If all had gone to plan, I would have had one and a half storage bags done by now as part of my three-bag goal for the month of September. My black bag with the supplementary weft motifs from Bhutan should have been sewn and ready to stuff and hang and my Huichol design bag in finnweave should have been at least half woven.
However, some delightful distractions came my way and had me wandering off in other directions. That Worldwide Weaving Web that I am always talking about came a-knockin’ and the Band Weavers’ Grape Vine came a-tappin’.
At left you can see a band woven by JacQueline Teller on her inkle loom. You may remember that I recently posted a picture of a bag she had made by sewing several plain-weave inkle bands to canvas which we were using in our Weave-Along group for inspiration.
Annie MacHale (ASpinnerWeaver), queen of sashes, drew my attention to the band at left on JacQueline’s blog and, apart from the gorgeous multiple tones of blue and peach that she has used, I was fascinated by the fact that she had used spots in her warp to enhance her supplementary weft pattern.
Whenever I have started a supplementary weft patterned piece I have always created a blank canvas of single color weave on which to place my patterns. It never occurred to me that the canvas doesn’t necessarily need to be blank and that colors that have been incorporated into the warp can be used to supplement the inlaid weft patterns. JacQueline has used the light blue warp spots as part of her design and I love how she used the dark blue supplementary weft to create alternating color spots between the main motifs.
The experiment grew from one column of warp dots to three and I found that when I made samples in black, a Sharpie was very handy for making adjustments to the pattern, blacking out unwanted exposed weft to get different effects.
So, this is what is on the loom at the moment…(speckled with fluff and stuff)….see what you started JacQueline? This is the black thread that I had just bought for my Huichol design bag!
I think I will do a single large supplementary weft motif in the very center followed by another band of twining and then repeat the beginning. What is it going to be? I have no idea but it has been fun getting back into the weft twining. This is the first time I have done three colors together in one row of twining in #10 cotton. What to do with all those weft ends?…I will try to bunch them into a nice tassel as the Bedouin weavers do. You can read about how I learned the twining technique and watch a video of my teacher Ngach at work in this blog post.
Before the distractions completely took over my weaving week, I did manage to sew up my weave-along projects into little zippered purses.
And I wove the back panel of my black Bhutan/ikat bag before my new ball of black thread got swallowed up by the distraction. And that was when I got side tracked yet again by jentide’s weave-along project which you can see at left.
She made the fabric for this fabulous mini tote bag on her backstrap loom with the strap made on her inkle loom.
I love her stripe design but, apart from that, I am completely in awe of people who can sew. Of course I had to pester her with a bunch of questions about the construction of this bag and she pointed me to this wonderful web page where you can learn how to create a flat bottom for a bag.
This has had me pulling out the Reader’s Digest sewing book, that I had just about forgotten I owned, determined to learn once and for all some basic sewing skills (without the aid of a sewing machine, that is)and pinning and folding and pulling my poor Bhutan bag into all shapes.
Here is its latest pinned form…
Meanwhile I am looking out for other suitable materials to use as supplementary weft. I have some gorgeous hand painted 10/2 tencel that my friend Lisa gave me that works beautifully and one skein goes a long way. Wool works well too as it fluffs out on the surface to give good coverage without “fattening” the shed in which it is laid.
And then I remembered the fine loosely plied and fluffy skeins of acrylic that I had bought in Guatemala.
What I would really like to do is make super fine supplementary weft pieces using sewing thread as the ground warp and weft just like the ladies do here in Bolivia to make their hat bands. Their supplementary wefts are acrylic and much the same as the Guatemalan thread that I have.
I love how the wefts are often used to fill in the negative spaces and outline the motif in the ground weave rather than forming the motif itself.
The floats are particularly long when they do that and I have not been able to reproduce these ”negative space” designs yet as my patterning material has been too heavy and would have resulted in long and cumbersome floats. I have not yet reproduced any of the pretty Bolivian hat band designs.
Can you tell that black, terracotta and yellow is my current favorite color combination?
This warp substitution technique produces long floats on the back of the fabric which are not so bad in #10 cotton.
It is interesting to look at the many different variations of this design to see which one produces the shortest floats.
I will finish with this week’s Weave-Along round-up…
Peg is weaving on a backstrap loom for the first time ever and using Plymouth Yarn Fantasy Naturale mercerized cotton which I think is just perfect for first projects. See how quickly she has tamed that warped and how much she learned about laying in the weft and controlling the edges in such a short space. That yarn is so pretty. I have never woven anything with these multi-color type yarns. On the right, Janet has warped colorful stripes inspired by a piece of Guatemalan fabric that she has.
Dyggvi turned her narrow striped band into a neat zippered pouch and gave us the link to the instructions. Sylvie in France posted a picture of the making of her continuous string heddles on a gorgeous bright striped warp.
Jennifer’s homespun piece is under construction and Karri, who just completed her third ever backstrap woven piece is casting her critical eye over everything she produces and learning lots of lessons. We think her third project looks wonderful.
Both Amber and Marsha continue to turn out consistently straight, smooth, beautiful and useful pieces. Amber’s piece is one of two that will be sewn together to make a seat cushion. Marsha has hung her piece on a section of twisted vine. She has plans to modify it for its ultimate use. We’ll see about that next week.
Jennifer has taken the leap from homespun wool in natural colors to wild cotton stripes while Yonat, outside the weave-along, has been experimenting with those eye bending alternating warp float patterns.
Phew, quite a job winding all those colors! Many of us have come to know the “fun” of adding in all those strips of colors on the warping board and the special challenge all that cutting and tying makes for creating even tension. “Perfect” tension is something we all strive for and I think that we all come up with clever ways to somehow compensate for uneven tension once the warp is on the loom long before we are able to create that perfectly tensioned warp on the warping board. Unfortunately uneven tension will show up immediately in warp-faced plain weave in the form of ridging and cotton is particularly unforgiving.
Ridging will turn up unexpectedly and most annoyingly in a piece I am working on and I have found that a worn out hole and a leaning stake on my mini warping board has been the culprit on quite a few occasions. Cranking up the edge warps too tightly caused the particular ridging problem in the piece pictured at left.
Fortunately the ridging shows up in plain weave and not in float patterning which is what I mostly do. On the other hand, I know people who actually like the effect of the ridging. It’s a pesky and temperamental phenomena! I tried to weave a band specially for this blog post to show the ridging that results from crammed warps. The darn thing refused to ridge!
I suppose we could always do as my Montagnard weaving teacher, Ju Nie, does…
Many Montagnard pieces are woven with a multitude of fine stripes. Ju Nie joins the colors on the warping stakes with slip knots and then, once the warp is on the loom, she unties each and very knot, adjusts the tension and reties. It is not tedious for her. This is the way she was taught to do it and her large pieces woven in that “unforgiving” cotton are perfect!
Oh, and one more distraction to speak of before I go…one of my online friends just came back from Mexico where she bought a Huichol woven bag and is going to send me pictures. So, I am thinking it is just as well I didn’t get my bag project underway as her pictures are bound to have me changing my design plans. Thank goodness for those delightful distractions!