Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Rules of Engagement



from this....



to this - in about 40 minutes.....


Just beamed another of my 'scary' painted warps. These warps are made up of one strand of soy protein and one Tencel wound at the same time and painted. The soy protein shrinks significantly more than the Tencel and the warps get very beat up and tangled. They are about 10 yards or so long, 9 inches in the reed.

While I was beaming it I thought about the "you can't's" associated with weaving. One of the first ones I heard was "You can't use a brush on your warp."

Since I'd been successfully using a brush on my warps for about 2 years at that point I was a bit perplexed. Why can't I? It was working just fine for me.

So I thought about the yarns that were being used in the loom room, and realized that the fine singles linen and the softly spun woolens they were using would not react well to being brushed. I had already figured out using a brush on the brushed mohair used as an accent yarn for a couple warps wasn't a good idea because I realized very quickly that brushing just made the mohair more unruly. I also learned very quickly to not use a brush on a textured yarn that would allow the brush tines to catch and pull at those yarns.

But to not use a brush at all? I knew from experience that I could. And using a brush on these painted warps is essential if I'm to get them on the loom in any kind of efficient manner at all.

Yes, I could just finger comb them - but it would take hours, not minutes.

Other admonitions came to light as I continued to weave and meet weavers from different cultures/regional areas.

"You can't weave on an all black warp." Well, I did that for years, about 200 yards a month weaving fabric for a fashion designer. The secret there is to have sufficient light so that you can see what you are doing so I had lots of supplemental light in order to thread, sley and tie on. After that I found that I didn't need much more than the usual lamp I have on for every warp.

"You can't use textured yarns in the warp." Well, that depends on the yarn. If it has been spun so that the rubbing of the reed doesn't affect it, it's just fine. The only thing to watch for is that the lumpy parts go through the eye of the heddle. Even then, being careful when advancing the warp will allow the yarn to pass through.

"You can't use a singles as warp." Once again I'd been successfully using singles wool as warp, and certainly used singles linen for warp. If it passes the snap test, it should be okay as warp. Except for the linen - if you live in a very arid climate, using a singles linen might be a bit dicey. When I'm using linen for warp here, I always run a humidfier near the loom. If you wet the yarn, wet it for the whole length of the warp. A dry linen can tend to beat in differently than a moister one. I found that out by starting to weave a singles linen warp/weft on a rainy day, then tried to finish it on a dry day - the cloth beat in differently when the humidity changed dramatically.

"You can't get good selvedges without a floating selvedge." I never use a floating selvedge. I choose to not use weave structures where such a selvedge would be necessary. There are so many different weave structures that can be woven without a floating selvedge I'd rather choose one of those.

"You can't get a good selvedge without a temple." I use a temple when the weave structure calls for it. Using a floating selvedge and/or a temple slows down my weaving rhythm. If I don't need to use them I don't. (see above) However, if a temple is necessary, I will use one in order to get the results I require for that particular cloth.

One "you can't" that seems to be pretty much gone is "You can't use a fly-shuttle/auto-cloth advance/dobby/computer and call your weaving 'hand' woven". I don't think I need to comment on this. I'm just grateful that people are getting over this one.

"You can't weave an unbalanced (1:3) weave structure on a counter-balanced loom." If the loom has 'horses', you can weave any weave structure you want. If the loom has rollers, the shed isn't as large if you are pulling 1 shaft down while 3 go up, or vice-versa. But if you are willing to deal with the smaller shed, you can weave these on a roller counter-balanced loom, too.

I'm sure there are other "you can't's" that just don't spring to mind but those are the ones that I thought about today.

My list of absolute rules in weaving are four:

1. Never use a knot where a bow will do.

2. If you can't be perfect, be consistent.

3. A thread under tension is a thread under control.

4. It isn't finished until it's wet finished.

All else depends.

14 comments:

Sandra Rude said...

Hey, those are excellent rules! I agree with 'em all. Especially #2...

Laura said...

Great minds..... :D

Anonymous said...

Can you give more detail about how you brush your tangled, messy warps? Do you brush it all out before you beam it, or as you go?

Cathy said...

I think that weaving, like a lot of other ancient crafts, is full of "advice" like that. Someone once heard that someone said that something was true.... and people accept this as gospel, without trying it themselves.

Laura said...

I do the brushing in sections. I keep the lease sticks in front of the reed and slide them along the warp using them to help keep the threads in order as the warp rolls on. Then I stop and brush the next bit, sliding the lease sticks along.

Kerstin på Spinnhuset said...

Different cultures... when I learned to weave, brushing was a must - but: *only at the end*! ("the end" meaning the last meter or so)
Brushing was such a "must" that an experienced weaving teacher was complaining of the quality of the singles linen she used, 'cos the threads got fuzzy with the brushing, and she found that unacceptable...
This was in Sweden, BTW
Kerstin (who finds it odd that you keep the lease sticks in front of the reed until winding is done: *everybody* knows that they have to be behind it, as it it the reed that should act as the first separator of the threads. Everybody in Sweden, that is... ;-)

Cally said...

I think that's five rules!

5. All else depends

See? And number five is my favourite!

Alison said...

"You can't use a singles as warp." - I think that's one of my personal 'favourites'. Especially combined with "You can't put handspun in the warp". I guess the whole archaeological record must be wrong, then? ;)

Laura said...

I actually learned the Swedish way eons ago and adapted it to take advantage of the lease sticks to help hold things in place. I call my method 'modified Swedish'. :)

Oh yes - I'd forgotten about the handspun. I'm currently spinning on the Jenkins drop spindle seriously thinking of using it for warp since I've done that before, too. :D People handspun yarn for thousands of years and used it for weaving. Nowadays people forget that yarn was *only* handspun up until a couple hundred years ago...

DebbieB said...

This reminds me of when I taught myself to knit. My first project was a pair of socks. Later, I was told that knitting socks is HARD, and I should have started with a more simple project. Well, heck - should I un-knit the socks, then?

bibliotecaria said...

That's why the best response to any "rule" is WHY? If they can't give you a reason, then it is not a rule I feel compelled to follow.

Peg Cherre said...

Thanks, Laura. I hope you'll add a tag - like rules or something easily recognizable - so I can find this post in the future when I need it!

Laura said...

Hi Peg, I've added a rules/guidelines label. Hope that allows you to find the post if you need it.
Cheers,
Laura

Sharon A. said...

I avoid using floating selvedges, too. I had to use them when I wove the ribbons from which the medals for the Cultural Olympics hung, but otherwise, not on your life! Or more to the point, not on mine.

I like and agree with your rules,
too, but I'll be you knew I would....

At my very first weavers' guild meeting someone said very authoritatively "Weavers never use singles linen" and it was the first warp I put on my loom when it arrived, but feeling too shy I said nothing. At the second meeting someone else said "Weavers never weave plaids because they won't match at seams" and I had just given my father a plaid shirt I wove from 20/2 worsted. I had no trouble matching the plaid. I didn't say anything--same reason.

Now I tell folks that if they want to do something badly enough, they will figure out a way and think to myself that the naysayers need to get out of the way of the folks who are doing what they counsel against!