Thursday, April 13, 2017

Exploring More on Crackle

There are several interest groups within the Qualicum Weavers and Spinners Guild.  They meet at intervals to work on their shared interest and periodically they share what they have learned with the larger group.  The photo shows the Exploring More Group in our resource centre at the Train Station, in Qualicum Beach.

The Exploring More Group is studying "crackle".  This is an older weave structure that is highly versatile.  It can be used very effectively with just 4 harnesses or with a higher number of harnesses.  It is adaptable to almost any fibre and colour combination and so it can be used to create a variety of items. There are numerous references to crackle in weaving books and magazines.

crackle with glitz
crackle wool rug sample

The weave structure is based on a 4 thread unit that at first glance resembles a lopsided point twill threading with one arm longer than the other.  There are rules for creating a crackle threading that can appear quite complex at first.  When paired with a 2/2 twill tie up this threading produces 3 thread skips. On a 4 harness loom there are 4 possible threading combinations which gives 4 pattern "blocks" for designing.

 Another interesting feature of crackle is how warp and weft threads combine to produce tones and half tones as illustrated in the green crackle table mat.

crackle table mat

Traditional crackle designs often involve either diamond shapes or blocks of different colours.  The photo to the right shows the detail from a scarf that uses alternating blocks in a thick pattern weft to create an all over design of chevrons.  By contrast the table mat is a large graphic design.

crackle blocks

There are many different ways to weave crackle.  It can be woven with a tabby weft and a pattern weft as in Summer and Winter or Overshot.  It can also be woven as a twill or twill blocks, as drawn in without a tabby weft or in a poly-chrome fashion.  The possibilities are endless.

crackle treadled as twill in fine threads
When woven as a simple twill the effect is a small overall pattern with distinctive twill lines that can mimic texture if the colours are muted.

Summer&winter treadling

as drawn in blocks with tabby

Both the peach on yellow diamonds and the brown on yellow pattern were woven on the same warp using different treadling sequences.  One is reminiscent of overshot and the other of summer and winter.  Both have a tabby weft and pattern weft but the effect is quite different.  Both still have a "blocky" appearance as the treadling is repeated to build up the pattern.
crackle scarf

Non-traditional crackle designs may involve long pattern repeats, oval motifs and delicate lace like patterns.  They are less "blocky" and more flowing in nature in part because they are woven as drawn in without a tabby weft.  The cloth also tends to drape well and has a good mix of plain weave areas and twill like areas.  It is a good structure for rayon yarns or other slippery threads.

based on a random number threading and treadling

non-traditional crackle on painted warp
Having just scratched the surface on the topic of crackle, the next challenge for the Exploring More Group will be poly-chrome crackle.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Get Creative!

towels from show and tell session
Spring is advancing at a slow creeping pace this year giving us a chance to get creative in the studio before we feel the urge to get out doors.
Our studio at the old Train Station in Qualicum Beach is buzzing with creative efforts.  The studio looms are warped for tea towels and  in one area our ANWG booth is taking shape.  The theme is west coast wild.  We are lucky to have space where we can bring people together to share experiences and work on group projects.  The Town of Qualicum Beach has been very supportive of the creative arts and of our group in particular.  This area is noted for its rich cultural climate.

At our last meeting we learned about shuttles.  Who knew there were so many to choose from?  Lynnette took us through, stick shuttles, boat shuttles, rag shuttles, ski shuttles, end feed shuttles and many many more.  We learned that picking the right shuttle for the job can make a tremendous difference to the quality of the work while reducing the effort.  That seems to be in keeping the the concept that it takes more effort to do something badly.

nuno felted jacket
This year our guild decided to set a challenge for guild members as a way of stimulating creativity and exploration.  The challenge is based on the work of Ann Sutton and is often referred to as "weaver's card game", "weaver's poker" or "weaver's challenge".  The purpose of the game is to stimulate new ways of looking at weaving designs.  Participants are challenged to design a piece that has a random mix of unrelated features.  There are many versions of this game.

In our version, participants were given 5 categories of cards, colour, weaving technique, materials, design and embellishment.  Within each category cards have different instructions.  Participants randomly pick one card from each category and they are asked to take some time to consider how to design a piece that incorporated all 5 instructions.  For example, design a weaving in shades of grey only, using a supplementary warp, boucle yarn, incorporating texture and finally using Danish Medallions as an embellishment.  We decided that some combinations might be next to impossible to deal with so participants are given the option of dropping one of the five cards.
graded stripes and twill

This will be a year long project with designs or better yet a finished product due in December.  We will report the results at the end of the year.

Our next meeting takes place Monday April 24.  Guests are always welcome.