Saturday, November 27, 2021

Anatomy of this year's Christmas towels

 Quite a few years ago, I read a paper called "Designing with Farey Fractions" by Ralph Griswold.  Ralph was a computer scientist with a penchant for weaving drafts and weaving design.   I did some designing using a Farey sequence as the threading for an 8 shaft draft and wrote about the process here in this blog.    The results were interesting (to me) but recently I began to think about other things that might be done with this Farey sequence used as a profile draft. 

I digress a bit here to tell you that I don't understand the mathematics involved.  Yes, I've looked at the papers and most of it is just out of my league.  However, using mathematical sequences in weaving design is very much something that I understand and can use.

I started thinking about how I might weave green and red towels for Christmas sales without the problems of green and red crossing one another and blending into brown.  The solution appeared to be to use blocks of weave structure so that the colors of red and green would appear more or less solid against one another.  Which comes back to using a profile draft and translating it to satin and block twills to weave my towels.    I selected the Farey sequence above for my threading profile and converted it into a series of drafts using 5 thread satins and 5 thread twill blocks. 8 blocks times 5 thread structures translates to 40 shafts.  How lucky for me that I have a loom that will weave these designs!

In preparing the ideas for my warp color, I used stripes of red and green which used portions of the profile that would give a different design for the two color stripes.  Red and green yarns were another problem.  I didn't have any of the specific value in my stash that I wanted for the warp, so I wound off 2800 yards for the green warp stripe and 2800 yards for the red warp stripe. I dyed each of the 2800 yards in the same pot so that I would get exactly the same colors - although, a variation in the warp color stripes could have been interesting too.

 1/5 and 5/1 twill blocks

 This towel was woven with 5 thread satin blocks making it a damask cloth.  And all without a Jacquard Loom!

Accidental Christmas trees appeared in this variation.  Again, the structure is 5 thread satin.

I was able to weave 11 different towels on this 12 yard warp and still had designs left that I could have woven.  This last towel was woven with a dark green weft which almost changed colors once it was planted on the lighter green and the red warp stripes.  I'm always amazed at the differences you can get from variations in weave design and weft colors and must say that I didn't tire of what kept emerging as I wove.

I guess the final question is whether or not I'm done with Farey Fraction sequence weaving.  Probably not.  I expect that the next warp will expand the sequence into a larger design - but who knows, it may take me years to come around to the next iteration in my fascination.


For more about Farey and his fractions, here is a Wikapedia article  and a photo of the Farey Fraction sequence up to 8.  Use the denominators for your own sequence work.

If you are interested in satin weaves and  their various counters, here are a couple of resources that help to explain how they are formed. The documents contain almost identical information but in somewhat different format.  If you eyes aren't glazed over when you finish with these documents, I don't know what it will take☺

Friday, August 27, 2021

Using WeavePoint to design an amalgamation draft

 I've been fascinated with amalgamation drafts since I first read Alice Schlein's Network Drafting: An Introduction.  Recently, Alice published a new monograph  called Amalgamation: Double your Dobby and I eagerly purchased a copy directly from her.

As I read the monograph, it appeared that only some weaving software programs were capable of copying the drawdown portion of the draft and pasting it into the threading.  I use WeavePoint for most of my design work, so I went to AVL to see if the programmer of WeavePoint, Bjorn Myhre could help.   At the same time, Bob Kruger from AVL sent the question to Jannie Taylor.  Between the two responses from Bjorn and Jannie, I was able to amalgamate to my heart's content!  So - thanks to both of them for making my software just a bit more valuable to me.

The following is my process.  I've also tried it with Fiberworks for PC and it works well there too.  Choose a threading that you want to amalgamate.  You will notice that I have selected a threading that can be duplicated, in other words, I haven't ended on shaft one so that it repeats without double threads.  Alice's method is just a bit different and she does put in threadings that begin and end on the same shaft.  (More about that later).


The next step will be to add a satin tie up and select "tromp as writ" to fill in the treadling.  In the example below the counter is 11.  (Satin counters are explained in Alice's monograph which I recommend buying if you are interested in doing this kind of design work.)  A plus to WeavePoint software is that you select Fill from your options bar - then select satin.  This feature will give you all the counters that will work with the number of shafts in your design.  Otherwise you will need to research satins for the number of shafts you are working with.

Then, change from tie up mode to liftplan mode.  This will give you a liftplan that you can paste into your threading.  So - copy the liftplan and paste it into the threading to the left of the original 







Change back to a tie up and treadling and do another "tromp as writ". 

Now you are ready to get rid of the satin tie up and experiment with twill tie ups.  Check the float length when you have one that pleases you.  Sometimes it can be hard to get something that has  floats that are 5 or less in length.  WeavePoint makes searching for a tie up easy too.  In the Fill option, select twill tie ups.  You will be able to set the float length for the tie up.  I usually start with 3, sometimes need to go down to 2 in order to find a tie up that won't result in too long floats in the drawdown.

You can use the draft as is now, or do another little fiddle bit.  I often copy the entire threading and then use "paste special" which is found in the Edit menu.  Click on "flip vertical" and then paste that threading to the left of the original threading.  This option gives you more designs.

The final bit of information that I gleaned while working with Alice's monograph and my WeavePoint design solution is that when you copy the original liftplan with the amalgamation in it, you can paste it into the threading by doing  a vertical flip (again use paste special in the Edit menu)  This allows you to start and end on the same shaft with your original threading.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Warping with a Stationary Paddle

I have been wanting to learn how to warp with a paddle using multiple yarn sources for a very long time.  Recently, I found a Victorian Video from 1997 with Sallie Guy called "Warping and Loom Preparation with Sallie Guy". She has a very good visual instruction of the process using a stationary paddle. 

 I followed Sallie's instructions to a "T" or so I thought.  My first warp had terribly twisted warp threads and it was a real struggle to weave off.  So, I tried another and had the same result.  I went back to the video and listened to Sallie say several times that the hand position is very important when transferring the cross from your hand to the warping board.  I didn't understand what I was doing wrong but guessed that there was something in the video that wasn't easy to see (at least I couldn't see it) so I started more experimentations.

I finally solved the answer to the hand position conundrum and am here to share my experiences with you. 

There are several ways to set up your yarns so that you can warp with a stationary paddle.  A very common method would be to have the yarn wound off onto bobbins and placed on a spool rack.  Frequently, I choose that method.  But for the demonstration I recently did for my local weaving guild, my husband and I put together a Rube Goldberg warping station. 


The pvc cone holder helped to keep the lighter weight cones from falling over.  The yarn from each cone was threaded through a 6 dent reed and I deliberately kept the reds and the oranges alternating with the other colors so I could see the colors in the cross more easily and make sure what I was doing wasn't twisting the warp threads.

The next step was to thread these same yarns through the stationary paddle, which is nothing more than a piece of plastic rigid heddle with a handle, mounted on a pole.  Again, the pole is piece of pipe flattened on the top and the paddle is clamped to it.
You thread  the rigid heddle piece - slot, hole, slot, hole - etc.  For my demo warp I used 6 threads.  You could easily warp 20 warp ends at once if you had bobbins and a spool rack. To get a color sequence that I could follow on the warping board and would show up my errors., I put all the red/orange threads in the slots and the others in the holes. When you are practicing and learning the technique, I would recommend using three similar colors and then three that can be anything else.  Once you look at the cross photos you will see why. 
After you have threaded your rigid heddle paddle, you tie them all to the first peg of your warping board.  Sallie's video goes into planning a route for the warp, winding a raddle cross, etc.  Since those details are easily picked up from other sources, I'm not going to discuss them here..
Before we get down the to nitty gritty, I need to make another comment.  I have plastic hooks mounted on the top of each end of my warping board.  These are plastic picture hanging hooks and when I'm picking up my cross, I keep the yarns from slipping off the warping board by anchoring them in the hooks while I'm manipulating the cross. The second from the last photo shows one on the left top corner of the loom.  Enlarge the photo to see it better.
Next step - pick up the cross at the stationary paddle. 1. Holding the threads with your right hand, raise them (see photo above) and put your left index finger in the space created.  2. lower the threads (see photo below) and put your thumb in the space created.  You have created your threading cross.  In these photos you will see that the orange colored threads are all in one half of the cross and the other colors are in other half.
Then, keeping tension on the warp with your right hand, slide your left hand towards the warping board.  Once you are close, wrap all the threads clockwise around the end peg.
The photo above shows the hands holding the cross - but it hasn't yet been seated on the warping board pegs.  This is the critical hand position with the thumb on the right.  Then, you tilt back your hand so that the threads that are closest to the warping board go over the top of the two cross pegs. 
This is the most awkward part of the process.  If you have done it right, the lighter threads will be on the top left and the red/oranges on the right top.  A color sequence similar to this is good to do while you are learning how to manipulate the cross at the warping board.  You can easily see if you are doing it correctly.  A warning.  The first times I did this, I didn't tilt my hand backwards and in the case of the photo above, I put the orange threads on the top of the left peg and the light threads on the top of the right peg.  In the video, Sallie calls this the downward pass and this is where the video failed me.  I couldn't see this hand position.

The photo above shows me coming back in the upward pass towards the cross.  I've completed making the cross at the stationary paddle in the same exact sequence as above.  I've unhooked my threads from those plastic hooks at the right side of the warping board and am approaching the cross pegs.
This cross transfer is easier than the downward pass.  The palm faces you, the thumb is on the left and you don't need to tilt your hand.  From here - rejoin your all your threads and go clockwise around the end peg. (as above).  Anchor the threads in the plastic hooks and start the whole process over again.

And, if you have been doing everything correctly, this is the way the cross will look.  All of the red/orange warps on one side of the top, all of the other colors on the other side and when you look at the bottom of the cross the colors are reversed.  Another thing you will notice at the beginning peg is a false cross.  Ignore it.  Once you have cut that end loop, the threads will be in a normal configuration again.

I recommend the Sallie Guy video highly.  There is nothing like being able to watch the process over several times before you attempt it.

Now, let's go on to the question - why in the world would you want to do this?  Well, if you have delved into the book by Marian Stubenitsky,  Weaving with Echo and Iris, you will want to warp four or eight colors at once.  This technique is a great solution because you will pick off your color sequence one by one at the cross making everything very straight forward.  You can warp four threads at once - yes, but I like this method better.

You may have lots of odds and ends that you want to use up.  Instead of constantly cutting and tying on new ends you just warp along with multiple colors.  Want a draft for this kind of warp?  See Alice Schlein's garbage warp draft. (I use the provocative word garbage - you may wish to call it a mixed warp)!  Maybe you have an interesting stripe sequence that requires frequent color changes, this can easily be achieved by warping the stripes all in one pass. 

Remember to calculate your sett and take that into consideration when you are making your raddle sections if you warp back to front.  If I am warping at 24 epi, I might use 6 threads per pass.  Then, I know that in one inch I will be making 2 downward and 2 upward passes.   If you warp from the front, and don't have a raddle cross, just keep track of the number of threads you have warped.

This post must naturally be a work in progress.  I suspect that there are details I have left out and may need to add later.  If so, I'll just update it.


Monday, September 4, 2017

I'm in love with turned Atwater-Bronson

It seems you can put something on a back burner and not get to it for years.  And then, all of a sudden something kicks in and you decide to give it a whirl.  That's what happened to me recently when I revisited some turned Atwater-Bronson drafts in Strickler's book, #613-#628 contributed by Mary Smith. One of the problems is that you have to deal with a profile treadling.  The threading and tie up is given, but you do have to dig in a bit and figure out the treadling sequence.  Mary Smith spells it out in her explanation, but I had to talk to another weaving friend to get things to click in my brain. Here is a draft if you have the same problems that I did with the profile.  You will notice that I start with the plain weave picks on treadles one and two and then do the pattern picks (in this case on treadles 3 & 4 or 5& 6 or 7&8).  In the profile treadling, think of these as substitutions for Block A, B & C.

Draft #618
 Each of the threading sequences is 36 threads long in these drafts.  I have a forty shaft loom, so I put the threading into a straight draw and added a basketweave selvedge for a towel series on 15 yards of fairly crisp cotton.  I figured I wouldn't be able to weave all of the samples, but should be able to get through a lot of them.  I also decided that a crisp linen feel would be ideal for the drafts, not thinking it through to realize that the threads wouldn't distort as much as all cotton would have. 
I wove off my 15 yards and used lots of different linen, ramie and cottolin wefts.  The basketweave selvedge was superfluous and plain weave selvedges would have probably been a better choice, but the basketweave performed nicely.  I also used the trick of soaking my linen weft bobbins in water so that the threads would bend nicely at the selvedges.  It worked beautifully. 
You will also notice, if you have a copy of Stricker's book, that many of these drafts use more treadles than are usually available on an 8 shaft floor loom.  Another reason to put it into a dobby to weave.  The photo below is draft #628
After my towel warp was completed, I dug out a couple of painted skeins that I dyed in a class I had with Kathrin Weber.  The fiber is bamboo and I thought that perhaps the color variation would look good if used for both warp and weft.  I decided on a 15" wide piece for yardage for a potential garment (or portion of a garment).  When I had woven off all of the dyed yarn, I still had a little warp left and chose a coral rayon to finish off the warp.  Turns out, I should have used it for the entire piece because I like it much better (photo on right). These are woven with draft #621 and the details are mostly lost in the longer yardage piece because color interplay.  However, the texture is wonderful.

OK, still not done with these drafts.  Quite a few years ago I purchased some silk mill ends.  The quality of the silk is very nice, but there are knots and splices in the yarns.  Also, the colors were pale and really nothing that I wanted to use, so they rested in my stash for many years.  Several months ago, in a frenzy of dyeing, I wound off almost all of the cones into skeins and overdyed them in a myriad of colors.  I deliberately did not want an even dye job, so sometimes the original color peeks through, or maybe I poured in magenta after the pot was hot and it struck here and there.   
I wound a warp 5 yards long and 12" wide for a couple of scarves.  The warp was copper, with bits of blue showing through from the original color.  The first scarf was woven off with a light blue weft to see if I could get iridescence.  I did.  The second scarf weft was a celery color and it is also iridescent.  Am I done - probably not.  I still need to experiment with weaving these drafts in cotton and getting a nice deflection of the threads.

The upper photo is draft #622 and the lower photo is #681

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Twill Shawls

I was browsing through my yarn stash in early April and stopped to admire the large quantity of Malibrigo wool sock yarns that had been collecting over the past few years.  Each time my local Ben Franklin had a sale, I picked up a new skein.  They are wonderful yarns with so much color it makes my heart sing when I look at them.  (Which is exactly why I bought them in the first place).  I started laying the yarns out  to see how the colors meshed and then added some more sock yarns from my stash that I had dyed and others that a friend had dyed (Wooly Daisy).  Shawls, I thought.  Big woolen shawls with loads of color.

The first thing was the design and since there were so many colors, I opted for twill blocks.  A three block profile was established and this gave me the option of weaving off the blocks with different treadling sequences. 

After carefully weighing the yarns or seeing what yardages were on each skein,  My calculations told me I had enough yarn for 12 yards at 28" wide and I plotted out the color stripes, keeping in mind how many yards of wool I had in each color.

As I started winding the warp on the beam, I found that some of the yarns had more elasticity to them than others.  Warning bells went off in my head.  This would mean that after these yarns were released from tension, they would contract differently than the others, leaving ripples in the finished cloth.  I had to pull off some of my stripes (sectional warping made it possible) and actually buy more yarn to fill in the spaces.  My original stripe plan was altered as I warped - for better or worse, who knew?

I devised several drafts to fit the striping and added a basketweave selvedge to the edges.  I thought that I could do some shawls with blocks of broken twill and some with straight four thread twills.  Because each block of twill requires four shafts, the main body of the shawls required 12 shafts with another four shafts for the selvedge. (16 shafts in all).

Once the loom was warped, I wondered what color weft should I use to unify the dizzying array of color stripes?  I found some nice dark teal wool, a meadow green (the cone said it was cashmere - I'm not convinced) and finally some nubby silk that I dyed in a dark purple blue.

I hoped that I would have enough warp for four shawls, but sometimes my block sequence begged for a bit longer piece, so I wove them out at close to 100" more or less.  Big shawls that make a bold statement when worn.
I look at the shawls draped on my mannequin and wonder if the orange stripes aren't a bit too bright for the rest of the warp.  The red seems OK, but the orange?  Well, it is what it is.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Basket weave selvedges for 8 shaft looms

I've been a big fan of basket weave selvedges ever since I was introduced to them by fellow weaver and friend, Sandra Rude.  They work most easily with multishaft looms and liftplans.  However, they can be added to other weaving drafts and this post is to let you know how that can be done.

The reason for using a basket weave selvedge is to keep your edges neat and even and to avoid having to use floating selvedge threads.  Their beauty is that as you throw the shuttle back and forth, your weft catches the edge thread of your woven piece on each throw.  Another reason for using the basket weave selvedge, rather than just a plain weave selvedge (using only two shafts) is that plain weave selvedges take up differently than your main pattern and will give you a ruffled edge, whereas basketweave seems to truck along nicely at the same take up as the rest of your piece.  One of the pitfalls in using this treatment on everything you weave is that it uses up four of your precious shafts. 

The very first thing you need to think about when trying to add this selvedge treatment is that a basket weave selvedge  not only needs four extra shafts, but four picks as well.  The biggest mistake that I have made is thinking I have four shafts for my pattern and four shafts for the selvedge.  But, if I am weaving with a point treadling my sequence will be 1-2-3-4-3-2 which has six picks.  I can manage to weave this if I have a table loom and put my draft into a liftplan or I might be able to work out a more complicated treadling sequence with my floor loom, but it's going to be awkward. Everything needs to end up with a treadling sequence that is a multiple of four so in my example above, the minimum treadling sequence is going to be 12 (which is divisible by 6 - the pattern treadling and 4 the selvedge treadling). 

Once you have decided that your pattern choice is going to work and you are going to proceed, it becomes more straight forward.  I usually put my selvedge threads on the last four shafts, but when working with a multishaft loom, sometimes I put them on the front four shafts for easier repairs should a warp thread break. (This was a tip given by Allen Fannin on Weavetech many years ago).

The example below shows the threads on the last four shafts which have been colored blue in the warp. (Half the threads are on the right side and the other half are on the left side.)  I have used five threads to make the floats smaller between the interior pattern and the selvedge threads, but you can just use four on each side if you like.  Notice the tie up on the last four shafts.  In this example the treadling is a repeat of 8, so the tie up for the basket weave is repeated twice.  Also, the threading for this example makes it necessary  that you start throwing your shuttle from the right side.  You can see that if you started throwing from the left side, you wouldn't pick up the edge thread and nothing would work right after that!  I always keep my selvedge threads in this threading configuration so that I always throw my shuttle on the first pick at the right side of the warp.

The best description of selvedge treatments (that I have found) is in the book Handloom Weaving Technology by Allen Fannin.  It is on pages 264 & 265. The book is fairly technical, but does have other things that will interest handweavers.  If you are interested, used copies are fairly inexpensive. 

After this post was published, another weaver friend pointed out that Peggy Osterkamp discusses the same topic in her book Weaving and Drafting Your Own Cloth on pages 88 & 89.  She refers to this selvedge treatment as "tape selvedges"  and also 2/2 hopsack weave. Peggy's book is crammed with information for weavers and would make a good addition to your weaving library.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Experiment with Chenille

Recently I dyed some beige rayon chenille with magenta, reds and blues.  The dyeing process is something I learned in a Kathrin Weber class about a year ago and she calls it "cupcake" dyeing.  Simply put, I dyed the yarn while it was still in center pull balls, thus giving me a variegated yarn.
Chenille is lovely stuff, but can be troublesome once woven.  It tends to "worm" in weave structures that have longer floats and many weavers just end up using plain weave rather than risk the piece turning into a bumpy mess after wet finishing.  I decided to experiment with my variegated chenille, using a weave structure with the chenille mostly showing on one side and the other side predominantly showing the 8/2 blue rayon warp, sett at 20 epi.
There is lots of color variation in the scarf as you can see from the photos below.  The middle fabric photo is a close up of the chenille side and also the warp face side so that you can see the color differences. Notice also the neat little pattern on the blue side of the scarf.
I wet finished the piece and put it in the dryer to make sure that worming wasn't going to be a problem.  It wasn't and I'm satisfied that the fabric will be stable and I can use this technique for future projects.

Should you want to weave your own scarves, the draft is shown below.  The chenille weft is the thicker thread and a finer thread that weaves on shafts 2 and 4 is in orange.  (I used a maroon fine weft to go with the chenille colors, but used orange in the draft so that you could see the structure more clearly).
I also used six treadles to keep my place in the pattern more easily.  Thick, thin, thick, thick, thin, thick.

This last draft is just the reverse side of the draft above.  See how the blue warp is the predominant color on this side.