Friday, January 1, 2016

Unweaving

I finished a lovely table topper in scarlet and gray with a center in houndstooth pattern. Houndstooth has to be warped by alternating the two colors, back and forth, as you see below.
I looked at that back-and-forth threading, and I did not want to cut and retie each strand as it wound around that backstick. And I wondered if I could just not cut the yarn, and lap the two colors over each other as I moved along. So I did it, and it seemed to work fine.
I wove the piece and it was more beautiful than I anticipated. Toward the end the shed (the opening where you shoot the shuttle through) got smaller and more difficult to manage as the warp threads pulled awkwardly. That was my first sign that my threading choice might not have been a good one.

Sure enough, I made mistakes as I tried to shoot my shuttle through that shed. If you look closely above, you can see the many errors. On the left edge of the houndstooth are two weft floats near each other. And look just left of the center of the piece, going up and down one warp line -- there are FIVE errors in that one warp thread alone. Argh! It was quite discouraging to see that on my finished piece after taking it off the loom and beginning to tie the knot fringes on the ends.
Below are those two weft errors I mentioned.
Below is that warp thread with the five errors. It's the thread that runs down from the needle you see at the top of the photo:
I put it aside overnight. This morning I turned to Google for help. How do weavers correct their mistakes?
Some said to leave it. The mistakes aren't ugly; they make the handwoven item unique. Hmm. No thanks.
Some said to do a patch -- work a short piece of yarn into the location correctly, snip its ends, and then snip out the bad part, wash it, and allow the weave to hold in all those raw ends. I did not find that satisfying either.
Some used terminology I didn't understand.
Personally, I wondered why I couldn't just pull that warp thread all the way down and reweave it by hand correctly. I couldn't find anybody who advised that. Why not? Was it dangerous? Prone to disaster? I couldn't know until I tried, and I felt it was the only solution that I would find satisfying.
First I threaded some light twine onto a blunt darning needle. I threaded this twine down the same path as the naughty warp yarn, careful not to pass the twine through the yarn. If the two became joined, that would be disastrous.
See how the twine lies next to the naughty gray yarn?
This particular warp thread needed to be rewoven for most of the length of the piece. As I put the twine into the line, I pulled the yarn out so that they would not be in the same spot for very long.
The twine is saving the place for the gray yarn, for when it will be retracing those steps.
Periodically I'd check the backside of the work to make sure it was looking good back there too. I did all this on a hard wooden board too, for support. I think that helped a lot.
Below is one of the errors. The needle end is pointing to it. The white twine is passing over the horizontal gray yarn, but the naughty gray yarn from above doesn't cross over it there. It went under, which made the weft yarn look like a float.
After slowly working my way down the piece, it was time to pull the naughty gray yarn through, thread it onto the blunt needle, and ascend the line again, careful this time to pass correctly over and under all the wefts. I constantly reminded myself that all I needed to do was follow the twine, like the poor children in the forest following the bread crumbs to get back home.
As I rose through the corrections, I also slid the twine out of the work. It was lovely to see it become perfect.
Table topper in houndstooth with Simply Soft yarn, deep red and gray
It all required time and concentration. The two weft floats were trickier to correct. I actually had to pull down two warp yarn lines to make it right. But in the end I unwove and rewove all the bad yarn, and the piece is perfect. I really didn't want to settle for anything less. Tomorrow it will be at the farmers' market for sale with my other woven things. I think so far, I like this one best.
This afternoon I decided to warp up another piece, a scarf in a variegated brown worsted weight yarn. I also had some pretty orange yarn and thought the brown and orange might be lovely together, kind of autumnal and masculine.
I do appreciate my family. They are honest with me. I called Adam, Anna, and Julia to the loom. I'd done the warp in the brown, and had done a chunk of weft orange on the bottom. It was very orange. So I did a bit of brown, transitioning into a creamy white (which you see above). The brown and white also looked awful. I weft-clasped some orange, trying to tie in the first color. It went from bad to worse. I asked them -- what do you think? They responded with an embarrassed silence. "That bad, eh?" I asked.
So I took it all out. I kept the brown warp only. I started again with a weft of browns and light and dark olive greens. Much better.
All that to say, I spent most of my weaving time today UNweaving, or as I like to think of it, honing my Penelope skills. The queen of Ithaca spent many night hours unweaving. It's a good skill to have. One cannot expect every project to be beautifully conceived or perfectly executed. Surely one of the best tools in the artist's toolbox is the ability to undo his mistakes.

9 comments:

  1. hermoso!! los errores son parte de algo no hecho en maquina sino a mano y eso es unico, sin embargo si puedes hacerle un truquito de arreglo no esta mal. pero esa bellisimo, solo las que trabajamos en algo asi podemos notar los errores que a veces suceden en las prendas pero es parte de. asi que animos esa lindo!

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  2. I find it utterly astounding that you are already selling things you've woven and figuring out all by yourself complicated ways to correct your errors! You were certainly "developmentally ready" to receive the gift of a loom. I admire your crafty intelligence.

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  3. Well, the finished result was worth all that unweaving. I sometimes have to pull out knitting or crochet. Like you, I'm not able to leave mistakes. I have managed to reach a frame of mind which tells me that I actually enjoy frogging, redoing and achieving perfection.

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  4. Holy cow ~ I probably would have left the mistakes, learning from them, and could look back on my beginning work and say remember when I was just learning? Bless your heart and hands for 'unweaving'.

    You are doing such lovely work and I can totally understand 'unweaving' to fix the problem and make it all look oh so wonderful.

    Happy Weaving ~ FowerLady

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  5. I'm amazed by you, lady! Gretchen took all the words right out of my mouth, lol. I think you've found a new income stream for your little farm enterprise. It's fun to follow the lives of the Christiansen's!

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  6. Hello Penelope :-) ! I am so impressed by this!!! Really clever and I've never seen anyone weave something like this by hand!x

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  7. First you impress me with your knitting and now weaving! I really love this red/gray houndstooth. You certainly do have the attitude to accomplish your weaving to perfection. I amazed at how quickly you've got it! Bravo!

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Hello! I hope you leave a word ~ I will get back to it as soon as I can!