Monday, October 5, 2015

Gamp camp

A workshop with no relationship to Sarah Gamp's brolly.

8-Harness Schacht with twill gamp begun
Odd word, gamp. According to and every other online resource I found, 'gamp' is a British colloquialism for an umbrella that derives from Charles Dickens' character Sarah Gamp, a nurse with a large unwieldy umbrella in Martin Chuzzlewit. I found not one reference related to weaving.

Yet gamp is a real word used by weavers to describe a sampler--and samples are as essential to weavers as gauge swatches are to knitters. (If you know the origin, please share!)

On the loom, fibers, colors and patterns don't always behave as expected. And the time to find that out is before the project is warped, the loom dressed and the weaving begun.

Gamp camp in Medford

Last weekend, the South Jersey Guild of Spinners and Handweavers hosted a weekend workshop with Karen Donde to explore the possiblities of color-and-weave effects in twill patterns. Seven of us arrived on Saturday morning, each with a loom dressed with 5/2 cotton in two contrasting colors. There were four- and eight-harness looms, each threaded with three different patterns across the 12 inch width and ready to weave.

Ashford table loom
This was a round robin event, meaning that each person wove a sample on each of the seven looms. For those who didn't own a portable/sample loom, it was an ideal opportunity to try out different maker's equipment. I particularly liked the Louet, which had its own stand, and the Ashford table loom (at right). I have an eight-harness Schacht table loom and stand that M. built for it. (Works a charm, but confused some people because the levers are right to left. Are they still made that way? I don't know.)

Each loom was matched to a treadling pattern with directions for three different treadlings, which resulted in nine different variations for each twill gamp. 

At the end of the second day, the fabric was cut from the looms and cut apart so that each participant several twill gamps. After I secure the ends and wet finish mine, I'll share photos here.
Vintage table loom

Why do this? To find patterns suitable for upcoming projects, of course. Among the nine options, there is likely to be one--or more--that look promising. Gamp are not end projects. Rather, they are resources for future projects. It's a beginning. Most (all?) projects will call for changes--fine-tuning, if you will. Different colors, yarns, beat, etc. 

Weaving a twill gamp is a good exercise. Handweavers Guild of America provides directions for threading and treadling a twill gamp here.

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