Palate Cleanser

In September I was weaving text and getting up to speed with my Tempo Treadle setup. When I finished the Bon Appetit mat, I was pretty dissatisfied with how it turned out. If I’m honest, 16 harnesses is really not enough for a good rendering of text in weaving when using 3/1 twill or broken twills as the foreground and background. The letters aren’t scaled up enough for clarity, and it kind of all turns to mush when it is washed. Sigh.

So I needed a change of pace, a palate cleanser, if you will, and the stars aligned quite nicely when I decided to turn my attention to the pattern called Vlak-in-Vlak-in-Vlak. This pattern is woven in Summer and Winter. It has been floating around the interweb for a while. It’s very intriguing. But it’s hard to find it. Links to it are good for a while and then they don’t work anymore. Years ago, somehow I had managed to find a Dutch language copy of the pattern and printed it out. That’s the first part of the story.

The second part of the story is a posting by Bonnie Inouye on a Ravelry Warped Weavers forum on Drafting Turned Taqueté. In 2020 she whipped up a short tutorial and drawdown using just part of the Vlak pattern in Turned Taquete using 12 harnesses. I became obsessed with working this out myself using her method, and I finally was successful. For those interested, this is the link to that posting. (You have to be a member of Ravelry, BTW. Scroll down the page until you find a posting titled “Creating TT drafts with blocks or Images”). The point of this exercise was to draft a Turned Taqueté design with clean lines separating the elements, rather than moving along a diagonal or a curve.

So I was a busy little bee for a while, working on the draft, working on the colors that I ultimately chose. Eventually I came up with this draft:

And I posted it on my Facebook page. People seemed to really like it. I was really excited. I started weaving, and it looked really good. I began thinking that I might work up a pattern for it that I could put in my Etsy shop.

However, I knew that at some point I would have to contact the designer of this wonderful draft. Who turns out to be Ineke Elsinga of the weaving studio Tissien in Haarlem, Netherlands. I emailed concerning my use of her weaving draft, and she kindly informed me that the pattern is copyrighted. Also, it isn’t free. She sent me the link for purchasing the pattern and I did so. The website for Tissien is in Dutch, so when accessing it, it works better if you use a browser, like Google Chrome, with a translation feature. But even if you go to the website, the pattern link is hard to find. So, if you would like this pattern, which costs 15 Euros, here is the link that will get you there:

https://tissien.nl/#!/Vlak-in-vlak-in-vlak-pattern-woven-in-summer&winter-EN-translation/p/306531328/category=21408636

Further, the pattern is for personal use only, for making items for gifts or oneself. Commercial use is not allowed. If you publish or exhibit something using this pattern, the following line must be used in full: Design © 2011 Ineke Elsinga – http://www.tissien.nl. This copyright ownership is clearly stated on the first page of the pattern and when purchasing the pattern.

I’m just glad that I can weave it for myself. And it makes a lovely break from the frustrations of weaving text.

Getting Acquainted with Tempo Treadle

In my last post I was just putting together the Tempo Treadle and getting it to the point of turning it on. Now I’m practically a seasoned veteran. Well, almost. I have now threaded and treadled and completed a project and I am very satisfied with my experience. However, I do have a question or two for the hive.

My warp was for another text project. The threading order is very easy, but I made use of the Thread Assist function to keep me on track.

I chose to have the screen show 8 warp threads at a time. The Thread Assist not only keeps track of harnesses, but also of color changes in the warp. I did notice that I had to enter exactly the right amount of warp threads in my threading draft (wif). That way I didn’t have to start over on the screen. Also, the Thread Assist keeps track of where I left off when I start again after some time away.

When I finally got started weaving, there was definitely a learning curve with the Weaving function. Since I have and was using all 16 harnesses, the screen I was using could only show one line of the liftplan at a time. I’ll take you through a sequence of two picks.

This shows the “next” pick with the levers in the neutral position, i.e. not pulled. Blue is the color for the levers that I want to pull.

When I pull those levers, the magnets engage and then the screen changes to this, showing the levers that need to be lifted (in red), the levers that need to be pulled (blue) and the levers that remain unchanged (green). This pick consists of harnesses 1, 2, 4, 8, 12, and 16.

Next, the levers in red are lifted, and the ones in blue are pulled, joining the ones in green. This pick consists of harnesses 1, 3, 4, 5, 9, and 13.

Things happen fast, and you have to pay attention! Ask me how I know 🙂

So the above picture shows the beginning of my weaving and I was pretty proud of myself. I quit for the day and started weaving again the next day. Thinking that I could just start up again from where I left off, I continued with my routine and wove for about an hour. It wasn’t until I got up to advance the warp that I noticed the floats on the top. They are visible on the left side of the mat.

I was not watching the weaving, I was watching the screen and pulling the levers and skipped a pick in the sequence. It turns out that picking up where you left off is somewhat tricky! So, I began writing down the SEQ number (upper left corner) and the actual harness numbers of the next pick before shutting down the Tempo Treadle. Otherwise, I became very confused as to exactly where I was in the sequence.

I would love to hear from more experienced Tempo Treadle users (16 harnesses) who may have faced this situation as well. Do you have a fool proof method of knowing what the beginning pick is when starting a new session?

Meanwhile, I am still not satisfied with my text weaving. Going back to the font drawing board. Stay tuned…

New Technology and Old

Say hello to Tempo Treadle. I hope Tempo Treadle will become my new best friend when I am weaving on my Ashford Table Loom. It will keep me from pulling the wrong levers and hopefully speed up the weaving, as much as you can possible speed anything up, that is. Tempo Treadle arrived a few weeks ago and, between this and that, I haven’t got it completely up and running until now.

When it arrived, I immediately went to social media to find out what I could about setting it up on an Ashford 16 Harness table loom. It came with directions, but I am a very visual person, and I needed more photos than what I was getting. There are a few videos on You Tube by the Lofty Fiber folks (makers of Tempo Treadle). But the list of videos doesn’t cover all the looms that it is made for.

Therefore, I thought I would document my set up process and post it here for any Ashford Loom owners who might be wanting more photos.

The first thing I did was remove all the treadle number stickers that I had attached to the loom when I first got it. No apologies about the accumulated “patina” ;-).

Next, I attached the magnets to the levers. (In the photos the magnets are white. This confused me at first, because I can be very literal. As it happens, mine are black.)

Next, I attached the Tempo Treadle “holder” to the top of the loom behind the levers. The Tempo Treadle box itself fits right in. Here are front and side views.

The power source cord plugs in at the top and it is long enough to reach to my electrical outlet close by.

There is a small extension cord with a switch, which is helpful for turning Tempo Treadle on and off without having to just pull the plug in the wall.

There is a magnetic strip that attaches to the loom with adhesive just under the castle. Two connectors come out at the left and attach to connectors coming from the Tempo Treadle box.

A attaches to A and B attaches to B.

This is the finished setup.

And, this is what it looks like when you turn it on.

The Tempo Treadle comes with a mini memory card and two different readers that connect to your computer. I have tried both and they work just fine. I have put two wifs on the memory card and actually tried running through a treadling sequence, briefly. There will be a learning curve.

I am currently warping this loom for another text project, and will be taking photos as I go, so I will be posting about that experience … soonish.

Took the Plunge!

Ok, I’ve had comments on the Tempo Treadle, and basically what I’m hearing is that it is the best tool I could possibly have for weaving on a 16 harness table loom. Based on this information, I went ahead and took the plunge. I think there is a wait time for orders to be fulfilled, so I’m not going to hold my breath until it gets here. I will probably start a new project and add the Tempo Treadle whenever it gets here.

Wish me luck!

Summer Thoughts

My experiments with woven text continue. I wound a warp of 6/2 unmercerized cotton and tied on to the previous warp of 8/2 unmercerized. The 6/2 is noticeably coarser feeling and produced thicker and heavier towels. The weaving proceeded slowly but uneventfully (or so I thought!). I used the fonts that I created from embroidery stitch patterns and they are definitely more readable that the Photoshop fonts.

Below you see the weaving draft for “iowaweaver”, both front and back views.

Below is a quick snap of the “iowaweaver” towel. I was still working out how to space the words in the towel and it ended up longer than I would normally have woven. The letters have issues, but I can live with them. The real problem emerged when I realized that I had three different instances of pulling the wrong lever for a particular pick. This resulted in floats across the back. Longer than I want, but still livable for my personal stash of towels.

Here’s the clue: Below, I drew around one of the places where the mistake occurs. If I had been paying better attention, I would have noticed that the broken twill had turned into a straight twill. Whoops. Also, the bottom of the E was not quite right.

Looking at the draft at the top of this post, we can see that there is nothing wrong with the draft. It wasn’t that. It was me. I wove this little piece at the end of the warp, and I did manage not to make any errors. So it can be done.

I use iWeaveIt on an iPad set up next to my Ashford table loom. I use it when threading with the Threading Tracker and I use it when weaving with the Treadle Tracker. I have found this program to be quite handy, but when I misread the line of levers I am supposed to be pulling, it can be a problem. I briefly (briefly!) thought about the Tempo Treadle. The Tempo Treadle connects to the levers or treadles on a loom with magnets and sends signals to a little box mounted on top of the loom. When you pull the wrong lever, it apparently beeps at you to tell you have made a goof. Then I looked at the price of it for a 16 harness Ashford and …. well.

I’d like to hear from anyone who uses the Tempo Treadle with a table loom and if they love it. It might make me change my mind, but we’ll see.

Meanwhile, I am still thinking of different ways I can use text in weaving, and wondering if this technique is really that useful, or merely a parlor trick that won’t stand the test of time. I think I am going to try placemats out of 5/2 cotton next, sett at 20 epi. here is the design I am thinking of:

The draft on the left is 3/1 broken twill and is the structure that I have used so far for my first towel projects. The draft on the right is 3/1 straight twill. It’s my hope that if I go with the straight twill I won’t have any trouble noticing a mistake in treadling.

Buckle up!

Woven Typography

Typography refers to type style, including fonts, sizing and arrangements for ease of reading. When I think of typography I want to know how readable is it. First and foremost. When I look at woven words, I often think, not so much.

The woven words that I have attempted so far have a vague relationship to, but still not what I would call even remotely, readable. Depends on the letter. Some are kind of squished. Others stand out from the background, because of their simplicity. The better ones have a good amount of negative space and strong positive space. The lesser ones are only called letters because I say so.

The technique I’ve been using to create woven text for 16 harnesses calls on the type faces included in Photoshop and Photoshop Elements. The idea is to make a new file, exactly 12 pixels wide, and pick a vertical type face that is strong, usually Arial Black or Arial Bold, and type something. Then the frustrating part begins. Editing the type so that it only consists of black or white pixels (no gray allowed!). Also editing out black pixels in favor or more white pixels so that the negative space more clearly defines the letter (see above).

I have to say here that I am not a Photoshop newbie. In my professional life I was a Curator of Visual Resources in the College of Design at Iowa State University. I used Photoshop every day of my working life. I taught Photoshop skills to student employees. But. Making letters play nice in Photoshop is a whole different ball game. It is extremely fiddly. And life is short.

So I got the idea to look around for cross stitch patterns of the alphabet. They exist is vast numbers on Etsy for very little money, it turns out. Cross stitch patterns work pretty well with weave design. They are blocky. They fill up little squares. Weavers use them for Summer and Winter and other block weaves. I found a couple of cross stitch alphabets that were the right size and blocky but not too blocky. Credit goes to The Cross Elephant on Etsy:

Now the process gets tedious, but the work involved once all the letters have been extracted and saved suddenly gets greatly reduced.

One by one I copied each capital letter into its own file. Now they are ready and waiting to be copied into a new weaving text. Each letter is its own layer, so by the time I have finished a text, I might have close to 20 layers in the file. So, I flatten the image, and continue on with the process of inserting patterns on foreground and background. Such a difference!

This is the next towel slated for weaving. I have a 6/2 cotton warp wound and ready to tie on to the previous Kitchen Towel Warp. But time and motion move slowly Chez Iowaweaver, so patience is required.

Cheers!

Weaving “Kitchen Towel”s

These towels are my first attempt at weaving text on my 16 harness Ashford table loom. I used 8/2 unmercerized cotton sett at 20 ends per inch. I had doubts about setting this yarn at 20epi. The structure used is 3/1 and 1/3 broken twill, and the resulting weight and hand of the fabric is thin. Not anywhere near the beefy feel of my Turned Taqueté towels which are sett at 24epi. But the design dictated the sett, and I really wanted to try the design out, so I just went ahead with it.

The colors are shades of blue in a kind of ombré effect, but they are pretty unsaturated in these quick iphone pictures. The text on the left mirrors the text on the right, as depicted in the drawdown below. I wove the towels as you see in the drawdown, and the upside down letters wove right side up. Magic!

Weaving text with 16 harnesses using Photoshop and Photoshop Elements for designing with pattern presets is tricky but doable. As woven here, the font images are barely readable. Because, with 16 harnesses, the design grid in the liftplan can only be 16 squares across. Four of those squares are dedicated to background structure. Thus, 12 squares are left for the actual font, and take up harnesses 16 to 5 in the threading. That’s only a little over half an inch, .6″ to be exact.

It doesn’t get better if I go to 24 epi. Then the font goes down to .5″. So, rather than adjust the sett, my next move is to go to a thicker yarn and keep the sett at 20. I will go to 6/2 unmercerized cotton. And see how it goes.

I’m going to have an awful lot of “Kitchen Towels”!

Weaving Words

Just when I thought I might never stop geeking out on woven circles, along comes a new obsession. This one is harder to get my head around. It is imprecise. It takes a lot of technical deep diving. It hardly ever turns out the way I picture it. But it is so intriguing that I can’t stop. Won’t stop.

Weaving words.

Here is the drawdown for my first weaving since back surgery. Mind you, I haven’t even wound the warp yet. It has taken me pretty much the entire recuperation month to get this far. But soon, I will be winding a warp for towels on my 16 shaft Ashford. You are looking at front and back, upside down:

I got inspired for this when I was going through the tutorials in Alice Schlein’s book The Liftplan Connection: Designing for Dobby Looms with Photoshop and Photoshop Elements. Along with all the other chapters (including one one circles!), she has a chapter on weaving text. Granted, this technique works better with 24 and 32 harnesses, but it is still possible with 16.

Without going into too much technical stuff, it is necessary to have installed a set of pattern presets in Photoshop. Working with layers, the presets are copied into designs on a grid, foreground and background. When finished, the grid represents a liftplan that can then be pasted into a weaving program. Thanks to the Complex Weavers’ lending library, I was able to gain access to the preset library from the book The Woven Pixel by Alice Schlein and Bhakti Ziek.

I also consulted an online tutorial by Margaret Coe, which was much less comprehensive, but still helpful, and began using Photoshop Elements in addition to Photoshop 2020.

You can see already that this is a fly by the seat of my pants operation. Photoshop 2020 does most of what I want very well. Photoshop Elements picks up the slack. (This is much like my relationship with Fiberworks and PixeLoom. They each have their strengths.)

I plan to wind a prototype warp and weave a couple of towels for myself. Glad to be about to be weaving again! FYI, I am slowly opening up my Etsy shop to other items besides the digital patterns. Yay!

Jitterbug Revisited

A reader sent me an email recently asking where to find an overshot version of the Jitterbug pattern. The only place I know of where it is published is in A Handweaver’s Source Book, edited by Marguerite Porter Davison. The pattern is credited to Bertha Gray Hayes and looks like this:

The threading is written in a kind of short hand which must be expanded. The tie-up is assumed to be written according to overshot rules, and the treadling is assumed to be written “as drawn in”.

I had already put the pattern into a design line and profile draft when I was doing it in Turned Taquete.

So I took the profile draft, and using the block substitution tool in PixeLoom for 4-shaft overshot, I transformed the design into overshot.

I had to adjust the weft thickness to thick and thin and add a tabby. But it seems to be a rough approximation of the Jitterbug idea. (P.S. It might be upside down. Not sure. Not sorry.)

Overshot patterns can be scaled down so that the floats are not so long. Weaving it in fine threads sett closely together would also mitigate the long floats issue. I am aware that Hayes wrote a book about overshot miniatures, and that this pattern may be published there in an easier to weave version. If anyone has the book, and it is in there, please let me know!

I am willing to email the Wif file to those who might want to try it out.

I am on the other side of my back surgery and everything is fine! No pain! I just have to wait a month before I can resume regular activities.