In January, I hosted Linen and Lace in my studio. This class will be run again in a few weeks’ time. My intention is to run small classes with highly personalised teaching, hence the need to divide it into two. It also gives me an opportunity to play as you’ll see later.
Rochelle and Heather explored all manner of lace weaves (Spot Bronson, Bronson, Swedish, Huck, 3 or 5 ends and one piece that combined several). They demystified structures, investigated finishing techniques and took home a collection of beautifully woven and finished pieces. Here’s some images from the 5 days. Congratulations to both of them. It was a great week!
They also explored leno with one piece. The left over warp gave me the perfect opportunity to play. They got to see the benefit of my play so it’s a “win, win” situation. Towards the end of last year I had explored a technique from John Becker’s Pattern and Loom: Chapter 1, Chinese Han monochrome pattern weaves. The next chapter is on gauze weaves and I spied leno from the Han Dynasty. What caught my attention was a drawing showing loops (or doupes) put on a rod that mechanically achieved those twists that characterised leno. I have used a treadle doupe system to achieve leno and while it works a treat, it takes ages to set up. I wondered how efficiently this would work. It also ties in very nicely with my fascination with S. E. Asian textiles as I’d been seeing leno in use there. Here’s an example from my collection from Bhutan with a detailed view.
Leno is a different way of creating a lacy effect to “lace weaves” which are loom structured. They are classed as being in the “gauze” family. However they do still fit nicely into the week’s theme.
So I set it up. Here’s some things I had to consider. I was working with linen at a sett of 8 epcm (20epi). The warp was already on the loom however I would need to rethread the reed to do what I wanted to do. Each twist has to have all multiples in one dent of a reed, and I did want to use a reed. So I went to my collection of reeds and found one that had a spacing of 3 dpcm. That meant that I’d thread the reed with 4 per dent for two dents and then leave one free. A dent by the way for those non weavers is a space in the reed. I quite liked the look of the spaced warp.
Then I had to construct the loops or doupes for the leno. These loops are between the reed and the shafts. It’s easy enough to create the twist in front of the beater and transfer to behind the reed. I could have constructed these loops in much the same way that I do for heddles on SE Asian looms. However I took the soft option of using old texsolv heddles folded in half. They were a bit bulky but it would save time and let me see how this would work.
These two images show how the loops are formed to create the leno twist.
The rod with all those loops on behind the beater.
To weave, it was a relatively simple matter to raise the extra shaft to create those leno twists across the full width of the piece. I did find that it was most effective as the shed wasn’t huge to insert a stick to clear the shed.
The loom I’m using is a countermarche. On this loom there is a lot of movement with the warp threads going up and down. I did find that to weave plain weave a bit of tension on the loop stick allowed for a freer passage of the warp threads. Once you go into the rhythm of just putting a bit of tension while the threads were passing through the “neutral” position at the middle of the treadling movement, weaving progressed easily.
By the way the weft thread is heavier than the warp. I wanted weaving to progress quickly for this experiment. My choice was that heavier white linen thread in my stash: the only one and one that I’d like used up. I’m not sure that it was the best colour choice but it suited my purpose.
Weaving progresses on the loom.
After finishing. The first image has light behind to see the leno more clearly.
And while I was about it here’s a piece of leno that is manually manipulated using the threading on the same loom. The threads in one dent are twisted with those in the next dent and then offset. One image is just woven while the other is after washing. Note how much the denting space has closed up.
The next class on Linen and Lace is from 19-23rd . There’s still 1 place left. Perhaps my students and I will have time to do some more play with leno.