Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Oops, or Why She Hates Math

So, this is a post about a little mistake I made which reminded me of my many years of failing math classes. It'll make more sense to weavers, and for proto-weavers, well, take reassurance that shit like this happens and just about everything is recoverable.

After a bit of grand success working on some Swedish Lace Weave netting, experimenting with slightly different patterns and then same pattern, different fiber, I decided to move on to a slightly different kind of lace weave (page 94, for all of you Davison fans out there). I figured I would use some of the ginormous cones of 8/2 unmercerized cotton in my stash (translation: not sewing thread fine, stuff will shrink, and it isn't shiny). I thought towels would be just the thing, and so I switched to a 10-dent reed, thinking this would be a 20 e.p.i. set of towels (and so there would be 2 threads per each dent).

And now for the pop quiz. With that information above, what's wrong with these calculations?


I spent over an hour last night measuring out the warp, probably close to two, making sure I had just over 200 warp threads. I carefully made sure that I had the correct number of heddles (even removed some from the shafts) this morning based on the calculation above. Figured it out? OK, I'll give you a hint. I sleyed the reed this morning with the warp I'd measured out, and it looked like this:


The ruler there is a big hint now that there's something not quite right here. Think about it...

OK, ready for the answer? My calculations were accurate in so far as they were based on a 10-dent reed - with ONE thread per dent. One, not two. One. And the number of heddles were based on, again, 10 threads per inch. Not twenty. So, basically, I measured out only half the warp I need, and will probably need to put more heddles back on some of the shafts 'cause I'm short by about half. This was exactly the kind of mistake I regularly made in my math classes growing up. I got the concept, but there was always one key element I totally tripped over. My childhood, back to haunt me. Why am I obsessed with a fiber art that requires math???

*grumble* Later this afternoon I'll measure off another 200 or so warp threads. But for right now, I'm going to spin for a bit and think of nothing at all. Certainly not thinking about standing in front of a warping board for another 2 hours winding cotton thread back and forth, back and forth, back and forth...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

When the going gets tough...

...the tough get weaving! Or do something, at least. For me, having gone through a bit of a rough patch recently, I decided some wild creativity was in order and so this past weekend through to last night I made silk scarves. Oh My Goodness they turned out wonderfully! I made two, using Redfish Dyeworks 20/2 silk yarns, and both scarves are based on Swedish Lace Weave netting out of Marguerite Porter Davison's weaving bible, A Handweaver's Pattern Book (page 95, for those of you interested).

One of my retreat-mates from back in March was exploring this technique during the retreat, and I remember ooh-ing and aah-ing with the rest of the group and thinking "gosh, how many years will it take me to be able to do something so lovely?" Ann, you were an inspiration!

So, here's what I've been doing:

This scarf is a comparatively balanced weave, at 24 epi. Lots of plain weave in there, no lacey spacing. Here's a more up-close shot of the weave structure:


I used a dark sage for the warp (that's the color on the tassles), and a light sage for the weft. All the little knots on the fringe were of course done by hand.

And from there, magic really started to happen. I went to the next pattern, which is more or less the same, but instead of being 24 epi, it's 20 epi. Instead of 2 threads through every dent in the reed, it's a 1,1,3,1,1,3 pattern. Same size yarn, same tie up, same heddle pattern (if you're not a weaver, just ignore this bit and look at the pretty pictures).


I actually included enough space to make a sample for my own records, and here's the unwashed sample next to the washed and fulled scarf.


And here are the two finished products, one next to the other for comparison:



Pretty spiffy, huh? One of those is for my mother for Mother's Day. I think this might be the first Mother's Day gift I've given her since I was a kid. I think she'll like it. :-)

From here, I'm going to continue to explore this pattern, but see what happens with that same lacier weave structure when done in linen instead of silk. Tune in next time for the result!