It’s quite small really, but certainly not perfectly formed. In fact my second rug is a bit of a disappointment. I thought I could do a lot better. I had made some promising samples and practised and practised this pick and pick (or as I discovered today sometimes called Warpway) technique of alternating wefts so that lines or columns are produced running in the direction of the warp. Although I felt I took a bit of a risk in not mirroring the colour sequence (I did mirror the weave pattern), I’m pleased with the effect and am tempted to make this a feature of my preliminary design attempts. The all too evident untidiness at the selvedges has got me thinking hard about the reasons for this – to the extent of wondering if my loom simply isn’t balanced properly – but more of that later. Here’s the rug as I’d like it viewed – in two halves.
The central pattern appears in both images – so you know. I showed this pattern in a close up in my last blog. Although it looks quite different from the other patterns it’s made from the same pick and pick technique only shifting the sequence of the pattern after every two picks.
During the week I was finishing weaving this small rug (48cm x 96cm) I came across a second (and later) book by Peter Collingwood. It’s called Rug Weaving Techniques: Beyonds the Basics. Published by Interweave it’s quite different from the rather formal, and slightly imperious Faber publication, what Collingwood calls ‘my bible’. It contains many of the same techniques and examples although presented quite differently. There are also some excellent colour plates of specially woven samples. You can find it in a PDF format at the University of Arizona on-line textile archive. Here’s a Collingwood pick and pick sample.
The Interweave Collingwood book has a very engaging Introductory essay by the author. In its first paragraph he says, ‘If there is one thing of which I am completely sure it is my designing ability is slight.’ I’m afraid I have to agree BUT the technical surprises and innovations that run through his work are more than a compensation – an inspiration in fact. I know music that’s like this – amazing technically, but the content leaves me cold, and I’m reluctant to revisit it. Conlon Nancarrow’s breathtaking pieces for player piano I would include as an example (I’m braced to lose a few friends making this observation as so many composers I know love Nancarrow). Here’s one of his studies (no.11) just to demonstrate what I mean. All that said Collingwood’s diagrams are brilliant. Here is one that shows the pick and pick and how the resulting columns can be shifted.
Back to my little effort. I’ve certainly got a problem in keeping the selvedge ends on the right hand side of my loom perpendicular. The photo I took (see last week’s blog) when I’d finished the header showed the warp looking exactly right, but it wasn’t long before I was having difficulty stopping the warp ends from moving in towards the main body of the weave. This resulted in some bad patches on the left hand selvedge. Here are some warts and all images.
Not very good . . . but it may be my saving grace. Instead of battling on and hoping my next effort will be able to correct what may simply be lack of concentration, it’s made me wonder about a) how I weave in the initial few inches from the header and b) if my loom is properly balanced. Lack of time and opportunity has made me pass over the latter, what I know to be a very important discipline when beginning a new project – making sure the loom is balanced. I know I have a slight difference in depth between the shed made with shafts 1 and 3 from that made with 2 and 4. I know I don’t completely or confidently understand how a countermarche loom works – well, if my critical friend asked me to explain the mechanism to her I’d probably come to grief. So my project for this week is to thoroughly understand the countermarche system. I’ve already been doing some web research and came across a most useful thread on Weavolution and an article by Madelyn Van Der Hooght. There’s also what looks like a must-have book by Joanne Hall called Tying up the Countermarche Loom. Nobody stocks it in the UK sadly so its Amazon.com and a long wait. But that’s probably what I need . . . so I’m forced to work it out myself.
On Thursday last I’d had enough of my studio (and a difficult new piece I’m writing for a Chinese guitarist) and skived off to Texere in Bradford with the excuse of researching warp yarns. It’s a quite a while since my last visit (at least 9 months) to this wonderful emporium of all things weavable, knittable and embroidable. The store has a great website but I felt I needed to feel these yarns between my fingers – and so I did. I came away with a few yarns I already possessed, but I did buy some much needed cotton . . . although I passed at the cotton I really wanted because of the expense – Finest Lancashire Cotton. Next time perhaps. I did acquire some linen yarn in a gun-metal grey that I thought would be perfect as a rag rug warp.
Finally, The Weave Shed. This is described as a Professional Weavers Website sponsored by the Worshipful Company of Weavers and Central St Martins. I visited it to look for rug weavers (only four could I find) and lo and behold there was Nigel Weaving (only one of three men listed). How I managed to get on that list goodness knows, but I’ll be writing to ask the administrator to remove my site address . . . I am definitely NOT a professional weaver, still very much a student. Maybe one day . . . in the meantime do take a look at these two sites of professional rug weavers. I found them inspirational – Katarina Lees and Ritta Sinkkonen Davies – from Sweden and Finland respectively, but living in the High Peak and Pembrokeshire (respectively).