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...


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