Weaving, too!

Some time ago, the Swedish national guild had "unusual vegetable material" for a 2-year theme. (See some pictures from the exhibition here).

Today our local guild has its last meeting before christmas. We are having a cake potluck (if that is a word?). As I am not much into sweet cakes, I baked ordinary bread instead...

The twill bread came out ok, but the goose eye was too "complex" to survive the rising... (and no, there are no raisins, and no sugar - there are olives inside, salt and linseed on top).

And I'm tagging this post "weave construction", as it was a long time since I constructed a weave in this very literal sense :-)



and red, and green, and...

I may be the laziest warper ever. And the most untidy stash-owner. (Actually no, but I never can be bothered to put a sticker with colour and lot number on an opened yarn package, when it goes back into the cupboard.)
However - this results in more interesting cloth... IMO, of course :-)

All pictures in this post can be clicked for bigger versions.

This is a picture of 4 message shawls. (In the picture, the warp goes vertically.)

If I use a warping mill, I rarely use less than 4 ends. If I warp sectionally, for the above quality, I have 30 ends per sedcion - and I collect all yarns that "look good" together, hoping to avoid having to make new spools.
I often also use yarns of different (but similar) grists.
I rarely use an end-per-end cross. This results in a random threading, colourwise.

As I then use different weft yarns for all items woven on the same warp, I can get a collection of truly different (but similar) products. And: I can never reproduce any of them exactly, as I don't know which yarns I used in the warp.

Some more examples:

Three neck warmers - same warp, different wefts. Differential shrinkage.

Four double-weave scarves (warp goes horizontally)

Often, but not always, I use only one weft colour per item. (I'm a lazy weaver, too.)

This scarf was a "plan B" rescue of the warp from h*ll. I had been given lots of black cotton, warped for shawl width: mostly black, with purple stripes. (At lest 3 nuances of purple...) When winding on, I found the black breaking too much. I cut off the the black, but continued winding on the purple - which took it down to scarf width.
Some of the scarves got different purple wefts, some got two or three colours.
My favourite method for "grading" colours is a "tried and true system", described here.

If I want a V-shawl to look (be?) "solid colour", but still have some sort of colour interest, one trick is to use one colour one in one of the warps, colour two in the other. If then woven with "opposite" colours (colour two in warp one, colour one in warp two), the whole shawl has the same look (IS the same) - except the fringes:

Sometimes, if I feel extra patient, I plan where the different colours will fall in the weave:

The waffle structure needs harder work, though: warp AND weft in different colours, with the weft order as meticulous as the warp order. (reverse side at right)


The double V

is now done:

It has six coins at the beginning of the legs, and nine at the actual V.

As it happened, I had problems this time, too. Different problems - and of a nature that, again, the applying of brain (beforehand!) should have avoided them... (Question to self: will I now remember to concentrate on what I am doing?)

To begin with, it was smooth sailing.
I had attached the warp sections to the beam without first making a knot (in the warp). I have done this several times, and got away with it. (Is what I think now - then I thought "OK, now I see that it works without the extra knot".) So one section slipped out of the lark's head at the beam end...
I managed to fix that.
Wove on. Until... another section came loose. (I should have anticipated that, if I had Applied Brain - and fixed all sections at the same time.)

With much muttering and fiddling I took every section out of its "noose", put in the missing overhand knot, put them back in the nooses. (Yes, I also re-did the one fixed with a pen, in the top left in the picture above) The tension was, much to my surprise, almost ok. Only one of the sections needed special treatment.

But I will remember to put knots at the end of the warp before beaming in the future... (I hope!)

The making of a "design feature"

This time, things did not go as they should...

I knew the draft was correct, 'cos I had already used it. So, when it was time to start the join, I did not apply my brain... and started the join from the wrong side.
At first everything looked ok. When I was to insert the coin in the folded pocket, I noticed... nothing. When I was to insert the second "fold" coin, I did notice: the pocket was not open the whole way! When starting from the wrong side, what happened was that the pocket layers changed place at the fold.

Darn and drat! What to do?
Unpicking was out of the question - as, if for nothing else, nearly 2/3rds of the warps were cut off...

Hmm... How about making a "design feature"?
After the second pocket was done, I cut off.
Twisted fringes - very long fringes - I had a thought they might be useful...
After trying various arrangements, I settled for this one:

I "wove" the missing square with the fringes - and I am quite pleased with the result:

V-shawl, the usual way

In the last post, I wrote about "another" method to weave V-shawls.

Perhaps a short explanation about the "usual" way could be called for :-)

Here goes:
I weave the two legs of the V in double layers. When the legs are the correct length, I cut the warps, one at a time, and let them become wefts. The web will become narrower, and when I am out of warp ends, the V is complete and can then be unfolded.

Unless planning for a design feature, I want the structure to be maintained around the fold - like this (picture not to scale):

... when first I started weaving these shawls, I had a hard time getting the more complicated structures (like twill... or lace weaves, or a goose eye...) correct. I developed a method - and published it. You can buy the book from me or or Vävmagasinet in Swedish or English. For those of you in the Americas, it can be bought from Laura Fry.

The plan here is to weave a scarf with double weave pockets with coins in (some of) them.
At the start of the join:

As the weft does not hold "the other" selvedge (here the left), I tie provisional knots as I weave.

Why provisional? - because the selvedge will probably not be as straight as I would like it. When finishing, I untie the knots and try to straighten the edge, the tie the "real" fringe knot.

After some cutting, a look at the warp beam:


Autumn leaves, version 2

If it doesn't work...

There is another method to weave V-shawls, one I have heard of, but never tried. As I still thought it would be interesting to make a V in this technique, I decided to try it.
I wound another warp, twice as long. Threaded the same pattern as the "summer skies" shawl, using 10 shafts.
Wove one "leg" of the V.
Measuring out warp long enough to cross the warp and leave some for fringes, I put in a couple of tabby shots, then cut off.
Re-tied, wove the other leg of the V.

Now, the exciting part: trying out a new technique. It sounds easy: put the woven part beside the loom, take one cut end and weave in. Take the next cut end, weave in.

Well - it sounds easy, but is a little more tricky to actually do... I was glad I had made the tabby picks, I can tell you! I also was glad I had my special horsehair shuttle.

Just off the loom:

There was a lot of "massage" required... it was (as I suspected) difficult to join the pieces with the correct distance.
If (big IF) I will ever use this method again, it will probably be with a piece of more "normal" cloth (normal, as in woven all the way to the edge...)

After wet finishing, it looks quite ok - IMO, of course. (Those sharp of eye may notice that, in spite of trying to concentrate, I managed to join the first woven leg with the reverse side up...)

Autumn leaves, version 1

When this was just made, I thought it would be nice to make a V-shawl in the same technique. Someday.
The day dawned. Now it was autumn, and the yellow-green-orange leaves looked inspiring.

As the "summer skies" scarf is an 8-shaft design that in reality requires 10 shafts (2 extra shafts are needed for the rightmost stripe, if you don't want to cut the weft after every cotton block...), and I "only" have 16, I had to find a design that takes 6 shafts + the two extra.
I thought that would be a piece of the proverbial cake.

Before I had the design done, I selected the yarns, and wound the warp. As it was an experiment, I settled for scarf width, rather than shawl width.

The designing proved to be difficult - there aren't many designs possible with only three blocks. But, as I already had the warp on the loom, I went ahead anyway.

When I came to the weaving-together part I noticed that, somewhere, I had made a mistake... but, perhaps, it would not look too bad after the wet finishing?

It did. Look too bad, that is... 6-shaft designs are not good for this kind of technique, the non-shrinking layer has to be more interlaced with the shrinking layer. The mistake helps somewhat - the strange assymetry adds some interest, but, on the whole, I consider this a mistake not to try again.


Beach robe

This is a bathrobe which is inspired by sea surf - the foam that washes in and out with the waves.

As I did not have much of the sea-coloured yarns, I had to plan the sewing pattern for least possible waste. I tried several layouts, but decided this needed the least amount of cloth:

(not to scale!)

With this layout I have only one side seam (the other is just folded), and only one shoulder seam (the other is folded). One sleeve is inserted in a slit above the "side fold", the other is inserted in a more normal way.

I would have liked to make proper felled seams, to make the robe reversible, but the cloth had too much bulk for that. I could have trimmed the seams with some kind of band, but decided on a "false" felled seam: trim and serge one seam allowance narrower than the other. After serging the other, fold it over the short one. Press. Topstitch.
This means I sacrificed the reversability.

Seam from the inside:

Seam from the outside:

Details about the fabric:
The warp yarn is a “mystery yarn” I once bought at a flea market. I had always thought of it as being cotton, but when I started to handle it I decided it must be rayon. The thickness of the yarn is more or less like a cotton 16/2. I warped with two colours, and threaded them “random”. The set was 10 ends/cm.

Weft is a cotton bouclé, also of unknown number.The average thickness could be like a cotton 12/2, perhaps. For the tabby I used the two warp yarns, wound together. Pick count was approximately 8 pattern, 8 tabby per cm.

Here is the draft:

I added tabby, partly to lengthen the pattern, partly to reduce the bulk. Also I did not have to worry about the warp floats, which are on the long side for these yarns :-)

The fabric is slightly different on front and back:

This robe was made in 2007, when our guild celebrated its 10-year anniversary. It was shown in the july exhibition - click here for more pictures. (The umbrella is also of my creation)


3-band shawl revisited

The 3-band shawl idea - now taken one more step. I wove it on the same warp as the sherbet shawls.
This is what it looks like, pinned to the wall:

There are several possible ways to put it on.

First - donned "as a shirt" (both arms put through openings, with the full width as a back piece):

Second - with the head put through one of the long loops:

Third - one arm through

I still think this idea is worth exploring further, but next time I will probably do it without the shrinking stripes...

Sherbet and whipped cream?

For this summer season I made a frilly shawl model - two narrow wool stripes in a cotton warp. When the wool shrank, the "frills" developed.
With a white cotton warp and pastel weft they look (to me) like sherbet and whipped cream...

I used linen for weft, as an earlier experiment had told me that with a cotton weft, the "frills" got too droopy.

Earlier experiments also had told me that the wool stripes would not shrink if woven in plain weave. I have experimented with warious structures for the shrinking stripes, but I have found that 2/2 twill is good enough :-)

And, yes - I have made many, many samples with my favourite wool yarn and different "programs" of my washing machine!
Be warned - different yarns give different results, and different washing machines do that, too!


More on fringe twisting

or: how to make a nice-looking twisted fringe. (IMHO, of course ;-)

To make a twisted fringe, you take two (or three, or...) bundles of cut warp ends, twist them separately until "done", knot them together and let them twist back on themselves.
As easy as that, surely?

The spinner in me recognizes that as a "shorthand" way of describing it.

There are a couple of things to consider. The first is: the warp yarn (that you are going to twist, to make the fringe) - what kind of yarn is that? Is it a singles, a plied or a cabled yarn?
Let us for a moment disregard the cabled variety. Thus, you have either a single or a plied yarn. What is the difference (apart from the number of plies)? Most probably, most single yarns you have has a z twist, while most plied yarns are spun z, plied s. (Note: most, but not all, mill-spun yarns are spun z.)

To make the most "nice"-looking fringe, one should take the bundle, twist it in the same direction as the last twisting operation, then proceed as above. This means that an ordinary 2-ply (spun z, plied s) should be twisted s, then let be gone back - thus making an z-twisted fringe.

What will happen if one does it the other way? Well - twistíng it z will make the plies separate; letting it go back will make a twisted fringe of sorts, but it will look a lot different...

Below is a picture of two very simple and slim fringes: two ends of a 3-ply (spun z, plied s) linen rug warp. To the left they were then twisted s (and let go), to the right twisted z, then let go.

Weaving books often describe how one can twist two fringes "for the price of one" - doing it between blankets, shawls etc. This makes perfect sense if the whole run is sent to commercial finishing. (- in Sweden, commercial finishing mills used to want at least 12 meters of blankets, to even consider doing it.)
What will happen if you do this is that the two fringes will be going in the opposite directions. For a blanket, that will be fulled and brushed, this might not be a problem - but it can be worth considering... If one wants the fringes to "look the same" on both ends of the piece, fringes should be twisted differently: if the start of one piece is done by twisting z, the end of the piece should be done by
twisting s.

Below is a picture of (the one) blanket I have done using this method. I deliberately followed the book, and twisted both ends in the same way. After fulling the differences are not very pronounced, but can still be seen.

For a cabled yarn (generally speaking: 2 z-singles plied z, 2 of these plied s) one has to try to see how the result differs. Usually, I end up by twisting in the last direction (in the example above twisting s).

For other observations on fringe twisting read here.


Playing with the fan reed, part II

Some time later, I decided to try the fan reed on a Morse shawl warp.

I had a white cotton warp, on which I had woven some pastel-coloured shawls using linen singles for weft. So I re-sleyed to the fan reed, decided to stay with the linen weft.

As usual, I started with the bottom layer. All was ok.

Started the top layer. All was ok. Or...? I realized I could not see the left selvedge of the bottom layer. Of course, I can never see the left selvedge of the bottom layer - but for a straight selvedge this is not a problem. However, with the fan reed - when the selvedge begins to widen, you have to allow for that by leaving the weft slightly slacker...
Oh well, it was an experiment, after all.

Soon the web reached the breast beam. As usual with the fan reed, the cloth makes small folds where the wider parts (where the "fan" makes the web wider due to the more open dentage) have to be accomodated to the narrower parts.
Would that become a problem?

To make the message connected to the experiment, I had chosen "wriggling". And wriggle it did! To get the best wriggles, I found I had to move the reed every 10 picks (10 per layer, that is). I also found I had to advance the web at the same rate. So I wove 10 picks, advanced the web one or two "clicks", moved the reed, wove 10 picks...

The tension problems I had anticipated did not occur (or maybe I did not notice them - the fell looked all wriggly, too)

When it came off the loom it looked... like this. The bottom left selvedge wasn't a total disaster, but not very good either. Many folds, and sharp. Well, it was good enough to finish, anyway.

Fringes done, wet-finishing not.

Done - fringed, washed, pressed.

A detail of the bottom left selvedge (that was bottom left on the loom, that is!) - it could be better!

But... all of a sudden this occurred to me: it is always said, about knitted pieces in museums, that they have "evened out" by time. All knitted pieces look more than perfect - but "don't despair - they probably knitted with uneven tensio, too - it has evened out by time". And I have always been reassured by this - maybe my knitting will look perfect in a hundred years time, too.
And, as if this is not enough, myself, I have always said that minor unevenness in woven pieces will come out with successive launderings.
So what happens if I combine these thoughts with a fan-woven shawl in plain weave?
Will the wriggles still be there, in a hundred years? Or should it have been woven in a gauze structure, to better lock the warp/weft intersections?
Does this mean I have to put this shawl in every wash I ever do for the next, what?, year, 5 years, 10 years to find out?

And - even more important: is it interesting enough to bother with? I can't decide...