Thursday, 29 October 2009

Janet Phillips' sample blanket - in wool

I have woven Janet Phillips' sample blanket again!

I wondered why I was doing this, I thought of other things I could weave, but there's no getting away from it. The sample blanket in linen was very different from the same in cotton, and the only way to learn about these weave structures in wool and be able to compare the way it behaves to the way the other fibres work, was to wind the warp, thread up and weave. I'm certainly getting good value from Janet's book, Designing Woven Fabrics.

I am delighted that I pushed myself to do this. One of the things that is very different in wool, is that because it shrinks more the weaves with floats get wonderful bobble textures, and the effect in these woollen tweed yarns is like moss and wood. The Shetland wool yarns came from Fairfield Yarns, they are not repeatable as they are mill ends, but both Fairfield Yarns and Uppingham Yarns may have this type of yarn in stock and will send samples. It isn't a soft yarn, but would be great for upholstery or outer clothing such as a jacket or a lined skirt.

It's worth mentioning that I left out the wavy twill threading for the linen and wool samplers, as in the original cotton it was threaded in a different warp yarn half the size of the rest of the warp threads. However, there is still a wavy section in the treadle sequence.

I took a few of these close up photos, to give you an idea of what it's like. Many of the sections not photographed have very subtle classic tweed fabric look, differently lovely but harder to show in a photo.

Now, getting back to technical stuff, I left some bits out of telling you about weaving the linen sample blanket. It was the first time of my using a new method for tensioning the warp whilst winding on. I often see recommendations of Kati Reeder Meek's method for "Warping with a Trapeeze" and other people use different means of stretching the warp out width ways and length ways to get good even tension.

As I have a sloping ceiling, and limited space around the loom, the best way for me to do this seemed to be to get the warp to the front of the loom, and then wrap in around the front beam, and up and over the castle.

Stage one, to the front of the loom.

Then up and over...

View from the back beam (if you look closely you can see the raddle on the top of the back beam)

My lease sticks were in place just before the back beam.

And behind the loom I held all the warp on one hand, and wound on with the other. Actually, I held the warp with my right hand because the beam winder is on my left, but I couldn't photograph this as my camera is only useable one handed with the right hand (o.k., I could have fetched the tripod, but I didn't bother).

Of course when most of the warp was wound on, it wasn't long enough to reach up and over, so I reverted to my old method.

It worked very well, and I had no tension problems at all. Linen is much less difficult to handle than I expected, but then I was mindful of the need to look after it well thoughout the preparation, and I should point out that this Finish Toika loom, with it's solid construction, is ideal for working with a high warp tension - recommended for linen. Also, I wound the warp careful, used lots of warp ties, and wound it on to the loom with care.

Everything I learnt while handling the linen was then applied when I returned to the more familiar woolen warp, including careful use of a temple, edged on 2 cm at a time. This is a great help with the sample blanket particularly because all those different weave structures have different tension. I never wove such neat edges before, and I was able to weave right to the limit of the warp. From the front, I stopped this close to the heddles,

...while at the back the apron rod was up to the shaft cords,

Loom waste was down to 50 cm by the time I'd cut off carefully at the front and tied tassels both ends. Here is the sequence of photos I took to show untying from the front apron rod, carefully removing excess weft before the start of the blanket, and overhand knotting the tassels.

Finished project.

I took all three of the sample blankets along to the Cheshire Guild's Friendship Day, it was a great ice-breaker in a room full of people I'd not met before, when I got these out several weavers, and would-be weavers, introduced themselves and came over to look at and feel the blankets.


Laura Fry said...

I just got Janet Phillips book but haven't had time to really read it yet. It looks interesting, though, a good exercise for new weavers to weave the blanket and have such a lovely reference for later. :)


Margreet said...

Great to have these 3 different blankets now, they will be a good reference for you from now on.
Thanks for sharing with all the photos.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful resource you've created for yourself. I like the idea of exploring the different fibres and their different behaviour.Have you worked on Janet Phillips' next stage - selecting structures and introducing colours to design a project?

Leigh said...

I think that is an excellent idea, to weave the same piece in three different fibers. I will have to try that when I can get back to weaving.

I've thought I'd like to try the trapeze method of warping and your adaptation certainly looks easier than trying to hang something from the ceiling. I'll have to give that a try too.

Meg said...

This must have been a very satisfying experience. Now I'm becoming curious.

Unknown said...

Thank you for posting about this woollen version Dot. I have been thinking about trying this in my Bowmont seeing that I have it to hand but I've been put off because Janet is so very hooked on the cotton of course. Also there was always going to be an issue with take up differences with the different patterns. Using a temple is a good idea. Normally I avoid it but here I think it is almost essential because of the diff weave structures. Like the warping idea - I could do this on my Glimakra too.

Peg in South Carolina said...

How you persevere! I doubt that I could have brought myself to do this last warp, despite how much was to be learned by doing it. And I expect that the linen was easier to warp than anticipated because you are analytical, persistent, and careful.

Dorothy said...

Thanks for your comments :)

Judy, I used my new knowledge earlier this year when selecting a wavy twill weave for the chocolate coloured scarf I wove from sock yarns, see table loom

I have other ideas now but need to find lots of time in order to get them woven. I wasn't sure what yarns to use, which is why I am still trying out different yarns to see how they feel and behave in the structures.

Lesley - when I got the book the project of weaving the sample blanket was much more complicated than anything I tried before. I followed the instructions in the book carefully for the cotton blanket. When I had woven it, I had so much new understanding of weaving that I realised I could do things I hadn't attempted before. I could change the yarn, change the sett, use the reed of my choosing, use different colours, and generally explore. Having said that, I'm glad I wove in dark & light cotton first, because the patterns are very clear to see.

Hi Peg, I didn't start careful, I wanted to throw things together and have them work, but I have learnt that weaving needs a patient, almost meditative attitude. I'm normally a risk taker and I love throwing things together when I'm not weaving, e.g. I never cook from recipes.

I'm thinking of trying saori weaving sometime on my 2 shaft loom so I can just let things happen.

Life Looms Large said...

I'm a little late to the comment party here...Sorry about that!

The sample blankets are all really cool. I saw some kind of twill gamp at a recent workshop - she had a wool version and a cotton version and I was surprised at the differences between them.

Thanks for sharing pictures of your warping process too. I'm still adjusting my warping methods to my new loom.

That's great that this project helped some of your ideas come together so you can improvise (or design your own stuff) more with your weaving. I'm just starting to venture into that territory myself.

Maybe I should get that book! Some one told me it was all twill - and I'm not sure I want to do a lot more twill at this point.

Weave on!


Benita said...

I love samplers and gamps - you learn so much from them. And doing them in different fiber types is just brilliant!!

Anonymous said...

I recently read Kati Meek's book and was wondering if a lot of people try her technique (or variations of it) so I really enjoyed reading and seeing how you went about dressing your loom and weaving the blankets. You did it so nicely and with such care. Thank you, Dot, for sharing!


Anonymous said...

How did you tie the bottles to the warp?