Friday, May 24, 2013

Recipes for Success

Tooting my own horn a bit this morning by sharing the lovely comments Anita Osterhaug made preceding a post I wrote for Weaving Today, the online resource for Handwoven magazine. Anita is the editor of Handwoven. Her continued enthusiasm and support are hugely appreciated!

May 24, 2013
Recipes for Success

Sarah Jackson is one of the most talented weavers and designers I know. I am perpetually in awe of her ability to marry structure, yarn, and color and produce just the right fabric for her purpose. Sarah blazes new territory in her weaving, but she also appreciates the value of having a path to follow. ––Anita

When I decided to resume weaving several years ago after a long hiatus, I wasn't sure I could remember how to dress my loom, much less figure out the specifics of a new project.

So for my first foray back into the world of weaving, I opted for a project from a book I found in the library, Handwoven's Design Collection 20, Weekend Weaving Projects. Wanting to focus strictly on the mechanics of weaving, I chose to use the exact yarn and colors specified and followed the instructions to the letter. The venture took decidedly more time than one weekend, but the result was two lovely tea towels . . . and renewed confidence in my weaving ability.

A year or so later, after joining my local weaving guild, I heard a member scoff, "Real weavers only need more technical information, not recipes for weaving," Well, I have to say, I'm all for recipes (and I'm a real weaver). Following "a recipe" for a weaving project allows one to learn a new technique or experience an unfamiliar fiber, color combination, or weave structure without the concerns of designing from scratch.

Case in point: a new weaver in my guild approached me recently to excitedly tell me she had just finished weaving cloth for a project of mine in the November/December 2012 Handwoven. "Squares within Squares Top" is an 8-shaft turned Atwater-Bronson lace project with a complex treadling sequence.

Quite an ambitious project for a beginning weaver, or so I thought! She had tackled it with confidence knowing all the details and information were at hand. Along the way she became familiar with a new weave structure, learned to treadle with both feet simultaneously, wove with Tencel for the first time, and discovered a new wet-finishing technique.

As a designer, I'm thrilled when others are inspired by my work. If their confidence and competence as weavers increases as a result of recreating one of my projects, then the joy of doing what I do is magnified as well. I'm going to write more recipes!

—Sarah H. Jackson

Sarah Jackson's Squares WithinSquares Top. The "recipe" can be found in the November/December2012 issue of Handwoven

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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Spinning Straw into Gold ...

Rumpelstiltskin is the name of the antagonist in a Grimm's fairy tale who tricks a miller's daughter into trading her first-born child for a room full of straw he spins into gold for a greedy king. 

I didn't spin straw into gold, but this warp seemed to hold some fairy tale magic, and I felt a bit like Rumpelstiltskin ...weaving, rather than spinning, this combination of yarn into a shimmery copper blend. Below is a shot of the warp (rayon boucle and 20/2 cotton) over the back beam:
The weave structure is diversified plain weave from A Weaver's Book of 8-Shaft Patterns, page 170, a variation of the treadling in the upper left corner.
The weft is rayon chenille and 20/2 cotton. Hard to see here, but if you squint a bit, you can see the square motifs:
While Strickler's book states, "The structural threading and treadling units cannot be enlarged", that is true only if one uses the threading sequence provided which alternates the tie-down threads for each block on odd and even shafts. In other words, the tie-down threads being 1 and 2, Block A is threaded 2 -3-2, Block B is threaded 1-4-1, Block C is threaded 2-5-2, and so on. If threaded in this manner, it should be obvious that threading two of the same block sequentially is problematic. For example, two A Blocks would be threaded 2-3-2, 2-3-2 which places two ends on shaft 2 one next to the other. In order for the tie-down threads to work, they must alternate on shafts 1 and 2.

A solution for enlarging the units can be found in "Thick and Thin" by Interweave Press which explains the "new" diversified plain weave. This method alternates the tie-down threads on shafts 1 and 2, but each block uses one of each. Block A is threaded 1-3-2, Block B is threaded 1-4-2, Block C is threaded 1-5-2, and so on. For example, two A Blocks would be threaded 1-3-2, 1-3-2. Using this threading system it's possible to expand the threading and treadling units without limitation. Sampling provided me with the information I needed to determine the desired size of the unit I chose as well as the final combination of yarn and colors. 

In my next post I'll show some of the samples and talk about the metallic foil I used to embellish the finished garment.