You can find photos of my work that I added to the gallery by clicking on the heading “Gallery” on the home page. It is along the top of the page, under the photo–other topics are books, dvd, and the gallery.
Here is another blue silk piece from the same warp as Cloud Tiles I posted yesterday. The width is about 4″ (so you can figure the scale). It is a satin weave on 8 shafts. The center part I picked up with a pick-up stick.
I just put up new photos in the gallery section of this blog. I’m thrilled with the results of the photo shoot–the pictures look as good as the work! I have the final session on Wednesday. Look for more from time to time on the blog.
These are my first very fine silk pieces. They are damask–playing with warp face and weft face.
This comes from my new book, Weaving for Beginners. It is what I started all my beginning weaving students on and gives a very good foundation for future weaving. After the sampler was completed, the students planned their own original projects based on what they learned.
Why make a sampler?
This is the way many weavers try out new things. A sampler is a cloth with several ideas woven into it. Some ideas to try out are using different colors, threads, weaves, or your own designs. (See Figure 221.) You can try out more than one idea at a time by dividing the warp into sections.
For example, if you were sampling different colors, you might
make your warp have portions two to three inches wide, each with a different color you are considering. Notice that the sampler described in this chapter has two sections in the warp—each one a different color.
When weaving a sampler, you would try out those warp colors using the same ones as wefts, or perhaps, using other colors.
It is a good idea to try out different weaves as well. Say, you have four colors in the warp, and you try each color in the weft in plain weave–that would give you 16 different squares woven, or samples—useful information for designing a project. Weaving the colors again in twill weave would give you 16 more samples. Weaving the colors in herringbone, another 16 samples, and in a broken twill, 16 more.
You are weaving a plaid, so to speak, with the colors and threadings in the
warp repeated in the weft. You also can see how colors look when crossed
with other colors and how expected structures look when they are woven
with other threadings. Sampling is fun because you aren’t under pressure to make a masterpiece.
This is the place to try out lots of ideas. Then you can put the best ideas into
a project, knowing that it is likely to please you.
Use this when you want to make a sample on a warp before weaving the entire project.
The two-stick heading (from Weaving for Beginners, beginning on page 134.)
This is a very useful heading. I have used it countless times. One reason is to eliminate the knots on the apron rod so that the cloth rolls up without lumps on the cloth beam. Another reason is so that you can cut off some of the cloth before the whole warp has been completely woven.
You need a pair of sticks that fit on your cloth beam and won’t interfere with
They can be lease sticks, dowels, or metal rods. I prefer thin and lightweight
sticks rather than thick ones because they take up less warp and aren’t so bulky.
One reader suggested I talk a bit about sampling. How much to make, wasting “good” yarn, when and why, etc. etc.You can save yourself a lot of heart ache if you make a sample before weaving something and find out that it shrinks too much, or “doesn’t turn out.” You might make a sampler or weave samples. Read below how the two are different.
A sampler is generally a warp designed to sample a variety of weaves and ideas. I’m making one in the studio right now. I feel like it’s a big gamble because I don’t know how it will turn out. But because it’s “only a sample”, there is no pressure to make it wonderful (although I hope it will be) and I can be free to try anything. I am not sure about the sett for what I’m visualizing so I need to weave with the sett I decided on and see if it works for me. I am worried that my sett is too open–but I know I can try different techniques (eg.fatter wefts, or beat lighter) if I don’t like the initial look. I can re-sley the reed if necessary. My warp is only 4″ wide so I’m not wasting much yarn–and 3 yards long. I planned the length to try to get a good piece or two after my sampling.
The sampler I have all my beginning weavers make is shown in the illustration and is found beginning on page 93 in Weaving for Beginners.
Sampling: I had a student this week who wanted to make a baby blanket. Since it is a fairly wide project I suggested that she make the warp a little longer and weave a sample at the beginning and cut it off and wash it and be sure it suits her. If it shrinks too much or doesn’t look right. She can then make changes before weaving the entire project without wasting all the yarn and time. Use the two-stick heading from my new book, Weaving for Beginners, to reconnect the warp without wasting yarn to tie the threads back onto the front apron rod. You cannot make a narrow sample and expect the information to directly translate to a wide warp. Since there will be more friction in the reed, the wefts in a wide warp won’t pack down in the same way as for a narrow warp. I suggest allowing 6-8 inches, minimum for the sample. I really like to add an extra yard for sampling. That allows plenty to sample at the beginning and usually there is warp left for me to try out more ideas at the end. (This is when I am the most creative.)
A student came today with an exquisitely gorgeous fabric which frustrated her so much while weaving that she cut it off the loom and threw away the remainder of the warp! When I showed her this illustration from my new book, Weaving for Beginners, she could see that the selvedge threads were being abraded by the reed. The following is found on page 302 in the chapter on selvedges. Beautiful selvedges aren’t the end in itself, but the result of techniques that solve ugly selvedge problems and broken threads. I’ll be posting more on selvedges, I’ll bet.
A common selvedge problem: Too much draw-in In my teaching experience, the problem that showed up almost as soon as the weaving began was that the cloth narrowed in too much. If the problem wasn’t noticed and dealt with soon, the selvedge threads would begin to break by the abrasion of the reed. Look at the edges of the warp at the fell. Is the reed stretching out the warps way beyond the width of the cloth? If so, can you see why the reed is abrading and breaking the selvedges? Too much draw-in at the selvedges is shown in Figure 517.
If you have a big draw-in problem, you can use a temple or stretcher cords such as croc clips. See page 312. To understand more why the cloth draws in and how to control it so the selvedge threads don’t break, read the sidebar, “How warps and wefts bend,” on the next page.
Three common causes of this problem (in order of commonness)
1. The warp tension is too tight.
2. There is not enough slack in the weft. (No diagonal of the weft is put into
the shed.) See above.
3. The wefts are pulled too tightly at the selvedges. Rules to follow to avoid too much draw-in 1. The warp tension should not be tight, certainly not tight like a violin string.
Basically, it just needs to be tight enough to get the sheds to open. It should
feel firm when you pat it to test the amount of tension, maybe even fairly
firm, but definitely not tight. If your selvedges are narrowing in, check the
warp tension first. 2. There must be enough slack in the weft that it can bend as it goes over and
under the warps. Figure 513 shows the diagonal needed to allow for this
slack. You will know you have too much diagonal when loops appear in the
weft in the cloth. If the warp only draws in a tiny amount, say ¼” or so on
each side, you have put in enough slack. Read about the diagonal, above. 3. Do not pull the weft tight as you put it into the shed. If you do, two things
will happen—first, you won’t get in the slack you need (see above) and
second, the selvedges will draw in too much.
Beginners sometimes try to solve this problem with another
problem—putting loops of wefts at the selvedges. This effort
does not do anything to widen the warp at the edges. It just
leaves unsightly loopy selvedges. The slack in the weft is
needed clear across the warp—not just at the edges. Read how the weft
should turn at the selvedges, above. Read more about good selvedges on
Devices that deal with too much draw-in
If everything about your cloth is just as you want it, but the draw-in is causing the selvedges to break. You can stretch out the warp near the reed so the reed can’t abrade the threads while weaving.
A temple is a stretcher that holds the cloth out at the selvedges.
See Figure 529. It allows you to snug the wefts up to the selvedges without breaking the threads during weaving. It may be made of wood or metal. Any temple needs to be
strong. They are available in many widths for weaving wide rugs or narrow placemats.
Cord and clip stretchers
This stretcher is a variation of a temple that you can make yourself. See Figure 530. The clips are “Crocodile clips” (also called “croc clips”) and are available at hardware stores. They are made to clip tarps and are very inexpensive.
This box and lid were woven with two layers with the supplementary warp threads (for the triangles) in between the layers. I used 8 shafts–4 for the two layers and 4 for the supplementary warp threads. They are woven with linen threads with embroidery floss for the triangles. There were an awfully lot of warp threads to work back into the cloth. I maybe spent a week doing that finishing job (happily, I might add).
These three little pieces were in my show. The triangles and rectangles were woven with a simple inlay technique. That is, the yarns for the shapes were on separate bobbins or in butterflies and put into the regular weft sheds where needed. I’ve played with transparency and illusions over the years. It fascinates me.
Another piece in my show. There are two layers. To make the pleats, I wove the top layer quite a bit longer that the bottom layer for awhile. Then I joined to two layers together so the top layer made a “pleat” –rather, a soft pleat. Probably this was done on 4 shafts.
Another comment–it makes me so happy.
“…You did a great job with it (Weaving for Beginners) and I have referred to it a few times as a budding weaver.
I have a large floor loom that I have not “confronted” yet, and the rigid heddle helped me to understand clearly the basic process and also enlighten me that I knew more than I realized. I was excited to see this section in your great book.”
There is a comment asking for more information and clarification about sett and Ashenhurst and various sett charts in other sources. My reply follows. What do you find confusing about my descriptions in my Book #1, Winding a Warp & Using a Paddle, and in my new book, Weaving for Beginners? Your input will help me address all of this.
Most sett (ends per inch) information is determined by the yarn and the structure. We know twill and plain weave require different setts. When a different weave structure is described, usually the appropriate sett for the structure is given–eg. “use a plain weave sett”, or “use a sett more open than plain weave”. When a sett chart gives 3 setts, two are the usual plain weave and twill which we might think of as medium and close. The third sett may say for lace, but we could also think of it as open. So, for a given yarn you are given 3 options for each yarn–depending upon the weave structure. Ashenhurst offers a way to calculate the sett and gives more specific setts for various purposes. The words, calculation and purpose are the operative words here. A yarn for plain weave for upholstery would require a different (closer) sett than for a delicate shawl. With the three-choices charts, you might choose the open or lace sett for the shawl, but you wouldn’t know what to use for upholstery.
Can anyone help me with my discussion of Ashenhurt? Do you understand what he calls diameters? Where should I start to clear up this important, important subject?
I’m weaving a lovely warp I bought as a kit at Convergence in Albuquerque last summer. It was made by Neal Howard. She dyed three warps and told how to thread them in the heddles to integrate them. Each one is different, so it is great fun to weave along and see the color changes–in one or all of the stripes.
I’m not following her idea–so I’ll report later if my idea for the cloth works out. Dyeing is Neal’s speciality– I bought one of her jackets at the previous Convergence. She offers yarns and woven pieces.
I have a small collection of the spools that fit my various Japanese spool winders. The dark one on the left goes with the Mingei winder in yesterday’s post. There are two spools that don’t fit any of them.
One is huge–18″ high and has fiber wound on it that I think might be wisteria vine thread. I also have a tiny one–about3″ tall. I have no idea whether it is a toy or a real piece of equipment.
The white one in the picture is plastic and the size of the regular spools–about 5-6″ tall. It comes apart so can be stored as the legs and the center pieces.
I have had this old spool winder for years–but the arm to guide the thread onto the spool was missing.
A friend made a new arm complete with tiny wooden pegs to attach it. When I bought it I loved all the gears. I tried to use it a few years ago, but without the guiding arm it was almost impossibly tedious to both turn the crank and guide the silk onto the spool.
So, I bought a new one from Habu Textiles in New York. It’s that winder I used for the skein that took a month to spool off. (see previous post) In the end, I sent the remaining skeins to Habu to spool off. I have several old wooden spools. they look lovely with silk thread wound on them just as they are.
This is one of the pieces in my show. It is linen ikat dyed with indigo. The warps were tied and dyed (called warp ikat) in the borders. The center is weft ikat. The patterns in the weft ikat are were simply made by one or two ties on the skeins of weft thread. In other words, the length of each weft was determined by a few inches of weaving. Then small skeins of weft yarn were made to be the same length as the wefts. A few ties were made on the skeins that resisted the dye when the skeins were immersed in the dye. Where the ties were remained white while the rest of the yarn became blue. Each section was woven with a skein tied in a different way to create the different patterns.
I loved working with Kathryn Alexander and in this video she tells about working with me. The thread she spun for me that she talks about was really fine and fragile. She was sure that I couldn’t weave with it and that I would be mad at her. But I did–warping “back-to-front”, of course. I wanted to test my warping process with the most fragile thread I could find, so that’s why I asked her to spin some for me.
She calls the yarns “energized” I call them overtwisted. These yarns are what I’ve used for collapse weaving where the cloth puckers. Search for “Pink Creature” to read my post about it. This is one of my favorite collapse pieces. There is also a picture in the post of the cloth after woven but before washing.
Monday was the last day in the old teaching studio. I had a big photo shoot of much of my work while the space was empty. It was a good way to end that era and begin the next. Photos of the “new” space in a future post.
One day a student complained that the boat shuttle I loaned her was too big for the sheds on her table loom. I suggested that she throw the shuttle closer to the heddles and advance the warp often. The reason is that the shed is bigger the closer it is to the heddles (shafts). It’s obvious that the shed is small when it is closer to the fell of the cloth (the place where the last weft is woven). A made this into the weaving tip: Sheds Too Small.
My show came down February 14. It’s been a thrilling time for me. My friends have come to see it and the people where I’m living have been full of nice comments. Some have been blown away by just the act of weaving.
The velvet piece looked especially nice with the gallery lighting.