so that he could compare the whites in isolation -- and the warp colors were indeed the same white throughout!

Simultaneous contrast. Hmmm. According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, this is "the tendency of a color to induce its opposite in hue, value and intensity upon an adjacent color and be mutually affected in return. By the law of simultaneous contrast a light, dull red will make an adjacent dark bright yellow seem darker, brighter and greener; in turn, the former will appear lighter, duller and bluer."

And while we're on the subject of yellow: In my travels, I can't count how many times I've heard weavers say, "Yellow is not my color." Nor is it mine (I never wear it) but I use it all the time in my weaving and teaching. And often in dye workshops it's the first color that's used up. 

Why? I think it's because yellow adds so much to the mix, such a glow, like sunshine. It's like salt: No one eats it straight from the shaker, but most of us add it to our meals.

Historic note here: In China during the Tang dynasty, light yellow -- the most luminous color -- was reserved only for the royal family. Anyone who violated this rule was subject to punishment or even death. You might want to consider this, our modern-day freedom and egalitarianism, the next time you purchase yellow yarn ;o)

Of course, the same principle applies to acid green and orange and bronze and gray and any number of colors that we normally don't think to use.

In closing, another example. Recently, my friend, Philadelphia weaver Hedy Lyles, jokingly told me she broke down and bought a cone of yellow yarn. And before making this unusual purchase, she wove with a bit of yellow in the warp for her beautiful piece shown in the photos below. ( draft #61157 modified for 24 shafts, with 3 colors in the warp: hand-painted warp "Denim Jewels" by Kathrin Weber of Blazing Shuttles alternating with blueberry and mineral green.)

My takeaway: Use yellow, most times sparingly. It can make a pattern shine. And remember too how important it is to think out of the crayon box when it comes to colors. And how important it is to work out of our comfort zone. And how important it is to sample. Yes it is!

Mother Nature -- or more specifically, natural selection -- does it all the time.

Photo of an Australian Common Bronzewing taken by Gregory F. Coonghe, 
shared on Facebook by Sherri Campbell. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

How to Design Double Weave Using Fiberworks

The photo above shows you what inspired this post: an extraordinary scarf using a collapse technique, created by British weaver Sally Weatherill. Her deflected double weave scarves are to die for -- but it's this silk double-weave scarf that I keep coming back to.

A few years ago, I spent way too much time trying to figure out how to draft this. Finally, I gave up and sent her an email -- to which she replied quickly and generously, sharing her draft and eventually some samples with me.

And guess what? All my analysis was in vain! The scarf was woven HORIZONTALLY on the loom while I had spent hours looking at it vertically. Beginning with a warp of green and blue silk, she wove a band maybe 10 inches deep, using inactive wefts in green and blue silk alternating with active wefts (elastic, I'm thinking, in the fuchsia and purple areas) and then cut it horizontally and serged the sides. This approach, assuming you have a very wide loom, would allow you to weave many scarves on just one warp.

So much for my thinking out of the box....

Here's the draft, thanks to Sally:

Look closely at the tieup:

The threading and the treadling are both straight draws, so the key to this beautiful design lies in this double-weave tieup. Does it look strange to you? Many weavers (myself included) find double weave hard to fathom.

So, for my benefit and hopefully for yours, let's break it down, looking at designing double weave on just 4 shafts with weaving software -- Fiberworks, in my case.

We'll weave the top layer on shafts 1 and 3 and the bottom layer on shafts 2 and 4. And we will use two different colors to represent each layer: in this case, purple and green. 

Note: It's hard to see how double weave really looks in Fiberworks because you really can’t look at both layers simultaneously. So, in part, you have to use your imagination. Keeping that in mind, here’s the first step. 

This is how the draft would look if you were to weave JUST the top layer (green in the threading and treadling). It’s a straight-draw threading and we're weaving plain weave on shafts 1 and 3. Notice that, with this tieup, the warp ends on shafts 2 and 4 (bottom layer, in blue in the threading) go unwoven. 

So how do you create a tieup for weaving the bottom layer? Here's my approach: I like to say that, to tie up the bottom layer of double weave, "up is down and down is up." You could also say that, instead of a rising shed in the tieup, you're tying up a sinking shed for the bottom layer. And yet another way to look at it is like a photo negative: what is black in the original tieup becomes white, and vice versa. 

(And yet ANOTHER way to look at it is to literally get under the loom and see that you have a mirror image for the bottom layer: a "lifted" warp thread on the bottom layer is really a warp thread that is down and a "lowered" warp thread is really a warp thread that is lifted.)

So, the tieup for the bottom layer looks like this, where your weft will be tied down (you might say “tied up,” remembering that this is double weave) with shafts 4 and 2:

Next you combine the two tieups for the two layers, because for traditional double weave you will weave the layers alternately, using two shuttles, to keep an even fell line. This treadling weaves on opposite sheds to achieve a two-layer structure.

Another way to draft it is with a straight draw in the treadling:

That's it. Of course, once you get into more than 4 shafts, there are many variations, including the 16-shaft tieup for Sally Weatherill's scarf. Browsing the internet, I have found compilations of suggested tieups for double weave. Marian Stubenitsky's book, Echo and Iris, is a good reference. And if you really want to dig deep into computer drafting, you might want to purchase Marg Coe's book, 4-8… Weave!

Thanks for reading. Hope you're not seeing double!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

O Canada!

Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies, 
viewed from the lakeside trail

I wish that everyone could experience the beauty, friendship, laughter and food (oh the food) that I enjoyed while teaching in Canada over the past three weeks.

Cappuccino made by Dave Connelly, 
some of the amazing food and drink I enjoyed in Alberta

Thanks to Lyn Pflueger, a wet felter, spinner, and weaver who teaches at the Alberta College of Art and Design (and to whom I am forever grateful), I was invited to teach four workshops for the Heritage Weavers and Spinners Guild of Calgary, the Sheep Creek Weavers and Fibre Artists Guild, the Crocus Country Fibre Arts Guild, and the Edmonton Weavers' Guild

How to begin to describe the talent and skill of the weavers I met over 21 days? I guess the best way is to start at the beginning....

Above: Lorel Dederer (left) and her sister, Cammy Desjardins

Lorel Dederer shepherded me about and organized everything for the Heritage Guild workshop, "One Warp, Many Structures: An Exploration of Extended Parallel Threading." The 14 weavers who took the class -- from beginners to advanced weavers -- showed an awesome degree of skill and creativity.

Norma Camman talks about her samples of the 4-shaft pattern "Op Art."

Ellen Kovar experimented with collapse techniques 
using the 12-shaft pattern "Pink and Green."

Tracy LaRose painted two warps for her samples 
of the 8-shaft pattern "Falling Stars."

Siri McCormick pretty much knocked it out of the park 
with her warp choices for the pattern "Falling Stars" 
-- even though she insisted she was just using up yarns she had in her stash.

Next stop: Teaching "One Warp, Three Structures: Weaving with 60/2 Silk" at the Sheep Creek Guild. The space was lovely and my accommodations could not be beat: I was staying in the foothills at the timber-frame home of Deb and Stu Turner. Standing in their living room and looking out the front windows, you had a 180-degree view of the Canadian Rockies, the rolling foothills, hundreds of aspens, and the occasional grazing deer. 

The 60/2 silk samples were beautiful as well.

An array of samples: at the top, using hand-dyed bias-cut silk ribbon as weft, 
on the bottom, using 60/2 silk as weft (apologies: can't remember who wove this)

60/2 silk in warp and weft checks, woven by Janine Jones

Sample woven by Brenda Geddes using overtwist wool 
to achieve a collapse effect

After class each day, Deb and I went exploring: She took me to the Leighton Art Center, the former home of landscape artist A. C. Leighton, who started what became the Banff School of Fine Arts... and to the Bluerock Gallery in Black Diamond, where I purchased one of Deb's beautiful scarves... and to the Tin Roof Fibre Studio, where Judy Sysak teaches Saori weaving and dyeing....

Judy Sysak (left) and Deb Turner at the Tin Roof Fibre Studio

Some of Judy's Saori-woven pieces

So I'm thinking to myself: talented fiber artists seem to be everywhere. Is it the medium? The people? Maybe the fact that fiber itself is so universally compelling that gifted folks around the world always manage to find a way to weave, knit, spin, dye, braid, sew and otherwise manipulate and organize soft twisty cords.....

And on to the next workshop: "Paint One, Beam Two: Painting Two Warps and Beaming Them as One" for the Crocus Country Guild. I stayed with Dave and Jan Connelly -- more five-star hospitality -- and was delighted to learn that they raise and train Shelties for agility competitions. They currently have four running about the house and fields.

Flash, who has placed third in Canada in agility competition

We spent the first day dyeing warps in the barn and the next day rinsing and drying them before beginning to dress our looms.

Warp painting in progress: MX fiber-reactive dyes on cellulose fiber

Warps hanging to dry. Dave pulled out a cooler 
that also works to keep food warm. We cranked it up 
to about 85 degrees Fahrenheit 
-- about 29 Celsius -- to cure the warps overnight.

Beaming in progress

Millie Tsuji's loom, dressed and ready for threading

Sad to say, I can't show you any of the final results, because this 2 1/2-day workshop is designed so that the weaving is done at home. (For any program chairs out there, if you're interested, let's talk about a full five-day workshop! We'd start with dyeing warps, then curing them and dressing looms, then threading and weaving up color samples. I think of this as a real weaving retreat.)

Then it was time to head north to Edmonton, with Robin Nixon kindly driving me some three-and-a-half hours to get there. (Fortunately she also got to visit her son, who lives in Edmonton, so it wasn't just a drive up and back for her.) The workshop there was the same as the first one I taught in Calgary, "One Warp, Many Structures: An Exploration of Extended Parallel Threading." Kyla Fischer was the program chair for the workshop and, once again, made sure I ate and slept well and was otherwise comfortable. Plus, she is a master at organizing people and looms! 

People tell me there is something of a good-natured rivalry between Calgary and Edmonton -- so, for the record, I will say that the weavers in both cities were equally skilled and creative.

Sandra Schulz's 4-shaft Echo sample in the "Blooming Leaf" pattern has a dimensional look.

The 8-shaft "Fun House" pattern woven in Echo by Joan White
had some beautiful variations using different weft colors 
-- particularly using a yellow weft (bottom section).

I love the weft-color choices in this Echo sampler in the 8-shaft Falling Stars pattern (readers, if you can remember who wove this, please let me know).

Double Weave sample using the 4-shaft "Blooming Leaf" pattern, 
woven by Bonnie Watt

Kyla Fischer discusses her samples of 8-shaft "Fun House" in Echo and Jin.

Shadow Weave sample woven in the 12-shaft "Lake Water" pattern 
by Catherine Melnychuk

Differential shrinkage sample woven by Kathy Buse 
on 12-shafts in Double Weave using the "Fish Tank" pattern

8-shaft "Many Rivers" pattern woven in Rep by Mary Ann Jackson

8-shaft "Falling Stars" pattern woven in Double Weave by Maryanne Hawryluk. 
Notice the warp colors and how the fabric colors are changed completely by the wefts.

For the record: here are the weft colors used in the sample above.

So much more to say... but I would have to spend many more hours writing about all that we wove and shared. At this point, all I can say is thanks for reading!