Deflected Doubleweave as Collapse Workshop

The local Complex Weavers rep had organised three Denise Kovnat workshops in a row, but I only signed up to the first one initially. Having enjoyed it, not suffered too much physically, and after looking at my calendar, I figured I could do the third if it was still possible. It was, so I signed up, got the documentation, ordered yarn and warped the Lotas.

Took a few rows to get the beat right

After the first workshop day of three sessions, I got weaving. The warping had been a lot faster than Echo, and the weaving was too even though it required two to four shuttles for the sampler drafts Denise provided. I tore through the first three, cut them off the loom and fulled them.

Front
Back

Only then did I notice a threading error. But I liked the way it looked and decided to keep it.

I continued weaving and by the second trio of classes the following workshop day I had the first one done and had started on the second. Between the classes I wove more, and would have finished all three if I hadn’t needed to stop and wind a bobbin.

Front
Back

Only three or four of the students had woven anything, because most were still finishing the project from the middle workshop. This was a bit disappointing, as I didn’t get to see a variety of samplers from different 8-shaft drafts to ones using more.

After the second day of classes I finished the second trio of samples, cut them off the loom and fulled them, using laundry soap. The fulling wasn’t happening as fast as it had the first time, and I realised I’d used woolmix previously. So I changed the water and added woolmix, and oh boy did that full! No wonder why my knitwear has been shrinking the last few years! That brand of woolmix has now been relegated to machine washable clothing or things I want to full.

With a week left, I decided to weave my favourite of the six drafts using the alternative yarns Denise had suggested we play with. My notes follow the pics.

Front
Back

1a dark blue Colcolastic instead of the grey merino, original blue 10/2 cotton.
1b original grey merino, lilac Colcolastic instead of the cotton.
RESULT: Colcolastic created an even texture on both samples that pulled in more than the merino shrinks. 1b creates the zig-zag effect better.

2a burgundy wool & stainless steel instead of the merino, yellow-green 10/2 cotton.
2b dark blue 10/2 cotton instead of the merino, pale green silk stainless steel instead of the cotton.
RESULT: Crinkle effect is more random but pulled in the same rate as the Colcolastic. Feels soft and a bit papery.

Front
Back

3a original grey merino, gold gimp instead of the cotton.
3b gold gimp instead of the grey merino, original blue cotton.
RESULT: Pulled in a little less than Colcolastic and stainless steel. Surprisingly soft for a metallic.

4a original grey merino, multicolour tape yarn instead of the cotton.
4b grey and black tape yarn instead of the merino, dark blue Colcolastic instead of the cotton.
RESULT: 4a had the same shrinkage on first two trios of samplers, which is less than the other yarns. The zig-zag is completely lost but it’s still a lovely effect and feel that would make a beautiful scarf or shawl. 4b shrank more – the same as the other Colcolastic samples – and lost the zig-zag. It’s is more like a messy plaid, which is okay but a waste of an expensive tape yarn.

That left me with about half a metre of warp left. I thought I might try tweaking the tie-up and treadling, but decided to wait until after the next class in case Denise had other suggestions. Then an email from the rep reminded us that Denise would no longer be available for questions after the third workshop so I figured I may as well keep going in case what I tried raised some issues.

It took a few days before I got back to the loom, however, as I came down with a really terrible headache. Possibly a migraine. I’ve been having these weekly, usually on a Monday and Tuesday, but this time it hung around most of the week. I did eventually manage to play a bit in Fiberworks and stumbled upon a horizontal version of the zig-zag draft I’d used for the alternative yarns. Which was the same on the front as the back. So I used that to worked out how to change the original so it was also same on both sides.

This suggested to me a scarf that switched back and forth from vertical zig-zag to horizontal. However, the gap between them didn’t translate to the back, and the two together used 12 pedals when I only have 10. But then I noticed that two sets of the treadles were very similar, so I could add and remove four pegs when I switched from vertical to horizontal and back. So long as the blocks of each were big, it wouldn’t be too much trouble.

So I got weaving, finished the warp, took the piece off the loom… and realised I’d forgotten that I had altered the threading slightly to get the vertical zig zag to be reversible. Never mind! I fulled the fabric and have a nice piece long enough to be a cowl.

If I had 16 shafts perhaps I could do this as a grid pattern. Maybe something to try if I ever get around to making that 16 shaft table loom.

Of the two workshops, I enjoyed the Echo and Jin one more for the interaction between the participants. Of the two weave structures, I enjoyed the Deflected Doubleweave slightly more. Overall, I have learned a great deal, tried a whole lot of new yarns, and my to-do list of things to make has grown. I hope to do more workshops, but that may depend on what I end up doing next year. Which is not going to quite be what I had planned. But I’ll leave that to another post.

Twirly Mo Sampler

By the end of the Echo and Jin workshop I had small but ambitious list of things I wanted to try, helped along by the arrival of a birthday and this present:

I wanted to:

  1. Make an Echo draft using my own design line
  2. Have another attempt at doubleweave
  3. Be a bit more deliberate in colour selections
  4. Make a thing
  5. Try moire/non-parallel threading

Launching into the first challenge, I made a design line based on a twirled moustache using the instructions given to us in class. The result was disappointing. No matter what combination of colours I used the design was indistinct and unexciting. I repeated the process a few times, rechecked the instructions, then one evening I had another look at the Heddlecraft article on Echo and had an ‘aha!’ moment. The instructions there reminded me that Denise had said not to skip a shaft. Though I’ve seen echo design lines that do, I figured if two sources say don’t then I would stick to the rule for my first designs.

My warp colour choices were perhaps a little lacking in contrast, too. I also had a hunch that part of the problem was one of scale. Back to Fiberworks, I restarted with a bigger moustache line with no shaft skips. This time the magic happened.

Next I made a doubleweave draft with the same tie-up and threading Denise used in her class example. Then I came up with six more twill-based tie-ups and treadings. My plan is to try the doubleweave, rethread the reed for twill weave a few of the designs, then pick one to weave a scarf out of.

Learning

That’s what this year was supposed to be about, for me and in some ways it was, but not in the way I’d intended. I was meant to continue my weaving education. I was meant to start teaching. I was meant to either work out how to fix my back or how to be retired.

Instead, Covid scuttled my teaching plans and the 8-shaft certificate course was put off until next year – and now it may be put off until mid 2021 if we don’t get more students signing up. My back is worse and I’m even more at a loss as to how to exist sans work or a clear objective.

To be honest, I’m a bit depressed.

I’m sure it’s just temporary. I’m only a bit depressed, and I always get a little down at this time of year. Most of the prospects that usually buoy me – end of year gatherings and things to look forward to in the next year – aren’t happening or might still be cancelled, but I’ll just have to find or organise replacements.

What should I consider doing? Hmm, maybe I should also consider what I shouldn’t be doing.

My back is worse, which may be natural degeneration or not being able to go to pilates classes. I’m doing exercises at home, but they’re clearly not as effective. I need to find a replacement, and I’m considering the one-on-one pilates sessions at my local physio.

I feel like I didn’t ‘people’ very well this year. That may not be true – or maybe it just seems that way because so many interactions were online – but the feeling makes me want to avoid non-friends and Zoom for a while. So if I come up with a challenge or project, it should be one I do on my own.

However, support from friends has been good this year, especially in lockdown, and now restrictions are mostly over I know hanging with them, in small groups, will improve my mood greatly.

The next thing is hard to put in words. I need to temper my obsessive nature. To let go of these notions of being useful or helpful, or making a mark, or saving weaving knowledge or learning for the sake of learning. Of having a Plan. Of being Creative or an Artist or anything, really.

I need to sit still and let things be. I’ve spent so many years with my mind in made up places that to navigate reality 24/7 is strange and taxing. I tend to bury myself in obsessions as a form of looking away, and that isn’t good for my mental health or body. And this year has been unusually emotionally exhausting.

Not that I don’t want to be creative or stop learning. But I must to try to have more control of the former and accept I have little control in the latter. To cruise rather than constantly speed and crash. To trust that the current will take me around obstacles, and learn to swim across rather than against it.

And avoid dangerous waters in the first place.

Time

The pandemic and sprained thumb scuttled my plans for the year, but they also gave me time to think. And doubt. And lose momentum. And lose enthusiasm. And find clarity. And be honest with myself.

By the time it occurred to me that ongoing de Quervains might make repairing looms and doing the loom stocktake at the Guild impossible, I wasn’t as bothered as I thought I would be. As far as I know, only two or three people are aware and appreciative of the work I’ve been doing for the Guild, and I’ve never been bothered by that. But when, early in the year, the role became offical… or not… things got kinda weird.

Was it me? Perhaps the vibe was my imagination and things would have sorted themselves out given the chance. Perhaps my instinct was right and the lockdown was a blessing. I guess I’ll never know. My thumb sprain made it all a moot point anyway. I’m chalking it up as a learning experience – trying something a little out of my comfort zone and confirming that it wasn’t for me.

But that got me wondering about teaching. It, too, is out of my comfort zone. Yet I’ve done it before and enjoyed it, and had great feedback, so I think it’s worth doing again. If I’m giving away time and energy, I need to be sure it’s both wanted, and nobody is going to sign up for a class they don’t want to do!

I’m trying to keep that in mind as I consider the future, and if I still intend to make teaching a regular thing. I’m reminding myself that there’s no hurry. I still have a lot to learn, and I’m having plenty of fun doing that. There’s no deadline. I have plenty of time to work this out.

Pin Notch Nail

I’ve put my hand up to teach a workshop on pin loom weaving at the guild’s summer school. I had intended to do another rigid heddle loom workshop, perhaps this time concentrating on a particular technique, but I wasn’t sure I could convert it to live video if there was another lockdown. So when the summer school organiser called to ask if I’d do a workshop, I quickly cast about in my mind for an alternative, and pin looms came to mind.

They’re simple to use and quick to weave on so even a beginner will come away with a completed piece. I have a variety of looms to show them, from tiny vintage ones to medium commercial ones, to big handmade ones, and example projects made on most of them, including a couple of unusual approaches.

I gathered together pin looms, samples and unfinished projects and made a to-do list. The joining and finishing I’ve done has never satisfied me, so I need to refine my methods. I want to learn how to join squares as they are woven. And weave with wire. Then there’s instructions to write up and I perhaps foolishly said I’d include templates for DIY looms so I need to make those.

The work quickly added up and I want to keep it to a sane amount. I decided I’d stick to square looms and concentrate on weaving one, then demonstrate joining them. The workshop will be filmed by a member holding a camera for those attending via Zoom, so I suspect that will slow things down a bit.

Unlocked

Post lockdown blues. Re-entry anxiety. I think, perhaps, that I have both. There’s such a buzz about going back to ‘normal’, but normal is, well, normal. Nothing that exciting when it comes down to it. Just normal with added ongoing anxiety.

The anticlimax of that realisation comes with a nagging feeling that maybe my normal is lacking. Hmm, I might be onto something there.

When I consider what I missed most during lockdown, it’s going out for fun: seeing friends and family, visiting museums and galleries, and going second-hand and vintage shopping. Socialising is now possible, but it has an element of anxiety. Mingling with strangers in a museum or gallery, after seeing how selfish and idiotic some can be, would not be anxiety-free. Shopping, too. And I look around the house and think, “We really don’t need more stuff!”.

I got to wondering if there’s something else to go out for. Something I can enjoy with Paul or a friend, but doesn’t put us among crowds. Something to acquire or collect that doesn’t take up much or any space. I thought about photography. Or sketching.

Then I did something I’ve been intending to do for a while now: joined an artist association. Their website suggests they’ve been quite active in lockdown with challenges and Zoom sessions. Unfortunately I’ve missed the last challenge for the year, but there is an online exhibition coming up.

If you want strangers to stay away from you the last thing you should do is paint in public, but there are ways to get out and work undisturbed, like painting in the car or at friend’s houses. Maybe they will have more suggestions. There’s no harm in trying, right?

Dishcloth Decoding

A few years ago I bought some washable cotton dishcloths as part of a push to avoid plastic. The weave structure intrigued me, and I decided I would make some of my own some day. When the three cloths began to get smelly and stained I was too busy to weave my own so I bought another set, but those are getting bit old now so I figure it’s time to DIY.

I thought they were a honeycomb structure, and I was so sure I wound a warp without coming up with a draft. When I did look closer I realised they weren’t honeycomb at all, but a kind of waffle-weave with a deflected weft added.

Some hours were spent peering through a magnifying glass, trying to make a draft in Fiberworks that matched what I saw, and getting my face this up near to the fabric really confirmed that these cloths needed replacing. Pew!

What I came up with first was close, but whenever I got the front looking right the back didn’t, and visa versa. The next day I got a sewing needle and looked again, using the needle to shift threads around, and realised that there were more warps in the threading repeat than I’d realised. Once those were added to the draft everything fell into place.

Then I tried to add some plain weave for hems on sides. The only way I could do this was to add two shafts I didn’t have, or turn the draft and treat the honeycomb threads as supplementary warp. Since I had already threaded the loom, I decided my cloths would just have to have no hems on the sides.

Well, the first cloth didn’t come out as well as I hoped:

Even after two washes to shrink it was clear I needed to use a much closer sett, and I wasn’t happy with the selvedges.

And while weaving of the first dishcloth had kept my mind occupied, I could see that these were going to get boring pretty quickly. So I decided that I would move the warp to the floor loom, and since that meant rethreading I may as well turn the draft, which would also speed up the weaving as I’d only be using one shuttle.

However, I have signed up for another workshop, which starts in a week and a half, and I’ll be using the floor loom so I don’t have time to move the warp, weave the cloths and then warp for the workshop. This project is going to have to wait until December.

Which frees up the Jane loom for a bit more Echo weaving. I’m planning to design my own draft, try a different warp colour combo, do the doubleweave exercise I abandoned in the Echo and Jin workshop, then weave a scarf.

Echo & Jin Workshop

As the HWSGV’s 4-shaft weaving course drew to an end the knowledge that there would be a gap of nearly six months to fill between the 4-shaft and 8-shaft course loomed over me. What could I do in that time? It’d be great if I could add to my weaving knowledge by doing workshops, though I should avoid weave structures I’d be tackling next year.

An interstate weaver friend mentioned that she was going to be doing a workshop organised by Complex Weavers, an organisation I hadn’t felt knowledgeable and experienced enough to join in the past. I was ready, I decided, to dip my toes in those waters. At least, I have half a chance of understanding some of what they do now! When I looked into it, I was delighted to learn that we have Australian representatives organising local communications and activities, including the workshop my friend was doing.

So I joined and had lovely email conversations with the two representatives. One was a close friend of Kay, so we exchanged sad and fond reminiscences. The other, the rep for my side of the country, organises the workshops with overseas teachers – all of which are now running online.

The workshop my friend was doing would be a bit hard on my sprained thumb, but one on Echo and Jin with Denise Kovnat looked within my abilities. I’ve admired and wanted to try Echo since the book Echo and Iris came out. Jin – turned taquete, is a structure I hadn’t woven yet, though I had woven taquete as part of a summer & winter sampler. Specific kinds of yarns were required, and thankfully I was able to order them from the rep. It was a tense wait for it to arrive, with Australia Post taking longer to deliver, but they eventually did and I got the loom warped up in time. The threading was intimidating at first as it looks random:

But once I realised that I was looking at sets of four odd shafts followed by four even shafts, and that once you have the first colour threaded the rest follow in order and always in the same direction, I found it much easier.

The workshop was divided into three Zoom days a week apart. Intros or show and tell first thing in the morning, a break, explanation of techniques next, another rest, then more explanation or show and tell.

Students chose a threading based on the number of shafts on their loom. I chose Cats Eyes because, well, cats! The colours I chose for the warp were denim blue, freesia yellow, green glow and coral red. The blue and red were much less saturated than Ashford’s web page shows – though that could be my screen, so the colours combined into a much more yellowy-orange blend than I expected:

The blue almost disappears.

The first week I wove Echo with a twill structure:

Purple weft – Venne 20/2 cotton.
Aqua weft – Venne 20/2 cotton.
Royal blue weft – Venne 20/2 cotton. I tried pistachio green first but it was a bit wishy washy.
Magenta pink weft – Venne 20/2 cotton – which produced the best iridescence of all the samples.

The second I wove jin:

Mid green weft – Venne 20/2 cotton – for the first section. Dark purple above.

There was only one Jin draft, so I added tabby to one of the twill ones to make it Jin:

Salmon pink weft – Venne 20/2 cotton.

Then made one up from scratch – an advancing extended broken twill with tabby:

Royal blue weft – Venne 20/2 cotton.

Denise suggested an alternative, non-broken twill based Jin, which was an easier weave:

Black weft – Venne 20/2 cotton.

Finally, I tried the doubleweave draft. I’d noticed that the treadling required 16 treadles, which the Lotas does not have. Tim’s Treadle Reducer couldn’t simplify it, but it said it’s calculations don’t allow for using multiple treadles. I decided to see if that could be done. To my surprise it could!

But it would mean pressing four treadles down at the same time. Though the treadles were next to each other, when I came to try it I found the shed was very messy. I expect there’s a technical explanation for this, but though the doubleweave was possible, it was so awkward it was unpleasant to weave, so I stopped after only a short section. I was having a very draining bad back day, so I didn’t think to weave the original tie-up then simply reverse when I got to the tenth treadle.

Denim blue and coral red weft.

Two days later I considered the last metre of warp left and I decided to play. I went back to the first Echo design and varied the weft, starting with a hemp/cotton blend (that shrank when I washed it), then a cm or so of metallic thread (that kept snagging in the shuttle so badly I eventually had to cut it), then a khaki cotton that I think was army surplus and wove very nicely.

You’ll have to trust me the metallic looks good. But it’s scratchy.

Next I played with treadling, reversing back and forth, using grey Venne cotton.

Cell division?

Then I tried using more than one colour in the weft, starting with magenta and pistachio, then adding aqua to the mix for a three-colour section.

I really like these. Slow weaving, though.

Thoughout the workshop we learned how to design our own echo pattern, how to deal with floats, how to select colour combinations, and different approaches to doubleweave. There was a wide range of age and experience in the students, and sophistication of looms, and you know you have a good group when there are lots of laughs. All via Zoom. Denise handled online teaching well, was an enthusiastic teacher, and was always willing to answer questions between classes via email. I’d do another class with her… in fact, I’ve booked another!

I’ll definitely weave Echo again. My favourite drafts were the twills, as they weave up with satisfying speed. I want to explore making them with my own design lines, and seeing if I can get an effect that’s more painterly – random rather than repetitive, with watercolour-like colour transitions.

Rainbow Rugs

These were a joy to weave. So bright and cheery.

The plan was to weave two 1x2m rugs, both using a spectrum of colours but with different approaches, so the recipient can choose which they want.

For the first rug, I wove neatly delineated stripes that form squares with the warp stripes. I used dark blue fabric for the blue stripe. For the second I wove a single sweep through the spectrum achieved by using two shuttles: creating a solid colour section for 20 rows then a mixed section of alternating stripes with the next colour for the following 20. I used a sky blue fabric for the blue stripe. I also had red on both ends, which made it longer than the planned 2 metres.

I wove hems rather than fringe because there are fringe-eating cats in the household.

The amount of preparation to weave these rugs is kind of crazy. A very rough calculation puts them at about 24 hours per rug. But the result is so good, and the use of a waste product so satisfying, that the time and effort is totally worth it.

There’s going to be a lot of rag strips left, so I foresee more brightly coloured rag rugs in my future. I’ve gone through the rest of the flannelette fabric and there are seven more rugs I want to make, not including the two in other kinds of fabric on the to-do list. Most require a different warp colour, so that’s going to bump up the hours per rug count. Still, the wide sett of a rug warp makes for very fast threading.

Now I’m just waiting for restrictions to be lifted so I can visit the recipient and let them choose which one they’ll keep.

Tablecloth Pants

But not what you’re probably imagining! No gingham or embroidery, though that could be awesome. Years ago I requested a black tablecloth for a birthday or Christmas. Mum couldn’t find black so she opted for this dark charcoal which kinda worked in our old place.

We live in a different house with a different colour scheme now so when I culled our table linens recently I decided the charcoal tablecloth should go. But where to? Op shop? I like the fabric, with it’s subtle textured grid pattern, though not so much as a tablecloth. It seemed more suited to clothing. So I popped it in my fabric stash.

I imagined it becomming a shorts jumpsuit at first, and when I found a pattern I snapped it up. But after my recent decision to retire and replace two pairs of summer cotton pants it was kinda obvious what the tablecloth needed to become.

After I made the Bed Sheet Pants I made some adjustments to the pattern. I also decided to put back pockets on this pair. The fabric was slightly stretchy, so I had to take care when sewing to avoid wobbly seams. I got the waistband right this time, too.

You’ll have to trust me that they look good on! It’s not the most flattering way to photographing grey pants, hanging them against a door, and these days I just don’t have the energy to set up a tripod or chase Paul in order to have a pic of me modelling clothes.

The sewing bug hasn’t been exhausted yet, so I am now making a new dress out of one of Late Lucy’s. Or I will be, if the test run of the pattern works out. And that has been interrupted by the start of a weaving workshop that I’m really enjoying. More on that later…