11 October 2012

Huck Lace Many Ways

I mentioned I needed to clean up the house for book club. One of the things that needed to be cleaned up was the loom. I'd had my Ashford 24-inch/60cm 4-shaft loom sitting on a card table in the living room since January. I purchased the Plus 4 upgrade kit in February, and that big box had also been loitering in the living room.

In January at Chattahoochee Handweavers Guild, I took the Extreme Warp Makeover class with weaving superstar Robyn Spady. Suzi Gough, who is a past-president of CHG and the current president of SEFAA, had encouraged me to take the class. Truth is, I was in a little over my head, but in a good way. Over three days, Robyn had us weave at least fifteen different structures all on the same threading. For someone who was still learning weavish, this was a big shove up the learning curve. Lots and lots of new terms to understand. And I admit, I understand double-faced and double-weave fabrics, but I sure don't yet understand overshot.

The class was also a little challenging because I am using a table loom. Most looms in the United States lift shafts. So if you move a lever or press a treadle, the shaft associated with it goes up. Robyn's pattern drafts (and most in the US are this way) were written with that convention. On my loom, the shafts drop down. So for me, I would be moving (dropping) shafts 1 & 3 when other people were moving (lifting) shafts 2 & 4. But I got used to it, mostly. I think there is one pattern I wove upside down (pattern side facing the floor). And I enjoyed the class enough that I came home and wove all the way through the workbook.

Even though I was in over my head, it was a great class. Robyn covered lots of different types of weave structures. Her handout is a spiral-bound book that is worthy of space on my bookshelf. And because some people were weaving on a huck lace threading while others were weaving an overshot or a rosepath twill threading, it was a great way to see how diverse any of these three basic threadings can be. It was also great for a new weaver like me to see what other people do as they weave. How do they tension selvedge threads? How do they use boat shuttles and bobbins? What color choices do they make? I'm sorry I didn't get to watch experienced weavers warp their looms, because I am so not good at that.

Here is what I wove:
Echo Fashion
Deflected Weft
Deflected Weft, Corduroy, Rib, & Double Face
Summer & Winter Fashion
Crackle Fashion
Petit-point
Alternative Swivel
Swivel
Monk's Belt
On Opposites (both patterns)
Shadow Fashion
Overshot
Twill
Waffle Fashion
Lace
Some things I did learn for next time:
I didn't need nearly the width of warp I used. I could have woven a narrower strip. Of course, in weaving this only really changes the time it takes to warp the loom, not the time it takes to weave. It isn't significantly different in time to weave something 2-yards whether it is 12 inches wide or 24 inches wide.
For learning warp structures, it might be helpful to warp the loom with different colored threads. The huck lace threading, for example is:
4 4 4
 3 3
      2 2
     1 1 1
For learning, having all the threads on shafts 3&4 in two shades of one color and all the threads on shafts 1&2 in two shades of a different color would have made it easier for me to see in the final fabric what my treadling had been. Of course, that also would have made warping the loom way more difficult. See previous comment about how I stink at dressing a loom.

So if I finished the class right away, why was the loom sitting in the living room?

I had put a gracious plenty of warp on my loom. The idea was that after I took the class, I'd spend some time experimenting with what I had learned. Since there is always loom waste, it is more economical both with time and materials to warp once. But I had much more warp than I anticipated. And I got busy with other things (South Carolina Knit Inn, then meeting the Governor, STITCHES South, and all the rest). By the time I got back to it, I had let the loom sit for months; and it took me some time just to come back up to speed on how to read the pattern drafts and how to think through what I was doing at the loom. But with the local Mensa book special interest group meeting at my house this week, I needed to create space in the living room. So motivation found me.

More Polychrome Lace
Polychrome Lace
Polychrome Tabby & Not Quite Tabby
I started off with noticing that shafts 1&4 and 2&3 will almost but not quite produce tabby. So I wove a little of that to see what that fabric looked like. Then I wove some tabby, playing with different colors in the weft to see how color and number of picks would change the look of the fabric. Then I went back to the basic huck lace treadlings and played around with those and color.

But I still had more warp.
So then I decided to weave a dish towel. After all, I did have sort of a wide warp! (In the image above, the towel was woven left to right.) And I had only been weaving samplers. I ought to weave a project! I pulled out my pocket Weaver's Guide, looked up hemstitching, advanced my warp, and got started. And I just made up the pattern. It is mostly huck lace but with bands of what I think is monk's belt. At the end of the towel, I even repeated the hemstitching. And I was a good little munchkin and wrote down the pattern. (It is on my Ravelry page.)

But I still had more warp.

So then I decided to try a double-weave structure, which is one Robyn didn't have us do, probably because you will get very weird results. In this case, I treated shafts 3&4 as the top layer and shafts 1&2 as the bottom layer. I knew I would get gaps 5-thread wide. I don't have pictures of that fabric. It did come out as basically a bag. The warp collapsed into the gaps in interesting ways. But I just wasn't happy with it -- partly because I made some mistakes -- so I frogged it and have put those warp threads away. I may try to weave a bag with them later, but using a different threading. But at least I finally wove all the way to the end of the warp! I even found the "sweet spot" on the loom and had only about 10 inches of warp waste.

Once I had a naked loom again, I was able to get out the Plus 4 kit and update my loom. So I now have an 8-shaft table loom rather than a 4-shaft. And after all that, I folded it all up and put it away in the studio. But I'll be eager to get the loom back out again.

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