Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Floating selvedges that break

A couple of months ago at a weaver's meeting, someone asked the group  for a solution to a floating selvedge that was constantly breaking.  In the back of my mind, I remembered a paper that Alice Schlein had written about the subject for the Complex Weavers CADE study group, but couldn’t really recall the details well enough to give an answer at that time.  As these things go, I had a warp with floating selvedges on my loom and the one on the right side started unplying and breaking frequently.  I looked up my copy of Alice’s article and found that she has a pretty good answer to the problem and one that you aren’t going to find with a Google search.

Alice explains that when your shuttle goes over a plied thread, it either increases or decreases the twist.  If you decrease the twist enough, it eventually frays and breaks.  The solution Alice proposed  is to determine whether your selvedge thread has been plied S or Z.  Most commercial yarns are plied S and you can check yours with a hand magnifier if necessary.  If your yarn has been plied S, you will pass your shuttle over both floating selvedges when your shuttle travels from left to right and under both of them on the return trip from right to left.  If your floating selvedge yarn is plied Z, then you reverse these instructions by going under both floaters from left to right and over when you throw the shuttle right to left. 

It takes a bit of time to learn this technique of going over or under both threads, but after you have practiced a while, everything falls into place and your selvedges look better too.

While doing my online research about this subject, I found that many people recommended a temple, which helps if there is too much draw in from your reed to the fell line. But I am firmly convinced that Alice's explanation is really the answer to selvedge breakage on one side of your warp.

Reference: Schlein, Alice. "The Selvedge Dilemma: Dealing with Breakage" Complex Weavers Computer Aided Design Exchange. October, 2003

Monday, March 28, 2016

Obsession with Braided Twills

In a weaving group that I belong to, one of our members brought a braided twill scarf for show and tell. Warp and weft were the same color, so the design was subtle, but very beautiful.  It started me on a search for simple braided twills that could be woven on four or eight shafts.  I have found a few and will add to this collection as I find more.
Here's a lovely four shaft version
I found this one in Carol Strickler's book of 8 shaft drafts #355

This one, or something very similar also appears in Carol's book, but it is part of a gamp.  Here it is using 10 treadles.

This draft is quite lovely and again only uses 10 treadles.

The advantage to this draft is that it is on a straight draw threading and straight treadling. I tried a treadling advance of four with this tie up which is shown below.

Unfortunately, this increased the float length to 6 in the warp direction.  Still, it might be nice in fine threads.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Igor's Japanese Inspired Shawl

The Reno Fiber Guild is doing a year long study of Japanese Textiles.  Igor Raven started out with the idea of weaving a furoshiki (Japanese wrapping cloth) but wanted enough warp to weave a shawl too.  The furoshiki is still waiting to be hemmed, but the shawl has made it through the many layered process and is now a reality. 
The first step was to choose a draft.  The has drafts from the Japanese book,  Orimono Soshiki Hen by Yoshida, Kiju which was published in 1903.  Igor chose draft 44385.  He wanted some gold threads in his piece, so he added another two shafts to the original draft for some plain weave stripes in metallic.  Also, there are 10 plain weave threads on each selvedge to form a border.

Igor's main warp stripes were 10/2 Tencel in bronze and red.  The metallic was a 20/3 thread (incidentally made in Japan) and he used two gold warp threads as one in the stripe between the pattern blocks.

He had planned the warp for 24 epi and a total of 611 threads plus 2 for floating selvedges (weighted separately).  That was 7 pattern repeats and would have used the full width of the special 26" reed for his Baby Wolf loom.  After he started weaving, it became apparent that the sett should be closer, so he resleyed the reed at 25 epi - thus losing that extra width he had planned on.


The weft yarns were two shades of lavender used in alternating shots - also 10/2 Tencel. These colors add an iridescent quality to the cloth when it catches the light at different angles.

Before washing the cloth the fringe was cut to 7 inches and twisted with seed beads added. Washing was by hand in hot water, wrapped in towels and then dried flat.

 It's a luxurious shawl - long and very fluid.  The beads in the fringe catch the light and sparkle.  A successful piece.
A little addendum to this post.  Igor's shawl won the best of the handwoven division at the Nevada County Fair (August 2016). 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Weaving scarves for the CNCH Yarn-Storm

The Reno Fiber Guild has an outreach project in which little warped cardboard looms are supplied for kids of all ages to try their hand at handweaving.  See the blog post here.  Because supplies were getting low and the guild was making more kits for an event in early summer, I asked for donations of bits and pieces of knitting yarns to be used as wefts in the little kits that we hand out.  I was overwhelmed by the generous bags of yarn that came my way - much more than could be used on these little cardboard loom weavings.

Someone in the guild refreshed my memory about the Yarn-Storm event that will be held at CNCH in Modesto this April and suggested that some of the donated yarns would be perfect to make scarves.  Yarns were brought to the Sage Weavers meeting and people took enough for a project, but still my box of yarn was full to overflowing.  So, I put a 10 yard cotton/rayon warp  on my Wolf Pup and looked up some drafts in my archives and also on  I settled on several drafts that looked interesting.   Some used alternating thick and thin, which turned out to be perfect for using up little balls of thinner wool along with some of the heavier knitting yarns.  I didn't concern myself with mixing cellulose and protein fibers.  If they were the right grist - I mixed them and I let my color imagination soar.  This turned out to be some of the most entertaining weaving I have done in a long time.

These two scarves were woven with the same draft. In weaving this draft, there are two picks of fine and one pick of heavy indicated by the double picks in the treadling.  Note that the back of the scarf is much different than the front - but the draft does show off the fancy yarn well.  In the purple and orange scarf, I used a ball of variegated chenille from the late Dee Jones' stash.  She will be going to CNCH again this year, if only in spirit.

I started weaving this scarf with a sparkly kntting yarn weft, but realized that it was going to be scratchy.  So, I switched to some heavy wool/cotton yarns I had for the middle of the scarf, then finished up with the scratchy yarn again at the ends.  Note that in this draft you use fine weft in the four pick sequence and a heavy weft on the fifth pick. Like the last two scarves, this scarf is also more dramatic on one side than the other.


This is my Tule Fog scarf.  Very subdued and muted.  My stash contained singles wool yarns from a knitted sweater kit my mother used many years ago and the skinny wefts were a mix of greens from an ancient weaving project. I've used this draft many times and with many yarns over the past years.  I found the original draft in Weavers' magazine - issue 12 on the back cover where it was used for a baby blanket.

This scarf was probably my most inspired creation.   Bobbins always have leftover thread on them after a project is done.  I can't bear to throw good yarn away, so it gets wound into little balls or left on the bobbin for headers, etc.  I gathered many of these leftovers  (mostly cotton and rayon) and rolled a bigger ball, knotting the threads together in an overhand knot as I went.  I left the ends about an inch long.  Then, I wound my bobbins with the knotted yarn and wove with abandon.  When I came to a knot, I made sure to pull the ends out so they showed on the surface of the scarf.  Once the scarf was wet finished, I had another inspiration - use up some of my button stash!  With a crochet hook, I drew the threads through the button holes and knotted them together.

I love to weave, so I'm mostly having fun when I'm at the loom.  But this project was especially rewarding.  I used up little bits and pieces of stash, contributed to the CNCH event and learned a lot about color interactions and using thick and thin threads in these interesting little weave structures.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

More Shafts, More Possibilities

There is absolutely nothing like a multi- shaft loom to make weaving magical.  Recently, I bought a used 40 shaft loom from a friend.  I already had a 24 shaft loom which was and is perfectly fine, but the 40 was on my bucket list and available, so I bought it.  It had to be torn down to be transported and after a few days of anguish thinking that my husband and I might never get it back together, it started to come to life again.
My first warp was on a straight draw threading and some so-so cotton.  I looked in the and found some liftplans and wove off napkins - each in a different design.  All the while, I'm thinking to myself - I don't know how to design for this many shafts!  Then, another warp for scarves.  This time I played around with designs and  used 32 shafts and a four shaft basketweave selvedge.  Fun - yes, but I was still not making my new loom sing. 
Finally, I got out my copy of Marian Stubenitsky's Echo and IrisHer designs only go up to 32 shafts so I knew that I  was going to have to absorb a lot of the information in her book and make it my own for 40 shafts.  My first task was to do a skeleton double weave tie up for 40 shafts.  Trying to keep everything correct for 40 shafts and 80 treadles, proved to be an eye-boggling task.  I finally discovered that I needed to make a straight draw threading and then convert it to a parallel threading, use my skeleton tie up and a straight treadling sequence and look at the draw down.  Errors in my tie up stood out in the draw down and I was able to fix them and then go to the next step.  Turned taqueté and turned samitum were easy design work.  The four color double weave was a bit more challenging. 
I warped the loom, using my tension box and spool rack in four colors.  The sequence was red, blue,  green and yellow.  My designs had three echoes in the threading.
As I watched what was happening on the loom, I was totally enthralled.  The four colors moved around in the pattern and interacted with the weft color or colors.  I finally felt that I was starting to utilize the power behind all those shafts.
Since this warp, I've been designing for the next one.  This time I'll use just one echo  with two colors in the warp and a variety of double weave tie ups.  I'm feeling back in the swing of things and have more ideas than time.  40 shafts are lovely indeed!


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Turned Taqueté - Four Block Profile into an 8 Shaft Draft

Turning a four block profile into an 8 shaft turned taqueté draft isn't as easy or straight forward as the two block, four shaft procedure.  First of all, when you turn a draft you are using the same number of shafts as treadles in the unturned draft.  With many four block profiles, your new turned draft will end up needed 12 or 16 shafts so you need to follow some restrictions in order to get a draft that you can weave on your eight shaft loom.

First of all, keeping your new draft to only 8 shafts only seems to work if your tie up is a 2/2 twill as in the profile below.   There may be other tie ups that work, but I  certainly didn't find any.

4 block profile

 Here is the draft translated to turned taqueté.
Threading for turned taquete eight shafts with a 2/2 twill tie up in profile
Block A 1-2-3-4
Block B 5-6-7-8
Block C 2-1-4-3
Block D 6-5-8-7

Tie up treadle (1) 1-2 5-6
treadle (2) 3-4 7-8
Blocks AB 1-3-6-8
Blocks BC 1-3-5-7
Blocks CD 2-4-5-7
Blocks AD 2-4-6-8

Alternate treadle 1 and 2 with pattern treadle.

I made numerous attempts to do color changes in the warp and use a combination of straight threadings on eight shafts.  I could get a few to look OK, but they all had color lines that looked like errors, so I'm sticking with the plan I laid out above.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Turning a Two Block Profile into Turned Taqueté (4 Shafts)

My guild (Reno Fiber Guild) is having a year long study of profile drafts and block weaves.  We kicked the subject off at our October meeting and broke into a variety of groups that will study specific block weave structures ending in April with weaving off designs on a variety of four and eight shaft looms.  Several guild members had woven four shaft turned taqueté and wanted to do more in the way of designing using that structure.  I could certainly convert a profile to taqueté and then turn the draft, but decided that it should be feasible to convert a profile to turned taqueté without going through the intermediary step.

I started with the weaving software, WeavePoint, converting profiles to taqueté, turning the drafts and analyzing the results.  I had in mind presenting something similar to Madelyn van der Hooght's diagrams that have a numerical threading, tie up configurations and treadling sequences for various block weave structures.  What I found is that once you have gone past a two block profile and given that you are turning the draft, things aren't so straight forward as they are when you are designing with taqueté.   What follows is what I have learned so far.

One of the interesting things about taqueté and its turned version is that without alternating colors (in the weft for taqueté or in the warp for turned taqueté) the draft in two colors has no apparent design.  Once you put in the alternating color sequence, the block pattern magically appears.

Along my journey, I found a couple of ways to thread the four shaft  version of turned taqueté (aka warp-faced compound tabby).  I thought I would present both of them because I can see advantages to both.

Here goes.  If you use two colors in the warp and alternate them all across the warp the threading is as follows                         

                                           Block A 1-2-3-4 
                                           Block B 2-1-4-3
If you change the color sequence at every block change you can thread
                                          Blocks A & B 1-2-3-4
The secret is that you must change the color sequence at the beginning of a new block. In other words if you have been threading red -blue,  at the beginning of a new block you will thread blue - red,until you reach the end of that block and switch back to red- blue.

Now for the Tie Up and treadling.  Since we are only dealing with two blocks and with four shafts, we must alternate the two blocks in a profile draft and the tie up that works is this.

The treadling for Block A is 1-3-2-3 and the treadling for Block B is 1-4-2-4.  That's all there is to it.
Here are two drawdowns using first  a two block threading sequence and the second using only color change on a straight draw threading to delineate the blocks.

Block A threaded 1-2-3-4 and Block B threaded 2-1-4-3

straight draw threading, but duplicate color sequence at block change in warp

The next post is changing a four block profile draft into an eight shaft draft of turned taqueté.  Hint - not all four block drafts will reduce to an eight shaft draft.  It will depend on the number of treadles you need to use because, remember, this is a turned draft.
Note:  One of the nicest things about blog posts is that they can be amended and updated.  After I had researched and written this post, I came upon an interesting article in Weaver's Magazine Issue 12.  The article was written by Betsy Blumenthal and it was entitled "One-Shuttle Wonderful".  This article describes the color sequence changes in the warp to get the double face cloth and the structure was called "warp-faced compound tabby.  There is simply nothing new under the weaving sun!