Monday, January 30, 2012

Diversified Plain Weave Experiment #1

Here are some results from my first experience with Diversified Plain Weave. I am beginning to understand the basics of this weave structure.  It turns out to be a series of thin-fat-thin yarn sandwiches in both warp and weft. The threading is 1, Pattern,1, 2, Pattern, 2, etc with skinny threads on 1 and 2, fat threads on all the pattern shafts. On an 8 harness loom you will have 6 pattern blocks to play with. 

Weaving is Tabby 1, pattern, Tabby 1, Tabby 2, pattern, Tabby 2. Now a key rule is that an ODD tabby shot must be followed by a pattern shot that is tied up to a 2 plus the pattern. Every EVEN tabby must be followed by a pattern shaft that is tied to a 1 plus the pattern. If you follow this rule, then you have a thin thread tabby base supporting the fat yarn pattern. 

There are also color rules for maximum effect. If your thin warp is dark, your fat warp  should be light, your fat weft should be dark and your thin weft should be light. 

 So, the very first thing I did was break one of the rules. I usually like to know what I am doing before I play fast and loose with the rules, but learning can happen either way. The  picture with the shallow zig zags is a sample of an even tabby followed by an even pattern and odd tabby followed by odd pattern.

 I changed the treadling order for the next sample to the correct version of odd tabby followed by even pattern, and even tabby followed by odd pattern. Makes a big difference. This is the one with the steeper zig zags.  There was never a problem with the weft catching the selvedge threads. The fabric is less stiff. But visually, I like them both. I might even like the "wrong" one a little better. Is it just because it is "wrong"?

 The one with the diamonds is another treadling on the same sample warp. The diamonds are more elongated than I expected them to be. Could be that it is a challenge to weave this structure to square. I will have to do a little more sampling with that question in mind.

 I think I shall hem these and turn them into a hostess gift, along with a bar of handmade soap from Sleeping Frog Farm.
Now, who wants to have me over for dinner?

P.S. For some reason (sunspots?) I can't put the text where I want in relation to the pictures, so You have to use your head a bit. 

I included a picture from my trip to Arizona just for fun, and as a reward to the non-weavers out there.1 Should this be my Christmas Card next year?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Second week of Studio Time, and I logged 15 hours. I am impressed with myself. Thank you, everyone in my life who allows me to cut loose and play in my studio. I learned quite a few things.

1) Studio Time makes me happy. There is a satisfaction, a release from anxiety, that I didn't expect. I have a great life. Fab hubby, nice house, great kids. I own a business that I am very proud of. But there is always a little itch. Always the question about when I will chase down the nagging technical question about... whatever. Just like any itch, it quiets down a bit if I scratch it.

2) Plying yarn is exciting - mostly because it means I will soon be finished with this one yarn project and will be able to start something new. It is still a very slow way to get yarn.

3) Diversified Plain Weave is just a bunch  of fat warp and fat weft sandwiches, with the bread being skinny warp and weft.  Skinny, Fat, Skinny, both ways.  Color play is important. It might help to have a floating selvedge with this one - because you repeat each tabby (skinny) thread two times before moving on. The treadling ( and threading) is Skinny#1, Fat #2, Skinny #1, Skinny #2, Fat #1, Skinny #2.
I know this isn't actually helpful to someone who wants to try this.  I am about 7 inches into a weaving sample. It is a stiff little piece of fabric. It might end up being OK for the towels I was hoping for. But it might be better suited to table runner, pillow or handbag. It's an experiment, and I am learning a lot. And, it is attractive. Pictures coming, once I find my camera.

4) Tunisian Entrelac is begging for more attention. The rule in Tunisian Crochet is to NEVER TURN YOUR WORK. The rule is Tunisian Entrelac is that you turn your work at the end of your series of beautiful tilty blocks. So, you get an interweaving of two "sides" of the fabric.  I have been preparing for a Tunisian Entrelac class - (Friday at Woven Art, still room! And at Knit Michigan, Feb 4 - still room!), and started  a blanket. I asked myself - what would happen if you did not turn your work at  the end of a series of tilty blocks? I mostly asked that question because I was WAY off on my gauge calculations, and my blanket would have been great for a baby - but not what I intended. What I intend is a cozy blanket that an entire family can cuddle under while watching TV.
I was off on my gauge because I wanted a jagged edge all the way around this blanket, instead of a smooth one - so I didn't start with base triangles. I started with squares, which take up twice as much of the chain as I had calculated for.
Blah, Blah Blah. Anyway - it all leads to me trying out something new. It is very interesting. It might be worthy of writing a pattern. It would be so much better in an ombre yarn, but it is pretty damn intriguing in the short variegation I am using.

I might be easily intrigued.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Woodland Weaver's Guild

I enjoyed a lovely evening last night with the Woodland Weaver's Guild in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The topic was Rigid Heddle Weaving. We demonstrated the speed and ease of direct warping, had a lengthy show and tell of fabrics my students and I have woven using these nifty looms, and a great question and answer period.  If you are a weaver in the Grand Rapids area who is not yet associated with this guild, look them up!
The drive to and from Lansing was easy and uneventful, but I did get home rather late last night. I am dragging a bit today. I would love an excuse to curl up in a quilt with a good book and a cup of tea. And, this arrives at the shop.

The only questions now are: what flavor tea, and does this count as studio time?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Studio Time

I have a plan. I am calling it studio time. I will have studio time as often as I can.

Studio time is more a state of mind than it is a place. I anticipate that most of my studio time will be happily spent in one of my studios. I am lucky enough to have two designated spaces in my home. One is wet (basement) for painting and dyeing. One is dry (grown child's former bedroom) for spinning and any form of yarn play. The dry studio is also where I keep books, magazines and a computer.

Studio time can be spent on anything that causes me to grow as an artist and craftsperson. Knitting, crocheting, weaving other people's designs does not count. I will still be doing that, because it is fun, and there are tons of great designs out there that are calling to me. I  learn something from every project. But still, I won't count it.

Studio time can be research. This could include reading about a technique, or taking photos, or gathering inspiration where ever I can find it.
Studio time should be experimental.
Studio time can be productive, as in making real things, so long as they are of my own design. I am allowed to use someone else's ideas as a jumping off point. I hope to return that favor to some other artist or designer down the road.
Studio time might  make me a better shopowner/teacher.
and most important: Studio time just makes me happy.

I was chatting with Kathy (works at Woven Art) about Studio time, as we agreed that when you make space in your life,to be creative, the ideas flood in.

I don't think I will set any goals regarding how much studio time to require of myself. If I aim for ten hours and only get 9, it will make me grumpy and feel like a failure. I know this from past experience. Instead, I will see Studio Time as a gift to myself. One that is really good for me, like exercise and farm fresh veggies.

I gave myself two hours of studio time today. I spun some yarn, worked on a Theo Moorman tapestry, and read a little about diversified plain weave.  And, I feel great.