Saturday, November 25, 2006

Constructing with Woven Bands Part 1

I've been constructing some of my bags the last few days and thought some of you might like to see how I do this. A lot of beginning weavers get an inkle loom, weave a couple bands on it and go on to a larger, more complex loom, but they miss the creative potential of a simple loom.

This is my Gilmore inkle loom which I use the most and it is not a conventional inkle loom. It has front and back beams for the warp but works as the traditional inkle loom, for the most part. Amigo, my Maine Coon cat could not be kept out of the photo nor would he face the camera. The way I assemble my bands can be used for any bands such as cardweaving.

These are the bands that I'll be working with. Actually I had to weave a fourth one since I didn't have enough to bind the top and for handles which will probably be shown in the next chapter of this. These bands are mostly wool and primarily handspun, firmly twisted 2 ply but I have included perle cottons and some other odds and ends for interest.

I am also incorporating this tapestry for the front of the bag.

This is the completed front of the bag. First I sewed bands on the sides of the tapestry. I usually don't use a regular right sides together seam but rather overlap one band over another, and in this case, I overlapped the band over the tapestry. I always add 4-6 threads on the sides of my band warp so that there is some room to overlap and sew on. It is a good idea to hand baste the bands together first and then sew them since they seem to move around easily when there is just a little overlapping and the hand basting actually saves time from ripping out. This is a lesson I've learned the hard way! I've machine sewed and hand sewed them and now use the machine. The stitching sinks into the band so it is hardly noticeable so I don't see a benefit to hand sewing but either one works well.

Here is the back of the bag and I arranged 2 different bands and sewed them together. Take some time trying out different ways to arrange the bands because by changing them around, the whole appearance changes and once they are sewn together, they look like a single cloth. Now this rectangle is the same size as the front rectangle.

Hopefully you can see in this close up that there is a band with moss green edges that I've sewn on top of the edges of the other band. By choosing which one goes on top is another way to change the design they make as the bands go together and to emphasize a color.

To attach the gusset of the bag, I do use a very narrow seam that is right sides together and here you see the gusset attached to the front of the bag. Just repeat this to attach the back panel.

Here the bag has been turned right side out and pressed using a damp press cloth. A good pressing really makes all the parts come together and look finished. In the next few days, I should take photos and show the next few steps for this one and a couple other bags that I'm assembling this week. They have to be done by Friday since I have a show in the Flying C restaurant which is over the Food Co-op located in Bozeman MT. It will be hanging all the month of December so if any of you are in the area, you can see these in person there as well as some of my tapestries. The opening reception is on Dec 7 from 5-7pm. If you come then, you can meet me too.


Monday, November 13, 2006

Wintry Night Blanket

The past week, I've been working on a doublewoven blanket. I wish I had thought about documenting the whole process that I weave these but didn't have that idea until the warp was already on the loom. Next time I'll get the whole process with photos. The warp is several yarns about 800 yds/pound. It is hard to see from the photos but there is a deep green, 2 navy blue shades, a little red, several grays and a brighter blue. The weft is alternating light gray and a deep navy tweed. I wanted a color and weave pattern and arranged bands in the warp using a Fibonacci series of 2, 3, 5, 8 and 13" stripes which I could readjust slightly so it fit evenly on an 80" warp width. My loom is 40" wide so I can get a maximum of 80" doublewoven. For this weight of yarn, I sett it at 6 epi so double is 12 epi. It seems thin as it is woven at 6 ppi but it fulls up wonderfully and makes a light but warm and cozy throw. You can see in the photo that I have my fold on the left and the selvages on the right. I don't use any additional yarns to hold the fold like some weavers do. With a little care while weaving and the loose sett, I've never had any trouble getting invisible folds.

I like to set up a mirror so that I can see the sheds as they open and make sure that none of the lower warp threads are sticking somewhere they don't belong. When I do this, I have had no problems with skipped warps or weaving layers together or any of the other nightmares associated with doubleweaving. I'm just using a small mirror on a music stand so that I can adjust the angle and see the open sheds without bending down and peering through. It makes the weaving go a lot faster.

The reed is sleyed double in a 6 dent reed with a thread from each layer in each dent. My loom is 4H so I need 2 harness for each layer. I use harness 2 and 4 for the top layer and 1 and 3 for the bottom and then just use a straight threading of 1,2,3,4 for the heddles. The treadles are tied up 1, 123, 134 and 3 so that with the open edge on the right and using an alternating weft color, the treadling is 4321, 3412.

Here is a photo of the blanket off the loom. The fringe is tied but not trimmed and it hasn't been washed yet. The colors don't seem to blend well and the whole blanket is stiff and loosely woven. Not very nice at all.

After fulling in the washer with warm water and a natural citrus detergent for about 10 minutes and then rinsing, it is a whole different blanket...thick and cuddly. Perfect for the coming cold and snowy nights!

Hugs to Cory and the gang at UEN!