Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Shaft Envy, Begone!


You don't need 32 shafts to weave beautiful fabric! I'm on a mission to prove this as I work on designs for a new workshop, "Echo on the Double: 4-Color Double Weave for 4 to 32 shafts." The workshop will include 5 to 6 variations in tieups and treadlings for each pattern, all in double weave, for any kind of treadle loom from 4 to 32 shafts. 

Pictured above, in the first 2 photos: Blooming Leaf design, Echo threading on 4 shafts in 4-color double weave, front and back. Second 2 photos: Falling Stars design, Echo threading on 8 shafts in 4-color double weave, front and back. The warp colors for all 4 designs are lime green and azalea.

Double weave on Echo threadings is endlessly fascinating because of the variety of patterns and color combinations that you can achieve. When you start with 2 colors in the warp (for a 2-end parallel threading) and then add 2 colors in the weft (one for the bottom layer and one for the top layer), you're working with 4 colors in all, which keeps color folks like me happy. And sometimes you'll wind up with the appearance of more than 4 colors, as in these samples below.

I used a sky blue and a beige linen as wefts, with lime green and azalea as warp colors. Look closely and you'll see a bit of the blue weft highlighting the pattern on this 8-shaft design.

The back looks quite different. Here, the sky-blue weft alters the lime-green warp, making it appear more like turquoise. It also alters the azalea warp, making it look more lilac. 
The color differences are more pronounced when you see this piece "in the flesh."

This color-shift effect is called optical mixing. (I also define it as "simultaneous contrast" because the colors of warp and weft appear different depending on which colors they lie next to). Echo as double weave allows you to exploit and play with this effect, regardless of the number of shafts on your loom.

Above, Blooming Leaf design on four shafts. The warp colors are the same as the 8-shaft design in the photos preceding this. The weft yarn for this layer is sky blue, which again softens the lime green, making it appear turquoise, and shifts the azalea to more of a lavender hue.

For the bottom layer, I used a burnt-orange weft color, which pretty much overwhelms the lime-green warp, turning it into a pale gold/bronze, while the azalea warp becomes more of a coral/orange. I like the bold color differences between the front and the back of the fabric.

There are so many other possibilities as well. For instance, I will be weaving some samples using overtwisted yarns as wefts, which cause the fabric to wrinkle and pleat in interesting ways. The key here is that the design has to include "pockets," as Marian Stubenitsky refers to them in her book, Echo and Iris. This is where the two double-weave layers are weaving separately, which doesn't always happen with double weave on Echo threadings. Often, you're weaving "integrated double weave," where the two layers are interlaced.

And then I would like very much to try weaving with copper as one of the warps and as one of the wefts, but that will have to wait until another time. First, I need to weave up a complete sample set for this workshop. Note: I've found that, as confident as I can be when I look at a design in Fiberworks, I still need to weave it up to see how it plays out. There are often surprises!

Then again, the surprises can lead to discoveries, don't you agree? And discovery is one of the reasons we love this craft.

Thanks for reading!

Falling Stars pattern on 8 shafts, Echo threading, double-weave tieup and treadling, 
with overtwisted yarn as one of the wefts.


Ruth Henriquez said...

Another inspiring post from you. These fabrics are all beautiful. I'm a big fan of cloth that veers toward the three-dimensional, so I especially love the final image. It's amazing how you can get a 2+ dimensional effect by using a high-energy yarn in the weft only.

Denise Kovnat said...

Thanks, Ruth! I'm hoping to post more about these dimensional fabrics on 4 shafts, as I have some on the loom right now. The wefts are: S-twist silk, silk with elastic, and Z-twist wool crepe. Keep your fingers crossed that they come out well in the wash!

Nangellini said...

I love what you are doing! I long to play with the overtwisted and elastic threads too with parallel threading. (Only for weft in MY near future though)
Thank you for sharing your discoveries with us!

Linda Schultz said...

Hi Denise. I wanted to clarify for myself what you are thinking about with the optical mixing and simultaneous contrast. Taking the falling stars draft with the sky blue and beige wefts...the sky blue mixed with the lime green gives you a turquoise because of optical mixing. And the sky blue and azalea gives you lilac because of optical mixing. But then, because of simultaneous contrast, the "turquoise" is shifted to a yellower hue because it is next to the "lilac". That same "turquoise", if it was next to a different colour blend in the cloth (like some of the azalea and beige, which looks more pink/fuschia), it might look like a greener turquoise, even though it's the same optical blend.

When I was playing around with your drafts in your previous blog post (The Greedy Weaver Scarf), I wasn't just changing the optical mixes, I was also sometimes changing the order of those optical mixes. So that may also have contributed to the appearance of many more colours. Oh My! So many ideas to try out!

This is driving me nuts because I can't weave right now, and may not be able to weave for weeks or months (reconstructive surgery on my foot). I'm desperate to weave up samples to test all these ideas and I can't. Oh well, I'll live vicariously through your beautiful samples, and keep playing with Fiberworks.

Linda Schultz said...

Denise, I also had some questions about your over twist experiments. I have been experimenting with woven Shibori and using overtwisted yarns in order to get permanent pleats, so that I can use natural fibers (instead of heat-setting polyester for permanent pleats). This works very well with wool, but I am still experimenting to get better results with the silk. You mentioned using s-twist silk. Was this a commercial silk singles, a silk singles you added additional twist to, or a silk singles you spun yourself? If it was one of the latter two, did you use the silk within a few hours or days of spinning it, or did it sit on the bobbin for a while before you used it? How did it come out in the wash?

Denise Kovnat said...

Linda, these are commercial yarns: Gevolve yarns carried by Lunatic Fringe. I received six cones -- wool overtwist, silk overtwist and silk elastic -- for a "Yarn Lab" piece I'm writing for Handwoven magazine, scheduled to come out in early 2022.

Two things are key for working with these yarns: fairly open beat and sett (without making your fabric look like gauze, of course) and finishing. The silk crepe is superfine, something like 21,000 yards per pound, so it virtually disappears as weft after washing. But the results are dramatic, with about 60% shrinkage in the samples.

I've sent you an email so that we can talk more about this!

Denise Kovnat said...

Linda, as for the important distinctions you're making between optical mixing and simultaneous contrast: Thank you! I can't say enough about your skills of observation and analysis.

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