Monday, June 22, 2015

Deflected Double Weave/Collapse Cloth: Exploring Different Treadlings

One year after taking a collapse-technique workshop with Ann Richards at the Handweavers Studio and Gallery in London -- I continue to try new structures, sampling and sampling to learn what works. And what doesn't work.

Deflected double weave has lots of possibilities as a dimensional weave structure when you use two different kinds of yarns -- wool and silk, for example -- so that one layer shrinks and the other doesn't. Cloqué (lye shrinkage using cellulose fibers) is another wonderful technique to use with deflected double weave. More on that in the year to come, I hope!

With these samples, I used an 8-harness structure of my own design, derived from other patterns I've seen and lots of reading. My yarns were 18/2 Superfine Merino from JaggerSpun and 20/2 spun silk, both sett at 36 ends per inch. I tried five different treadlings. Pictured above are comparative photos of the first sample: on the top, before washing and agitating with mild soap in warm water, and on the bottom, after washing.

In this case, I definitely like the first sample better! It shows all the patterns clearly. The second photo gives you an idea of how differently the patterns shrink up, with some drawing in more than others. Not a good idea for a handwoven fabric. Also, the silk selvages (in white) were bumpy and uneven and did nothing to enhance the piece.

Still, I learned a lot. So, for the second sample, I tried a technique I had seen other weavers use with differential shrinkage: Add a fairly wide selvage in plain weave using yarns that don't shrink (in this case, silk). For this sample, I used the third treadling on the above samples, the one that creates a "W" shape in the pattern.

The idea is that, when the wool shrinks up, the selvages will pucker and ruffle. I liked these results quite a bit. Again, the first photo shows the sample before washing (shrinking) and the second shows it afterwards.

This sample has lots of potential, I think, as a fulled fabric. The downside is that it's very firm and thick, which would not work well at all for a scarf. Great for a coat or jacket, however, with the ruffled edge used as an accent at the neck, placket, or wrist.

Another try. (Thank goodness for my Leclerc Voyager table loom, which allows for easy adjustments on a short, narrow warp.) For the third sample, I wanted to see what happened when the wool was the selvage, so that you had a much firmer, fulled edge. I also wanted to make sure that the width of the fabric didn't vary with the pattern after shrinking. So I used only two different treadlings, both of which I figured would draw in at pretty much the same percentage. (Top and bottom photos are before and after washing, respectively.)

Another good sample, in my opinion. I particularly like the way the first treadling (the pattern on the bottom part of the sample) shrinks up, so that it looks like vertical rows of beads and chains, to my eye. These are the results I'm looking for, where the appearance of the pattern after washing is unique and eye-catching -- giving you shapes that you wouldn't achieve with "regular" weaving.

I guess that's what we all look for: the surprise, the "aha" moment, the serendipitous results. Those are the invaluable rewards. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Turned Monk's Belt: Another Structure for Combining Two Painted Warps

Weavers love painting warps: You can't buy the beauty of the ever-changing colors. For me, painting two warps brings even greater rewards: When you combine them into one warp and weave a warp-dominant structure, you get a fabric with two continually shifting color palettes.

I'm on a mission to discover the best structures for this technique. To my eye, Turned Taquete is the most magical, as is Echo Weave. Then there's the magic of twill stripes, woven in 3/1 and 1/3 structures.... And double weave. And deflected double weave. And turned overshot. Turned Honeycomb, not so much. The warp-wise tension makes for straight lines, not honeycomb waves.

But why not Turned Monk's Belt? Effectively, you're weaving a supplemental-warp structure, which would allow for all kinds of improvising, using different yarns, random-width blocks, you name it. But for this project, I wanted to stick with a simple, traditional 4-harness Monk's Belt pattern, just to see what happened.

I used a ground warp of 20/2 pearl cotton and a pattern warp of 10/2 unmercerized cotton. (Thank you, Leslie Mendelson, my friend!) I painted the ground warp in a series of peach/gold/soft orange colors, while the pattern warp was painted blue/aqua/purple/sky blue. The sett was 36 ends per inch for each layer, meaning 6 ends per dent in a 12-dent reed.

The weft was 20/2 pearl cotton dyed in soft orange. Since this was only a sample, as it was just 2 2/9" in the reed. I wish I had planned to finish both ends with a nice, neat hem stitch, because this Monk's Belt pattern would have made a nice... belt!

Friday, June 5, 2015

A Poem by D. H. Lawrence, About Creating

Song of a Man Who Has Come Through

Not I, not I, but the wind that blows through me!
A fine wind is blowing the new direction of Time.
If only I let it bear me, carry me, if only it carry me!
If only I am sensitive, subtle, oh, delicate, a winged gift!
If only, most lovely of all, I yield myself and am borrowed
By the fine, fine wind that takes its course through the chaos of the world
Like a fine, an exquisite chisel, a wedge-blade inserted;
If only I am keen and hard like the sheer tip of a wedge
Driven by invisible blows,
The rock will split, we shall come at the wonder, we shall find the Hesperides.

Oh, for the wonder that bubbles into my soul, 
I would be a good fountain, a good well-head,
Would blur no whisper, spoil no expression.

What is the knocking?
What is the knocking at the door in the night?
It is somebody wants to do us harm.

No, no, it is the three angels.
Admit them, admit them

Thanks to Andrew O'Hehir for publishing this in Salon.

Join Me for a 'Thread Talk' on October 5

 Above is my most recent post on Facebook, promoting a 10-minute "Thread Talk" I'll be giving during Spinning and Weaving Week...