Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Ready, Sett... Re-Sley!


I wove the sample above with a silk/ramie blend yarn -- which I love -- that has a grist of about 8,000 yards per pound. This is about the same as 30/2 silk, which calls for a plain-weave sett of 32 epi. But because silk/ramie has the look and feel of linen, I wanted to loosen up the sett a bit, to give it a lacy hand. So I decided to sett it at 28 epi. It was too loose, as you can see from the photo. The square-shaped motifs (in orange) are flattened, making the pattern less appealing. And the selvages are way loosey-goosey, even for Deflected Double Weave.

Just some background: For these samples, I painted two warps, one in warm colors and one in cool, and created an 8-shaft design in Deflected Double Weave that I thought would show off the changes in the warp colors.

So, for the sample shown above, I re-sleyed to a sett of 36 epi, which was then too tight. The selvages are OK -- remember, this is Deflected Double Weave, which typically has two selvages -- but the motifs are now elongated. A too-tight sett bunches up the warp and stretches the pattern vertically.

Goldilocks was picky too, as you know, but she got it right on the third try.

So I re-sleyed again, this time to a sett of 32 epi, which you see in the sample pictured above. I probably should have used this sett right from the start.... The motifs are still slightly elongated, but that can be fixed with a slightly harder beat. And my selvages are better, as you can see on the left side of the photo.

The sample below, sett at 28 epi, was another of my samples woven at 28 epi, and it offers more evidence that my sett was too loose: Look at the wavy, off-kilter wefts in orange, particularly as I switched the layers. Even though the wefts usually do have room to move about as you switch layers with Deflected Double Weave, a tighter sett will give them less room to do so. 

As obvious as it may seem, it's important to remember that the right sett makes all the difference. And often, just like Robert Frost's two roads in a wood, the right sett is the road less traveled by, at least at the beginning of the warp. So my second point is: When you're taking the trouble to weave up a piece that you truly care about -- and some would argue that this should be every piece -- you may not get it right the first time and you may have to make some adjustments, re-sleying and even re-re-sleying, like me. 

(This is actually part of a larger discussion, as I find that just about every warp I put on the loom is like a new car: You have to drive it a while to get the kinks out.)

And then there's your beat, of course, which also can unbalance your plain weave or flatten or elongate your pattern or your twill line. To me, there's a sweet spot where the right sett meets the right beat and your pattern just looks... sweet.

Top sample: The right sett and beat. Bottom sample: Over-zealous beat.

To wax philosophical about it: This is where our weaving practice is like meditation or yoga: It's all about mindfulness. And it's truly a practice, never perfect, but sometimes pointing the way....

Thanks for reading!



Andreja Zelinka said...

You are so right Denise! For my first more complex DDW piece I did a sample with 20/2 silk and the actual piece with 8/2 tencel which I had a limited ammount. I was sure that these two yarns have the same thickness but the tencel came out longated. Learned my lesson!


Denise Kovnat said...

Good to hear from you, Andreja! Remember, we were going to meet up at Convergence? (Deep sigh.) Anyhow, I had a friend who took a workshop way back when, which focused solely on sleying and re-sleying and playing with different setts. I thought that was a great idea, maybe a bit like boot camp, but it's a good lesson to learn that the right sett is not always easy to find.

Andreja Zelinka said...

Deep deep deep sigh, Denise!!!!! This summer is so much different than I expected! Well, we all have the same problem, don't we? I thought I would have at least more time to weave but summer is already gone without ant holiday and I'm still threading the same warp which should be done weeks ago. It's 60/2 silk, 1120 threads interleaved. Not a very good excuse, I know. Hope to read new posts from you!

Denise Kovnat said...

Andreja, 60/2 silk, 1120 threads interleaved -- sounds wonderful. I have not yet interleaved two different design lines and I really want to get to this. Do you have my email? May I see the draft ;o)

I try to post once a month, which keeps me on my toes, believe it or not -- coming up with subjects, that is. Sometimes I'm happy with what I'm writing and sometimes not so much....

Yes, we are in upside down inside out times. Weaving can be very comforting in the midst of all the bad news.

Sampling, in Search of Beautiful Cloth

  Way back in the misty past -- that is, about two years ago, my memory being what it is -- I was flying out of Rochester on my way to teach...