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Weaving Sampler

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To begin with, I'd like to say thank you to everyone who left such kind comments about Ms. Z.  Just like her blue eyes, those sweet sentiments were very heart melting, and are warmly appreciated.

I also appreciated the thoughts and comments on the most recent issue of IK.  Here's hoping the fall is better for that magazine.  It's always been one of my favorite knitting mags, and it's a little sad for me to have been uninspired by it several issues running.

Today I wrapped up the last session in my first weaving class.  The general idea of the class was just not to think too hard and to play with color and simple weave structures using a plain twill threading on a 4 harness table loom.  Since it was just a sampler and not meant for display, I put together a brightly colored warp and just went wherever I felt like as far as color was concerned.

20080430_WeavingSampler.jpgMy warp was three yards long, but in the end, I stopped a little early, because, as it turns out, I am apparently as much of a product weaver as I am a product knitter and spinner.  After sampling a variety of weave structures and techniques, I was ready to get on to "a real project".  I played with a number of things in this project, but here are a few of the highlights.

20080430_WeavingBrokenTwill.jpgThis close up features rib weave on the bottom half (for those that are interested, it's a 1-3 sort of structure where either 1 harness or three harnesses are "up") and a broken twill pattern on the top half.  Rib weaves and their final look are very dependent on how hard you beat the fabric.  The harder you beat, the more prominent that vertical line becomes.    I really liked the twill structures and how they seem to almost float above the warp.  Twills were fun to see because they aren't something I know how to do yet on a rigid heddle loom (I believe they are possible on a rigid heddle with a properly applied pattern stick -- but given what I've tried already, it's a lot easier done on a multi-shaft loom).

20080430_WeavingInlay.jpgThis is inlay work.  The background weaving is just plain weave (i.e. what you think of as the standard "over under" every other thread pattern of weaving) with another thread laid in the shed when you put in your plain weave weft picks.  You could take out the inlaid yarn without any impact on the plain weave fabric as it isn't an essential part of the actual cloth.  It was fun to do with the big slubby yarn that I used.  Kind if a neat way to work patterns into a fabric without actually having to do tapestry weaving. 

20080430_WeavingLeno.jpgThis last image is "leno" -- you use a pick up stick to twist the warp threads so that you can run a weft shot through and use it to maintain the structure of the open work.  It's one of a series of ways that you can create "lace" in a woven fabric.  I found it a little fussy, but it could clearly be a nice detail in a table runner, curtains or the border for a garment.

While I liked trying all these textures and techniques, what really captured my attention was something that I tried on my sampler, but is really hard to make look interesting unless you have the fabric in your hands: double weave.  Double weave is a technique used to make two pieces of cloth on one warp.  The two cloths can be completely separate, joined at one side or joined on both sides to form a tube.  The whole woven tube thing got me thinking about how I'd always wanted to have a nice bolster pillow on my bed and that lead me to think about weaving a bolster pillow cover.  This would give me a chance to try out double weave for a larger project, as well as combine it with working in finer threads (10/2 cotton) and with a weave structure that fascinates me: waffle weave (which has a point twill threading, so I'll be able to play with some point twill structures on whatever warp I have left after I weave my bolster cover).  I'm also psyched that I'll get to play around with an 8 harness loom. 

I spent my last class planning for my next project and getting a sample warp ready so that I could determine whether what I was planning would actually fit around my bolster after washing (cotton shrinks, waffle weave condenses a bit, too, after washing).  I'm in the process of warping 480 tiny cotton warp threads onto my loom.  I've got about 1/4 of the reed sleyed.   I'm hoping that by the end of my next class, I'll finish that up and get my heddles threaded.  Careful warping is definitely a time consuming process!

But the bottom line is that I'm definitely enjoying weaving and I'm glad I took a chance and tried it out.  I can't wait to get started on my first "real" multi-shaft fabric project.

Weaving Class

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As I mentioned a little while ago, I recently started taking a weaving class at the Chicago Weaving School.  The class I am taking is the complete beginner course and the general idea is to start on a 4 harness loom and weave a sampler to introduce the basic concepts in weaving.

20090322_4HarnessLoomSample.jpgIn my first class, Natalie got me started by sitting me down with a table full of colored wool on cones.  She explained some of the basics about weaving and warping and the loom I was going to use, and then let me decide what I wanted to warp my loom with.  It probably comes as no surprise to anyone that I focused on blue and purple hues, and incorporated a lot of bright color.  My final warp included a 3" section of blue a 3" section that alternated magenta, purple and magenta in one inch segments, a 2" segment with alternating rose and yellow warp threads, a 2" segment with blue and red alternating every 2 warp threads and, finally, a 2" section alternating green and orange every 4 warp threads.  If this had been a project with a distinct purpose I might have been more purposeful with my color selection, but because this was meant to be a sampler, I was more interested in seeing the interplay of different colors.

Preparing my warp threads, sleying the reed and threading the heddles took all of my first class.  On my second class, I tied the warp threads to the back of the loom and then wound the warp onto the back beam and tied the threads to the front beam.  And after that, I was pretty much off and weaving.

20090322_4HarnessClothBeam.jpgMy heddles were threaded in a "straight twill" (meaning that the first thread is controlled by the first harness, the second thread controlled by the second harness, the third thread is controlled by the 3rd harness and the 4th thread is controlled by the 4th harness and this threading is repeated for the entire width of the warp).  I've practiced plain weave, basket weave, basic twills, and weaving on opposites.  I've learned how to set up a floating selvedge -- which I now think is likely to be manadatory on almost any project I work on.  I'm not changing color with too much intention, except to see what happens with high contrast and low contrast yarns in the context of my warp and weft.  I'm not all that excited about the bright yellow, but it did help me see something, so it ended up working the way I needed it to.

Last Thursday was my 4th class and I finished up one of my last "basic" structures: rib weave.

20090322_4HarnessRibWeave.jpgOn a 4 harness loom, this is accomplished by raising either 1 or three warp threads at one time and alternating colors in the weft.    You'll notice that where I was working on rib weave, the warp contributes little to the color perception, that's because rib weave is very "weft faced" and it's very easy to pack the weft threads tightly sot hat the warp threads are mostly hidden.

This class has really got my creative juices flowing again.  I find weaving very engaging in a visceral sort of way.  So much color, so much texture, so many fibers so many possibilites for household textiles.  I already have half a dozen potential projects running around in my head and different looms and techniques that I want to try.    I've decided that it's likely that  floor loom will be in my future, but not any time soon.  I want to test out a lot of options to figure out what the best options are for me.  And really, the more I play with the 4 harness loom,the more impressed I am with what can be done with my rigid heddle with the help of a pickup stick.  But more on that, later.

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