Saturday, October 20, 2012

Bliss: My answer to the 2012 SCHG Challenge

Fall, leaves, fall; die flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
- Emily Bronte

For our Guild's challenge for 2012, last spring we each chose a paper bag and got a card with these rules to follow:
1. use at least 50% green
2. use a twill and/or tabby weave
3. incorporate a circle
4. may be folded, bent etc. and must fit inside and be returned in the bag/sack
5. the size of the sack you choose will determine your entry size

Here's my finished project which I turned in last weekend:

I wanted to try some warp painting, using sprang to form a frame for my painting.  I untensioned the dark green warps and pushed them aside.  You can see at the bottom of the image that I should have either stopped weaving sooner before starting to paint, or else rotated my image so that it didn't overlap fabric already woven:

I used fluid acrylic paint, thinned with GAC 900 medium which is meant for fabric painting.  I found this much easier to control than when I've tried to paint with regular dye.  The finished feel of the fabric is a little stiff, but since the finished product isn't meant to be worn or touched and just stays in two dimensions, I think it works fine.  Underneath the warp I used a laminated placemat to provide a surface against which to press the brush and yarn.

After the paint dried throughly, I resumed weaving.  I really liked what the woven twill pattern was doing to the colors in my image:
As you can guess, this is why I was experimenting earlier to see if I could do sprang using weft as well as warp.  Here's the sample I was working on:
The major purpose of the sample was to see if I had the proportions right to make the four sprangwork curves form a circle.  You can see above that I didn't.  So in the final piece I expanded the middle section to make the curves longer.

One thing I learned in this project that was exciting is the relationship between the simple twills I used.  The 3/1 twill in the corners, when every 4th warp is lifted out and left unwoven, becomes a 2/1 twill.  And when every 4th weft is either omitted or left unwoven, it becomes a little 2/1 point twill.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

New Life for my "Circumnavigational" Yardage

What ever became of the yardage I was cutting to pieces?
Just in case you've been wondering, the answer is...handbags:

Piles of them ! :

Look for them at the Southern California Handweavers' Guild's Weaving and Fiber Festival, Sunday November 4th, 2012 in Torrance, California.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Sprang in the Weft?

A design idea has presented itself where I want the sprang to run in the weft direction instead of the warp direction.  (Why don't I just work as usual and turn the piece 90 degrees?  Because in the same piece I want the sprang running in both these directions.)  Here is a sample I put on the loom to see if this is possible.

One thing I didn't think of before I started in on the sprang work was that since in the wefts are not under tension, the middle section started to buckle and pull in as soon as I'd done a couple rows.  So the tension on the yarns being worked had to be kept fairly loose.

To get this required ease, the wefts that have been worked in sprang were left longer than the width of the fabric.  They are hanging down off the selvedges at each side of the fabric, not visible in the photo.  These were left hanging out so that they could be pulled through the weaving on either side of the sprang, to give the ease needed as the work was progressing.  This was not easy to do as the yarns had to be pulled through 3 inches of weaving on the sides.  In fact, it had to be done one thread at a time, so it was difficult to control how much each was pulled, and hence the resulting sprang work is not as neat-looking as when worked with the warp.  But I think this will work.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

"Repurposing"? Or just using yardage?

The fabric from the Convergence yardage exhibit is being (gasp!) cut up into pieces.

A few people, after admiring the fabric, asked me what I planned to do with it after the exhibit was over.  I honestly hadn't thought about it; I had made the fabric specifically for the show.  But yardage is just that, yardage, usually made to be sewn into an end product.

What to do with this fabric?  It would make attractive throw-pillow covers, but nautical isn't really my thing in the way of home decor.  The doubleweave is too heavy except for maybe a blazer, but the pattern is too loud and contrasting for clothing.

So what will I sew from it?  Stay tuned for a future post in which its destiny will be revealed!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

I never claimed to be perfect

It seems that with each new warp comes a new problem to be solved.  After getting a 33-inch-wide warp (that's over 1500 ends of yarn) threaded, drawn through the reed, and tensioned, I was checking for errors by lifting each shaft, and discovered a major threading error: in one particular 1-1/2-inch-wide block of threads, instead of threading them on shafts 11 through 15, I had threaded them on shafts 10 through 14.

I had to go away from the loom and think for a bit.

Can you say string heddles?  Eighteen of them.  Here they are.  They seem to be functioning all right, and the weaving is now progressing.

Monday, September 3, 2012

My Helper

This isn't weaving-related, but it's fiber-related at least.  We've had a few hot days this summer which made me decide I wanted linen sheets.  But have you priced linen sheets?!  It's more economical to buy linen fabric retail and make your own.  So I was going to put the fabric on the bed to mark where to make the box corners for the fitted sheet...
And someone thought it was time to make the bed, so he came to "help" as usual.
He likes to jump up on the back beam of the loom, too, to check out what's going on and make sure things are going right.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

An Involution Resolved

Here's the all-linen piece started back at the end of May - remember the story of the tangly, springy warp?  The piece is finally finished, blocked and mounted.  It's almost as cool-looking as it was in my head. 
And here's a close-up of some of the spranged arches.  I used three different sprang patterns for some variety.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Escondido Art Show

The piece that came out of my tetrad color study, "California Spring Sprang", will be showing at the the Escondido Arts Partnership Municipal Gallery's West Coast Fiber and Book Arts exhibit, August 21st through September 29th.  My piece was also awarded third place in the judging.  The gallery is located at 262 E. Grand Ave. in Escondido, CA and hours are 11-4 Tuesday through Saturday.  Reception: September 8.  Check out the Escondido Arts Partnership website for the list of all the represented artists and other exhibits.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Award-winners return!

My pieces from Convergence are back home now.  Here's "Trade Winds" looking very tired and dingy after its travels and hanging in the "Latitude: All-Media" exhibit, but very proud to have been given an award from the Complex Weavers organization for Excellence in Complex Weaving.  The central logo in the beautiful handwoven ribbon was made by Lillian Whipple, an excellent fine-threads weaver whose company I always enjoy when I see her at these gatherings.

Looking over the photos and remembering the pieces that were in this exhibit, mine was about the only one that even qualified for this award, if I understand what the Complex Weavers are about.  It just happened that the juror didn't choose many pieces with complex structure.  Still it's such an honor and very exciting.

Part of this award is a year's membership in the Complex Weavers.  I was a member before for a few years, maybe a decade ago.  They will also publish an article in their Journal about "Trade Winds" and how it was made.

And here's the 3-plus yards of "Dead Reckoning", posing with its two (!) awards: second place from the Handweavers Guild of America in the "Longitude: Yardage" exhibit, and a recognition by the Guild of Canadian Weavers with their Nell Steedsman award.

The award from the Canadian guild includes a subscription to their quarterly bulletin, which will also publish an article about this fabric and its weaving.

I was so hoping that other weavers would "get" what I am doing.  The actual response was way beyond any expectation.  I am definitely not finished exploring this idea, and I hope it sparks others to make interesting discoveries as well.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Convergence 2012 - Beautiful Endings

Another Convergence has come and gone.  What a great time I had, seeing friends and meeting new people, viewing exciting art work and getting some great new ideas, learning some new techniques and reinforcing previous ones.

The final workshop I took was two days studying krokbragd rug weaving.  Judy Ness is a wonderful teacher who led an organized yet relaxed and calm class, complete with mini yoga and stretching sessions.  Krokbragd is a traditional Norwegian rug pattern threading. Here is the patterning I did on my sample.  I stuck to mostly traditional patterns, but some of the other students did some really creative variations.

But the most beautiful thing I learned to make this entire wonderful, busy, stimulating week was this finish, a double Maori edge.  Instructions for the Maori edge is given in Peter Collingwood's Techniques of Rug Weaving.  Here the braid is done along the edge, and then back the other direction.  Isn't it lovely?  I want to weave another rug just so I can make this edge again.

Of course, this is the only bit of the rug sample that looks this neat.  Look at all the ends I still have to needle in!  This should be a good after-work down-time activity.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Ply-Split Basket: Convergence 2012 Continues

Thursday I spent in a class taught by Linda Hendrickson.  I enjoy taking her workshops and the ply-splitting process and product, but haven't explored this technique further on my own.  She mentioned that she won't be traveling to teach any longer though she will continue to produce videos etc., so I was grateful to have experienced one of her classes one last time.  Each time I seem to be able to take in a little more of the knowledge she has to impart.

Here's my little basket, completed the next morning (didn't quite get it done in class).  If inverted, this would make a darling hat, wouldn't it?

Convergence and all the associated exhibits and events are almost too much to take in all in one week.  Last night on my way home I stopped by the three pop-up galleries on Pine Street and said hello to my local friends and aquaintances who were showing there: Susan McGehee had a one-woman show with her spectacular woven-wire pieces; six tapestry weavers from the Seaside guild had a wonderful whimsical group project of twenty tapestry illustrations of a delightful story by Nicki Bair about a sand crab; and the Designing Weavers had a show with lots of their great work.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sprang Class at Convergence

It was workshop number two for me today, a sprang class I enrolled in simply because I felt I should take the opportunity to take a class from one of the few people who are teaching this technique.  And am I glad I did!  There is always more to learn.  Carol James is a good teacher and I learned so much from her today:  little bits of technique and better ways to put together a pouch, other ways of using the two halves of cloth that are formed, history, some concepts I hadn't thought of before about the fabric and its construction, and why things happen the way they do while one makes this structure.

Here are the two pouches I completed in class.  Not much to show for six hours in class, but as usual in these classes, the product isn't the prize sought but rather the knowledge imparted and the interaction with instructor and other students.

My "Dead Reckoning" piece was awarded second place in the yardage exhibit!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

More Natural Dyeing - Japanese Style

Today I just finished taking my first workshop of the week at Convergence: a fabulous 2-day with John Marshall on kyoukechi Japanese clamp-resist dyeing.  Here's a link to an article by John in Turkey Red Journal that describes the process.  The most exciting thing I think I got out of the class is what a wonder substance soy milk is.  It has several characteristics that are really useful in dealing with textiles and dyeing that I plan to explore.

Here are the samples I completed in class.  They are all the kyoukechi except the one on the lower left which is just normal fold-and-clamp resist.  The one in the upper left is made with a block I carved myself in class using a router.  The others are all blocks borrowed in class that John had carved.  My favorite is the middle-left piece.  The greenish one just to the right of it was supposed to be an image of a footprint, but as I stared at it as it was drying, they looked more like sheep to me, so I gave them eyes, ears, nose, tail and hooves with a brush, using a mixture of soy milk and indigo bloom.  Maybe if you zoom in you can see the details.  All the samples have indigo dips as the final dye step.

Here are the two halves of the block I carved, approximate mirror images of one another.  It is made from redwood that John brought as part of the provided materials.  This was the first time I'd used a router that you have to push down as well as "drive around", and it was hard to remember to keep pushing it down constantly while trying to control the side-to side movement.  You can see my hollows aren't very neat, but the dye still seemed to flow just fine in those areas.

Even the rags I brought the samples home in are kind of interesting.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Natural Direct Dyeing

A few years ago, Estelle Carlson (who has sadly since passed away) gave our guild a workshop in dyeing fabric in Mason jars for a random-resist look that I really like.  I took a bunch of oversize T-shirts and did the same for some fun weekend wear. Those T-shirts have now gotten pretty shabby and need to go to the rag bin to become rugs or something.  I've been experimenting with a similar effect, but with natural dyestuffs.  I got the idea from the book Eco Colour: Botanical Dyes for Beautiful Textiles by India Flint.  Instead of extracting the natural dye into water and then dyeing your fabric a nice even color, why not just put the dyestuff directly onto the fabric?  Ms. Flint gives the name "eco-printing" to the imprints done with leaves in this way, but I like to think of this more as just "direct contact dyeing" or some such term.  Her book is beautifully laid out and inspirational, but does not have much step-by-step how-to or recipes, so I just read and re-read the sections that seemed pertinent and took it from there.

The T-shirts pictured here are (left to right) madder root, onion skin, magnolia leaf, eucalyptus leaf (my favorite from this batch!) and liquidambar leaf.  The left four I did recently all together, steamed them in the same pot, and left them sitting afterwards near each other.  The madder and eucalyptus bled onto the other two a bit, but I think that's okay.  The liquidambar was from last fall, but I had the new ones drying out in the moving air and they looked so pretty that I brought it out to join the others for the photo.

How fun is that!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Some off-loom (sort of) sprang work

The current project (a plain-weave-with-sprang piece) is off the loom, only to be put onto another loom.  Here's a picture of the setup I'm using to accomplish the sprang in the center section.  I took the pegs out of the top beam of this Swedish tapestry loom (which incidentally I have not yet used for Swedish tapestry).  The piece is draped over and clamped to this beam with the help of a stick shuttle.  See the unwoven warp yarns between the two woven sections.

I'm working the sprang with a new-to-me tool I picked up at CNCH in May, called a locker needle hook.  It's used for hooking rugs somehow (a fiber art I have not tried - yet?).  When I started doing these sprang pieces on the loom, I developed a method of working where I'd work a section using a crochet hook, and then slip a long weaving needle through alongside the hook to pull a cord through to save the twists.  I thought that it would be great if somehow I could combine the two tools, either by drilling a hole through the end of a hook, or forming a hook at the tip of a needle.  Alas, metal is not my medium!  So imagine my delight in the vendor hall when I realized someone had already done it.  The tip of the hook itself seems more pointy than a normal crochet hook, which works really well in this application.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

My Work at Handweavers Guild of America's Convergence® 2012 Long Beach

Two of my pieces will be exhibited at Convergence 2012, HGA's international biennial conference.  This conference has been held in various locations in the U.S and Canada and draws fiber artists and their work from all over the U.S., Canada and the world.  This year Convergence will be held in Long Beach, California.  One of my pieces is pictured in the Gallery Guide which is available online and for visitors to Convergence in Long Beach.

Check out the Gallery Guide for a sampling of all the fiber art work to be enjoyed.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Serendipitous Laziness - A Project in Plain Weave with Sprang

I'm weaving a piece in plain weave, with a large section left unwoven to work in sprang once it is off the loom.  This weekend I was hemstitching the border of this section, and while my hands were stitching my brain was processing the project's progress and plan forward.

The original plan was to use every 4th warp yarn to sprang, and the other 3/4 would just be snipped off and left as a little fringe.  But I decided that the sprang would be too open that way; I really should use the half-warp like I've done before on the doubleweave pieces.  But if I do that, the fringe will be too sparse, and I never was really happy with that solution in the first place.  If I could only fold the unused warps to the back side of the fabric... then the aha! happened: I realized I could indeed fold them back if I could weave them into a fabric layer of their own behind the sprang warps.  And here's where serendipity helped out:  I had threaded using 8 shafts, even though I could do plain weave using only 2, because I didn't have enough heddles on any one shaft, and if there's one thing (and I think the only one thing) that I dislike about the weaving process, that one thing is moving heddles between harness frames.

So, simple enough to just tie up a couple more treadles to always lift my sprang warps, and weave plain weave with the ones that won't be used.  This bit of fabric is weft-dominant and kind of loosey-goosey, but I think it will do the trick to allow the flap to be pressed back and tacked to the fabric like a little facing.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Journal Cover in Doubleweave with Sprang

Here's another warp photo... I think the warp looks so pretty threaded in these blocks, with the morning sun coming through.

One thing I like to do in anticipation of attending a conference is to make a special journal, just for notes and memories of that conference.  Sometimes I weave a cover for the journal.  This warp was for the cover I made for the jounal I took to CNCH last month.

I threaded it in doubleweave with some blocks allowing for sprang of part of one layer.  I tried out a few different Sprang "stitches" like a little sampler. 

I also used the properties of doubleweave to make a pen loop and closure tabs that wrap around the book and close with velcro.  The original plan was to use some cute buttons, but they ended up interfering with the pen when it was inserted.  So much for planning!

Here's the finished journal, after going with me to Oakland and back, so it's a bit travel-worn.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The ubiquitous sprang bag

Here's the bag from Stephenie Gaustad's sprang class at CNCH, after boiling it for a half an hour or so in laundry soap and washing soda, and letting it dry flat in the sun.  It softened it up somewhat.  It's still a little stiff, and letting it dry served to block it into a cuter version of its former self.  Now it has a nice little roundy shape to it.  To finish it off,  I crocheted around the top edge, starting in the loops that were around the top and bottom guide cords when it was on the frame loom.  Then I crocheted a long chain for a strap, going back over it with what I call a half-stitch (don't know a name for it), just chaining again over the chain.  I'm not sure what I'll use this little pouch for; right now it's hitched onto the castle of the Macomber, making a trial as a holder for my heddle and reed hooks.

Here's the before picture, when it was just a long twisty hairy tube.  The strap was very "live" and wanted to twist a lot, too.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The taming of a warp

Isn't it funny how contrary we can be.  In the last post I just complained that I found the hemp warp springy and stiff and hard to control.  So what do I put on the loom next, but something springy and stiff?

When I made the exciting "discovery" of the three-dimensional potential of the structure I'm exploring, I then thought that a similar piece in all natural-colored linen would be just the thing to try next.  This piece would be all about the structure (and I wouldn't have to fret over color choices).

Here's the linen warp all sorted out and ready to weave.  You may be able to notice that the yarns are not all parallel; this is because the layer that will be worked in sprang is not beamed but instead is kept gathered in its section and weighted.

Because the linen is so twisty and live, this part of the loom looked a total mess until I got it through the reed and tensioned.  There's something quite satisfying about taming a warp: getting each end in its proper sequence and path through the heddles and reed, working together with the loom to create order from the seeming chaos.  I didn't realize until I had it to this point that I had been figuratively holding my breath until now.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Sprang at CNCH 2012

Just got back last night from CNCH and a class on working in sprang with Stephenie Gaustad.  It was a good class; I learned a lot even though I've worked sprang before.  The project was a small bag or pouch in basic single sprang, of hemp fiber.

Stephenie is a great teacher; her serenity and patience kept students relaxed and able to concentrate on a technique that was completely new to a lot of us.

Here she is demonstrating how to check that the warp is set up correctly at the start of the piece.

She had us working on a wooden frame, with cords at top and bottom of the piece as described in Collingwood.  Here's my frame with the first pair of rows worked.  I found the stiff hemp difficult and springy to work with, and you can see that I was concerned that the top and bottom cords were deflecting making my warps different lengths.  I just couldn't bring myself to let the warps be loose enough, and couldn't get my holding cords tight enough I guess.

I did get my bag completely spranged and did the crocheted center line, and stitched up the sides, so I consider my workshop product a success.  I still need to figure out what to do with the top edge and a handle or draw cord.

Stephenie also described how to soften up the hemp after the bag is completed, by boiling it in water with laundry soap and some washing soda.
CNCH puts on a good regional conference.  Here's a photo of the spinning exhibit, one of the seven exhibits in the big hall along with all the vendors.  The skeins in the background on the right of the photo are all spun from a fiber supply given to each participant. The pieces in the foreground are items made from last year's spun yarn.  You can see how much more muted the results are from this year's palette.

Northern California has such a different feel from the southern half of the state for me.  There's something older and more mysterious, as if the remnants of fairies still inhabit the earth there, or the spirits of the Indians who first came there.  Maybe it's just that I spent my childhood in Northern California, so there's more play and imagination associated with the area.  Point Reyes, Half Moon Bay... there's magic in those hills and waters.

There was an eclipse as I was waiting for my plane to return home.  Even with the news media trying their darndest to educate people, they don't seem to get through.  I point to the ground outside the window, and people ignore me and look into the sky, saying "oh, I, that's bright!"  Why don't people realize that to see it you need to look not at the light, but at the shadow it casts to see its essence and shape?  I'm sure there's something metaphorical in there. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Now I have a square tetrad that springs

The colors in my small tetrad sample were not working well for the reasons discussed, so I decided to do the same structure again, using the full schematic design, and this time with hand dyed colors so I could get the colors I wanted.  This is a screenshot from a cool online tool used for web design called Color Scheme Designer 3.  These are the colors I was trying to achieve.

I added a little black dye to each color to tone them down a bit.  I dyed wool because it is the fiber I have the most success in dyeing evenly, though I did still get some spotting in the blue, probably because it was the biggest batch and only barely fit in my dyepot: this gave the dye less space to move and get onto the fiber consistently.

I also swapped the proportion of the blue with the orange from what I had in my sample piece, so that now the full size piece is half blue, a quarter yellow-green, and about an eighth each red-violet and orange.

Once the weaving started, I almost immediately regretted choosing wool; the close double-sett required for doubleweave made for very sticky sheds.  It reminded me of the year I wove double-wide throws for all my family members.  I was having to clear the shed half the time.  I did discover about 5 rows into the weaving that my brake system was not hooked up properly.  After fixing that, the tension improved and weaving went a little more smoothly, though I was still checking the shed before every shot of the weft.  And my choice of combinations of what the blocks were doing required that I got down under the loom every 1-1/2 inches to change the tie-up of treadles to lamms.  This turned out to be quite a physical weaving project!
I got this onto the loom on Easter Sunday.  The colors remind me of a field of California wildflowers: lupine, poppy and owl's clover in spring green grass.  So I think its title is California Spring Sprang.

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Tetradic Color Study

A nice study group that I am in focuses on various aspects of color.  Our latest study has been about tetradic color schemes.

A tetradic color scheme is basically two pairs of complements on the color wheel. The scheme I chose is a square one, in which the four colors are equidistant around the wheel. It's supposed to be a difficult scheme to work with, and after my experience I think I agree. My first approach was to pick four colors from my existing yarn stash that met the criteria in hue, i.e. their position around the wheel was close to the right spot.  I thought the blue I had on hand was too dark in value, so I dyed a medium-valued blue and substituted it in my sample piece.

For my sample, I used a portion of the Black and White schematic but added my selected colors.  Unfortunately the color I had the most of was orange. Now don't get me wrong; orange is a nice, happy, comforting color. I like orange. Orange is the favorite color of one of my sisters-in-law. But it was not good in this sample.  If you think the color combination in this photo looks garish, believe me it is worse in person!

Analyzing it, I think it is not working for several reasons.  First, orange-dominant is just too much: it is half orange, one quarter yellow-green, and about one eighth each of red-violet and blue.  Another problem is that the red-violet is too red, and the yellow-green is too yellow, so they don't really meet the colors I was trying to get exactly.  Also the values (light vs. darkness) of the colors are contrasting a lot: although I did do something about substituting for the really dark blue, the red-violet now stands out too much value-contrast-wise.  I think with such an "aggressive" set of hues as a square tetrad (where no color is analogous or close in hue to any other), it may help to get the colors closer in value, and maybe also all lower in saturation (make them more subdued).  So I applied all these observations in making my full-size piece for this study.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Moving on to Three Blocks of Doubleweave Sprang

After the wild colors in the Trade Winds piece, I was thinking that this structure would be quite striking in black and white, or just two colors with heavy value contrast.  I used sort of a "schematic" representation to show when each block is woven leaving the warp threads unwoven to be worked in sprang, when they weave the dark color and when they weave the light color.  The Xs in the diagram are where the sprang will be worked.

I still haven't woven exactly this in high contrast yet, because in the meantime I needed to do something for the color study group that I'm in, which will be the topic of another post...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Spranging in 3D - Billowing Sails

As I was weaving the "Dead Reckoning" piece I thought it would be cool to have the sprang "hour glass" shapes in alternate squares like a checkerboard, so the curve would continue from one
to the next.

In this piece I used two colors in the one of the warp layers in each stripe, so either color could be brought to the front to be worked in sprang. Because either 1/2 warp can be the sprang layer, this means I need yet one more shaft per block to get the back layer to weave into cloth.

So this piece takes 6 shafts for each of the two blocks that can be worked in sprang, plus 4 shafts for the doubleweave block as a border on the selvedges: 16 total shafts, all I've got.

I got this piece off the loom and wet finished it, hated my selvedges so I did a hemstitched fringe on the selvedge edges, took a photograph of it and - blah!

It's the exact size and shape of a placemat. A very nice place mat, but...can you say BOR-ing?

So I started trying to manipulate it. The sprang bits are almost inviting me to pull them up off the surface. When I do that, the back layer wants
to come up and sort of pleat as well. Now, that's more interesting!

The colors in this piece remind me of the tropics, so continuing with the nautical theme I called this one "Trade Winds" as it also looks kind of like full sails.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

I step off to explore spranging within weaving

After the sprang and doubleweave bag, I wanted to explore further combining weaving with sprang. Especially multishaft structures in the same piece as sprang. I wanted to try inserting sprang into "windows" left in the weaving by leaving some warps unwoven in the middle of the width of the piece. I also wanted to see if this would work over a warp several yards long. So I set up a relatively complex twill pattern with some stripes of straight lines separating the twill sections. My thought was to sprang the twill sections between the lines.

I wanted to be able to sprang any section whenever I chose while weaving, so each would have to basically have its own warp beam. The solution here was to weight the warp sections instead of beaming them. The stripes of non-twill could be beamed since I didn't intend to sprang them, but the twill sections needed to be weighted. However, somehow as I was measurring the warp, I forgot about the section weighting requirement and measured a number of ends per section that had nothing to do with my design. I realized this at some time during the setup. but because the warp was so long, I couldn't think of a safe way to regroup the sections.  So I just proceeded on with the weaving experiment.  Here it is in progress.  You can see I have two shuttles going at this point, leaving some warps unwoven in a "window" (upper part of photo), and another "window" that I have already worked in sprang.  Can you see the stripe running right into the window?  That wasn't the original concept.

The piece isn't successful for several reasons. The spranged sections didn't relate to my weaving structure. The yarns I chose were just some undesireable ones I wanted to use up. The colors are ugly, they have rayon in them so they are a little slinky, and the one I chose for warp is a sort of cable, so it doesn't show the sprang well.  This also made the sprang difficult to work, because it was hard to tell what was a whole yarn rather than one cable ply.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Spranging over fabric now holding together

Doubleweave & Sprang Yardage on the Loom
After the last experiment I decided I needed to add a shaft, so I can then get the warps to weave on the back of the fabric and not just float there, so that there's sprang on the front, plain weave in the middle, and a looser plain weave with half the warp ends on the back. This piece took 4 shafts for each of 2 regular doubleweave blocks, plus 5 shafts for the sprang block: 13 total shafts.

This piece is about navigation, hence the sort of nautical color scheme.  The warp block stripes are all in light and dark blue for contrast. For the weft stripe pattern, I looked at a map of the world, and wrote down the names of countries or regions in each of 24 15-degree-longitude slices of the earth.  Then, thinking of each region, I picked a stripe sequence and colors to fill a 4-1/2" length of fabric in 1/2" increments.
Reverse of Finished Fabric Showing Looser Plain Weave

This method of weaving based on time intervals is in reference to the title of the piece, "Dead Reckoning", which is a navigational method of multiplying your speed in the water along a bearing by time elapsed, which traditionally is the only way to figure your change in longitude when out in the ocean.  Further, the sprang motifs remind me of an hourglass, a measure of time and a symbol of time passing and our eventual mortality, a play on the word "dead". And finally, sprang is a method of constructing hammocks, a reference to the custom of burying dead sailors at sea in their hammocks.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Doubleweave Sprang "Lace"

Following up on my 2010 Challenge Project, a Handbag in Doubleweave and Sprang, I felt there was much to explore further using the combination of sprang and doubleweave.  Next I wanted to weave a series of small pieces with a second block of doublweave as a border around the sprang portion. The three pieces are based on the "Sailor's Hymn" which is about the Great Pilot helping us to navigate the troubled waters as well as the calm in our lives.


Chart and Compass


I threaded 60/2 silk at 60 epi per layer of doubleweave, with two colors alternating end-by-end in each layer of the warp.  Either color could be brought to the front of the cloth and left unwoven, to be then worked in sprang. The warps to be worked in sprang were not put onto the main warp beam.  One was put on the supplemental beam; the other was chained and weighted.  For the third piece I even used one of the warp colors I hadn't originally planned to work in sprang, took it off the beam and weighted it.  I accomplished the tiny sprang work with a #1 knitting needle, a small crochet hook, and my nearsighted vision.

Because every other warp was pulled to the front and left unwoven for the sprang layer, this left warps unwoven and loose on the back of the fabric, as well as huge floats of weft across the back. This wasted a lot of silk.  In the photo I've inserted a shed stick to illustrate the two doubleweave layers at the sides, but in the center you can see all the loose ends I ended up cutting off.

To get those warps and wefts to weave, I'd need another shaft.  But the two doubleweave blocks each took 4 shafts, and I was working on an 8-shaft loom. An option would be to just sprang all the warps, but I think that makes too dense of a sprang fabric, and I'd still have unwoven wefts across the back side so it wouldn't really solve the problem.  To get cloth that hangs together with my sprang work on top, I needed to move to a loom with more shafts.