On Circles

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 The Liftplan 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.

Circles Fad

Yesterday I was noodling around the Long Thread media site looking for some Loom Theory downloads I purchased a few months ago, and I came across this:

I think it’s fairly recent, and you can find it at this link:

https://handwovenmagazine.com/join-in-the-circles-and-checks-weaving-fad/

I don’t know if I quite agree with the use of the word “fad”. I prefer obsession or passion, if you will 😉 . However, the nice thing is the wif downloads from this little article are free.

So, if there is anyone out there who still doesn’t have the wif and is pining for a great weaving project, this is the place to go.

Stay safe!

A Tale of Two Warps

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 😉 .

Turned Taqueté: Eight Harnesses and Beyond

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 Weaves A 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.

Turned Taqueté Circles Published!

Big news chez iowaweaver! My Turned Taqueté circles draft has been published by Handwoven Magazine in their May/June 2019 issue. I received an advance copy yesterday, and the digital version is available on the Interweave website as we speak. (There they are: in the left hand corner looking all cute.)

Funny story. Last September I was finishing up (as in hemming) a batch of towels for my Etsy shop when Handwoven editor Susan Horton emailed, inquiring if I would be interested in submitting a project. The theme of the issue is long warps, and they liked the idea of weaving both circles and checks on the same warp.

What could I say? I sprang into action, taking quick iphone photos of the towels.

They loved the colors and designs and suddenly I had another Handwoven Magazine publication. My last one was in 2013, with a Diversified Plain Weave Circles Scarf in cotton and rayon chenille which you can read about here. So it’s been a while. But it’s still fun.

Turned Taqueté Tea Towels – Déjà vu All Over Again

I wrote my first Turned Taquet̩ blog in October 2012. Where does the time go? People starting noticing that particular blog post and the one following. But. It took some time before someone on Facebook kindly informed me that one of the weaving groups there was all over that blog post and weaving Turned Taquet̩ towels like gangbusters. So, what did I do? I joined the weaving group on Facebook. And a few others ; Р)

Above, photos of the very first tea towels.

Fast forward to the present. I revisited this draft and decided to weave a batch of towels using a color palette themed after the Pantone Color of the Year Living Coral.

If you start deep diving into the whole Pantone color thing, you can find web sites that take the current Color and create palettes with coordinating hues. I chose a few colors, and then tried to match them with available 8/2 cotton colors from Maurice Brassard. That seemed to work pretty well.

Brassard’s version of Living Coral turned out to be Saumon, in the lower left hand corner. A little too light, but good enough.

Here is the finished set of towels. I treadled each one a little differently. I think they represent the Living Coral palette quite effectively.

Next up: Living Coral Turned Taqueté Circles towels. Of course!


Mixing It Up

On the loom

My experiment sample with mixing rayon chenille and 4/2 rayon yarn in a Turned Taqueté warp turned out well enough, but I felt that it needed one more iteration. I wanted to try that mix with 1450 ypp chenille weft to see if the drape couldn’t be improved. I had barely enough painted 4/2 yarn for another warp (100 warp ends for 5″ width), but I thought that would be just enough for a fun little project before diving into more dishtowels for the new year.

underside on the loom

I found a ball of 1450 ypp chenille that I had dyed Red Wine. It was just enough. I wove like the wind. I have the treadling order for the Circles draft imbedded in my brain and it went pretty fast.

After it came off the loom I gave the scarf a good soak in Eucalon, squeezed it out well, then tumbled in the dryer until it was good and dry.

Here are two views of the finished scarf showing the texture and color contrasts created by the different colors and types of yarn. The scarf has a nice drape. And I like it the best.

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Turned Taqueté Placemats

So, I’ve been ruminating about different applications for Turned Taqueté structure for quite some time. I really needed to have something to think about other than dishtowels and scarves, and placemats seemed to be a nice alternative.

I used to weave placemats a lot about 30 odd years ago, mostly overshot, huck lace, and rag weave. I got out of the habit when I moved to a house where the tables either wanted to be dressed with tablecloths or nothing.

I decided to use 5/2 cotton sett at 24 epi for a sturdy mat and I went with my Circles design for some cheerfulness and whimsy. Click the photos to enlarge:

The first photo shows a group portrait of a set of four. I used Soldier Blue for the background color and the other colors are from cones that have been rattling around my stash for years (still haven’t used them all up!). The middle photo shows an arty closeup.

And I captured the third photo using the KaleidaCam iphone app. Too cool!

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I Never Sample …. Again

Yep, I did it again. I sampled. Sorry not sorry.

Ahem, let me explain. In Marian Stubenitsky’s book Weaving with Echo and Iris there is  a Turned Taqueté project of sorts using cotton chenille and 8/2 cotton together in the warp, and cotton in the weft (see page 199 -200).  This is as close to a real project as Ms. Stubenitsky ever gets, since her book is more of a reference work than a how-to, but I was very curious how to make the mixed warp work with my now go-to weave structure.

My drawdown isn’t an exact copy from the book. If I had used her draft, I would have had 4-thread floats, and those are too long for rayon chenille. The chenille for the project in the book is cotton, which doesn’t pose as much of a worming risk.  I took the zig zag profile draft, letting Fiberworks do its magic, and I produced a drawdown with floats no longer than 3 threads.

Screen Shot 2018-10-30 at 11.36.59 AM

I own an over-supply of 1450 ypp rayon chenille, and finding ways to use it is kind of critical. The thing is, I needed to find a warp to pair with the chenille that is similar in weight and fiber. I eliminated 5/2 (too thin) and 3/2 (too thick). According to my handy Master Yarn Chart, somewhere in the world there is 4/2 cotton, and at 1680 ypp I thought that might work. But I really wanted rayon, so I asked Google if there was any 4/2 rayon in the universe, and I actually found some on eBay.

I took a flier on that 4/2 rayon, found that it was just what I needed, and painted the skeins in a colorway I use for 8/2 Tencel in my Etsy shop called Summer Melon. I paired Summer Melon with 1450 ypp gray rayon chenille and wound my warp. And yes, I added extra length for sampling. I sett it at 20 epi, and then started searching through my stash for a likely weft. I was going for thinner weft than I have ever previously used in Turned Taqueté. For drape. Because thinner weft is very often recommended for Turned Taqueté, and because I have stubbornly ignored said recommendations.

Here are my first efforts:

Zigzagsample1

In the top sample I used 20/2 cotton in aqua for weft. I knew that was going to be wildly inappropriate, but I just needed a clear contrast for my next efforts. The next weft is some old dye-experiment 16/2 soysilk in a rust red. I felt that 16/2 was a size that was getting closer, but still no cigar. My gut feeling was that 8/2 rayon was really going to be the one, so I ordered some and dyed it oxblood red.

Zigzagsample2

As you can see, the motifs are in better proportion.  But here’s the part that I think is really significant with this mixed warp. Turned Taqueté depends on color contrasts for designs to appear in the weaving, and we have that here. In addition, there is texture contrast, which adds a whole new dimension to the structure.

After a gentle soak in Eucalon, I air dried, and the drape is very silky.  Shrinkage after washing was pretty consistent for all three samples: a whopping 25%. The scarf warp that is left on the loom may be on the short side after it is all done, but I have all the information I need for future projects.

I think this is it!

 

 

 

 

More Towels … with a New Twist

So I wove up a batch of my Circles Turned Taquete towels recently. It kind of went in fits and starts. My notes tell me I began in October. I had ordered a beautiful palette of cotton yarn in what I called “Beachy” colors, and I was, like, game on.  But change was in store…

Change #1. This is 8/2 unmercerized cotton and it was a brave new world of warping and weaving for me. Previously, all my cotton dishtowels have been woven with 10/2 mercerized cotton. But I had come to think that 8/2 unmercerized cotton was really a better choice for towels. It’s easy to find, comes on smaller cones so you can order more colors, and the weaving community seems to have come to a consensus on its appropriateness for the end result. I was a little twitchy about unmercerized vs. mercerized though. Mercerization is a process that renders it more willing to accept dye, improves color and sheen, but renders it less absorbent. Unmercerized cotton colors are perhaps less bright, but the cotton itself is soft and more absorbent, making it ultimately the better choice for hand towels or all sorts.

Beachy Cotton

Change #2. I picked a group of eight colors and wound my warp. This is a new size of cotton, so I had to choose a different sett for my warp. I chose 24 epi (after checking around the interwebs for a bit to see what others were doing ;-)), which meant that I needed to order a new reed! OMG! I haven’t order a new reed. Ever. But It had to be done. So that pushed my timetable back a ways.

But, once I got going, it was smooth sailing. 8/2 cotton wound on the loom like a dream, and was really easy to weave off. I wove four towels in the circles design and two towels in my checked variation.

Here’s a photo of the two different varieties still on the loom:

IMG_0418

And here’s a group portrait of all six after they were washed, and hemmed, and ready for their closeup:

Beachy Dish Towels 02 copy

I’m ordering more greens for another batch of towels, probably in a design that doesn’t involve so many dots. Everyone needs variety!