15 February 2012

Dropped/twisted threads

I've been looking at published work on an interesting topic, one that I've been wondering about for many years. It started because I was warping. Warping by myself is rather like yoga. The deliberate, repetitive movements foster a very thoughtful process, loosening all sorts of ideas to float to the surface of my mind.

I keep remembering how some of the textiles I'm using as sources display crossed threads where the header band ends and the web begins. Some of the threads aren't crossed in a regular fashion that would suggest intentionality or, perhaps, a technical reason based on loom type. It's quite possible they're crossed accidentally, perhaps due to inconsistencies in warping technique such as a loop being twisted as it goes over a peg. Or maybe the warp wasn't prepared with a cross, and it's an error introduced during the picking of the first tabby shed.

But as I wove the header band, I kept noticing something: the last warp thread on the fringe side of the band, i.e., the one right next to the textile's warp, tends to loosen up and drift away from the other warp threads of the band. I have been wondering whether those occasional crossed threads in the original textiles were placed intentionally, to help encourage that loose band warp thread back into place alongside its fellows.

That thought process isn't complete yet. But it set me to thinking about the crossing of warp yarns. That idea reminded me of the problem inherent in going from tabby weave to weft-faced extended tabby weave (the tapestry sections). The sett I'm using to weave the tabby ground weave is way too dense to allow me to weave the tapestry portions on the same plain tabby. Sooner or later, I would need to know some ways to manage that problem, and so I have begun to go through the relevant material in my library.

The piece I am planning is not like a Coptic tunic, with isolated inset tapestry elements. The tapestry sections on this piece go completely across the warp, with no flanking tabby weave to manage. Up until yesterday I'd been assuming I would be using a simple extended tabby like in the medieval cloth of ray textiles, i.e., shots of half-basket that alternate and are beaten down to become strongly weft-faced. In theory, that should work fine since, as with cloth of ray, the stripes go all the way across the warp.

But I see in the Coptic material two other types of solutions that were used not just on the isolated inserts but also on the full-width bands. One of them is, according to the literature, not possible to do on the warp-weighted loom. So now I'm considering various implementations of the other solution, the one that is possible to do on the warp-weighted loom.

I'm also looking for copies of more of the literature on the topic, which I think will require a run to the university library. One article, the de Jonghe one from Bulletin du CIETA, I'll probably not be able to get. I used to do my CIETA research at the Auerbach Library in the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford. (It was well worth being a Friend of the Library for access to their research library.) But there's no CIETA collection near me now, alas; the nearest one is five hours away. It's also been my experience that CIETA articles are not available via ILL.

Anyway, I'm definitely not finished thinking about this yet. The threads are trying to do some dancing in my head, part topology and part the dance that the threads always do when I weave. But since I don't know this dance yet, it's a little confusing to try and follow along with it. It's a good thing I have some more warping to do: I do my best thinking while I warp!

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