Sunday, 6 January 2008

Advancing Twills

I have been taking part in a workshop on "Advancing Twills" with the Online Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, taught by the Stacey Harvey-Brown. This is the third weaving workshop I have done with the Guild, the previous ones were "Beginner's Lace Weaving" and "Summer and Winter". These are the only weaving classes I have participated in.

The Online Guild uses the "Yahoo Groups" service. This enables communication via private group e-mails and provides file space where members of the group can post up and download computer files and photographs. The instructions for workshops come via e-mail as well as in downloadable pdf or word documents, and posting up photos enables members to show their work.

With many of the workshops I have participated in, I've started off slightly curious and found myself drawn into trying new things as other people discuss the workshop in their e-mails and post up interesting photos. This has led to me learning to spin cotton and silk, use natural dyes from plants around the garden, knit socks, and try out the different weaving structures, as mentioned above.

So, back to the Advancing Twills. I started off using an advancing threading pattern and the same advancing pattern in the treadling, the pattern being (1-2-3-4-5, 2-3-4-5-6, 3-4-5-6-7, 4-5-6-7-8, 5-6-7-8-1, 6-7-8-1-2, 7-8-1-2-3, 8-1-2-3) continuously repeated.

I wove with 12/2 mercerised cotton from William Hall & Co. I tried setting it at 30 epi (3 ends per dent in a 10 dpi reed). I thought this would be good because I'd used 24 epi in this thread for my summer and winter and my lace weaving. However, the patterns didn't work at this sett, the cloth was too soft and the pattern indistinct and a bit lost. So I tightened up to 36 epi, using a 12 dpi reed.

I planned my work in a simple weaving software package called Weave Design this is a useful piece of software, but much more basic than the well known Weavepoint or Fibreworks programmes. A disadvantage is un-helpful when it comes to advancing twills is that it does not, as some of the other programmes do, calculate the longest float length. I found that some of the twill designs that looked great on paper had horrendous long floats on the back when woven! Particularly problematic were some tie-ups I'd used before for plaited twills.

This however, show one of the most successful patterns I wove, which had a mix of plain weave (i.e. over one, under one) and 2-2 twill (over two, under two).

The diagonal pattern and kind of squares occurring along that diagonal were typical of all the patterns I tried with this threading and treadling. I think it would be great for working with different colours where you want them to gradually change from one shade to another, e.g. with yellow-orange-red-dark plum red in the weft against a black or dark brown warp.

Sorry I don't have a picture of the weave design, however the following details would enable you to weave this pattern.

The lifted shafts were,
1st treadle: 1,2,5,6
2nd treadle: 1,4,5,8
3rd treadle: 4,5,7
4th treadle: 2,3,6,8
5th treadle: 1,2,5,7
6th treadle: 1,4,6,8
7th treadle: 3,5,7
8th treadle: 2,4,6

I said before the plaited twills had some long floats when used in this way. Well, here's one that didn't. Something else happened, something very strange....

Can you see some areas of the weave look denser than others? Well those areas that look losely woven, like about half the thread density ARE loosely woven at half the thread density. This wasn't so obvious on the loom, but when the cloth was off the loom and washed it was very obvious.

I had woven my first double weave cloth - entirely by accident!

Those sections that look looser consist of two separate layers in a loose plain weave.

In the excitement I muddle up my drafts and now I don't know what the pattern for this was!!! It was originally a draft for a plaited twill. I'm intending to look at double-weave by myself in the future and I hope that when I do I will be able to work out what pattern this was wove from - and why it happened.

So would I use this pattern again (when I have worked out the draft)? I might do. I think it would work better in a softer yarn, and could be useful for a wool scarf, where the pockets of double weave would make it more efficient at holding warmth around your neck on a cold day.

Moving on from this, I wanted to try some really fancy patterns. After many try-outs that didn't look right, many weary hours at the computer when I finished by switching off without feeling I'd got anywhere and saying, well, maybe tomorrow, I eventually came up with these. But first, I had to go back to "The Best Of Weavers Twill Thrills" to read, re-read and get to understand how they might work. These patterns use a 4 end repeat with point sections. The threading pattern is: the 4 end repeat 1-2-3-4, 2-3-4-5,3-4-5-6,4-5-6-7,5-6-7-8 then 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 and back to 8-7-6-5, 7-6-5-4, 6-5-4-3, 5-4-3-2, 4-3-2-1, and repeat across the warp. The treadling pattern was an image of this (i.e. "tromp as writ").

Here you see the patterns produced by two different treadle tie ups.

These patterns are rather pretty, they'd look good in silk for a waistcoat (U.S. vest), or as upholstery fabrics (though personally I don't like furnishings with small pattern repeats).

And, encouraged by this success I went on to weave more variations of these designs, with different treadling patterns and also with use of two different colour blue threads in the weft.

Just to finish, I'd like to highly recommend the Online Guild, and also the book mentioned above,
The Best of Weavers - Twill Thrills, ed. Madelyn van der Hoogt, pub. XRX Books, 2004, ISBN-10: 189376219X, ISBN-13: 978-1893762190.


Leigh said...

Dorothy, your samples look great. I am realizing that advancing twills take a lot of planning and experimenting either on paper or computer. I like your idea of graduating colors to add some interest to the diagonals. I'm doing reverses, but am getting tired of zigzags too. However, I think I'll leave the fancier patterns for another life!

Peg in South Carolina said...

Well, the color really brings the designs to life! Despite not being my cup of tea (at the present moment, anyway---grin!), I find these quite lovely.