Sometime last Fall I was contacted by one of the editors at HGTV Magazine about using some of my towels for sale on Etsy in an upcoming issue for their Food + Stuff page. Naturally, I was intrigued. Not promising that I would be chosen, they nevertheless asked me to send some towels to be considered for a photo shoot. And so I did. Having my work on Etsy noticed by magazine editors was totally unexpected, but kind of a fun adrenalin rush.
I sent three towels off to the photo shoot site. It didn’t take long for them to get back to me that one had been chosen for the magazine, and they were all mailed back to me pretty promptly. I was impressed. But. They wouldn’t tell me which one was chosen, keeping it a surprise. I did know that it would appear in the January/February 2021 issue.
Then I got busy weaving a few more in the same basic design and colorway, thinking that when the magazine came out, some people might read the teeny tiny print at the bottom of the page and actually look on Etsy to see if they could buy one or two. You never know 😉
Since I no longer go the grocery store, I have no idea if the magazine is actually on the stands, but I did purchase a e-magazine on Zinio, so I know it’s out there somewhere.
So my plan, about two months ago, was to weave circles in Summer and Winter. I was looking to broaden my circles repertoire. (Turned Taqueté fatigue anyone?) I am a big fan of unit weaves, and I wove a lot of Summer and Winter in the late 80’s and into the 90’s. Therefore I did a deep dive into my profile drafts of circles to see what looked good. From there it would be a quick process to get from profile draft to a full fledged Summer and Winter threading draft.
I found this:
This is a 10 block profile draft. It was previously unusable for me when I only had 8 harnesses to work with. But, now, with 16 harnesses at my disposal, I can use up to 14 blocks. I started doing block substitution in Fiberworks and came up with this:
This is a draft for 12-harness Summer and Winter. Looks good, right? Look carefully, and you will see that there are tabby treadles provided, but no tabby inserted into the treadling. I find it odd that the block substitution function in Fiberworks doesn’t automatically insert the tabby, because, the structure is useless without it. But there you are.
So, if you tell the program to insert the tabby please, this is what you get:
Suddenly, the lovely circles were transformed into ovals. I struggled with this result for a while. You can try to adjust for thread thickness in both threading and treadling, which I did, but this is time consuming, and really not very productive. You really have to weave the design to get a sense of how the proportions will play out.
I planned on using 12/2 tencel at 5040 yards per pound for warp that I had dyed a nice Pewter Gray. It’s been so long since I wove S&W that I had to check what the correct sett would be. My sources recommended a tabby sett for Summer and Winter. Tabby for 12/2 tencel is 24 epi. Which I went with. I recently bought some 2/10 Merino/Tencel Colrain lace weight, which at 2800 yards per pound is roughly the right weight for a pattern weft.
Once I got weaving, I soon realized (like, immediately) that the circles I had planned were definitely working out to be ovals. Yet, if you’ve ever woven on a table loom, you know that unweaving is to be avoided at all costs.
So, notice the bottom of this photo. Ovals. I quickly decided to incorporate the ovals into the overall design, and weave a less elongated oval next.
And then an even less elongated oval next, which now looks like ovals just turned sideways:
Now I was finally getting the circles I envisioned. See the middle part of the scarf photos.
Anyway, I really enjoyed the process, and I think I will be tying to on the this warp and weaving at least one more scarf like it. But after that? Turned Summer and Winter!
Here’s something different, a really interesting little gem of a book for textile geeks like me. I found this book in an Instagram post by Wallace Sewell. Wallace Sewell (or Emma Sewell and Harriet Wallace-Jones) is a British textile design firm specializing in Bauhaus-inspired weaving for the home and for people. I have been inspired by their work for some time. Turns out they are part of a long line of textile designers who have contributed their eye-popping designs to London Transport.
But I digress.
Moquette is French for carpet, woven of wool with cotton backing and tufted, with either loops or cut pile or a combination. Moquette is used on London’s transport (tubes, buses, trams) seats. LT requires that moquette be patterned, partly for decorative effect, but also because the patterns hide dirt. Four colors are used, but the effects of cut and uncut pile make it feel like more. The pile is warm and comfortable in winter, cool in summer, and makes for an inviting tube or bus ride where one would otherwise feel bored, crowded, and miserable.
The tradition of using moquette for LT seating is a century old, and many big names in industrial design have contributed to the history of these textiles including Paul Nash, Enid Marx, Marion Dorn, and Marianne Straub, as well as today’s Wallace Sewell. Styles evolved from Art Deco to Streamlined Machine Age, to Wartime Austerity to Sixties Op.
The moquettes themselves have names, some whimsical: Colindale, Bushey, Ladder, Double Diamond, Trilobite or Fossil, Blue Blaze, and Barman, to name a few.
The book itself is a history of London’s tube lines and buses, as well as the fabrics that were used in them. Each two-page spread is a mini chapter about the evolution of public transport along with the fabrics used. The majority of photos are in color. If, like me, you are feeling very inspired, The London Transport Museum shop offers moquette designs in a furniture line, as well as socks and face masks. Check it out: https://www.ltmuseumshop.co.uk/
This is a true romp through 20th century textile history. Enjoy!
I’ve been weaving a lot of circles lately. Thinking it might be time for a another blog post. And trying to decide on a snappy title, something to do with circles. I found some circly phrases on Google: circle game, full circle, circling the drain, circle the wagons, magic circle. Nothing spoke to me. So I went with a title that hinted of treatises. Very dignified, no?
I have just finished another dishtowel warp. The Turned Taqueté draft is such a classic by now. I see lots of examples of towels on Instagram and Facebook, and the multitude of color combinations and treadling variations are wonderful. In my last blog post I hinted at a new variation that I was working on, but, sadly, I was disappointed once I committed to trying to weave it.
But this last warp does have a new and improved aspect that I would like to share, albeit very subtle.
This is the draft as it was published by Handwoven magazine last year. Each circle depends for its roundness on the repeats of treadles 2414 or 1828. This draft presupposes a warp of 8/2 cotton sett at 24 epi. But. Sometimes I found myself beating a bit harder and finding my circles somewhat …. compressed.
I found that by adding a half unit in each of the circled (treadling) areas, that is, starting each area with a 1 and ending with a 1x, that the roundness and predictability of roundness vastly improved.
And, it turns out this is a much easier sequence to remember.
This is the other circles warp that I’m weaving right now on my Ashford. It is a 16 harness point twill draft and comes from the collection called Thrilling Twills by the late Ingrid Boesel from Fiberworks. The possibilities are endless on this kind of draft. Change the liftplan (or tie-up) and you have a piece that is entirely different.
As soon as I started my adventures on the table loom, I realized that I liftplans were essential to making any kind of progress when weaving.
[A liftplan is a treadling scheme which is particularly useful for floor looms having a direct tie-up, one shaft per treadle; for dobby looms, mechanical or computer; and for table looms. The tie-up part of the layout is either empty or appears as a straight diagonal line.]
I am a very visual person, and as it turns out, I find that liftplans are infinitely better for visualizing a weave design. Consider the Turned Taqueté draft in liftplan mode:
While I would never attempt to weave from this on my treadle loom, someone with an 8 harness table loom would find this a very snappy alternative, no?
My journey into weaving theory has included a deep dive into the book TheLiftplan Connection by Alice Schlein. This is a manual which teaches how to use Photoshop and pattern presets to design for dobby looms. Liftplans! My version of Photoshop is a very up to date Photoshop 2020. But with persistence I’ve been able to take her tutorials using a much older version and make them work. Mostly.
About 12 weeks ago I posted on Facebook about what life chez iowaweaver would look like during the coming quarantine. I commented that at least we wouldn’t be bored because we have all the movies, all the books and all the yarn. DH and I are of an age where we really don’t want to be exposed unnecessarily to the Covid, and he has health concerns that mean we have to be strict. We have desperately missed our daughter and her family, who only live 30 minutes away, but it might as well be 30 hours. It’s a good thing we get along so well 😉 .
So, yeah, lots of television, lots of movies, lots of knitting, and lots of weaving. We have gotten really good at online grocery orders, and even managed to score some toilet paper a couple of weeks back. I made a point of making vegan dinners at least once a week, and with leftovers, we were eating vegan even more often.
Check it out: meringues made with aquafaba (the magic liquid found in cans of chickpeas). They were quite tasty.
And this is my no-knead french bread of which I am inordinately proud:
Louisville has a fabulous restaurant scene and we have several great places right in our neighborhood. So takeout once a week has been quite a treat. We only had one clunker in all this time, and that one is definitely off the list forever.
So bored I am not.
I’ve kept the weaving going pretty steadily. I managed a batch (soon to be two) of Turned Taqueté dishtowels:
I wove four scarves on the 16 harness Ashford. This is the first warp. The threading was a straight draw, just changing the liftplan. On the left, we have an undulating twill, and on the right we have tumbling boxes.
The second warp was threading to a point twill. On the left, scallop shells or fish scales or fans (or whatever). On the right, we have another undulating twill. I used the liftplan for the first scarf above, and got an entirely different look.
I closed my Etsy shop fairly early in the quarantine. I decided multiple trips to the post office each week was not in my best interest. The shop (with the above items among many others) is now open again with some different rules. I will be mailing once a week at most, and since Etsy is touting home pickup by the postal service, I will give that a try.
My last blog post (eons ago) ended with my starting to read A Place ofGreater Safety by Hilary Mantel. Our libraries are still closed, so we are relying on books on hand, our trusty book store (Carmichael’s), and Kindle. I cruised through the Mantel, and went on to finish several more: UniformJustice by Donna Leon, Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik, As the Crow Flies by Craig Johnson, The Cat Who Smelled a Rat by Lilian Jackson Braun, TheMagician’s Assistant by Ann Patchett (stunning!), Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (about a global pandemic!), About Face by Donna Leon, I AmHalf-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, The Wife by Meg Wolitzer (in progress), and S is for Silence by Sue Grafton (in progress). Whew! And I am not an especially fast reader.
Currently working on another Circles draft with a slightly differnt look. Stay tuned!
It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. Worst: well, no need to explain that. Best: unlimited weaving with no end in sight! Woohoo!
On my eight shaft loom I’ve got a dishtowel warp in 8/2 unmercerized cotton in blues and greens, and I threaded it for Turned Taqueté according to the ideas I was exploring in my last post. I threaded a straight draw following a light/dark color sequence all the way across. I used a two-block profile draft from Jakob Angstadt. The first block is on harnesses 1-4, and the second block is on harnesses 5-8. The design is symmetrical, and I am keeping to color combinations of dark/dark, dark/light, light/dark and light/light in treadling.
This is the first towel, for which I used only a dark blue weft.
This is the second towel, for which I used only a light weft:
And the underside:
As you can tell, I’m big into the checks. And there a few different ways I can play this. I have four more to go, so my next move is to plan number three.
I alternate days weaving on the 8 shaft, and days weaving on the 16 shaft looms. I am well into the second ever warp on the Ashford, this time weaving scarfs in 8/2 rayon threaded to a sixteen shaft straight draw.
This is the first one, now off the loom:
This is the second one, an undulating twill:
This is the third one, just started:
I am still struggling with the warping, and decided to order a raddle kit for next time. The warp sticks provided are very thin cardboard and I decided I really don’t like them, so will switch to wood warp sticks. Plus I will figure out a better way to weight the warp as it is wound on.
I do enjoy the slower, more focused pace that the table loom requires. And I am dazzled by all the pattern possibilities. One of my goals with this loom is to explore more ways to weave circles, a design motif with which I am perpetually obsessed.
I decided to put my Etsy shop on indefinite Vacation Mode, thus avoiding a lot of unnecessary trips to the post office. However, I will be adding to the inventory, so whenever I feel safe enough to go out more, there will be lots of new stuff.
And, I am reading Hilary Mantel’s A Place of Greater Safety, her first novel, although it wasn’t published first. It’s loooong, and I love her style, and it focuses on characters in France before and during the Revolution. I thought the title was entirely apropos 😉 .
Ever since I got my 16 harness Ashford table loom I have been doing a lot of mining my weaving library for drafts of over 8 harnesses. Most of my books are of the 4 to 8 harness persuasion, although I have a few books that go into the 8-32 harness stratosphere. Most of my books I’ve had for decades. I have WeavesA Design Handbook by Eleanor Best (1987). I have 8/12…20 An Introduction to Multishaft Weaving by Kathryn Wertenberger and the two-volume collection of patterns by Jakob Angstadt. I also have the newer books by Marian Stubenitsky.
Those books are fine, but probably the most precious part of my library is my collection of Weaver’s Magazines. There were 44 issues published, and I have all but the first four. Whenever I sift through my stack, I always see new stuff, and this time I was struck by all the 16 harness projects that were included, and was just so grateful that I have kept these magazines for all this time.
In particular, I found three magazines with articles on Turned Taqueté projects. The above issue #42 Winter 1998 has an article by Alice Schlein for a project for a 16 harness reversible rug with an advancing twill threading and a one-shuttle Turned Taqueté liftplan (treadling). And what is the pattern? Circles!!
The next issue 27 Spring 1995 has an article by Lucille Crighton which shows how to use Turned Taqueté with three different threading sequences on 16 harnesses for some really creative patterns using different textured yarns.
This issue #12 Winter Quarter 1991 has an article by Betsy Blumenthal titled “One-Shuttle Wonderful” and it was a revelation. It is a thorough explanation of straight draw Turned Taqueté from 4 harnesses to 16 harnesses. (She did leave out 8 harnesses, but I’ve got that covered. Read on!)
Blumenthal starts out on four harnesses on a straight draw, very much like my first forays into Turned Taqueté. Two pattern blocks are possible by changing color order from A=DLDL to B=LDLD. She then zooms up to 16 harnesses, on which four pattern blocks are possible on a straight draw threading, with no color order changes. A=DLDL(harnesses 1234), B=DLDL (harnesses 5678), C=DLDL (harnesses 9,10,11,12), and D=DLDL (harnesses 13,14,15,16). As in standard block weaves, any 4-block profile draft may be used here, and woven with one shuttle. Tie-ups provide for combinations of all dark on top, all light on top, plus each block separately or in combinations on top. I was doing a happy dance.
But what about 8 harnesses? I scaled back and came up with a 2-block threading and tie-up that provided for all dark sections, all light sections, and sections with light and dark, or dark and light.
I’m already planning out new ideas for towels. So. Much. Fun.
When last I wrote I was just getting acquainted with my new Ashford 16 harness table loom with its first-ever warp. I used a bunch of 5/2 rayon that were leftovers from something, and I chose a (what else?) 16 harness point twill threading. This really wasn’t the most versatile of threadings I could have chosen. A straight draw would have been a simpler way to start, and will probably get you more patterns, but I had somethng in mind that I had always wanted to try.
There wasn’t anything for it. I just plunged right in. This is from Oelsner, fig. 630.
I call it “Shells” or “Fans” and I’ve seen it shared on social media by folks who are weaving with 16 harnesses. It was kind of on my weaving bucket list. Of course, when I wove it, I wove it upside down. Doesn’t matter, I still had fun with it.
Here it is right side up:
But I’m getting ahead of myself. First I tried a tumbling boxes pattern, also from Oelsner, fig. 666:
I liked this a lot. It was a really fun weave, and I will definitely weave more of this one.
Then I wove some variations on the “Fan” design. This, from the Alphabet of Weaves K13, American Correspondence Schools Instruction Papers (1902):
and this from Atlas de 4000 Armures, Louis Serrure Draft #36276, France, 2005-2015, which also sneaked some circles into the mix:
I found these patterns at Handweaving.net, which is a fabulous resource, but now I am on the prowl through all my books and magazines for anything 16 harness.
Weaving with the new loom is really different from my standard floor loom. First off, the levers are flipped to open sheds, which means one must put the shuttle down between each new shed. I watched some videos before I started weaving and saw the techniques people use, giving it my best shot (as it were…). You have to stay focused and pay attention to each new combination of levers (see below!).
Of course, there are some tips and tricks that I jumped on.
First, I numbered the levers with stick on dots on the front and the back. With 16 levers to deal with, there can be no confusion about which is which!
Then, I quickly realized that staying on the right line in the liftplan was going to be an issue. I discovered that the iWeaveit app for ipad has a liftplan tracking add-on that makes the whole weaving process work beautifully. Here it is in action, propped on a little-used music stand right by the loom.
Here is what it looks like up close:
All you do is tap the pick number on the left when you are ready for the next line, and the line appears in the box. Then when you are done weaving, iWeaveit saves your place in the lift plan for next time.
One other new thing I had to get used to was beating with the shed open. I beat with the shed closed on my floor loom, always have. With levers, you could go back to a closed shed before beating, but it would be colossally inefficient. And actually, I found this method of beating to be very easy to get used to. My edges were great too!
The next warp will be 8/2 rayon, but I have some hand dyeing to do first. Stay tuned!