Finally! The 2015 Christmas gifts

So, my family has given up on rescheduling xmas, which means I could give everyone their gifts at last and finally blog about them! In truth I kind of did blog about them… remember the hand towel? And those two double weave examples I talked about? Yep, them.

So here they are in all their glory…

action shot of coasters
First the ‘action shot’ to give a sense of size
front side of coasters
Side 1
Side 2

I actually did two of each and the second ones are a bit squarer and neater and the beat is more even than shown here, but you’ll have to take my word for it because I managed to delete the photos I took of them!!

So, you can see the outcome of the two double weaves. For the log cabin it produced a really nice dotty stripe on the back, as a result of a plain warp with log cabin weft. In the other coaster you can see how the black and grey warp threads have been swapped between layers to create the contrasting square in the middle.

hand towel hangingAnd here is the ‘action shot’ of the hand towel, though I trimmed that fringe back after this was taken.

The towel went into a darkroom/workshop as intended, and is adorning a wall there, but is apparently suffering from “too nice to use” syndrome.  The fate of many a practical woven gift, I think!  Well, it looks nice.

(In fact, rumour has it that one of the coasters is in the same boat, but I’ve been promised it’ll get used…eventually.)

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:


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.

One month a weaver

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…photo of 4 scarfsThe 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.

Scarf with green spots on a black ground

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.

The shadowy world of colour and weave

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.

image of log cabin pattern showing one block of the pattern on the loo
Even with just one pattern block you can see the optical illusion
finished log cabin scarf
Finished scarf

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.

Weaving patterns #1 – colour

So, I’ve mentioned plain, or tabby, weave before. Don’t let the term “plain” fool you because you can do a lot with plain weave!

A good place to start when messing about with it, is to use colour. You can have multiple colours in your weft. You can have multiple colours in your warp. You can do both!

Depending on the alternation of colours you will get plaids, tartans, stripes, houndstooth and even some funky optical illusions. For example, here is a pattern called log cabin, which is about the coolest thing I’ve seen in plain weave so far:

image of log cabin weave cloth Doesn’t it look textured and ridiculously complex? It’s not.

All this pattern is, is plain weave done with warp and weft threads that alternate between light and dark colours. Really!

(I’m itching to try it.)

But this is one of the amazing things about weaving; the colours of the warp and the weft mix to make new colours, or to make patterns.

So, just using colour, you can do stripes, strips and checker board patterns. You can do streaks, splotches or gradients using variegated yarns (just like in knitting).

image of shot silk, showing how it changes from one colour to another as the light hits itAnd, while this isn’t a pattern, this cloth shows another result of changing thread colours… Just by having a different coloured warp to weft, you can create wonderful effects like you see in shot silk, where the cloth  changes from one colour to another as the light hits it. (This is my favourite fabric.)

Trust me, there will be a lot more to be said about colour  and colour in patterns at a future point!