Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Sectional warping: typing warp bouts onto the back beam

A commenter in my blog asked how I go about attaching each warp bout to the sectional warp beam so I thought I'd answer with photos. The answer is to use headers. In the photo below I've just finished weaving the previous project, so the headers are stretched all the way to the back heddles.

Each section of the warp beam has a cotton thread tied to one of the dividers. Some sectional warp beams have a steel bar for this purpose, mine does not so I simply tie the thread to a divider, using the convention that it's tied to the right-hand divider for each piece. These are simply long pieces of sturdy cotton cut to twice the length between the warp beam and the back heddles, then with the ends tied in an overhand knot so that the thread runs around the divider.

The length of this thread is important. It's ideal to have the thread long enough so that they an reach the back heddles, which minimises loom waster, but also a length so that the end of the loop furthest from the warp beam sits between the wooden bars of the sectional beams. This is so that the knot for each bout (which can be quite large) doesn't interfere with the rest of the warp as it is wound on.

Each bout of warp (1" or 2", depending on the spacing of your sections) is tied with an overhand knot, and a larks-head knot is made from the end of the cotton header: fold over the end of the cotton thread and pull the two pieces through the end loop.

This is then slipped over the overhand knot on the warp bout, and drawn taut. Beaming can then continue.

One hint is to cut all of the header bouts at the same time so that they're all the same length. Do this even if you don't intend to use them. It saves having to undo one to check the length in the future. I just leave all of mine on, all the time, regardless of the width of my warp. They flop around a bit but they've never got in my way.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

More krokbragd

This time actually a floor rug. It's not finished yet because I've literally only just cut it off the loom, but it fulfills my need for a floor rug to catch mud and the like trekked in through the front door. The yarns are assorted scrap rug yarns I've accumulated over the years, in addition to handspun rough wools (mostly Welsh), which I picked up during my British wool spinning experimentation phase. I was surprised at the take-up in the warp on this project. The rug is shorter than I'd planned, but still a good length for a foot-mat.

We've had a lot of snow and ice on the ground since a blizzard blew in on Thursday night (the temperatures haven't really risen above freezing since then, in fact it's -1C at 1pm today), so aside from short walks to enjoy the sunshine and views that's done a lot for my staying in and weaving! The light bouncing off the snow has been marvelous. I can really see why weaving is such a strong winter pastime in Scandanavian traditions. It's just as well: this is the rug I was going to have totally completed a full month ago, before my operation. I've been weaving this in short, careful bursts over the past couple of weeks.

Next up: the handtowel for the bathroom, which I've been threatening to weave for a full year.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Sampling really pays off

So: on due consideration and serious inspection under natural light(it was a rare lovely sunny day), my friend and I were unanimous that we liked all-light, and also all-dark, but that the two marled together lost something in the loveliness and subtletly. It's the contrast in texture between the camel and the silk that makes the yarn, and throwing another colour into the mix lessens that. We also decided that the all-light was lighter and more luscious with my complexion. So I'll be going with all-light for the top.

Fortunately I have enough of each for a project, and it may be quite nice to have a top and cardigan /scarf in almost-matching yarns. If there's enough left over, it may be wonderful to weave a scarf utilising the colour differences in the warp and the weft.

And so with that decision made, now to ply.

Knitting: sample, sample, sample!

A sample swatch in homespun brown alpaca

With all my sitting down time, I've been spinning and knitting. I'd thought I'd be working on my cross-stitch project, but it's been taking the back foot. I've started to learn that one of the reasons I've never liked knitting is because the yarns normally recommended for beginner knitters are too chunky for my taste, and that I apparently spin a very precise fingering-weight yarn. Who knew? I found that I had some dark brown handspun alpaca in precisely the right weight to give a good sample on one of the projects in the book I bought last weekend, so am currently knitting that on 3.25 mm needles.

I've also been spinning up the camel and silk roving.

Camel and silk roving on bobbins, L-R, darker variation and two bobbins of the lighter.

The intention had been to make a three-ply of two strands of light and one of dark, but the pattern I would like to use this for was originally written for a knitting machine, with a gauge of 33 stitches and 42 rows to 10cm. Three-ply would be too thick for that, even at the fine rate I spin. So I sampled. I tried various plys of the two colours, at various thicknesses of ply, and knitted the lot into a sample on the finest needles I have in the house, 3mm. The different variations were marked with a small amount of dark roving spun into the ply as it was made.

Sample swatch, with dark smudges to mark variations. L-R, two-ply one dark one light, three-ply one dark, two light, two-ply both light, three-ply all light.

It was immediately apparent that three-ply was a bit too thick for what I want here, and that two-ply gave a lovely soft drape and could even afford to go slightly smaller on the needles. In addition, a check of the gauge showed that on 3 mm needles, 33 stitches and 43 rows comes to almost precisely 11cm, so it's still slightly too large. The ribbing and pattern on this project are complex enough that I don't really want to be fiddling with adjusting numbers of stitches. So I'll be knitting another sample swatch for this project before going too much further with the plying. For a non-knitter, I own an awful lot of knitting needles:

But the smallest I have is 3 mm. Or so I thought. I've just remembered that I own a pair of 2.75 mm circular needles, so will have another go on those to try to get the gauge. The question now is, do I want to go for the all-light ply (saving the darker variant for another project) or do I like the dark-light marl?

Top: dark-light marl. Bottom: all-light two-ply.
This photo doesn't really do the colours justice as the darker marl is a beautiful caramel colour. I haven't made a decision on this yet, as both colours are lovely. The project I intend this for was originally done in white and I'm trying to remove that prejudice from my head before I make a decision. A friend is coming for lunch today so I'm going to canvas her opinion on which colour suits me better before she sees the original project. In all honesty there' s little enough difference between the two that it may not matter. In the meantime, until I make a decision, I'm spinning a second bobbin of the dark.

And finally; a photo for Meg, to assure here that I'm not torturing the gumnut babies!

Monday, 7 December 2009

It's December, there must be swag.

Saturday was the end-of-year meeting of our spinning group. This is always the Christmas party, an occasion even more social than our normal meetings, with a pot-luck lunch (and oh, so good it was). P&M Woolcraft also bring a substantial portion of their shop to the meeting, and typically we make it worth their while. Yarninmypocket has already commented that she was restrained. I, on the other hand, did my bit to make it worth their while, almost single-handed.

From left to right, some baby camel and silk roving (400g), a fold-down Ashford sampler niddy noddy (to make samples for dyeing) , above and behind the niddy noddy, some brown-and-white merino roving (600g), an Ashford Challenger three-bobbin lazy kate so I can do 3-ply (my Majacraft Gem lazy kate only holds two bobins), one new Majacraft bobbin (I buy one every year) and in the front another 33cm Glimakra shuttle, bringing me up to three of those because I do a number of three-shuttle weaves.

I also splurged a little on expanding my acid dye collection and now feel like a have a workable critical mass. I spent part of yesterday dyeing skeins and caps of silk. I'll post on the dyes and dyeing later in the week.

Although I spent a lot of money, I didn't really buy anything I didn't plan to buy. The hardware was all things I'd requested they bring as I saw a need for it. I rarely buy roving so have none in my stash, and while I've found spinning to be an ideal occupation for my recuperation, carding has proven to be just too hard: so I can't card any of the raw fleeces I have in the house to spin. I'm going to call the roving physical therapy. I've been spending a lot of my recuperation spinning the baby camel and silk roving. You can see two bobbins full of it, ready on the lazy kate. I bought 600g of this last year and want to turn it into a top, but wanted to make sure that I have enough. So I bought a little more again this year, cautiously because at £6/100g it's not cheap...but oh, so worth it. This year's camel is darker than last years, as can be seen in the photo below:

(this year's rovings in the back, last year's in the front). Slightly darker it may be, but it's even softer than the already-soft roving I've been spinning up. At the moment the plan is to ply two strands of the pale with one strand of the dark and compare it to just the pale. The 'dark' is a beautiful caramel colour so I'm hoping it will result in deepening the subtle colour graduations already playing in the yarn. I'm half-way through the third bobbin so will sample within the next couple of days. Eventually this will become a top for me.

The astute will notice that I haven't mentioned the book evident in the to image. Yes, it's a knitting book. No, I don't really knit. Yes, I've already done a sample for one of the projects in some brown handspun alpaca. Yes, I'm being corrupted.

Monday, 30 November 2009


Last Thursday, I had a much-anticipated operation in which a surgeon cut four holes in my stomach and removed my dying and toxic gallbladder. Suddenly I feel well for the first time in over a year! Now I have two weeks at home to get over the op, which presents me with a problem: with a bonus two weeks at home, I'd normally plan to weave and weave some more, with a goo healthy bit of gardening, bike riding and some glorious cooking thrown in for good measure. But I'm not allowed to do any of that, or anything else which will work my abdominals for a while because I'm literally held together with glue at the moment! So I'm moving around at a granny pace, doing the most mundane of movements s-l-o-w-l-y and carefully.

So what to do? seems I can still spin, and I'm spinning some lovely silk and baby camel roving at the moment. But also:

I can finally fringe all of the woven items waiting for it, which always get put off in favour of more physical endeavours. To that end, I've taken a page from the book of Susan from Thrums, and drawn up a 1-inch grid on some firm packing foam, so I can work on making my fringes more even and proper. I'll start on that this afternoon.

I can never resist a good book, so I've also treated myself to some new (and new-to-me) books bloggers have mentioned, so can kick back on the sofa and enjoy The Primary Structures of Fabrics, Woven Shibori, Weaving in the Peruvian Highlands and a couple of classic old books I've picked up in recent months but haven't had a chance to absorb, Mary E. Snyder's The Crackle Weave and Palmy Weigle's Double Weave. I also have several books on gardening, self sufficiency and permaculture and one on basket weaving to enjoy. This time is also giving me the chance to settle in and enjoy Bonnie Innouye's wonderful Exploring Multishaft Design. But that really makes me want to weave. Which brings me back to this....

Temptation at the loom. It's earning it's nickname 'The Torture Device' at the moment. It sits in its room and taunts me. There's a heavy kokbragd floor rug on it for the front hall at the moment, and the heavy beat required would be too much. I'd thought I might be able to get all six feet of it woven off in the weekend before the operation, but I spent the weekend finishing the heavy work on the allotment and wove all of six inches. I'm itching to get stuck into playing with the colours but I've faithfully promised that I'll wait at least a week before trying to do anything on it.

Maybe in a few days if the weather's nice enough I could use my spare time to see if running some fleeces through the drum carder wouldn't be too much work?

Of course, aside from the reading and drinking lots of herb tea, I haven't actually done any of these things yet!

Friday, 20 November 2009

The making of the krokbragd tote

Krokbragd is a traditional Scandinavian weave, most usually attributed to Swedish and Norwegian weaving traditions. Katherine Larson, in her fabulous book The Woven Coverlets of Norway describes how most Norwegians spent their summers in the field, retiring indoors in the dark days of winter, where the women would spend long winter days by the fire carding, spinning and weaving yarn to produce the yardages of fabric required to produce clothing and bedding for their families and their farm labourers (who were partly paid in clothing). Only if there was enough time and fleece left in the winter after producing these vast quantities of yardage would they attempt to make a bed coverlet. The larger and more advanced the coverlet, the higher the mastery of the mistress of the house. The most valued coverlets tended to be woven in tapestry, but krokbragd was also a popular technique (albeit less valued than tapestry because it's faster and less finicky). Often the bed covers of fishermen were of krokbrad. In Sweden, krokbragd is often used to make floor coverings becasue of its durability, and there is a Finnish variant, Flessberpleg, which is often used for rugs and bed covers as well.

Krokbragd is a weft-faced weave which is effectively double-sided, but with the pattern only on one side. Peter Collingwood describes it well in his book The Techniques of Rug Weaving. It is threaded on three shafts in a 4-thread repeat draw, so 1-2-3-2-1-2-3-2 and so on. Three treadles are tied up: two are a 2/1 twill, with the third being plain weave. Having a pick of plain weave in every third pick not only helps to create the pattern, it also creates a flat fabric rather than one which will want to curl at the edges, which a pure twill draft will create.

The warp should be something fairly chunky and sturdy, but it doesn't matter too much what it is because if krokbragd is woven correctly it won't be seen. For this project I used medium-thickness, high-twist Lancashire cotton (also known as "loom cord") from Texere. I now have a warp for a floor rug on the loom, which is made of medium thickness raw linen thread. You want a very wide sett: I threaded this at 5 epi, one every second dent in a 10-dent reed. You also want to use a *very* heavy beat. I double-beat heavily enough that the loom was 'walking' across the studio floor despite having non-slip feet on.

It's best to tie up so that the pattern side is face-up. This can be done by tying to that pedal one lifts shafts 1 & 2, pedal 2 lifts shafts 2 & 3 and pedal 3 lifts shafts 1 & 3. The pattern is treadled 1-2-3, which allows the thread on the first pick to sit below shafts 1 and 2, but over 3 (so the pattern on the surface will be over every fourth warp thread), the second pick apears over shaft one (so every fourth warp thread again, but this time in between the colours of the first pick), and the third pick will appear over warp threads threaded on shaft 2: so every second warp thread, but this time in between every previous colour pick. This way, three picks are required to fill every 'line' of the pattern, but the warp thread is completely covered. You can see this in the image below: At the bottom of the image, think of red as treadle 1, blue as treadle 2 and green as treadle 3.

(I'd like to point out that you can't actually see the warp in the finished item. This yarn was a bit on the thin side for this project, and I chose to photograph in this particular spot because it shows the interlacing of the warp and weft nicely. The warp was hidden once the yarn was fulled.)

You can weave this with a single solid colour, or choose to create all kinds of patterns according to the order in which you throw shuttles to create colour. Because there are only three options for colour in a single row with krokbragd, it's best not to use more than three shuttles at a time.

The colours I was using for this project weren't entirely traditional (originally dictated by the availability of nartural dyes, but often involved dark red and navy with various earthy colours in between), but were dictated by the results of the spinning challenge we had for our spinning group. I laid these out on my work table to try to get a sense of how they would work together, and in which order the colours should go before I started weaving.

To start a krokbragd project off (and ignoring the orangey colour of the sample header at the base of the image below), choose a colour and designate it 'colour A'. In this case, colour A is dark red. Weave a few lines of this, remembering that each line equals three picks. In this case I think I wove about 30 picks of red, to get a centimetre or so of red. Then choose a second colour, colour B: in this case, purple. The second part of the pattern (three warp thread covered in red, one in purple) is achieved by throwing the shuttles A-B-A as you treadle 1-2-3. The next sequence (three warp threads covered in purple, one in red) is A-B-B. To incorporate the third colour, orange, throw A-C-B. Then B-C-B, and so on. You rapidly get a feel for which order the colours should go in.

When working with multiple shuttles, it helps to have a logical order in your throwing and placing of them. I put the shuttles beside me on the stool, with the last thrown further away from me and the next to be thrown closest to me. This ensures that the selvedge stays as neat as possible, with all of the threads neatly wrapped around each other. It also reduces the chance for picking up the wrong shuttle in the wrong sequence.

You can see in the image above that there has been a bit of draw-in on the selvedge. This was due to sloppiness on my part: the outside bouts of warp seemed to have not quite as much tension as the inner bouts, and I wove this in a hurry without using a temple. It didn't matter so much as the selvedges would be hidden in seams anyway. For the floor rug, where the selvedge will be visible, I'll use a temple.

What I've shown you here is krokbragd in its most simple form. The next step would be to reverse the pattern, to make stars:

There are many other variations and patterns possible with this fun technique. Yarninmypocket has been playing with krokbragd on a rigid heddle loom (quite a skill!), and has been making motifs in a sampler. You can see them here.

To finish the tote, I sewed the two selvedges together, making a mitred corner in the speckled blue section for a square base, turned over and blanket-stitched the top, and added a handle. Simple!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

More of the rabbit

Because he's so lovely. He was definitely a lapful of rabbit!

The owner spends hours every Saturday grooming them, and clips them every three months. She uses the brushings as well as the cut fleece.

Monday, 9 November 2009

The spinning challenge bags

Our spinning group meets every second month, and has an annual spinning challenge. As I joined the group towards the end of last year, this is the first one in which I've taken part. At the beginning of the year, we were given merino rovings in four colours: cyan, magenta, yellow and white. The challenge was to blend the colours, spin them into yarn and make a bag. I started playing with it in April but didn't seriously get into the blending until June, here and here. I don't seem to have ever got around to blogging the spun yarns, so I must get around to doing that. I plan to write a post about krokbragd soon. Today though, I want to show you the wonderful variety that is the result of the challenge:

Most of the ladies in the spinning group are knitters, so naturally knitted bags predominated, although there were some woven bags, mostly on rigid heddles (I think mine was the only multi-shaft-woven bag), some Tunisian crochet, and some wonderfully felted productions as well. I'd love to show all the bags, but here are some highlights (apologies for the slightly blurry photo, these were all taken with my camphone).

This lovely piece was made in domino knit, and then fulled almost to felting to produce what the creator described as "the fibre equivalent of a potters 'vessel'" (ie beautiful to look at but with no apparent use). It was a good 2.5 feet tall, and stunning to see.

The creator of this wonderful knitted little piece said she'd had trouble with getting an even blending on hand carders so decided to make it work for her. I love it, it just makes me smile. The seagull latch was made for her by a friend.

Another piece was a wonderful tapestry turned into a evening-sized bag, which told a wonderful story of a landscape...and then there was yarninmypocket's *glorious* colour gamp messenger bag. The dullness of my camera phone takes the flourescence out of the images and gives an idea of how intricate the colour interactions are in the flesh. I'm especially blown away by the way she's managed to get the stripes to line up along the piece - this is one continuous piece, sewn to make the bag.

And here's my effort. It was the largest bag there and raised a lot of interest because most of the ladies hadn't seen this weave before. I made the blue tweed the base, sewed mitres into the corners and decided not to line it. Because I wasn't lining it I blanket-wove the top hem, adding handles made from the leftover piece of fabric from the blanket of delight, which gives it another touch of specialness to me. This is a very wide and shallow tote, which makes it the right size and length to fit a niddy-noddy (you can just see the tip of a niddy noddy poking out of the top right of the bag), lazy kate, several bobbins, fleece, lunch and perhaps a cone or two in. Yes, it's a spinning tote.

Just to cap off the day, one of the ladies brought one of her anogra rabbits along, spoke about how she raises and cares for them, and brought several items she'd made from angora along. I seem not to have got photos of the beautifully soft spun and knitted items, because I was distracted by the happy fluffy being groomed. Especially with its special little upside-down face.

Waaaaaant!!!!!!! (can't have. no time.)

The ears. The ears!!!!

Monday, 2 November 2009


It's what gets in the way when you plan to do other things. It's been a busy time and work, social life, illness and working on 'the farm' have all kept me well and truly off the loom. My sweetie left me again this past weekend for his season south, and as there's still some time to go before I leave in the new year, I'll have some weaving time again. So this weekend I wove the fabric for the bag for my spinning group challenge, due this coming Saturday. Have a picture!

Friday, 4 September 2009

And notes for self

Projects in the queue:

  • Now that the weather's turning cold and you're finishing these scarves, dye that wool and start weaving the blanket for the bed.
  • Make a trial tote bag to test technique before committing handspun from spinning challenge (big enough to be a shower bag for work!) (ran out of time for this one)
  • Make tote bag from spinning challenge handspun....before the deadline
  • Make chenille-and-cotton handtowel to match the rest of your bathroom

THEN can you go on with all the projects your brain is trying to make you do!!!

A jumble of pleats, part 2

(Do forgive the draping over the ironing board, it was easy!)
The image above shows the four scarves currently off the loom. The left-hand one is the 'plain' pleated scarf, and the very right-hand one is the reversed-treadle pleated scarf. Of the two scarves in the middle, the left-hand one is the third scarf, and the right-hand one the fourth. These have both been made by reversing the treadling for the pleats.

The tie-up and treadling for pleats is a simple four-shaft straight draw, but with a twist. In the case of these scarves, the black can be considered block A and the beige block B. Block A are threaded 1-2-3-4 on shafts 1-4, and block B are threaded 5-6-7-8 on shafts 5-8. For these scarves each stripe was eight threads wide so I'd do one repeat of the threading, as in the draft below.

In this fabric, the treadling is straight and the structure is controlled entirely by the different threadings between the blocks, so the pleats occur between different sections of warp. Block A, on shafts 1-4, becomes a weft-dominant fabric and block B, on shafts 5-8, becomes a warp-dominant fabric. Obviously the reverse will be the case on the other side of the fabric. It's the natural inclination of the fabric to bulge into the weft-dominant parts that creates the pleats. presuming you have suitable yarns (ideally, the weft should be about half the grist of the warp), and you have a suitable (twillish) sett, it's not necessary to use overtwisted yarns in the weft to achieve this effect. These scarves prove that, as they've woven using rayon flake and the most passive reeled silk thread you're ever seen.

If you want to take that a step further, surely that would be to change the way the pleats work along the length of the fabric as well? So, with 8 treadles, the following draft allows that:

In this case, part of the fabric is treadled as before and part of the fabric is treadled on treadles 1-8, treadled as threaded. It becomes very easy to see which parts of the fabric are warp-dominant and which are weft-dominant, and how that changes along the block (is this starting to look like block theory yet Meg?). Black areas in this draft are weft-dominant, and white areas are war-dominant.

Of course, you don't have to echo the repeats. You can choose to make them as long and/or as short as you wish, which is what I did with the next two scarves. For the third scarf, I did an even 20 repeats of the treadles for each block. The end result was a striped effect, which gavea very pleasing twist where the interchange between the blocks occurred.

The weft, in this case, was an alternating three-shuttle arrangement of peach, beige and pale grey, which gave a very soft and complex colour. You can see the striped effect this has given the scarf in the top image.

But what happens if the blocks are an even size? Just how small do the blocks have to be before you stop getting the pleated effect? That's what I wanted to find out with the fourth scarf:

In this case, because weft is finer than the warp and so the ppi is smaller than the wpi, I treadled a steady six repeats of each block before changing on to the next. The weft in this case was a slightly thicker and rougher (compared to the 60/2 silk) handspun silk cap, dyed black - probably about a 30/1, 20/1. The amswer to the above questions was that you have to have blocks that are definitely longer than wide, in order to develope defined pleating in a fabric. But what you get instead...

Is the most delightful movement in the scarf. There's a definite bobbling between the blocks, as (on this side of the scarf) the mostly-beige blocks try to spring forward and the mostly-black blocks try to move back. In addition, the scarf does still try to crinkle into more-or-less vertical pleats as it's worn, giving a lovely drape and feel to it. And although it looks like a checked scarf, remember the weft is a single colour. The relative colours have all been achieved using weave structure, which really sets the mind to thinking about what could be done with exploring this structure with a number of colours of similar value. This may well be my favourite of the scarves so far.

There's still enough warp on the scarf for one more scarf in this series, once I've finished the blue-and-green clasped-weft scarf. The last one, to complete the series, will be woven with long stretches of one pleat, broken by short stretches of the alternate pleat, to see what that brings up.

A jumble of pleats, part 1

With four of the five pleated scarves woven and my taking a break before weaving the fifth, it seemed a good time to blog the results of the experiments I've done on this warp. You can see from the image above, I've achieved some very different effects from the brown-and-beige striped warp I've had on the loom lately!

Because the pleats are designed to bend with the changing colours of the stripes, one side will appear all black with the beige in the bend of the pleat, and the other side will appear predominatly beige as the pleat beings the beige to the front and draws the black into the pleat. You can see both sides of the scarf in the image below.
The first scarf woven was straight 3/1, 1/3 pleats as I'd woven on the other warps. The ends were woven with a soft beige-grey 60/2 silk weft, and the main body of the scarf with a black 70/2 silk weft. You can see the margin of the two wefts in the image above.

When you stretch the pleats out, the effect is quite lovely.

The second scard was woven much the same as the first, but with a pale grey 60/2 silk weft and a reversing of the treadles. Instead of a constant repeat of 1-2-3-4 treadles, I'd treadle 1-2-3-4 six times, then treadle 4-3-2-1 six times. The effect was a lovely reversing twill pattern on both sides, but no difference to the structure of the pleats themselves, aside from a slight tendency to waviness that may have more to do with where they folded over the clothesline while drying.

Conclusion (a fairly obvious one): reversing the twill, while giving lovely patterns to look at in the fabric structure within the pleats, doesn't intrinsically alter the 3/1, 1/3 structure of the pleats, so won't alter the overall collapse pattern of the fabric.

But the patterns are, nonetheless, lovely, and open the way for ideas of pleated fabrics that are composed of a more complex twill structure. Something to think about and explore another day.

The obvious next step was to retie the loom and look at reversing the pleats themselves. More on that in the next post.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Clasped weft and colour design

This clasped weft is for a scarf I've been commissioned to do. The person who's asked for this liked the subtle interplay of blues and greens in another scarf I'd made, and I decided to take the concept one step further. I wound a warp rayon flake, graduating from navy blue through marine blue, sage green, grass green, light leaf green to yellow, with a small flash of golded thread at the yellow end of the spectrum. To mix things up a bit, there's an interleaving of the colours at the blue ends of the spectrum but not at the green-yellow end of the spectrum. For the weft, I dyed and spun silk cap in a cornflower blue and a variegation of soft blues and greens with a touch of yellow, in similar colours and hues to the warp. The variegation goes on the darker side of the scarf, the solid blue on the yellow wide of the scarf. I spin the silk cap very finely, as clasped weft results in a doubled weft.

I won't go into details of how to do clasped weft because Kaz Madigan at Curious Weaver does it much better than I could here. Logistically, I get around the concept of having a weft coming from either side of the loom by having one of the wefts still on a spinning wheel bobbin, and sit the lazy kate on the stash shelf beside the loom. Because the silk thread is so fine, it becomes very important to remember not to walk around that side of the loom! The structure is simply plain weave, so I depress a treadle, pass the shuttle from the right to the left of the shed, pass the shuttle under and back over the secondary silk thread (thus capturing the thread), and use the blue weft to draw both (now linked) wefts back into the shed. Then I can simply chose where to put the intersection of the two colours. This is where the fun comes in.

I try to let the varigations dictate where the intersection will be, but also work to keep the movement of the clasping looking random (a much less random act than you might imagine). Because I work in geology, this means that as I'm doing this, I think in terms of glacial or sea level advance and retreat - or in the case of this scarf, waves on a mossy shoreline. Nature rarely has straight lines. The edge is always wavy with little fingers of water moving forwards and some sections receding faster than others, and this effect looks more natural than a straight line.

With colours so similar in colour and value to parts of the warp, you can really have fun with the effects you make. Running green parts of the weft into the green section of the warp as in the image above can decrease the contrast between warp and weft and create areas of greater subtlety between warp and weft, but increase the contrast between the two wefts.

A different effect again can be achieved be creating a greater contrast in the darker areas of the warp: in this case, taking the yellow green right across to the left of the scarf, and allowing a contrast of yellow-and-navy with the cornflower blue of the left-hand weft:

I've taken these photos very close-up and from directly above to increase the contrast and make the effect as obvious as I can. From a distance and at an angle, the overall effect is much more subtle, and changes with changing angle. Running a part of the weft right across a similar colour can mean that the pattern fades in and out of focus in a very interesting manner, as you can see with both green and blue sections in the image below.

In addition to playing with the colours, the slight slubbiness of the woven silk cap gives this scarf quite a bit more texture than normal plain weave. This scarf is a great deal of fun to weave. I'm really looking forward to getting it off the loom to see how it looks as a whole but I'll miss the colours when it's done!

Friday, 28 August 2009

Still playing with 3/1 twills....

...but until I take decent photos of all the pleating experiments I've done lately, I'll leave this up as a teaser. Photos shall be duly taken this weekend and then I'll make a full post of my experiments and what they've turned up.

In the meantime, I've set a new record. I started weaving the scarf in the photo at 9:30 am (actually, a bit earlier, as the time on the photo is 9:21). I had it woven, fringed and wet finished by 4 pm.

I also have a coloured warp in blues, greens and yellows on the loom at the moment, for a commission. There's still one more warp in the black-and-beige warp, but after weaving four scarves from it already, it was time for a change!