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.


January 2019: Studio class, vertical storage and getting ready for the exhibition.

February 3, 2019

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A reminder: This exhibition celebrates 20 years of woven shibori. I have invited Catharine Ellis to celebrate with me. All weaving is completed for the exhibition. The exhibition lists, artist statements and didactic panels submitted by both Catharine and myself. It’s rather a relief to be at this stage.

Redland Art Gallery has the exhibition listed in its exhibition guide.

RAG Exhibitions Booklet 2019_Kay Faulkner and Catharine Ellis (3)

The studio class as usual for this time of year was Linen and Lace. This time of year is usually perfect for linen. It was, though I suspect, hotter than usual. Unlike other years this group of four weavers all decided that they wanted to work on their own projects. Three had completed the course in previous years and wanted to revisit a structure, the other wanted to pursue a personal challenge. This meant that I did not need to set up a multitude of looms in different structures.

Maggie has the perfect solution for jet lag or so she says. She arrived in Australia from the UK on the day before the class. She treats attending a class in the studio as a gentle way to recover. Her project was to weave a series of napkins in linen and 3 end Huck. Her design was a modification of a studio hand towel. Her ongoing challenge was to weave every one differently. On the last day she wound an extra warp for 4 more napkins to take with her to be threaded with the same draft so that she could continue her challenge. It was well tied up as it will travel with her for her stay here and then get put on her loom when she goes back to the UK.

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Kerry is a new student to the studio. She had asked whether she could use her single 16’s linen and weave in Huck. She had woven with this yarn at home and had some difficulty with it. We started by designing her project. The warp went on and we soon saw that there was potential for warp fraying. The solution was to weave with a temple. This posed no problems as she was used to doing this. The other part of the solution was the use of sizing. Kati Meek has a recipe in her book, Warp with a trapeze and dance with your loom. It is amazing. It’s very gluggy.

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The sizing was put on with a sponge working in only one direction. The warp was also woven as soon as it was put on with no need to wait till it dried.

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Weaving with a temple and the sizing meant that this warp could be woven with no fear. Various treading drafts were developed. This is an image of her project being woven. Unfortunately my image of the full piece isn’t wonderful so I will not be sharing what she achieved. However it is a beautiful fine piece of linen weaving.

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Vilasa wanted to explore design, Huck lace and if time permitted Bronson lace. As she spins her own cotton, she put on a cotton warp as she wanted to weave with something that was relevant to her weaving at home. Vilasa spent time on drafting every day. She became expert at designing with only horizontal or vertical floats or both together. She accepted various design challenges. In the five days she wove 6 of her own Bronson Lace designs. This length of weaving is destined to be a panel of a shirt. Here are 3 of her designs.

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Jan had intended weaving a fabric length in turquoise linen. The yarn didn’t get organised so she wove another project that she had planned for later in the year. She had some hand spun wool that she wanted to use for a vest. The vest pattern is based on an existing garment. She had decided that the fabric should not just use hand spun as otherwise it would be too bulky and too heavy for her use. Rather, the hand spun act as an accent yarn as it had wonderful lumps and bumps. To achieve its potential she was going to combine it with silk and a commercial wool.

Jan had acquired some 20/2 silk, natural in colour to be dyed for the warp. Anyone who knows Jan, realises that she loves turquoise, greens and blues. In fact here is her rag rug that she had brought back finished from the woven shibori class in November.

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But I digressed. The silk had to be dyed. So that she didn’t end up with dyed silk left over from the warp, she wound the warp, secured it well and then dyed it. She also chose to paint a skein in various colours that would work in with this green and her weft colours. The warp went on smoothly. Jan’s challenge has been to weave the 3 yarns and to work out the best way to maximise the characteristics of the hand spun wool and very pretty multi-coloured silk. The yarns are to be used randomly so that there is no definite stripe repeat. She is still working on this. She probably needs an extra half a day to finish and I will certainly look forward to seeing this off the loom and made into that vest.

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I had put on an extra linen warp on a loom to accommodate two requirements of this class, just in case there was an opportunity for it to be woven on. Vilasa had expressed a desire to also explore Bronson Lace and Kerry was wanting to work in singles 16 linen. Kerry enjoyed time weaving on “good” linen. Maggie wove a strip to be used as a book mark while Vilasa of course developed her own design to be woven. Now that she understands the principles of horizontal and vertical floats, this was an easy transfer to another lace structure.

There was left over warp so I got to finish it off. Yes, more hand towels for the studio. Both employ the same block design within a lace weave frame. One has the blocks in lace, the other as a supplementary weft pattern.

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During the week, I also took the opportunity to get a loom dressed and ready for some play with a loom and vertical storage. The students were interested to see a frame become a loom. I was asked: Where’s the beater and where are the treadles? The loom to start with was just a frame.

What were my objectives in this project? In all my previous times of using a loom with vertical storage, it had always been positioned at the back of the loom. In Cambodia, I had seen storage, though horizontal behind the beater and in front of the shafts. This link should take you to the appropriate blog. Scroll down to see images of a loom with horizontal storage. There’s also a video of the loom being used.  https://wordpress.com/post/kayfaulkner.wordpress.com/4200

By positioning it here, I would be able to manipulate the sticks or whatever I wanted to store the pattern with more easily. But what would be the repercussions of having it here. I knew from past experience that when the treadles are not heavy or when long eyed heddles are used, movement of the stored pattern was possible to achieve while plain weave was woven. The pattern could be kept engaged and ready to be used. Logically I knew that this would not be possible with the pattern in front of the heddles but could some compromises be achieved?

I was also wanting to see if I could weave Bronson Lace- well it was the week of Linen and Lace! To achieve this I needed the warp threads to be used singly through the storage system. Traditionally in S E Asia there are doubled threads used here. The warp is usually very fine. I’m about to change a lot of things.

I started with just the dummy warp in a vertical storage.

So I began by winding the warp and threading it through a reed. I needed one end per reed dent.  This would allow me to keep each thread in sequence and I could identify a single thread when it came to picking up the design for storage.  I could accommodate a cotton/ linen yarn (approx. 16/2) singly in an 8 dent per cm (20 epi) reed. It was my finest “western” reed.

Then I knotted one cotton/linen warp (natural colour) to 2 ends of dummy warp (blue) to align with those in each long heddle. This will allow each thread to be raised independently. Everything has to be kept in sequence. So far all this could be accomplished off the loom. In this image note that the cotton/linen has been threaded in the reed before being tied onto the dummy warp in the heddles that make up the vertical storage unit (white).

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To thread the heddles on the shafts, I put the warp temporarily back to front on the loom. I could not access the back of the loom easily so it had to be back to front- temporarily. The reed and vertical storage were temporarily suspended in the loom frame purely to facilitate threading the heddles on 2 shafts. Here the two shafts are on the far left hand side ready to be threaded. The wooden clamp behind the beater holds the threads securely.

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When this is done, I have the warp threaded though heddles on 2 shafts, then  the vertical storage and then the reed with the bulk of the warp behind this.

Now to put the warp on. The total bundle is turned around. The reed is put in a beater. The vertical storage system suspended in its correct position and the shafts suspended. Treadles are attached to the shafts. Normality returns for my weavers with shafts behind the beater though with the storage between. The warp is pulled through and wound onto the back beam. I am ready to weave.

I want to weave Bronson Lace. If you understand the mechanics of the structure and have this loom set up so that I can choose an individual thread, I can manipulate the threads to achieve my goal.

This is a basic draft for a conventional loom. Using this draft it would be possible to pick up a design by selecting from shaft 3 and adding it to shaft one.

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Theoretically I can make my 2 shaft loom weave Bronson by storing the equivalent of shaft 3 on the vertical storage loom. In a 6 thread sequence the second and fourth thread will be stored. I will store this selection in the top of the storage unit.

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I will be able to use this stored selection to choose pairs of threads for each Bronson Lace unit. This stored selection will go in the bottom part of the storage unit. Here are two rows stored on bamboo lengths. They are stabilised by inserting the ends into some texsolv cord.

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Once I’m ready to weave for a repeated design I’ll be able to move my pattern from the bottom to the top and back again depending on the number of repeats.

This is my graphed design.

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This sequence shows the selection process. The required threads are moved down from the stored selection. All pairs of threads are raised.

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The design is selected according to the graph.

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This pattern is transferred from the front of the loom to behind the beater and onto a sword. I have covered how to store a selected pattern for a vertical storage unit in previous blogs but as it has been a while, here is a reminder.

All the heddles from the vertical storage are brought forward.

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The sword turned on its side. This achieves different tension for those threads that are either side of the sword.

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By manipulating this tension, the threads that have been picked up at the front of the loom can be stored vertically. A bamboo stick  or dowel is inserted into the gap where the second sword now is.

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As each pattern is stored, the unit of Bronson Lace is also woven before the next pattern row is picked up. Here the repeat is nearly picked up and woven.

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In essence the weaving process for each graphed pattern row requires 6 rows of weaving.  Weave a row of plain weave, then the other plain weave row + pattern, repeat twice. Then weave alternate plain weave rows. The first row of plain weave should include the pattern warps. This is a very similar process to conventional pick up on Bronson Lace but with the facility of storing your design.

For this table runner I elected to do just one repeat. It suited the dimensions that I required. However having the facility to store this long repeat is certainly beneficial.

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As an aside, this pattern would require 36 shafts to weave- another benefit of this style of loom. There will be more on weaving on this loom next month. The same pattern will be interpreted into other structures and more.  Here’s a sneak preview.

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The next studio class will be in March (18th-22nd) on woven shibori to coincide with the exhibition.


July 2018: Convergence and Complex Weavers Seminars.

August 2, 2018

It was the gathering of the international weaving clan. Weavers came from around the world to attend Convergence organised by Hand weavers Guild of America (HGA) and then for a very focussed group of weavers, Complex Weavers Seminars at Reno, Nevada, USA. This was the first year they had been run at the same time for a number of years. It was great that I could again attend both easily as now it just took one return airfare.

Both were held at the Peppermill Resort, a very large casino and convention centre.

I arrived a few days before CW was due to start primarily so that I could check out Convergence and in particular the vendor hall and the exhibits. Here are some highlights from those first few days.

I came in the doors and saw all the traders. One did get used to the carpet. Large bold designs were typical of the over the top décor.

As well as ethnic collections, yarn, books, looms and all things textiles, there were two new pieces of equipment that took my eye and that I will mention.

TempoTreadle is a very neat electronic device and provides amongst other features a way of keeping track of shaft lifts for weaving sequences for a table loom. http://tempotreadle.com.

There’s a new loom out by AVL. It looks totally different to their past looms and functions like a countermarche.

Next door there were several exhibitions. I was in particular interested in those chosen for the fashion parade and the yardage exhibit and of course those that were hand woven. Congratulations go to all those who exhibited here and in outside venues. It is always interesting to see other’s textiles. Here’s a list of exhibitions listed in the gallery guide. I got to see them all.

City Lights, Festive Nights, the wearable art exhibit that was put up following the fashion parade. These are some of the winning entries. Each entry was accompanied by a handling piece.

First place: Mimi Anderson. Friday Night Fever:  4 colour double weave.

Second Place: Inge Dam with Manon Pelletier, Band of Northern Lights, Tablet bands integrated and woven with a 32 shaft twill.

Third Place and the Seattle Weavers Guild- Virginia Harvey Award for Color: Lillian Whipple with Sharon Bell, Red to Blue and Green All Over Jacket.

Here’s a general view of some of the exhibits showing how they were displayed.

 

 

Trukee River, the yardage exhibition was very accessible this time. In the past the exhibits had been hung above the heads of attendees often from a balcony. It was great being up close to the full length. Here are some selected pieces.

 

First place: Slip streams by Kathryn Arnoldin turned taquete.

Second place: Secrets in the Water, Dottie Weir, handwoven shibori on ice dyed warp fibre reactive dyes, discharge, overdyed with vat dyes.

Third place: Water is Life, Nancy Peterson, Handwoven crimped tencel with polyester sewing thread.

Complex Weavers Award: Tablet Woven Triptych John Mullarkey.

While this piece did not win an award, I was very excited and delighted to see that Joan Namkoong represented by two pieces. Both were delightful. However it was this piece that really made me stand still and think “Wow”.   Tapa (Hawaiian stamped bark cloth)  was woven in a 6 shaft satin on a drawloom. Joan had worked in my studio and it was there that she discovered drawloom weaving. She became hooked and went home and acquired her drawloom. No wonder I was excited to see this piece.

It was announced that Convergence in 2020 will be in Knoxville, Tennessee in the last part of July.

And then finally Complex Weavers Seminars began. It started with the exhibition opening of Complexity 2018: Innovations in Weaving. It was a great way to provide a very focused start.  I was honored to have been asked to jury it along with Janice Lessman-Moss (USA) and Jette Vandermeiden (Canada); a very international jury. The initial jurying was done on line using a five-foil Likert Scale in the Submittable format. It was a tough job as there were many fabulous entries. We scored them blind and from this score, the gallery staff selected the 27 works from 23 artists. Jette and I had the difficult though rewarding job of selecting the awards prior to the opening as we were both there. We also consider ourselves very fortunate as we could handle and check what was on the back of the pieces: a very decided benefit! Complexity was hung in Metro Gallery in the City Hall. Many people got to see it purely because of its location. This is what it looked like with an early crowd at the Opening.

For a Gallery guide and the list of awards and winners go to http://www.complex-weavers.org/gallery/complexity-2018/  This will provide a much better way of viewing the exhibit than I could ever provide here.

One of the wonderful benefits of Seminars is that there are many opportunities to meet other like- minded weavers and to catch up with fiends from around the world. Meals are held together. There are a wide range of events: an informal fashion parade, traders, the silent auction, meetings of study groups and of course, the seminars.

There were a wide variety of topics presented. I was honored to have been selected and I presented Ties: Decorative, Practical and Unconventional and absolutely delighted with the buzz after the presentation.

 

I must admit I don’t have too many images to share. I was just too busy having a great time.

There is an exciting publication that will soon be available. It celebrates the 40th anniversary of CW. After the fashion parade, those weavers who had a piece in the forthcoming book took the floor. There were many interesting pieces. I can’t wait to see it. It is now available for pre-sale on the website. http://www.complex-weavers.org

Here’s some of the weavers with work in the book.

One of the results that I will share here came from the meeting of the Double Harness Study Group.. I had co-chaired the meeting with Jette Vandermeiden. I’ll also mention that the Double Harness Study Group is the oldest study group in CW. It was the first one formed. It was very satisfying to see a very enthusiastic gathering and is encouraging for the future.

From the meeting came the request to share two loom modifications. That has already happened and I thought that this was also an opportunity to share those here. They had happened over a number of years. The first I did in 2011 and my original article was presented in the International Damask Newsletter in Winter, 2011. A simple conversion for a Glimakra loom with an Opphampta attachment.     Jette wrote up her development, a variation of mine for the same publication in Autumn 2012. However the modification didn’t end there. The final modification for both Jette and I came about when her engineering husband became interested. The result was Medusa. I’ll put both a separate page on my blog under “Looms and loom modifications” for future reference.

Good times, great learning were had by all. I’ll look forward to the next Seminars in 2020. The last hurrah: a celebration great times at CW Seminars 2018.

Forthcoming classes in my studio

3-7 September Double weave and friends

1-5 October Colour in weaving: colour and weave effects, shadow weave, echo weave and optical colour blending.

12-16 November Woven shibori

10- 14 December Special also includes beginning weaving

Forth Monday September – November inclusive. BYO Loom: work on your own project with a review on the following month.

Full details under Kay’s Weaving School on my blog.


May 2018: Part 5 of The Lesser Sunda Islands trip/Looms and weaving processes

June 23, 2018

This blog continues my experiences of the textile research trip to the Lesser Sunda Islands by Sea Trek. It will be the final in this series. This blog covers all aspects of weaving.

Back strap looms are nothing if not portable. They can be easily packed up at the end of the day and put away. They can be easily transported and set up somewhere else. All you need is some sort of structure to anchor it too. The other end is attached by a strap to a means (fabric or carved support) that when passed around the back of the weaver allows tension to be created. By bending forward, tension is removed, allowing the weaver to change a shafts. Here you see the basic elements: the frame provides both a seat and a means of slotting in the back beam. There’s the back strap ready to be put around the back of the weaver. Note that not all back strap looms have a frame. Sometimes it’s just a couple of posts in the ground.

The loom may fit into an existing structure or be tied to one.

The length of the actual loom correlates to the length of the weaving. One end will be anchored by a physical means, the other by the body. This warp must have a very long loom.

A weaver must be able to create good tension. To facilitate this, she or he must be able to push against the opposite end. Here extra pieces of wood have been put to shorten the distance.

How looms are actually used in daily life can only be seen when you look at home. Often they are outside under some sort of roof or under a house.  Sometimes they are in a favourite location. It is probably unlikely that the looms used in demonstrations are usually used on this site. On a wander around Umapura, Bettes and I came across a woman weaving beside a man making a canoe. It was away from the area where the demonstrations and selling were so one could suppose that this site may be used often. I was pleased that we both had an opportunity to weave. We realised how heavy the weaving was to lift to clear each shed or row of weaving. That warp is very dense and there were a lot of threads.

All weaving is done on a circular warp, resulting in only a small gap where it cannot be woven. Only one item is woven at a time.

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Making sure everything is aligned when it is on the loom is the tricky bit. I have 5 warps and they are all secured differently to go on the loom.. From top to bottom the first is tightly bound at the top end and individual sections are loosely tied at the bottom. There are multiple warps here with different lengths, thereby indicating several projects. The second is woven at the top at the top , and loosely tied at the bottom with a short stick attached that would float. That might be useful in dyeing of finding the opposite end. The third is undone ready to go on the loom and only has a tight tie at one end. The forth has 10 short sticks bound along the length. The last also has sticks bound along the length and an additional series of knots across the top. All the weavers will have developed skills in how to make the imagery stay in place when it is put on the loom.

Here they are put onto a frame to be organised.

Once everything is aligned heddles need to be made so that every alternate thread will lift. This diagram explains the basics. Note that one heddle is made for every 4 threads or every 2 on the top. The heddle may be made over any combination of sticks or a single thick thread to create a required length. We saw quite a bit of variation. Sometimes there was a rod underneath to make sure the bottom  layer remained isolated from the top.

 

 

This video shows combining two warps, separating out the ikat threads making heddles and then adding in an extra solid colour warp with again their appropriate heddles.

Sticks and rods are inserted to enable the creation of the two sheds or the gap between one set of threads being up of down. This gap is where the weft yarn will be inserted. This yarn is often wound onto a long straight stick. In some places it will be used like this. At others, it may be inserted into a hollow tube. This video shows ikat being woven at Freddy’s studio in Sumba. There was an interesting variation here that we saw no where else: the fabric was beaten. That may be to loosen the threads and ensure they don’t catch with its neighbour. Note how much the warp slides forward sue to the force of beating with the sword. It needs to be continually pushed back.

When ikat is not a component and only plain weave is required or supplementary warps are used, it is possible to wind the warp and make the heddles at the same time.

Weaving pahikung (the name it’s called here) or with a supplementary warp.

This is an example to show the basic characteristics.: a clean finely detailed image on the front with the long floats tied down in a horizontal line at the back.

The supplementary warp is much thicker than the background thread. It appears that it is wound at a 1: 2 ratio. We did not see how the warp is made but I suspect that it uses a similar process to ikat with the additional warp being added at the same time. Perhaps 3 balls of yarn were used. We have seen 4 being used for ikat. Heddles will need to be made for the background fabric. Again we didn’t see this done but perhaps it is most logical to expect this to be done while the fabric is being warped.(as for ikat or a solid colour)

The design is picked up and stored on narrow very narrow sticks. They must be narrow as a lot of them may be required. The weaver here has an existing stored pattern on her lay. A long pin marks her current spot.

If the pattern required 2 stored patterns, one is completed first and then the other.

Sometimes you can find old stored patterns in a market or being sold by a trader.

This image shows the basic components to weave pahikung. From the front of the loom. On top of the weaving, there’s a temple or stick with points on the end to keep the weaving at the same with. This was used universally. Sometimes it may be placed under the weaving. It is constantly moved at very small intervals for the length of the weaving. A sword opens a gap (shed) to allow for the passage of the shuttle. Then there is the rod with all the heddles. A large diameter bamboo stick which is used to create the other shed. A series of sticks of the same width that hold the transferred pattern. A set of heddles that are used for the tie down row. A number of very fine sticks that store the pattern.

During weaving the stored pattern is moved to the front of the loom behind the heddles. They are moved forward and used in conjunction with the plain weave lifts underneath. At a regular intervals the ground weave anchors down the floating warp threads on the back of the weaving. As weaving progresses the supplementary warp because it is not used all the time as the plain weave fabric will lose tension and become slack. When this happens extra sticks are inserted to take up the tension. By the end of the project, quite a roll of sticks will be on the top of the weaving. On a western style loom, we would use either a second warp beam or some system of weights to ensure even tension is maintained throughout. This image shows the bundle of stick that take up the tension. All the pattern sticks have been used. A new set will need to be brought forward.

This movie shows transferring the pattern to the front where it becomes usable, tightening the tension and weaving. Note how the weaver has to keep moving the weaving edge back. It keeps moving forward due to the force of the beat used. This is a very dense fabric.

Finishing

Here are two unusual finishes. This decorative fringe was seen on textiles in Lamalera. (Lambata)

We saw several Sumba textiles with this woven fringe.

The warp of the textile becomes a secondary weft. Once the first textile is cut from the loom, it is turned and the warp becomes a weft for a second narrow circular warp on a back strap loom.

 

 

We were told that often beginner weavers do these. There’s quite a skill to keep the lower edge of the main textile from pulling in.

Once finished the second warp is left cut. And the left over fringe is then plied.

This movie shows the weaving.

On Reflection:

I have seen dyeing. How many ways can you dye with indigo and morinda? And then there was that feast of colour at Umapura. I have enjoyed seeing how textiles are produced and enjoyed the challenge of understanding process. There was a wonderful range of textiles. I have come to an appreciation of the diversity of regional cloth (especially as it was all woven on a back strap loom), its motifs and its role in daily life. It has been a wonderful experience and I feel fortunate in having been there. And that boat- what a magical experience! It really wouldn’t have been possible to go there to all those islands and weaving villages in such a space of time apart from by sea.


May 2018: Part 3 of The Lesser Sunda Islands trip/ The Limestone Islands.

June 20, 2018

This post follows on from the previous one. It is a record of my experiences on a textile research trip to the Lesser Sunda Islands hosted by Sea Trek.

From Lembata Island we head south across the Sunda Straight to West Timor. (see map from Part 1). From there we’ll be heading west to create a loop that will eventually take us back to Flores.

The landscape changes. The mountains are less steep. No more volcanoes to be seen. Accessibility to plant materials for dyeing appears to be impacted.

I had been to West Timor in 2007- that’s 11 years ago. I wondered what Sue and David Richardson had planned for us to visit and whether I’d see any change.

We landed in Kupang and traveled in this bus.

We visited the Bolok weaving group and saw an extensive dye demonstration. Here an essential ingredient in morinda production, symplocos can’t be grown and candlenut may not be accessible. The conditions just aren’t right for the symplosos so they have to buy it in. In this case in a powdered form. Candlenut may be replaced by nita nut. More to follow in the technical notes in another blog,

We also visited the Museum of Nusa Tenggara Timor with some great displays of textiles.

Then it was onto Baun (Kelompok Kai Ne’e)  and then Barat . Our destination was to an audience with the King and Queen of Amarasi in their Royal Pavillion. The king and queen are in the background while the children perform an opening ceremony.

After the reception we were taken to the complex where we saw textiles and a demonstration of papermaking. I had been here before.  My impression is that it was now a much more active and viable community. It seemed much more prosperous than what I remembered.

This is the royal motif being woven, interspersed with some float work stripes. Note that the additional design element is being picked up as it is being woven.

At the nearby village of Barat we saw yarn skeins of yarn in an extensive colour way. This is just one section of line.

There were also a variety of textile techniques.

There was ikat with lots of morinda, though there was some pale indigo too. The designs were bold. Obviously the design is popular or they have an outlet requiring textiles of the same design. It had a commercial feel.

 

There was also some warp float work done on alternating coloured warp threads. On one side there were warp floats while on the back there were weft floats. Note the appearance of uncut circular warps. From my previous trip, I knew that this was a way of identifying desirable new textiles. There were other designs but it is interesting to note that the design while woven individually is the same.

The patterning was very familiar and it stirred memories of other great textiles and interesting techniques I’d seen in 2007. Maybe I need to come back again. It was only a fleeting one day visit.

We sailed west to Sawu or with an alternate spelling: Savu. Here we visited Ledatadu and Namata. Here was another demonstration and with a couple of noteworthy aspects. Here they were removing the seeds from cotton not with a gin but rather by rolling the fibre on a piece of wood with a round stick.

Plied cotton in 2 colours is used as an extra design element in a stripe.

Some areas of bound ikat were being hand painted. This enables isolated areas of motif being dyed as opposed to whole areas being bound and redyed in the required dyebath. The process is repeated at least 4 times with drying time required between each application.

The motifs in the textiles to have an elegance and to be quite refined.

 

These children in their ikats are just too good not to share.

As well as warp ikat there was some textiles using float work (warp floats on the front and weft on the back)

The village of Namata provided us with a dance performance. It was a chance to check out the textiles.

And of course there was another opportunity to buy. There was evidence of more chemical dyes used for the ikat. This piece has a more contemporary feel.

On Raijua Island we visited two textile villages: Uoja Dima and Namo. It was the second village that proved the most interesting.

There was another indigo demonstration. Until now we had seen only indigo being used from fresh leaves. We were told that because of the “extended drought” indigo was being converted into indigo paste. There will be more on this actual process in a later blog. I suspect perhaps that it is an effect of living on the “limestone islands” with what I understand is their lower rainfall. It seems a well-entrenched process.

Cotton is spun using the drop spindle in a different manner: “upside down”.

The textile motifs here remind me very much of damask patterns from Europe.

There is also a strong Dutch influence. Note the crowns and the KN which stands for Koningsland der Nederlands or Kingdom of the Netherlands

We also saw these solid indigo dyed cloths with tie dye patterning. We were told that these are often worn for funerals and other important ceremonies.

Our last island was Sumba. These textiles were one of the reasons I’d joined this trip. They didn’t disappoint. We visited the villages of Uma Bara (King of Pau), Pau and Rindi, Waingapu as well as the studio: Tenun Ikat Sumba at Prailiu. Freddy, the owner acted as our guide for the time on Sumba.

Here’s some background to the social hierarchy. Sumba has “slaves”. They can never move up the social ladder. They can never own land. The children will also be “slaves”. However if they weave and sell textiles they do get the money. Some textiles are sold as being done by royalty. This may mean that they are produced by the “slaves” of that royal. The word “slave” didn’t seem to imply that they were abused but rather describes a position in society.

The importance of textiles in that community was confirmed. We saw a burial tombs for royalty. There was often a weaver carved into the stone as well as other auspicious objects.

When a royal person dies, the body is wrapped in a foetal position and over time till an auspicious date for the burial textiles will be added. This princess has been covered with 75 textiles in 6 months. The burial we were told will probably be in September at which time there will have been many more textiles added. Apparently the best two textiles will be next to the body and on the outside. A slave always sits with the body.

We saw demonstrations of dyeing at Freddy’s studio. I’ll note now that indigo paste was also used, however actual technical details will come later.

There are two main textile techniques: ikat and weaving with supplementary warps. They may be on their own or combined. The actual technique of weaving with the supplementary warps will be covered later. These are the textiles. The motifs are often strong and bold.

I love the large scale motifs found on the ikat. Here are a couple of examples.

 

 

Just blue but look at the complexity and detail with shades of blue.

This one is just a bit extreme though it did make me smile.

Supplementary warp fabrics are different on both sides. The front imagery is definite with the back having the negative design but with long floats being tied down at regular intervals. The back can just be seen on the underneath fabric. This image also shows the stored pattern behind the heddles on the left. The weaving edge is not shown. As the fabric is woven, the supplementary warp is not used at the same rate as the background fabric. To take up the slack and to control tension, it is wound onto extra sticks. This is the roll of sticks on top of the loom. The full process will be shown in a later blog. The colour showing behind the heddles is not a dyed warp but rather the background warp showing through.

 

 

 

A fuller look at the two sides of the fabric. The wrong side looks as though it has lines in the design.

 

 

Supplementary warp on a striped warp woven beside ikat for a woman’s tube skirt. The top fabric is woven separately and joined.

After weaving, the supplementary warp fabric may be hand coloured.

 

Lastly, here’s an interesting fringe treatment. A weaver sits with a small circular warp and the fringe of a completed weaving is woven as the weft. Here’s a completed fabric. The warp of the finished narrow weaving is just cut. The remaining original fringe is then plied.

The next blog covers all those technical details I’ve been promising.


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.