Musings about Pickup in the large …

The inkle pickup band I completed a while back and described in the two entries part 1 and part 2 (now with more patterns!) got me thinking about weave structures.  In inkle pickup, the warp threads are manipulated so that some warp threads (the pattern threads) either float above or below the band to create the patterns.  On an inkle band this can be done by hand; you’re usually working with less than a dozen pattern threads so while the picking of individual threads is tedious, it’s not insurmountable.

But that got me wondering how similar manipulations would work on wider fabrics.  After all, making clothes (or even pillows and bags) out of bands that are usually an inch or two wide is tedious.   And then I ran into a fascinating book A Practical Study of the Development of Weaving Techniques in China, Western Asia and Europe by John Becker, published posthumously after his collaborator Don Wagner tidied and reset it a little.  The book starts in China with essentially the same kinds of pickup patterns I had been doing, with monochrome silk weaving that had patterns based on the way the warp was manipulated.  I’ve been fascinated with the opportunities ever since.

That, in turn, led to reading the later chapters that discuss the drawloom.  In the drawloom, each pattern warp thread is threaded through it’s own separate “heald” which can be used to pull the thread up and down.  Usually the pattern would repeat across the width of the fabric, and each repeat would be called a “comber”.  Each heald is goes through the comber board (which has one hole per heald) but then the healds will be joined to pulley threads.  There are as many pulley threads as there are pattern threads in a singe width repeat of the pattern, and the relative heald in each comber (or repeat) is hooked on to the corresponding pulley thread, so that as the pulley thread is pulled up, the corresponding thread in each repeat is raised.

So let’s look at the implications of that.  Let’s say that we wanted to weave a fabric 21 inches wide, using a set of 20 epi (ends to the inch).  That’s 21×20 = 420 warp threads, ignoring for the moment selvage threads etc.  Now let’s say that our pattern was 28 ends wide per repeat.  The on the one hand, each pulley thread is attached to 15 healds (since 420/28 = 15) but on the other hand for every row I only have to manipulate 28 pulley threads.  In comparison for the baltic inkle pickup, I was manipulating 8 or 9 threads per row, so this is a three fold increase in numbers of cords to manipulate, for a 21 fold increase in width.  Sounds like an excellent improvement in efficiency.

Of course there are trade-offs; the warping will be a lot slower, as the set up for the pulleys will be a lot more complicated.  But the pulleys can be set up once, for that pattern width, and then reused.  The warp does need to be threaded through each heald individually but weaving on a 4 harness loom we’re threading the warp strings through heddles, so the time increase is not insurmountable there, either.  And if we warp long lengths at a time, we can improve efficiency.  After all, with the drawloom we can create any 28 thread pattern we like.

And the biggest tradeoff; finding a drawloom.  Inkle looms are easy to find or build, and inkle heddles can be knotted up while watching telly.  A drawloom gets more complicated.  Although I did find a book with drawloom plans, available online at The New Drawloom, (part 2) hosted by the University of Arizona ((Front Page).

So now my options are to find a drawloom for sale, or convince my long-suffering hubby to build me one.  Or possibly to frankenstein it on top of one of the looms I already own.

Kingdom A&S 2016 – A “How To Paper”

I didn’t compete for champion in this year’s Kingdom Arts and Sciences championship in Gleann Abhann, which happened this past weekend, but I did enter a somewhat tongue-in-cheek “How To” paper, in which my husband and I discussed the process of choosing an item to enter for competition.

The assumption in this case was that we would choose the item first, and then make it; quite often I am tempted, once I have made an object, to enter the said object in a judged Arts and Sciences competition afterwards, which means that I need to “reverse document” what I did. In all honesty, choosing an item to make first is much easier; this way you have an opportunity to take in-progress pictures, and to adjust your project based on the criteria and guidelines of the competition.

So this is the paper my husband and I wrote:  How to Choose and Entry

Instructions for a simple 3/1 broken twill pattern without a graph

Diamond in 3/1 broken twill3/1 broken twill is a type of tablet weaving that produces a very pronounced diagonal structure in the weave.  This weave is particularly suitable for designs that are very diagonal, and in this case a friend requested a yellow belt with hollow green diamonds.  In this article I am going to write how I set up the cards and arranged the turning sequences so that the weaving speed was maximized.

To maximize weaving speed, you need to arrange the cards so that they can be turned as a group, and are manipulated as little as possible.  Here, the only manipulation of cards will occur when we flip a card around its vertical axis.

 

Basic Set up

The pattern area consists of 32 cards, each threaded with two dark (green), and  two (yellow) threads.  For the first 16 cards (counting from the left) we thread the cards as below, where the woven area extends to the left, and the warp to the right, and repeating the cycle of four cards four times (since 4×4=16).

Setting up the Cards

Note that cards 1 and 3 “mirror each other” in that they have the threads going through the same holes, and similarly cards 2 and 4 mirror one another.

For the second set of 16 cards we mirror the first 16 from the centre out, so that card 17 is threaded like 2, card 18 like 1, card 19 like 4 and card 20 like 3, and then keep repeating.

Lastly we divide the cards into two packs we call “Odd and “Even”.  The “Odd cards” include all the odd numbered cards from 1 – 15, and all the even numbered cards from 18 – 32.  The “Even cards” include all the even numbered cards from 2 – 16 and all the odd numbered cards from 17 – 31.  Note that all the “Odd” cards should have the light in the front two holes, and all the “Even” cards should have the light in the top two holes.

Basic Setup (short version):

The cards are all threaded 2 dark, 2 light.  Threading alternates in pairs (i.e. SSZZ).  Separate the cards out into two packs:

  • The Odds include the odd numbered cards between 1 and 16 and the even numbered cards between 17 and 32.
  • The Evens include the even numbered cards between 1 and 16 and the odd numbered cards between 17 and 32.

Checking the Setup

If the cards were threaded correctly, all the Odds should all have the light in the front two holes (Top and bottom), the Evens should have all the light threads in the top two holes, and in each of the two packs the threading should now alternate between S and Z.

This position is called the home position. The Odds are in Vertical Front and the Evens are in Horizontal position.

Turning directions

When you first start turning, you want to use the following turning directions.  This should produce a structural background consisting of diagonals meeting at a point in the center.

Pick Oddish Pack Even Pack
1 Forward Forward
2 Forward Back
3 Back Back
4 Back Forward

To reverse the direction of the chevrons, your options are to either flip all the cards in the Even pack when the cards are in the home position or to switch over to the alternate turning sequence, where the Oddish Pack still moves exactly as before, but the Even pack changes directions, resulting in:

Pick Oddish Pack Even Pack
1 Forward Back
2 Forward Forward
3 Back Forward
4 Back Back

It is important that you flip the cards, or change the turning direction, when the Even pack is in the Horizontal position.  Other wise, they all suddenly switch to the foreground colour, which is known as an oops.

Adding the Pattern

After weaving the background for a while, it’s time to start adding the pattern.  Colour changes happen by flipping a card on its vertical axis when it is in Vertical position.  Hence if the light (yellow) thread was in the two holes closest to you, they would now be in the two holes furthest away after the flip.  Also, the threading direction is reversed.

The diamond pattern is very basic.  The first change is made after pick 3: the two center cards – both in the Evenish decl – are flipped.  Then the next turn is made.  (If the points do not make a V, undo the turn, unflip the cards, and weave picks 4 and 1.)

On the next pick, the Oddish cards are in vertical position: flip the middle 2 cards.  They will be the cards just to the outside of the central cards in the Evenish deck.  Weave the next pick.

On the next pick the Evenish cards are in vertical position.  Flip the cards outside the 2 previously flipped cards, and unflip the previously flipped cards.  Weave the next pick.

Keep repeating the flipping of the next outwards cards (and unflipping the current cards) until you reach the width you want.  I’m going to assume that you kept expanding the diamond until the Evenish cards are in horizontal position and you are about to weave pick 1.  Instead of flipping cards, switch from one set of turning directions to the other.

After this first pick, again flip cards as you did before, but instead of flipping the next card to the outside, flip the next card to the inside.  (You’re walking the diamond back to a point.)  And keep going till all the cards are unflipped again.

If you decide not to unflip cards as you go along you will get a solid coloured diamond instead.

Quick Post – The Fitted Dress – Links

This is a very quick entry, mostly to keep track of some links, centering around a common problem (and one I suffer from): when working with “large tracts of land”, support can be a definite issue.  In my case, I haven’t yet been comfortable enough to let go of the modern support.  But I keep thinking about it.  Once I acquire enough energy to sew, and or a personal seamstress – or someone willing to barter lots of handwoven trim for garb that is personally fitted – I will be able to act on these links.  I hope.

The Compleatly Dressed Anachronist talks about her experiences wearing tightly fitted clothes at Pennsic, and what did and didn’t work.  She links back to an article How to make a supportive smock for your medieval outfit written by a lady in Finland, who includes a hand out she has written and hosted at How to make a supportive smock – Lady, have pity on the breast! (pdf on Google Drive, opens in a new tab).

This design differs from the Lengberg dress and similar designs in that the chemise – while visible tight – is still loose enough that it can be slipped on over the head before adjusting the tracts of land into the space allotted for them.

What might complicate matters is that two years ago I discovered I get panic attacks if clothes are too tight, but I suspect that the amount of tightness needed to provide some support will slip under that level of tightness, as long as there is enough of a shelf, for lack of a better word, for things to rest on.

Danskbrogd – a Norwegian Textile technique

The Norwegian Textile Letter is a free online quarterly publication that covers – as the name suggests – a wide variety of Scandinavian textile arts.  Both the current issue and previous issues dating back to 1994 are available online as pdfs, and they make for fascinating reading.

The current issue is part one of a two-parter (part two publishes on Aug 22nd) that covers the Danskbrogd technique for weaving coverlets.  This technique is defined both by its originating location (Vest Agder, Norway) and by the geometric patterns that are woven in widthwise.  Danskbrogd, A Rich Heritage from a Small Area is the first article in part one, and includes a good overview including some lovely exemplars.  The last picture they include is of a modern design featuring honeycomb and bees.

I have some warp in a warp chain.  I need to get it on a loom and play with it.

 

The Art of Yami Yamauchi

When I posted briefly about Yama Yamauchi’s fireworks model, which is a flexible origami model that looks much like fireworks do, I neglected to include the link to the folding pattern.  Yama Yamauchi in fact has a whole set of web pages with patterns, that can be reached from Yami’s Corner.

 

But that sends you down the rabbit hole to find other flexagons, such as the tutorial at Flexagon Instructions.

And there goes my work day …

Lucet; the art of using a single string to make … a thicker string?

A lucet is used to make a kind of cord; usually lucets have two prongs, and a hole in the body that the cord is pulled through. It’s almost a flattened knitting nelly with only two prongs. The simple lucet technique, then, has the thread going around the prongs in turn, and each time – just as with the knitting nelly – the previous loop is pulled over the top loop. A lot of time is usually spent maneauvering the bottom loop over the top loop and sometimes a crochet hook or similar is used to maneuver the string around. Suffice it to say that the resulting technique is not fast.

Two lucet cords in progressAnd then yesterday I found a video online – Fastgrab Lucet method – which promised a much faster lucetting experience.  The general idea is that you don’t actually place the top loop around the lucet; instead, you hold the lucet in your left hand and the string in your right, much as if you were knitting, and use use your forefinger to scoop up the loop and pull it over the prong, and then turn the lucet clockwise to tighten things; this step is repeated until Court is over, the soccer game ends, you run out of chord, and the kitten eats your bobbin.  The important step here is to make sure that the string from the bobbin or cone is in front of the prong, and that you scooped up the loop from beneath. Shades of finger loop braiding in the movement.  As you maneuver the loop over the prong, you simultaneously tighten the loop in the center between the two prongs, thus “knitting” one more step.

To be honest, the video linked above shows it better than I can describe it.

20/2 vs 602 silk lucet cord

But as you can see in the picture above, because you’re now working with loops in the center of the lucet, where maneuvering is easier (if not always easy) it is possible to use thinner and thinner threads. The white thread is 20/2 silk, and as that was my first experiment, the cording is a little uneven, but that’s well over half a yard, and about 40 minutes work. The red silk is 60/2 silk and while I do have to pay attention to what I’m doing, I’m finding that the cord works up fairly rapidly.  For scale, that lucet is 4 inches long and maybe an eighth of an inch thick. This is the thickness of silk I usually use when I’m working on blackwork, or when I’m feeling masochistic and need a tabletweaving project with tiny threads.  Admittedly, I’ve gone thinner (120/2) but in both all three of those cases I please momentary insanity that only lasted two years per project.

Playing with Baltic Pickup style inkle weaving (Part 2)

Baltic Pickup GamesSo I spent some time this weekend playing with the Baltic inkle pickup warp.  The rules of the game were simple: two repeats of the simple diamond with the 4 interior diamonds, alternating with a diamond with some other free-styled pattern.

By keeping the edging pattern between the diamonds and the outer diamond’s dimensions consistent, the band feels cohesive, even though every third diamond is something else.  Below are 16 possible variations I came up with, while enjoying a Columbo marathon.

Variations on a ThemeOh, and just one more thing … there are 25 places where the warp thread can be pushed down, or not, inside the diamond.  That means that there are 2^25= 33554432 possible combinations, but I’m guessing that many of them lack pleasing symmetries.

 

Back of the envelop suggests that requiring symmetry along one diagonal reduces the possibilities to about 2^10+2^5=1024+32=1056 (the places below the diagonal line plus the diagonal line), but then the diagonal line can itself be flipped …  But the “S” figures are flipped around a vertical or horizontal line; so there are 4 possible axis of symmetry, so 4*1056= 4224 possible combinations that are symmetric.

In short, back of the envelop suggests that I’m going to run out of warp before I run out of possibilities.

Playing with Baltic Pickup style inkle weaving

Threading diagramBaltic pickup style inkle is woven using background threads and pickup threads; the pickup threads are usually either thicker, or doubled up.  In the threading diagram, you can see how each pickup thread is place between two threads in the opposite heddle; the white boxes representing the pickup threads.  In the diagram one row represents the heddled threads and the other the open threads, and the rows aren’t labeled since it actually doesn’t matter which is which in this case, so why complicate things?

 

The patterns here use 17 background threads; the 5 leftmost and rightmost threads are woven over a green background, while the middle 7 pick up threads lie nestled between dark blue background threads.  The plan is to eventually experiment with the Kostrup patterns, since those are 17 cards wide also, but I needed simple patterns to weave while out and about Monday.

The current patterns are simple diamonds, and by weaving them upside down I only ever have to drop threads from the current row, rather than having to pick up.  In the pattern (Baltic Diamonds) squares with circles in them are the pickup threads that are high in each row.  If a pickup thread is high but has a grey background, then it gets dropped, resulting in the front patterns we see on the left below.

Small Diamonds (back side)Small Diamonds (front side)This is what the pattern with the small diamonds looks like; the predominantly green/blue side is what you see while weaving, the white side is the underside which is much harder to photograph while on the loom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Large Diamonds (back side)Large Diamonds (front side)Here I was working with larger diamonds, and experimenting a little with alternate patterns like the diamond in a diamond and the inner cross.  Making the outside diamond a little smaller results in a 2×2 grid of the smaller diamonds, or a 3×3 grid of the larger, and then it’s just a matter of dropping a few extra threads here and there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final update on the Kostrup weaving

Sunday was the moment the weaving came off the loom. Total woven length is 1.36m.  And the wool used in the brocading is the same weight as the wool used in the weaving, except that the brocade uses doubled threads.  For the weft I used 60/2 silk, and in a next product I might go thinner still.

Kostrup weaving fresh off the loom

As you can see from this first picture, I handled the colour changes by cutting the brocading thread at the end of each colour.  Each woolen brocade thread passed through one weft after it’s done brocading; given the stickiness of this wool, that should be more than enough to anchor it in place. In some cases, like the small triangles, you use two colours at the same time; even beating extra hard I struggled to get both brocading wefts to lie in the weft without a smidge of gappage.  In a next attempt, I think it might be better for those areas if the brocading weft does not go the width of the band, but instead goes only part way.

 

On the other hand, once the band relaxed off the loom, the occasional gaps between successive lines of brocading improved already.
Kostrup weaving with threads trimmedTrimming the ends of the brocading threads carefully,  you can see that the brocading threads are visible on the back only where it moves from pick to pick; I dropped the brocading threads two cards from the edge (or halfways through the 4 card selvage), so that there wouldn’t be any colourful bumps on the very end.

Next step is to take it to the post office tomorrow and mail it off, and then I want to experiment with some pattern variations.