I know, the next post was supposed to be about plaid and my rant about weaving it. However, I got a bit sidetracked. I will get to the post about plaid and the inadvisability of doing a pattern twill in it. I may also mention the need to make sure all of ones yarn in such an undertaking are the same diameter. 😉
This past weekend I was able to take a class on velvet weaving with the wonderful Barbara Setsu Pickett. It was good to work with other weavers on velvet and have a teacher that had woven velvet as well.
A bunch of prep work had to be done before the class, including building this piece of equipment called a cantra, or bobbin rack. It is used to help keep the pile threads organized. The cantri we made are of pvc pipe with the grid being a cut down piece of light diffuser. These are quite small in comparison to cantri used by velvet ateliers in Italy and France.
For this project I used cotton; unusual for me. The ground warp is 8/4 cotton rug warp and the pile warp is 20/2 cotton.
Of course, the warp had to be wound and the loom warped at home.
Ended up needing a new reed as sleying a 12 dpi reed every other wouldn’t work for this. The dents need to be big enough for the threads to move around. The ground is sleyed at 18 epi with six pile units per inch. Each dent (in the main part of the fabric) also gets one pile unit consisting of 10 ends of 20/2 cotton.
The one other thing I was able to do ahead was putting the weights on strings. Each weight is 1/2 ounce and is used as needed on the pile units.
O for not having the netting shuttles ahead of time! I got to spent time (most of the first day) winding shuttles with their pile threads. For this I got to learn how to make a paper quill for weaving (and conversely how not to make a paper quill). Then I got to learn about spool racks.
Really this was a very interesting spool rack; it had three sections of twenty rod things. You may note the empty quills on two of the rods. Why did you not put all ten quills in the same column, you may ask. Simple. Barbara said to do it this way: Two columns of five quills and then weave the threads back and forth through the upper rods. Then put them all through a small ring so that one can wind them as a unit. I gather this is similar to using a warping paddle.
The finished pile units are reasonably well behaved and remind me of ribbons. I ended up making 26 shuttles. One can use a warping board and warp 10 ends and then load the shuttles. I do find this a little easier; it also takes less set up. However, I could see a spool rack in my future.
Next we get to put everything together. The safety pin looking thing is a large stitch holder for knitting. It creates a cross for the pile units. It helps keep everything organized; that’s all I know. Yes, the pile units could be spaced closer. Keeping them farther apart helps keep them from tangling.
View from the bottom. It is not a cat toy, no matter what it looks like.
Theoretically, all the shuttles should be at the same length at this stage; I’m rather fond of theories. The lower the shuttle, the longer weaving time you have.
Next the pile units get attached to the dummy warp. The dummy warp is the white yarn. All it does is mark space and make it easier to pull the pile units forward.
Once all the pile units are through, they are lashed to the front beam. A note for the future: Do not tie the dummy warp in with the ground warp on the front beam; tape it in place. Otherwise you get a bit of a mess in the front from the excess yarn from the dummy warp.
Finally the weaving! If you look very closely, you can see the lashing for the pile warp. Each on of those dots represents one pile unit. Velvet, with all its cut pile, tends to be a bit unstable. This is why when weaving, there are selvages, headers, and enders (for lack of a better term). After one has spent hours upon hours weaving, one doesn’t want it to fall apart!
And finally, pile. There are three ground shots between each pile shot. After one puts in all the rods one has, one gets to cut the first one out and carry on. This type of velvet is solid cut pile velvet. We were told about a technique called laminato where there are four picks between each pile pick and the fourth uses metallic thread that can only be seen in sections of voided velvet. I will have to try that sometime.
It was a good workshop. Barbara had lots of interesting stories and other things to talk about. I also got her autograph. 🙂