A comment from Bonnie on my previous post has given me a dangerous idea. Bonnie mentions the scale of the fancy twills I referenced and that, of course, is a crucial factor. How often have I had a brilliant scheme which I have scribbled down… and then realised that it will be less than half an inch across? Quite often. So a lot of my drafting effort is expended on finding ways to make things big enough for my liking, because in general I do like things to be quite large scale. However, I also have a soft spot for the very small — that is, the so-small-you-don’t-really-see-it kind of small, where the effect of the ‘pattern’ is more textural than visual. Anyway, in August I will be going for the first time to the AGWSD Summer School, and I will be learning to sew more effectively with my handwoven cloth. So first I will need to weave some cloth that I can sew with. (I do have a vague scheme in mind involving the too-variegated greens and a crepe weave, but that’s as far as I’ve got.) It strikes me that this project is a good candidate for another dose of the anti-idolatry treatment, setting myself the challenge of using a fancy twill at a very small scale. This has “it seemed like a good idea at the time” written all over it, but I have been encouraged to see that my mantra is actually recommended by Daniel Dennett — so that’s all right then.
More immediately, I have been getting to grips with the challenges posed by my first four-colour doubleweave experiment. I started in a modest way, with 1150 ends of linen… That didn’t actually seem like a good idea at the time, but I wanted to do it anyway. In fact, there is only really one problem with it, which is that I haven’t used 16/1 linen before and took a guess at a suitable sett based on info found lying around online. My guess is weavable, but too warp-faced to show all four colours really clearly. The four colours, by the way, are simply
1) warp 1 + weft 1
2) warp 1 + weft 2
3) warp 2 + weft 1
4) warp 2 + weft 2
but because my warp is dominating the cloth, 1 & 2 are very similar as are 3 & 4. I cut off a sample and (following my recent instruction in these arts) mangled it with a rolling pin. (It could probably do with more rolling pin treatment, but the resident pastry chef came after me and reclaimed his kitchenware.) It is nonetheless looking lovely and glossy, but I wasn’t able to get a picture that really shows the shine. Here are the colours, looking ever so subtle… You can make out the red weft in little tiny dots; the other is a very pale gold.
I wasn’t keen to resley. Given the number of ends, it would have quite a significant impact on the width of the thing, and I could see myself having to wind it all forward and then all the way back again… I thought I should at least weave a few pieces (and make the warp shorter!) before I got stuck into all that.
Then a lightbulb went on and I realised I could use a twill instead of a plain weave. Fortunately I had based my threading on a twilly network, so this morning I re-pegged and started weaving in twill. Much better. The red here is darker than the one above, but the pale gold is the same.
I’m still keeping to a very simple networked treadling while I find my way around. The way I am approaching it is with a 32-lag chain for the tie-up, which is the two 16-lag twill tie-ups — one for each layer — interleaved. In order to ‘network it’ I treadle forward for 8 picks, wind back and repeat as many times as I want, then treadle forward for 10 picks to advance.
The most important piece of equipment in this arrangement is…
…the kettle! No, it’s the round black knob on the face of the dobby box. That allows me to wind back the chain really easily, although excessive use can lead to blistering thanks to the milled edge. As the knob is on the right hand side of the loom, it is easiest if I have the chain advancing anti-clockwise so that my right wrist is working clockwise, though some designs call for a bit of mix ‘n’ match.
So that’s where we are. More treadlings and colours will follow.