Sampling again

One of my favourite scarves is rather fragile – it’s viscose and very finely “woven”. I don’t think I could reproduce it if I wanted to but I’d like to use it as inspiration.  

I’ve just finished a sample on the 4-shaft table loom.  I chose ‘Dynasty pure Chinese Bourette silk’ from Texere Yarns  for various reasons.  It’s very good value and when I was discussing the project, one of the weavers in my class brought in a scarf she’d made from the same yarn. I was impressed with the feel and drape. This lady’s sister was also about to visit Texere in Bradford and kindly offered to include my order thus saving postage and packing!

Rather than just rely on the warp to provide texture and interest, and weaving plain weave, I decided to experiment with a different construction. I chose one I haven’t used before – canvas weave.  My source is Marguerite Davison’s A Handweaver’s Pattern Book, p66, Threading No. 1.

Given that I only required a short warp for the sample, I was persuaded to use a raddle and the ‘back to front’ warping method instead of my usual ‘front to back’ using the reed. This was in order to minimise wastage.  Shall we just say it’s not my preferred method… and leave it at that!

Looking from right (beginning) to left (end) in the photograph of the sample below, I started with version I of Threading No. 1 (Monk’s Cloth).  According to Davison, this is a popular drapery cloth and is used if you want an interesting surface.

Silk scarf sample

Silk scarf sample

I experimented with various colours of the same yarn in the weft and doubled it for a small section.  The white yarn isn’t Dynasty – it came from my stash and being silk/wool is thicker.  As a result, using it in the weft as well as the warp has made quite a difference to the look and feel of the cloth where they intersect.  I’ll be limiting my use of the white yarn for this particular project but I do like the effect. This demonstrates why sampling is so essential and useful.

Towards the end of the warp (left of the photo), I switched to version V of the same threading to alter the scale and definition of the pattern.  I restricted the weft to the darker colours as I’m not keen on the salmon pink, sky blue or the white.  I also wanted to be able to compare different approaches: vertical stripes dominating; a plaid effect; horizontal bands.

Silk scarf sample detail

Silk scarf sample detail

Version V and darker colours in the weft (maroon, berry, navy and French navy) is closer to my original idea.  However, the colours in the sample are much less vibrant than I’d originally envisaged.  They’re much more subdued in reality than the images on the Texere website would have you believe (as usual, buyer beware).  So I’ve ordered a spool of ‘cornflower’ and a ‘scarlet’, to add to the warp on the basis they’ll also be somewhat muted.  I’ve also gone through my stash and could potentially use a bit of this sari silk – it would definitely brighten things up!!

Sari Silk

Sari Silk

Mmm… maybe not!

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Rediscovering Inkle weaving

The publication of Anne Dixon’s ‘The Weaver’s Inkle Pattern Directory’ last year coincided with the task of weaving Christmas decorations.  As a result, quite a few of us at weaving class have been discovering (or rediscovering) the delights of Inkle weaving.

Ashford Inkle loom, warped up and ready to go.

Ashford Inkle loom, warped up and ready to go.

We’ve been producing braids, bag straps and, last year, some tiny woven Christmas decorations.

Christmas decorations woven on an Inkle loom

Christmas decorations woven on an Inkle loom

Many years ago, I did quite a bit of Inkle weaving but the two main reference books were old fashioned with mostly black and white photographs. They weren’t hugely inspiring.

Here are a couple of bookmarks I produced with some rather unsuccessful lettering (it’s supposed to be BOOKWORM!).

Inkle Bookmarks

Inkle Bookmarks

And a few bands…

Inkle strips

Inkle strips

And an Inkle strip bag.

Inkle strip bag

Inkle strip bag

But Anne Dixon’s book has changed all that.  It’s full of ideas; full of colour; there are lots of clear instructions. The possibilities seem endless, and because the loom is so simple and portable, I can weave in the evenings after a tiring day at work.

After a demonstration at weaving class a few weeks ago, I decided to have another go at lettering and I’ve woven a couple of lanyards.  I’m using the ‘Compensating Method’ as described on page 44 of the book.

It’s taken quite a while (an a few expletives) to get the hang of using two needles rather than just fingers when manipulating the threads but it does work!

Here’s the finished lanyard – clasps and rings courtesy of Hobbycraft.

Handwoven lanyard

Handwoven lanyard

I’ve been wearing it almost daily since February and been surprised how well it’s surviving.

Lanyard

Lanyard

Feeling inspired to do more!

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Glutton for punishment: part 2

It’s taken a thoroughly miserable day weather-wise to catch up with my posts.

I’m pleased to report that I did finally finish the doubleweave overshot runner.  Here’s one side…

Overshot Doubleweave runner

Overshot doubleweave runner

and here’s the other:

Overshot doublweave runner reverse side

Overshot doublweave runner reverse side

It wasn’t the most exciting piece to weave if I’m honest but turned out much better than I thought it would.  The bubbles hardly notice and it’s a pleasantly firm fabric.

Although this pattern isn’t particularly to my taste (why do I keep doing this?) it is by far the most professional-looking item I’ve completed.  I’m hopeful it will find a home on a suitable sideboard or chest in the future.

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Glutton for punishment: part 1

I must be a glutton for punishment as I’ve put another doubleweave project on the loom! This time I’m weaving a doubleweave overshot runner using the ‘Sun, Moon and Stars’ pattern in Marguerite Davison’s ‘Handweavers Pattern Book.’

Sun, Moon and Stars

Sun, Moon and Stars

This pattern has been adapted by Jennifer Moore in her book ‘Doubleweave’.

I can confirm the threading up requires a great deal of patience.  It’s very closely sett (I’m using 2/6’s cotton) @ 32 epi.

Midway through threading up 'Sun, Moon and Stars' doubleweave

Midway through threading up ‘Sun, Moon and Stars’ doubleweave

All done... phew!

All done… phew!

Mistakes were inevitable and sure enough, there were two!  The crossed threads were easy to fix – just swap them over.  Correcting a thread on the wrong shaft was trickier. I had to make a new string heddle, and ensure the thread ended up at the right height and tension.  Pins are an essential part of any weaver’s toolkit!

Corrected mistake

Corrected mistake

One suprise was the difficulty I had working out the treadling pattern described in Jennifer Moore’s book.  Once again, weaving class came to my rescue as together we interpreted the instructions.

So I’m off and weaving and the pattern is progressing well.  As usual, there’s always the ongoing battle between leaving enough weft for each pick but not too much so yarn “bubbles” appear, and not leaving enough so the cloth starts to pull in.  I’ve looked underneath at the reverse side – there are more “bubbles” there but that’s to be expected. Apparently it’s called gravity!

Doubleweave runner: first repeat

Doubleweave runner: first repeat

I love my trusty old loom with its string heddles but with such a close sett it’s struggling. Early on, the shafts weren’t fully dropping because all the heddles seemed to be bunching up.  This meant I wasn’t getting a clean shed every time and had to go back to ‘neutral’ before raising the next shaft(s).  However, it does seem to be getting easier as more cloth is woven.

Here’s what my working notes look like…

Doubleweave runner notes

Doubleweave runner notes

They make sense to me!!

Part 2 to follow in due course.

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New year – new term – new projects

There’s been a slight pause in posting but I haven’t been too idle. I finally completed the doubleweave sample described back in November. It was definitely a labour of love.

On many occasions, I wondered why I’d made quite such a long warp but in the end I’m rather glad I did.  It forced me to experiment, push myself that bit harder and have fun with it.

Whilst searching for inspiration on how to use up the warp, I stumbled upon a small black and white photograph of a doubleweave hanging of the signs of the zodiac. It’s on page 103 in Else Regensteiner’s book The Art of Weaving and is so charming that I thought I’d have a go at Taurus, the Bull.  Here he is!

Taurus the Bull

Taurus the Bull

I completed the sample over the Christmas/New Year holidays – without the support at weaving class.  Considering it was all done by eye ‘on the loom’ (not advisable) I’m quite proud of myself!

The only mistake I’ve made, apart from the dodgy edges (well, you can’t concentrate on everything!), was this “star”.  If you look closely at the bottom edge, you’ll see it isn’t crisp – it’s called a ‘bleeding edge’ and it means I started the light pick at the wrong point.

Could be worked up into a cityscape hanging

Could be worked up into a cityscape hanging

I haven’t been able to take a good photograph of the whole sample yet. I blame the endless grey days and poor technique!  But the details are just about acceptable.

Stylised hand

Stylised hand

Doubleweave detail

Doubleweave detail

Early on, I did question if I’d ever use this construction in earnest to make a proper finished piece.  But after finding the signs of the zodiac hanging I’m a convert – even if the actual technique does send my head into a spin every so often.

Verdict:  give it a go!

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New hat, new pattern

I’ve enjoyed knitting this hat – it’s a Christmas present for my other half.

John's hat

John’s hat

The pattern is a standard k2p2 rib then ‘Ringwood’, of which there seem to be several versions!  I’ve knitted: rounds 1 and 2 knit, round 3 k1p1.  This gives quite a ‘stretchy’ fabric which is also quite robust and thick when knitted up in Artesano’s superwash merino even though I used 4.5mm needles.

Yet again, I’ve been surprised just how slowly this wool ‘grows’.  It’s taken far longer to make than I envisaged.  Furthermore, decreasing on alternate rows whilst maintaining the pattern demanded a bit more concentration than usual, especially late on a Friday.

The colour is ‘green’ which is a lovely dark shade – sadly, the photographs don’t do it justice.

John's 'Ringwood' hat

John’s ‘Ringwood’ hat

The next challenge will be to knit a pair of matching ‘Ringwood’ gloves !

 

 

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My weaving companion

Oh heavens…

Two minutes after opening the door to my “loom room”, Tilly follows me in and makes herself comfortable!

Tilly on the loom... gulp

Tilly on the loom… gulp

I was doing a bit of doubleweave experimentation in preparation for class tomorrow – the sample is on the table loom in the background.  My dedication didn’t last long as I’ve taken a day’s sick leave and I quickly discovered that befuddled brain and doubleweave pickup are mutually exclusive.

I wonder if Tilly will like the rug once it’s finally off the loom and on the floor?  I suspect not.

Tilly on the magic carpet

Tilly on the magic carpet

My end of year weaving goals are to finish both the doubleweave sample And the rug.  Roll on the holidays!

 

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