Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Time to Play!

All packed up and ready to go!
     One of the highlights of CNCH 2014 was the chance to take a marvelous 12-hour class with Robyn Spady. Robyn is a great teacher and her class, Exploring Weave Structures On a Single Warp, was an opportunity to do something I haven't taken the time to do in many years: play. I related getting ready for CNCH--registering for the class, warping the loom, etc.--in my last post, so I'll simply pick up the story from there.
     I was a little surprised when my loom, my big box of tools, bobbins, shuttles, and extra stuff, and I made our way down to the appointed "classroom." Fortunately, the conference committee set aside half of the upstairs ballroom for the class, and we needed nearly every bit of the space--there were 31 students, all with some type of multi-shaft loom! I've never seen so many different brands and types of workshop looms in one place at one time--table looms, floor looms, four shafts, eight shafts, name a brand or style, and it was probably represented in that class. Everyone had one of four different threadings, and we each wove at our own looms the entire class, so it was fun to occasionally walk around and see what other people were weaving.
Twill patterns (white)
and waffle weave (red)
     Robyn, equipped with a microphone and an LCD projector, took us through the different weaves in our handout materials: a well-written, well-illustrated 100+ page book. We started off with easy patterns based on huck lace, moved through waffle weave, and on to twills, before class ended Friday afternoon. I appreciated the simple patterns, as they're nearly second nature, and I had time to re-acquaint myself with weaving with a boat shuttle.
     Saturday morning found nearly everyone at their looms by 8:00 a.m., an hour before class was scheduled to start. Once Robyn arrived, we began with overshot designs ("Periwinkle"), learned about weaving on opposites, and spent a bit of time on weaving Monk's Belt before breaking for lunch. It was during this session that I discovered why so many workshop looms have trays attached to the breast beam--I had to keep juggling two boat shuttles, either on my lap or on the cloth, as I was weaving. Add one more thing to the shopping list for the Gilmore. After lunch, Robyn launched us into the more complex structures, with more complex tie-ups. Weaving Swivel took the rest of the afternoon--it's a beautiful weave, appropriate for fancy upholstery fabric (the back has long floats), but it required repegging all eight treadles. I spent 25 minutes lying on the floor under the loom, moving the pegs around, for five minutes of weaving.
We have achieved corduroy!
     Sunday morning came too quickly, and I jumped on as many designs as I could manage before our time ended at noon. I was desperate to try my hand at weaving corduroy, so I skipped a couple designs, set the tie-up for corduroy, grabbed a stick shuttle (for the pile weft), and dove in. Corduroy is a weft pile fabric (velvet is a warp pile fabric), with the height of the pile determined by the length of the weft floats. The floats don't pull out easily because in between each pair of pile weft shots, there's a tabby shot to "lock" them in. Robyn had a carton of hanks of embroidery floss in a rainbow of colors, so I selected two hanks of green that were close, but not identical , then wound them together on the stick shuttle. It was a little precarious--I was juggling both a large stick shuttle and a boat shuttle--but I wove 1.5 inches of the corduroy cloth, then took a quilter's chenille cutter and carefully sliced through the weft floats. A tiny bit of fluffing up, and voilá--I had created corduroy.
     After the corduroy triumph, I had time for one last sample--doublefaced cloth--before it was time to pack everything up and attend a guild meeting. I managed to finish 23 of the 28 samples for the class during the time alloted, and probably could have done them all had I been working with one of the four-shaft threadings. However, it was a great opportunity to play around with an eight-shaft point twill threading, and it reminded me of the importance of play time to keep the creative juices flowing.

The entire sampler.