Saturday, December 22, 2012

Part Four: Project 9 - What Have I Achieved

This project was exhausting but really enjoyable.
I have always wanted to weave and it seemed so complicated - I still think it is incredibly complicated but am now less fearful of it. I can start to look at a woven fabric/rug and make an educated guess as to the way the piece was made.

Time was my enemy during this project. Each stage of the weaving sample took a lot of time and thought. There is so much merit in being organised and planning the colours and images you are going to use.
I feel happier and more confident when starting a sample piece if I have done the colour matching first and some design development, it is still a very new way of working for me, but one that I will incorporate into all my design work from now on.

Did I have enough variety in my collection of yarns and other materials? Which kinds of yarns etc did I use most? How do their characteristics affect the look and feel of each sample?
I had a good variety of yarns in my collection, but not a complete range of colours. To do this project justice I would have had to start dyeing my own yarns - having seen the work of the weavers at Dovecot Studios and that of Jilly Edwards, I think this step will be worth taking.

I used a small range of 'other materials' and probably need to experiment further with this - I had leather, paper, foils etc all lined up, these will have to be sketchbook samples.
I did like the way the polythene worked, especially when mixed with the brightly coloured knitting ribbon.

Stage Two I mainly used fine rug yarns and sock weight yarns. These showed the weaving patterns well, they also covered the warp yarn fully.
The fine yarns are soft and smooth to the touch when woven. The finished sample is densely woven creating a firm fabric.

Stage Three I used some thicker yarns, these allowed the warp yarn to show through, leaving a more textured 'look' and feel to that part of the sample - it would be interesting to see what would happen if I used a coloured warp, or a warp made from another material with these thicker threads. This is a further sketchbook idea.

Twisting an eyelash yarn with the thicker yarns. This added a colour and texture to this part of the sample. It became really fluffy when the eyelash yarns had a long lash, the eyelash yarns with shorter 'fluff' became twisted in with the weaving adding colour, but not much of the fluffy texture.

Using the eyelash yarn to make the Rya knots - this was full of life, a whole sample made with this yarn and this technique would be fantastic. It looks and feels great.
The polythene in this sample changed so much when woven, it went from a thin, see-through, fragile yarn to a thick, strong, sparkly fabric. It also feels relatively smooth and soft.

The knitting yarn looked warm, soft and vibrant - it looked great as a plain weave, but the Soumak technique really made it look at its best - scrunchy and textured.
The cotton yarn that was made up of twists of many colours created a dense, tightly woven fabric. I loved the way the colours showed through in random patterns.

Stage Four - The sample ranged from 'soft and squishy' at the sides of the spiral where the thick blue yarn was woven loosely across the warp. To 'smooth and dense/firm' in the centre where the cotton fibres were woven. To 'soft, smooth and fluffy' where the mohair yarns were mixed in with the other yarns - the colour of the mohair yarn also added a depth to the colour it was twisted with, the plain yellow/gold yarn gained a warmth when twisted with the orangey mohair yarn.

How did I find weaving in comparison to the other techniques I have tried? Did I find it too slow or limiting?
Weaving is slow, but it is not limiting. It just requires patience, an understanding of the techniques and some planning before you begin.
Weaver Jane Freear-Wyld feels that choosing to be a tapestry weaver is a lifestyle choice, not an occupation, as she has the luxury of having time to reflect.
More information on this theme can be found at this blog "Making a Slow revolution" link.

I like the thought that some people still take their time to make things, a bit like the ideas William Morris had with the Arts and Crafts movement - then we had the Industrial revolution changing things, making things cheaper and faster to produce, and not necessarily better; now we have the Computer revolution, everything available now, at the touch of a button. There should be room for both to work side-by-side, but are people still willing to wait and pay a little extra for their trouble?

How do I feel about my finished sample? Am I happy with the relationship of the textures, proportions, colour and pattern to the finished size? Is there any part that I would want to change? If so try and identify exactly how and why you would change it.
Please see Stage Four for the responses to these questions, here, I have tried to identify what I liked, what worked, what went wrong and how I would rectify it and how I might have changed it, in this post. 

Was there any stage in the whole design process, such as choice of source material, deciding proportions, choice of yarn or colour, translating idea to sample, that you felt went wrong? Would you tackle this process differently another time?
I answered some of these points in the post for Stage Four - see last link.
I don't think that the design process went wrong. I liked my source material; the proportions were easy to work with; the yarns and colours worked- I did mention the fact that the thick yarn made difficulties for me when creating the sample in my post; the idea translated into a sample easily.

Next time I may try out more ideas and more source material before settling on 'the one'.
I would also like to have a chance to work on the other sample that was suggested - to choose a 'word' and make theme boards from the ideas that are sparked by the 'word' before starting to make yarn wraps and cartoons for the weaving.
I would also like the opportunity to dye my own yarns, as I mentioned earlier to give a full range of colours, tints, tones and shades to choose from, rather than relying on my 'stash' and the local craft shop.

Which did I enjoy more - working from source material or putting colours together intuitively? Why?
I find it easier to work from source material as there is a process to work through. Locate interesting area of an image, isolate the colours and textures, find the yarns that work, design the cartoon for the weaving, think about the techniques that will be needed - start weaving.

Putting colours together intuitively is more fun, but you need to have the time to experiment more, the time to practise - to see if it does or doesn't work before you start the weaving.
Happily the OCA course book p.201 states, "Ideally you need more time to experiment and build up knowledge of how yarn behaves in the tapestry weaving process."

I have thoroughly enjoyed the learning process in this Project, I have had to work with a medium that I have had no previous experience with. I have a long way to go, but have already ordered some tapestry weaving books to add to my 'how to' collection and looked for tapestry weaving courses to go on.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Part Four: Project 9 - Stage 4

Developing Design Ideas into Weaving
For stage four I have to develop one of my ideas into a large sample piece using some of the techniques learned in the previous stages of project nine.
The OCA course book outlined the different types of sample that could be made for this stage, I chose sample 1.

Sample 1: With reference to the Interlude exercise, link , the approach to making sample 1 deals with colour, texture and proportion.
When choosing the source material for this sample we are asked to consider the information we learned in both Stage 2: exploring different techniques to create different effects; and Stage 3: weft yarns which create different surface qualities.

Source material can be chosen from a sketch or from a painting that I like, this will then be transformed into a tapestry.

Step 1 is to make a yarn wrap.
"Wrap the yarns in the proportions of colour that are shown in the framed area, as accurately as possible. Regard the wrapping as a design in itself, with proportions that give the feeling of the drawing and work well together." OCA course book p.197

I decided to choose a piece by Hundertwasser. I have a few books about this artist and love the colours that he uses in his work, the shapes and ideas that he paints. I will write about Hundertwasser at the end of this post.
He also made a tapestry himself entitled "Pissing Boy with Skyscraper" link, which made me think that one of his works would translate well into a woven piece.

I chose his work "Landscape with Violet Sun", 1956, to work with - link to an image of this work is here. I worked from a reproduction of this picture in my book Hundertwasser by Harry Rand. The illustration featured in the book should be renamed 'Landscape with Red Sun' as the colours don't resemble the one that I linked to on the internet.

I pulled out the various yarns that matched the colours in the picture.
The landscape has a large blue and red (violet) sun that swirls across the top half of the page, a band of red in the middle, with the lower half of the image made up of yellows and greens.

This is my yarn wrap:
Yarn wrap next to Hundertwasser image
Just over half of the wrap features red and blue yarns.
The blue yarn is made up of different shades of the blue - it is much thicker than the other yarns, this may be a problem when I weave with it, but the colours are perfect.

The lower part of the wrap features yellows, gold and shades of green. There is also a very fine orangey/red mohair yarn twisted in with the bright yellow yarn to give it a more interesting finish.

Step 2 is to take a sheet of graph paper and mark off in horizontal stripes the exact proportions of each colour.
Referring back to my yarn wrap and the Hundertwasser image, I marked up the graph paper in coloured pencil.

The OCA course book p.197, says, "The graph paper will enable you to be very precise. Stripes can be as narrow as a single weft pick and your colours may be interpreted as spots, narrow vertical blocks, stripes or small squares."

My graph paper with the weaving design:
Graph paper with the design marked on it
I drew my 'cartoon' to scale - cartoon is the scaled drawing that the weaver works from.
The cartoon was approximately the size of an A4 piece of paper - a size that I knew my loom would be able to accommodate.

I marked the lower section with horizontal stripes of gold and yellow ochre, the next section with vertical stripes of green on a gold background, followed by green and yellow horizontal stripes and then red and blue thin vertical stripes. Lastly the broad red band followed by the big blue and red swirl.

This would involve several different weaving combinations to achieve the horizontal and vertical stripes, some colour mixing with the orange mohair and the gold yarn, lastly some slit tapestry to create the swirl at the top of the weave.

Step 3 is to weave the sample.
First I laid the warp yarn on the loom - this process is described in Stage 1. This is where I realised that dressing a loom is not really a job for just one person.
Then I made the heading cord - this time tying the cord to the frame at each side of the warp threads.

Tying the heading cord made a huge difference when I started the weaving - there was something firm to push the weft against after I wove my first few picks.
I wove approximately 1cm of a green yarn before I started to weave the sample - this would not be part of the finished design.

Following my 'cartoon' I started by weaving:
  • First section of gold and yellow ochre stripes (the gold yarn had mohair twisted in with it). I wove three picks of gold, one pick of yellow ochre. This was repeated five times.
  • Second section of dark green and gold vertical stripes (gold yarn is twisted with mohair). I wove one pick of dark green, one pick of gold repeated four times, switching to one pick of gold, one pick of dark green repeated four times, back to one pick of dark green, one pick of gold for four repeats.
  • Third section of olive green and gold vertical stripes (gold yarn twisted with mohair). Same instructions as second section - replacing dark green for olive green.
  • Fourth section of gold and bright green. two rows of bright green, two rows of gold yarn - repeated three times.
  • Fifth section of blue and red vertical stripes. After five rows of plain blue yarn, one pick blue, one pick red for seven repeats.
  • Sixth section, the wide red band. Initially this was going to be plain red - but it was too flat, so I unpicked what I had woven and twisted a dark red mohair yarn in with the bright red. Plain weave for seventeen rows.
  • Seventh section - the blue and red swirl. The red yarn was thinner than the blue - having made a decision not to double the thickness of the red yarn, I worked out that ten picks of the red was equivalent in width to three picks of the blue yarn. To achieve the design meant I had to follow the graph paper very carefully, marking off the design as I wove.
I used slit tapestry to achieve the vertical stripes, although the difference in thickness in the two yarns meant that interlocking the threads every 5 - 10 rows looked messy - I decided to leave the vertical stripes free and sew them up after.

This is the sample mid weave with the many ends of yarn in place to weave the various sections. At this stage I was using a weaving needle for the larger horizontal passes through the shed, and had 'butterflies' of yarn to pass through the shed by hand for the smaller areas.
Making the swirl

This is the finished tapestry sample after it had been released from the loom.
I finished the top and bottom of the sample off by using buttonhole stitch on the edges and knotting the warp threads. I decided to leave the initial and the finishing rows of the green yarn on the sample and not turn them under.
All the slits were stitched up using the long ends that I had left at the back of the weaving for this purpose.
The size of the piece is approximately 18cm by 28cm.
The finished sample for Project 9, Stage 4
You can see that the shape of the piece is not uniform - this may have been due to the way I beat the weft down. The OCA course book p.190, mentions the technique is "to pass the weft thread through the warp threads on a diagonal and beat it down across the warp, moving in the same direction as the weft." I may have missed a step when completing this motion - not following the direction of the weft. This meant that my weaving started to slim down in the middle.

The swirl also starts to bulge, although I do like the way the shape of the sample has turned out.
The bulging is due to the way I wove the vertical stripes. I may have woven them too loosely, not wanting them to become very thin, it may also be due to the blue yarn being so much thicker than the red yarn.

The central red band, and the red and blue vertical stripes have a different feel to the rest of the yarns used - the blue was a crochet cotton, the red was a thin coarse yarn.
I like the different textures, but when weaving with these thinner threads the tapestry really started to get narrow. The instructions did state "If you think that some of the yarns you have chosen may be too fine, then use several thicknesses together." This instruction should have been followed to avoid the difficulties in weaving with the different types of yarn.

This is the sample next to the yarn wrap:
Finished sample next to yarn wrap

The colours worked well and are in the right proportions, adding the dark red mohair yarn added the right colour and texture to the wide red band in the centre.

The horizontal bands work well representing the colour changes on those parts of the Hundertwasser picture.
The slim vertical stripes resemble the marks made for the grasses in the original image.

The swirl is very dynamic amid the horizontal stripes of the lower sections of the sample.

I have learned a huge amount weaving this sample.
Apart from the technical difficulties that I encountered when creating the sample and the length of time it physically takes to make - the hardest part was deciding what my sample was going to be.
These were some of the thought processes that led to my decision to go with Hundertwasser, the image I chose and why I chose to go with Sample One instead of Sample Two.

I started by looking at and brainstorming sample two.
Sample 2: "If you enjoy working more intuitively with material you might like to try another approach. Choose from one of the following words":
  • Tribal
  • Dreamlike
  • Exotic
  • Sacred
  • Minimal
  • Tranquil
  • Rural
  • Futuristic
  • Nostalgic
I started to make word links to a couple of the words and settled on "Tribal" as a favourite.
Having travelled to South Africa a few years ago I knew I had source material in the house - textiles, masks, wood crafts etc. I also knew there would be many images to base a piece of work on, on the internet.

I really got excited about tribal masks and started to draft a design on graph paper.
What I didn't have was time - there was the selection of a warp yarn, "your previous warps have been in cotton cord which was easy to use; you are now a bit more experienced and could use an alternative."

I really think that if there had been more time I would have liked to try something more experimental.
I am, overall, happy with my finished piece and glad to have had the limitations of "horizontal stripes of colour" to work with.

In all my previous pieces for all the projects I have worked with my own sketches, developing a design from them. This time I thought I would use a piece of work by an artist that I have always been inspired by.

These were the other images that I looked at working from, all by Hundertwasser.
"Singing Bird in a Tree", 1951, link here
I looked at this as a whole picture, not thinking to put a frame around a small section. There was also many greens - I knew I didn't have enough shades of green to do this image justice.

"Bleeding Houses", 1952, link here
This would have worked well as slit tapestry - lots of squares within squares. I felt any design based on this would have looked too similar to the original.

"10002 Nights Humus Come Va How Do You Do, Spinea", 1982/83, link here
Whenever I tried to draw this onto the graph paper, I kept drawing the face. I couldn't seem to develop this into an image of horizontal lines.

"Tender Dinghy", 1982, link here
This would have worked well in horizontal stripes, but my yarn collection was not colourful enough to do justice to this piece.

I really think that time was against me on this stage. I may have done more developmental stages towards the finished piece if there had been more weeks to complete it in. I may have also opted to dye yarns and threads with which to use in the finished piece.
There is always time to 'redo' or time to put more experiments in my sketchbook over the coming months - it would be nice to live up to the standards of Jilly Edwards' work (as mentioned in the blog post here).

Friedensreich Hundertwasser 1928 - 2000
  • Born in 1928 in Vienna, Austria as Friedrich Stowasser.
  • He was self taught and was inspired by the artist Egon Schiele's work.
  • An artist, architect and an ecologist.
  • Died 2000
"It was around 1953 that Hundertwasser painted the first of his famous spirals, a form with which he was to become increasingly obsessed." The Times Obituary, February 22, 2000.
A link to the official Hundertwasser website is here, this page is entitled "The spiral is the symbol of life and Death." It also features some images of his 'spiral' paintings.
These are beautiful works, they are painted in bright, bold colours, they have a rhythm - your eye follows the spiral in and out of the picture, the spiral is not uniform in shape and size.

In 1959 he decided to address the idea of the straight line: "he launched an attack on the straight line in his commentary on modern architecture, known as the "Mouldiness Manifesto." The Times Obituary, February 22, 2000.
"The straight line is something cowardly drawn with a rule, without thought or feeling; it is a line which does not exist in nature. And (it) is the rotten foundation of our doomed civilisation." FH. Extract from Mouldiness Manifesto against Rationalism in Architecture - for the full version please see this link
From being renowned as an artist he was now involved in architecture.
With his manifesto he aimed to "revise functional grid architecture and introduce a natural and humane way of building." p.121, 2nd paragraph, "Hundertwasser: The Art of the Green Path", Prestel Publishing.
He was a visionary, he realised that we did not just need functional spaces to live in, but nature to enjoy, plants and trees in our living spaces.
A brilliant example of his architectural practices is The KunstHausWien - link to all his architectural projects is here.
The KunstHausWien is the Hundertwasser Museum, this was rebuilt as the museum 1989-1991, it was originally the site of the Thonet Brothers factory, built in 1892.
"Working with architect Peter Pelikan, Hundertwasser designs a building consistent with his philosophy. "Tree tenants" are incorporated, as is a tree covered roof, "dancing windows" and ceramic columns in Hundertwasser colours. Already in the lobby, visitors are greeted by the characteristic slanted floor." p.177, 1st paragraph - "Hundertwasser: The Art of the Green Path", Prestel Publishing
This building has an undulating roof, black and white chequerboard paintwork - although not a straight line in sight, trees, plants and grass adorning the roof space and the surroundings. If only some of the architecture in our towns and cities looked like Hundertwasser's work, they would be more inspiring places to live in.

I love Hundertwasser, both the work he created as an architect and as an artist. He was committed to environmental and ecological ideals.
He eventually settled in New Zealand, and died peacefully aboard his ship "Regentag" on his own land on the Bay of Islands.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Part Four: Project 9 - Stage 3

Experimenting with Different Materials.
Having decided to continue with the same warp for this stage, I decided to roll the warp on and to add a new heading cord. (Image 1)
1 - Adding a heading cord
Although I used the correct technique, as outlined in stage 1 - here, I did not tie it to the sides of the loom or adjust the warp threads across the width so that they were spaced evenly. It did however give me a starting line to work to. The ruler was placed there to even out the weaving that had been rolled onto the bar below. I got the heading cord right in stage 4 and noticed the difference.

These were the yarns I chose to start my sample with (Image 2):
2 - A selection of yarns for my sample
These yarns were all similar in colour but had different textured finishes and thicknesses. I included coarse thick twine, thinner softer twine, coarse thick wools, eyelash yarns, boucle yarns, as well as other types.

The OCA course book says "For this series of samples you are going to work in a freer and more experimental way to create some interesting surface textures through the use and combination of different and perhaps unlikely materials." p.194

Image 3:
I started by weaving a few 'picks' (passes of the shuttle/rows) of pink yarn so that my weaving would have something to hold it firmly in place.
3 - Starting my sample
I then moved on to the fine cream rug yarn and the thicker, coarser brown wool.
These yarns were too similar in look when they were woven together. The only difference was the thickness and the colour of the yarn - the difference in texture was not noticeable in the woven sample.

Above the cream yarn I added a variegated, soft, fluffy yarn to weave in with the coarse, thick brown yarn.
The fluffy fibres got locked into the warp yarns - the yarn did not appear to be as fluffy once it was woven. The colours of the yarn look quite similar to each other in the sample. This could be a good way to darken an area of weaving - to add the odd row of a darker colour to a variegated thread

Image 4:
The top of the last image (3), and the middle section of the following image (4), show where I wove half the warp with the soft fluffy yarn, half with the brown yarn, interlocking the threads in the middle. The place where the threads interlocked formed a raised ridge. The different thicknesses of the yarns caused the soft, fluffy yarn to slope away from the darker brown area - I added a row of brown to even up the weave.

I then went on to create a curved weft - I outlined the section with a row of dark brown yarn and filled the curved section with the soft, fluffy yarn. This is a nice technique to create shapes in the weaving.
4 - Adding a curved section to the sample

Image 5:
Once the fluffy central shape was woven, I went to fill in the sides with dark brown wool - once I used the comb to beat the weft down, the shape looked a little triangular - more practise needed to perfect this skill.
5 - Filling in the shapes either side

Image 6:
After trying to interlock the brown yarn with the fluffy yarn for a few rows, (the section in the middle below the cream yarn), I realised that this was not an effective combination - there was not enough contrast, the places where the yarns interlocked were bulky.

I decided to try the slit tapestry technique - this is where the threads only interlock every five to ten rows/picks. This leaves the fabric much flatter when finished, with no bulky seams - the slit can be sewn up afterwards.
6 - Slit tapestry technique

Image 7:
I started to weave with the yellow ochre coloured thick yarn.
The OCA course book says that "Interesting effects can be achieved by combining yarns in the same pick eg: yarns of the same colour but different in weight and texture, or yarns of close tones twisted together to give subtle colour changes."

With this in mind I added some eyelash yarns.
The first rows are yellow ochre wool and a beige eyelash yarn twisted together. Then, I stopped the beige eyelash yarn and twisted in an orangey coloured eyelash yarn. Finally adding a brown eyelash yarn. The brown had shorter lengths of fibre than the other eyelash yarns.

I like the effect this had on the weaving, the colour of the yellow yarn changes with the addition of the eyelash yarns.
The rows with the brown eyelash yarn added are not as fluffy as the other rows, the shorter fibre seems to get lost in the weaving.
7 - Introducing the eyelash yarn

Image 8:
For the next part I added alternate rows of jute twine. The yellow wool still had the brown eyelash yarn added to it.
Having another texture worked well - the twine being rougher than the yarn. The colours blended nicely - the colours don't stand out as much as the photograph shows.
The twine was hard to work with, it was stiff and difficult to push into place with a comb or with fingers.
Working on a sample this size was fine - any larger and I think the twine would have been very rough on the hands.
8 - adding alternate rows of jute twine.

Image 9:
A row of Ghiordes Knots - Using the orangey eyelash yarn I created a row of knots, this time continuously. (More about Ghiordes knot/Rya in previous post here)
9 - A row Ghiordes Knots
For my sample in stage 2 (see link above photo) I used cut pieces of yarn and wrapped this around the warp in order to create a knot. 

This time I used a longer length of yarn and used the same wrapping/knotting technique moving from one warp thread to the next - the difference this time is that you make a continuous row of loops, the other method produces individual tufts.
To make the loops equal in length you use a guide rule to wrap the yarn around
I used a combination of the instructions from the course book and my "Handicrafts" book to follow this technique.

Image 10:
Mindful of the course book which stated, "Interesting effects can be achieved by using other materials such as cotton rags, dyed muslin, lace, stockings, leather, polythene, metallic cooking film, tissue paper.."
I dug out some interesting materials - this part of the sample uses strips of polythene cut from a dry cleaning bag, and some knitting ribbon.

Although I liked the natural colours and textures of the earlier parts of the sample - I love the way the knitting ribbon weaves - the bright, jewel-like colours really shine when snuggled between the polythene.
The polythene also sparkles as the light hits the surface, it's a much more interesting finish than when it was in its pre-woven state.
10 - using more unusual materials

Image 11:
Having woven a few rows of the polythene, I made a row using the Soumak technique. This became more interesting when the writing on the plastic made the colour change from 'clear' to a transparent blue.
I then made two more rows of plain weave with the plastic to secure the Soumak, followed by two rows of knitting ribbon.

I decided to see how the knitting ribbon would work as a row using the Soumak technique.
This method showed the yarn off at it's best, I made two consecutive rows before making two rows of plain weave with the polythene yarn.
The colours of the knitting ribbon look great when flat - they look even better when ruched like this.
11 - row of plastic soumak

Image 12:
The course book mentioned another interesting effect obtained by using "yarns of contrasting colour twisted together to give you irregular and unusual colour effects."
This was a cotton mercerised thread which had many different contrasting colours already twisted together to form the yarn.
When woven it created this part of the sample - the different colours make random patterns across the woven surface - pink areas appear next to orange next to green - the pattern is unpredictable.  
12 - twisted cotton yarns in a plain weave

At this point I decided my sample of "experimenting with different materials" was finished. It was ready to be released from the loom.
The sample measures approximately 7cm by 32cm.

The warp threads were cut, the edge was sewn using button-hole stitch - image 13, then the warp threads were tied together to make the ends secure.
13 - buttonhole stitch at the edge
There are so many techniques in this sample - I may have to go back and make a larger sample really exploring one of these techniques in detail.
I enjoyed making the Soumak and Ghiordes knot rows - I found some interesting images by Hundertwasser that would work well with these techniques (struggling to find a copyright free image to show). There are lots of movement and lines, one colour graduates into the next, the picture resembles a Rya Rug.

I also enjoyed the slit tapestry technique, adding shapes and areas of colour makes an interesting piece.

Stage 4 looms over me, having had so much fun experimenting it is daunting to think of designing a woven piece from source material.

Part Four: Project 9 - Stage 2

Basic Tapestry Weaving Techniques
I used shuttle sticks (link to a website with weaving accessories  here, shuttle sticks featured at the bottom of the webpage) for most of the weaving.
I also needed to make a butterfly/finger skein for some of the smaller areas of weaving.
This is a photo of my first 'butterfly':
A butterfly
A butterfly is made by winding the yarn in a figure of eight around your thumb and little finger. The final end is wrapped around the centre and secured.
The skein should stay untangled if pulled from the first end.
This was a really useful technique and one that I had not used before, always having to untangle a bag of embroidery threads and yarns before use.

Starting to weave: the instructions say "Now you can begin to weave" - I practised plain weave for a while before moving on to the next part of the sample.
It was hard to get this part right to start off with, at times I pulled the weft through too hard - and the width of the cloth started to narrow, at other times I didn't pull the weft through enough - and I was left with a ragged edge.
I got slightly better at placing the weft across the warp with the right tension - but even by the end of Project 9, there was still room for improvement.

I went on to experiment with the order in which I wove the coloured weft threads. I tried out various combinations: one weft of red , followed by one weft of white - this became rows of vertical lines; three wefts of white followed by one weft of red - became a spot of red on a white background.

In my first sample I also tried out 'curved wefts': by weaving in small sections, shapes are created, this technique was fun to do and seemed to create movement in the sample piece. This is shown at the top of the sample below:
My first sample:
First weaving sample
I really liked my finished sample. Although the sample had got thinner, I felt more comfortable with the different weaving techniques that could be tried.
I did not write down any instructions for this sample - I did not make a note of which combination of colours made which section, so I felt that I ought to try again, and this time jot some notes down.

My second weaving sample ran on from the first - I wasn't ready to cut the warp threads yet
I changed to pink and green threads and this time I took note of the combinations used for the weaving.
The start of my second weaving sample

I chose the pink and green yarns because they were the same thickness as the red and white yarns that were used in the last sample. These were a sock weight yarn. Unfortunately they proved harder to photograph in natural light, and impossible to photograph in artificial light - they had a slight sheen to them. My images do get clearer - but this was the only picture I took of this section of weaving.

I started with two plain weave sections, the first in green, the second in pink.
The next section of fine wavy lines was created by making two passes of pink and two passes of green (repeated), I had to remember to 'carry' the thread up the side of the weaving.

This image shows the sample more clearly - the fine wavy lines (as described above) are at the very bottom of the picture)
The second weaving sample (clearer image)

I wove an area of plain pink to separate the sections.
These are described from the bottom section up:
  • fine pink line within a broad green stripe: two shots of pink, four shots of green - all started from the same edge.
  • Even thickness bands of pink and green: three shots of pink, three shots of green.
  • Dotty - pink dots on a green background: one shot of pink, 2 shots of green.
  • Dotty - more spaced apart pink dots on a green background: one shot of pink, four shots of green.
  • Dotty - this section was one pink, two greens and replicated one of the previous sections.
  • Vertical stripes - pink stripes on a green background: 1 shot pink, 1 shot green - both from the same side repeated five times. Then three shots of plain pink weave, followed by 1 shot green, 1 shot pink, repeated five times.
  • Vertical stripes alternated to look like big dotty background: using same technique as the last - 1 shot green, 1 shot pink repeated, then change to 1 shot pink, 1 shot green repeated - you need to run 2 shots of green to separate the sections.
  • pink triangle/green triangle - crossing in the middle: with the pink and green yarns at either side - open the shed and run the yarns (at the same time) to the centre, lower and raise the warp threads, take the green back to the same side as it started, take the pink back to the same side it started. By varying where the threads meet you end up with the yarn forming shapes such as triangles - this method was described as 'diagonal slits' in my Reader's Digest Manual of Handicrafts p.89.
  • Soumak - the raised green area on a pink background: the textbook (OCA) p192, says that "Soumak is a traditional technique from the Caucasus. Soumak creates a ridge by wrapping the weft around the warp and produces an interesting surface quality." This was fun to do and provided an interesting texture in the middle of the plain weaves that surrounded it.
I then went back to rows of vertical weaving this time green on pink, and areas of dots, before I tried the next technique, knotting.
The last technique I tried for the second weaving sample - Ghiordes Knot
Ghiordes Knot is known in Scandinavia as Rya.
The yarn was cut into lengths of 10cm and wrapped around the warp to form a knot - I followed the diagram in the OCA textbook on p.193.
I completed two rows in the image above with two rows of plains weave in between.

This is an interesting technique, my Reader's Digest "Handicrafts" features a wonderful rug made using this method on p.86. This book states that "Scandinavian Rya rugs were originally substitutes for fur bedcovers, with long, knotted pile on both sides they were very warm."  

The OCA textbook also mentions that "Eastern carpets are knotted very closely together with a short pile giving the possibility of complex designs and fine detail" having looked at some of the ones that we have bought here in Saudi, from Pakistan and Iran, I can only appreciate the workmanship that has gone into them even more. 

I kept the same warp for the next stage - this picture is of the woven sample once it was removed from the loom.
This was the edge that was close to the start of the beam - leaving little space to knot the warp threads.
I used blanket stitch to finish off the edge and then tied the warp threads together to secure them. I left a longer length of warp in the other samples to make it easier to tie them off.
Finished edge of the weaving

I also had to learn to repair a broken warp thread whilst weaving my sample - I used the instructions in my "Handicrafts book" to enable me to carry out this procedure.
I realised that at times the warp threads were too slack - this led to the warp threads becoming 'fuzzy'. Once they were tightened the shed opened more easily and the rest of the warp did not become fuzzy. 

I really feel I have started to learn "how to weave" - there is a long way to go before I am competent at it, but I have begun to see how the whole process works.