Saturday, 23 July 2011

Going Native!

A bit of "freehand-fun" whilst I wait for the yarns for "Ripples" - I am off to the UK on Friday so have had them delivered there.
I have done a blanket, done to be a wall-hanging actually, so it will be stretched on a frame and hung in the gite. It's just over a metre long.
It's my design for a traditional Navajo blanket, pretty much made up as I went along. It's loom woven with a warp spacing of only 6 epi so it's entirely weft-faced. I have used a lot of "pick-up" to do the patterns and there are several changes of lift plan throughout. I used up loads of bits of yarns I had; mostly wool with lots of fancy yarns, boucles and fuzzy yarns; all different weights and thicknesses with the main warp in a cotton boucle. If I ran out of something, I changed the design and used something else out of the bag! Good fun!
Can't wait to get going on "Ripples" though!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Ripples of a Blue Girls Tears

"Ripples of a Blue Girls Tears"
It's Big! The final version will probably be done as a tryptych so I can get the 2m width I am looking for.

I have started a seperate page for this project with the full information and moved the background research there.

This is my first foray into interpreting great pieces of music, music which stirs my deepest emotions, then turning them into a woven piece. This is the main direction for my work and what a journey this piece is taking me on!

Music is, for me, the highest art form - the ultimate emotional journey. Listen to this; if you are over 45 and it doesn't stir you, check your're probably already dead!

That is one of my favourite songs, and certainly my favourite lyric; "Ripples", written by Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford. I know the lyrics inside out and it doesn't require a literature degree to work out their meaning; it's about youth, it's optimism, it's beauty, the inevitability of ageing and the futility of chasing what has passed us by. However, it was only when I stumbled on the link between this and the poem "Blue Girls", written 50 years before "Ripples" by John Crowe Ransom, that the image for my weaving really materialised. To my knowledge, Banks & Rutherford have never acknowledged that "Blue Girls" inspired their lyrics; though if you read both (they are reproduced on the seperate project page "Ripples of a Blue Girls Tears"), it's inconcievable that this is not the case.

My piece, "Ripples of a Blue Girl's Tears" represents the Blue Girls through colour and shape, and I have chosen to reflect the melencholy mood of the song and poem also through the colour. The image itself represent the ripples and interference patterns created from tears falling onto a pool of water; tears of the Blue Girls looking upon their reflection in the pool "Seems not very long ago, Lovelier she was than any that I know" then seeing the distorted face reflected back at them "The face in the water looks up, And she shakes her head as if to say, That it's the last time you'll look like today." Dozens of hours have been spent taking the basic overshot pattern for the concentric waves step-wise to the final draft, manipulating the patterns to destroy the symmetry, yet replicate the interference patterns when ripples collide, then arranging these to give the semblence of a facial image in the distorted surface - just hope others can see it too LOL :-)
The final stage was to create the distorted body images of the blue girls - something that I had to do with the liftplan-only, as to change the threading would have undone the main ripples image.

"Blue Girls" is considered to be the pinacle of his work, from an American poet who is considered to be one of the most influential of his time. The lyrics of Ripples are beautiful; the whole is sublime; read and listen and hopefully the two will come together for you in my design.



Thursday, 14 July 2011

Gail Weaving the Indian Carpet

Gail is enjoying this weaving lark far too much!!!!
We will be looking for another loom before the winter arrives me-thinks.

Update at, she is getting quicker...its woven and off the loom (still needs finishing off)

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Indian Carpet - first impressions

Just got the first few patterns of the Indian Carpet done - not as easy as I thought as the new loom behaves very differently compared to the first few projects - thick cotton warp (12/4/3) with high warp tension. Took a while to find the right settings; especially the tension which was tending to affect the piano keys of the dobby and cause shaft selection errors....not easy to prevent draw-in either but have sorted that too now with a floating selvage on the second warp beam. The Ashford shuttles are not very good with doubled 8/8 cotton on them either. We changed the colours from denim/teal/gold to rose/shell/custard (sound like a dessert!) lets see how it turns out in a few days time.....Gail is now going to take over and complete it...hope she's quick as its 5' long and I want to get back on to my own projects LOL

Monday, 11 July 2011

An 8 Shaft Overshot Solution for "The African Queen"

Horse riding it's already over 30C so its weaving in the cool today.
I have been researching the options for the basic pattern for the "African Queen" and have been exploring overshot as an alternative to a 3/1 twill. I will need to use all 8 shafts to get an overshot pattern with sufficient "curves" rather than blocks or stripes, so I wil need to rethink how I can get the second, seperate warp for the dress. But as the overshot option is ideal for weaving-in the body and head without over-filling the weft with the additional yarn, I think it is the best solution...especially when this one turned up............
...for me it evokes the background on the original beautifully and will be stunning when full size woven in a shiny, glowing yarn.

I do have a solution for the second warp: my loom is to be renamed a "Dectado"! I am adding 2 shafts to the rear of the castle dedicated to the second warp beam, which conveniently for this problem, comes off the back several centimetres higher on the Octado; then by using the mechanical dobby shaft selection pedal (which is fitted but unused when the computer dobby is in use) to select shafts 9&10, I can then do a seperate plain weave.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Lace Menu Holder - Finished and in use

Well the menu envelope is now finished with all its trimmings and even has a menu in it. Could still use a heavier and stiffer linen without losing the delicate feel to it. Have ordered some 10/3 smooth linen on cones;lovely delicate colours and ecru so will do a full table set in that when it arrives and when (if!) I get my loom back, which is already warped up with a cotton warp for the cotton/wool carpet Gail has asked me to set up for her.

The African Queen - Woven Sculpture?

This is the project I conceived over a year ago and now, with the loom to do it on, I have started the long process of planning and trialing it - to do a loom-woven interpretation of this contemporary art painting. I love this painting, know the artist and how he developed his idea from sketches made whilst in Africa. This original hangs in my lounge and photographs can never do it simply glows; only a highly mercerised cotton or silk is likely to generate the same effect in fabric - "African Queen" is a 36" by 28" oil and acrylic on canvas by Steve Barker titled "The African Queen".
I do not want to try to copy it in woven cloth; I want to interpret it to suit the woven medium. Maybe it will be mixed materials; maybe it will incorporate other techniques than shaft-loom weaving. What I do know is that with only 8 shafts to work with, it has forced me to be more imaginative in finding a solution (but I like that).

I would love to see it on the old stone walls of the lounge beside Steve's original work.

I need a few weeks to really work up the detail but I am planning a background "canvas" in 1/3 twill to create the diagonal flow of the backdrop using a gold warp. Her exposed upper body and face will be woven within the twill; probably with pick-up sticks in a fine black silk so as not to bulk out the main weft. I want to create a 3-dimensional wall hanging, so the dress will be woven simultaneously on a second warp above the background; a fine, almost transparent gossamer weave with the dress woven as overshot on the remaining 4 shafts comes to mind. This will need to use a second, seperate reed and so the fell will have to remain slightly behind the main fell. By "dropping" this second warp strip back under the main cloth at the cleavage line, then "raising" it again at the start of the headress, the beautiful vibrant colours in the headress will be achived by weaving-in beading to a plain weave background (the second warp will have to have beading thread in the warp as well)
As I will be weaving this on my computerised Octado, it will need two programs running sequentially on the computer to control the dobby; one fot he twill and then, when I need to switch to weaving the overshot second warp of the dress, another program for this - but I have already trialed that aspect and that works brilliantly with no excuses!

I think I will do the wrist scarf and the tie on the head-dress as free-style; adding another dimension to the piece.

I have yet to decide how to hold the second fabric of the dress away from the backdrop, but I may sculpt a piece of african hardwood to put between the two fabrics, giving me the opportunity to create in 3-dimensions, the ample bosom which is such a feature of the painting.

I can't wait to start but I am going to trial the double warp/double reed first, then trial the gossamer weave with overshot, as I will be lucky to hit on the right set at the first attempt!!!!

In the meantine Gail (my wife) has pinched the loom as she is itching to have a go....will I ever get it back??????????????????

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Sectional Warping - Cheap Spools!!!

If you don't have a source of cheap, used spools to populate your sectional warping spool rack then the cost of buying 70 or more spools is huge (350 euros if you buy from Louet!!!!!)

Here is how to make them yourself. Made from 35mm long, deep-cut cotton spools and beer mats, which are 90mm diameter.

Glue two spools to make a 70mm long spool and glue the beer mats on each end. They fit all the spool winders I have found for sale, though I use my own. "Seemple", as the meerkat says :-)

I bought everything off ebay (though if you live in the UK getting free beermats should not be a problem) They cost me less than £25 to make 60 spools

New Project in Lace 3 - The final Version

The final version of my lace/doubleweave project and I am now happy with it. I changed the weft to the 8 lea's linen (still with the 20/2 linen/cotton in the warp) and I used 10mm fish-eye buttons in the double weave pockets. The finished article is more crisp and therefore more suitable for the menu holder. I will post the whole project, pictures and wif file in my project pages for anyone who wants to use it, along with a picture of the menu hlder when it is finally assembled and finished

Sunday, 3 July 2011

New project in Lace 2 - its off the loom!

Just taken the first piece off the loom; just got to pursuade Gail to sew it up for me and we will have the menu holder to go with the already finished table runner. I used the 2 ply linen/cotton in weft as well as warp for this and, to be honest, it's got a bit too much drape now its washed and pressed. Will see what its like when the menu card is inside the "pocket" formed when its all sewn up, but think I will use the 8 lea's linen in the warp when I do the second one...these are all mock-ups after all.
Here is the photo of the menu holder as it will be sewn up (still got to have the ribbon threaded through the lace loops either side of the 2 plain weave stripes)

Friday, 1 July 2011

New Project in Lace

My two great loves in textiles are linen and lace.. I just love the texture of pressed linen and, being something of a minimalist when it comes to colour, the natural hues of a crisp linen fabric are just perfect for the subtle textures of loom controlled lace. Here are the pictures of my latest fabric design, still on the loom. Its a plain weave, in linen, with double weave creating pockets into which are packed a small twist of merino wool fibre in an asymetric pattern. The material contracts when washed into a lovely close woven fabric whilst the wool fibres are moderately felted.
It's going to be the final peice in a 9 piece piece table set; table runner & 6 placemats, with menu envelope (current project) and double tea-light ambient light table decoration (still in the design and mock-up phase). All in various linen weaves; from the light-drape fabric for the menu holder to the mouldable, crisp structural textile of the lamp.
I will post the finished article soon and the full design, including wif file, for those using computerised dobby looms or wanting to manipulate them for your own use, will be on my Project Drafts & WIF Files page asap

Sectional Warping on Louet Octado

I LOVE weaving but I hate warping!! So I just had to convert my lovely new Louet Octado for sectional warping. As louet wanted over 1000 euros for all the parts, I made it all myself - here are the parts I made:- The tension box was the most challenging, but this works absolutely's a direct copy of the Leclerc box and all the parts came from the DIY shop and cost to less than 30 euros. The sectional beams, attached to the existing beam. Made from beech to match the loom with chrome screw eyelets for the 2" price - 17 euros!! The spool rack was easy...holds 70 spools, so I can warp at up to 35 epi on the 2" sectional beam.
If you want to know how to make them for your loom, just ask...always glad to help