Sunday, September 18, 2022

What's on the Loom?

More accurately, what's going on the loom? At this writing, I'm in the process of winding on a painted warp for a Jin design on 28 shafts (one of the versions of the pattern is shown above). Here's where I am at the moment, looking at the back of the loom.

It's kind of an unusual warp: Has anybody heard of 24/3 unmercerized cotton -- with about 1% of black rayon thrown in? Who knew? It was a big cone in natural that I picked up at a guild sale. Figuring that the grist of 24/3 cotton was equivalent or close to that of 16/2 cotton, I wound a warp two ends at a time, alternating between the 24/3 unmercerized cotton in natural and a 16/2 unmercerized cotton in black. 

When I went to paint the warp, I painted the entire warp at once, natural and black together. The dye colors don't affect the black at all, so you get a two-color painted warp, effectively, that you can thread for Echo. I appreciate efficiencies like that.

Back to the design. I love broken twills (most of us do, right?), a category that includes the old German designs known as Gebrochene. I've posted on this subject before, looking at a 16th-century pattern affectionately named "The Earl." Margie Thompson, an expert on historic textiles, shared it with our guild in a talk some time ago, and she was kind enough to send me the original draft, which is for 14 shafts. (For more on "The Earl" and Gebrochene twills, see my blog post of November 17, 2020.)

How did I get from the elegant, almost filigreed 14-shaft design above to the more primitive, tribal-looking 28-shaft design at the beginning of this post? It's a technique that I teach in my parallel-threading classes, using an Ms and Ws twill as a design line for Echo. I start designing by uploading the original Earl drawdown for 14 shafts in Fiberworks. (You need Fiberworks Silver for these functions.) Then, you click on the "Warp" dropdown menu and next you click on "Parallel Repeat" to Echo the original design line with a second threading 14 shafts above it.

Step 2: You see that the original Earl treadling is tromp as writ, for 14 treadles. This would work for a 28-shaft design, but it would give you squashed motifs, not very appealing. All I did (again, to achieve the design at the beginning of this post) was double the number of treadles for the entire treadling (so that treadle one becomes one and two, treadle two becomes three and four, treadle three becomes five and six, and so on). In other words, if the original treadling went from treadle 1 to 14 and down again in a point-twill pattern, I doubled the length of the pattern, so the treadles go from 1 to 28 and down again. 

Step 3: Here's where it gets a bit more complicated. I started by designing Echo using a twill tieup for 28 shafts. This is what I got. Just a detail shot. I really don't like it at all.

What to do? As I like to say, "Keep Calm and Add Tabby."

Of course, Echo has its charms -- but Jin also has a lot going for it: nice drape, one-shuttle weave, floats never longer than 3 in warp or weft, clear pattern definition, the ability to stretch out "squashed" designs, and the potential to play with the tieup to add a bit more color and interest, without risking long floats. That's what you see in the drawdown at the top of this post -- and also in the design below which uses another treadling but a similar tieup. 

I like both designs, the one above and the one at the beginning of this post. What they share are tieups for what Bonnie Inouye calls "Decorated Jin." Below is what a classic Jin tieup looks like, with half the shafts raised and half down in an ascending-twill pattern, with tabby tiedowns in between:

You'll see that the motifs above are simple and distinct, basically two colors, light and dark. This drawdown shows only a detail so that you can see the tieup more easily. Now let's look at a tieup for Decorated Jin.

Here, there are different colors and the motifs have more interest. The difference is that I've broken up the 14 up/14 down ascending-twill tieup, adding a bit of plain weave. Now, I see four different shades: pale blue, medium blue, dark rust/blue, and royal blue. It's all in the details! 

I'm going to sample at least two Decorated Jin designs and, fingers crossed, find at least one I really like. But first, of course, I have to finish dressing my loom....

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Summer Is the Time to Play... with Yarn

A friend of the late, great Kay Faulkner remembered how Kay would phone her and begin with the words, "I've been playing...."

My reaction was, if that's "playing," then I need to do more! But seriously: Creativity and play are related, if not joined at the hip. Allowing our mind to roam when we're making something -- or even walking away from the work altogether -- lets our imagination roam, without pressure. Taking a shower, going to sleep, daydreaming, lolling about in bed as we wake up -- or playing the violin, in the case of Einstein and the Theory of Relativity -- gives our subconscious the time and space to explore.

So I've been playing, as you can see in the photo above. The structure is four-color double weave, with 16/2 bamboo for the two warps and one of the wefts and 28-gauge wire as the other weft. It was definitely tough to weave with (and my selvages show it), but I think there's an idea in there. What if I wove yardage like this? Could it be a sculpture? Or what if I used wire in random picks in the weft, as Liz Williamson has done with her dimensional scarves and shawls? What if? Why not?

Maybe my subconscious can work on that. I'll let the weaving goddesses make the decisions. (Some days they're with me, some days they're not.)

I wove this sample en route to weaving a garment on the same warp, one that I hope becomes a dress or a mantle of some kind. But instead of using wire as one of the wefts, I used Gevolve S-twist linen crepe from Lunatic Fringe Yarns. Using this in double weave that has pockets (as Marian Stubenitsky describes the separate layers you sometimes find in four-color double weave), it crimps the fabric up nicely, creating a kind of natural stretch in the bodice, with no darts necessary. And if you switch out the active weft for an inactive weft (in this case, so that all the yarns are 16/2 bamboo), you can achieve gentle ruffles where the textured  fabric meets the flat fabric.

Here's a photo.

And here's a detail.

Finally, this is what the fabric looked like before washing, which allows the overtwist linen to draw the fabric in, creating vertical pleating on the opposite layer (that's woven with the inactive 16/bamboo in both warp and weft).

That dress would certainly work for someone more slender than I but maybe I could put gores in the side seams of the skirt... or maybe it's for an exhibit or a fashion show.... I'll just keep playing.

I've been messing about with beads also, ever since my friend Deborah Pope taught me how to make fabric beads.

Not exactly sure what they're going to become; most likely a bracelet. I used to think that any finished project, however humble, is infinitely better than any unfinished piece, however beautiful. Now I'm not so sure. What's wrong with an unfinished work, with finding out that you don't want to follow that trail anymore?

Questions to ponder. Thanks for reading!

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!

What's on the Loom?

More accurately, what's going on the loom? At this writing, I'm in the process of winding on a painted warp for a Jin design on 28 ...