I went up to see Lillian this morning, and she was tremendously helpful. She confirmed that I had the draft from yesterday’s post set up correctly, and showed me how she works things out using graph paper and pencil before transferring the results to weaving software. First she colors in a sketch, then she sets up liftplans for each weft she plans to use (up to SIX!), and transfers the appropriate sections of the design to each weft’s section. Then she simply takes each line and transfers each weft shot in turn into the weaving software, along with the tie-downs.
This is actually a pretty laborious process – Lillian enjoys it, and it works well for her, but I find Photoshop to be faster and more intuitive, so I will probably go on using Photoshop. The question I am struggling is: what do I want to weave?
Towards this, I asked Lillian where she gets her ideas. “From all over!” she said. She showed me some of her patterns and explained where she got the idea behind each – it turns out, of course, that it’s simply a matter of keeping your eyes open, and learning to spot patterns that would make good woven designs.
Which is great, but which doesn’t help me right this very moment, since I have not yet developed the requisite “eye”. I think I may make a pattern of Japanese family crests, just because they’re handy, free, and non-copyrighted, and weave them up in a series of stripes while I consider other designs that might work. They will make a great “test pattern” to get up to speed on weaving taquete, determining proper sett, color mixing, etc.
So that is relatively simple. More complicated is the question: what colors do you want to weave them in? I have wound six 25-gram skeins of a tencel/silk mix that’s slightly thicker than the warp. So I can dye six colors. I already know I will be using the 60/2 silk for the black background weft. But what colors for the others? I am thinking fuchsia, bright purple, royal blue, red, green, and gold. Tomorrow I’ll have to decide for sure, and will break out the fiber-reactive dyes to dye the tencel/silk.
Lillian showed me dozens of her samples, and quite a few of her finished garments (exquisite!). She did warn me that taquete is not the most durable of weaves, because of the lack of tabby, and to be very careful about using it in a garment that gets a lot of wear. Nonetheless I do plan to weave some yardage in taquete, as a gift for a friend. (She is a very experienced seamstress and familiar with delicate fabrics, so I’m not too worried.)
Lillian also suggested that I try rayon machine embroidery thread for weft, especially if I wasn’t certain what colors I wanted. Lots of available colors, so easy to purchase a couple of spools and test them out. Later on, I can try to reproduce the color using my own dyes (that is, after all, what this dye study group is about!). But since I don’t have any stocks of colors yet, this idea is a godsend. I will dye my 25 g skeins, since I already have them soaking, but if I feel I need more colors, off to the fabric store I will go!
On my way home, I stopped by the American Craft Council show in San Francisco. This turned out to be both a colossal mistake and a great idea. I love this show – it always has gorgeous stuff, and frequently thought-provoking stuff as well – but the traffic getting there was horrendous! It took me over two and a half hours to make what should have been a one-hour drive (at most) from Lillian’s place, and traffic was just as bad trying to get through San Francisco on my way home. But the show itself was glorious, and I loved it. If you are in the San Francisco area this weekend, it’s not to be missed. It’s at Fort Mason in San Francisco.
I also got to see some friends who were exhibiting there, and that was great fun as well.
Unfortunately, while I did manage to finish reading the latest issue of Handwoven during the THREE HOURS I sat in stopped traffic, not much else got done, meaning I’m behind on my plans for the weekend. My intent, at least for the next day, is to focus on dyeing: getting the samples complete for my dye study group, and dyeing the first set of weft yarns for the taquete project. That means doing four batches of acid dye and one batch of fiber-reactive dye in one day. (The word you are looking for is “ambitious”. Also, probably, “nuts”.) In between dyebaths, I plan to do some rethreading of the loom, but probably won’t finish that until later this week.