Thursday, March 16, 2023

Monochromatic Cashmere Warp Preamble and Piece One

Early this year I discovered I might need a farewell gift in march, and the potential giftee being a conservative/casual English dresser, I thought monochromatic cashmere scarf would be nice. To make it a little special, I had clasped weft in mind. And to make the fabric thicker and the weaving faster, I planned to weave in the "return trip" clasping, (I just made that up - is there a proper name for it?) i.e. two wefts come in from respective selvedges, are clasped somewhere in the shed, and return to their selvedges of origin, and beaten; i.e. two-weft thickness in each pick. 

I put on a monochrome warp I made a while back. It was too narrow so I added more black at the right; in my mind this ruined the delicate original intent, a mostly white and two pale grays with just enough black to keep the piece from floating away. Never mind, the purpose is a man's not-short (180-210cm) piece, and upon consulting some of Ben's scarves and the man himself, Ben and not the intended, 18-20cm-ish width was more desirable than 15cm-ish that was the original plan for the warp.

I threaded in a make-it-up-as-I-go undulating twill and sampled, but did not like the parts where two and three ends were threaded in the same shaft in succession, e.g. 1-2-2-3-3-4-4-4-3-3, so I rethreaded, varying these to, for e.g. 1-2-2-3-4-4 or 1-2-3-3-4-1-2-2-3-4, etc. I also left only one set of three ends in one shaft. In retrospect I'm not sure if this mattered; long floats fluff up wonderfully, and it might have been nicer to leave them, so there remains a possibility of rerethreading. 
For Piece One I used my favorite weft combination in the sample; the pale gray is so pale I had a hard time distinguishing it from white while in a ball or weaving. Soon realized I may not have enough of it to weave 180-210cm, and I tried to make it go the distance, using very little in some parts. I was ready to make this a short, 150cm piece, but in the end it grew to just 179cm off the loom. (I'm amazed how much darker the pale weft looks in the finished piece.)
I found the weaving labour-intensive, and on Day One, managed only 18cm. Days Two and Three I wove twice that much, which gave me all kinds of muscle aches, but worse, mental fatigue. On Day 3 I kept making treadling mistakes, (it's only 5-4-3-2; how could I go wrong?,) some of which I didn't see right away. In once instance I even liked the mistake and decided to leave it in, but now I'm not sure. I wove in that weird autodrive I mentioned in the last post. Around the middle of the piece, I changed the treadling to 2-3-4-5, creating a diamond shape; I was going to do this a few times, but since I made so few mistakes treadling in this order, I didn't dare change it back. This is peculiar, considering I've always woven one-directional twills 5-4-3-2 as long as I had this loom.
Days 4 and 5, it was better as I wove about 20cm each day. With both the body and mind in better condition, I felt nimble and wove more precisely. On Day 4, my design brain was working well, so I was making more interesting patterns. I also caught nearly half a dozen treadling mistakes, but I saw them and was able to fix them straight away. On Day 5, the mind-body synchronization was good again, but not so much the design brain, so I felt less exuberant, but thankfully not stressed. So the lesson here was, she shouldn't persevere. Which doesn't really go well with my temperament, but I'm sticking to it for the time being because it's a lot better than mending afterwards.
I dwell on mind-body synchronization, because I know this relates to aging, especially re. my mind, although I really prefer the word "senility" because that rings truer to me. Muscle fatigue from weaving, I have experienced for some years, (though hardly every time I weave,) and to some degree weaving consistently improves the situation, especially when weaving similar techniques on the same loom. It's purely a muscle/fitness thing. But the mental fatigue is new; it's not just being tired or bored and not wanting to think/write about it, but more like weaving and other thoughts wiped out cleanly on a chalk or white board! With my mother's lucidity fluctuating, (it's definitely weird more often, but she hides them so well, Sister and I can't quite pin down where she is at any given time, but only in comparison to other recent occasion.) I observe myself in the same psedo-objective eye, and can spot lucidity varying, the most annoying when having to think of how to do things I usually do automatically.

Lordy, I feel old.

This piece also became an experiment in the shapes/lines/motif, and instead of going for one or another kind of a look, I went for maximum variety. This "research" is on-going, so I'll write about it when I finish the warp, with better pics of the pieces.
Note to self: 179cm off the loom, 172cm after resting, and 166.5cm washed. Weaving width is 20cm; washed, 18.5cm. Shrinkage 93% and 92% respectively.

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