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.


Here is a detail:


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:


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!

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. ┬áBut 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:


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!

Blast from the Past

(This blog post was originally published May 16, 2013 on my first blog site, which is no longer in existence.)

I wove the rug pictured below in 1988, right after I graduated with my Master’s Degree in Craft Design from Iowa State University. I did an in-depth study of block weaves and computer-aided design. At that time there were a LOT of different little micro-computers and weave design programs. I used a funny little program on an Atari computer to run a compu-dobby attached to a Macomber loom in the university weaving studio. At home I purchased a program for the Apple IIe called “Pattern Master IV” from the company that later became AVL Looms.

I used that program to design this rug, and wrote it up in an article for the long ago defunct weaving magazine The Weaver’s Journal. They wanted to publish it, but they ran out of funding and were never able to do so. So my article sat in a folder ever since then. I always liked my design and the rug I wove. I’m not sure if I still have it. But the design remains one of my favorites.

The rug itself is woven using boundweave on Summer and Winter. This is a weft faced structure in two colors of rug wool with a linen warp. The article (see below) has more specs.

I recently scanned the article to PDF and uploaded it to Scribd, where it is now available to read. But I warn you, there’s a lot of writing about designing double two-tie twills, which kind of made my head explode. Also, there’s a lot of stuff about working with Pattern Master IV, which you can feel free to skip over (after you stop laughing). The article is mainly valuable to me for the profile draft of the woven rug, which I can use in other weave structures. My old fave Diversified Plain Weave comes to mind…