Back in the Day [3]

This is the third in my series of occasional postings about my earlier days weaving. This blog post was originally published January 2, 2016 on my first blog site, which is no longer in existence.

To review:  My focus had been on weaving rugs in Summer and Winter Boundweave on Opposites (Taquete). This is a weft-faced weave of great flexibility using 6 blocks for design, woven on my 8 shaft loom. Each block can be woven independently or combined with other blocks, and up to 4 colors employed, a great advantage for designing.

I had decided to go small. Weaving rugs was just too costly and consumed too much space. My idea was to create small, rug-like pieces in cotton. I would sew them to good quality mat board and exhibit them in metal frames. I chose 5/2 cotton for warp and weft, and this turned out to be a good decision. For my first series I warped 5/2 cotton at 12 ends per inch and 10 inches wide. I figured 30 blocks, 5 repeats of a straight draw profile draft.

Here is a scan of my design for Magic Carpet #1:

Magic Carpet 1-edited

 

My design method was pretty idiosyncratic, yet it worked well for me. I would make designs on the computer, using my (now) antiquated Apple IIe and the weaving software I was using at the time. Each design was from the same straight draw threading profile, but with a different tie-up. I took the designs and tie-ups, cut them into strips, and started arranging them until I liked the result.

Magic Carpet #1 was pretty awkward. I was just starting to see what the possibilities were. Not my finest effort…

Magic Carpet #1

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Magic Carpet #2 was better, and the colors worked well. Notice the rather blocky paisleys at the top…

Magic Carpet #2:

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Here is the scan of the design for Magic Carpet #3. The design strips don’t show it, but the threading profile shows I used only five blocks for the main design. The sixth block was reserved for a border on the sides. A solid border on top and bottom completed the color frame. I often added color samples on the side for each part of the design.

Magic Carpet 3-edited

Magic Carpet #3:

If you squint you can see the “paisleys” in dark and light blue in the second design area from the top :-).

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Magic Carpet #4 also has a border all around, this time of metallic yarn that was roughly the same size as 5/2 cotton. I used a lot of metallics as time went on…

Magic Carpet #4:

Magic Carpet #4

Black border on the next one.

Magic Carpet #5:

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Magic Carpet #6:

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Magic Carpet #7 with metallics worked into more of the design and no borders on the sides:

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I really loved combining bands of design, working out color combinations, trying to balance both color and movement.

My next series focused on grids. But we’ll do that next time.

 

 

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:

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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!

Old Things (continued)

In my previous episode I casually revisted an old project that I turned into armrest covers. The book from which I took the draft for that project named the structure “double two-tie unit weave varied by two weights of yarns.” You will recall that this book is Kathryn Wertenberger’s 8,12…20 An Introduction to Multishaft Weaving. Interweave Press, 1988.

Here is my simplified rendering of the unit structures from this draft. On the left is the front side view, and on the right is the back side view. This is a thick and thin structure, so the drawdown reflects that with the ultra-teeny tie-down threads on harnesses 1 and 2, and the ultra-teeny treadling on the tabby wefts:

In a seemingly unrelated sequence of events, I was sorting magazines and sorting books and making some choices about where to put them on some new bookshelves in my studio, when I was surprised to find the same project by Kathryn Wertenberger for Asian-style mats in a very early issue of the Handwoven Magazine’s Design Collections. No. 2 to be exact. Published in 1981.

In this early version of the project the fabric description is “Modified double summer and winter.” Same mat, same threading and treadling, but different tie-up. Here is my rendering of that draft:

I am inclined to favor the description of the structure as modified double summer and winter (as in the Design Collection magazine). But, I favor the tie-up in the book. So go figure. And don’t get me started on the epi (it is 20, not 21).

Just chalk all this up to ravings of someone who has been weaving so long that I’ve forgotten whole projects. To wit: I found notes for another project in this weave structure that I wove in different colors in 1991, seven years before the purple runner of 1998. Plus. I found another runner of the same design in yet another colorway in a box in the attic with some other woven items that I forgot about (from 1991-ish, I presume) that I have no notes for at all. Bad form. Really bad form.

Those who have both publications in their libraries, should take a look at both drafts. Then scratch your heads.

Technical details: I chose different yarns and setts for my runner projects compared with the published projects. My thin warp and weft was 40/3 cotton and my thick warp and weft was 5/2 cotton. I sett the warp at 32 epi, 4 per dent in my 8 dent reed.

Here is a quick photo of the project-with-no-record in my notebooks:

Thickandthin copy

There. Now it’s documented.

Somthing Old, Something New

You’re looking at our new armrest covers for the couch. Not that a dark purple (officially, Eggplant) couch will show the grime that much, but after a year we wanted to be, uh, proactive.

A little background.

I didn’t weave something specially for this purpose, but I did happen to have a table runner that wasn’t doing anything and that was, lo and behold, the perfect color, and the perfect size, at least width-wise. As soon as I determined that the future of this runner was going to be on the couch I cut it in half and hemmed the cut ends.

Voila!

I wove this runner as a one-off in February 1998. So, almost 20 years ago. The weave came from 8, 12…20 An Introduction to Multishaft Weaving by Kathryn Wertenberger. It’s a double two-tie unit weave woven on 8 shafts with two weights of yarns in both warp and weft: 40/3 cotton and 5/2 cotton. I really love this weave and I go back to to it occasionally. If you can get hold of a copy of this book the photos are on pp. 46-47, and the draft is on p. 117.

 

 

A Little Something Extra (but not quite enough)

I’ve had a dishtowel warp on the loom for months. Oh wait, was it only April? That’s not that long…. sigh.

I wound enough warp for six towels, the most I’ve planned for, ever, because I’m not exactly a production weaver. More like a see-where-my-whims-take-me weaver. But, my pattern seems to be that my measuring/estimating skills are not quite up there with the professionals. That last towel turned out to be a placemat. But I love it anyway…. 😉

Circles and Checks Towels 04

Truth is, just about all, OK all, of my dishtowel warps have just enough left over for a small mat. My collection is growing.

This warp was threaded in my Circles draft for Turned Taquete. I alternated natural color 10/2 cotton with different color stripes of 10/2 cotton from the stash. The idea was to use up some cones, and I did that. I threaded 32 epi.

Here are a couple of shots of the group:

Circles and Checks Towels 02Circles and Checks Towels 03

As you can see I produced dishtowels with the original circles treadling and dishtowels with the checked treadling. I used the 10/2 natural cotton as weft for two of the towels. Then I switched to checks.

As in this drawdown:

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I alternated natural and brown on one. On the second I rotated natural, tea rose and camelia.

Then I went back to circles and wove one with all mauve. The short number six was woven with all camelia.

Quite a cheerful bunch, I think. Next up, I will get them photographed and in my etsy shop. It’s a good thing, because I am currently all out of dishtowels and I need to stock up!

Cheers!

 

 

 

 

Circles Draft Scarves: Monochrome

Okay, this is how it’s going to go down. I am warping for a small batch (two) of Turned Taquete Circles Scarves, and using yarn on hand (how else?). I decided to go with rayon chenille because it’s easy. I don’t want to wind a warp that’s 60 epi. Au contraire, I’m starting this at 16 epi and will be sampling from there. This is 1450 ypp chenille, and my normal epi for that is 16. I am prepared to go up to 20, but we’ll see how it goes. I have weft of the same size, and I also have weft that is 2000 ypp, which would probably be recommended for drape.

Shockingly enough, I will sample with both!

Circles Scarf on the warping reel

This is the draft I’ll be using, including color choices. I decided to go full on monochrome, just black and white. My next warp will have color added. This time, I wanted the most contrast I can get, and besides, I like black and white dots.

Circles Scarf Weave Draft

In other news, I have a batch of Turned Taquete towels off the loom and ready to finish:

Turned Taquete New Batch

Dishtowels off the loom – group portrait

This warp is my standard dishtowels warp: 10/2 cotton sett at 32 epi. 20 inches wide, and woven as close to 30″ long as possible, not counting hems which are another 1 1/2″ each. I say 10/2 cotton is my standard, but as soon as I use up my 10/2 stock, I think I will be switching to 8/2 cotton.

8/2 cotton seems to be a more standard material for dishtowels these days. Plus it’s somewhat less expensive. Can’t argue with that.

So, here are some close-ups just for fun:

Turned Taquete Dishtowel ZoomTurned Taquete Dishtowel ZoomTurned Taquete Dishtowels Zoom

I took these shots with my new iPhone, and I have to say that these photos would stand up to my Nikon SLR any day. Just sayin’…

Whipping Up a Fresh Batch of Dish Towels

This is a quick shot of the first of my new batch of dish towels on the loom. I'm using my tried and true Turned Taquete technique, but as usual I didn't think it through.

I had planned for a checkerboard effect with the taupe/gray background and multicolor checks. I warped the gray areas in the solid color with no contrast. And I had hoped to isolate the color squares with gray all around. But. To do that, I needed to alternate gray/color/gray/color. Instead, I alternated color/color.

This makes for a nice variety of colors overall, but my intended result is not happening.

I am getting better at using my new warping reel, though. So that's a good thing. And the winding on went smoother for a change.

My next idea is to use this technique for placemats. I will probably order 5/2 cotton for the warp and sett it pretty close at about 24 epi I think. And maybe use 10/2 cotton for the weft. We'll see.