WARP FACED AND WEFT TWINED
Three things have influenced the weaving I have been doing this week and they are spread across three very different parts of the world:
– a new book in my collection of weaving books on Bedouin weaving which has taken me on a fascinating trip through Saudi Arabia and other lands inhabited by the Arabian Bedouin with their colorful woven tent dividers, bags and camel adornments;
– the intricate weft twined work that the Montagnard weavers of Vietnam, that I met in the US, incorporate on the edges of their warp faced textiles;
– the beautiful combination of red and black in the backstrap woven piece by Eladio Salas of Mexico that I showed you last week.
First I took a step backwards as I had decided that I didn’t like the weft twined piece that I was practicing on last week. Fortunately I discovered that un-twining is a lot easier and faster than un-weaving. It is just a sample piece for skills-building but I just was not happy with the colors and motifs I had chosen and it had to go! Half of it got pulled apart and I did some searching on the net to figure out how I would like to continue. So now I am continuing with a swirl design from a Jarai tribal textile and will finish it off with other Montagnard motifs.
Meanwhile the Bedouin designs were calling to me…fabulous red, white and black warp faced pieces interspersed with bands of weft twining. I noticed that there was a small three color band of design that was common to many of the pieces which Joy Totah Hilden identifies as al-‘uwairjan pick up patterning and so I decided to sample that before launching into a big project.
In Hilden’s book I see that Bedouin weavers use staked out horizontal ground looms with their heddle bar suspended on forked sticks, rested on top of oil cans, cement blocks or other such objects or tied to sticks driven into the ground. The weaving is suspended just a few inches above the ground. As the weaving progresses, the work is not rolled up. Instead, the weaver sits on the completed work and inches her way along the warp to stay close to the weaving line. Weaving is even done inside the home with the loom bars and warp held under tension in ingenious ways. One picture shows the loom bar tied to another bar which has been lodged behind a doorway.
Here was my chance to put the reds and black together and learn some traditional Bedouin designs. The main panel of my weaving is done in a technique which I believe is called warp substitution. This pick up technique creates long floats on the back of the textile. I have never been a fan of long floats and much prefer double faced weaving but I wanted to use the technique employed by the Bedouin. To eliminate the floats I could have woven the very same designs in double weave.
This weaving also gave me the opportunity to try weft twining on the loom. Many of the pieces shown in Hilden’s book have not only weft twined edges but also several bands of twining at various stages within the weaving. I have been enjoying my off-loom twining experiments and was looking forward to comparing them with twining on warps under tension on a loom.
I had to consider how many warps to use in a bundle around which to twine the wefts as well as the right thickness of weft yarn so that the warps didn’t get spread too much thus widening the piece. Should I twine loosely or tightly? It took a few attempts to get it right. The warps did get spread slightly and so I had to work to get them back into place so I could continue with the warp faced weaving.
I plan to leave the weft ends on as a decorative feature. This piece will be a wall hanging. I was thinking about using it as part of a pillow cover but my cat, no doubt, will chew those weft ends off.
Feeling a bit more confident, I did a slightly wider weft twined band at what will be the center of the piece and added in a little bit of chaining.
It is lovely doing the weft twining on the loom and the added control that one has by having the warps under uniform tension allowed me to use a much finer yarn than I have been using on the off-loom pieces. I expect with more practice I will eventually be able to do fine off-loom twining too….some time in the distant future!
You can see the bands of al-‘uwairjan pick up on the sides.
I am now just over half way through this piece and hope to finish it with a wider and more complex piece of weft twining.
I will add to the weft ends that are hanging from the sides to balance both sides and perhaps add some tassels.
Hopefully it will be ready to show next week.
There are many beautiful weft twined camel adornments in gorgeous red, tan and mustard tones that I would like to use as inspiration in other pieces.
While we are in red-and-black mode….
I promised you last week some more information on the lettering used by the Montagnard weavers in their bag straps.
Anyone who knows how to do simple warp floats as detailed in my tutorial here will pick this up in no time. The lettering is done in simple warp float technique with some variation.
In simple warp float technique you are using a shed of each color, for example, all the red warps in one shed and all the whites in the other. You weave alternating red and white horizontal bars and then go floating one of the colors over the other to form your designs.
The difference in the Montagnard method is that they have one shed of red and another shed of alternating red and white which you can see at left (with a two-warp red border).
In the red and white shed, they drop all the whites which exposes their black weft – you can see black dots on the above lettered band. They use twenty-nine warps in each shed to weave their letters, that is, twenty-nine reds in one shed and fifteen whites alternating with fourteen reds in the other.
When they want to weave a letter, they…
-open the shed with the reds and whites and drop all the whites except the ones that they need to form the letter.
-pass the weft.
-save those whites and add them to the red shed.
-pass the weft.
–open the red and white shed again and keep the same whites from the previous weft pass along with the whites needed to form the next part of the letter.
-drop all the other whites.
-pass the weft.
-save only the whites needed for the next part of the letter and add them to the red shed.
– pass the weft.
AND SO ON……
This will be double dutch to those of you who have never done simple warp floats. Well what are you waiting for? Here’s the tutorial! Become familiar with the simple warp float technique first and then try the letters.
- If you use a red weft instead of black you will create the impression of a smooth solid color background.
- This is not a double faced technique.
- This technique does not produce the stiff band typical of true warp faced weaves.
There was a question in the Inkle Weaving group on Ravelry about doing one-weft double weave on an inkle loom and so I warped up my Ashford inklette and have added some pictures to the one-weft double weave tutorial for this. I only warped up to take the pictures and wove a triangle as a sample. This morning I had some time to play around with the warp…
This is very easy to do on the inkle loom. One-weft double weave produces a thick band with sharp motifs on a solid background. It is double faced.
Flipping the loom upside down, this is what you see…
This is the first time I have tried this on the inkle loom. Weavers in the Backstrap Group at Weavolution have tried it but warned me that it is a bit stressful on the loom. I wasn’t sure if my inklette would be able to take it but I actually don’t find it stresses the loom at all.
You will warp your loom normally except that you will be using doubled threads.
See the full tutorial with all the details and more pictures here.
You may remember my blog post about Anna who came to visit and learn backstrap weaving with me here in Bolivia. She and boyfriend Alistair are on their way by bicycle to Ushuaia after having started in Alaska in May 2008.
Well they have just completed the Lagunas trail in the salt lake area of Bolivia and Chile and are currently luxuriating in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile. Anna described that riding section (which turned out to be more of a pushing section for the last five days…deep sand and a strong headwind) as one of the most physically demanding things she has ever undertaken.
Anna and Alistair teamed up with a couple of German cyclists for this part of the trip and Anna has been spreading the obsession by teaching new friend Carolin to backstrap weave. They are carrying printed pages from my Andean Pebble Weave download with them.
Here are some fun pictures of them weaving on the road…
So nice to see my apprentice so enjoying her new skills! Apparently Carolin will be doing a long sailing trip after this bike journey so we can expect to see the backstrap loom being used in the middle of the ocean some time in the future!
I gave her very precise directions to the curandera stalls in the crazy campesino market which sell llama fiber, weaving tools and all kinds of home remedies.
She not only found the curandera area but I believe she bought the things at the very same stall at which I shopped when I was there.
I have sent some of the spindles to the Netherlands and the US and have one left if anyone is interested. I have a few llama bones left too.
Drop me a line if you are interested. 🙂