What Warped Minds We Have!

I can talk about warps until your ears fall off, and yet I'm having a hard time clarifying, in words, what place warps have in my weaving.

The way I design has changed somewhat over the years, but on the whole I leave it to the warp to make the designs/shapes. Twill was my starting point when I started weaving without recipes, so even with other structures, I more or less think the same way. 

Designing starts with a particular warp yarn, (and sett, and hand,) in mind, and I work on the threading; I sometimes make curves in the treadling and turn the draft, but that's only because it's physically easier to input curvy lines in the treadling area on the computer. As I start to play with tie-ups and the real treadling, I start to think about fibers/yarns that would suit this particular "warp environment". With wefts, I think about colors and texture in the main. This is probably why I sample a lot of wefts to see what creates the greatest harmony with the warp, the loveliest hand, but also which weft makes the best use of the warp the way I set it up, which weft best realizes what I intend with this warp. Of course there are lots of leeway and surprises, but on the whole, the method has served me well in weaving merchandises and commission pieces.

This method limits random creativity, however, resulting in the lack of variety of aesthetics, which is why I mixed it up with random threading/treadling, clasped weft, other structures, or even unattractive-to-me warps. It's a real triumph when I make such a warp look good, but a complete defeat when I end up with ick pieces made from a lovely warp. For a long time I avoided ugly-to-me warps, but this is the benefit of growing old, I think; it doesn't matter because it's the trying-and-seeing that counts, and if I triumph, all the better. And it's a good way to use some of someone else's stash. (Hello, Mom!) It's all been and continues to be a wild ride.

* * * * *
This is my original warp tree, a spare warping board. There are more warps in bags at the bottom, possibly in my cashmere drawer, and at least one upstairs. It sits behind me as I weave on the Jack loom, in the path of direct sunlight, the warps are usually covered with corrugated cardboard. 
These are the immediate next candidates you saw in a previous post while I auditioned border colors. I can see these while I weave on the Jack.
Underneath the immediate nexts are the regular nexts that may go on any loom. I wanted to contemplate while I weave on the Jack. I honestly never thought of simply moving the original warp tree until this week. I "temporarily" hung a few warps on top of the warping mill some time ago, and often done this from time to time, but now this seems semi-permanent.
Under that layer is the mill which has held Syrie warp forever. I haven't done anything because I don't know how to proceed with the project, but I used already ancient silk among the dozen or more yarns, and they are now really crumbling. This being a "show" piece, not utilitarian, I'm not against having knots in the warp, but we shall see what I do when I finally decide to go ahead with the project.

At one point, I started a notebook listing all unwoven warps, and every couple of years I took inventory and rewrote the list. I still counted/recorded numbers while making the warp on backs of envelopes, but if they had anything tricky/sexy like different numbers of ends for different colors, I cut out the information and taped/stapled it on to the notebook. A few years ago I got smart and started recording the information on the same notebook and now just cross out warps I've woven.
I've just come upstairs after winding the next warp on the Jack loom; this is a view from the back. I will probably get three clasped weft piece in a randomly threaded twill, but I can't decide whether I want undulation. At 12 inches, it's the widest clasped weft warp so far, but I'm still going to use only two colors.

I wanted slightly wider borders but had only a small amount of the navy, so I measured that first, and made the green slightly narrower. Don't worry about the green on the far left; When I ran out of the navy, I tied on the green for the loom waste and the sampling portion. By the time I can start the proper piece, it'll automagically turn navy.


Meg said...

Dear, dear me, I just now remembered I was always going to revisit Satin weave, something I've only done once experimentally, because I am a warp-centric weaver! How many years has it been???

Leigh said...

Excellent post! For one thing, the warp tree is great. It would never have occurred to me to do that. Three cheers for the internet and how we can be inspired by one another.

However, I'm especially fascinated with your design process. Just getting back to weaving, I'm thinking I forgot everything about design, yet, if I think about it, I don't use kits but do have a method to plan new projects starting with just what I've got on hand. Designing is another area I'm looking forward to exploring.

Meg said...

Designing is the fun bit, and then there's sampling. I live for these and am glad I don't mind the dressing part, either. When weaving the proper piece starts, however... sometimes it feels like a drag. Dear me.

Enjoy designing future projects, Leigh, now that you've got the warp on the big loom!