February 2019: Parallel, more adventures with vertical storage and woven shibori in Tasmania

February 28, 2019

All is organised for the exhibition next month. Here’s the invitation. Next month of course there’ll be more on the exhibition. It will be well under way by then.

RAG Invites March 2019 Parallel HR

Now to continue on from last month’s blog.  I had started to explore the possibility of weaving with a vertical storage positioned between the beater and the shafts. Previously I had worked with it behind the heddles at the back of the loom. Having it positioned at the rear of the loom allows for free movement of the shafts. Having the storage in front of the loom means that if anything is selected on the pattern shafts, it has to either work with the heddles or it has to be disengaged every time the basic fabric structure is woven.

In the previous month, I explored the use of the stored pattern being used in addition to plain weave to create vertical floats for Bronson Lace. This is an ideal application. What else could I do? As an extra challenge, all the patterns to be woven had to have elements of the same pattern developed for the Bronson Lace.

I have already shown this image of 3 approaches last month. The previous month recorded the process of weaving Bronson Lace. As you’ll see there was more woven on this warp.

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It is extremely logical to achieve weft floats for woven shibori. It was also timely weaving some woven shibori as it has been the focus over my studio work leading up to next month’s exhibition. The resist floats can easily be stored in the vertical storage. It is common and especially so in this pattern, that every resist row is different. This suits storing it and allows for a progression of sequences with plain weave being woven on the shafts between.

This undyed woven shibori design shows direct correlation to the Bronson Lace table mat.

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I decided to explore other possibilities.

The next challenge was to weave the design as a supplementary weft motif. This is a typical style of weaving for this type of loom in S E Asia. I have modified and extended the original pattern. There are 37 pattern rows. As this is an image with a mirror repeat, I needed to store the design to achieve this. I have discovered that the number of bamboo sticks that can be efficiently used to store a design is limited. This was my opportunity to investigate using loops of thread to store the design. I was very familiar with this from Se Asia but had never had the occasion to apply it.

Loops of thread are passed between the long heddles instead of bamboo or dowel. These loops are suspended on hooks attached to a length of wood. For multiple repeats, there need to be a series of hooks at the top and bottom of the storage unit.

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See blog October 2015 (second half of the blog) for a full explanation on how to pick up the motif and store a design.

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Here’s a close up of the storage loops. Move each one down (or up) to select the next pattern row.

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Looking from the top down, the stored pattern can be easily seen.

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Two rows of pattern are woven, separated by a row of plain weave. As I suspected, I needed to deselect the pattern lift between plain weave rows. The lift otherwise would be included in the plain weave. Having the storage unit behind the shafts means that the selection does not alter plain weave. The same pattern row can be left selected for however long you wished to weave the same row. In this case however no selection could be maintained. Rather I left the thread loop in position and reloaded the pattern lift for the repeated row. It was a little inconvenient however the ease of storing the pattern made up for this inconvenience. In spite of the double handling of the pattern loop, weaving the reverse of the pattern happened surprisingly quickly. I took nearly 2 days to pick up the pattern and wove it backwards in less than 3 hours with a cuppa included.

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Rather than weaving a long runner with several reversals of the stored pattern, I wondered what else was possible.

I decided to revisit Becker’s Pattern and Loom and repeat the technique I had already explored. (Blog: September 2017 ) I decided to start with a simplified smaller version of the same motif that I’d been using. Rather than paired threads there were 4 or 6 threads lifted together. The design is interpreted so that each square equals 2 threads, necessary for this technique of changing twill direction to work, so 3 squares in this case equals 6 ends. The front and back of this series are labelled below.

I soon decided that I didn’t like the effect. (A)

Next I reworked the design so that there were only single squares to be lifted. This was then woven in the style outlined in Becker. There is that interesting effect of the sides of the diamond being different. (B)

It was in my mind that the weavers of Cambodia  ( Blog:  May 2017) wove diagonal lines using this loom set up and basic principle. I have this lovely ikat cushion with the diamond ground structure. It is woven in plain weave with pattern shafts.

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I decided that structurally this would be achieved by including either an extra thread being picked up at the reversal points in the stored design or an extra row being woven in the weaving sequence. This would achieve the outside threads in a series of 3 working in the same manner. I now have a clean diagonal line. (C) The same motif is used for B and C.

The final motif in this series works with a stored lift of 2 or 3 pairs lifted together in combination with a single pair. In essence it is an extension of A and C. One extra thread or row is included at the reversal points. Again the lines are clean. (D)

It is important to note that the reversal points in C and D must be on the same line of the treadling sequence.

Here is the record of that series. A is on the right.

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And then I ran out of warp! This is an overview of all the work from that warp.

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The really great news is that all that effort I took in preparing the warp so that individual warp threads pass through single long heddles is done, ready for the next experiment.

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The Handweavers Guild of Tasmania had invited me to run two, two day woven shibori workshops. One was in Launceston. The other was in Hobart.

Both groups produced an exciting array of work. It is quite amazing what was achieved in two days. Weavers wove on rigid heddle looms as well as those with 4 or 8 shafts.

Here are some images.

The Northern Group.

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The Southern Group.

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Thanks go to the organisers of both workshops and to the weavers who participated so enthusiastically and with such a willingness to learn.

Coming up next month:

The report on the exhibition.

The studio class on Woven Shibori will be from 18-22 March. There are still places available. Right now I’m working at setting up warps for this class. If you would like to attend and work on a specific project, this is also an available option. There are a number of design approaches being set up but as usual there is often something out of left field.

This loom has been set up to weave an 8 shaft fabric on an 8 shaft loom with a 5 shaft warp shibori pattern using a horizontal storage system. This system is typical of SE Asia. It is a very useful technique for any situation where you need just one or more shafts extra to what you’ve got available.

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For full details of this class: woven shibori

The featured image at the top of this blog is an image of the hard copy invitation.

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January 2018 Lace weaves and Leno

February 2, 2018

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.


October 2017: Student work and a review of the Hybrid Loom Project

November 6, 2017

This month I’ll review the latest 5 day class in the studio and the results of the challenge with the hybrid loom.

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Rochelle returned to continue weaving her throws. She brought back the throw she had woven the previous month for finishing. After laundering, this throw is so soft and cuddly and it has achieved the magic of tracking: a random twill like effect that sometimes appears on plain weave when the twist of the ply and the sett combine.

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This is one of the best examples of tracking, I’ve seen for a while. It sure does add interest to this cloth.

And then she started another throw.

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And finished it. Here’s another very cuddly alpaca throw.

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While Rochelle was weaving her throws, the focus for this 5 day class was on weaving floor rugs.

Sue brought a palette of hand spun alpaca.

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She wove stripes on plain weave and explored some weave effects.

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Here the rug is coming off the loom.

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What a great result Sue. It is nearly finished, just half one side of fringing to go.

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Marja returned to the studio to weave a rug on a twill threading. She was inspired by some of the effects that could be achieved by sequencing of colours in the weft.

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Here it is coming off the loom. It’s exciting to see how the colours and patterns work together.

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She has totally finished her rug. Congratulations Marja.

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I flagged last month that I would review the results of the experimental warp from the hybrid loom: one that has a countermarche action and long eyed heddles in combination with storage systems from S E Asia.

Here are all the techniques that were woven on that one warp with no rethreading of the warp.

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To recap: I had put the warp on by pulling it through the vertical storage system. I then threaded the shafts in a straight twill on 6 shafts. This combination allowed me to pick up a pattern to be woven as a supplementary weft on a plain weave ground. By picking up a different set of pattern shafts in a block of 6, I was able to achieve a 6 end damask effect as if I was weaving on a draw loom. That vertical storage system had now become in essence the second set of heddles found on a draw loom. (May blog)

Next I found a technique in Becker’s book and explored that (last month). I picked up the start of that pattern and stored it on the vertical storage and added a horizontal system. That same picked up design was used to weave an isolated motif as a supplementary weft. Not bad for just one warp isn’t it? There are 3 totally different techniques: supplementary weft including brocade on plain weave, damask and the plain weave with twill motif from the Han Dynasty.

The question is posed: which is the more versatile loom? Is it a conventional draw loom or this hybrid loom that is basically a conventional countermarche loom with a Lao/Thai addition? Could I have woven all those techniques on the draw loom?

The answer is of course yes with some forward planning. If I knew I was going to weave these techniques on a draw loom, I would have threaded the back set of shafts (the pattern shafts) two to a heddle. (Normally on a draw loom if I was going to weave a 6 end damask, I would put 6 ends through the one eye.) The front set of shafts would then be threaded in a 6 end straight twill. The effect is the same. However the only difference is the Lao/Thai vertical storage system is always set up 2 to a heddle. The only forward planning I made on my hybrid loom was to choose to use 6 shafts instead of the conventional 2 because I knew I wanted to explore how easily damask could be woven on that system. And because I was limited by 2 threads through the heddles of the vertical storage system, I knew that the satin for the damask needed to be multiples of 2. The rest of my experimentation happened because I saw a technique and had the perfect set up that allowed me to play.

The next question to ask is which can achieve the more complex repeat patterning? If both looms are set up the same: 2 warp threads through either a pattern heddle or through the vertical storage system and an appropriate ground weave, the only limiting factor will be the way that the pattern is achieved. On my draw loom, I am limited by 50 pattern shafts. If I had a single draw system then I could individually pull each row, in essence picking up whatever pairs I wanted for each row. On the Loa/Thai loom, I pick up the pattern and store it. Once stored the pattern rows are used in sequence. The number of pattern rows could be hundreds. In the Lao/Thai system the weaver picks up the design with a stick and transfers the pattern to behind the front ground weave shafts to be stored. The picking up of motif takes time. On a draw loom with an individual pull, the weaver conveniently sits at the front of the loom and pulls cords to select the pattern a row at a time.

Lastly, announcing the 2018 studio class schedule. Full details are coming.

8-12 January (4 places left) and 19-23 February (1 place left) Linen and Lace Learn how to weave trouble free with linen. Explore various lace weave structures. Linen and lace is a beautiful combination. Looms will be set up so you will not need to thread before weaving.

26-30 March (provisional) From a Twill Threading.

30 April- 4 May Beyond the Basics

11-16 June Special

6-10 August Two ties or Summer and Winter


September 2017: Student work + John Becker’s book/Weaving informed by S E Asia.

October 4, 2017

I’m in the studio this month. This blog covers both student work and some research.

Scheduled was a five day studio class in Double Weave. For two weavers: Sharon and Marja this was their focus. Looms had been pre-threaded so that they could just weave. However there were theory and design activities often revolving around what they were actually weaving as well as developing an awareness of the diverse range of applications that were possible. The following are some images from the five days and a sample of what was attempted and completed. There was more but I missed taking some images.

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Sharon weaving layers.

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Marja wanted to master double weave pick up for imagery. She did!

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Windows of colour being woven: double weave blocks.

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From the same warp, their own designs on an off sett layer.

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Just a bit of fun: layers that swivel.

In addition to the scheduled work in class, Sharon took the opportunity to pull up and dye her fabric woven in the previous class. The technique was warp shibori woven on a warp of linen/cotton with a silk noil weft.

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The warp has been pulled up and dyed. Shown here is Sharon undoing her resist.

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This fabric is destined to become a blouse.

At the same time that Sharon and Marja were weaving double weave, Rochelle continued with her bird in Theo Morman.

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By the second day the weaving was completed. Now there is thought being given to the next steps in completing this wall hanging and a single repair to make. It is a gigantic achievement for a first time weaver.

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For her second warp, Rochelle decided to weave a throw in alpaca, plain weave and checks. Here it is finished in 3 days.

These weavers sure got through a lot of weaving and can certainly be proud of their efforts. I was certainly impressed by their dedication as they took full advantage of the studio hours. Of course while they were committed to what they were weaving, there were times of wonderful companionship and laughter. Special friendships have been formed.

Some may question why Rochelle got to do other things than the listed course: double weave. I can be flexible. My aim is always to accommodate weavers who want to learn- no matter what the topic is. First in with a booking will always be welcomed. And if one class fills on a designated to a topic (remember class size is strictly limited), then I can always list a second.

I have been “playing”. It’s always a good idea to take time off every now and then and explore a topic or do something different.

So what has….

IMG_2101“Pattern and Loom” by John Becker,

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my experiments on a countermarche loom with long eyed heddles, and a Laos style vertical storage loom or what I refer to as my hybrid loom and

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this technique using horizontal pattern storage from Vietnam/ Thailand/ Laos, got in common? Opportunity!!

Firstly this is a new, second edition of John Becker’s book published in 2014 by NIAS Press. The information is basically the same but it does have a different layout and in particular a better size of illustrations. I am enjoying this edition which does away with the “need” to have the two parts of the original (below) which has the larger diagrams and drafts in the second “half”. Note that this edition has “with the collaboration of Donald B. Wagner” on the cover. It is due to his effort that there is an updated version.

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This is the original edition with the two halves. The diagrams in the main book were difficult to read so having the second supplement was beneficial.

I was having a look through the new edition and not having gone very far was very excited to see a technique that was running parallel to some research that I was intending on following. There is this textile that is in my collection and that was intriguing. What I knew about the process in its weaving had commonality with what I was seeing in Becker. I won’t show that textile now as it will come in another post and will only muddy the waters now. However this and what I saw in Becker has sent me off in a new direction of “play” on the hybrid loom.

My hybrid loom had the remnants of a long warp. It has been used for previous “play” at the start of the year. The one thing that I have discovered about this loom is its great flexibility. Here was an opportunity to use it in a different way and maybe finish the warp. I will need to use it as a conventional countermarche loom for weaving rugs in a month or so and this warp really does need to be finished.

The technique I was about to explore is on page 22 in the new edition for those who have it but it is also in the older one. The technique is from the Han Dynasty of China (206BC to AD220). Yes, it is also fascinating because it is so old.

It uses one shuttle for weaving and combines plain weave being woven on two shafts with pattern being picked up and stored. The result combines a pattern in warp faced twill on a plain weave background. Structurally it is excitingly simple.

Becker for blogThe book also shows a horizontal storage system being used. However, I also knew that I could store it on the vertical storage system. Initially this is what I used.

 

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The pattern is picked up in pairs, transferred to behind the shafts and stored.

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I have used the vertical system to store a single diamond motif. This may be used to weave the start or end of the entire motif. I started with this system because it was something I was familiar with.

But here was the opportunity that I’d been waiting for. I would also try out using the horizontal storage process. It’s been on my “to do” list for a number of years. I wanted to understand its advantages and limitations. When asked in Laos why you would use one rather than the other, I had been told that the vertical storage has the capability to store a much longer warp. But how easy is it to use the horizontal system? What are the advantages or disadvantages? It’s usually only by actually using the loom that you can understand how it works.

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But then I took up the challenge and used the horizontal system. I learnt that the pick up requires the making of half heddles and got fast at doing half hitches. This is different to what is shown in Becker but in keeping with where I needed to go. Becker uses pre-tied loops. The knotting of half heddles with half hitches is quite efficient. This system also requires less yarn in creating the heddles than the full loops used by Becker: therefore less opportunity for tangles. I have also taken on board the heddle support rods that I had noted in Laos and Thailand. Using these created a mostly clean lift with few tangles and a very convenient way of keeping them in sequence.

Once the design was picked up and stored, weaving progressed reasonably quickly. To weave the design all I had to do was raise the heddle bar, transfer the pattern to behind the reed and weave two rows of plain weave.

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The first design is woven. It’s interesting to note that when the direction of the pattern lifts are reversed and providing the same weaving sequence of two rows of plain weave for each lift is maintained, then each side of the motif looks different.

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Here’s a closer look. I like that both sides of the design are not the same: left to right and bottom to top.

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And a second one using a different coloured weft. Note the different twill direction.

This second towel uses a different plain weave sequence. Weaving with the left and then the right treadle now becomes right then left and the direction of the twill line changes. Logical but fascinating!

And there’s still  enough for one more “play”. And that will be revealed next month.