The Weaver-Readers Will Understand

Happy with my charmed weaving experience, I should have known I would be taken down a few notches when I tried to repeat it.  Since I still had a good amount of  gold and dark brown yarn remaining, I thought I would put on another warp and experiment with many of the same motifs, but with some additional colors.   It seemed to work fine to double up yarns in the weft, so I went through my boxes and found several skeins and partial skeins of lighter-weight Norwegian yarn to add in.    The linen warp I had used was unidentified and acquired many years ago, but I found partial skeins of some Bockens lingarn that was just barely thicker than the yarn I had successfully used.  The Bockens is also a bit less smooth.  I wondered whether it would work even better, whether it would “grip” the weft yarns better as I wove.

After I warped the loom and began to weave it struck me that the warp was narrower.  Narrower?  Indeed, it measured 20″ and the finished piece on the floor beside me, 28″.  It turns out that I had made a mistake in the reed.  Instead of putting the warp through every fourth dent in the 60/10 reed, I had put it in every third.  Interestingly, it was working fine.  The weft threads covered the warp with no problem.  It just made the pattern smaller.  Only three shots of weft were needed to make a square, rather than four.  In the photo, you can see the difference.

What should I do?  It would be fun to have a piece that demonstrated the difference it makes when the warp threads are set a bit closer.  But I kept thinking of Ingebjorg Vaagen, from whom I took a tapestry class in 2000.  “Postage stamps!  Postage stamps!  Everyone is just making weavings so small!”  The piece I just completed has a presence and substance partially because of its size.  If my warp is only 20″ wide, then the resulting piece is not what I planned.  Also, the patterns I planned to modify and play with seemed less pleasing in a smaller scale.  The crosses with a different color in the center seemed ‘prickety.’  Still, I thought that working in the smaller scale might be a good challenge, and I would have continued had I not made a very irritating mistake.

Here’s the lesson/admonition.  When you are using a hodge-podge of yarn from your stash, make sure you are using the same dye lot within a flat, plain-color area.  It won’t matter if you substitute one dyelot or even shade of yarn from pattern to pattern, but if you switch yarns right in the middle of a plain background, you may get an unpleasant line.   That’s what happened to the brown area at the beginning of the narrow piece.  I thought, “Oh, when you look at the whole piece, it won’t make that much difference.”  But lately I’ve been thinking of the lessons from another teacher, Mary Zicafoose.  My take-away from a recent workshop was her incredible devotion to craftsmanship.  The point is that people who may pay a substantial amount of money for a work deserve (and demand) perfection in execution and presentation.  Mary would not complete a piece with an unpleasing, unintended color change in that band.   So, back to the loom to rip.  And make it wider.

Here’s what I wrote to my daughter, a talented writer, the morning.  “I might be feeling extra crabby about the weather because my weaving in these last two full days is not going well.  I made one beautiful piece in the last week, but the second one is not pleasing me.  I think I’ll have to rip it out.  It’s like writing – putting down words for hours, and then editing and changing.  The words you don’t use are as important as the language that remains.  The process is similar as I try to decide what will be pleasing and beautiful as I weave.  In the weave structure I am using, it’s a graphic language.  I realize it is a learning process, but still, tearing out hours of work is so frustrating.  (But writing these last few sentences helped!)