Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Just plain tabby

Plain weave w/three types of thread

Tabby? Really?

I wasn't very excited about the focus for the upcoming workshop and sample exchange, so I hadn't signed up. But I changed my mind--and am so glad I did.

The backstory: To complement its March 2018 program, Hands-On Workshop: “Plain Weave Isn't Plain Anymore,” the New York Guild of Handweavers set up a sample exchange. Again, plain weave, aka tabby, which can be woven on any type of loom, including a rigid heddle.

If you've never participated in a sample exchange, it works like this. Sometimes there is a theme--in this case, it's plain/tabby weave--but not always. Each participant weaves and prepares a sample and documentation of relevant details--fiber, sett, finish, etc.--for as many people as are in the group. At the exchange, weavers share samples and experiences . 

These exchanges are an excellent learning tool and provide resources for years to come and I like to participate whenever I can. In this case, I wasn't the only one slow to the gate. At the meeting time, only a few had committed to the project.

I admit that a guilt feeling figured in my change of mind, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it would be a good exercise. I'd been wanting to do some exploration in structures such as collapse weave, which uses various types and sizes of fibers to achieve variation in texture. I'd also been thinking about incorporating my handspun into weaving, so that was a 'maybe.' And I imposed one more rule on myself: I had to do it from stash.

My mind went into overdrive.

The playground

First I did a wrapping, as I usually do when combining colors in a warp. Wrappings don't provide full information on the interplay of colors as there is no accounting for the color effects for the weft, but they're a quick and simple starting point. (I like to play with weft colors with the warp on the loom so usually add an extra foot or so to the warp length of that purpose.) 
Color wrapping, sampling balance left to right

For this exercise, I decided to build the color warp around a two-ply Coopworth handspun yarn hand-dyed a dark red with brown tones and color variation. The yarn wouldn't win any prizes in a skein competition, but the variation and slight differences are interesting.

First I tried the lavender rayon with the handspun, as at the left of the wrapping. Yuk.

Then I wrapped a fine two-ply (2/20?) dark cranberry yarn and added a gray rayon thread used for machine embroidery. (Please don't ask how it happens to be in my stash. I don't know. I don't do machine embroidery.)

By the time my wrapping reached the right side of the cardboard strip, I liked where I was headed . So I warped up my loom with the three very different threads. Different weights. Different textures. Different twists. Different spacings.

And I started weaving with two shuttles, one carrying the cranberry yarn and the other, the gray rayon thread. 

I was delighted with the outcome after just a few inches of weft. It was such fun playing with thread watching the changing effects. What better fun can there be?

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