I came into this technical block having no proper experience or extensive knowledge of the weave specialism. Because of this I was nervous that the technicalities of setting up the loom would overwhelm me but I found the opposite. I loved the structure and routine of the entire process.
Day one of the two week technical involved us, as a group, discussing what weave is / different types of yarn / little intro into the weaving process. We also talked about what to be doing as part of independent study including what to research and we each took it in turn to briefly describe our box and its contents. Weave can be quite difficult; in terms of taking an object and trying to accurately represent the colours and patterns which we are seeing in the object so it was good to have a chat about the boxes and the “interesting” elements of each box which we could focus on.
The first weave-based task involved threading the loom. Each loom was set up differently in either; point, straight or block draft. We had to follow the guidance sheet of our own loom to ensure it was threaded correctly. This required us to superstar each strand of yarn (making sure we take the correct strand) and feed it through the correct eye of each shaft. The pattern for my loom was 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 and this was to be repeated 16 times. Once this was complete we could feed the yarn through the reed – my particular pattern was 4 per dent. It was up to the other groups to tie up the yarns.
After this we were then able to have a go at weaving. The first day we simply just played around, getting to know the looms and how they work. We had pattern sheets and we could start experimenting with patterns and how they should be executed properly. The last day of week 1, I created my first sample using correct and relevant colours to my box. I was experimenting with pattern and texture as much as colour. I was trying to get the colour proportions correct but on reflection, this was one of my least favourite samples. Then colours were too muted, the proportions of colour were wrong and overall I felt it was “too green”. The colours were not accurate either.
The next week saw us working independently, we had a bit of guidance at the start of possible techniques (extra wefts) to try but for the most part we were left to get on with it. I decided that I wanted to really focus in on the colours I was seeing and try to represent those colours on the loom – as a yarn can look like it will work colour wise but once it’s under the warp threads, this can change is appearance quite drastically. On Monday, I decided, after the workshop to head off to Berwick Street to have a look at some of the fabric shops and gather some samples of woven fabrics. I also went to John Lewis to order larger, professional samples as part of my research.
On Tuesday we had a session with Lisa (one of the weave tutors) we came round each person to talk about their research and how this could be translated into woven fabrics. She advised me to start to introduce some different elements and to use a variety of looms even if the warp threads contrast with the colour theme of my box. She also demonstrated to me how one of my swatchbook drawings could be used to for proportion in a sample – I then used that drawing to experiment with turning a drawing into a weave.
As the week went on we continued to create samples. Combining easy and hard patterns. As well as getting my head round the numbers and the lifting charts (black blocks = lift the shaft).
We also had a chat about finishing techniques as the weaves were currently loom state but once they came off they would need to be finished. E.g washing, cutting down threads, dying etc…. I decided that the best and defeat idea was to put a line of PVA glue on the back at the top and bottom of the sample, let dry, then cut off excess threads. This not only gave a neat edge but also stopped it from fraying. If the warp threads had been thicker I also would have liked to tie the yarns and create some fringing but in this case I decided the PVA would give the best finished look.
The last day saw the weaves coming off the loom in long strips which we then had to cut apart – being careful not to cut into someone’s design. This was a little stressful as everyone was frantically trying to find their own sample and cut it off, however I find this understandable as everyone wants to cut their own sample and we got there in the end!
Strengths and weaknesses:
I feel my strengths for this technical block was that I was able to pick up the technical side if weaving quite quickly. I was able to thread the loom with no issues and I also was able to interpret the patterns effectively. I used the block paper to draw out a pattern to fully understand it and I used number grids to help with the lifting patterns. I found that after doing a pattern for a while the umber stuck in my head and I was able to weave without the paper in front on me. On the other hand, I feel that my weakness in this was attempting more complex patterns. I found that depending on the type of draft of the loom this changed the way the patterns looked and I don’t think I did enough experimenting with this. I could have tried out many more patterns, introducing extra wefts and experimenting with colour and texture. I also think that I could have done more in depth research into the subject area.
In terms of presenting, I chose A3 boards as I wanted the samples to have space but I think they ended up feeling a little cluttered. I tried to put relevant material with each sample e.g drawings, photos of objects, winding etc… To suggest the link between objects and final samples. I do like the outcome of the boards but I feel some of the weaker (and earlier) samples do bring down the overall feel of the boards.