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The view from my loom has changed a little

…. as the August winds have arrived punctually in the Lowveld and it is too dusty and windy to weave on the patio right now! Having said that, it doesn’t mean that I have been idle – in fact far from it!

The Rep weave is off the eight shaft table loom, and I have to admit to be ridiculously pleased with the result. It really wasn’t my favourite project, which is quite strange because I was really looking forward to it during the planning stages. I think the fact, that I had to change my intentions in terms of material and colour, so radically to begin with put me off somewhat, and then the thickness of the yarn I used turned it into a heavy weave, which matched my mood for most of the time that I was working on it.

The cloth roller was so full, by the time I finished up, that I don’t think I could have managed very many more cm’s, even if I’d wanted to, and when I look at the very substantial roll of weaving sitting on my table, I am a bit startled by the density of what I managed to produce!

Because the weave structure is so heavily textured, the take-up was enormous, and I squeaked to the end of the 4m warp with four placemats of approx 40cm each and one piece slightly longer than the rest, which was my experiment standard. There were 2.5cm of hem for each side of each mat, but even so, the take-up was huge.

Seen from a distance, it is easy to see the patterns, but it was quite difficult to get an idea of the whole while they were still on the loom. Having said that, seen from a distance I can also see quite a few glaring flaws, but since these were meant as an exploration I don’t really have a problem with that – if they had been a really special project, or a piece for an order I would be quite devastated though.

The bottom line really, is that sometimes one needs to just sit and experiment and learn as one goes. Somehow weaving is like that. We would all love our projects to all turn into masterpieces, but just as there are no omelettes without smashing eggs, sometimes we need to be less than happy with our efforts in order to reap the full benefits of the lesson.

Rep Weave, or Ripsmatta, is a technique that I will certainly revisit in the not too distant future, for, much as a struggled with this weave on so many levels, it has embedded myself in a part of my psyche which, like a terrier with a mouse, simply won’t leave it alone, and keeps on going back for another look.

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Where to next?

Four and eight shafts = endless possibilities.[/caption] I suddenly find myself in the situation where I have two empty looms sitting looking at me with that ‘ You are neglecting me’ look. In the course of the past week, I have completed the two warps that were on my 80cm eight shaft, and my 40cm four shaft  Ashford table looms. One warp was a  serious exploration of the effect of sett on the finished product, and the other was a bit of a flight of fantasy, and the culmination of some fairly in-depth explorations into the much taken for granted, weaver’s fall back – Twill. Weaving is such a vast field, and there are so many techniques and structures to explore that it is a little like being afloat in a vast sea of possibility. I personally have a tendency to lurch from one project to the next, under the often misguided inspiration of something I have seen on Pinterest,  read about in a weaving related publication, or, quite frankly just dreamed up in my own muddle-headed way. There is so much information ‘ out there’ and so many people doing so many different things, that unless I have some point of focus, I tend not to do very much at all. And yes, I am a bit of a ditherer when it comes to making decisions about what to do next. The whole Twill thing happened in a bit of a random fashion. A friend asked me to make her a wrap some months ago which was absolutely plain – same colour warp and weft and no embellishments whatsoever. Very boring prospect I thought, until I started working on the project, and realized how valuable an opportunity it was to take myself right back to basics, and to concentrate on the quality of the weaving, rather than challenging myself with complicated techniques and trying to be smart by thinking out of the box and doing things that nobody else was doing. [caption id="attachment_696" align="alignleft" width="300"] Who said you can’t weave twill on a rigid heddle loom?[/caption] Logically, it seemed to me that the next step must be to go back to Twill basics – only to discover that there is not much that is basic about Twill. Endlessly versatile, I think that this could quite easily become a life study. Bearing in mind of course that on four shafts there are twelve twill treadling possibilities. That doesn’t sound like much until you start to mix and match and manipulate these treadling possibilities and change the threading and turn the draft, and all this before colour has even become a consideration. At some point in my meandering through the myriad of literature that there is available on this, most beloved and versatile of weave structures, I stumbled upon a document entitled “A Twill For All Seasons” by Paul R. O Connor. Well it would have to be a man that went this far……. ! He worked out that on a straight threading over eight harnesses, using only one of the possible tie-ups for an eight shaft twill, there are 40, 320 treadling possibilities!!!! Then he set about eliminating any possible duplicates and came up with 320 possible treadling variations – so, still pretty impressive, but much easier to come to terms with. I have to admit, that this first paragraph of the introduction really made me sit up and think. Sadly the rest of the document ( yes you can find it for yourself  – Google has a lot to answer for), is as dry as a bone. Also, it seems that his calculations were based on balanced twills. In other words, for four shafts he only explored the possibilities of 2/2 twills and neglected the 1/3 and 3/1 variations – although by this stage I was holding my eyes open with matchsticks, so it could well be that I wasn’t reading quite ‘on the diagonal’ so to speak. [caption id="attachment_727" align="alignright" width="300"] Four shafts, two directions, many colours.[/caption] My own twill explorations, were not not so thorough, but I have (and still am) enjoying myself, and some of the results have been interesting and fascinating and have motivated me to get out of my comfort zone and experiment a little more, bend the so-called rules, and just generally have fun. There is nothing in the rules that says that a good old fashioned twill can’t be turned upside-down, or inside out, or round about for that matter. It is indeed a veritable breeding ground for weaving ideas and technical exploration. In fact, I see many, many more twills -straight , fancy, braided, inverted, undulated, blended, shaded – and now I have run out of adjectives – in my weaving future, and I can’t wait to begin the next lot of samples! Important to add of course, that these examples are all on straight threadings – think of the possibilities when the threadings are altered – a whole different way of looking at life in the Twill lane! [caption id="attachment_729" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Twill stripes with tabby separations. Woven on six shafts[/caption]              ]]>