Hi there - the first thing to show you in this post is one of the finished turned bronson scarves.
I am really pleased with this and will certainly make some more before too long. The Tencel is draping nicely and the colour is very summery.
This last weekend I attended a two day workshop led by Jan Shelley in her studio called The Weft in Pittenweem, a fishing village on the coast of Fife. Those of you who visit my blog regularly will know that I am a pretty structured person who happily weaves from some fairly prescriptive instructions. I often weave in self colours or neutral shades as I am 'colour challenged' ! I am also a bit of a perfectionist and like a very professional finish to the things I make. I am not naturally creative and have no artistic flair ! This workshop was to be all about colour and texture with an emphasis on the use of twill structures to create woven items. I knew from the start that this was going to take me out of my comfort zone but that it would be 'good for me' !!
There were only two other students on the course meaning that there was a lot of personal time with Jan, the tutor. From the introductions it was clear that I had probably the most weaving experience but the least artistic and creative ability ! We were introduced to our looms, and the first problem was that they were table looms. Now, I have never used a table loom and it took me a while to work out how the levers worked and that you could use more than one lever at a time !! Jan had warped the looms up and we were all set to start weaving some twill structures. My loom was set up for a goose-eye twill and I used the lever sequence for 2/2 twill. Here is a picture of one of the Harris table looms...................
My first learning point was about to happen !! Jan came to see how I was doing and immediately noticed several things. Firstly, I had the warp wound very tight and secondly and very significantly I had quite marked 'draw in'. Far more than on the sample she had already woven so it was very obvious. I was also beating the weft very firmly. Although the selvedges were looking good I could see that the edge threads were fraying. Where have you heard all this before !!
Jan watched while I wove a bit more and spotted that as I collect the shuttle as it comes out of the fabric I actually add some tension to it which neatens the selvedge but doesn't leave enough yarn to lie in the shed without drawing in the sides. A loom had been set up especially for me to work on with eight shafts and plain weave edges on shafts nine and ten to see if this would help my edge problems.
It was actually a sixteen shaft table loom and it had a frightening set of levers on both sides............
It was set up for an undulating twill with what I thought was quite a loose warp sett and very loose weaving ! That didn't last long ! Of course once I got going with my tight warp and firm beating the pattern had tightened up far too much. Once I had mastered the levers for the plain weave edge and then the levers for the weaving my brain was a bit frazzled but I did try to stop pulling the weft thread and beating more gently. Gradually it improved and the draw in reduced. I did like the plain weave idea for the selvedges and this could be used on my loom if I have spare shafts.
Well, that was enough learning for Saturday, I was exhausted but had a great insight to my weaving style and associated problems.
On Sunday, I didn't do any weaving. Jan was very kind and suggested that I was already very competent but that I might want to concentrate on colour and texture that day. Her studio was full of colour in the vast array of yarns on the shelves..........................
She started off by showing me a series of photographs on her computer. To start with they were photos from nature, interesting colours from her garden, sea side pictures and the like. This was to get me thinking about the colours I can see all around me and how to focus in on the various shades you can pick out from familiar scenes. Zooming in on plants or stones or trees can highlight amazing colour combinations. The next step was to look at pictures she had taken of things like drain covers, fences, railings and other strange objects ! She began to point out the twill patterns we can see all around us and how you can use these ideas to create designs. Now of course, I just thought the rusty railings needed to be painted ! The opportunity to look at colour and shapes and texture had completely passed me by ! So all of this was quite a revelation and when we went out to get sandwiches for lunch I found myself studying the gratings and fences !!
In the studio there was a set of enlarged, close up prints of things like fishing nets, tree bark, floats on fishing boats, stones, mosses etc. I was to choose one and then work out a suitable warp to represent the colours. That meant winding the colours on a long narrow piece of card to design the order for the colours. Of course I could only think of stripes and worked out a Fibonacci code sequence for my colours ! No Dorothy, this was much too structured, relax and just let the colours flow !!! That was really hard for me ! Next, how would I introduce texture ? From a pile of yarn samples I found some quite fine boucle and that seemed to be OK. Then I had to decide which twill would bring this design to life on the loom ! Should it be warp or weft faced ?
To further work on texture I had to look at Jan's display of scarves and work out what structures had been used.....................
Another tiring day for me ! However, I have learnt a lot and I will try to slow down a bit and do a bit of colour planning before I rush to wind the next warp ! I have since bought graph paper and coloured pencils to get me started !! When I am weaving my samples at the beginning I will try out different weft threads to try and improve my sense of textures and colours. Hopefully, I can loosen up a bit and learn to 'play' with things and become a little more creative.
So my thanks to Jan for a very interesting workshop which challenged me in a number of areas. The studio was very nice to work in, with the sun shining in the windows and the view out to the harbour with its fishing boats. Hopefully I can return for another workshop during her summer school in July and August.
Hope you have enjoyed sharing this with me, keep watching to see if I can improve !