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.

 

 

Back in the Day [2]

This is the second in my series of occasional postings about my earlier days weaving. This blog post was originally published May 12, 2015 on my first blog site, which is no longer in existence.

We left off with my description of Taquete (or Polychrome Summer and Winter on Opposites) rugs. I wove these rugs on heavy linen warps sett 5 epi. For some rugs I used heavy rug wool that I ordered undyed. I then dyed the wool in small batches and created a whole range of colors that would blend together as I wove.

Plaited Rug 2

The rug pictured above is titled Plaited Rug #2, and was designed and woven in Feburary of 1988, following from the rug titled “Plaited Rug” in the previous BITD post. That first Plaited Rug was more straightforward. The blocks were all the same size, with only the colors changing. Plaited Rug #2 combines color progression creating a sense of receding space with stretching and squashing the motifs’ sizes. I exhibited this rug with the title “Flying Carpet”.

Here is a detail of that rug:

Plaited Rug 2 detail 1

The profile draft for this rug was a straight draw, using each block twice. The design resided in the tie-up and the treadling draft followed an undulating twill. To wit:

Plaited Rug Profile Draft

Later that year, in December 1988, I did another one of these Plaited Rugs. The idea was pretty much the same, creating a sense of space with color blending and bending and stretching the design motif in various ways.

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Here is a detail:

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Here is a scanned page from my notebook showing the color gradations (which didn’t scan very well!) I used in my profile draft:

Plaited Rug 3 Notebook Page

Eventually I decided that these kinds of weavings were too expensive both to make and to sell, and too cumbersome to store and exhibit.

I did some rugs with commercially dyed rug wool, and it was this one that set me on a path:

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Ironically, that path was not to weave more rugs, but to weave small tapestries with cotton warps and cotton wefts. The technique, though, Taquete, would remain the same.
I called this rug Straight Draw Rug #1 (working title, not exhibition title). and it was the prototype for my method of design from quite a while after that.

More next time!

Back in the Day

(This blog post was originally published March 11, 2015 on my first blog site, which is no longer in existence.)

In which I begin an occasional series of blog postings on the body of my work that began seriously in the late 1980’s.

Back in the day, I produced a lot of weft-faced rugs and small loom-controlled tapestries based on block weaves, mostly 6-block Summer and Winter, woven on my 8-harness loom. I could squeeze a lot of design out of six blocks. There would be a background, and for contrast, up to three other shuttles with different colors. I rotated the shuttles carefully, always keeping them in a certain order, and would change the colors out as the design progressed.

While I referred to the technique I used so often as “Polychrome Boundweave on Summer and Winter”, many now have replaced those six words with the very economical term Taquete. Woven without a tabby, the pattern blocks are woven on opposites, combined and defined by the weft colors.

The rug above is an example of this technique and was part of my Master’s thesis, written in 1987, titled “Computer Design in the Handweaving Process” at Iowa State University. (There is a scanned copy of my thesis available on-line now (sans pictures). You can find it here.) Titled “MacKintosh Variation #2”, this rug is one of several riffs I did off the design work of Charles Rennie MacKintosh, a Scottish architect working at the turn of the 20th century. I did two other rugs as part of that thesis. Then I graduated.

Another piece titled “Plaited Rug”, woven later that same year, and using the same technique, is shown here:

Here is a detail, which shows the color blending a lot better:

Here is a copy of the page from my weaving notebook, showing how I planned this piece:

The draft shown is a profile draft with 6 blocks. (Going back through my old records I am constantly amazed at how consistent my design ideas have remained!)  My rubric was using a straight draw in the threading quadrant and in the treadling quadrant, and finding the design in the tie-up. I wanted to express the image of a plaited twill. I used at least two shuttles. When there was solid gray, I used two shuttles to maintain the same texture throughout. Mostly, I would alternate between gray and a pattern color, but there were times when I would need three shuttles, when there were three different color areas across the same row. Since this didn’t happen often, I guess I must have figured the overall look of the rug wouldn’t suffer.

I only have ten treadles on my loom, and the combinations of tie-ups were many more. I would have had to do a a lot of crawling under the loom to keep making changes (I think I’ve blocked that memory out…).

Anyway, this Plaited Rug really marked the beginning of the series of loom-controlled tapestries that I worked on for the next 8 or so years. I quickly shifted to a smaller format, from wool to cotton, from the floor to framed pieces. I have been scanning the slides of the work that I did, and am just beginning to appreciate the intensity and consistency of this body of work.

More to come! I’ll keep you posted 😉

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.

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!

 

 

 

 

Turned Taquete Circles into Checks (oh my!)

You’ve seen this:

susan-mod1-color-stripes

And I’ve been weaving circles, quite a lot of them in fact. I have the treadling down cold. All I have to do is press a treadle and I know where I am in the sequence. To date I’ve woven three warps of circle scarfs.

Black and white:

Turned Taquete Circles BW 01 copy

Gray and reds:

Red and Gray Dots Scarf 01 copy

And now, gray and greens:

Greens Circles Scarf 2

As you know, one of my recurrent themes is trying to find different designs on a threading, making it do double, triple, quadruple duty if I can. So, toward the end of the third warp I started asking myself what else I could weave on the same threading, besides circles. Heck,  maybe even the same tie-up so I wouldn’t have to crawl around on the floor. Something that folks like and want.

And just like that, I thought of checks. Sort of the yang to the yin of the circles thing. So I sat down with the weaving software and played with the treadling and came up with this little gem:

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Here it is in a different colorway:

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So, a dish towel warp could do extra duty and also save the weaver from simple boredom, or, worst case, falling asleep at the loom ;-).  I think this design would be fun as bright and colorful placemats as well.

FYI, for those with only four harnesses, there is a nice little draft on handweaving.net for four harness Turned Taquete checks. Shared by Bonnie Inouye, it is # 61535. As for the circles, you’re still gonna need eight.

Jitterbug Turned Taquete – It’s not just for 8 harnesses!

About two years ago I blogged about taking an overshot pattern called Jitterbug and converting it to an 8 harness Turned Taquete weaving draft. You can read all about that here. I don’t know why my mind wandered back to that, but I started wondering about how it would work on 4 harnesses. In her article “Turned Taquete: an Introduction” (*see below), Bonnie Inouye describes how it can be done by interleaving a four harness overshot threading with a second threading on opposites. I did not try this method, but I did decide to explore another method.

In her book Weaving with Echo and Iris Marian Stubenitsky suggests some ways to substitute blocks of four harnesses, each arranged in a different order, for the threading blocks in a design line. This means that each block will be switched for a four-thread sequence. Here is the substitution formula from page 71:

For Harness 1 we will substitute 1324

For Harness 2 we will substitute 3124

For Harness 3 we will substitute 3142

For Harness 4 we will substitute 1342

Other sequences of substitution in her book had issues. One could only be used on a rising design line, not descending. Another ended up with many double threads that needed to be deleted. This method had no problems and only the caveat that this threading rubric does not work with iridescent effects (four colors per block), but only with two alternating colors per block.

Off I went. First I re-wrote the design line to the minimum (keeping in mind that it would be expanded by 4x):

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FYI– this is what it looks like with two repeats of the threading and treadling:

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This is one repeat of the threading draft after four-thread substitutions are made:

Jitterbug Threading

And this is one repeat of the threading draft with the tie-up and one repeat of the treadling draft, which includes tabby on alternating picks:

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The longest floats are 4 threads according to Fiberworks, which should be fine for most close sets. So, lest you four harness weavers should feel left out of the Turned Taquete craze, this is a perfectly serviceable technique to join in the fun. Enjoy!

*The complete article can be found here: Complex Weavers Journal, June 2014, pp 36-40.