Sunday, 29 June 2008

Sample blanket progress report

There are 50 treadle patterns in the sample blanket I'm weaving from Janet Phillip's Designing Woven Fabrics, (see also Janet's website) and so far today I have woven no. 38 which is a shadow twill and no. 39 which is weft Bedford cord. Plenty of "ohs" and "ahs" going on at my loom today!! Love that shadow twill. Photos will follow, another day.

I had this comment from Kas on my last post:

I bought Janet's book from her website. From the US, it's quite
expensive but definitely worth the cost. I've been looking for a clear
understanding of the design process and this book is clear,
understandable. I can't wait to get to the sampler! Now if only someone
could tell me whether 5/2 cotton will work just as well as 2/6!

It's not a cheap book if you just look at the cover price, but in terms of content you I'm sure you're getting every cent's worth and more. I think you're spot on in describing it as giving a clear understanding of the design process. Well, at least one approach to design, but a very useful and adaptable approach that could lead you to develop into your own approach to designing. I can see how what is in this book is not only very comprehensive in terms of the structures covered, but also teaches an approach that you can take into trying other types of weave and working with colour in other ways.

Now to the nitty-gritty (is this a UK expression? it means getting down to the nuts and bolts, dealing with the basic issues) ....... this question of will 5/2 cotton work just as well as 2/6.

I thought about the yarn choice too, because I have lots of yarn about my workshop but not 2/6. In the end, I ordered 2/6 (and 2/12) to make my life easy. It means that following the instructions has been straightforward. I made one difference, I ordered natural instead of white as it's slightly cheaper and I think makes no difference to the result.

But maybe you can get hold of 2/6 cotton? O.K., lets look at what difference it makes. I got out one of my "Best of Weavers..." books because at the back they have a quick reference page for yarns which gives an actual size yarn photo and details. Hmm. very useful, except - no 2/6 or 5/2!!

Think some more. Well, 5/2 is going to be a heavier weight yarn than 2/6. Less yards per pound. Need setting slightly wider, possibly, and the second warp yarn will need to be 2/10 instead of 2/12. If you sett wider, you will find it is wider on the loom. If you're loom is ample width, you could put the warp on, make sure you have a good bit extra length for sampling, and then try different setts. My favourite weaving techniques author Peggy Osterkamp's books would be useful to have to hand, if you need reference books to help you work out the sett you want, but maybe you are familiar with using this yarn anyway?

A couple of tips -

1) I'm using a temple because this peice of weaving incorporates many different structures with different numbers of thread interactions and the temple helps with keeping the cloth even.

2) I put on a 6 metre warp, the book said 4 metres woven length. Apart from loom waste, I like to have spare, just in case, and if there's extra at the end I can try my own ideas a bit.

Another thought: the sample blanket might be slightly easier to weave on a jack loom, or a (wide) table loom (width on loom is 25.7 inches).

On my 8 shaft 10 treadle countermarche, I'm using 8 treadles in a universal tie-up. I never used a universal tie up before, but Janet gives full instructions in the book. Every lift needs 2 treadles, so every lift plan has to be translated into a list of which 2 treadles I need for each lift. I write the treadle order for each section out on a small white board which I have at the side of my loom. I check, and check again, it when it's written, as errors at this stage lead to tedious un-weaving!!

Must get back to the loom now, I want to have this blanket woven and finished before Tuesday evening, as I'm going to stay a few days with an Aunt who is an artist. It's really useful to talk to other interested people, possibly especially non-weavers, about how they perceive cloth design.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

I've been weaving, not blogging.

As the title suggests, I've been making weaving a top priority for my spare time the past couple of weeks.

Another priority has been getting two new cats settled into to our home, 1 year old Annie (a little black bundle of energy and fun, she'd been stuck in the cat sanctury from 5 months old and was raring to go... talks non-stop!!) and 2 year old Pheobe (aunt to Annie, altogether a more dignified and stunningly beautiful oriental tabby with bright green eyes). There is no cat in the world could replace the late Oscar... but not having a cat in the house was absolutely unbearable and totally unsustainable, especially when there's lovely cats needing good homes. They came from Dove Cat Rescue Centre. We went to drop off the remaining cat food after Oscar died, and stopped for a look at the cats, and were slightly surprised to find ourselves returning home with two little cats in a borrowed cat carrier.... result: happiness, chaos, maow, prr, prr...

Now back to WEAVING!!!!

I've been having a great adventure with my sample blanket, following the directions in Janet Phillip's Designing Woven Fabrics. I've been taking photos along the way, and will have more to tell you about what I've learnt when I can get to the local library and post up my photos in a blog entry.

Something I really should have learnt long before now: don't try too hard, don't weave too late at night. I thought I'd do just one more section before bed last night - spent three times as long un-weaving as I did weaving.

The sample blanket has 10 different weave threadings (on 4 shafts) across the width, and 50 different treadling patterns to use (before trying some of your own). I'm up to number 22, which is one of a series of 2/2 and plain weave treadlings. Thoughts so far: wow! So many possibilities, so many variations. I love to just sit and look at the cloth, there is so much to see and learn. I hadn't realised this before, it's a simple thing, but take one threading and use treadling patterns that belong to other threadings and all kinds of things happen. Weaving this sample blanket is like travelling a new path, seeing new things, seeing familiar things differently.

I'm thinking ahead too - what would happen if I wove the same sample blanket in wool?

And, what about a colour sampler, to explore the interactions between all those colours of cotton I have waiting in my stash?

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Weaving again

Those yarns I ordered.... I have wound my warp, the warp is wound on the back beam and now I'm threading heddles.

I made lots of mistakes as I started before the cat died and my concentration was not good then, nor for a few days after. It's improving. It's good to have a very interesting project. I'm taking photos and will have a report on this in the next week or so.

My project is to weave the sample blanket from Janet Phillip's book Designing Woven Fabrics. This has several different twill threadings across the width of the fabric, used with different treadling patterns down the length so you get lots of sample squares in the one piece, and you can learn about combining two or more twills in one piece of weaving, as well as seeing how the different patterns look and compare.

I have been learning lots and am very excited about this project, it's stretching me already, I have had to work out how to do things I have never done before. I am so excited to be making a sampler that is a tool for design will take me to the next stage in my weaving. I am developing an idea of what sort of weaving interests me and where I am going. I keep eyeing up different yarn and colour combinations from the stash around my workshop and thinking "this plus that... mmm". Now I am not worrying about having a growing yarn stash... I see it turning into a fabric stash soon!