Thursday, March 9, 2023

Two Blocks on Four Shafts that Weren't - Or Were They?

I was going to delete this post/draft as the outcome from this warp was disappointing, but in my continuing interest in, urrr... interesting four-shaft weaving, (if nothing else, I like weaving on my four-shaft jack,) I decided to keep it.. 
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This is the Nth piece in what was my for-Ukraine phase on the four-shaft loom. I got tired of Dornick, so I looked up Davison, and found two twill blocks on four shafts, ....., something I never thought about, and modified it to to make the pattern appear bolder.
It looked great on paper, or screen; Mom was impressed she could clearly see the pattern over not-exactly-clear Line App connection. 
In reality, it's not that the blocks are not there, but it's not as bold as I imagined, although in this pic, I like it better than in real life. After considering what I was happy to do, I settled on resleying and changing the treadling, rather than re-threading. In addition to the pattern not appearing clearly, my objection was the texture was akin to weaving done in thicker yarns in looser sett.
So this was the plan as seen on screen. After resleying from 18EPI to 20, I didn't sample but just started weaving. The weft is 2/24 mill-end merino in taupe, plied *3. It was still skinny and I couldn't see the pattern/mistakes while weaving, (so weird the "stripe" appears in the pic,) and this warp/weft combination turned out sticky. I could weave at most 25cm/day. Ben thought it was "plain", but more my style; I understood to mean it's an all-over pattern without a visual focus. 
Then I discovered a treadling mistake, unwove, tried to fix it, only to find out it wasn't a mistake??? So I wove on, but it still looked like a mistake, and tried to go back but the warp was so frayed it was impossible to mend. This was in September, and I thought to leave it for the time being, and then I did the cottolin warps, and... didn't get back to this until February!
By this time the weaving had become so onerous, I decided to cut it off and weave with another weft, a combination of two mill-end merino in navy and one variegated merino (??) a then-regular vendor sent it to me by mistake instead of my usual stuff. Weaving this was faster and I could see a little more of the pattern, but by this time reserve joy depleted, I was in a rush to finish. And this piece ended up not at all as soft and drapey after weft-finish as I had imagined. Also when on the loom I could not see the "stripes" that would have appeared because of the threading; these came to the fore only after washing/drying.
Never mind, at least it's in the shape of a big scarf. 

Still, the original taupe fabric had an unimaginably lovely, heavy-silk-like drape, so I decided to weave the rest of the warp to make warp end fabric, which turned out to be a bigger disaster. (And for once, I'm not exaggerating.) Also, no matter how gently I washed these, the weft turned fuzzy worn by the time they were drying. I like the taupe color, and I have tons of small mill-end cones, so I must experiment more to preserve the drape of this yearn in the finished piece. 

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As I mentioned, this warp was slow weaving, and I was very tired. Some days I was on what I can only describe as autodrive, but I wasn't sure if it was my body, head, or both. In the past, in washing my weaving I've been taken aback at the inconsistency in my beating, so much so that at times I wonder if I used yarns from a different cone/dye lot by mistake. Often this happens on Ashford table looms, so I blamed it on the short distance between the Shaft 1 and the breast beam, where I can see the cloth already woven to determine the beat of that particular cloth. So is it me, and not the loom? Looking back I can also recall at least two staggeringly inconsistently beaten pieces on the 16-shaft to my utter disappointment; one was intended as a present to a dear friend, another had silk weft and a fabulous hand. (I kept the latter.)

While weaving the warp end fabric with the skinny taupe weft, I notice one time the beat was much too tight, and the resultant fabric stiff on the loom. But as if in those fables where folks cannot stop dancing, my body refused to change the MO, and I kept beating hard. I thought a break may help, so I wound some cashmere wefts on the bobbin for the next project, and returned to weaving. This time the beat was so soft it was almost lacy on the loom. At this point it became not weaving, but the battle of the mind and the body, "me" reduced to a spectator. So weird.

I can recall once or twice in the past when I'm really tired, possibly after having been under the weather for a wee while, when the act of weaving felt just wrong. It wasn't good to persevere, unless I was working on a sample/experimentation, or a goofing-off project. I had made a mental note of it then, but had forgotten because I guess it'd been a while since I last persevered.
The only good things to come out of the body-snatched day was, this old wool warp and the skinny taupe weft combination produces the best drape woven in the super gappy, softly beaten way. Lordy, I even see the pattern! 

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I did enjoy the May-September mad weaving, though; I realized if I tried, to some degree, I can still weave one after another in quick succession. I never found/researched further how I could send these to Ukraine, and it's spring there now. But Esther, who always has calm, sensible answers, thought I should donate them to Women's Refuge where they will be handed to women (and children) directly, instead of Salvation Army, (usually my preferred charity,) where they will be sold to raise funds. With the cooler season coming up, this is a good idea, so I'll be contacting them in April/May, I think.

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