Wednesday, May 02, 2007

A Thing of Beauty Rescued

My thanks to those of you who sent good wishes to the weaving goddess on my behalf. She graciously allowed me to finish weaving scarf #5 in the wood series. It was slow going. No whipping along at 60 picks per minute; more like limping along at 2 picks per minute.

Because of the makeshift tensioning device, the tension across the warp was uneven, and in places when I opened a shed, the threads wanted to stick in their previous position, and had to be coaxed into the correct position. For a fly-shuttle weaver accustomed to high-speed weaving, that's really frustrating! But better slow than the trash can, for sure.

By the time I got to the bitter end, it really was the bitter end. As you can see in the picture below, the temporary lashing cord was within inches of the rear-most shafts. You can see that the selvedge threads on shafts 21 and 22 (near side of the warp) and 23 and 24 (far side) really had to reach downward to the eye of their heddles.

And at the other end of the temporary lashing cord, the wood dowel had reached the top of the back beam, and I had been forced to lower the bags of soup-can weights using more cords for extensions.

The translucent white film cannisters, by the way, are acting as weighted spools for warp threads that had knots in them and had to be replaced. The replacement warp end hangs off the back of the loom with (usually) 5 washers for weight, and with the necessary yards of replacement thread wound around the cannister. Each time I finish one scarf and before I begin the next, I take time to swap the knotted ends back in. Otherwise, if the replacement end gets put in place during the first scarf of the run, it has to be long enough for a whole rest of the run, while the replaced end is just wasted. My way saves some thread, which can be important if it's hand-dyed thread and therefore not an unlimited quantity.

I use a spreadsheet to calculate how much thread of a given color I'll need for a given project. Then, naturally, I round up by a generous number of yards (at least a hundred, sometimes more) but you'd be surprised how many projects end up with only a few yards of threads unused.

I took some pictures to show another interesting effect of the interleaved, 2-color threadings. Depending on the angle of the light source in relation to the eye, the cloth can appear completely different when viewed from different positions. It's a phenomenon somewhat similar to iridescence - from one angle you see mostly warp color A, from another you see mostly warp color B, from another you might see mostly the weft color, and from another you see a blending of all the colors. The following 3 pictures were taken with no change in light source, only a change in camera position.

From straight on, so you're looking down the warp direction of the cloth, and the light is above and a bit to the left, it's hard to see what the pattern is; it blends together.

From a camera angle to the left of the cloth, it looks like this:

From a camera angle to the right of the cloth, it looks like this:

Cool, huh? When the cloth is washed and pressed, this effect is even more apparent. When you wear one of these scarves, people think it's a whole bevy of scarves because each time they look, it looks different!

And actually, it's pretty neat to get this effect in the wood grain scarves, because real wood does the same thing, changing in different light. Koa, one of the woods used to dye weft yarns, has an especially high degree of this visual shifting based on angle of light.


Laritza said...

so you used a spreadsheep?
That is too funny!

Leigh said...

I've never had the endurance to weave to almost the absolute end of my warp, though sometimes I've needed to. The wapr usually wins the wrestling match. Next time I'll remember this post and be braver.

The wood grain effect is very clever. And I'm very envious of your selvedges!

Susan in Fairbanks said...

Your woodgrain scarf series is just gorgeous. And I'm so glad you were able to rescue the warp.

Ru Temple said...

That is absolutely gorgeous with the color shifts and play of light.
I also love the "typo of the year" as we print-prep types rate these things, "spreadsheep" -- that's a keeper!

Thank you for this weblog, and for showing as well as telling your process. I'm a second generation weaver, with a loom again after years and years without (I think that makes me a jump-started beginner or something), and being able to virtually look over your shoulder is at once inspiring, and feels like Home.