Alphabelt Part III: Off the Loom

The belt is off the loom, and I am SOOO excited! Now it needs to be washed, and I need to buy and install the hardware. I've decided to use grommets, since the pattern turned out longer than I expected, and to part the threads around them. Total length, unwashed: 47" Pattern length, unwashed: 39.5" Notes to self: You're always going to hate the phi the most. Sigma's pretty bad too. Everyone else likes them, so cope. Your obligatory small-error-that-no-on-else-will notice, which you did not see until it was off the loom and you could do nothing, was on the psi. A how-to post for basketweave pickup has been requested. This means there will be an entire series of inkle how-to posts, because I don't do small....

Alphabelt Part II

I've gotten behind on documenting this, so here's a bunch of pictures. Work on the Alphabelt continues! Quite swiftly, even. I can get three or four letters done a day, as long as I take breaks so I don't get those damned headaches. Notes: Letters with diagonals are going to be really wide, and there's really nothing to be done about that. You're not going to be happy with that, but really, it's ok. Wherever possible, use two threads for a horizontal. Wherever possible, only use 4 pick floats. For letters with 2 thread horizontals and 5 pick floats, swap off single pick breaks in the float. When adding a second horizontal to a center horizontal, add it above the center line....

The Alphabelt Begins!

Since I want to do woven bands with Greek lettering, I need a reliable pattern for those letters. To work that out, I'm doing a band with the entire Greek alphabet, which will then be turned into a belt for a friend who's a Classics major. Working this way means that each letter has to be undone and redone repeatedly, to correct mistakes and to refine the pattern. The alpha alone had to be woven six or seven times, and I had a splitting headache by the time it was done. I hope the rest isn't quite that difficult. Project notes: The waist the belt is for measures 36". I estimate the pattern will take up about 32-33", and am aiming for an overall length of 42-45". The beginning of the belt has 1.5" of unpatterned weaving for the hem around the buckle, a 3-pick slit to accommodate the buckle tongue, and an additional 3" of unpatterned weaving before the lettering begins. The draft is a basketweave pickup with 11 pattern threads in silver grey 3/2 pearl cotton, background of black in 5/2 pearl cotton. There's a border of 4 threads of black, 4 threads of blue 5/2 cotton, and another 2 threads of black before the 2 black threads that are the beginning of the pattern's ground. This gives an overall band width of 1". Each letter will be separated by 2 picks of background-only, 2 picks of unpatterned weaving, and 2 more picks of background. I hope that the unpatterned picks will help with the tension problems I've had with pattern threads before. Tension, my old enemy. We meet again. This time, I shall defeat you....

Trouble with Keys

I've really been wanting to find or make a Greek key pattern for weaving. It looks like it should be perfect for bar pickup, yeah? So I snagged an image of the design, scooched a grid over it, monkeyed with the sizes, marked it up, and got this: Doesn't look half bad in pixels, eh? Alas, this is what it looked like on the loom. Too narrow and too stretched out. I have GOT to get me a grid that's a different damn shape. Even knowing it doesn't work right, I keep thinking about it wrong. So I sat back down with the pattern, doubled the pattern width, and tried to work out how to fix the long floats. The problem with this pattern is... well, it's not how you chart a barred pickup. It works ok, but it doesn't show everything I have to drop in particular in order to get the right shape. But the way you do chart barred pickup doesn't show dropped threads at all, so I'm not sure what to do. It does come out looking pretty good, it's just a little mentally taxing to work on. It's in the 90s here, and with no AC, I am getting jack and shit done. Ugh. Getting this post written took me a week, and there's very little in it....

Baltic Pickup DIO Band

Being me, I could not bear to use any of the not-actually-all-that-awesome patterns in the one book I have, so I set out to learn two or three skills at once: Reading a pickup pattern, actually doing pickup, and creating my own pickup pattern. Whee! What a ride! All of the symbolism here — the snake, the bull with the star between his horns, and the Greek letters delta iota omicron, which are the first three letters of DIOnysos, as well as the black, white and red color scheme — comes from the Starry Bull tradition of Bacchic Orphism. There’s a group called the Thiasos of the Starry Bull, which is the main body of people in the tradition, but some few of us keep some practices and not others, and don’t count ourselves members of the thiasos. The thiasos has a blog and a facebook group that I don’t keep track of. You can learn more there. The ritual I’m helping to put on at Many Gods West, which has an Indiegogo running right now, is in the Starry Bull tradition. So, Baltic or basketweave pickup weaving has a drafting pattern like this: O| BBBXOXXOXXOXBBB H| BBBOXXOXXOXXOBBB Basically, while continuing to heddle every other string, you warp two background threads, then one pattern thread, which is much thicker. I used 5/2 perle cotton for the background and 3/2 perle cotton for the pattern. You should always have an odd number of pattern threads, so when you’ve finished the border, lay down one pattern thread before you start the 2:1 warping. Make sure to end with a pattern thread as well. This is what it looks like on the loom: You’ll note my border was black threads. Well, you should always use weft thread the same color as the border, so black it was. Hm. Maybe that wasn’t such a hot idea after all. Apparently the weft needs to be the same color as the background. Undid that, put two white warps on each edge, and went to white weft. Looking much better, huh? Got my little snek going and everything. I can’t tell you how many times I had to stop and take out multiple rows, because I lost track. But since there was worse to come, I was terribly relieved to reach the last snake at the other end, because it's actually less tricky than the rest of this. My bull with a star between his horns ended up looking more like a stag or something. Not sure what to do about the star, but I already have designs for future attempts at the bull. And the centerpiece, delta-iota-omicron, the first three letters of Dionysos. From there it was all downhill, doing stuff I’d already done, just backwards. Fewer mistakes, too. Consequently, it was pretty quick. Ta-da! The finished band. Not too shabby, eh? Closeups: This is the second snake. You may or may not notice that his head is a little different from the first. I tried giving the first one 2 eyes, but neglected to mark it on my pattern, so when I got to the second, I did what the pattern said (which I’d based on one in the book). I think I like two eyes better. Here’s what the back looks like: It’s sort of a negative image of the original. I like the effects on the snakes so much that I’m trying to design one that way on purpose. See, Two Eyes looks even better like this. One Eye just looks sort of sinister. And here’s the pattern as it ended up: Things to remember: Use weft the same color as the background. The patterns turn out longer that you think they will. The pattern threads lose tension faster than the backgrounds. I ended up having to stick a crochet hook under just the pattern threads before I was done. This one is going to be a choker, for ritual wear. Oh, and the other thing I’ve been working on is the woven bookmarks for that Indiegogo....

First Pickup

I mentioned in the post on Inklings that I was starting to learn pickup techniques. Well, here's my first try at it: The colors came out maybe a little more Andes Candies than I meant, but I like them. This is horizontal stripe pickup weaving, which uses two or more colors of thread of the same weight, where spotted and speckled types use two weights. I definitely had colors that went well together like this, so off I went. I found Heather Heroldt’s site and downloaded her Beginning Alternating Pickup for Inkle, which can be downloaded from that page, as can a Beginning Inkle text. It had several patterns I thought would look nice. I wound a long warp, with the tensioning flap much farther out than last time. The pickup part was quite easy, but I had two major problems. The first was that the yarn I was using was heavy enough that the 60 warps I needed for the patterns were coming off the pegs and the tension flap when I advanced. The second problem was that the slack in the warp got used up even more quickly than the last time, despite me carefully adding more to the flap. I was only able to use about a third of the warp, which upsets me because there’s not really anything else I can use it for, so it’s a lot of waste. But the final result came out nicely, what there was of it. I’m sure I’ll find a use for it at some point. The very first band is now a rather pretty headband....