Friday, 11 September 2015

Designing for Weaving

It is a long time since I wrote two blogs so close together. This is because I have been mulling over `DESIGN`. I started some months ago by feeling that I could do with a course on Design and looking for one which was online and failing to find what I wanted. I have read some of Dorothy's books but they are Design for Quilts, Design for Machine Embroidery and so on. More recently I have been asking myself what I really wanted and this is an attempt to formulate an answer.
My original thought was to do mood-boards, start with a photo or drawing and progress through changes until I had something  I could weave. Recently I have asked a different question. How do I design now? Oddly enough I do have an answer or rather two answers. There is 'knock something out, anything,' stuff but there is also the weaving done with a very strict specification. I must use this handspun yarn and only this much because that is all the spinner has produced and it is these colours because the sheep were black, brown, grey and white and the spinner needs 7 yards of it because she has to make a cape from the yardage  when woven. The design bit sounds simple but it is not. You have to find out how much of each colour you have and whether the yarn is roughly the same grist throughout. Then design a cloth where the weave is balanced (I had to resley that one).
But others have been more exciting. One of the most successful weaves I did (in my eyes)  was a set of six small weavings based on South Pacific for an exhibition where size was paramount. In other words, like all good engineers, I respond best to an externally set specification. Well I could set the spec  myself, So I did. I have recently been given 11 small balls of wool which were dyed various shades or lilac, mauve, purple. Each ball weighs about 9 gm and contains 20 m of yarn. What to do with it?
The stripes are 3 threads wide, each stripe from one of the yarn balls and each edged with one thread of dark grey. The intervening threads are pale grey and the weft is also pale grey. This does mean doing a bit of acid dyeing but that is allowed. The draft is a sort of point twill. I am not at all sure  about  this design. I think it is bit dull and boring.
How about this then? I have not bothered to make the warp colours accurate but there are 11 colours and they are graduated from dark to light. I think this is much nicer but why I cannot tell you. I have tried the same colour arrangement in the warp with several alternate drafts and they are either fussy or bland.
Given the amount of each yarn colour, the dimensions are such as to give two scarves. So it would be a convenience to have a second different draft using the same threading.
So here is another draft. I could live with that. 
In the meantime I will leave you with a question. Have I 'designed' this fabric?

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About Me

I am weaver and - -. I dye my yarns with acid dyes, I paint my warps, put fabric collages and stencils on my weaving. I have three looms, a 12 inch wide, 12 shaft Meyer for demos and courses, a 30 inch Louet Kombo which is nominally portable but has a stand, two extra beams and a home-made device containing a fan reed. And last a 32 shaft Louet Megado which is computer controlled, has a sectional warp and a second warp beam and I am the proud owner of an AVL warping wheel which I love to bits and started by drilling holes in. I inserted a device for putting a cross in. I have just acquired an inkle loom and had a lesson from an expert so I can watch TV and weave at the same time. I am interested in weaving with silk mostly 60/2 although I do quite a bit with 90/2 silk. I also count myself as a bookbinder with a special interest in Coptic binding.