Saturday, June 15, 2013

Dancing to a Different Tune

For most loom owners, in particular jack loom owners, the tie up is relatively straight forward. Now if you own a countermarche loom, you can immediately double the number of tie up cords. The loom needs to have cords to both the shafts that sink and to the shafts that rise as the action of a countermarche loom evenly pulls the warp threads apart, both up and down, to create the shed. The benefits? well, usually the shed is generously large and it seems to me that you can achieve a more balanced weave due to the even tension when the shed is opened. This style of loom is easier on joints as pulleys make for a smooth action.


Above and below: countermarche loom showing tie up cords. These are not the normal cords for a CM but part of the 20+ tie up assist. You only use the ones you need but the loom is set for any and all possibilities!



Jack looms apply upward pull on some threads and the weight of the shafts lightly dip the warp threads on the bottom of the shed. Your leg provides most of the muscle to lift the shafts.

 Counterbalance looms (CB) are sinking shed looms and work best in pairs or more balanced tie ups. Weave structures such as 1/3 or 3/1 twills can only be achieved by adding a shed regulator such as the model Leclerc  makes for their  counterbalance looms.

Here's a link that will take you through the three types of looms, how they work and the pros and cons of them.

But let's get back to countermarche (CM) looms, and my Louet Spring 90 in particular!  Here she is brand new and not even her first warp on yet.



I love this little loom. It has all the pattern power that my big Woolhouse CM has but a much smaller footprint. It's an ideal loom  for weavers who have space problems or just don't want a large castle loom.  I have a 20+ tie up assist on my Woolhouse but with my front hinged treadles on the Spring, this isn't possible. The usual method for me is to lift the loom up, one end at a time (as its quite light), and set her down on sturdy plastic crates. I then sit on a low stool to work my tie up cords.

As many of you know I have some joint issues and so bending forward can aggravate the lumbar area of my back. I take my time setting the treadles cords up, taking a break and stretch, sometimes do something else entirely, then come back and do another couple more treadle tie-ups. I seem to use anything from eight treadles to twelve. If a full twelve is in play, that's 144 ties!

 In the past year or so I have been working a couple of projects off of one draft and tie up. Leaving the tie up in place and weaving a couple of different projects on the same style threading. I usually change the warp yarns and weft but use similar treadlings. I always try to find a new way to treadle and play with it a bit but I always end up becoming bored by the end of the second warp.

So with the current project on the Spring there is a twelve shaft / twelve treadle  tie up and it looks like this: *Be sure to click on any image to enlarge okay?*


As you can see this tie up when treadled in a straight run produces a nice twill line. The longest float is three ends whether warp or weft.  I got thinking this over and decided to play around with my weaving program and  plug in this tie up and then see what happens when I enter different threadings.   I can recall some weavers when I was a newbie telling me they had the same tie up for years. They couldn't all be weaving the same thing all that time (or could they??)

I had some interesting finds!  The "old tie up" shown above does change some things about various drafts, but its actually an improvement in some cases, as you'll see from the examples below. 

Now, some weavers, usually newbies,   like to follow 'recipes' and are comfortable with this. Then some weavers eventually look at a recipe draft and think to themselves " what would this look like if... or how can I change this bit..." and start playing around with the draft.  They go beyond changing colours and setts. Fortunately computer weaving programs now make this so much easier to do over the old pen and paper varieties of only a few years ago. There are a number of them now and many are listed in the back pages of your Handwoven magazine. Weavers can eventually progress from recipes to working up all new designs as they become more familiar with the weave structures and their 'rules of engagement' and their own personal confidence level increases.  Oh, there will be mistakes and some dubious choices, but those are how you learn. I still make them all the time :)

So if you already have a weaving program, or download a free demo, then you can try this yourself ! (Maybe this post will encourage you to consider purchasing one.)   I personally use Fiberworks PCW Silver Plus.  The 'plus' includes loom drivers for the Megado loom, so most new to intermediate weavers would only need the Silver version.  Let's take a look at what happened with some of the drafts when I combined them with what I like to call "the old tie up".

First I looked through my collection of drafts and found this:


This Gebrochene and Hind und Under and its a complex twelve shaft pattern. It would make a stunning table cloth if traditional linens were used. I made two projects using the same tie up.


...table runners in mercerized cottons


and tencel scarves.

So what happens when you change the tie up but keep the threading? You get this:


It still keeps the basic pattern but is now actually more defined. I like it!

Okay, so how about this draft:


This is an M's and W's design...another twelve shaft design, given the old tie up I want to use.  So I replaced the tie up with the existing one on the Louet Spring and it now looks like this:


I think this version is nicer than the original and I think you can expect to see this on the loom in the near future!  I couldn't find my twelve shaft snowflake twill but more or less know the theading by heart and so I made this draft up:


Again, this has the requisite tie up and I think it looks rather neat.  The stars will weave up quite large so I'll have to think about what the project will be. Runner? Shawl?

Are you starting to see the fun that can be had playing with the program?  It helps create new possibilities and with the confidence boost, you'll even start creating your own. 

Note that these drafts are all "woven as drawn in". There are even more variations possible if you change the treadling and play around with that portion of the draft!

Let me show you one more. This is a variation on a point twill and its treadled as its threaded. This draft has the tie up I want to use again.  


I call this one network diamonds as it looks something like that to me.  As you can see, the threading isn't overly complicated, the tie up is straight forward and yet the pattern is very interesting.

You can play with the program and add in border treatments like so....


What did I do to the draft? well I added another repeat to balance the pattern. That took one click, then some deleting to remove a portion of the repeat. Then I added squares on the right hand side so I could add three straight runs of one to twelve. I added the same to the left.  Click save. Then under 'weft' in the menu I clicked 'treadle as drawn in'....there is three straight runs at the bottom but there was no room  to include them unless I made the draft even smaller and then you wouldn't be able to see the details. So now the draft is balanced and has borders.   Need it wider? add another repeat or two...  We haven't even  on touched colours yet!

Some of you who like to use recipe drafts?  well here's how to start to modify them. I found a pretty draft in Complex Weavers Greatest Hits book called "1836" and once again I replaced the tie up. I appreciate this is a small image but you get the over all idea of the pattern. 


These are some of the designs that will appear in coming weeks and months, and maybe more, as I play with this idea some more! Like I said earlier, this doesn't include changing the treadling and playing around with that aspect.

Now, in a similar vein to the current topic.... there's new book out!


I belong to some weaving related groups on FaceBook. One is 4 shaft weaving and the second is 8 shaft weaving. One contributor is weaver Margaret Coe.  Margaret has been working on a book  called "4-8...Weave" (you can find more information on it here)  It was just released this past week and I have my copy in my hands.

I must be honest and say it only arrived yesterday so I haven't had time to go through it page by page as yet. What sold me on this book was Margaret's description of what she was trying to accomplish by writing it.  Basically, when you purchase a weaving program, and that's any of them, they provide you with a manual or help files that tell you how to utilize the program functions. How to navigate around and pull down screens etc. 

They don't tell you how to use it to be creative and actually make designs!

Margaret takes a weaving program, and in this case Fiberworks PCW Silver, and uses the computer program functions to show you how to use them to design and get the most from the program. She emphasizes that these techniques can be used with any of the programs out there on the market, many of which have free demos to try out.  It focuses on four shaft and 8 shaft drafts but these can easily be expanded to twelve, sixteen etc.  There are tutorials on snowflake twill, polychrome, interleaved, block substitutions- crackle, and more.  There are colour  pictures and very clear diagrams and screen views. I opened at any page and snapped a picture ( and I hope Margaret doesn't mind!) I plan to review it again once I've had time to work with it.


I was happy it arrived in time for this post on 'dancing to a new tune'. If this sort of design work interests you, or you want to learn to use your weaving program to its full potential, or maybe simply change up recipe drafts and personalize them then hopefully my post will encourage you!


On a personal note:
I saw my surgeon about my left knee and the short answer is, he wants me to wait some more. So I go back again in September and we'll take it from there. Apparently this knee replacement is a tough one to recover from as where the surgical scar is, is where you need to bend! There is much more pain after then with a hip replacement.   I reminded him that I'm a weaver and I'm not stopping weaving.  So, I'll continue to weave on, albeit more slowly. If anyone reading this is a weaver and has a knee replacement, I'd like to talk with you. My email is in my profile.

With my old legs slowing down, apparently my grandson Ethan is starting to use his and is now walking and most likely running!   Neat circle of life huh?



6 comments:

bspinner said...

I've been told knee replacement is a lot more painful and needs more time for recovery. I think I'll keep my sore ones for a while. I only wish I could do more for my ankles and feet. Oh, well I guess we just keep going.

Your weaving is beautiful!

Linda said...

What a cutie pie! He sure is growing quickly! Love your post, Susan! These drafts are beautiful. I appreciate the twill databank of the ProWeave program that allows you to change either threading, tie-up or treadling. The possibilities are endless and each one inspires the possibility of combining and / or rearranging from there. It truly is amazing what these weaving programs can offer.

I look forward to seeing these drafts appear on your looms.

Helga Jossen said...

A great blog-post! Thank you!
I immediatly ordered Margaret's book...

Dawn said...

Susan, what a well-organized explanation! Very inspiring! As I have PCW too, the book looks really useful. I am a computer user who loves clear instructions (not what you always get with new software).

barbara said...

Hi Susan - Ethan is just too cute, and getting to look like such a "little man" these days!!! I am surprised your orthopedic surgeon gave you such a lecture on the knee replacement recovery. I had knee replacement surgery two years ago last Friday - Originally, I had ligaments or cartridge taken out and the way they use to do it 20+ years ago was remove the ligaments or cartridge and left a big space. Arthritis started to fill in the space and I ended up with bone on bone. My surgeon wanted to wait until I was older 65+. Anyway, I went to see him about a year before the surgery and he said "it was time", so I got on the list to have the replacement surgery done. It was no piece of cake recovering, and I do have a high tolerance to pain .... I did everything and more the surgeon and physiotherapy (private) people said to do! I did nothing but concentrate on recovery for about six weeks and within 8 weeks I was good to go. They also replaced my knee cap - why, I did not ask and was unaware they were going to do that. I have not looked back since, my surgeon was very proud of my recovery and said "I wish you would tell every patient I operate on just what you did to recover". He was so pleased!!!! I was so pleased. If you ever want to talk more about it, I am willing to share. You need a good surgeon, physiotherapist, the determination to do the work, and a good "back up crew", so you can spend 6-8 weeks on your recuperation. Weaverly yours ... Barbara

P.S. I walked in the 2012 CIBC Run for the Cure in very early October 3 months after surgery (not the full 5 kms, but twice as far as I had been able to go other years. I probably could have done the five kms, but decided not to chance it.


Thistle Rose Weaving said...

Ethan's tie shirt is awesome!