I started sampling for the butterfly shawl today, trying out two background wefts:
This is the “painted lady” butterfly, set on the diagonal.
I originally used a dark olive cashmere weft, thinking that the dullness of the color and the matte surface of the cashmere would set the butterflies off nicely. But it turned out to be too close in value to the black – you can see how it dulls down the color, too. So I tried a bright gold background weft, and that worked a little better, but I worry about how well it will work with a blue morpho butterfly, or a yellow tiger swallowtail – or a luna moth (pale green), for that matter. I am going to try a white background weft next – I think it will probably wash out the color, but I want to see it in action.
I have also completed a horizontally symmetric monarch butterfly:
I have yet to weave this one up – will do that as soon as I get the background settled.
I am leaning towards a somewhat light-colored background right now, because the outlines of most butterflies are medium to dark. Put against a black background, they will blur and disappear. A lighter background would provide more contrast and hence make them more visible.
What next? I need to test the background with a wide range of colors, so I will abandon the orange-and-black butterflies for now. Over the next week or so, I plan to plot out a blue morpho butterfly, a luna moth, and a yellow swallowtail butterfly – possibly also a cecropia moth. Between those four and the monarch butterfly, they cover most color combinations of butterflies – yellow, blue, green, tan, and orange. (Isn’t it interesting that there are very few red or purple butterflies?) So it is looking like it will be awhile before I can launch into the actual shawl.
Meanwhile, I have decided to “get serious” about keeping notes. I have a bunch of undocumented samples running around, and after much consideration I have decided that I will NEVER get around to keeping a physical notebook of samples, complete with the drafts, notes, etc. associated with each sample. It’s simply too much of a pain to collect, print, etc. all that information. It’s also inefficient. With some of my treadling repeats 2000 picks long, it will be functionally impossible to reproduce the sample from the printed draft, anyway.
So what to do? OneNote to the rescue!
Here is the electronic “notebook” I am keeping for my samples, using Microsoft OneNote (click for the full-sized version):
As you can see from the top tab, this is the Projects portion in my Weaving notebook, in the Butterflies section. This section contains two top-level pages and three subpages (see tabs at right). There’s a Concept page (not shown) that talks about what I am trying to achieve with this project, and it’s got a Samples subpage where I’m sticking all the photos of the samples. Then there’s a Butterflies page that lists all the species of butterfly I’m trying to weave up. It has subpages for each butterfly motif I’m weaving.
Pictured on the page is the “Monarch diagonal” subpage. You can see the original photo, and the screenshot of the mini version. More importantly, there are three files on the page: the draft, and the two Photoshop files used to create the drafts. (One is of the image, and the other is the image modified into a weavable liftplan.) These are the original files! OneNote lets you embed copies of files into your notebook, so they are preserved and instantly accessible from the notebook. So I have all the working files and all the information about this project neatly filed away in OneNote.
About the only thing OneNote will not do is handle physical samples. I plan to put photos into OneNote, and attach a tag to each sample that references the corresponding OneNote workbook section. I think that should cover things pretty nicely, and store the important data – the electronic bits – very neatly and accessibly.