I’ve had a bit over a week off work and there was a list of errands and chores as long as my arm to keep me busy. But then came the weather. I’m no one’s friend when it’s either humid or over 33C so, as I said in my scarf in a day post, I was hiding and weaving.
What I didn’t expect was that I’d weave quite this much!
I did a yarn audit in the middle of the week, so I have an excuse to buy more yarn… okay, technically it was to refresh my memory of what’s there, but the shopping part of my brain had an eye on whether the yarn store had space to grow (it does… squeeeeeeeee!). The other result of the audit was finding balls of colours that I don’t normally use.
I did a subtle pattern of stripes on the lemon scarf and it has turned out beautifully. It also got me thinking about patterns. I haven’t done one for a while…
So I’ve warped a colour pattern and, for something different, I threaded before winding on the warp (that’s the back beam in the foreground there).
The pattern will slow the weaving down some – not as much as being back at work though!
I keep thinking that it’s almost 2020 which, to a sci-fi fan like myself, seems like we’ve almost reached the date in which most imaginers-of-future-us saw hover boards, robots, rocket packs and colonies on the moon. We might not achieve that by 2020, but I’m sure someday soon they will discover the crucial ‘graph-paper gene’.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about then you probably lack this gene. It predisposes you to using graph-paper for working out ridiculously complicated things that anyone else would just buy instructions for.
My dad has it. Usually it expresses itself in squiggly electrical diagrams that he could probably download from the internet.
My mum has it. Many an hour has she spent working out a design (she’s a lace maker) with painstaking dot and line confections.
I have it. I know I do, because there are no less than 4 types of graph paper in my cupboard. So it wasn’t a surprise when I saw a bit of weaving online recently (a 32 shaft pattern!), decided I wanted to adapt it for my loom and reached for the graph-paper.
Some of you will have totally stopped thinking about graph-paper at this point and are thinking “you can’t do stuff like that on a rigid heddle loom… has she bought a floor loom?”
The answer would be “yes you can (potentially)” and “no she hasn’t”. Of course it won’t be exactly the same pattern on the rigid heddle, but I have hope that it’ll be close enough to capture the wonderful yumminess of what I saw.
Many sheets of graph-paper may go to their doom in the process, but we who have the gene see that as necessary sacrifice.
A while back I spent a week playing with the different patterns that floats can give you, but one I didn’t tackle back then was honeycomb. Partly because this one really needs some extra shafts (you can do it with pick-up sticks, but the pattern changes often) and I was just looking at pick-up sticks.
The beauty of this type of honeycomb is that by alternating the position of weft and warp floats you distort the web/cloth slightly and this creates lines in the plain weave sections. Now I did too narrow a sample to really show it (I was obsessed with using up thrums on this!), but you can see the diagonal lines forming between the weft floats…
Any weaves that use floats to distort the cloth, work best if you use a heavier yarn to highlight the pattern. In honeycomb that means using a heavier weft (which I didn’t do) so that the “cells” have an outlined appearance.
So what other weaves use floats in a similar way? Well, you can also “deflect” or “bend” warp threads to create curves. Called deflected warp it again works best when the warp to be deflected is a heavier yarn:
Here, when the floats shrink in the wash the tug the warp in different directions and pull the warp threads into shapes.
That is another thing to note about these woven patterns; they don’t show until you take the cloth off the loom and increase in strength after washing. So don’t panic if they look uninspiring while under tension on the loom!
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!
There’s not been a lot of weaving happening during my blogging break, mostly because of the same things that meant no blogging! But also because it was kind of tiring working on a gift scarf. (Me, a perfectionist…? Never.)
The good news is that the recipient of the scarf likes it (yay) and while it’s hardly scarf weather here, I’m hoping she’ll find it useful come the chillier months.
And how did I feel about the end product? Pretty good. My selvedges were alright and I only made one, not too visible, error in the pattern. Phew!
What did I learn from this scarf? A lot! Some of which I’ll talk about in more detail in future posts.
When calculating sett with two reeds on a rigid heddle loom, it simplifies things if you just look at the front reed/heddle.
Patterns in twill can change in interesting ways when you take the tension off and wash them.
Just because you use a floating selvedge doesn’t stop you getting bumpy bits when you are using two shuttles… you need to think about how the floaties relate to the rhythm of the pattern.
I will say that I feel like I’ve conquered 3 shaft twill now. Though I have a few other fun patterns for 3 shaft to try! I might tackle a 4 shaft next…
When I first decided on getting a rigid heddle loom, I was a bit worried that there wouldn’t be many patterns to weave with just two shafts. Then I came across handweaving.net and was pleasantly surprised at the number of two shaft/two treadle patterns that this wonderful free website has.
Scarily and excitingly, there are a bazillion more for 3+ shafts and treadles. You simply couldn’t weave them all in a lifetime I think!
So, if you’re comfortable with reading drafts and you are looking for inspiration, then check it out. The search function isn’t always perfect and some of the thumbnails are a bit teeny, but those are completely irrelevant quibbles in the context of what an amazing resource it is. I also love that you orient the draft to any of the corners so it doesn’t matter if you prefer your treadling order top-to-bottom or bottom-to-top.
One trick I would suggest though is to print the drafts in greyscale to get a full idea of how the pattern will look. It may just be a personal thing, but some of the colour combo’s get in the way of me really seeing the patterns.