Playing with shapes

I’m working steadily, if slowly, through Bonnie Inouye’s wonderful book Exploring Multishaft Design. The chapter that has given me the most trouble is the one on designing in the liftplan. This takes advantage of the extended range of things you can do when you aren’t limited by a set number of treadles. Computer driven and table looms excel here. But as I tried to translate the shapes that interested me or create curves, I found I had problems…

First, on 16 shafts anything with any detail will smear into blobs in turned twill, which is the main structure used in the chapter. I think with loads of shafts you begin to be able to do amazing things, but 16 is enough for me to manage and most of the things I tried disappeared on just 16 shafts. And second, as Bonnie says, drawing an attractive curve that meets up and can repeat is far more difficult than you would expect. I made lots of little designs, boxes and circles, but they weren’t exciting. I tried lots of curves, but most weren’t very attractive. I did finally get a decent curve, but I haven’t gone any further with it yet. Then I tried the odd art deco-like shape I described a couple of posts ago, and loved it. I’ve discussed this too much to go into it again here (if you are interested and haven’t read about it, check back to the last few posts). It’s finished!

There are lots of issues with the design that I hope only I can see, but I love it. The colours are interesting and the design shows really well. And I love the handle of it. It is fine and light enough to be really comfortable to wear. I’m really pleased with the yarn and looking forward to exploring lots more ideas with 16/2 cotton.

And I’m still trying to design with symbols or images. I have a couple of ideas sketched in lace, but more on those when they progress to the loom. Next on the loom (hopefully this week) are some symbols I found somewhere and tried to use in turned twill. These symbols just have too many fiddly lines – the images disappeared. I didn’t even bother to save the files in turned twill. Here they are in an unweavable sketch (there is no structure in the drawing to actually weave):

I now had the idea of a point twill, effectively expanding the size I could work with, but as these weren’t symmetric, I couldn’t use a point for most of them. Then it occurred to me that I could turn to my old friend, Summer & Winter. This time I took the easy route out – block substitution, and my software can do great things with this for me. I’ve worked with this structure a lot in the past and know that what is called Dukagang fashion makes very straight lines and clear shapes. So here it is:

I’m ready to put it on the loom with loads of sampling space. I know the effect I want to get, but don’t know how the colours will work, whether I want one colour for the background or a ‘plaid’ with all the warp colours or other colours on hand. I don’t know if I’ll be able to sneak in some pieces with just one weft. I know I want to do a large piece with some inlay wefts in bright contrasting colours, and some simple mats. I want to weave the symbols right side up and upside down. I need to know which patterns I want for borders. I’m putting on a really long warp in hopes of getting loads of sampling and then assembling something really special. Wish me luck!

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