This design was inspired by a friend who loves great blue herons. Out of my 12 yard warp I wove 3 table mats, 2 placemats, fabric for 2 totebags, and three towels. I will tie on to part of this warp for table runners in natural and half-bleached linen.
This project is for my guild's tied weave challenge, due in June. After the samples are woven to exchange, I plan to make dish towels for the fall sale. As tied weaves tend to be thicker than regular weaves, I went to a finer thread for the warp/background in the hopes I will get the designs I want, at the size I want, AND a decent towel weight — not too thick.
I spent considerable time planning this warp. The original motif was 72 threads. Using 10/2 warp at 24 epi, the box would be nearly 3" wide. Too big for a 21" wide towel. I decided to reduce some of the blocks down and use 16/2 for the warp, leading me to a pattern of 60 threads at 30 epi, with a motif a 2". That was still too big for my taste, until a guild mate recommended using "half blocks". So instead of 1(tie down), P(pattern shaft), 2, P, I just used "Tiedown", P, "Tiedown", meaning I used an odd number of pattern warps in each block, and then just re-ran the tie downs on shafts 1 & 2 to alternate. This gives me a motif of 1.3" wide using 20/2 cotton at 36 epi, which is just right.
You'll notice my treadling is illustrated a bit oddly. This is how I would illustrate it if I were weaving on a table loom and lifting levers across each row.
The basic idea is tie down 1 + pattern, tabby a (1+2), tie down 2 + pattern, tabby b (everything else). The "trick" for me is that I am using half blocks, so we'll have to see how these motifs come out (balanced or what) when I treadle. Software makes it look nice and square, but when weaving, maybe not so much because you have a tabby between these pattern picks.
Next, I spent another bit of time figuring out my actual treadling on the floor loom so this wasn't too complicated for the "muscle memory" between my feet and head. I will take a scan and post that photo. I sat at the dining room table and sketched it out (feet dancing under the table) until I felt I could follow the pattern steps with the fewest errors.
I decided to time my warping:
30 minutes to wind 200 ends at 8 yards, so 2 hours winding 768 warps.
An hour to beam (with the help of water weights.)
About 10 minutes to thread 1 repeat (48 threads) @ 16 repeats across the warp = 3 hours
Checking my threading ??
Threading the reed 1 hour
Fiddling with everything, the tie up, tie-on and tensioning...??? Maybe an hour or two?
This project is moving along rapidly! I took Bonnie's suggestion and tried the Dukagang treadling with tie down 1 (in blue). I also changed the number of repeats, which elonagated the box a bit. I'll make a final judgement after washing. I plan to set aside 1/2 of the sample to leave unwashed, and wash the other half for comparison. (And yes, I changed the tie up so the motif was on top, and delightfully, it is less weight to lift.)
In terms of project timeline, this is the part that I should measure! The previous stuff was mostly "mechanics". This part is the critical step — maximizing what is on the loom for the best design and color potential. I like to build in a day or two to process what I am seeing on the loom and think about how I want to proceed.
This draft is from The Carol Strickler book of 8 shaft weaves, but it has been modified from the original source.
Here is the somewat "cleaned up" draft of both treadlings, Bricks (green) and Dukagang (blue) treadlings. Since I left the tie down treadles independent of each other, I step on both 1+2 when I need to weave one half of the background (plain weave or tabby). 1+2 (tie downs) alternate with "all the rest" of the shafts.
First sample washed, and I lost 8% in width, 10-12% length. (Take up was 4%, shrinkage 4% in width)
I'll get a better read on this information when I wet finish a larger sample at complete width. For my guild, I wanted to keep part of the first sample unwashed, so they can see what a difference wet finishing makes. (As in toss in the washing machine, dryer, and steam press, not just hand swishing in warm water with an air dry.) It's gonna be a dishtowel, so it better be able to stand up to some true wet finishing! ;-)
After taking a few samples off the loom, I wanted to explore more color options, so I dug out the cones of yarn that were contenders for pattern wefts (10/2) and background wefts (20/2). Then it was fastest to just use colored pencils to sketch up some possible combinations.
I have woven all my samples for the guild exchange, and completed the first towel in Southwest colors. I'll do three sets of matching towels, each is a different colorway and possibly different treadling. I decided after sampling that I prefer the bricks treadling, even though the Dukagang treadling might be simpler. I am about equally fast at treadling either of them at this point.
Here is the technique of cutting off samples while maintaining warp tension and incurring very little loom waste. I paint a mixture of glue and water on the cutting line after weaving a rod or dowel into the web. It is important to weave at least an inch of material before the dowel. After the glue has dried, I cut the fabric off, relash the apron to the dowel, and keep weaving with only about 1.25" of loom waste.
I was also thinking about something someone told me a few weeks ago —about how she spent a whole day at a workshop learning how to weave plain weave. When I was doing the middle part of the towel, I was reminded about that comment and paid special attention to my weaving so I could get good selveges and balanced fabric. At 36 epi, inconsistencies have a way of showing up! Also, typically I like to use a temple, but it wasn't needed on this project.
Only 2 yards left to weave. I am going to try something different for the last two towels (I think.)
Maybe something like this...it's a variation in the Stickler book, but it may not look the same when woven because I switched to half blocks on this pattern. Only sampling will tell!
This project is a set of dish towels in summer and winter. I played around with S&W on two samples, and for both, the selvedges were a nightmare. Why I decided to proceed with a long warp of dish towels, I may never know. But I think I licked my selvedge problems. First, I threaded more warp ends on the two edges, something I had seen discussed at ravelry. Second, I used the make-shift temple idea that has been linked on this site many times.
My final break-through was realizing that fewer weft colors was better, and I am quite happy with the result (so far). Now, if I could only make fewer treadling errors.
Still sampling at the beginning. Tried Dukagang treadling and did not like the way the weft slid around. Changed to more standard tie up. Also tried navy, then blue green, and finally white and pink. Still looking for a good pattern weft.
Any wisdom about how Summer and winter weft works with subtle contrast?
This card came from a sample warp that I cut up for holiday cards. The ground warp is 140/2 silk that I dyed scarlet, the pattern warp is 80/2 silk, dyed yellow. The weft is a very fine reeled silk, thinner than 140/2 silk, that I dyed a beautiful orange-red. The structure is turned summer and winter.
The symbolism of the phoenix (I'm mashing my myths a bit here) parallels the symbolism of the winter solstice celebration: the sun is reborn on the Solstice, the longest night of the year, and the phoenix is a firebird that rises from its own ashes. Seems like a good match to me...