When I last talked about this years #1year1outfit project, I left you with an image of a large bag of alpaca and a plethora of processing options.    A large parcel arrived on my doorstep a couple of weeks ago and my project had taken a giant step forward.  Meet Rosalea, in yarn form.

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Hazel from the Fiber of the Gods spun Rosalea for me into a 5ply yarn with extra twist.  The biggest constraint was to add weight to each of my two colours up to over a kilo  so as to not waste too much during processing.  So we agreed that Rosalea would need to be paired with a Fiber of the Gods alpaca.  Given the mixing, I was pleasantly surprised at how strongly the indigo held its own, and if it is possible, I think I love the colour even more.

My plan is to weave this wonderful West Australian yarn, so I have been throwing myself recklessly into up-skilling on the weaving front.  I am taking an intensive course in hand weaving on an 8 shaft loom taught by the talented Ilka White at the Handweavers and Spinners Guild of Victoria.  The course covers a different kind of weaving structure each week, which really does become quite intense when you consider how long it takes me to just set up the loom ..

Here is a little sample of what has come off my loom so far.

8 shaft course

Twills, which have diagonal pattern elements.  This sample had a hot pink warp (the vertical threads) and two different threading patterns.  I  was learning how to get different effects with two weft threads, the first weaving the pattern (red/oranges) and the second (pink and green) either doing plain weave (up one, down one)  or doing the opposite of the pattern.  Can you pick which sections use which technique?

8 shaft course

Brocades, which again two weft threads, the first that weaves plain weave and the second uses a thicker weft thread to make patterns that are non structural. The underside often has long floats.  My top brocade was one for the kids, Wall-E.
imageDamask, which is most effective in a reflective thread, uses light to highlight the texture of the weave.  This weave used a mercerised cotton from the guilds stash.  This weave taught me the definition of satin (seeing more warp) and sateen (seeing more weft).  Damask basically uses changes in satin or sateen to create patterns. imageCommercially, damask weave is done on Jacquard looms which expands the capacity to create patterns substantially.  We can approximate this somewhat by using a technique called pick-up, where you literally pick up individual threads to create a more complex pattern than the 8 shafts can give you.  Time consuming, but when you can create giant lightning bolts….

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This technique is called summer and winter, as it’s strength is playing on the contrast between light and dark threads.  This side of the cloth is my winter, the other is the opposite in colouring and is my summer.   This was my first ever multi-coloured warp, which was pretty cool in itself.  This technique allows you to design in blocks meaning that you can create larger patterns.

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We then got all fancy and added a second warp to create double cloth.   My brain just about exploded at this point and my lacking of warping experience made this weave particular tricky for me.  Double cloth literally has two sides and, unsurprisingly, takes twice as long to weave.  This technique has quite a lot of cool design opportunities for pockets, pleating and creating large graphic patterns. And of course, for being doubly warm.

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Here is a huck lace practice which is mostly set up in the threading design.  Designing within these blocks is quite easy, and I am quite keen to explore this technique more. It’s lace, but cool.  I like it.

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This last one is called colour and weave and it uses equal amounts of two colours in even blocks to create patterns.  Both the warp and weft alternate evenly.  I was quite keen on the herringbone type designs but there are quite a few different ways to manipulate this seemingly simple set up.

To complete the course, I need to make a final project using techniques from class.  And my project is going to use my alpaca, so right now I am planning and designing up options before I trial a little sample to see whether the ideas in my head work on cloth!

I have also had the pleasure of meeting Rachel and touching a whole heap of Melbourne Fibershed textiles!  We are planning, planning, planning….  How’s everyone else’s planning and making going?  Please leave a link in the comments so we can all catch up on your latest posts too!

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