Weaver’s Block? Try a color blanket

Introduction:
While I was taking my first classes at Pacific Basin School of Textiles in Berkeley, I took a class at the College of Marin. I wanted to make a color blanket which I thought would be a nice shawl. My teacher, Nancy Soper, picked out the yarns for me. I didn’t appreciate her wisdom at the time but liked what she chose. Instead of taking each color from the Color Wheel like the samplers we usually see, she chose colors that were related. And they ranged in steps from yellow to purple using colors in ½ of the color wheel. She used an interesting array of yarn types to get the right color shades in the warp. The edges were quite uneven given fat and thinner yarns but for a shawl that wasn’t a problem then. Usually all of the colors in the warp are then used as wefts to see how they act when crossed with one another.

Choose colors you like or are likely to use. For example, you might like olive green and use that instead of a harsh pure green or yellow-green. Most color blankets I’ve seen are made with pure colors from the color wheel. Colors that I will never use in real life. A color blanket can be for reference or for a project, such as a scarf, table runner, or actual blanket. Watch out for yellow if you want to make something for its looks. Yellow is so light and that makes it show up much more than other colors. Use less of it than the others and you will be happier with the overall look of the finished project.
Here is a color blanket made for reference. A business in India needed to know how the threads they were going to use blended or not. It was made primarily for reference only. However, some thought went into the organization where the warm and cool colors showed up. Thus, a scarf was made as well. I suggest using colors in your stash that you are likely to use—NOT every color there is, but ones you relate to and like.

In my case, this color blanket was basically made for reference it turns out. Because of this, the color chosen was more important than the type of yarn. Woolen, chenille, worsted, mohair, and novelty yarns were used. These differences resulted in the edges bowing in and out and the cloth being somewhat puckered.

I wove half the blanket/shawl in plain weave. I discovered the colors blended quite well with this structure. The closer the colors are on the color wheel, the more they blend. The edge colors (yellow and purple) are farther apart on the color wheel and don’t blend as well. That’s why I made those warp stripes narrower, especially I used less yellow than the other colors both in the warp and weft.

The twill half was a disaster in my opinion, especially where the light yarns crossed contrasting dark yarns. (I had just learned to draft some twills as you can see.) Compare this with the same yarns crossing in plain weave above. This was an important lesson I learned. Structures with floats don’t blend as well as plain weave where every other thread is woven in.

The shawl was a disappointment as a shawl, but I hated to just throw it out or bury it in a drawer. A good friend suggested I use it on my bed. I look at different sections and don’t worry about the uneven edges or chenille yarns that are worming.

A Little Slide Show of My Samples

Introduction:
I spent the day processing photos of the samples one more time. While being confined, I find it nice to do things I could never find time for, none the less almost repeating something I’d already done in another way. I want to keep practicing my photography skills I learned for the India trip, mainly working more with the program, LightRoom. It’s like Photo Shop. Years ago, my tech guy said I should learn to use it. I retorted, “Do you want to learn to weave?” I’m eating my words and he’s still helping with the posts and everything technical and otherwise. He can use ‘warp’ in a sentence and knows quite a lot just from osmosis. That’s enough for me.


To view slideshow click the first image below then use the right arrow key on your keyboard to advance to the next photo (or swipe on phone or tablet).

When a Tube is not a Double Weave Tube: a Confession, a Correction, and a Mystery Unsolved

Introduction:
I almost always look at any textile with the warp going vertically—it’s just natural. So when I saw the sample in the previous post I did the same. I saw it had two layers; it looked like it had a join in the middle of one of the layers. So I thought it must be double weave and some clever way of joining where the slit would naturally be for a “Kleenex-box-type” tube. When I was questioned about it by an expert weaver, I guessed I’d better look at it again so I could explain it to her. Well, I was very wrong.

I discovered the cloth should be looked at the other with the warps going sideways—horizontally– because there was a selvedge at one end. And this was made from a single layer of a wide piece of silk!

This is what the other side looked like. Remember it from the previous post? I thought it was woven as  a double weave cloth.

A length of fabric about 25” long was folded in half, horizontally. That means the selvedges were on each end resulting in a short, wide piece with the raw edges together to make a seam. This was done first, before any folding and stitching for the resist. This is how the tube was formed. It was NOT a slit cleverly disguised. It was a seam cleverly disguised.

I discovered a lot when I looked at the seam itself. There were about 8 rows of stitching that had been made before the seam was sewn. 4 of the rows would be in the seam allowance to prevent unravelling. The other 4 rows would provide stability on the other side of the seam I suspected. Also, probably some of the wefts were pulled out to make the short fringe at that time. Then the raw edges were put together and the seam sewn. You can see the rows of stitching and the one row of stitching that was actually to join the pieces.

After the seam made and pressed open, the resulting tube was flattened and ironed with 2 hard creases. And you can see the rows of stitching disguising the seam.

A row of stitching through both layers at one point kept the tube together. That stitching I had seen before as a double-weave-stitcher row but indeed it was just 2 rows of regular machine stitching close to one another.

Then, finally the tube was ready for the stitch resist. The mystery remains how the stitching for the resist was done so that on one side the stitches resisted the black dye making light dots but on the light side the stitch marks are black.

A Beautiful, Unusual Silk: Gazar

Introduction:
I’ve been gathering interesting fabrics for a few years when I’m traveling and at home in San Francisco at Britex Fabrics—a fantastic place. I’ve had the idea of dyeing them with easy-to-use natural dyes. Even though my stash was pretty big, I bought quite a lot on my last trip to India. My tech guy had an eye opener when he saw how I shopped: “a meter of this, ½ meter of that, do you have anything really special, etc. etc.” We went to a shop that only had linen that I’d heard had fantastic prices and then to another large shop that had everything including ribbon and trim. By that time, I was thinking of making my scrolls as well as dyeing. (All those fabrics are still in the bag I brought them home in.) This fabric I discovered at a huge fabric store in New York where designers go. I was nosing around the silk area and someone pointed out that this particular silk once creased could never be ironed out. It is quite stiff and has a lovely sheen and complicated twill lines in the structure.

Today was my third attempt at ironing out the creases and gentle folds of my Gazar silk. Even though I asked the clerk not to fold it and put it in its own shopping bag, there were lines that had to be removed. While ironing today I saw how beautiful it was in the light as it draped off the ironing board.

Another look at it falling off the ironing board made me think of gorgeous wedding gown silk.

Here was my view while ironing. I often take the communal ironing board to the window in our 8th floor lounge. Today it was not only for the view, but for the morning light.

Here’s an example of tiny creases I was ironing out. The photo also gives a glimpse of the weave structure. I didn’t think of photographing the more obvious creases and gentle fold lines, but this is an example when I was almost finished.

This was the equipment I used. On my first attempt I only used a dry iron, with low, med and high heat which didn’t do the job. A neighbor down my hall suggested the technique I used last night and again today. Medium heat and a thin press cloth that I spritzed then tapped the iron on the cloth gently—tap, tap, tap over the spots that needed work. Then I ironed the little area I was working on without the cloth. I love my cordless iron. I think a regular cord would just muss up the cloth as I worked along. I kept spritzing, tapping, and ironing all over the “bad” places I’d marked with safety pins.

Now it’s hanging in my hallway with clothes pins on hangers. In the morning I’ll check if there are any more spots to work on.

For fun I’m showing you more of my hall outside my apartment door.

A Weave That Was a Surprise! (Mistake?) (Using a treadling draft for a completely different threading draft.)

Introduction:
I made this post just after we were told to stay at home—over a month ago. I can hardly believe that much time has passed. Actually I have treasured the time locked in at home. I live in a life care place and feel very safe and protected. Meals and mail are delivered to our doors. I go out of my apartment to do my laundry down the hall, mail out books, exercise while reading and walking in my hall, and going for daily walks with my camera outside around our building in our gardens. Inside my apartment, I have been working creatively putting together fabrics to make my scrolls and processing the photographs from my garden strolls. My teaching brain has been activated so I make posts on my blog almost every other night. Culturally, I have been playing many operas streamed daily by the Metropolitan Opera on my laptop. Socially, besides keeping in touch with other residents, Zoom has kept me in good contact with friends outside and with my tech guy.

I love this 8-shaft braided twill (or plaited twill) pattern. I’m embarrassed to admit that I wove a treadling from a pattern when I didn’t realize that I hadn’t threaded the loom for that treadling! I was mystified why my cloth had an obscure texture on the back and not the definite braided twill I thought I was weaving on top.

The pattern for the braided twill I love is #380 in Carol Strickler’s book. I have woven it several times but completely forgot it needed a very special threading. As well as treadling.

Here is the 24-pick treadling draft. Using my dobby loom is a life saver for such a complicated treadling.

Here’s what I got when weaving this 24-shed pattern on an 8-shaft straight threading.
I like the white textured side a lot and am thinking strongly of weaving more of it. I especially like how it takes advantage of the shiny plied silk warp threads—especially after wet finishing with hard pressing (ironing).

DO NOT TRY THIS! Besides the above huge mistake, I pegged the draft wrong as well! I’m glad I made only a sample and looked at it carefully. And finally realized both of my great big mistakes. (And glad I like the result enough to weave more.)

Making Art Out of a Beautiful Silk Taffeta Shawl – That was Much Too Big and Slippery to Wear

Introduction:
I’ve been wildly putting together fabrics the last few days. Seems every time I turn around I get out more fragments and not-so-fragments that I’ve stored away. I find them exciting and then excitedly look around for background fabrics for them. Last night I was getting ready for bed at midnight and I kept getting more and more ideas that it was 1:00 before I turned out the light. For example, I found places on a table mat from Japan for the tiny velvet pieces that I had left. The most exciting idea was to put together a white wool felt pleated cape from China and a handwoven skirt also from China that had woven strips for fringe. I thought to put the fringe at the top of the cape instead of at the bottom where fringe normally is! It will take a good while to get all the pieces made up. I’m also in the throes of writing another Kindle book. The days are not long enough!!

A closeup look at the gorgeous silk taffeta shows fine ikat detail where the borders begin. I bought this “dupatta”in a shop in India years ago. I loved the fabric because of the edges of the borders. I thought it was to be worn over the chest for modesty sake. The internet says they are 2 meters long and can be worn over one shoulder. For years I’ve tried wearing it in a variety of ways. Finally I asked a well-dressed Indian woman what to do and she said, “That isn’t for the body.” What a relief, but a disappointment that I couldn’t have it to feel and look at. I got the inspiration to make it smaller but save the borders for a wall hanging (scroll). I pleated it vertically then horizontally and made small tailor tacks to hold the folds in place. It took a few more iterations to come to what it is now—an official scroll.

Here is a view of the middle section of the wall hanging/scroll. When friends saw me working on it (took a good while over the past week) they thought it was 2 pieces of cloth—not one single fabric.

The bottom. More border. The whole fabric is ikat—warp and weft wise. Looking at the tiny red dashes, I can’t imagine doing the tying for the ikat. Ikat means that the THREADS were tie dyed BEFORE the cloth was woven! Such precision and the care in making the tiny blurry edges of the borders!

Here is the top again and I hope you can see the ruffles that happened when I pleated up the middle section. One neighbor thought the ruffles very elegant and feminine. I think I love the black ruffles as much as the ikat blurry edges. And the center part seems to really set off the very black borders. It is very white with the red dashes.

Here is the result. It started out 98” long plus fringe and 24” wide. Now it is 50” long and 13” wide plus fringe.

Velvet Revisited

Introduction:
I have been looking at fabrics lying on my table and around that I’ve pulled out for possible scrolls. A few are coming together now after “marinating” awhile. Here are the results from my velvet pieces.

The previous version using this lovely little piece of velvet just never looked right. Now, the background is a piece of cotton I dyed with indigo. (I work at it to make my dyed things mottled.) Then, I pulled out the silk also dyed with indigo to check the color. (I often like to leave the wrinkles in just like I like the colors to be mottled.) When I threw it across the piece I knew that was it!

I adored this white velvet I brought back from Italy. It was exceptionally soft. What to do with a piece about 4” x 6”?? I decided to cut it into squares and mount them like a mosaic. I spent a lot of time working with the nap so the border would stand out from the center. Since the nap was so short, the pieces all look pretty much alike. The blue velvet that I cut up for the borders was about 6” x 3”. The nap is different on the top and bottom but doesn’t show up.

While fiddling with this piece, I noticed that the velvet was much lighter in a certain light.

Looking at it from another angle, the velvet turned dark. That’s what I had been working toward in the white and blue piece!

Comments and Connections: Beyond the Two-Stick Heading Post

Introduction: I have been enjoying immensely preparing and sending out the frequent posts during the COVID 19 times. But I enjoy even more the comments and being connected to weavers who have responded.  The pandemic has connected us all—not only in the US but all over the world. That’s a lovely thing. The two comments below followed my previous post “Cutting off Some of the Cloth Before the Warp is Finished (the Two-Stick Heading)”.

“Dear Peggy,
The timing of this post is perfect! I’m a fairly new weaver and just finishing the first of a pair of bedside rugs. I so wanted to take it off the loom but wary of wasting the linen warp. I now have a solution. Many thanks and Happy Easter from isolation on the other side of the pond.”Ruth Morrell, South Devon, England

This comment from Linda Doggett from Dayton, Ohio, caught my attention. I know her name from her frequent posts on Facebook in the Four Shaft Weaving group:
“This wonderful tip has been printed and kept near my loom because I use it so often! I also have a printout of one of the knots from your book taped to the table next to the loom. You are pretty much indispensable, Peggy. 🙂”

Cutting off Some of the Cloth Before the Warp is Finished:  The Two-Stick Heading

Introduction:
While I still could be at my studio, I wove as much as I could so I could dye it while sequestered  at home.   Since I wasn’t able to finish weaving the entire warp and I wanted to cut off what was woven, I used the technique in this post. I’ve written about this “2-stick heading” so much that I wonder if people are getting tired of seeing it. It is such a useful technique I want everyone who weaves to know about it. I learned it from my mentor, Jim Ahrens, who used industry techniques for his production weaving business. What I learned from him is the basis of all my books and the reason I wrote them. His techniques from industry needed to be passed on to future generations of  handweavers.

I almost always use this because I often want to cut off samples before weaving my “projects”. With this method you don’t lose as much of the warp as when you make knots to tie on again to the apron rod. And you retain perfect tension when you start weaving again. Before cutting off some cloth, weave this heading first.
1. What you do is first weave an inch or so of plain weave (or close to plain weave as possible).
2. Weave in two sticks (thinner the better or use rods or dowels).
3. Weave another inch. In the photo I wove a little more than one inch because plain weave wasn’t possible with this weave structure and my warp was slippery.

This close-up shows clearly how the two sticks are woven in.

This shows where you cut off your cloth, LEAVING THE HEADING ON THE LOOM.

The complete heading remains on the loom. Your cloth has been cut off.

Fold the sticks together and tie them to the apron rod. Now you can start weaving again with the perfect tension you had all along!

Here is a close-up of the knots tying the apron rod to the two sticks which have been folded together.

Keeping Track of What is Left of a Warp

Introduction:
The record sheet for this post looks homemade, and it is. And since I can’t get out to my studio these days, I have only my working one to show which is rather messy. (as they usually get). I wish now I’d had a professional one made to go with the many work sheets my book designer made for my beginning weaving book.

I know how much warp is left because I keep track of what I’ve woven as I go along. I use a record sheet I made long ago. I use it for every single warp I make. It works like an old-fashioned check book register in that the last column shows the “balance” of what is left.
As soon as I’ve entered the length of the section I’ve measured on the record sheet, I put a marker thread at one selvedge to show where the measurement ended.  Then later if I need to check for sure, I have all the markers on the selvedge as well as all the entries on the record sheet. I make sure that I ender all headings, or separators and the back loom waste. Also, I usually enter what I have allowed for “take-up”. Usually I use 10% for ordinary cloth weaving, just to be sure.

Record Sheet “Warp Use Record Sheet”.

Make a Hem That’s Invisible on the Right Side

Introduction:
RE: Filters for masks
3M 2200 best for virus protection


I’d been wondering about the so-called filters that were to go into the masks and finally Bob, my tech guy, did some research and found out that furnace and air conditioner filters could be cut up for inserting in the masks. I couldn’t imagine how that would be, especially when he bought one at the hardware store and brought it to me. So, I checked the web and found just what I needed: the package, how to open it, what to use and what to throw away. Then it showed how to cut out the pieces for the filters to insert. Here is the LINK to that YouTube video.



For the top of this white cotton piece I wanted a finished edge but I wanted the cloth to just stop or end without any sign of how.

In preparation for making the hem, I protected the last weft by pulling warps periodically back into the cloth just like in a previous post. (This prevents the raw edge from unravelling.)

I turned the hem to the wrong side and ironed only on the fold to make a crease there. Note that I didn’t iron the cut edge so as not to make an impression on the right side.

I used this iron-on adhesive rather than sewing the hem down. This type in the red package is meant to iron in place and make a permanent bond. It used to come by the yard but I’ve only seen it in these smaller packages lately. It is available from fabric stores and Amazon. Be sure the package says  Ultrahold” and not “Lite”. It was not in the interfacing area of the fabric store, but in an aisle where applique supplies were located.

This shows the adhesive ironed paper-side up in place inside where the hem is to be. Since you won’t be ironing on the raw edge, place the adhesive near the crease where the hem will be turned to the wrong side.

Peel off the paper in preparation for the final ironing.

Turn the hem under, enclosing the adhesive and iron. Remember to only iron on the fold –not on the edge of the hem to prevent an impression that would show on the right side.

Note that there is a purple package (Lite) that isn’t meant for ironing permanently but requires stitching down. The adhesive just holds a piece in place in preparation for stitching to hold it permanently in place. It comes by the yard or in packages with larger amount than the Ultrahold in the red package.

Look What I Found Waiting for Attention!

I am working on unfinished projects while staying home. I have a lot of work ahead to “mine”. So far, I’m happily keeping busy and staying well. I get to see people on my hall and on walks in our gardens outside the building so am not lonesome. I sure hope our isolation is effective.

Years ago I went on a trip to Italy to visit velvet weavers. It was a wonderful experience visiting so many wonderful places in Italy as well. Velvets are very expensive so it wasn’t easy to bring home pieces. Occasionally we had an opportunity to purchase some scraps. This little piece is 7 ½” x 4” but I love it and am thinking of mounting it so I can have it out to enjoy. The velvets were costly because of all the silk pile threads in the warps. They always were woven on jacquard looms.

Look closely and you can see the tiny cut velvet threads.

This tiny sample is 1” x 1” and has a lot to see. Some areas are “regular velvet” meaning the woven loops are cut. Other areas you can see where the loops were uncut. In the areas where there is no velvet showing on the right side, all the velvet warps are woven into the ground weave. These areas are called voided velvet. So, in this piece we have cut, uncut, and voided velvet.

A few of us were given a chance to weave on a jacquard velvet loom and this is my part of the piece we wove. There wasn’t enough time to even think about cutting the loops. This piece measures 3” x 3 ¼” and I treasure it. How nice to find it again.

Here is the place where we were able to learn how the jacquard loom works and to punch our cards for the pattern above that we wove. We lived on the little campus during the 2 or 3-day workshop.

I brought home this big piece because there is an error in the weaving and couldn’t be sold at full price. I chose it because there was so much voided area which meant that the dark magenta velvet threads were carried along in the foundation invisibly. It is 20” long and 25” high. Can you see the error very close to the bottom?

Here is the error. I love it. It shows the evidence of the weaver (or a glitch in the jacquard mechanism).

Here is the wrong side. I had it framed with plexi on the front and back to remind me that all those dark threads were carried on the back and invisible on the front.

Marking Where to Cut So You Can Change Your Mind Later

I made this post while I was at my loom last week. I was weaving as much as I could in case I got locked up in my retirement place. Since that has happened I’ve been working on other unfinished weavings. And getting ideas for more posts. More on that progress to come. In the meantime I hope this tip is helpful. I love sending out these posts–it makes me feel connected to the outside world. [click photos to enlarge]
PUT THE MARKER THREAD IN THE SAME SHED AS YOU WEAVE ALONG. This allows you to pull out the thread without destroying the weft sequence if you change your mind about cutting your cloth later. DO NOT USE RED, BLACK, NAVY if you think the color might run.

See that the marker thread is in the same shed as the regular weft. Then you can pull it out later if you change your mind.

A contrasting marker thread is very helpful especially if the pattern isn’t easy to follow a weft for cutting. With some textures, even the change of color of the weft isn’t enough for an accurate cutting line. Remember not to use a color thread that might run if it gets wet in the finishing process.

Measuring Your Progress

Before I give you my “Measuring Your Progress” tips I’d like to follow up on my last post about the Warping Trapeze:
I recommend the wood be 2″ x 2″ rather than 2″ x 4″ as seen in this YouTube video. And I didn’t cut the ends of the boards as seen in the video.  However it shows how it works.

Also I didn’t drill holes but used brackets from the plumbing department at my hardware store and my rod is smaller at 1/2″ diameter. And I used ½” brackets like in the photo below. That way I can easily take the trapeze apart for storage.

Be sure to measure the width of you loom before you buy your rod. A curtain rod might work if the length is okay.



I like to use adding machine tape to measure my progress. Using 3 pins keeps the tape from slipping and sliding so you can be accurate. When you need to move the pin closest to you, “leapfrog” it over the other pins and place it near the edge (fell) of the cloth.

Mark with a fine enough pen so you can see your measurement exactly.

Here is a page from my book Weaving for Beginners showing the tape. Notice it does not get woven in with the cloth. I mark where the hems are to be and any changes as well as where I want the beginning and the end to be.

Making My Own Warping Trapeze

Now that I’m restricted to my apartment in my retirement place because of the corona virus, I have more time on my hands. I think that may be the case for others, and maybe people are at their looms more than ever. So I’m planning to send more frequent posts about weaving. While I was allowed to go out to my studio I wove more than I have in a few years. I was afraid we’d get guaranteed and then I could dye what I wove at home. That is my plan.

Peggy

 

I was so excited to get everything I needed to make my warping trapeze in one afternoon. Everything came from my local hardware/lumber store. My tech guy screwed in the brackets in 5 minutes. Whoever said there was no such thing as a 10-minute job! I got 8 ounce fishing weights from a sporting goods store and 2 bungie cords while getting the lumber (2×2, 6ft long), solid metal rod (1/2” d.), and brackets (from the plumbing department).  My apprentice, Vera, gave me her plans.

The trapeze will be used for beaming—making tightly wound warps for perfect tension. Here-to-fore I’ve used my warping drum (a hassle) or cranking and yanking (works ok but the trapeze will speed up the process with perfection.

Now all I need is a new warp to beam on. That won’t happen until we are allowed to leave our apartments until the virus settles down.

When Teaching is Wonderful!


Here is proud Gao Yu after he was on a 3-month internship with Slow Fiber Studios. He is a textile scholar from China and his personal knowledge of backstrap weaving and weavers paid off. He came several times to my studio to learn how a floor loom works. He asked great questions and understood so much what was happening. After one experiment where he had to lift many shafts, he said, “Now I understand why people weave the cloth wrong side up!” Here he is showing his sample with a supplementary warp he planned and set up on my 10-shaft loom. Then he wanted to know if he could also do supplementary weft. The white wefts show that: both supplementary warps and wefts as well as other treadlings he figured out.

Gao Yu made another warp on my 4-shaft loom. He had seen a textile with a space in the warp which was his inspiration.

Then he tried weaving each side separately. The orange warp thread had been in the center as a supplemantary warp to weave with the unwoven wefts. (I suggested he put in the thread between two heddles–working like a floating selvedge–when he wished for another shaft.)

The final challenge was to make the floor loom work like a back strap loom. I grapped a shirt I had with straps–and voila!

He wanted to use a large tube for the natural shed and only one shaft for the counter shed like in a plain weave backstrap loom. Not perfect but close. My loom was not deep or tall enough to get a good enough counter shed. But more thinking about it he can do when back home in China. (We all were lucky that he got here before the virus outbreak.)

A Hair Comb is a Lifesaver


I discovered a threading error after I’d woven about an inch or so and an ordinary comb helped isolate the mistake in the heddles. [click photos to enlarge]

I discovered the error in only a few of the sheds—2 warp threads were closer together than the rest of the warp.

Then I vaguely saw in the woven part what looked like an error in the reed. It wasn’t the reed, but a mistake in the threading which was obvious when I isolated the area in the heddles with the comb.

I took out all the threads from the error to the edge of the warp. It was helpful to have the woven part still in place.

Here are the first 4 threads in their proper heddles.

Thank goodness for the lease sticks in the cross! I always keep them in behind the heddles in case of an error or broken thread so I can quickly find the correct heddle(s) to make the repair.

I put the threads into the reed as I went along.

Here the 40 ends are re-threaded and re-sleyed in the read, ready to tie on. I’ll take out the previously woven part and tie on the whole warp again. I like to lash on, especially with this slippery and expensive silk warp thread.

More Surprises at the Silk Factory


This gorgeous irridescent sari caught my eye immediately. I brought it home with me and hope to make collages where the light plays on the fabric in different ways. So inspiring! It would be lovely as a garment with gathers but I can’t think of anything I would wear. [click photos to enlarge]

THIS IS A SKEIN HOLDER! I asked about the bamboo pieces with “feet” that were laying on the floor under a loom. Immediately a skein was produced to show the purpose. The threads came off beautifully. I would like to think it could be put up on a table.

If you look closely in the corner of the photo the weaver is winding the thread from the skein on a wicker cage-like tool with a stick for a handle. He is winding very fast and the fine silk thread is coming off like magic.  I wish I could make skeins that well.

This close-up shows a stack of the cards for the Jacquard loom and the “cage thing” that threads are wound on. They could  twirl the cage fast and wind up the thread really fast.

I watched this weaver for a good while while he was separating warp threads so he could move the lease sticks. I thought I was the only one who needed to fiddle to move the sticks sometimes. It’s VERY important to keep the sticks in. The reason is that if a thread breaks you will know exactly where it belongs.

The woman in the sari is weaving along with a fly shuttle that works when she pulls the handle on the cord. (It shoots the shuttle across the warp.) I  visited a factory once in another part of India where all the Jacquard weavers were men because lifting all the threads with their weights took a lot of muscle. I was very surprised to see one woman. The others were men but not beefy types.

Back to Double Weave Again


Double weave is on the top of my brain because I’m teaching a small group the basics with the idea of moving on to bloocks. The reason most people start thinking about double weave is because you can get solid colors that way–rather than plaids. Then one needs also to think about different weft colors as well. Often the “back” side isn’t clear when different colors are needed. [click photos to enlarge]

Often the blocks of color are not so obvious. My mentor, Helen Pope wove this sample for one of her many afghans, always using the same threading but way different colors.

Here is a sampler I wove to show the separate layers. Also see below for the Weaving Tip I did using diagrams from my book, “Weaving for Beginners”.

I’ve been wracking my brain to be able to show graphically weaving the layers in different blocks. I dreamed up this today–not sure if it will do the job or not.

I was playing with layers and opening them out like Paul O’Conner suggested when I wove “Blue Descending a Staricase”.

Here is the width it was when threaded on the loom before being opened out to the 7 “layers”.


Peggy’s Weaving Tips > Introducing Double Weave

This is taken from my new book, “Weaving for Beginners” on page 245. How double weave works and making a sampler follows on pages 246 through257.

Double Weave

Weaving Two Separate Layers

Double weave is one of my favorite weaves, and most of my students love it, too.
It seems like magic that you can weave two layers of cloth simultaneously—
but that is what happens.
The cloth will be double thickness with a pattern or design happening when the layers exchange places

A Tube

—going from top to bottom and vice versa.
I like to be the one to introduce weavers to this technique, because once they understand the concept, they feel so capable and proud.
There is a lot more to learn about double weave than the basics given here.
Read more in weaving books. Some special techniques and considerations are given in my third book, Weaving & Drafting Your Own Cloth, beginning on
page 153.
There are three basic variations of double weave:
1. Weaving two separate layers at once: See Figure 481.
2 Weaving a tube: See Figure 482.
3. Weaving double width: (You can weave a cloth twice as wide as your loom!) See Figure 483.

A Wonderful Sashiko Workshop with Lucy Arai


Here is Lucy teaching in her Sashiko workshop at Slow Fiber Studios in Berkeley, CA.  She gave invidivual attention to anyone who needed it. The workshop was 2 1//2 days. I had one day free before it started after I got back from Japan. Traditionally white cotton thread is stitched on cotton indigo fabric.Here near the end of the workshop she was showing how she stitches on paper that she paints and stitches on. Her art work is fantastic–sometimes has gold leaf and sumi ink. [click photos to enlarge]

A nice picture of Luci.

This is a square cloth used in Japan for wrapping things–called a furoshiki. The pattern technique is called sashiko. It is entirely done with running stitches. We learned about the culture of sashiko and the ins and outs of stitching. There was a lot more to it than one would think. Note that the corners are reinforced with the stitching.

This is how the furoshiki is tied to make a bundle for carrying things. The corners are reinforced where the knot is to be tied.

Here you can see the corner fringes where the tie was made at the reinforced corners.

Off Again: to Japan


Here are all the places we plan to visit together. I am going again with my friend Cathy Cerny. She has done all the planning just like in many previous trips. I counted 9 hotels in 21 days so we’ll be moving right along. I hope I can do a post every day! – Click photos to enlarge –

Our first trip is a flight to Amami Island to the town of Oshima. (it is way south and off my map.) We want to see a particular type of ikat called orijimi. The resist is done on a loom forming a mat with the ikat warps or wefts to be woven in. Then the mat is unwoven to reveal the resisted places (dots) where the warps on the original weaving resisted the dye. The dye is also a special mud dye from the area. Oshima fabrics are expensive and have been imitated. We will look at the selvedges to see the tiny white dots to be sure we are getting the true orijimi technique. A friend and expert sent me this precious fragment so we would know what to look for.

A Grand Rug from Morocco


A friend asked me how this big rug she bought in Morocco was made. I noticed right away that away away that where there were white areas on the front, the back was black and vise versa. That told me probably the technique was weft twining.

Another sign was the edges. Each “weft” yarn was cut and stuck out at the edges where the black and white patterning existed.

There were some areas that were not twined but woven. The orange area in the bottom border is a good example. Also where there were totally white or black narrow stripes and no “pattern. I could see at the edges there were regular selvedges showing that the wefts were woven in with a shuttle.

Here is the size of this beautiful rug.

Ahrenslooms.com: A Treasure Trove of Information


Here are a few photos about another loom built by Jim Ahrens: his 40-shaft dobby loom which he built during the second world war in the 40’s. These are just to whet your appetite for the information you’ll find on ahrenslooms.com. My apprentice, Vera Totos and I made the site because it was important to show how Jim’s looms worked.

This is part of a chain I used to weave the music notes for Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star several years ago. Over time some pegs have been removed.

Here is the backside of the dobby chain and some of the dobby mechanism. You can see it took a lot of bars for the first phrase of the tune.

Part of the mechanism has a cord with a knot for each of the 40 shafts. When a peg hits the mechanism it pushes the corresponding cord so it can’t go throought the hole, thus moving that shaft.

Here is a photo near the beginning of our restoration of the loom. Lots and lots of cords and knots!!

Shibori Beautifully Explained in CBS Video

This was forwarded to me by Yoshiko Wada–my textile guru who I adore. I’ve been on several of her trips to Japan and taken wonderful workshops at her studio in Berkeley. Slow Fibers Studio is her website. Her trips anywhere are fabulous and she is enormously knowledgeable about so many things and people where ever she goes. She gives classes on many of the techniques you see on the video. I took one by this master in Japan in the town of Arimatsu where the video is located. The town is a lovely town with traditional Japanese architecture everywhere. It is south  of Nagoya. Nagoya itself has a fantastic museum: the Toyota Museum–Toyota first was a loom manufacturing company and there are wonderful old and modern looms working on display. There also is a huge and wonderful automobile section.

Dyeing Silks and Playing with Light


I’ve been weaving a lot of white lately, mostly silks that Iinherited from Ethel Aotoni when she died. I had the intention to dye them. The silk threads took the light differently whether you looked at them warps wise of weft wise. This fabric is a white 12-end satin. I tried to see if I could make it completely warp face with strong colored wefts. i.e white on one side and red or black on the other. When I had the fabric in hand I noticed that it changed color accoring to whether the warp or the weft was vertical. You can only see the borders and center when the light is just right. (You can see bits of white showing the warps peeking through on the edges of the squares I cut). These are works in progress, nothing is set yet. [ click to enlarge any photo ]

Here is what the red and white pieces look like when looking straight on–no borders or center color change.

This piece I dyed with black walnuts. Weaving the 12 end satin going in 11 stages from warp face to weft face. It didn’t look very interesting as a whole but I liked a lot of the sections. That is why I decided to cut the squares. Then I realized the light-play and came up with this design.

Another satin warp of silk dyed with black walnuts. I dyed the weft silk before weaving. Then I dyed the whole piece again in a light walnut dye with iron after bath. This photo shows how the light changes the darks and lights.

This was the first white warp satin I did and I couldn’t bear to dye it. It feels gorgeous, and I love the way the fabric takes the light.