Sunday, July 21, 2019

How to Find Your Place in a Complicated Treadling (Or: Sometimes You Just Have to Unweave)

I recently had an email discussion with a friend who took one of my workshops -- who, after arriving home and returning to her sample, could not remember where she left off. She sent me an email, including a close-up of her sample, asking if I could help her find where she was in the treadling.

Has this happened to you? If not, you are fortunate and you may have a genius-level IQ. If it has happened to you, you may agree that weaving can be a lot like the little girl in the nursery rhyme: 

There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good,
She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid.

Longfellow wrote that, by the way. Who knew?

Here is our exchange, below, beginning with a photo of my friend's sample. She was working on a network-drafted 8-shaft pattern, the kind of pattern that can make it very hard to figure out where you are in the treadling (or the threading, even more so). 


And here's a portion of the drawdown, giving you an idea of why it's hard to locate the exact place she left off.




So here's what I wrote to her:
_______________________________________________________

Dear Debbie,

Unfortunately the only way you can really figure out where you are is to follow these steps. Trigger warning: These steps include unweaving ;o)

1) You have figured out approximately where you are, so have your treadling in front of you with the area you think you are (or areas, often) marked clearly.

2) Begin unweaving, marking down which treadle you're using for each pick.

3) Once you start to see a pattern (which is backwards, of course, but you know that), double check it against your treadling sequence (in step #1, where you've marked where you think you are).

4) Once you're pretty darn sure you've found it, start weaving forward. It will soon become clear whether or not you're correct! 

5) If you find you're incorrect, sigh deeply and/or curse, go back to step 1 and begin again.
_______________________________________________________

Have you ever unwoven anything? Are you philosophically opposed to doing so? As for me: I do it all the time!


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!)

After checking with the wonderful resource by Joseph Albers, "Interaction of Color," I realized that this phenomenon is known as the "Bezold Effect." 

Here's how Wikipedia defines it:

"The Bezold effect is an optical illusion, named after a German professor of meteorology, Wilhelm von Bezold, who discovered that a color may appear different depending on its relation to adjacent colors. It happens when small areas of color are interspersed."

(Even so, I wondered if I was seeing things. So I then posted a question 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!)

So the yellow is really white. Thank you, Wilhelm von Bezold.

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. (Handweaving.net 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. 







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 ...