Thursday, 10 July 2008

Designing Woven Fabrics - the sample blanket

From this box of yarns I ordered from William Hall & Co.:

(not the yellow, that's for another project)

I have woven this:

With a determined effort, weaving 8 different patterns each evening for the last couple of days, I finished my sample blanket before going on holiday last week. This is the blanket designed by Janet Phillips. Her book, Designing Woven Fabrics, gives the instructions for weaving this blanket and then directions for how to use it in designing your own fabrics.

I was able to take my blanket when I went to stay with my Aunt, an artist who enjoys beautiful textiles, and I also to it to show a fellow member of the Online Guild (from whom I was buying a second hand knitting machine - more on that another time!). I think they were both nearly as impressed with the blanket as I am. I don't think it's big headed to say that! So much of the achievement is the work of Janet Phillips, who came up with the idea of writing the book and designed and wove the blanket (more than once) before writing her instructions.

After finishing, the blanket is 274 cm long and 50 cm wide. There are 10 warp patterns across the width, and 50 different treadling patterns, giving no less than 500 different weaves! Wow! I can loose myself trying to choose a favourite square. All the rows are photographed in the book alongside the treadle patterns (very useful for spotting errors as you weave).

It's not easy for me to photograph such a large blanket, I tried several times before I realised that hanging it on the back of the loom would give an idea of scale. I took a few more pictures to indicate just how varied the patterns are:

An important question is - what will I do next? The instructions for weaving this blanket are only part of Janet's book. I've been reading on to learn about other aspects of design, including colour and yarn choices, and see examples that Janet gives of items she wove using some of the sample blanket weaves.

I think I need a better understanding of yarn and colour before I proceed. I went back to Ann Sutton's book "Colour and Weave Design" and to Janet's earlier book, "The Weaver's Book of Fabric Design".
Chapter 8 of Janet's book describes a colour and weave sampler, and Ann Sutton's book is an illustration of a 500 square colour and weave sampler. Ann suggests that if you have her book you don't need to weave the sampler for yourself. I think I do. I enjoyed the pictures in Janet's book of the sample blanket, but weaving it made it real for me and gave me something I can examine closely and feel for myself. The feel of a weave is important, and the way it looks from different angles, and also, if you weave it yourself, you have seen what it happens as it comes into being.

I also want to weave a different colour sample, using several colours across the warp and the same colours in bands in the weft. I want to see how they interact in plain and simple twill weaves.

Maybe I'm being ambitious, again, but I think that these will be invaluable to weave and have for myself.

Before I move on, I have several little collections of photos from various stages in the process of weaving this blanket, so, if you're interested you may learn from my mistakes!


sampling said...

Congratulations. That is truly impressive. I agree with you. I find that I don't truly understand a weave until I have tried it.
I have just ordered the book and look forward to trying it out.

Laritza said...

Lovely blanket. Welcome to the world of Machine Knitting!

Anonymous said...

Well, you've inspired me to give it a shot. I just ordered the book and it really is something worth trying. I also loved her other projects but think I will give them a shot after I complete the blanket. Thank you for posting all this great information on your blog. I am very grateful, as a beginner weaver, for your careful notes and the fact that you shared so much!

Helen said...

Dorothy the blanket is fabulous. No wonder you are feeling proud of yourself!

Anonymous said...

Hi Dorothy, Congratulations on your wonderful blanket! What an achievement ! Hope you are feeling better and enjoying your new cats. Thanks for encouraging comments. Have got a goldfinch feeder and seeds but no birds yet ! Perhaps as you say winter is the time for them.
Happy weaving !

Anonymous said...

Your blanket is awesome!

Leigh said...

Dorothy, it's wonderful! What a useful way to record so many patterns. Very impressive. Wish I could see it for real too.

Irene Adler said...

A real achievement; I look forward to seeing which patterns you choose to expand and explore further in future projects.

Meg said...

Yum, Gamp! Beautiful. Good on hyou for completing such a beautiful project. I'd imagine you get years of pleasure just looking at this and cooking up other projects.

Bonnie Inouye has a black and white twill gamp in the Best of Weavers twill book (so, I'd imagine, naturally in a past issue of the WEavers mag as well), which I've always intended to emulate, and I've done a lot with the tie up and treadling, but haven't really though of threading changes... Maybe in the next decade or so.