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.
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.
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!
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!
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…
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!).
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!
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:
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):
Both 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.
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.
While they are used for patterns and textures, they are also an integral part the two other main weaving structures; satin and twill.
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.
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.
Well, technically I think it’s just over a month, but who’s quibbling! I’ve had a ball doing samples and making scarfs, trying different yarns and colours in plain weave. Here are the first 4 scarfs…The blue and white one came first (excuse the brightness of the mohair – there are more blue stripes in that bleached area). Woven with a white blue-flecked cotton warp and a variegated blue and white mohair.
Then, of course, the log cabin scarf – woven in black and creamy white cotton.
Here’s a detail shot of that green and black scarf. It was woven with black cotton and a teal silk.
This is probably my favourite pattern so far, and interestingly both sides of the scarf look the same! (The fact you can see a green on black section, is because I ran out of black cotton weft half way and I just used the rest of my ball of teal silk!)
And finally, I wove the blue stripey one with a blue cotton warp and both the blue cotton again and a blue silk/cotton mix in the weft stripes. I had fun making the silk/cotton stripes wider as the scarf progressed while keeping the straight cotton the same.
There have been two warping crises so far… one where the yarn was too slippery for a 7.5 dpi reed, giving me too open a web, so I’ll try again when my finer reed arrives. (Yes, I’m already buying accessories!)
The other disaster involved black wool and a rather neat little sparkly poly. That was totally a lack of planning prior to my “dressing the loom”!
Thankfully, both “crises” were instructional and the yarns will get put back on the loom at a later date.
I posted a while back about how you can make patterns when weaving, with nothing more than plain weave and alternating colours in your warp and/or weft, but I gotta say doing it was just a ridiculous amount of fun.
Log cabin was my starting point for the technique called “colour and weave”, where you alternate warp and weft thread colours in a pattern, so when you weave the result is a particular effect. This was weaving heaven! Why? Because the pattern forms on the loom before your eyes.
For log cabin you alternate your threads in a pattern of dark-light-dark-light-dark-light and then light-dark-light-dark-light-dark. You can change the size of each block by changing how many times you alternate between dark and light before reversing the order. In my scarf, I used blocks of 6 threads.
I chose B&W for this scarf because the stronger the contrast between the light and dark threads, the more the pattern pops out.
There is a whole class of colour and weave that is given the lovely title of “shadow weave”. Again these are patterns where you alternate colours. and in shadow weave it’s usually a single thread alternation.
Just take a look online for images of these patterns and you’ll find a remarkable range of variation in shadow weave and the other colour and weave effects.
It’s worth noting that some colour and weave effects are done not with plain weave, but with twill – which is the other main weave structure. I’ll come back to those some other time, because it is a big area, just on its own.