HNC – Autumn Block – Day 8

 

Ready to Sley the Reed

Ready to Sley the Reed

Today finds the class back in the workshop for a final full day of weaving. I’m still rather behind in my progress towards dressing my loom, but I find myself setting about the process of completing this with a will (!) and some welcome help from Andrea and Graham. I start the day at the point where my warp ends are now through the heddles and ready to be sleyed through the reed. After some difficulty Andrea and I find an 6 dent reed, which means that two warps will have to fill each dent.

 

Holding 8 threads in the hand

Holding 8 threads in the hand

Sleying the reed requires the weaver to pick out and hold in one hand 4 ends (or in my case 4 pairs of ends). Each pair is then grabbed by the sleying hook and pulled through the appropriate dent in the reed. Once this is done for the whole warp the ends can be tied to the front beam. Now the weaving itself can begin. The process starts with a few weft picks (passes of a shuttle horizontally across the warp) of a header of thick yarns (I choose a colour far away from my own scheme). Then after a preliminary few picks of a very thin grass green woollen yarn I weave a pattern using the warp yarns. Having never woven on an 8 shaft loom it takes me a little while to get to grips with the draft plan provided on the example sheets of patterns.

Tied on with a header

Tied on with a header

I concentrate on plain weave, hopsack and some different arrangements of ribs and plain weave combinations. These names describe arrangements, combinations and sequences of shafts for each weft pick. The shafts pull the heddles up to make an shed under which the pick passes. These combinations can be something like this: here’s hopsack 12 56  I  12  56  I  34  78  I  34  78  I. The problem I encounter is keeping track of where I am in a sequence. The basic Hopsack is easy, but the more complex patterns can be helped by following a tick chart, which I pick up as a method from some of the more experienced weavers in the class.

Colours from the Collage

Colours from the Collage

Having got started with weaving the warp yarns in the weft I begin to examine the colour analysis I made from my collage and pick out some of the yarns I’ve collected in the workshop and bought at Texere. I concentrate first on building a progression from greens to yellows weaving an inch or so of colour with a different weaves to see how colour is affected by weave and vice versa. I also make sure I pin up my collage and colour analysis (plus one of my surviving ferns) on a strategically placed display board at the back of my loom.

 

My repair!

My repair!

Throughout the day our tutor Andrea gives demonstrations on her own loom. One of these is particularly valuable to me because it shows how to change a warp yarn in mid weave. Sometimes a warp thread can break, or in my case I discover I’ve ‘missed’ sleying one of a pair of warp yarns. I’ve read about this process, but never attempted it, so I’m very grateful to see it done in front of my eyes (and on my loom too). Clearly there are some very creative possibilities in this practice, but I imagine it will be a while before I dare try it.

 

A Valuable Demonstration

A Valuable Demonstration

By now most of the class are weaving some pretty impressive pieces, some experimenting like mad, which is one of the great opportunities this course offers. I find myself making reference to some of the woven pieces I’ve seen in the book about the work of Ethel Mairet I managed to read on my train journey last night and this morning. Such simplicity of weaving pattern offset by some very striking vegetable-dyed yarn. Nothing like this available for me here, either on the workshop shelves or at Texere. Dyeing is something I’ll have to wait until next year to explore. That said, I might be tempted to ask Jan Hicks. Jan is one of the  studio artists from Farfield Mill in Cumbria where I received my introduction to weaving back in April this year. 

My Chosen Yarns

Tomorrow will be the final day of the Autumn Block of 9 days at Bradford College. It will be a shortish day as many of the class will be traveling home, some traveling as far as Southern Ireland and Cornwall. We’ll stay for the morning in the workshop and hopefully get a few hours of weaving. To finish we’ll have a final round of information to take in about our first ‘organic’ project and the all-important course and project requirements. This is to make sure we can confidently present the outcome of our first assessed project when we meet in December for our first weekend ‘block’.

 

 

 

 

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