Friday, August 5, 2011

A New Kind of Weaving

Wow!  It's been forever since I posted.  Still going through crazy times and trying to make it work.  I think ultimately it will, but I'm still trying to find balance.

Shadow Weave
The latest Weave-a-long (WAL) on Ravelry's Warped Weavers group is shadow weave.  Years ago, I made the Shadow Weave Bamboo Shawl from Handwoven magazine.  It's a great shawl, but kind of hard to find the rhythm. While wondering what to do for the WAL, I stumbled upon Marian Powell's 1000(+) Shadow Weave Patterns for 4, 6, and 8 Harnesses.  Figuring out her drafting notation takes some doing, but it really isn't hard and the drafts are so beautiful, they're worth it.  I chose a four-harness draft to use for a couple of scarves. Webs had 1900 YPP rayon chenille on sale and they had some beautiful colors available. I chose a soft rose and an ecru to make up these scarves.  The first one is still in-progress.  Here it is on the loom:

Marian Powell's 4-40-1 Shadow Weave draft
Smaller Weaving
But while I've been working on the shadow weave project, I've decided to try my hand at some smaller weaving. I got interested in tablet (card) weaving, inkle loom weaving and pickup weaving. All are used to create narrow bands of fabric, many highly decorated.  Here are the three projects I've recently finished:

From left to right: two sections of the inkle-woven band, a section of the pickup band and a section of the tablet-woven band. Of the three, the inkle-woven band came out the best, I think. I "got" the concept of warping for the inkle-loom more quickly than the others and I was able to keep it a decently even width with good selvedges.

The first project was the tablet-woven band.  I used the rigid-heddle loom frame to hold the warp. Unfortunately, I used a DK cotton knitting yarn.  It was smooth and pretty, but way too thick, I think.  I'll use something much more fine next time.

The pickup band was the most recent project. Instead of using a backstrap loom, I put about a yard of warp onto my smaller rigid-heddle loom. I threaded the warp through double 12-dent heddles for an EPI (ends per inch) of 24.  That worked fine with 5/2 perle cotton, but I must say that using double heddles made the pickup a bit more interesting.  The double heddles cause one level of warp to lie in two planes instead of one. It's okay because I flattened out the warp in my hand, but still...  It's something to look out for.  Here's a side view of the warp:

Side View of Pickup Warp
You can see the upper and lower plane of the warp as well as where the warp threads cross for the pickup (and dropdown). In pickup weaving, designs are formed by picking up heavier warp threads so that the ones necessary for the design are on the top.  Half of the threads will naturally be at the top because of the shedding mechanism of the loom.  Here's a photo of the shed formed, before the pickup stick is inserted:

Okay, the pickup stick is inserted into the plain shed to highlight the threads!  But you can bet that some of those threads shouldn't be showing and some that aren't showing should be.  So you take your trusty pickup stick and pick up those that should be on top and push down the ones that should be hidden.  Here's what it looks like with the pickup stick inserted and turned on its side:

Easier said than done at the beginning, but it becomes really logical soon enough.

I made more mistakes on this than I care to admit to.  The worst one was misreading the instructions and thinking that the weft had to be the same color as the outer border of the piece.  That's quite true in tablet weaving and inkle weaving, but the weft shows a little bit in the pattern area of pickup weaving, so I should have made the background color, the outer border and the weft color all the same.  I'll fix that for sure in the next project, but that's why there are green speckles in the background of the hearts.  I probably shouldn't have started with anything quite as complex as I did, but hey, it was fun!

And that's what it's all about - having fun!