Monday, 18 August 2014

Echo, Iridescence and Double Weave for Dummies!

Spent at least the last month iterating and reiterating the sections on double weave in the book (Echo and Iris) before I really got my head round it. This is a fantastic book and I would recommend it to anyone other than a beginner. Whilst the earlier chapters 'teach' the materiel clearly, I feel the double weave sections could do with more alliteration and a few extra steps in the explanations; just a little too much is assumed and left hanging on the assumption the reader will make the link, though to be fair I have done so and others might be able to do so easier and quicker than I.

The breakthrough for me with the double weave sections was working out how to quickly produce drawdowns on my software: as with the echo/iris sections, this enabled me to experiment, make the 'missing' links whilst an idea was fresh and work out my own rubrics for the techniques. Fortunately, the alternative approach given in the book for producing tie-ups in double weave fitted perfectly with WeaveIt's software (without that, producing drafts for 32 shaft double weave is VERY laborious; you 'aint going to do too many of those 'manually' before you get fed up and just plump for the first iteration of your design!).

Once grasped though, the technique with echo and iridescence really does take double weave to a level beyond anything I have seen, read or heard of before; as with the earlier sections, it's really inspirational work so looking forward to trying the first design I have produced.

In order to readily use the techniques in the book to produce and experiment with lots of design variations I now have what amounts to a 'Mike's Dummy's Guide to Echo and Iris for WeaveIt' - about a dozen step by step instruction sheets for each technique. For anyone using WeavIt they would make a useful appendix to either this book or the WeavIt manual.

Monday, 7 July 2014

24 Shaft Echo 4 Iridescence - The Finished Panel and a Serene Model

We do have a Buddhist retreat nearby so maybe they would like some!

Interesting now its finished; things I was expecting and others that are surprising.

I was expecting the iridescent effect to be light and directionally dependent, which it is, but was surprised that it's effect really comes alive when the fabric drapes naturally - making it great for a garment but less effective as a screen or wall hanging. As usual, the photo really doesn't show the sheen and glow but it does at least show the blending of the colours.

The close up shows it better and the extreme close photo shows the interlacement detail.
The background colour is black, so it has a very high contrast with lots in the blue and purple spectrum but, in real life, the yellow is the real standout colour which makes it glow.
The vertical stripes are a distinct feature of echo on more than 8 shafts; the point at which the blocky appearance of the weave gives way to stripes. However, I really think the colours need to be threaded 1/1 in the reed to ensure perfect separation, otherwise there is a second effect coming into play adding to the vertical stripes; one that was not part of the design.

There is much to be learned from this first piece

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

24 shaft Echo 4 Iridescence Panel - Progress

These are the true colours.
Well, iridescence really does look, well, works!
This is my own 24 shaft design using one of Marian's twill tie-ups giving maximum 6 end floats with my threading/lift plan. The lift plan is a single, undulating non-repeating line over 2460 picks which I wrapped until I got the colour balance I liked.
I made a few changes from the draw-down I designed and blogged earlier in the week based on my 2 year old 'Schizophrenia' design idea; made to accommodate the colours I eventually chose and the much finer Ne 20/2 cotton - it's now 608 ends and 48cm wide.

Colours are Flame Red, Deep Yellow, Pistachio Green and Cyan - warped in that order at 13epcm. Weft is Black 34/4 Tencel.

I have sampled other wefts and only very, very dark, low value colours really work with these weft colours. So the other two panels will use a Deep Nay Blue and Grey/Burgundy.

In close.
The close up shows how the range of colour variations appear across the boundaries of the shape.
The weft is packing at 15epcm. I was worried the sett was going to leave it too weft faced. However, though the overall effect is slightly darker due to more black weft than if it were balanced, the effect is actually enhanced as there is more contrast overall between the areas.

This yarn could be sett at 15-16epcm for this mix of twills, but with more of the prime colours visible, I think the contrast might diminish.

The structure is great and could certainly be used as fabric for a Bohemian friends would love it ;-)

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

My Clients Shadow Weave Shawl

Finished the second of the shawls I wove using the shadow weave drawdown.

It's in a finer yarn than the first one so is lighter and more appropriate for summer use.

This one's destined for a client who saw Gail's in burgundy and grey.

34/4 Tencel in lavender and black, 200cm x 60cm
Sett 9epc woven at 10ppc

Selvages double threaded 4 heddles - 40/100 reed threaded 2,2,3,2,2

Saturday, 21 June 2014

24 shaft Echo 4 Iridescence Panel Design

Schizophrenia revisited.
I have had a design idea for a couple of years, which I tried to work out for overshot which I called 'Schizophrenia'. I never managed to work out how to weave it satisfactorily, so I thought I would try echo weave. The original design idea was based on the fMRI brain patterns of patients which were then turned into music (sonification). I looked again at the scans and the design here is what I have come up with.
Here is the link:-

Echo 4 on 24 shaft, 4 colour warp 800 ends
x18 wrap
Threading and treadling are on a 3/1 network; one treadling repeat is 1920 picks.

Hoping to use it  for  two 60cm x 150cm wall panels, and either changing the warp colour for each panel or alternatively, wrapping the lift plan to change each panel; a second evocation of its inception of 'schizophrenia'.

Wrapping x 12 does a full inversion of the colours. This is a wrap of  x18. (right) emphasising the orange and green echo's more.

This is quite a clever technique when visualised in lift plan mode as, though these are two repeats of the same threading design line, by wrapping the threading, you can merge the left hand pattern  seemlessly into the right giving the impression of just one pattern.
I have managed to do this with quite a few design lines; the key is getting the horizontal wrapping correct before doing the threading repeat - you have to get the two to overlap.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Even The Sky Isn't The Limit......or is it?

I have had this photo of the Helix Nebula taken from the Hubble telescope in my projects file for a couple of years now. 
Helix Nebula- Eye of God
When I saw the book on echo weaves and iridescence I thought this might be the route to weaving, not only this inspiring image, but to be able to interpret the many hundreds of other galaxies and nebula for which there are now images.
This technique seems ideal to reproduce the iridescent nature of the colours and the way they blend and echo. Maybe Photoshop can create the patterns and liftplans; maybe I can find a suitable threading that, when combined, produces the combination I need to replicate these amazing images - we will see; the biggest problem I can see at the moment is controlling the float lengths in the warp.

So this is going to be one of the directions for my off-loom designing and experimentation ove the next 12 months leading up to the workshop by Marian in May: Objective - maybe if I crack it, to have an exhibition next Summer on the theme of  Space.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Our Day Out at The Marche Des Tisserandes and Expo

Miroir, Miroir - as the french deemed it should be seen ;-)
Seven Swans
We had a fantastic day out and the chateau was at its most resplendent on a perfect sunny June day.

There were a wide range of textile media exhibited this year and here are a few of my favourite woven pieces.

Three Short Stories
The String and the Pebbles
Pentecost week-end is the weaving exhibition and this year I exhibited a piece or the first time. We had a fantastic day out, met up with Julie, the artist whose painting I have been asked to interpret, and the chateau was at its most resplendent on a perfect sunny June day. There were some amazing things for sale which really stimulated the imagination and gave me some great ideas.

We were a little miffed that the expo committee chose to display my piece as just the three boards side-by-side, omitting the lovely gnarled wooden staff and missing the point entirely that they were placed at different heights and angles. Kind of negates the concept of an art exhibition when the numpty that hangs them gets to decide a carefully selected component is superfluous on the basis that the piece didn't fit the fixings she was given.....clearly the French should never be given
Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
Henry Moores 'King and Queen' to exhibit, as they would saw off the bench they are sat on because the light fitting in the room hung too low!

My favourite is called 'The String and the Pebbles'

I loved this one too, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. You needto see it really as its not well represented in a photo....simple but nice concept.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Abstracting Nature - A Challenging Commission

This is Julies title not mine, but I like it as it gives me a start point for my ideas which is common with the artist

So these are the paintings she has chosen from the set. They are all about texture; but colours, subtle as they are, are important in the rocks as are the natural striations - so it's all about texture, colour and detail then!

Julie has a vernissage next week which I shall go to as part of the research; spend some time looking at them again and seeing peoples reactions and comments.

I have a pretty free rein to interpret it and certainly there will be several 'samples' for feedback before I attempt the final one, so the exhibition will start me along the path.

I love these paintings and, as with textural weaving, you have to up close and in there to really get the true impression. They are mixed media; Julie has included ground ash and stone within the acrylic media and I am sure I will need to be equally imaginative in how and what I use with yarns and fibre to explore the textural possibilities.

Continuing my mantra to avoid weavers block, that there must always be a warp on the loom whilst I am planning other projects, I have the loom warped for another shadow weave shawl; this time in the slightly finer tencel from Diversan and in blue/black.

I may do this on the Ashford 8 shaft table loom,which is portable, and treat it as a longer term project. 

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Enfin! Completed Expo Piece

Mirror, Mirror? We see what we want to see.
Here it is. Finished apart from some very minor things that won't be visible in the photo - the 'eyes' and serpents head on the central panel, varnishing the wooden staff it all hangs on, replacing the hanging threads with gold chain and maybe putting a narrow wooden frame round each panel.
Finished size is 170cm x 70cm

Whatever you think of it, it is definitely eye-catching in the flesh.
The whole success of the design concept pivoted on the effect of light and shadow. I chose the yarn and weave structure to amximise this.: Tencel for its lustre and huck lace to avoid excessive interlacement which dulls the sheen. The central portcullis huck shows the Tencel on the inner block (where the 3d relief is placed) to its most lustrous. But the biggest issue, visibility of the text is, thankfully, a success. Top and side lighting is best as the text glows when viewed obliquely opposite the light, but as long as the lighting isn't 'flat' (which is why the flash photo doesn't do it justice) the text appears and recedes as you move across its length.

The vacuum moulding was rather fraught due to the height of the relief in panels 1 and 3, but nonetheless successful.

Overall, very pleased with all aspects of the design and execution.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Expo - The Final Panel is finished

Phew! Finished all the panels this afternoon followed by a visit to the shops to get the mounting board and sundries to mount and hang them.

This is the third and final panel though it's actually the first in the row when mounted. 40cm x 32cm.Woven in copper Tencel. It's a smiling face with a garland made of miniature white silk roses accompanied by two hearts.

It's on white mounting board with a 3cm border. This is probably how it will be mounted though I am not sure whether to edge the weaving with a narrow wooden frame.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Expo - Second panel

Dilemma - I am not happy that the second panel 'goes' with the first so do I weave the first to 'match' or vice-versa?

This is not yet stretched on the frame and mounted
The subdued background colour of this second panel and the contrasting 'plaid' effect central section  are good at contrasting the relief of the masks and I am pleased with the effect I have achieved with the snake winding in and out of the faces and vac.forming the three masks at once worked fine.  Unfortunately, the text is not as clear; which I am surprised at because the grey/gold/silver worked when I trialed it???? 

The colours of the two panels just do not harmonise though. If I had the time I would warp again with the gold/silver in the central warp panel and a solid, light colour either side. This would make it easier to use dark, bright weft colours to coordinate between panels as well as ensuring the text stands out.....but I aint got the time! 

There is also the not so small matter of having no more mask moulds. If I redo the first panel I can reuse that mask, but that's not an option with this panel.............  Ho, hum!!

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Expo - First panel

I have finished the first panel and immediately the decision on whether to do a series of panels or a book was made: it looks fantastic with picture lighting anything from 1-5m away, so it will be panels.
Not sure about the hat tassle wrapped round the face. One of the ideas for 'evil' was to have a snake wrapped round the head, so the idea was to have an equivalent, benign object on the 'good' panel which can juxtapose with the snake

I have saturated the photo to try to show the shadow better. The real colour is this:-

Technically, the weaving is pretty much perfect (pleasant change!), the text stands out very well and the relief is excellent - the shadows from top lighting even show the face details, but are not visible in the photo.

 Using the central panel in a huck with fewer interlacements worked perfectly to provide the movement needed to follow the form but minimise draw in on the rest of the panel. It wasn't sure about using vertical stripes with the risk of distortion, but I have managed to keep it all parallel with some judicious use of the steam iron.

Three other 'variations' on faces which I have mocked up with cloth in the vacuum bag:-.

Face 3: Twin/conjoined heads.

Face 2: The presence of the fragment separated from the rest of the face makes the deformity particularly effective.

Face4: Using one mask, I have mocked up a Medusa head with snakes as hair (using thick corded rope under the cloth) 

One option is to have a double-width central panel by weaving  panel longer and using it turned 90 degrees. The text will run top and bottom and it will allow me to write the rest of the text in one line "Qui est la plus belle au pays ?"

If I do this, I will weave it in two weft colours so when turned, it will be one colour on the left half and the other on the right half.

The pair of conjoined heads would work well in that orientation with one head having the snake-hair.......the deformed face could be added too.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Marche Des Tisserands Expo Design Fabric Finalised

I have settled on a threading of 4 shaft huck lace for the majority of the piece. Two blocks of the same threading using 8 shafts. This allows me to have a central rectangle in either plain weave (as shown) or any huck lace preset.

The remaining 24 shafts are threaded as a straight draw and reversed on the left. These will be used for the motif designs. The title text is shown here; in 3/1twill with a broken twill background (yes, I did re-programme Photoshop!). It remains to be seen how visible the text will be; but as it is subtitled 'On voit que l'on veut voir'......who cares! :-o 
I may invert the two twills so the text is weft not warp once I have done a test section  as the set I have chosen should make the fabric  slightly weft faced in the twill.

The whole threading allows me to have plain weave in any block and huck as borders and/or inner pattern areas.

Warp is 300 ends @ 20epi threaded 10 ends 8/2 gold tencel, 10 ends 8/2 silver spun silk repeated. There will be secondary ends of fancy yarn on the second warp beam, used differently for each of the pieces woven. I have chosen a sett for plain weave rather than twill because I need sufficient movement in the interlacement to allow the fabric to form over the mask moulds.

I have two designs options once the pieces are woven; there will be four pieces:-
Design 1 is based on the idea of a Giant's Story Book; an oversize (A3) book  with woven front cover (as shown above) with the title in the motif.  Inner 2 pages will be the vac. formed faces in relief and the fourth piece is the back cover. Depending on how this mocks up, or not as the case may be:

Design 2 will use the 4 pieces hung on a wooden staff.

Monday, 28 April 2014


My trial version of Photoshop only lasted 30 days so the full version arrived from Amazon today and I uploaded it. Despite what it said on the tin, after erasing the trial version it didn't bloody well keep all my pattern presets ( the files I took days creating and uploading which tells Photoshop how to assign weave structures to my designs) nor did it keep my network drafts; which for 32 shafts is a lot of work! So, my expo designs are now hovering in the ether akin to when Star Trek's transporter left molecularly-deconstructed low-ranking crew members in limbo whilst Scotty battles to fix it...usually they re-materialized as a jelly-like blob on the floor of the transporter room unless it was Captain Kirk or some high ranking inter-gallactic's hoping I am more successful then Mr Scott and that my designs are not considered minions of the cast ;-)

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Expo Panel Number 1 - First Draft

Here is the first draft of the panel for the Expo. Designed on Photoshop and generated in WeaveIt. The motif will change but this is the structure I want.

This is 1/4, as the final panel will have 16 blocks - each colour block is 180 ends so the individual motifs are big - about 10cm x 20cm - panel size will be 80cm x 80cm...the biggest I can get in the vacuum sleeve.

The panels at the moment are left-hand 3/1 twill with a background of broken twill, so the motif is warp-faced & will be in relief therefore the motifs will be visible in the black panel.  How visible I am not sure.

Getting to grips with Photoshop

A week of learning Photoshop applied to weaving lift plans.  Alice Schien's book The Lift Plan Connection is basically a manual for Photoshop for those who want to use it's features to design lift plans. You have to make your own pattern presets for all the weave structures you want to use, but the process after that is sooooo quick. I can take a jpeg or bitmap picture, or something drawn on Paint or Photoshop and generate a 4 layer (which means 4 different weave structures if you want them) liftplan in about 2 minutes!
This one is only two layers, produced from a simple 3 line doodle followed by one of photoshops filters (twirl filter). layers are 3-1twill and broken twill - this is the lift plan pasted into WeaveIt.

Now I have set up half a dozen preset Network threadings in Weavit, it takes literally 3 minutes to go from the sketch to ready-to-weave.

Unlike designing in the weaving software (in the tie-up lift plan or  sketchpad) the 'weavability' of the final design in Photoshop is guaranteed, once you have done the ground work setting up the pattern library in Photoshop. From there, you have only to follow two weaving rules: don't mix  network initials that aren't mutiples of each other e.g. a 4 end with a 5 end; and avoid mixing weave structures that are disparate and fortunately there aren't many and they are pretty obvious even to a numpty like me. Then, a simple float search is all that's required in the weaving software after the wif has been generated.  

In my teaching I have found that, invariably, anything that improves accessibility and promotes faster progression earlier in the learning process leads to engagement and better learning. If I were teaching weaving in my technology class to GCSE students today, this would be the tool I would use as the first step for students understanding of weave structures and designing their own. This is directly analogous to the huge leap forward in teaching that CAD provided: by directing it early at the novice they move much quicker towards being engaged in getting their ideas to fruition.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Progress with Marche Des Tisserands Expo Piece

With the Exhibition theme of ' Tales and Legends' I have been thinking around the general theme of Good vs Evil, which pervades most fairy tales. I thought specifically of Snow White and the wicked Queen and  "Mirror, Mirror in my hand, who is the fairest in the land". Magic mirrors are also something that appear in may fairy tales and legends.

My title is "Mirror, Mirror!" and I am working on having two woven pieces facing each other, either in a frame or with a woven border that gives the impression of a mirror's frame. I also want each to be an 'opposite; either structure, colour or  pattern. I want it 3-D - so thinking of using the vacuum forming process so at the moment - first design is two, framed pieces with 'opposing' faces in relief - one serene, the other evil.

This is the test for the serene face, vacuum-formed in a spare, loose woven piece I did ages ago. It's very in-elastic (and rather thick/heavy) so with a more elastic weft, it shows me I can get a very 'high' relief without distorting the cloth.

Viewed from a distance, the overall impression is clearer as to what it will look like on a wall. Now I have to work on the evil face; finding an approach that makes it clearly 'opposite'

I like the effect the light/dark on the face gives.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Evening Purse For the Shadow Weave Shawl

Started the material for the evening purse. It's the same anthracite 8/2 Tencel (warp) & Burgundy weft as the shawl. 8 shaft extended twill set at 24epi. The weft is doubled 8/2 Tencel with a ground tabby using a very fine metallic thread in gold; combined 36ppi.

The tabby is beaten firmly so it appears only intermittently on the face

Drawdown shows underside of material

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Tassles for the shawl

The fringe has now been finished off as twisted doubled tassles. The time taken to untangle the original fringe would have meant it would never get washed!!

There is something very comforting about a full set of shelves

Well, I have sorted through half the cones of yarn Dawn gave me and this is the stash: bottom up - Silk, Tencel, cotolin and fancy yarns. 

The 8/2 Tencel cones I bought from Dawn yesterday.

The rest will fill another two of these shelves. Loads of cotton of every gauge, beautiful swedish linens (I love linen) rayon boucles and a dozen large cones of cashmere from Elgin, which I shall save until i am ALOT better :-)

Monday, 24 March 2014

Shadow Weave Shawl in Tencel

Finished the shawl. It's the first thing off the new Megado so very pleased indeed with the quality and especially the edges, considering I only wove about 2" test strip before I hemstitched the tassles. 

It has a beautiful drape and it feels simply GORGEOUS!

I love Tencel. This is 8/2 (40wpi). Vivid colours; lovely sheen; silky touch and eco friendly. It's brilliant for colour and weave. I have some lovely linen (C4 Texere Yarns) which yields the same effects but Tencel is soooomuch easier to work with.

A blind man would be happy to see the shaft selection error
Dawn, from whom I bought the loom and who kindly gave me the yarns, has another 13  250g cones from Camilla Valley Farms range - lovely colours so I am buying them from her.

Camilla Velley Farm's Tencel Colours

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Transformed Selvages

Two things on this amazing piece of kit have have transformed my selvages - using the temple and the flying shuttle. The entire piece on the loom was woven from the start using the temple. Once I got used to it ( would have happened a lot quicker had  I watched a you tube demo) it really is the perfect tool for ensuring totally consistent width at all times. Why haven't I used one before, I ask myself?
Half way through this piece I changed to using the flying shuttle. It's shadow weave  (so two weft shuttles) so I have to throw one and fly the other, but once the fly shuttles running tension was set, the consistency of edge tension is amazing.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Chance of a lifetime Realised! A Megado 130, 32s electronic

Yesterday I collected my new loom. A Louet Megado 130; it's the 32 shaft Electronic version and today it is proudly assembled and ready to go in the workroom area of our big kitchen.
I can't really believe that an opportunity like this actually came out of the blue. Pinch me!

It is in beautiful condition as if it had just come out of the box and with every accessory going, some of which were, literally, still sealed inside their box.

It included Louets fly shuttle kit, second beam, sectional beam kit and 6 reeds from 5epi to 18epi. Also included and still unpacked, 2 temples, Louets 32 spool sectional warp rack and tension box!!! ....oh yes, and 50kg of yarn thrown in: silk, linen, Tensel and cotton mostly....just what I tend to use most :-). I am a lucky boy :-)

Ironically, I was most pleased that it came with Louets magnificent  bench; I have always coveted one of these since I first bought an Octado and have had 'the mick' taken out of me many times for being pictured weaving standing up....well NO MORE! :-)


FLY SHUTTLE....not that I shall use it much so it's back in the box for that, but nice to have especially as Gail wants to make some fabric in quantity.

PS. Thanks to Dawn for trusting me to make good use of it...I will do my best!

Monday, 27 January 2014

Expo Marche des Tisserands, Chateau de Varaignes 7.8 & 9 June 2014

This years Theme is "Au fil des Contes et Legendes" which means "Over the course of Tales and Legends".  Brilliant theme :-)
Last year the theme just didn't inspire me to anything at all, but if I can't come up with something on this theme within my weaving envelope, then I may as well give up designing and weaving altogether!!!

In order to do something before the deadline I need to:-
  1. Start now!
  2. Choose a technique in which I am already proficient.
  3. Design tightly around this technique.
  4. Don't delay the start of weaving by procrastinating over which design to choose
  5. Go for the Wow! factor :-)
First thing is to order a new copy of PCW as I have a new computer and can't print from my old copy.  I think I will use my warp painting technique as the start point for this, so sticking with PCW makes sense as I know how to superimpose drawings onto the weave structure with this - this makes it much easier to get a feel for what the finished item will look like.

Onward and upward! I start today!!!!!!

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Still here!

But not posting - sorry! Will sort stuff out some time soon :-)