It’s been a looooong time since I wove anything on Grace. Four and a half years, I think, since Bipolar Prison came off the loom. After that I rethreaded, wove some samples for a project that never came to fruition, and then gave up. And poor Grace just sat there for several years, because I was starting a business and didn’t have the time or the emotional energy to face rethreading AGAIN.
Then Ricki appeared, like manna in the wilderness, asking if anyone had a TC-2 and was willing to teach them how to design for and weave on a TC-2 in exchange for studio assistance. Hot dog! A deal was struck and we were both in business. Ricki threaded up Grace, working over the course of many months. Then we slowly worked our way through a number of mechanical issues, culminating in my shipping module #8 off to Norway for inspection and repair. (Each module controls one set of 220 threads. Grace has 12 modules, Maryam has 4.) The wonderful folks at Tronrud Engineering got it fixed and winging its way back to me in just one day (how’s that for service???). It should arrive on Friday.
Meanwhile, however, I have four extra modules – on Maryam. It turns out that modules are interchangeable between the two looms, so while Grace’s module #8 was off for repair, I simply swapped in one of Maryam’s modules, and everything is working fine! So I have been spending small snippets of time here and there fixing broken threads, crossed threads, and mis-sleyings. I’m not 100% done, but I’m pretty close.
This is what Grace is weaving now:
This is nothing particularly exciting, but it’s not meant to be. It’s a 2/2 twill, double weave, in 20/2 cotton, black warp, white weft. Its sole purpose is to be so regular and boring that any irregularity, like a missing thread or a thread that isn’t lifting correctly, will be glaringly obvious. I’m doing double weave because the cloth is sett at 90 ends per inch, and if I tried doing a single layer twill the cloth would be too dense to make out individual threads. So I’m weaving and inspecting one layer at 45 ends per inch, and then I’m bringing the bottom layer to the top, and weaving/inspecting it. This allows me to inspect all the threads, just in two batches rather than all at once.
With the exception of about eight threads, this whole debugging process is now complete, so Grace is ready to go. Dave and I are still figuring out velvet equipment, so I’ll probably start with some non-velvet pieces, just so I have something to show at conferences this year. I have some ideas for new work that I will talk about in upcoming blog posts.
And Maryam? We have gotten her talking to the laptop but not to her modules (yet). In anticipation of getting her working, I’ve dyed the first warp for her. I’m putting it on in 10/2 cotton, at 60 ends (threads) per inch. That is double the usual thread density for the fabric I’m planning to weave, but it’s okay – I’m planning to weave two layers of fabric at once, one on top of the other, so it works out perfectly.
Why am I doing that?
Because I’m a masochist, duh. (You didn’t know that yet?)
No, really. It’s because I want to monkey around with things like stripes of color in the warp, and with some structures that require alternating colors in the warp (shadow weave, double weave). If I were weaving with a single layer of warp on a conventional loom, the only way to do that would be to put on a new warp for every sample I wanted to weave, or at least unthread, rethread, and hang off the back of the loom every thread I wanted to change. Pain in the butt.
If, however, I have TWO layers of warp, one in color A and one in Color B, and my mighty loom controls each thread individually, I can just tell the loom, “Okay, put this stripe pattern of Color A in the top layer, and make the rest of the top-layer threads Color B. Put everything else in the bottom layer.” BOOM! Done.
And then, if I want to change to a different stripe pattern, I can just tell the loom what new stripe pattern to use, putting the colors I want on the top layer and dumping all the colors I don’t want into the bottom layer. On the fly. According to my all-powerful whim. Look on my works, Ye Mighty, and Despair!
(Why yes, I am easily entertained. And no, I don’t get out much. Why do you ask?)
Here’s the warp:
It’s mostly in very boring solid colors, but that’s because I plan to do extensive sampling in different weave structures, stripes, and weft colors. All of which I can do, thanks to Maryam’s incredible powers, more or less instantly. Weavers will understand just how miraculous that is!! She really is a magical loom.
All of this, sadly, is going to have to wait some time. My stepfather, George Birnbaum, has unexpectedly passed away, and I’m flying to the East Coast for his memorial service this weekend. I miss him, and I wish I’d gotten a chance to say goodbye.