January 27, 2013

Weaving Landscapes (or just curves)

Weaving Landscapes (or just curves)

This is something I posted to Ravelry, at the request of a mod who had seen some of the Work In Progess (WIP) pictures.

Process post! Someone suggested I do one for the curves and hills when I posted this scarf in the WIP thread. I didn't start taking detail pictures until past the middle, but the technique is the same. (Er, lots and lots of pictures follow.)

I shamelessly stole this technique from tapestry weaving, because one of the awesome things about Saori is that you can do that, and I suck at tapestry, but this technique is pretty awesome.

I'm working on a 15" Schacht Cricket with an 8dpi reed. The project itself is MadGastronomer's Kate's Rainbow [NB: This link leads to a Ravelry page, and you'll need to have a login there to see it].

So. For this first bit, I already had a hill, and the idea was to build up more curving shapes around it to make a mountain.

To start a new curve, I wove a few passes (four, here) on just a few warp threads (again, I used four). If you want to try it, how many will depend on the size of your warp and weft threads. Fiddle with it. It's really very organic. I loosed the warp very slightly, opened sheds as usual, and then used fingers or a pickup stick to lift the individual warp threads. You may not want to change sheds, but just use the pickup stick. I sometimes get lost doing that, so I did it this way.

I began moving outwards, one warp thread at a time.

Leaving lots of extra length in the warp, I packed it quite closely, creating the beginning of the curve.

What was I using to beat in such small and irregular bits of yarn? A little pickle fork.

I did several more passes, moving outward from the center by one warp thread in each direction with each pass, again leaving lots of slack in the weft threads and beating them in tightly to get that curve. (You can beat them in more loosely, but this is a warm winter scarf, and I wanted the density.)

Since I was building up multiple curving shapes together, I would occasionally run a couple of passes along the entire shape, to keep things cohesive, once the two shapes met up. I also do this when doing a row of hills.

Then I started building a third shape in the crook where the first two met.

Again, I laid down rows of weft across the entire shape periodically. Since I was using variegated yarn, this became especially important to build up color relatively evenly later on.

And then I started building up more shapes on the other side.

And back to the left.

See what I mean about threads going across the whole thing keeping color relatively even with the variegated yarn?

Then I put a peak on it.

And this is Uther, who wants you to know that he Helped. That's very important, he says. He Helped.

So, having created all those curves and steep angles, I now had to fill in around them. Which I apparently got exactly one picture of the process of:

As might be apparent, I started weaving on just the outermost two warp threads, just going back and forth and beating them down tightly until I built it up enough that I could reach the third warp thread, and then added that. Again, since I used a variegated yarn, I kept switching sides, to keep the color shift even. I think I did a pretty good job.

…of course, it all came out a bit trippy. A friend commented that the mountain really did look like a Tolkein illustration, and I could not help but respond, "Yep. Complete with the psychedelic colors from the 70s paperback editions." But I'm pretty pleased with it.

Other things I did with this technique in this piece:

A line of rolling hills receding off into the distance. If you look closely, you can see the texturing in each hill where I decided to make the curve steeper, so I built up another layer of short rows with longer rows on top, basically building a hill on a hill.

A trio of hills, the middle one being done with clasped warp, in a way that manages to remind me of the sheen on an old vinyl record.

And a series of small iterations, building up curves unevenly here and there (again, look for the texturing) to achieve in appearance of a rolling plain and eventually the bed of a river. And here's the river:

I threw in a few more curving shapes so that the ground under the mountain wouldn't follow the line of the river exactly.

This technique is pretty simple, and the only real problem is creates is that if a row of weft reaches the selvedge at a steep angle, it can make the edge a little weird and loopy, but what the hell, it's Saori, it doesn't have to be perfect.

The real problem I've had with this scarf has been tension. I managed to screw up the tension once, and had to tear out about eight inches of weaving and try to fix the tension. Only I still mucked it up. The paper I used to layer the wraps of warp was too crinkly, and I managed to get the threads all crossed and bunched and messed up, so the tension on each thread keeps changing.

I ended up dealing with it by tying knots in individual warp threads as they go too slack. (You can see some of the knots sticking out from the weaving). It got really bad towards the end. I'm sure the finished piece will be all kinds of warped and buckled and weird, but my partner assures me she doesn't care and she'll love it. She's sweet that way.