Ah, the blitheness of ignorance.
I started weaving up the black weft yesterday, and got 18″ into the weaving before stopping to think about the pattern and what I was doing. I had calculated the pattern previously, and (assuming it wove square) came up with a result I liked: repeating every 24″, 24″x 3= 72″, a nice length for a shawl. Even after realizing that it was sett a little too densely, and even after noticing that it was not beating even vaguely square, I didn’t really think about what that did to my nicely calculated length.
So, when I realized at 18″ that the pattern repeat, lengthwise, was actually going to be 34″, not 24″, I was more than a little perturbed. 34″ x 3 = 102″, which would be a nice shawl length for Kobe Bryant, but not for five-foot-tall me. Fortunately, 34 x 2 = 68″, which is pretty close to 72″, but since I typically weave my shawls to 78″ before shrinking I’m not sure whether 68″ will be a little short. I will have to tear off a piece of muslin tonight and try draping it, to see. (Fortunately there is virtually no lengthwise shrinkage in this warp, so I don’t need to worry about that. I will tear out the muslin to about 65″ to compensate.)
If I had measured my samples and considered my pattern a bit more carefully before I started weaving, or used a pattern with smaller repeats/no repeats, I wouldn’t be juggling this particular issue right now. On the other hand, I like the pattern, and I like large-scale patterns in shawls, because I find them more interesting. So I am now considering possible on-the-fly pattern changes, such as inserting a 10″ long center section between the two 34″ sections I’m already doing. Or I may just leave it at 68″ if my test-shawl in muslin turns out to be OK. (I am putting a 6″ fringe on the shawl, which will lengthen the appearance somewhat.)
So, and so. I’ll try to remember this the next time I weave something with a large scale pattern.
Meanwhile, I am reading through Sharon Alderman’s weaving section in Handwoven, Tailormade. Like Exploring Multishaft Design, it’s rather like drinking through a firehose. She lays out good design principles very clearly and concisely, but to assimilate and be able to use those design principles is the sort of thing that requires a lifetime of study. Or, going back and forth between the book and your design work for quite a few projects, until the methods that she outlines are second nature, which amounts to very nearly the same thing. I feel blessed to have these things laid out for me, though – it greatly reduces the amount of floundering and rediscovery that I would otherwise have to do.
For me, reading casually through a book on weaving is a very difficult thing. I am a mathematician by training, and one of the things I learned from studying mathematics was that principles are easy. Learning how the system laid out by the principles works, and being able to visualize the system, is very very difficult. You can define the (positive) integers using just five axioms, but people spend lifetimes studying how this (very simple) system behaves. So when I come across a new principle, I need to stop and think about it, integrate it into my mental “map” of how weaving behaves, before I can continue. Browsing through a book at rapid speed doesn’t help me, and gives me a very bad (metaphorical) headache as I struggle to integrate everything into my “map”. Consequently, I tend not to be able to read more than about ten pages of a time, unless it’s fairly light reading.
One of these days I will have to sit down and categorize the “variables” in weaving. I’m certain this has been done before, but it’s something I need to enumerate for myself so I understand just what factors are involved.
This is all so fascinating!