February 2017 Part 2

March 2, 2017

In this post, I separate what is going on in the studio and my trip to Laos and Cambodia. Both are so different that they deserve their own space.

Two days after my arrival home from the trip to Laos and Cambodia, I held another Linen and Lace workshop in the studio. Four weavers attended. We explore many lace weaves (Canvas weaves, Spot Bronson, Bronson Lace, Swedish Lace, Huck). Nine warps were woven off so they went home with quite a collection. The following are some images taken over the five days.

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Four weavers with some of the warps being cut off.

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Experimenting with finishing using a modified mangling process: glass bottles filled with cold water. A marble rolling pin on a tile or a piece of glass would be a preferred option.

Then two days later I had Joan, a weaver from Hawaii who combined a tourist trip to Australia with an opportunity to weave in my studio. She decided to explore weaving on a draw loom. But first, there was a minor problem. I had a warp on this loom. It had only been there for about nine months waiting for me to eventually get around to weaving it. There’s nothing like someone wanting to weave on a loom to get you to actually weave. This warp was designed to explore 4 shaft ground weaves. Using just 4 shafts how many basic structures can be woven? But before I show what I wove, I’ll outline the parameters that I’d set. The design was to be basically the same with only variation being in the frame in one corner. I wanted to have a fairly restricted design so that I didn’t spend too much time thinking and moving around pattern shafts (time was of the essence after all). Yet to prevent boredom I allowed myself a small restricted area to play in. You will see the overall standard design with variation.

How many structures can be done on 4 shafts? This many!

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Let’s take a closer look. There’s a 1/3 and 3/1 combination. The direction of the twill line is the same.

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There’s a 1/3 and 3/1 twill with opposite directions. This is a very common effect employed in 8 shaft twill blocks.

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Instead of straight twills, how about warp and weft faced broken twills?

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In the High Court judges’ robes I employed “network drafting” of warp faced straight twill with weft faced broken twill. Here I repeat the effect on a draw loom.

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Moving away from twills, a three end lace weave is possible. This followed very nicely from the previous week’s Linen and Lace.

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A standard 4 shaft straight threading can also be used for pick up Summer and Winter (2 tie unit weave).

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And of course 4 shafts can also be used for doubleweave. Normally the sett would be twice as dense and alternate colours would be used. Instead here I have compensated by using alternate colours in thicker yarns. Obviously by the size of the same I ran out of time before Joan arrived.

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Joan got to pull cords and look at how the loom worked before even getting to wind a warp and thread by playing on the tail end of my warp.

Joan had come with a prepared design based on a photograph of a tiled floor. After planning her project/s, drafting her design, and winding the warp prior to learning about setting up the loom, she got to weave that design. The next challenge was to alter the set up of the pattern shafts to interpret a new design. This one was a simple modification.

This image shows both her first and second design.

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The last challenge required her to use as many pattern shafts as possible threaded individually with the exclusion of a border and design a motif across the full width. She enjoyed the freedom of dropping off all the pattern shafts, rearranging them in a different configuration to allow for total freedom of pattern design. The following images shows Joan cutting off her warp and the different patterns she had designed and woven.

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This is what I love about drawloom weaving: the freedom of developing “block” designs using the pattern shafts of a drawloom. The design potential is so much greater than what can be achieved on any multi-shaft loom (even one with the most number of shafts available on a computer assist loom). The only other loom that has greater potential is a jacquard. It however involves computers. This is the “slow food” equivalent of weaving where there is a much greater “hands on” experience.

 


October 2016

November 6, 2016

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This has been pretty much my focus for this month. Here I am throwing the shuttle to weave the next row. I have spent many hours continuing to weave black wool and silk for the High Court judge’s robes. You’ll see more later on.

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A different view: At the back of the loom, the top section shows how much warp is left to weave while underneath is the woven fabric. The actual weaving happens on the other side of the loom.

The Gold Coast weavers had another very successful 2 day workshop. This time it was held at their club rooms. This group of weavers is very active and keen to learn new techniques.

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This workshop focused on finger manipulated techniques. This topic was more inclusive for this group. Those with rigid heddles/knitter’s looms were able to participate as well as shaft loom weavers.

These techniques as the students found out can be used for an entire project or just used to add an accent to another piece of hand weaving. Here are some of their results.

 

Sally continues to weave tartan. This time she had put on a very long warp. First she wove two more twill scarves.

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Then she resleyed to achieve a sett appropriate for plain weave, dropped off some of the outside warp threads to achieve the width she wanted and then wove some kerchiefs and another scarf. These are hot off the loom today. She has managed to use the majority of the silk she had dyed. Now all she has to do is finish them all off. She’s promised to bring back her collection when they are totally finished.

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More on the High Court judges robes.

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Finally I have thrown the last row in the weaving of the black wool and silk for the sleeves. There is now enough for their immediate and short term future needs. Thank heavens the pattern was constantly changing. One pattern repeat is 150cm long. In the fullness of time there will be a Grand Cutting Off Ceremony. I am planning for all who were involved in the project to be here. Then I will need to spend time finishing the fabric ready to be handed over. So while I might have finished weaving, I can’t say I’m finished yet.

The media has picked up on the fact that Australia has new High Court judges’ robes. A number of newspapers have reported on the new robes. The Sydney Morning Herald ran an article in their paper, a longer version on line and this film on Bill Haycock as the designer. While the film doesn’t mention any of Margaret’s or my involvement, it does show detail of the new robes and what they used to weave. You will have to watch through the advertisement to get to the film. I’m unsure how long this will be available.

http://www.smh.com.au/video/video-news/video-national-news/justices-new-desi

However is a copy of the Sydney Morning Herald article: the whole page.

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And a close up of the words.

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This black fabric has been all consuming. However I do need to get busy on other fronts.

I am about to launch the next 6 months’ 5 day studio program. Here is advanced notice of the overview. Full details will be found under “My School”.

5-9th December Special/Open project

6-10 February   Linen and Lace

13-17th March   Beginning Weaving.

27-31st March    Beyond the Basics.

24-28th April       Parallels and networks.

29th May – 2nd June    Handwoven Rugs.

12-16th June.      Special/ Open Project

Classes are also available as 5 days over a 3 week period. Topics vary according to student requirements.

Studio access is also available for individuals or groups. This allows for independent or supervised projects.

Remember you do not have to bring looms or equipment.

 


July 2016

July 28, 2016

My touring exhibition is having another showing. This time it’s at Gatakers Artspace in Maryborough. It is very interesting seeing how the exhibition interacts with different spaces. Gallery 4 at Gatakers is a large open space with exposed beams. That beam provided the perfect place to hang The Hand. Here are some general views of the exhibition. The staff at Gatakers and in particular Anne Brown who helped hang it were great to work with.

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In conjunction with the exhibition was a 5 day workshop. Three students, Pat, Isobel and Karen took advantage weaving for the full time, while Ann could only come for four. It was a great place for a workshop: plenty of light and plenty of room. It was great to work with them. As well as preparing warps, they achieved a lot of weaving.

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Ann explored double weave in a sampler. Both layers were the same colour so it was challenging to keep track of what layer was where without reference to colour. Here’s her sample.

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Then Ann decided to use the rest of the warp for a scarf. But first sections of warp were removed to make a more interesting textile. There will be warp and weft floats as well as double weave layers.

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Karen explored 8 shaft twills. She’s got some interesting colour combinations and structures happening and some that she’s designed herself.

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Pat also explored 8 shaft twills. As a beginner weaver she’s having a lot of fun exploring colour and pattern.

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Isobel is also a beginner weaver. She’s working with four shaft twills.

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Pat, Isobel, a friend and Karen celebrate the week’s achievements.

In addition there was an opportunity for people who had never woven before to come and weave for a day on pre-warped looms. All three are keen to continue. Here are these new weavers with what they wove in one day.

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Gloria

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Stephanie

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Susan.

It was a wonderful week where much was achieved as well as being delightful to spend time with weavers, both beginners and the more experienced.

Queensland Spinners Weavers and Fibre Artists ran a beginner weaving workshop over a weekend. There were three participants. They learnt how to wind a warp, dress a loom and weave. Just look at how much they produced in two days. They certainly went home with beautiful scarves; all very different.

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Tegan, Sally and Leonie with their scarves.

My friend Helen came for a visit. Of course she was going to weave. There was a spare morning so she had the opportunity to try out a draw loom. She did have fun!

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Sally stated weaving last month. For her third warp she decided to weave a tartan silk scarf as a ‘proper project’. In three and a half days she completed a beautiful scarf.

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My exhibition will come down in a few days. It is quite amazing to think how quickly this month has flown.

Finally I’ll share this image. One of the bonuses of having the workshop and exhibition at Gatakers was the opportunity to stay at one of my favourite places. Here’s a sunset at Burrum Heads.

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April 2016

May 1, 2016

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This scarves came off the loom at the start of the month. It’s one of a pair.  Woven in 20/2 silk they combine some weaving structures that are used in South East Asia but with are woven on a 24 shaft loom as opposed to a back strap loom.

Contextart is an annual 6 day textile event run in the Blue Mts of NSW at Easter. Firstly however, on the drive down to Contextart, I stopped off in Tamworth and was lucky to see the retrospective of Vivian Chan Shaw’s work.

At this year’s Contextart, my class focused on Ties: Functional, Decorative and Unconventional. The students did extensive sampling exploring many design approaches. They were a very diverse group of 10 which certainly added to the experience for all. Here’s a snapshot of what they did.

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They calculated, wove and analysed.

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Here’s some of the work on the loom

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And finally, the class collection. What a lot of weaving was done in 6 days… and what a lot of theory. I am delighted at what was achieved. Well done everyone!

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For next year’s event visit http://www.contextart.com.au

Kaz Madigan joined me for a very exclusive class. She spent 5 days in the studio exploring warp faced weave structures inspired by South East Asia. As well as covering a lot of ground, it was a very enjoyable week.

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There are two other highlights this month.

Firstly, Trood Newman’s 16 shaft Noble loom is finally working. I acquired the loom while at Sturt in the expectation that my students would be able to have the experience of weaving on a computer assist loom. Till that point it had left Trood’s place in a horse float, stayed with Pat for a while and then to Sturt. It was dead and I contemplated and tried various solutions. Eventually it came home. I still hadn’t given up. 18 months later, then a visit to Ian, a wizard with a soldering iron and hey presto the electronics worked. He’d resoldered all the connections. I then came home put the loom together, connected it all up and “Trood’s Loom” is functioning beautifully.

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Who would believe a little bit of plain weave could bring such joy!

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With the plaque added. It was done 18 months ago when I started attaching plaques to all the looms in the studio. I had faith!

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Paw Nay Thah came to the studio. The visit was arranged by Meredith, the youth Settlement Co-ordinator with MDA Qld. Paw Nay and her family have been granted asylum from a refugee camp on the border of Burma and Thailand. She is from the Karen, an ethnic minority group from Burma (Myanmar). Meredith had asked “What would make you happy?” Her reply: to weave traditional fabric.  Meredith had no experience of weaving so she came here to see what was involved and if it could happen. Paw Nay arrived with the biggest grin. I got shown some traditional cloths and we discussed back strap looms and what is required to make them. It’s very fortuitous that I brought one back from Bhutan. It’s much easier to explain if there’s one to look at. The result: Meredith knows what is needed and Paw Ney will weave. It was such a fun and heart-warming experience.

Meredith and Paw Nay examine some of the textile’s in Meredith’s collection. She had been given them by some of the Karen ladies. Paw Nay can weave these.

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Here’s a close up look.

An unmarried woman’s blouse. Note the fringing and the supplementary weft and twill weave structure. The fringing may be added in. In this case it has been added above the hem.

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The reverse side. This was interesting because the yarn is carried from one motif to the next.

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More detail

Another unmarried woman’s shirt and detail.

A married woman’s shirt and detail. It is much plainer. The reverse side doesn’t show as much pattern. This had a double row of fringe: one a the end of the warp, the other a couple of cm above and inserted in the weft.

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Thank you Meredith for coming, bringing Paw Nay and a wonderful experience. Long may she weave!

 

 

 

 

 


February 2016

March 1, 2016

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I am currently working on a series of sotis inspired pieces. This is just one of the techniques that will be covered in the workshop here in the studio (East Meets West 25-29 April) and at Convergence.

At the start of the month, The Gold Coast Weavers hosted another weaving camp at Bornhoffen. It’s a great destination but this time it would have had to have been the hottest days of the entire Summer. In spite of the heat, everyone did great work.

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In the late afternoon, it was delightful to relax out on the deck and watch the sun go down.

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The workshop explored twill and the potential of the twill threading. Here’s a selection of completed work. No one wanted to cut off as they all were going to go home and finish the warps for tea towels. It is interesting to see the colour choices: from the subtle and classic though to the more contrasting. Everyone was fascinated how the different design approaches affected the treading sequences. While all did great work, I’ve limited the images to 6, purely from a colourway perspective.

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At the end of the Linen and Lace workshop from January, I was left with 2 warps to be finished. On the Huck Lace one I managed to weave a tea towel and then a length for a different project. The second was woven in plain weave to be used in conjunction with the other. The first warp came off and I washed it. The yellow ran and no matter what I tried, I have not managed to get rid of it all. The fabric length is now a very pale yellow. Here you can see, the yellow tea towel (the culprit), the dyed fabric and a natural finished item used here for comparison.

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So what about the other plain weave piece? Well, using the same source of dye ( a hank of yarn), I washed it and yes managed to get the same colour with a couple of tries. I also had to go through the same trying to remove process as the first. I wonder if they will wear out at the same rate? Eventually the project will be completed. Here are the two together (with something out of focus behind). I don’t think I could get much closer.

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I have been having an interesting read. This book was written in 1947 from a 1920’s reprint. It’s interesting from a historical perspective. Here’s a couple of quotes:

From the Editors Preface (W. R. Lethaby)

It is desirable in every way that men of good education should be brought back into the productive crafts: there are more than enough of us “in the City,” and it is probable that more consideration will be given in this century than in the last to Design and Workmanship. 

From Author’s preface. This will give you a guide of what is in the book.

The object of the present volume is to inform the student of hand loom weaving of the best methods of preparing warps, fitting up looms and making or acquiring the various appliances necessary for the work, as well as inventing, planning and weaving plain and ornamental webs.

 And from the concluding note by Luther Hooper

This ending, although somewhat abrupt is not unintentional, for it was just at that time that weaving, to a great extent, ceased to be an artistic craft. It was then that the loom ceased to be a tool, more or less complicated, which the weaver himself could keep in order and cunningly adjust, alter, and adapt to any particular work he might have in hand.

On the jacquard loom:… resulted in the multiplication of patterns; patterns for the most part inferior to the traditional ones already in use. The Jacquard machine is also responsible, to a great extent, for the separation of the art of designing from the craft of weaving.

Referring to power looms and the Jacquard. There can be no question that the best weaving was done before these innovations…. It would therefore seem, that the right road to improvement in weaving, as in all crafts, can only be found by those who are willing to return to the traditional methods and simpler ideals of the earlier masters of craftsmanship.

From here in 2016, I wonder what they would make of the direction of weaving now and of their comments in retrospect. This certainly gives a bit of food for thought and even a touch of wry amusement. To finish though these images were real gems. I have woven velvet in the past so this image of the velvet loom and cloth storage is a real find.

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November 2015

December 12, 2015

 

I know that it is now well into December but the fates have conspired against my posting a blog at the normal time. Well a thunderstorm resulted in a power surge which resulted in a blown modem + Optus…. and 3 weeks later I’m back on line.

It’s actually interesting now going back to the start of November and seeing what happened then. It was a very exciting month with the start of the conversion of what was my exposed patio into this great new space that I now have. Here’s some images of the conversion.

Looms covered and the boxing starts.

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All the windows and insect screens have arrived. The old gate is off.

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The frame for the big sliding doors. It nearly looks bigger than the space it’s going to fill.

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Windows and doors are in. The walls are finished. Only the insect screens left to do.

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The first celebration of this new space with Helen, Trood and Sheila. Look… no mosquitoes! Now all that has to happen is for it to be painted and tiled but that has to wait just a little longer.

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In amongst the building I had Sharon and Vilasa come and weave rugs. In 5 days they both designed and wove a beautiful floor rug each. It was great having them back in the studio.

Sharon chose to weave a very bold design.

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Vilasa uses predominantly hand spun yarn with frequent colour change and a great use of colour blending.

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The finished rugs. I even got to weave another loom bench rug.

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My weekly students finished off their projects.

Fleur has finished her beautiful warp dyed silk scarf.

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Paula finishes firstly a series of hand towels. This is her first time on a floor loom.

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And then a small hand spun wrap for her daughter.

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Karen, a new weaver, finishes her series of tea towels.

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I also acquired another loom. Ngarita and Mike West help me dismantle it.

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It was assembled very quickly in the studio. This is the loom that Sharon used.

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Finally, I managed to finish off the warp on the draw loom. This small hanging is another Laos inspired piece. It combines the Laos pattern I used last month with some 4 shaft supplementary weft pattern.

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It is now into December. I will not share what has happened so far this month. It can wait. I am very much aware that coming at a rush is the Festive Season. Enjoy!

 

 

 


October 2015

November 4, 2015

Firstly as usual, student work and then there’s more on the Laos project.

This month I travelled to Go Create, halfway between Walcha and Uralla in the New England region of NSW. It is a stunning destination. They are offering a wide range of predominantly textile related classes. www.gocreatenewengland.com

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The six students explored weaving with recycled materials. Two were absolute new weavers, two had limited experience and two were more experienced. By the end of the first day, you couldn’t tell the difference in technique between the beginners and more experienced. I was delighted! I was also delighted by how enthusiastically they embraced using a wide range of materials, exploring methods of incorporating them into the woven structure. Three sessions explored specific techniques with the last allowing for individual exploration. The following shows the group and what was accomplished. This is followed by an image of individual students’ work. It was a great weekend.

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In the studio: Fleur finishes her scarf. This project was of her own design, using an aspect of the sampling from her first project.

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And she begins her third project. Fleur has acquired some silk to weave a scarf and wanted to do some warp painting. It’s also her first attempt at dyeing. She’s on an exciting journey.

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Now for the continuing Laos loom experiment.

Last month I got to the point of having the pattern stored. It is a relatively simple matter to transfer the stored design to weave the supplementary weft pattern.

Here’s a brief movie of a traditional weaver (Laos and Thailand) How to use a vertical storage system using bamboo memory rods. www.youtube.com/vNxPTl0sWVM

The process that I used: Remove the pattern stick from its support.

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Lower it closer to the warp. Swish it front to back till there’s a cleared gap.

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I put an extra stick in which is not as flexible to move the heddles at the front well forward, though traditionally this isn’t done. That extra stick is also insurance so that I can move the pattern stick to its next position: either above or below the warp and know that I’ll not have picked up or lost any of the stored design: in this case it is moved to below the warp line.

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With the pattern heddles moved well towards the front, it is a simple process to raise the selected heddles by pulling on them so that the sword can be inserted.

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When turned on its side the pattern row is ready to weave. This image shows the sword turned on its side behind the plain weave shafts and beater with the pattern shuttle in the shed.

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There are two pattern rows woven for each lift with plain weave between. You do not need to take the sword out. If it is pushed back, having the sword in has no effect on compromising the shed for the plain weave.

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I have used this basic process to also weave the brocade or discontinuous weft pattern. A pattern weft is required for each motif.

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When I saw the ladies in Laos weaving I enquired if they only used one foot. No one used two. Now I know why. It is much easier to control these free hanging treadles if a heel and toe action is used. The one foot controls the position of the treadles. They don’t move as much as the foot is always connected to both, all be it in a very minor way when not using one of them. It is all very motion efficient.

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As each pattern area is woven, the pattern sticks are moved above and below the warp line. When they are below, there’s no need for any support.

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Another pattern area is woven.

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The weaving is completed.

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Now to separate the scarf while making sure I retain the stored pattern. I may want to reuse this at a later date and with the Laos system, this is possible. I want to keep the vertical storage system threaded and able to be reused but without the stored pattern. Firstly, I reinsert the lease sticks as I want to be able to rethread this warp later for plain weave and using a more western set of shafts and further experimentation. These are moved to behind the vertical storage system and can be moved to the front when I’m ready.

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Then, I transfer the vertically stored pattern to the horizontal. In essence I use a similar method to when I was weaving, however keeping in the sticks in the warp. They are positioned as close to the plain weave shafts as possible.

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Once all the pattern sticks have been transferred, I carefully cut the warp between the storage system and the series of sticks, knotting on both sides.

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Once the knots have been undone, the entire collection of stored pattern, shafts, reed and woven scarf can be removed from the loom.

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Now to separate the stored pattern and scarf. Once the scarf is cut off, the warp in front of the reed is secured. I can now put the stored pattern to one side to be used at a later date if required.

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Finally I have completed the project. Some detail:

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This image shows my scarf with the original source of inspiration.

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Now that I have completed the project there are some points I want to explore. This loom has many similarities to a western drawloom in that both have two sets of heddles. One is to weave the plain weave base fabric, the other to select the supplementary pattern. One of the questions I have is: How do they compare and is there any difference in efficiency? This image shows the two sets of heddles on a drawloom. On the left are the shafts which will be used for plain weave. On the left are those for the supplementary weft pattern.

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For this project I have used the same warp though it has been threaded at a more open sett (density of the warp threads) to allow for the same warp and weft yarn to be used this time. I have also decided to keep to the original basic design although on a narrower width. The design for the pattern stripes is based on this scarf that uses the basic motif in an all over design and with some different stripe patterns.

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I have also decided to simplify the border and transition. The original requires about 40 pattern shafts. This simplified version, just 14 . Here’s the draft. For optimal weaving to provide distance between the plain weave and pattern shafts, I have chosen to start threading the pattern shafts on shaft 3.

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This is the process that I used to weave the pattern: The loom is threaded so that each thread that works in the same way will be on the same shaft. To weave a pattern row the warp threads on each shaft that makes up the pattern are selected. So for the first pattern row (the one at the top), I need to pull shafts 4, 5, 8, 11 and 13. This process needs to be done after every plain weave row. It is very labour intensive with multiple shafts being pulled for each pattern row every time one is required. There’s no stored design option here.

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The scarf nearly finished. All I have to do is weave 12 cm of plain weave.

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How did they compare?

Setting up to weave: On the drawloom, the warp was beamed and then threaded through firstly the pattern shafts and then the front plain weave shafts. I much preferred the other loom where I just knotted and tied on and then beamed the warp (after of course experimenting with the traditional method of handling a warp).

Using the pattern shafts to store the pattern: On the Laos loom, it was extremely slow to pick up and store the pattern on the sticks. Initially I did wonder about have the equivalent of these sticks on each pattern shaft on the drawloom. That would have meant that I could just pull one cord and the appropriate row be selected. However, the number of long eyed heddles would have been huge as each pattern repeat would have required 105 long short eyed heddles. There are 7 repeats. I just didn’t have them. So instead, I threaded it in a point threading on 12 shafts.

Using the pattern shafts to weave the pattern: See the descriptions above. On the drawloom, I had to select several pull cords to achieve the right combination for the pattern whereas there was just one bamboo stick for the Laos pattern row. Where the pattern was repeated a number of times, the Laos loom was the most efficient; it just needed the sword to be turned on its side after each plain weave row. The pattern sword stayed in place. The drawloom required a number of cords to be pulled each time. Because the Laos system was new, I got up for each pattern change. The ladies who do this normally just change from the seated position. If I didn’t do this, they would probably take about the same length of time. The pulling of the cords probably allows for a greater incidence of mistake as the Laos pattern is preselected.

Storing the pattern for another time: On the Laos loom, the pattern, plain weave and reed has been stored and can be reused to duplicate the next project. It would be possible to change the sett by rethreading. I’ll have to set up the drawloom from the beginning for another project.

As the drawloom has a number of pattern shafts there is more loom waste than on the Laos loom in its current format with all the pattern ‘shafts’ stored vertically.

By the way, I’m finding the Laos loom much lighter to weave plain weave than the countermarched action of the drawloom in spite of treadles that are not fixed.

Here’s a look at what I have just completed. The woven scarf with the original.

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My working collection: two original scarves with two that I’ve woven.

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There’s an exciting development in the studio. I have decided that I’m enjoying weaving “in the garden” very much but I do not enjoy being exposed to the wind and rain. I am now in the process of achieving the best of both worlds with the patio being weatherproofed.

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