Saturday, April 4, 2015

Never Too Old to Learn

Had to read books

When we are very young we participate in a formal learning process.  Others determine what we learn so that we can function in human society.  As teenagers our interests and abilities have more influence over the direction of our studies but there is always a curriculum set by someone that we must follow in order to "graduate".  Such learning is work that we do to gain the approval of others.

Learning for pleasure is something we do for ourselves.  It is a lot more fun when we chose the subject, set the curriculum and decide what the passing mark is.  
Want to read books
So what does this have to do with weaving and spinning?  Some of us may be lucky enough to have access to an educational institute that provides instruction in weaving and spinning.  Most of us are on our own and depend upon publications, more experienced artisans, and those few who teach professionally.  We owe much to those great professional teachers who are willing to travel to smaller communities.  They cope with unfamiliar travel routes, rustic class rooms, unreliable equipment, and eclectic accommodations.  They scrimp on their own comforts to keep costs down and they know their chosen profession will never make them rich.  But they also know their students are eager to learn what they have to teach.

samples from dye workshop
colour exercise with wrapping
The Association of North West Weaving Guilds provides funds to help support member guilds educational efforts.  This year the Qualicum Weavers and Spinners Guild was awarded a grant in support of a workshop and a series of lectures by Robyn Spady.  Robyn is a frequent contributor to Handwoven, Shuttle Spindle and Dye Pot and other weaving publications.  She has completed the Handweavers Guild of American Certificate of Excellence and has written monographs on creating decorative trim.
The program takes place June 5 to 7th and includes the workshop, Extreme Warp Makeover.  The lectures include, Taming of the Hue, Weaving TNT and Two Sides of Every Cloth.  The lectures are independent of the workshop and can be taken individually or as a series.  The location is the Lighthouse Hall in Qualicum Bay on Vancouver Island.  For details about the subject matter see Robyn's web site.

Blanket from workshop
We are hoping that weavers who are not members of the Qualicum group will attend the program.  The workshop committee has sent information to neighbouring guilds through their ANWG representative.  If you are interested check with your ANWG representative or check the guild events column to the right of this post.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

More than Four Reporting In

The More Than Four Study Group is a weaving study group for  guild members who are interested in making the most out of multi-harness looms.  At the start of the year the group selects a study topic and for the rest of the year members research and weave samples related to that topic.  This year the group decided to concentrate on creating 3 dimensional surface effects.
We soon learned that there were a variety of surface effects that could be created by a hand weaver.  They could be subtle all over surface effects with raised yarns or dimples.  They could be strategically placed pleats or puckers or they could be wild waves and ruffles resulting from movement across the entire fabric.

The sea weed in the photographs illustrates some of the more dramatic surface effects that can be produced with the correct yarns, weaving structure and finishing techniques.  High energy yarns or yarns that have different shrinkage rates can be used to distort an otherwise flat grid.

The woven examples have warp stripes of materials with different shrinkage rates.  In both samples the wool stripes shrink more than the adjacent stripes creating a seer sucker effect.
The highly spun rayon singles in the example on the left kinks upon wet finishing in hot water and pulls in the edges to form pleats.
We learned that it was important to do samples when working with these techniques.  Differences in sett, materials and finishing can make dramatic differences in the overall size of the finished piece.

The off-white sample with the intense pleating is an example of woven shibori used with an acrylic yarn.  The shibori pull threads are used to create narrow pleats then the entire cloth is steamed to set the acrylic weft yarn.  After the pull threads are removed the fabric is highly elastic.  The lower edge forms a natural ruffle as there were no pull threads in that section.  The fabric is ideal for a narrow sleeve on a romantic top.

More subtle surface effects add textural interest as illustrated in this photograph of tree bark.  There are raised areas as well as irregularly coloured patches that resemble a collage

 There are a number of weave structures that are designed to create surface effects and while the choice of materials can alter how dramatic the effect is, these techniques do not rely heavily on special yarns or finishing techniques.  They are often enhanced by the use of colour or fancy yarns.

 Waffle weave creates dimples in the cloth that appear as small squares.  The surface is similar to that on a Belgian waffle.  The weave structure is characterized by skips in descending order in the warp and the weft.  It is highly absorbent and makes wonderful towels.  The take up will depend upon the size of the units in the waffle weave and it can be considerable.

Honeycomb is another weave structure that creates dimples in the cloth outlined with a heavier or fancy yarn.  In this case the skips are on the back of the cloth making it more suitable for upholstery or an item that will be lined.  Where a deeper colour has been used the dimples appear to be deeper.

The More Than Four group will continue with the exploration of 3 dimensional effects.  Sampling has been important to understanding this topic and each person's experience, good or bad, has taught all of us a lesson.  The sampling has suggested some interesting applications for the techniques as clothing, accessories and house hold items.