Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Fire Snowflakes


My friend Lynnette is the weaving exchange coordinator for the Guild of Canadian Weavers and once again, the annual exchange is a go! This year I'm trying to be ahead of the game and get my warp on early. I know full well that 'stuff' happens over summer and things get delayed. One of my favourite patterns that has stood me in good stead over the years is a snowflake twill. The one I decided to use again is by Jane Evans and you can find it in Weavers magazine, issue #18 Third quarter 1992.

I wove five runners in this stunning pattern in 2003 as gifts for five guild friends who lost their homes in a terrible forest fire that ran into the neighbourshoods surround Kelowna, BC. They not only lost their homes but also their looms, stash...everything! Weavers from all over and even the USA sent them their surplus stash and equipment to get them back on their fibre feet again. I decided to help put handwovens back into their homes again by weaving a runner for each family for when they had a home and table once more. That was a terrible year for heat, tinder dry conditions and forest fires. We ourselves were on evacuation notice three times. Definitely one for the history books!

Anyhow, I digress...the exchange is quite simple. You are given the basic info: cost, planned project (plus size, pattern or other input) and then you have from March to the end of September to get it woven and sent in. This time it's weave a runner, get a runner. Size 14-16" wide by minimum 36" long. My warp is mercerised 2/16's cotton from Brassard's, sett at 30 epi and a 6 yard warp to do two runners and two smaller cloths, for a total of roughly 5 yards. The ends per inch is slightly more open than I would normally used for twills and 2/16's, but I know this sett works in this case. I have put this warp on my Louet Spring (Lilibet) and now have one runner done and the second started. Here's the warp being spread in the built in raddle:
Then here's a tidier looking warp being tightly wound on. The threading went well. This pattern and I are old friends. I swear I could recite it from memory in my sleep! No errors (nice) and then I had to get my weft ready. I decided to go with natural linen against the cream cotton for a softer look. It would also be more versatile for an exchange recipient, and the spares will make nice gifts, or even be used in our home. Now there's a good idea!

Linen can be quite wirey and spring off the bobbins or pirns. A trick I learned some time ago is to use dampened weft. There are rules though:
  • if you start with damp weft, do so for the entire piece or project.
  • allow to dry before being rolled up on the cloth beam (mildew is nasty)
  • keep bobbins in fridge if to be used within 48 hours, and freezer if longer.
  • extra bobbins can be stored, with a note to size of linen in the freezer after completion.
  • use a temple to minimize draw in and advance frequently.

I tightly wind the pirns with in this case 30/2 natural linen, and then take a clean facecloth and dampen it evenly. Wrap around the pirns and then place in a zip loc bag and leave in the fridge overnight. Take out only one bobbin at a time and rewrap the others. It's surprizing how fast it dries, especially this time of year. I'm going slowly as this is a treadle as threaded pattern so there are some interesting twill progressions to pay keen attention to. I also try to stop weaving at the end of a pirn and avoid starting a new one near the day's end. I don't want to leave it there over night, or cut off to store. Here's some shots of the work under way:


I tried to get the right colours here for you but its somewhere between the two. It's subtle...
Here's another showing my hemstitching and border for the second runner. I plan to twist the fringes to a shorter 2 or 2 1/2 inches so they are reversible. I had hoped to have this finished so Lynnette could take it home with her, but not so. It will have to be mailed later...


Next post will be the placemats which are coming along albeit slowly. It's also time to start winding the warp for the shawl commission too so I'll be doing this as time permits. It will be a busy week though as Lynnette and her hubby are coming to visit. Just a lot of yapping and catching up and the only weaving will be verbal.... but lots of it! Looks like we might be going back to Salt Spring Island but this time we'll visit Treenway... silk heaven!

11 comments:

barbara said...

What a beautiful pattern, whoever receives one of your table runners will be very lucky. Thank you for sharing. Treenway Silk - silk heaven is right. Talk about being a "kid in the candy store". Have fun.
Weaverly yours ....... Barbara

Laritza said...

Beautiful!
Treenway silk ! make sure and take lots of pictures of the loot :)

Sunrise Lodge Fiber Studio said...

I love these and thank you so much for sharing all of your tips on linen......I have yet to try linen:)

barbara said...

Hi Susan, I am not sure I have the Weavers Magazine, Issue # 18 (1992) Third Quarter - but suspect I can find it in a collection of magazines here on PEI, either in someone's private collection, the studio resources. Can you tell me how many harnesses it takes to do the Snowflake Twill? It is a beautiful pattern. Thanks and Happy Canada Day!!! Weaverly yours

Susan said...

This pattern takes 8 shafts and 8 treadles to weave. It looks like it will take much more doesn't it?

I'll post more pictures of the finished runners soon!

bspinner said...

What a beautiful runner!!! Great tips on working with linen.

Treenway Silk - Lucky you - Have fun

Dave Daniels said...

It's seeing you do things like this that made me decide to go from a 4 harness to 8 harness loom. I'll never accomplish the wonderful things I see you doing, but you inspire me to try!

barbara said...

Thanks Susan for the information on how many harnesses. I must go look for the magazine. Weaverly yours ...

skiingweaver said...

Gorgeous snowflake twill! And, oh my, I would absolutely love to visit Treeway someday, lucky you (and Salt Spring Island sounds like such an interesting place)... I drool over their samples on a regular basis, lol.

Leigh said...

Linen is still on my list to weave with. I'll come back and review your tips when the time comes!

Life Looms Large said...

That is a beautiful pattern! And I love the first picture in your post!

Thanks also for the great info on using linen as weft. I didn't know anything about that technique. It's been extremely humid here lately - outside at least - maybe that makes it a good time of year for linen weaving? I'd love to have a good use for humidity!!

Sue