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Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies, 
viewed from the lakeside trail

I wish that everyone could experience the beauty, friendship, laughter and food (oh the food) that I enjoyed while teaching in Canada over the past three weeks. (Warning: This blog post contains lots of images of fiber and it's rather lengthy to boot.)

Cappuccino made by Dave Connelly, 
some of the amazing food and drink I enjoyed in Alberta

Thanks to Lyn Pflueger, a wet felter, spinner, and weaver who teaches at the Alberta College of Art and Design (and to whom I am forever grateful), I was invited to teach four workshops for the Heritage Weavers and Spinners Guild of Calgary, the Sheep Creek Weavers and Fibre Artists Guild, the Crocus Country Fibre Arts Guild, and the Edmonton Weavers' Guild

How to begin to describe the talent and skill of the weavers I met over 21 days? I guess the best way is to start at the beginning....

Above: Lorel Dederer (left) and her sister, Cammy Desjardins

Lorel Dederer organized and shepherded me about for the Heritage Guild workshop, "One Warp, Many Structures: An Exploration of Extended Parallel Threading." The 14 weavers who took the class -- from beginners to advanced weavers -- showed an awesome degree of skill and creativity.

Norma Camman talks about her samples of the 4-shaft pattern "Op Art."

Ellen Kovar experimented with collapse techniques 
using the 12-shaft pattern "Pink and Green."

Tracy LaRose painted two warps for her samples 
of the 8-shaft pattern "Falling Stars."

Siri McCormick pretty much knocked it out of the park 
with her warp choices for the pattern "Falling Stars" 
-- even though she insisted she was just using up yarns she had in her stash.

Next stop: Teaching "One Warp, Three Structures: Weaving with 60/2 Silk" at the Sheep Creek Guild. The space was lovely and my accommodations could not be beat: I was staying in the foothills at the timber-frame home of Deb and Stu Turner. Standing in their living room and looking out the front windows, you had a 180-degree view of the Canadian Rockies, the rolling foothills, hundreds of aspens, and the occasional grazing deer. 

The 60/2 silk samples were beautiful as well.

An array of samples: at the top, using hand-dyed bias-cut silk ribbon as weft, 
on the bottom, using 60/2 silk as weft

60/2 silk in warp and weft checks, woven by Janine Jones

Sample woven by Brenda Geddes using overtwist wool 
to achieve a collapse effect

After class each day, Deb and I went exploring: She took me to the Leighton Art Center, the former home of landscape artist A. C. Leighton, who started what became the Banff School of Fine Arts... and to the Bluerock Gallery in Black Diamond, where I purchased one of Deb's beautiful scarves... and to the Tin Roof Fibre Studio, where Judy Sysak teaches Saori weaving and dyeing....

Judy Sysak (left) and Deb Turner at the Tin Roof Fibre Studio

Some of Judy's Saori-woven pieces

So I'm thinking to myself: talented fiber artists seem to be everywhere. Is it the medium? The people? Maybe the fact that fiber itself is so universally compelling that gifted folks around the world always manage to find a way to weave, knit, spin, dye, braid, sew and otherwise manipulate and organize soft twisty cords.....

And on to the next workshop: "Paint One, Beam Two: Painting Two Warps and Beaming Them as One" for the Crocus Country Guild. I stayed with Dave and Jan Connelly -- more five-star hospitality -- and was delighted to learn that they raise and train Shelties for agility competitions. They currently have four running about the house and fields.

Flash, who has placed third in Canada in agility competition

We spent the first day dyeing warps in the barn and the next day rinsing and drying them before beginning to dress our looms.

Warp painting in progress: MX fiber-reactive dyes on cellulose fiber

Warps hanging to dry. Dave pulled out a cooler 
that also works to keep food warm. We cranked it up 
to about 85 degrees Fahrenheit 
-- about 29 Celsius -- to cure the warps overnight.

Beaming in progress

Millie Tsuji's loom, dressed and ready for threading

Sad to say, I can't show you any of the final results, because this 2 1/2-day workshop is designed so that the weaving is done at home. (For any program chairs out there, if you're interested in this, let's talk about a full five-day workshop! We'd start with dyeing warps, then curing them and dressing looms, then threading and weaving up color samples. I think of this as a real weaving retreat.)

Then it was time to head north to Edmonton, with Robin Nixon kindly driving me some three-and-a-half hours to get there. (Fortunately she also got to visit her son, who lives in Edmonton, so it wasn't just a drive up and back for her.) The workshop there was the same as the first one I taught in Calgary, "One Warp, Many Structures: An Exploration of Extended Parallel Threading." Kyla Fischer was the program chair for the workshop and, once again, showed me such generous hospitality. Plus, she is a master at organizing people and looms! (Managing weavers can be like herding cats, we know.)

People tell me there is something of a good-natured rivalry between Calgary and Edmonton -- so, for the record, I will say that the weavers in both cities were equally skilled and creative.

Sandra Schulz's 4-shaft Echo sample in the "Blooming Leaf" pattern has a dimensional look.

The 8-shaft "Fun House" pattern woven in Echo by Joan White
had some beautiful variations using different weft colors 
-- particularly using a yellow weft (bottom section).

I love the weft-color choices in this Echo sampler in the 8-shaft Falling Stars pattern (readers, if you can remember who wove this, please let me know).

Double Weave sample using the 4-shaft "Blooming Leaf" pattern, 
woven by Bonnie Watt

Kyla Fischer discusses her samples of 8-shaft "Fun House" in Echo and Jin.

Shadow Weave sample woven in the 12-shaft "Lake Water" pattern 
by Catherine Melnychuk

Differential shrinkage sample woven by Kathy Buse 
on 12-shafts in Double Weave using the "Fish Tank" pattern

8-shaft "Many Rivers" pattern woven in Rep by Mary Ann Jackson

8-shaft "Falling Stars" pattern woven in Double Weave by Maryanne Hawryluk. 
Notice the warp colors and how the fabric colors are changed completely by the wefts.


For the record: here are the weft colors used in the sample above.

So much more to say... but I would have to spend many hours more writing about all that we wove and shared. At this point, all I can say is thanks for reading! 














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When a bunch of talented weavers get together for a workshop?

Well, for example, this...

Jin on 4 shafts woven by Jill Hunter 
(a design I created called "Blooming Leaf")

And this...

8-shaft Echo pattern, "Chakras," woven by Kathy Hutchins

And this!

"Chakras" design using a different tieup and treadling, 
woven by MaryAnn Bennett

The workshop, "Echo and Jin for 4 Shafts and More," aims to help weavers explore various tieups and treadlings for Echo and Jin (Turned Taqueté) in either 4 or 8-shaft threadings. I taught it at the New Hampshire Weavers' Guild in Concord, NH, this month and discovered there was more to the lesson plan than I thought.

Turns out, the workshop is as much about exploring color as it is about structure. Participants have the choice of working with a 2-color warp or a 4-color warp -- and with either choice, the weft colors make a big difference in the final results. This can be surprising, especially when you consider that both Echo and Jin are warp-emphasis designs.

(For both weaves, the recommended sett is somewhere between that for twill and double weave. And the weft yarns for Echo and Jin are typically finer -- usually half the grist -- of the warp yarns. So while these are not warp-faced fabrics, such as Rep, they are certainly warp-dominant.)

So, back to color and how important weft colors are to the final look.

Mary Ellen Burnett took this photo to document her weft colors. 
The pattern is "Blooming Leaf" on 4 shafts.

The photo above demonstrates how varied the samples can appear depending on the weft yarns. And this doesn't even touch on variations in the patterns themselves, as you change your tieup and treadling.

For the four-color warps, which create what Stubentisky calls "iridescence" in her book, Echo and Iris, students chose a wide array of hues and values. Here are some examples.

10/2 cotton warp in gray, black, sky blue, and yellow

10/2 cotton warp in burgundy, turquoise, yellow and sage

10/2 cotton warp 
in bright green, red, yellow, and orange

In preparing for the workshop, I spent a lot of time weaving up samples and coming up with rules for choosing 4 colors for your warp. Turns out, the above examples did NOT follow any of my rules and they worked out beautifully!

Anyhow, for what it's worth, here's the gist of what I came up with.


See the dark-gray square labeled "Tetrad" on the color wheel? My theory is that 4-color warps work best when you choose colors from each point on this square: in this case, starting from the top-left corner of the tetrad, olive green, then (covered up by the lettering on my color wheel) dark teal, then purple, then rust red/brown. Or you can change the value, moving up to the next level of colors on the wheel and, beginning again at the top-left corner of the tetrad: pale olive, light turquoise, lavender, and salmon/tan.

And then there are the color choices for your wefts, which are often counterintuitive. Khaki works well with all kinds of warp colors, as do olive green, navy, dark purple, and even black. One of the key takeaways from this workshop is that you have to move outside your comfort zone in choosing colors, because the end results are seldom predictable.

I started joking that I was going to rename the workshop, "You Can't Judge a Warp by Its Color." And it's true! Some color choices are unusual and wonderful: for instance, my host, Molly McLaughlin, hand-painted two warps in Kelly green, bronze, and black and beamed them together for her samples. After experimenting with a number of weft colors, she chose a dark purple, with stunning results.

Molly McLaughlin wove a 4-shaft pattern called "Op Art" 
using two hand-painted warps for her two warp colors.

Molly is a master weaver and dyer whose work -- creating weave-scapes using a Theo Moorman technique on hand-painted 240/2 silk warps -- has won many awards, including "Best of Show" for the 2019 Complex Weavers exhibit in Reno, NV. I had the good fortune of dyeing a silk noil warp under her guidance, and here's how it looked while still wet:

Looks like a watercolor painting of a lake shore in autumn...

Molly was concerned that my colors looked muddy -- and I responded that I like them muddy! I am very happy with the results and I learned a lot from her. 

Our friend Deb Kaplan -- another wonderful weaver who belongs to the Complex Weavers study group in fine threads -- joined us for our dyeing session. And in between, we managed a walk along the seashore near Molly's home in New Hampshire.

Now I know where Molly gets her inspiration!

Color and pattern are everywhere we look. And we respond powerfully to touch, to the textures in our weavings. What happened in New Hampshire is what happens when weavers get together and do what they love to do.

Thanks for reading!

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8 shafts, 4-color Echo pattern

Over the past couple of months, I've been weaving up samples for an April workshop with the New Hampshire Weavers Guild. I've learned some great lessons, mainly in terms of choosing colors and yarns that optimize the look of 4-color Echo.

(Some background: 4-color Echo uses 4 different colors in the warp, each on its own parallel threading. You can read all about it in Marian Stubenitsky's Weaving with Echo and Iris. Here's just a sample of how it may be threaded.)


Anyhow, my takeaway from all this sampling: Go big and bold or go home!

First I'll talk about going big -- that is, yarn grist (a.k.a. weight and thickness). The sample at the top of the page, on 8 shafts with a 4-end parallel threading, is my favorite of everything I've woven so far. The warp is 10/2 pearl cotton and the weft is 20/2 pearl cotton.

For comparison, here's a similar pattern on 16 shafts.

16 shafts, 4-color Echo pattern

This too was woven on a 4-color warp, using different color combinations for each motif. However, the warp yarns are much finer, in 20/2 pearl cotton. (The weft is silk sewing thread.)

To me, the second piece isn't as successful. There are lots of reasons, but the simplest is the difference between the 10/2 and 20/2 cotton warps. The 20/2 cotton is too fine a yarn to display the Echo pattern strong and clear, while the 10/2 cotton provides a much better display. I'm not saying that this is a binary choice, because I do like the 16-shaft version using 20/2 cotton -- but the heavier yarn defines the pattern better. 

(The challenge, for me, is the hand of the fabric: I really prefer the lighter weight of the 20/2 cotton fabric. For garments like long vests and tunics, it's not as heavy as a fabric using a 10/2 cotton warp. But I won't belabor the point! That's just the way it is.) 

And what about going bold -- that is, in terms of color? 

I could write a book on this (so many people have), but the point I want to share is that your warp colors are barely half of the story. Weft and pattern can make huge and surprising differences in the look of your fabric. And the more colors you have in the warp, the more surprises you may have in your results.

So let's look at choosing colors for 4-color Echo. (This is better termed "polychrome Echo," because we're not looking at a straight vertical in the fabric for each warp color, but rather an interplay of warp colors as the pattern shifts. With polychrome weaves, what you see in the warp is not what you get in the weaving.)

Choosing colors for polychrome Echo is counterintuitive: The colors in the warp may not look at all harmonious to you, while the end results can be beautiful. Take a look at the color diagrams below (these thanks to Widewalls, an online art gallery and magazine based in London, which you might want to check out for its excellent article on color theory, "Color Theory Basics You Need to Know"). 


For a four-color Echo warp, your best bet is to choose a square color scheme (the example in the bottom right corner of the diagram), with each of your four colors taken from the corners of a square drawn on the color wheel. The rectangle color scheme (the top right example) would also work.

And here's what I did in my samples. For the design that appears at the top of this post, my warp was 10/2 pearl cotton in yellow, orange, purple and turquoise -- which is a square on the color wheel (start at yellow, move three blocks counterclockwise to orange, continue three blocks over to purple, and then three blocks over to turquoise).



And you can see the colors as they emerge in the pattern (above): first orange, then yellow, then turquoise, then purple. (That was the color order for my threading.) The weft was 20/2 pearl cotton in turquoise.

As for the second sample -- this one, using 20/2 pearl cotton for the warp...


I wanted to try a color sampler, so each motif has a different set of warp colors. The first, on the far left, uses lime green, turquoise, red, and royal blue -- again, not quite a rectangle on the color wheel, more like a trapezoid, but I like the way it works. The second motif uses very subtle colors: teal blue, dark turquoise, olive, and brass, and it doesn't hold a lot of interest for me. The third motif uses pink, fuchsia, purple, and royal blue and, although the pattern is relatively distinct, I find the colors too sweet for my taste. The last motif, on the far right, was really just a shot in the dark: I used beige, gray, black, and tan in the warp just to see what these neutrals would do. And the results are... neutral.

I'm so glad I did this analysis, because in the future I will have some rules to go by in choosing colors for 4-color Echo. Then again, maybe I will have some rules to break.

Thanks for reading. And happy weaving!
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"heartfully." en.oxforddictionaries.com. With the whole heart; with enthusiasm, conviction, or intense feeling; warmly, cordially; devotedly.

What a great word! And what a great draft. I found it online, probably on Pinterest, and I have no idea where it came from, unfortunately. (Please let me know if you recognize this from someone or somewhere.) In any event, here's what it looks like in Fiberworks.



16 shafts, a 36-treadle repeat -- perfect for my Toika compu-dobby. I had a 10/2 Tencel warp on hand (wound from hand-dyed yarns by Teresa Ruch, with a solid purple yarn and a variegated red and purple yarn, purchased at Convergence 2018) and I sett it at 28 epi (for twill). The weft is 10/2 pearl cotton in red. Judging from the hand of the fabric on the loom, it's a bit too dense and heavy for a scarf. Perhaps it would work for a purse or a bag for my yoga mat? Then again, the hand might change substantially in the washing....

And then I got to thinking: Valentine's Day is here. So why not take this design and turn it into heart shapes, just by altering the tieup?  

Take a look at the scallop shapes in the tieup above. It's a satin weave, so the tieup is warp-emphasis for the purple sections in the drawdown and weft-emphasis for the turquoise sections. And the motif is split in half, because when you the thread a point draw (shafts 1 to 16 and back down to 1), the motif reverses itself, creating the second half of the scallop shape.

I played around quite a bit, working to create a warp-emphasis heart shape against a weft-emphasis background, which required tie-down warps and wefts placed strategically. I had to keep in mind that there would be floats, because you really can't expect to have tie-downs in total symmetry. What's more important is the silhouette of the heart shape.

So here's what the draft looks like now.



I haven't woven it yet, because the original design is still on the loom -- but I could change that easily, right? That's the beauty part of having a computer loom. 

So there you have it, a heartful draft for Valentine's Day! Thanks for reading.

Oh and one note before I close: Google Plus will be shutting down in March, which means that people who subscribe to this blog through Google Plus will no longer get my posts. So please change your method of receiving posts by clicking "Follow" in the blue rectangular box below all the miniaturized photos on the left-hand margin of my home page. Or you can click on the red box under "FeedBurner Subscribers." 

Either way, I hope you'll continue as a follower. I appreciate you being a part of my online community.









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From this...

To this...

And this...

And this...

And this!

Four-color Echo seems to be at the top of every weavers "To Do" list these days -- chiefly because of the flowing lines and delightful iridescence. There are lots of drafts out there, certainly, and many gifted weavers creating patterns.

But how do they do it? And, more important, how can you do it on your own?

It's all through the magic of weaving software -- in my case, Fiberworks Silver for Mac. Here are some basic steps I've learned in preparing to teach a workshop for the New Hampshire Weavers Guild in April. 

Step 1:
Choose your yarn in 4 colors for your warp. This is not as easy as it sounds! I recommend starting with 10/2 cotton (or something similar in grist). To keep it simple, start with two colors that are analogous (next to each other) on the color wheel or close to it -- in my case, that was orange and yellow. Then move across the color wheel and choose two more analogous (or close to it) colors -- in my case, purple and blue. You'll want four colors that give you a broad chromatic range.

Step 2:
Calculate your sett, width in reed, and number of warp ends. For Echo, choose a sett that is denser than twill but less dense than double weave. So for 10/2 cotton I chose a sett of 36 epi. My warp was 400 ends, giving me a weaving width of about 11 1/6" in the reed.

Step 3:
Now for the designing. Let's work on 8 shafts, which is what I did for my samples. As always with the curves of Echo, you start with a design line, using the Freehand tool on Fiberworks. Here is a sample design line. (I am showing you a different design from the one I wove for the samples, because I don't want to give away my drafts before the workshop.)


Step 4:
Create a parallel threading. On the Warp dropdown menu, click on "Parallel Repeat." Then click on "Extended Parallel," then enter the number 4 in the box that says "Shafts Shift By." Make sure all the other boxes are unchecked, and then click "Apply." You'll get something like this.


Your original design line now has a parallel that is four shafts above at every warp thread.

Step 5: 
Create a 4-end parallel threading. Fiberworks has instructions on how to do this (which you'll find if you hover your cursor over the "Interleave" command in the drop-down menu under "Warp"). Essentially, it involves opening a second draft and cutting and pasting (really, interleaving) between two drafts. I found that a bit complicated, so I tried to do it another way. And it worked! How I did this: Starting with the parallel threading I created in the image above, I clicked once again on the "Parallel Repeat" option in the Warp dropdown menu. Like before, I clicked on "Extended Parallel" -- BUT this time I entered the number "2" in the box marked "Shafts Shift By." (And of course I made sure the other boxes were unchecked.)

Makes sense, doesn't it? For a 4-end parallel threading on 8 shafts, you'll want an interval of 2 between each warp end (interval of 2 x 4-end parallel = 8). So this is how our design line looks now.

 
Step 6:
Add your colors. For the PC version, you have to add your colors by hand. For the Mac version, you follow these steps: On the Warp dropdown menu, click on "Fill Warp Colors," then scroll all the way down in the box at the top right to select "ABCD." Four colors will appear in the boxes and, for our demonstration purposes, just click "Replace." (You can play with colors to your heart's content once you've read this tutorial.) Here's how our design looks now.


Step 7:
But what does the full drawdown look like, you ask? That, dear reader, is for you to determine. From this point on, you can follow the instructions for Echo tieups and treadlings that I laid out in my blog post here (on February 17, 2018), giving you steps to begin designing your own extended parallel threading drafts. But just to give you an idea of how our demonstration drawdown might look, here's one version. (I'm using a blue weft -- and don't forget, if you're working with 10/2 cotton for your warp, you'll want to use a 20/2 cotton -- about half the grist -- for your weft. And also don't forget that your weft colors will have a big impact on the overall look of your fabric.)


It could use some tweaking for sure -- but not bad for starters! The design possibilities are endless. Thanks for reading. 


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This post is dedicated to Ingrid Boesel, master weaver and, together with her husband, creator of Fiberworks. Ingrid passed away last Friday and weavers around the world will sorely miss her generosity and creativity.

It seems that the more I weave, the more I go back to basics: sett, beat, yarn choices. I think it's important to ask questions all the time, taking nothing for granted.

That's what I've been doing over the past few weeks, weaving up samples for a workshop I'm teaching in April at the New Hampshire Weavers Guild: "Echo and Turned Taqueté for 4 Shafts and More."

Because Echo and Turned Taqueté (now better known as Jin) are warp-emphasis structures, they call for a dense sett: typically more than a twill but less than for double weave. BUT, many folks are weaving 4-color Echo and using a looser sett, even a plain weave sett, because they want maximize the color effects, creating iridescence by using the same grist yarns in both warp and weft.

For the samples in the photos above, I used 20/2 pearl cotton in the weft and in the warp, which was sett at 36 epi, normally used for plain weave. I also tried out a variety of weft yarns, all in 20/2 cotton, but using different combinations.

Here's what the pattern looks like woven as Jin, adding a tabby treadling.


Same threading, same sett, different treadling. And the circles are ovals. (Jin, because you're inserting tabby, always stretches out the pattern.)

Here's the drawdown for the Echo design at the top of this post. (Let me know if you want me to share the WIF with you.) I cropped the image, because it's way too big to show any details otherwise. I've used an advancing point twill in the threading and treadling both, so that the circles change in subtle ways across the design.


But back to sett. I really loved the way this fabric turned out, surprisingly, as the sett is way more open than I've ever used for Echo. So, out of curiosity, I decided to re-sley the warp at 48 epi, which is a twill sett for 20/2 cotton. I changed the tieup and treadlings as well because I still wanted rounded shapes.

So here's a different tieup and treading, sett at 48 epi.


Four colors total in warp and weft, and I'm still getting those rounded shapes, although I don't like this design as well.

Next I wanted to see what happened at 60 epi, which is a traditional sett for Echo (denser than twill at 48 epi, but more open than double weave at 72 epi). And I had to rework the treadling again to compensate for the denser sett.


This time I used a 12-weight embroidery thread for the weft (about 10,000 yards per pound), because I wanted a finer yarn. It's a variegated thread in shades of green, which adds a kind of sparkle to the fabric.


Here's what the same design looks like with a weft of 60/2 silk (a sort of coral color, which you see in the middle section of this sample).


So much more to do -- and to show you! I started playing with the treadling, like so:


Which resulted in a completely different look that I like very much -- except I should have tried different colors for the weft (I used gold and red in 20/2 cotton for this sample).


I also tried a networked treadling (achieved by clicking on the treadling dropdown menu in Fiberworks, selecting "Fill Treadling" and choosing the "Redraw on Network" command). It's similar to the circles design in the photo at the top of this post, yet slightly different in that the blocks seem to show more.


And then there's this variation in the treadling:

Which results in this pattern:


I got here very easily, thanks to Fiberworks, again by clicking on the "Treadling" dropdown menu and then clicking on "Fill Treadling" and choosing a 13-thread Extended Twill. (Remember that I'm using the Mac version, so it might be different in the PC version.)

Lots of ways to weave in circles. Please try this at home! And thanks for reading.












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This is the playing part: for more on this draft, read on.

Let me start by boasting about my home guild, the Weavers' Guild of Rochester. Mind you, Rochester, New York, is not a big city, with maybe one million people in the entire seven-county region. Nevertheless, we have a large and dynamic weaving community. This includes our guild, with nearly 200 members, and our Weaving and Fiber Arts Center, featuring dozens of classes each year in weaving, knitting, felting, dyeing, lace-making, kumihimo, shibori, and lots of other fiber-art techniques.

The Center, as it's known, began in a small one-room studio in January 2002 and now includes two spacious rooms, one for dozens of looms and one for off-loom classes and meetings. Here are a couple of photos, to give you an idea.



More important are the scores of talented fiber artists who come to learn, create, and share. Give them some tools and some yarn and these folks are good to go!

Case in point: Just this past weekend, I taught a workshop there, "One Warp, Many Structures: An Exploration of Extended Parallel Threading." And sure enough, everybody produced skillful, beautiful samples. Here are some photos.


This above is a 12-shaft Echo design woven by Mary Ann Proia on 10/2 cotton with two colors in the warp, terra cotta and sage green, and three different weft colors. My favorite is the blue on the bottom. This photo shows the sample after it had been washed, which added texture to the pattern.


This is an 8-shaft Echo design woven by Marianne Antczak on a warp of gold and beige. The weft colors changed the appearance of the fabric dramatically: a green weft appears on the top and a soft purple weft is on the bottom.


Above is the same 8-shaft design in Echo (top of the photo) and in Double Weave (bottom) woven by Lee Donely. Her warp yarns were also in brown and tan 10/2 cotton.


Judy Fox wove a 4-shaft Echo design using fuchsia and black 10/2 Tencel as warp yarns. The bottom section uses a turquoise weft and the middle a yellow weft. The top portion, seen only slightly, features a Turned Taquete version of the same threading, woven with a green weft.


The workshop is designed so that you can weave five structures on the same threading: Echo, Turned Taquete, Shadow Weave, Rep Weave, and Double Weave. In the photo above, Nancy Kanniainen has woven Rep Weave on a warp of 10/2 cotton. The center section has warps of olive and teal and the outer borders have warps of teal and sage green.


Above, Amy Parker chose three different color sets for her 8-shaft warp: from left to right, green and navy, beige and purple, and salmon and cranberry. The bottom part of the sample is Rep and the top section is Double Weave.

And then we got to playing, looking at Marian Stubenitsky's book, Weaving with Echo and Iris. Specifically, we wanted to design a pattern of circles, as she shows on page 96, that called for no more than 10 treadles (the design in the book requires 32 treadles because it's Double Weave).

So, this is what we came up with, working together (this is the draft that appears at the beginning of this post, but I've enlarged it). It's not Double Weave, so you need just 8 treadles. (I call this draft "Circles Designed by Amy," because Amy Parker was so good at pointing out just what we needed to do, step by step, as we designed this as a group.)


We started with a profile draft.


Then, using FiberWorks PC, we created an "Advancing Repeat" that repeated 5 times, advancing one shaft up each time, in the "Warp" dropdown menu that listed "Repeat in Threading." It looked like this:


Very cool, yes? Next step, we completed the profile design by adding a straight draw for a tieup and "tromp as writ" (weave as drawn in) for the treadling, but inverted. Using FiberWorks, you can simply draw in (using your mouse) the first curve of the treadling profile, making sure it's exactly like the first curve of the threading profile, but inverted. Now you click on "Repeat in Treadling" under the "Treadling" dropdown menu and in that box, click on "Advancing Repeat" and insert the number 5 in the box that asks for the number of repeats. Here's what we got:

You see the different circle motifs? That's because of the advancing repeat, which shifts the threading patterns up.

Then we decided to do a simple block substitution using FiberWorks. Under the "Tools" menu, we clicked on "Block Substitution." We chose "Classic Weaves" and then "Crackle -- Twill Form." And with that one click, this is what we got.


After changing the warp colors to alternating blue and green (threaded ABABAB, etc.) and then changing the weft color to coral, we had with the colorful design shown at the beginning of this post. Most excellent! We were all very happy!

Except for one problem, immediately noted by Debbie Fister: The motifs are HUGE. Each one is about 170 ends wide. Even if you were threading your loom at 40 epi (not unheard of for 10/2 cotton in an Echo threading), that's more than 4" wide per motif. Something to think about. 

I went home and went back to the drawing board (in this case, the weaving software program) and came up with another, similar design with motifs that were just shy of 120 ends each. So that's 3" wide at 40 epi. And I could show you all the steps in how I got there....

But that's another story for another time ;o) Thanks for reading!

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I want to call this a "Midway Through the Month Mini-Post," because I typically write a blog post every month and this is the second one I've written in just a few days. But I have an important point to make....

Beating on an open shed: Let's discuss.

All my weaving life, until just a few months ago, I would beat the weft on a closed shed. It just seemed more snug and secure and that was the way I was taught.

Now weaving is ambidextrous, right? Both hands throw the shuttle, both hands beat the beater. But people are not ambidextrous, typically. So, because I'm right-handed, my right selvages were never truly even, while my left selvages usually looked better. And the opposite holds true: Left-handed weavers usually do better on the right selvage, because for this they're catching the shuttle with their left hand and pulling the weft across nice and even and tidy.

(You might ask why, but think about it: For the right selvage, you throw the shuttle with your right hand and then catch the shuttle with your left hand, which tends to draw in on the right selvage.)

I tried a lot of different remedies, including holding the selvage in a pincer grasp as I closed the shed. Yes, that's right. It worked pretty well but it took a lot more time and effort. And then one day, when I was teaching a workshop, we got into a discussion about beating on an open or a closed shed. The weaver I was talking with insisted that she always beat on an open shed -- that this was the right way to do things.

So I tried it on my next warp. I have to admit it did not come naturally after 20 years of doing things the other way. But I kept trying. And then I took a look at my selvages. Lo and behold...

Take a look at the right-hand selvage (or selvedge) in the photo at the beginning of this post. The warp is 20/2 cotton, which calls for precision when it comes to the selvages. They look pretty good, right?

I'm not writing this to brag about my selvages; the point is to advocate for beating on an open shed. It stands to reason, when you think about it: An open shed allows the weft yarns to wiggle about more and snuggle into place as the beater places them against the fell line. I think of it sort of like the "bubbling" that tapestry weavers do before they beat the weft in. And I swear that, when I beat this way, I can even see the weft wind off the bobbin as the beater moves toward the fell line. (I tried to capture this in a video but it requires some really close camera work.)

Another advantage to beating on an open shed, which also stands to reason when you figure you're pulling less on your selvages: There is less draw-in of the fabric, which puts less stress on the yarns at the selvage. Here's a photo of how minimal the draw-in is on my warp:


Too much draw in is just plain tough on the fabric. Weaving is more about gentleness, in my view -- unless you're a rug weaver!
That's all for now. Thanks for reading.
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One side of the fabric

The other side

While it may not look like it, the above sample is Deflected Double Weave. Because it's woven on just 4 shafts, it's a very simple two-block pattern -- but it's Deflected Double Weave nonetheless, woven as a collapse fabric.

Here's the drawdown.


It looks pretty simple, eh? The warp is 20/2 cotton in stripes of purple and teal, sett at 36 epi. The weft is 20/2 cotton in a deep purple alternating with a fine wool/stainless steel yarn in fuchsia. This yarn is what creates the collapse effect: See the weft floats across the second block in the warp? At 75% wool and 25% stainless steel, these weft floats will relax and collapse when washed with hot water and soap, because the wool fulls while the stainless makes it crinkle. You can actually take this fabric and flatten it out or you can scrunch it up to get the crumpled effect you see in the photos. 

Here's what it looks like on the loom. -- gauzy, flat, and simple.


I used another yarn for the second weft in another sample: silk crepe from Habu Textiles. It's about 33,000 yards per pound, so fine that you can hardly see it!


It's very tough to wind this gossamer thread on a pirn (I always use an end-feed-delivery shuttle for fine and overtwisted yarns). It breaks so easily, as you can imagine. I actually used a doubling stand to help me, where I place the large bobbin that holds the silk crepe at the bottom of the stand and feed the yarn up through the tube that's used for doubling. It keeps the yarn nice and straight, which helps as I wind it onto the pirn.

So in this case I've substituted the silk crepe for the fuchsia-colored wool/stainless. The silk crepe floats and draws the warp ends in dramatically, making neat pleats!

One side of the fabric

The other side

Here's what it looked like before washing, in loom state:


To me, this fabric presents a real problem, because the sample is only about 7" wide! On the loom, it's 24.44" wide. -- that's more than 70% shrinkage, width-wise. So I like the first sample better, because it's about 12 to 14" wide after washing, which seems like a better width for a scarf. (That's what I want this fabric to become.)

Votes, opinions? I welcome you to voice your choice before I start weaving!

But before I end this post, I wanted to add a couple more photos. If you read my blog regularly, you may remember last month's post, showing a baby wrap I just finished for our new grandson, Owen. This month I finished knitting a sweater for him, using Elizabeth Zimmerman's Baby Surprise Jacket, knitted on #5 knitting needles with Kauni Effektgarn in space-dyed rainbow colors. I love the autumn colors and the vegetable buttons, especially since my daughter and son-in-law love vegetable gardening.



That's all for this month! Thanks for reading.


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Echo Weave, which is a border at the beginning and the end of the wrap

A detail

Great news! I have a new (to me) computer dobby loom: a 16-shaft Toika Eeva with a 40 cm weaving width. This Scandinavian beauty came to me by way of my friend and fine weaver Hedy Lyles, who enjoyed this loom but was moving up to 24 shafts.

Here's Eeva, getting dressed. 


A view from the back of the loom

I wound a warp of 10/2 Tencel, 1187 ends, 8 yards long, so that -- at 40 epi -- I would have a weaving width just shy of 30" and plenty of length for sampling before I weave up a 5-yard-long wrap. 

Because I've been teaching a lot of workshops on 4-shaft, 8-shaft, and 12-shaft Echo Weave (and other structures you can weave on the same threading, using different tieups and treadlings), I decided to expand my repertoire to 16 shafts. Here's just a section of the Echo Weave structure I designed, based on an advancing point twill in both threading and treadling.

I can't really show you the entire drawdown because it's much too large to reproduce on this page. Anyhow, it gives you the idea: I broke up the pattern line in several spots because I like the abrupt shift, almost giving the impression of stripes.

The wrap will be Echo Weave for just 24" on each end, with Turned Taquete filling up the center. I did this for two reasons: 1) I love the variations between the two structures and 2) the Echo Weave pattern has warp floats of as many as 5 picks while the Turned Taquete, by definition, never has a float of more than 3 picks. So I figured that the fabric woven in Turned Taquete would be just that much stronger and more durable when it comes to supporting an infant.

Here's what the Turned Taquete design looks like (again, only a portion of it, as the entire design wouldn't show up well at all in this narrow space). Because I'm showing you just a portion, the design looks asymmetrical -- but the pattern is symmetrical.
And here's what the Turned Taquete looks like on the loom:


The other side of the fabric (maybe a bit harder to see)

I find that there is a bit of a learning curve with a computer loom. For instance, if I have a misstep on the pedal that controls the treadling, it's hard to instruct the weaving program to go back. At least for me it is: sometimes the computer wants to loop around and I find myself right back where I started, having to unweave. And then you have to tell the computer to unweave. It's a tricky conversation, at least until I get the hang of it.

The upside is that the weaving goes much faster and is less physically taxing. This is especially helpful with a 20/2 cotton weft, which I'm weaving at about 30 picks per inch.

And another advantage: those 16 shafts! There is a lot to learn and a lot of designing to do and I'm looking forward to it.

Back to the wrap itself: One of the things I love about these two structures is the color dynamics. I deliberately chose an unlikely combination of warp colors -- burgundy and turquoise -- because I knew from experience that the weft alters the overall color of the fabric in surprising ways, even producing the iridescence that Marian Stubenitsky covers so well in her book, Weaving with Echo and Iris. For the weft I chose an orange/coral color, sort of a cantaloupe, because it warms up the warp, so to speak. Below is a photo of samples of different colored wefts, with the cantaloupe-colored weft at the very bottom of the photo. 


This is a very special project for a very special new person in our lives: Our first grandchild, Owen, who is now almost 3 months old. I think it will look good on him, don't you?




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