Friday, 15 April 2016

Weavers’ Dilemma

Someone came to see me this week wearing a most interesting top – looked almost as though it had been made from an antique coverlet except that it was in black and white. Isn’t that the dilemma, whether to comment or just try to examine it from afar without touching?  Here's a genuine snowball and pinetree coverlet courtesy of US Archives

I couldn’t stop myself from commenting (and feeling it) and explaining where the design originated.  She was a knitter so understood my textile addiction.  It turned out that it was from a US based company and the fabric had been woven in India in a classic pine tree and snowball design.  The fabric was probably all cotton, and was a double weave, completely reversible, and used with the light side for some parts of the tunic and the darker side for the rest.  Great use of a very traditional design, but despite searching on the internet, unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find anything remotely like it. 

I’ve been busy working on some scarves for the Geelong Scarf Festival, completed entries have to be there by May 6, so there’s still 3 weeks to go.  My entries will have to stay under wraps for a bit longer however, not everything coming off the loom is for Geelong.  I wanted to try one of the drafts which give a fake snakeskin effect.  There are 2 drafts on, 45548 and 45548 Corrected where someone has decided that there are errors in the first draft.  I just thought the first one was meant to look a bit organic and decided to use it. 

It’s a great draft to weave because the small irregularities in the threading and treadling completely disguise any mistakes.  I know there are no major mistakes and while there may be a few minor skips, it would be almost impossible to find them.
I had a painted tencel warp, mostly dark gray with white bands that I’d dyed it a few years ago but my record keeping left a bit to be desired.  It said quite clearly that there were 240 ends – 10 inches by 24 ends per inch and that it was 6 metres long.  When I started to put it on the loom it fitted very nicely in the small raddle, the one with 10 nails and 9 spaces,

I wound it on and started to thread without thinking too much about it.  About two thirds of the way across I realised that I seemed to be short of ends, sure enough there were not 240 but only 216.  Having been taught to ‘weave in the centre of the loom’ I knew that I needed to re-thread or it would annoy me for the whole length of the warp.  Not only was the width out but after I had woven 3 scarves, each 2 meters long, there was still about a meter of warp left, enough for panels for a couple of bags or something else if inspiration strikes. Maybe the warp stretched but I don’t think so, just more bad record keeping.

I’m very happy with the results, they do look like snake skin and feel right too, not that I know what a snake feels like or have any intention of finding out.  They have been washed, pressed, rolled on the stone bench top and tumbled in the dryer without any heat.

The theme for the Geelong Scarf Festival this year is ‘Myths and Legends” and I felt sure that I could find a connection to a snake goddess somewhere – surely any self respecting culture would have a deity for a creature with a poisonous bite.  As I wove and the fabric started to look very snake like, all I could think of were Jeremy Lloyd’s poems for children from the 1980s and the villain ‘Hissing Sid’.  If you missed these at the time here’s the late Keith Michell with something to brighten your day 

and the reason why these scarves are now called ‘Hissing Sid 1 and 2’.  


1 comment:

  1. I love the old draft. I might try to weave that some day.