From a loom disaster comes joy…

Some warps are cursed. Seriously. And yes, I had one this past week. Bad yarn choice for the pattern, led to changing to a different pattern that used the same threading and then a tension issue showed up! Sheesh.

So off it came! But I learnt a good lesson on using flecked yarns for patterns and I ended up with a great result on the fresh warp.

teal and black patterned scarf draped over the loom

Loomy-goodness

As you may know, I didn’t do much weaving in 2018. It was a low project year. But 2019 is looking not too shabby as we head to the mid-point, with three completed projects and one on the loom… so much fun!

What started out as a plain weave scarf, ended up – due to plain weave fatigue – as an experiment in using up some thrums doing… well… it basically tapestry. Can’t wait to see how it fulls.

Cloth woven by laying in rows of different yarns to make shapes and textures
In a good/bad result – this didn’t use up as much of my thrum stash as I expected!

Then I decided that I should do something with my vari-dent reed… poor thing has been unloved since I bought it. Of course I didn’t use it for different gauge yarn – why would I use something for it’s intended purpose?! – instead I used it to play with spacing. Very pleased with the result!

Yarn threaded into a reed containing mixed heddle sizes
You can see the sections of 30/10 and 20/10 reed – I used the larger size to double up my 8 ply
A section of cloth with different warp spacings from using the vari-dent reed
A quick (and lumpy) photo of the finished cloth

For the first time in 3 years or so, I did twill. Just a 3 shaft, straight treadling, but it was useful to find all the things I’ve forgotten about twill! Pic might come later… accidentally deleted the pic of it on the loom… ahem.

What’s on the loom right now is an optical illusion 2 shaft pattern… soooooo enjoying this. And it meant I got to do string heddles and have all manner of fun with calculations… but, honestly, I’m in it for the way it messes with my eyes!

Cloth on the loom showing a black and white pattern that looks like the cloth undulates
Isn’t this pattern a doozy?

This is my new favourite pattern!

One of my favourite patterns I’ve woven so far is the classic log cabin, but it has a rival for my affections now!

You don’t get the full loveliness in this pic – it’s best seen by moving away from the screen a bit – but it’s elegant and… I like it a lot.

black and brown pattern on the loom

Can’t wait to wash it and see how it fulls.

Weaving patterns #5 – texture

There are quite a lot of ways to add texture to weaving. Ones I’ve already talked about are:

There are also “finger manipulated weaves” which I’ll cover in another post, but I thought here I’d talk about something you see in some patterns almost as a side effect…

a textured 4 shaft weave
This draft creates a raised texture as well as a colour pattern

So here the weft is skipping sections of warp and making a surface texture as well as a colour pattern. This is a favourite draft for me since I tried it! I was so excited to see the texture on the surface (bonus!).

4shaft draft from handweaving.net

In a serendipitous blooper, I put the colours the wrong way around the first time (the first image above). I got lovely chunky sections of raised colour against a flat, black warp, and that gives the cloth a different character.  Some time I’ll do this draft in all one colour just for the subtle texture.

I suspect a few of these broken twill patterns would yield a similar result, so I’m on the lookout for this in drafts now!

Weaving colour #2

In this post, we’ll look at the effect of the brightness of your yarn colours. Notice I said brightness? This isn’t about how light/dark a colour is, but how bright/dull it is.

The brightness matters because a bright colour seems to ‘come toward’ you while a dull colour seems to ‘move away’ from you. That means:

  • your eye/brain thinks the brighter colour is physically closer, and this is what makes a colour and weave pattern like log cabin seem 3 dimensional (by the way, not everyone can see these 3D effects – depends on your eyesight)
  • your eye/brain notices the bright colour more, so your eye thinks there’s more of that colour, and it also makes any pattern sections in that colour stand out more

To expand on those points… to maximise the 3D effect of log cabin, you need to use colours with a high difference in brightness – i.e. one very dull and one very bright.

In terms of bright yarns standing out, here’s an example I hope shows that:

4shaftCombined

When you first look at these two samples, you see the brighter teal/aqua first and register the pattern they make. That’s why the two samples look quite different despite both being the same pattern; one has a bright warp and the other a bright weft.

In terms of mixing colours, here’s a small example (not the best pic sorry):

Brightness1Both these samples have exactly the same variegated warp, but the weft on right is much nearer the brightness of the warp, so the colours are less distinct and mix more. The dull black weft (left) causes the warp yarn to really pop and makes its colours seem stronger (might be a little lost in the photo).

Something else to note; while the grey weft is closer in brightness, it is still duller than the warp yarn and so lowers the overall brightness of the sample. If you have a lovely bright yarn and you cross it with a yarn that’s a little duller, you might be disappointed at the overall loss of brightness!

As a final note, value is the term used for brightness in colour theory. So, when people talk about a yarn’s colour having a higher/lower value than another yarn, they’re comparing how bright one yarn is to the other.

Six months a weaver (farewell 2015)

Well, it’s been a busy first 6 months of weaving! I’ve made a lot of scarfs, done a few samples and even branched out to things like a hand-towel.

So, here is my half-year as a weaver in pictures… lots of pictures…

Continue reading Six months a weaver (farewell 2015)

The joy of floats

In weaving, a float is where a thread skips going “under” (or an “over”) and carries across 2+ threads. They can be weft floats or warp floats and they can appear on either side of the cloth.

image of my third sample on the loom
Me playing with floats in an early sampler

While they are used for patterns and textures, they are also an integral part the two other main weaving structures; satin and twill.

diagram of twill
Twill structure

Satin is largely floats and that’s why it’s so smooth; the floats are only caught down occasionally. While twill is based on short floats that are slightly offset with each repeat, giving it the diagonals it’s famous for (think of denim). In a way, plain weave is the odd structure out for having no floats at all!

While satin and twill are structures, not patterns, a lot of “colour and weave” patterns use floats to give different effects. Here is one of my favourites – pinwheels – where the curvy, spinning effect is created with a few well-placed floats.

pinwheel pattern
Itching to try it!!

Keep in mind that the longer the floats, the less stable the structure of the cloth will be and the more subject to abrasion. Also, the more likely that baby’s fingers/toes and other things can catch on them.