Thursday, March 28, 2024

Crackle and Color

How the colors of yarns blend and mix in weaving is a fascinating study. It isn't as simple and straightforward as mixing, say, paint on a palette. In weaving, the colors of the individual threads can be detected upon close inspection, but step back, and another story reveals itself. 

The most basic structure, plain weave (tabby) is simply over one, under one, repeat. Twills are also common, typically over two, under two, repeat. I reckon next would be overshot, where the weft can shoot over a prescribed number of warp threads ("floats") to create large patterns. Then there are the "face" weaves, either warp or weft, where one or the other predominates. Each of these blends color differently. The smaller the points of color, the more quickly the eye will blend them in one's perception. So with the paint comparison, how plain weave causes colors to interact is more like pointillism. That makes weaving with various color yarns more challenging, and more interesting.

Crackle weave is especially interesting in the color department, because I can get both distinct sections (shapes) of color as the pattern, where the weft floats over three warp threads. And I get a blending of two or three colors with the "background."

Some examples:


I took the background color interactions into consideration when I chose my yarn colors. Tien Chiu has some wonderful articles about color blending, such as this one, Fundamentals of color in weaving: Color Mixing and the Two-Primary Rule. Very helpful.

I have a total of 75 pattern blocks in this piece, each with a different mix of my 5 warp and tabby colors and 3 pattern weft colors. I won't be able to see the overall effect until the piece is off the loom and wet finished. I'm expecting subtle color variations between the pattern blocks. For now, I have to content myself with seeing only 2 pattern sections at a time, because I must advance the warp frequently on my little table loom.

Progress: I'm currently working on weft section 7 out of 15.

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Variation on "Cottage Windows": Weaving at Last

After finding and correcting one more threading error, I was almost ready to start weaving. Because the pattern isn't presented as a modern drawdown, I first needed to determine the liftplan, 

Click to enlarge

The pattern is an old one, finally found in an old weaving pamphlet. I found the plan for treadling in the introduction. 

Treadle 1 lifts shafts 1 & 2
Treadle 2 lifts shafts 2 & 3
Treadle 3 lifts shafts 3 & 4
Treadle 4 lifts shafts 1 & 4

Tabby, of course, alternates 1 & 3 and 2 & 4.

With that I wrote my liftplan on a card and clipped it to my loom after making adjustments to square the "windows."

I found I needed to adjust the number of lifts to square the windows.

I started off slowly, because this was the first time to use my double bobbin shuttle and I could envision making a tangle of the threads. 

I have to say that this shuttle is lovely in hand and positively zips through the shed. I chose this particular brand and model because of it's low profile. It's advertised for rigid heddle looms. but is perfect for my table loom. I like it well enough that I'll likely buy another shuttle or two from her.

Anyway, after a painstakingly slow start, I've made progress.

I can't quite fit two full weft sections in a photo, but this way you get a peek at the 1st three.
You can see my color rotation plan here, Hold-ups on Starting Weaving & A Change of Plan.

As I've become comfortable with the double-bobbin shuttle, I've developed a rhythm and picked up weaving speed. 

Weaving notes
  • My yarn choices include a mix of mercerized and unmercerized cottons. Most size 10/2 cottons are sold mercerized, which gives a lovely sheen to the thread, but which aren't as absorbent as unmercerized. However, I was focused on color, and this is what I ended up with. The unmercerized cones I have were bought as commercial mill ends.
  • Unweaving is particularly a nuisance with those double bobbins, especially re-winding the thread back onto them.
  • This is a good place to notate two color swaps I made from my original plan.
    • The first is that I'm using a different navy for the tabby weft than I did for the warp. I have two navies in 10/2, one darker and one lighter. I like the lighter navy better for this project, but doubt I have enough to use it for tabby weft too. I used the lighter navy for the warp and the darker navy for the tabby. The difference isn't noticeable in the fabric.
      Tabby navy on the left, warp navy on the right
    • The second color change I made was the yellow (which I called goldenrod, but it looked like mustard when I started weaving with it). It was too bright so I swapped it out for the mellower golden orange. You can see the effect of the yellow in the shuttle photo, and of the golden orange in the fabric sample photo.
      Goldenrod on left, golden orange on right.

Monday, March 18, 2024

Hold-ups on Starting Weaving & A Change of Plan

Argh! Sloppy mistakes are the hold-up. Firstly, I discovered warp thread counting errors. Of the purple warp section, I only had 86 of the required 96 ends. Of the green I had 10 extra ends, and of the navy, 4 extra. And these were even with marking off my warp in bundles of ten as I measured it on the warping board. I blame cats for this. I have two that are very nagging demanding when it comes to their personal needs. Fortunately, the shortage was in the first section, so I could just added 10 more ends at the edge of the warp. Unfortunately, it meant re-threading the heddles for the entire section. Where I had extra warp ends, I could just set them aside. But I had to re-sley to fill in the gaps. 

Next, I discovered sleying errors as I threaded the heddles. One was a skipped dent, the second was a doubled dent. For these, I'm blaming my glasses. Bifocals are good for some things, but for others they are a nuisance. Better lighting and a different chair helped here.

Then I found a threading error. I was surprised at this because I thread in sections and check the threading before moving on the the next section. It was because of those extra navy warp threads that I discovered this error. I re-checked my threading as I counted ends and discovered the error. This one must have been due to a distraction, although what that was, I can't recall. Either cats or husband, but it was caught and fixed before I started weaving!

All of these were frustrating because they were avoidable, but I managed them anyway. Finally, I'm ready to tie and tension the warp.

Of course, as I work I think. I had to decide about what to use for my tabby weft, and settled on using the warp colors for the tabby too, rotating the color with each motif section. In thinking about how it would look, I tried to conquer the math. I have five warp colors and three pattern weft colors. So five tabby colors would add some interesting color play. When I diagrammed it, it looked like this . . . 

click to enlarge

The nutshell version is that by rotating through my pattern and tabby weft colors, I could get 15 rows of my window motif before the color combinations would repeat. And this got me thinking about weaving dishtowels. I could weave two dishtowels, each with its own color variations. Or, I could weave something else. 

I decided I want to weave through the entire 15 color sections, which means I'll probably start calling this a table runner instead of dishtowels. I have enough warp measured out to do this, and I find this idea much more fascinating that my original plan.

In the end, this project is as much about color exploration as it is trying out crackle on opposites. But then, all my projects boil down to that. Color is always the factor that fascinates me and keeps my interest. How it blends and how it can be manipulated presents the most interesting experimentation. 

Hopefully, there will be no more delays, and I'll have some weaving to show you soon.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

The Winning Color Combination Is . . .

Of the seven possible color combinations I showed you in my I'm Stuck in a Color Rut post, the winner is . . . . . . . . . . . . . None of the above! 

Warp: burgundy, royal blue, purple, forest green, navy blue
Weft: light turquoise, goldenrod, and warm pink

I finally settled on five warp colors because when I worked on warp color arrangement in my notebook, I calculated five warp sections for the desired width and decided I wanted each one a different color. The is mostly because whenever I think of color sections, I think of color sequences. Three colors for five warp sections meant two colors would be repeated and one used only once. Rather than try to figure out which is which, I decided on a separate color for each. In keeping with my idea to use darker colors for the warp, what you see in the photo were my best options. 

The three lighter colors will be for pattern weft, and I like the way these rotate. The blocks for the windows alternate, so my exact color repeat for the weft will be every six sections. I know that doesn't make sense, so I'm going to toss this screenshot up, which I doubt will help. 

Click to enlarge. For some reason, screenshots of WeaveDesign
screens are always pale. Darkening them just changes the colors.

That's basically one color repeat. Every repeat of a new weft color alternates the colors of the windows and background. 

Okay. Enough nonsensical rambling. Hopefully, I'll have some weaving to show you soon. I'm slow getting the loom warped because the days are so lovely and there are so many seasonal chores to do. I always get in some time at the loom after dinner though. 

Sunday, March 10, 2024

I'm Stuck in a Color Rut

I ended my last blog post by mentioning that yarn and color selection for my crackle on-opposites dishtowels was the next step. Yesterday was rainy, so I spent it arranging and rearranging cones of yarn in search of an appealing color combination. For yarn size, I'm thinking 10/2 for warp and tabby, and 10/2 doubled for pattern weft. I'm working with this motif . . .

Details for this pattern can be found here.

I'm thinking I can best achieve a consistent contrast by using darker colors for the warp and lighter colors for the pattern weft. The challenge is that I don't have a large selection of 10/2 cotton yarns, so I'm having trouble trying to figure out a good color scheme with what I've got.

The first colors I grabbed were these . . .

navy, dark green, and dark gray for warp
 royal, light turquoise and light blue for weft

As I arranged them on the table I realized that these are always the first colors I go for. I realized that they are almost always my preference. I realized I'm stuck in a color rut. 

So I selected another combination.

warp: purple and royal blue
weft: light blue and pink

Meh. I'd really like to go for three dark and three light, but I don't have much other selection than these for darker blues and purple.

Maybe this . . .

Purple plus royal and navy blue for warp
Two pinks and light blue for weft
Or . . .
Navy and wine for warp, taupe, light, and medium pink for weft

Maybe something a little bolder?

Burgundy, navy and green for warp colors.
Light blue, goldenrod, and gold for weft.

Hmm. Different for me, but I kinda like it. What about swapping out the orangey-gold for taupe?

Burgundy, navy and green for warp
Light blue, goldenrod, and taupe for weft.

Another swap . . .

Burgundy, green, and navy for warp
Light turquoise, goldenrod, and orange-gold for weft

That's pretty much the extent of my 10/2s stash, and I'm still undecided. I guess the question is, how daring do I want to be?

Related posts:

Friday, March 08, 2024

Crackle On Opposites

While I'm working on collecting more t-shirts for my bathroom rag rug, I've been thinking about something to work on in the meantime. I found this idea in Harriet Tidball's The Weaver's Book . . .

. . . and was inspired to try to work out a draft in my weaving software. I couldn't make it work for beans. I started looking through my other crackle weave resources, and eventually found a PDF I'd previously downloaded of Practical Weaving Suggestions, Vol. V, No. 2, "Notes on 'Crackle Weave'" by Mary M. Atwater. (Available here.) It's a variation on her well-known "Cottage Windows" draft. 

Click to enlarge

It is woven "on opposites," which refers to the treadling. The pattern uses opposite sets of treadles for the different blocks. In the above example, the first section is woven with treadles 2 - 3 and 1 - 2. The next section is treadled 1 - 4 (the opposite of 2 - 3) and 3 - 4 (the opposite of 1 - 2). I haven't woven crackle on opposites yet, so I'm looking forward to getting this going. It will be another one to add to my "Crackle Weave: Manners of Weaving" page.

This one I was able to create on WeaveDreamer

Click to enlarge

It looks squatty, doesn't it? That's because I made it showing pattern weft only, i.e without tabby wefts. It will be woven with tabby shots, so the motif will look taller and more square on the fabric. 

My plan is to make several dishtowels; yarns and colors to be decided on next. 

Crackle On Opposites © March 2024

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Wednesday, March 06, 2024

Bathroom Rag Rug: How Many T-shirts Will I Need?

Spring has sprung and although we're a good six weeks away from frost-free days, there have been many beautiful days to enjoy and lots to do outdoors. At last, we have a rainy day, so that I can get down to some of the calculations I need to make for my t-shirt yarn bathroom rug project.

I started by taking a look at my t-shirt inventory, which turned out to be not very many. 

Pattern weft colors, taken from our bathroom stained glass window.

Warp yarn at the top, and potential tabby weft

For some reason, I thought I'd collected more t-shirts that this, which obviously won't be enough. 

The next thing I needed, was idea of where the colors would go. By envisioning the pattern as quilt squares, I came up with this rough sketch.

I'm thinking the black would actually be brown.

According to the pattern instructions, each block is treadled for 16 shots and this sequence repeated 5 times. If I use my 10-dent reed, I'll have a weaving width of approximately 23.25 inches.

Based on this information and my above color diagram, I calculate that I'll need:
  • Yellow: 96 shots x 23.25" = 2232" or 62 yards
  • Orange: 128 shots x 23.25" = 2976" or 82.66 yards
  • Red: 96 shots x 23.25" = 2232" or 62 yards
  • Brown (pattern only): 320 shots x 23.25" = 7440" or 206.66 yards
  • Brown for borders (still undecided here): another 20.66 yards
That's assuming I make my borders one block width. So the total for the brown would be 228 yards.

Tabby weft will be 228 yards. 

My next step was to determine about how much yarn I can get from one t-shirt. 

There is some waste because the top above the sleeves and hem must be cut off.

A good video tutorial to make t-shirt yarn can be found here.

Cutting the tube into strips like this is what makes it continuous.

Cutting the strips on the diagonal

Grasping the strip in both hands and tugging causes the edges to curl in on themselves.

My ball of finished t-shirt yarn. No fraying edges!

One extra-large t-shirt gave me a tad over 24.5 yards. A larger shirt would yield more, a smaller shirt less. If I'm able to find all extra-large t-shirts, I'm looking at needing the following:
  • Yellow, total 3
  • Orange, total 4
  • Red, total 3
  • Brown, total 10
  • Tabby weft (if I use t-shirt yarn), total 10
So! I have a ways to go to get enough t-shirts. In the meantime, I'm going to look at getting another project on the loom. More on that soon. 

Related post:

Friday, March 01, 2024

Bathroom Rag Rug: Planning

It's been on my mind for awhile, now, to weave a bathroom rug. I did the bath mats first, and then my Su-chan cap several weeks ago. I've been slow to get started on the rug, however. My excuses have been my big mending pile, and my sort and purge project in preparation to setting up my big loom. But the real reason is because I've been terribly indecisive about finding a pattern I like. 

I've gave myself a couple of parameters to work with:
  • rag rug with t-shirt yarn (because old t-shirts are readily available for rags)
  • crackle structure (which I'm still fascinated with)
  • something reminiscent of stained glass (because of our bathroom window)

And of course. it will be a small size rug because of the size of my table loom. But I have a small size bathroom, so no problem. 

After weeks of looking at so many ideas that I've lost track, I finally settled on a pattern from Mary Meigs Atwater's Recipe Book: Patterns for Handweavers. This is a collection of weaving patterns from her many years as editor of Shuttle-Craft Bulletin. The Recipe Book was out of print for many years, but has been made available on a thumb drive in PDF format by the Mary Meigs Atwater Weavers Guild. It's very reasonably priced ($20) and includes extras such as fabric photos and wif files. The guild also hosts copies of the original Shuttle-Craft Bulletins, available as free PDF downloads here. 

The rug I'm interested in is from the Recipe Book, Series II No. 4.

"Recipe for a rug. A pattern in crackle-weave."

The yarns:

The threading (read right to left):

The tie-up:

The treadling:

Besides liking the look of it, I was happy to see that rags are mentioned as a possibility for pattern weft. So I know it will work with t-shirt yarn. I also found it interesting that the tabby is the same as the pattern weft. She talks about doubling the pattern weft for a heavy rug, and it's got me wondering how to handle my t-shirt rags. Maybe make some for pattern that are wider than the ones to use for tabby? More decisions. But at least I'm getting closer to getting started. 

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