Monday, November 27, 2023

Following the Lines


I love twills.  I love big, fancy twills.  Once I had a dobby, I loved working with such twills, of which there are many.

Twill weaves generally have 'lines' - but not always.  There are broken twills, advancing twills, combinations are nearly endless.

The 'easiest' twills are those based on a straight or point progression.  But, once you understand how the line can be interrupted, reflected, repeated, mirrored, well, big rabbit warren.

Advancing twills are fun because you get all the benefits of twill but they are relatively simple to thread.  They tend to go in directions that are predictable, and they can get really quite large.

One of the stepping stones to understanding this was the progression of the draft known in NA as Swedish Snowflake.

From when David Xenakis took the draft from Margaret Atwater and re-aligned it so that the twill lines were made more visible, I jumped off that to expanding the twill lines after reading through Zilinski's information on advancing progressions (or as he called them 'step' twills).

As I played around with the progression, I wondered how it would look expanded to 12 and 16 shafts.  The problem with expanding to 16 shafts is that the motif became so large it was too big for the intended purpose I wanted to use it for.  So then I had to make choices about how to expand it and still keep the essence of the motif.  And of course, adding or subtracting interlacements via changes in the tie-up will also change the look of the motif.

Rooting around to find this draft to share with another weaver, I realized that the recent explorations I've been doing can be almost directly connected to the explorations I did back in the day when I played around with the Swedish Snowflake draft - expanding to 12 and 16 shafts, condensing to 4.  

I used this draft with silk warp and a wool/cashmere blend with the colours very close in hue/value.  the motif was a 'ghost' - it was there, but it wasn't the dominant feature of the cloth.  But one warp of it was 'enough' and I moved on.

And now I'm back, once again playing with advancing twill, but this time I'm advancing the entire 4 thread twill 'block', once again pushing, pulling and tweaking the twill 'line'.

I've got the next draft ready.  I've gone back to something very simple after playing with curves and different sized elements in the design.  Sometimes bigger designs can start to be a bit 'fussy', although the colours I've been using are very similar in hue and value so that 'busyness' of such designs becomes less obvious.

Sometimes a designer just does something because they want to know what happens, when.  Then, when they find out what happens, they decide to move onto something else.

So it is in this case.  

We are into winter now, even though there isn't much snow - yet.  I have a tea towel I purchased while at Vav in 2017, woven from a fine linen, in damask.  The design is woven on a white warp with a coloured weft - in my case I chose the black weft - and the 'stark' black lines delineating the trees against the white background inspired this.  The trees in my neighbourhood have all lost their leaves and the branches crisscross each other and on grey days, they are very much like the lines in the design here - bare branches, rubbing against each other, all set against a stark sky.

While I love the big fancy twills, sometimes something simple is just thing.  The warp will be the last of the very dark blue combo and the weft will be white.

In the meantime I am mulling over the designs for the new colour - a combination of blue and green of the same value.  Which should do interesting things depending on the colour(s) used for weft.  I'm thinking of 'water' - how it flows, ripples, moves...


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