Saturday, March 01, 2008

Blast from the Past

The first project I wove on my new-to-me Glimakra (purchased in 1993) was a shawl in fine wool woven in 2/2 twill (about the most complicated structure I had dealt with outside of the classroom).

The loom was probably 3rd or 4th hand - I'm pretty sure the woman who sold it to me wasn't its first owner. That was of no importance: Glimakra makes looms that last - it'll outlive me!

With the purchase, the former owner had thrown in boxes of yarn, among which were balls of fine wool. My weaving teacher at the time, Jay Edwards, said it was 32/2 worsted wool, and recommended that I use it doubled if I felt intimidated by the small size of the yarn. I did warp it doubled, but used the weft singly, mostly because the first time I tried to wind a bobbin with two threads at a time, they made a royal mess and I knew I'd have problems keeping the tension even on both strands at the same time.

There were 6 colors of yarn: two blues, two browns, a red, and a purple - quite a lot of purple! I put only a little of the purple in the warp (3 small stripes - one on each selvedge, and the other somewhere near the middle, but not centered) and saved the rest for weft. After winding the warp in random-width stipes, I was a little worried because the colors looked pretty garish laid out side by side. Jay assured me that crossing them all with purple would unify the warp colors, and she was right. That's a lesson I've used and appreciated often over the years, how the weft has an amazing influence on the warp colors.

I wanted twill stripes, with the twill line reversing direction at the color changes. Jay had apparently told me about Dornick twills, and how they cut the floats at points, because that's how I threaded the stripes. At that point in my weaving career, I wouldn't have known to do that on my own.

For nonweavers, Dornick twill offsets the threading by 2 shafts at the points. So, on 4 shafts, I threaded 1,2,3,4,1,2,3,4, then 2,1,4,3,2,1,4,3 etc., as in the example draft below. If I had just reversed the direction of the threading (1,2,3,4,3,2,1) there would be a 3-thread float at the point that could "smudge" the line between color changes. However, the Dornick offset prevents longer floats at the points. Woven in fine threads, the offset isn't visually obvious, but its effect is wonderful, because the line between stripes is crisp and clean.

And here's a closeup of the woven cloth. A couple of weaving errors lurk, but I was really proud of the project, especially the selvedges! At least, after I figured out that it was necessary to start the shuttle on the right to get the weft to catch the outer thread on every shot.

After winding the warp and weaving it off, there were only a few small balls of yarn left over. I've use it in one mixed-warp project since then, and now only a small amount remains. I'm determined to use it all up, someday, in honor of Jay (my first weaving teacher) and of the loom's former owner.

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