Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Annual Samples

As a member of the Complex Weavers Study Group 24 Plus or Minus, every year I weave samples to share with the other members of the group.  Every year I wait until the very last moment.  This is not really planned or a good thing.  I usually manage to pull together a design that I like and that weaves up well. 

This year, I had about three weeks before the deadline to mail the samples out and I hadn't started anything.  The good news is that I did get my samples finished on time.   The other good news is that I really liked the result.

The design is a 24 shaft twill pattern threaded as a 24-shaft point and an 11-shaft point. (It was intended to be a 12-shaft point but by the time I figured that out it, I decided to go ahead with the 11-shaft point.)  The threading is something I dreamed up using Fiberworks PCW weaving software while I played around with the "magic box" - the area on the draft that defines which shafts are used for each treadle.  I didn't spend very much time but I got a fairly nice pattern that looked good in the design area of the software program and didn't have too many floats.  I think the longest float was maybe 5 threads. 

I decided to use 20/2 cotton yarn so that the samples didn't have to be too big for the whole motif to appear in one square area.  It probably doesn't show up too well in the picture but I used a light blue for the wrap (UKI Mineral) and a dark green for the weft (UKI Dark Green). 

I didn't have as many problems as usual for a fairly rushed job but there were some tensioning problems, one broken warp thread and the dobby's usual habit of lifting extra shafts.  The picture below shows the very beginning with the broken thread (fortunately only one during the entire process) and the two large places where either I or the dobby was doing something not intended.

Fortunately I was able to weave enough cloth to easily have the required number of samples.  I really loved the result.  I think that I would love to use the pattern for something other than samples.  I'm not sure what yarn I would use, but I think this would be a lovely scarf.

Below is a detailed look at the finished cloth.  The different sized points makes this really interesting.  I was also pleased with the evenness of the beat I was able to achieve, although this was challenging, especially in the beginning.  The wet finishing helped even this out as well. 

I'm hoping that I do find a reason to weave this into something functional AND that for next year's samples I start earlier.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Morphing from Christmas to After Christmas

I had great plans to weave a bunch of hand towels with little Christmas trees for the holidays.  Of course, life got crazy and it didn't happen before Christmas.  OK, I can weave them this year for next year...  at least that was the plan.
These towels are woven with 10/2 unmercerized cotton yarn set at 24 epi and threaded in a rosepath design on 8 shafts.  (The colored weft for the trees is DMC perle cotton size 5.)  This time I also threaded the selvedges in plain weave.  Because it is generally easier, I used my 24-shaft AVL loom even though I would have woven this (without the plain weave borders) on just 8 shafts.  The first towel started fine but there was a communication error between my laptop and the dobby controller.  So instead of a 30+ thread pattern, it was something like 20 threads.  This has happened before.  I really haven't figured out what was going on but it could be that there was a "treadle" that didn't have any lifts plugged in and when  the weaving got to a point where the treadles beyond the empty one were used, the dobby thought the pattern was finished - and told the computer as well.  
I did fix this by recreating the design (I use Fiberworks PCW software) and wove a couple more tree towels.  There were several problems:  1) My tension across the width of the warp was uneven causing smiling problems at the selvedges;  2) the plain weave selvedges, although sleyed the same 24 epi probably should have been sleyed further apart to prevent crowding at the edges - the unmercerized yarn is pretty sticky and I had to manually put the weft threads in place at the edges and 3) finally, I didn't really like this tree pattern.
Trees that didn't work
New Tree design
Finished Trees
Given this, I thought about what I could do with the warp - other than just cutting it off.  Since it was threaded to a rosepath design, I though about using that for a border.   I really like a pattern published by Betty A. Berta in her book 8H Rosepath Patterns (Self-published 1995). The one I chose to use is #25 (top left-hand corner.  It generally produces round figures.  I found a 10/2 yellow unmercerized cotton and wove a towel in plain weave with this rosepath design as a border. 

Plain weave with rosepath border
The result was OK but not exciting.  Also the rosepath design pulled in more than the plain weave and if I really didn't pay attention, this could cause problems.  The yellow was probably too subtle or not subtle enough.   
So, I decided again not to cut off the warp but to weave the whole towel with rosepath with a rosepath border.  This went relatively well except for the sticky unmercerized yarn and the plain weave borders.  The simplest solution was to cut those warp threads off and just weave rosepath selvedge to selvedge.  This worked relatively well.  I found a purple variegated 10/2 cotton yarn that added some interest to the design and was probably mercerized and thus a little smoother to work with. 

Rosepath with colored border
The result was pretty good.  The other problem I had was that I had committed myself to weaving 24 shaft samples for a Complex Weaver's Study Group and time was running out to meet that deadline. 

Rosepath border detail
At this point and with time really running out, I decided to weave the entire towel in the rosepath with the purple variegated yarn.

Variegated Towel detail
In retrospect, it was a fun exercise.  I am still hoping to design a better Christmas tree that I can weave to completion without the computer having issues.  I'm glad that I actually wove the entire warp (10 towels in all) and didn't have to just get rid of it. 
Selection of towels woven on the same warp
Now on to the samples...