I spent a couple hours this morning working on the design for the qiviut shawl. It’s complicated.
Basically what I want is a black rectangle (the center layer), with a white rectangle outlining the qiviut/silk pattern. Sort of like this:
The black will be the center layer, the white and brown the top and bottom layers. The white selvages will float freely, but the brown portions will be unobtrusively stitched together.
The brown section will be qiviut-dominant, to show off the yarn, and will be in a complex geometric pattern, perhaps an advancing twill pattern. The white section will be plain weave.
I was racking my brains trying to figure out how to get the all-white sections when using a brown weft, and finally realized I could do it by making the brown section a tied weave, and threading up the white sections on two shafts that only interlace with the tabby weft. It’s complicated and difficult, but I think it’s worth a go!
Here is an excerpt from my Evernote notebook that outlines how I plan to go about this:
- Come up with an advancing twill draft on 7 shafts. (Odd and even shafts need to alternate so allow conversion to double two-tie threading in step 2.) Tie-up can allow long floats since it will be tied down later.
- Convert it to a double two-tie unit threading by interleaving the ties in the threading and adding tabby shots to treadling. 9 shafts are now being used.
- Add two shafts of plain weave for the borders on either side, and work out the correct tie-up/treadling so that the supplementary weft does not interlace with the plain weave borders. 11 shafts now being used; draft for top and bottom layers is complete.
- Once the top layer draft is done, create the triple weave on a not-quite-parallel threading draft by interleaving three drafts: (1) the double two tie draft, (2) a simple two shaft plain weave using the tie-ups shown above, and (2) the double two-tie draft with the tie-up reversed (so the “right side” shows on both layers). Interleave threading and treadling. (This method won’t work for interchanging layers, since there aren’t an equal number of shafts per layer, but it does work for three more-or-less independent layers.)
- Add stitchers to hold the three layers together. The best stitching might be done by taking a thread from layer 1 and interchanging with layer 3, but need to weave it up to know. Check with Robyn spady’s monograph (if I have it) to make sure I have the stitching right.
- Check design to whatever degree possible by looking at the draft.
- Thread it up and weave a sample.
- Note that three warps are required, two white silk and one black silk. Since the qiviut is 7000 ypp, it makes sense to have all three warps be 60/2 silk. Hang one warp off the back of the loom, the other on a trapeze. Two sets of spacers to make sure the warps don’t interfere with each other. Do I need a second raddle?
- Also, five shuttles are required (two each for the tied weave layers and one for the middle layer). Fortunately I have five shuttles!
As I said in my notebook, sounds complex and difficult, but ultimately rewarding!
There are a couple things that worry me about this design:
- slippage on the sandpaper beam as it is winding on. Ruth mentioned that the sandpaper beam is needed for this kind of weaving because the layers wind unevenly onto the cloth beam, but I don’t know how well three layers (especially with free-floating selvages) will work on the sandpaper beam.
- different number of picks per inch for the various weaves, especially tied weave vs. plain weave. Yes, I know tied weave ppi is supposed to be nearly the same as for plain weave, but I don’t know if that’s actually the case in practice.
- Sett. I don’t know if the sett for a triple weave is going to be too dense to fit gracefully through the reed!
And of course I’d have to experiment to determine the right sett, and so on, but that doesn’t scare me: I can work that out along the way.
This is fascinating but mentally exhausting: I’m glad I’m on vacation! I’m not sure I would have the focus to puzzle this all out if I didn’t have so much empty time to fill.