Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Another Answer for Meg

In her comment on the post about the presentation to the art association, Meg also asked if I really have to thread heddles just like other weavers. The answer is "Yes." It's just that I don't do it very often. I beam 30 - 50 yards of plain old black mercerized cotton, and the only thing that changes between one piece and the next is the color of the thread in the shuttle(s). I've told lots of people, "write me a business plan that proves it makes economic sense to take a week or two to rethread the loom, and weave one piece that takes maybe a day or two, and then rethread again."

No. Not me. Sorry. No can do.

In industry, they put all the color in the warp - frequently a 6-color rotation - and weave a structure similar to double-weave. Then the wefts are black (to make the warp color darker) and white (to make the warp color lighter) plus a very fine neutral thread that's a binder to hold the whole thing together.

However, the result is that you've only got one red, one blue, one whatever-else, and that might get just a tad boring. You can only blend 6 specific colors in a fairly limited palette of combinations of color A and color B plus dark and light wefts. And industry doesn't want to rethread the loom with different colors any more than I do - they want to weave thousands of yards of the same warp.

The weaves I've chosen to use put all the colors in the weft, and I use black to darken the blend. My range is "bright to dark" not "light OR dark." With a dyepot handy, I can have any color palette I want. I've got the UKI Supreme color cards, and (for example) their range of greens is pitiful. A while back, I bought several of the greens, and I've ended up overdyeing all of them because they're not "nature" colors and that's what I like to weave. Plus, many of the nice UKI colors are too dark for me to use in a "bright to dark" scheme. I can't start with "dark," I have to start with "in your face bright" and go darker from there.

Industry also uses very fine thread in the warp, and when you divide the number of available hooks/threads in half to account for the fact that it's double-weave and only one or two of those warps are on the face of the cloth at a given time, it means you need a lot of hooks to have enough pixels to work with. My loom, on the other hand, only has 1,440 hooks (that's both all I can afford, and all the width of the loom will allow), so a maximum of 720 threads/pixels available for the face of the cloth. Mighty small image! And my loom only goes to a certain density before it gets super picky about tension. I get a migraine just thinking about trying to get accurate hook movement at 80 epi on this loom. Let's see, 720 threads at 80 epi, that is less than 10 inches in width. Mighty small picture...

Every loom has limitations. Being a creative weaver means learning how to recognize and take advantage of the loom's good points and how to recognize and skate past its weaker points.


Meg said...

Not sure how much of this I understood, but still sounds fascinating. Thank you.

Margreet said...

Sandra, thank you for this posting, very interesting.