This was the first time I’ve woven this sort of pattern weave back-side-up. When weaving Norwegian Vestfold pieces, I always wanted the right side up so I could clearly see the weight of the pattern as it was developing and then weave dividing bands and pattern bands that would balance the full composition. However, it was a real pain to drop the pattern threads down under the weaving each time I wove the background, and then fish them up again to put in the pattern. Working from the back is much easier. It’s also fun that the real front side, the beautiful side, is hidden until the end. The anticipation, the reveal!
When we examined the Swedish pieces at the American Swedish Institute, we noticed that the pattern threads were often puffy, fuzzy, like a worsted. (Photos from that visit are found here.) That makes sense, because fuller threads fill in better than thinner threads with a smooth or hard finish. At our Scandinavian Weavers meeting, Phyllis Waggoner suggested that another way to make the yarn more filled-out would be to wash it before weaving.
I used a mixture of threads, choosing the best option to get the colors I wanted. I only used my stash. For example, in my test piece I liked the effect of using a needlepoint yarn. In the hammer and sickle band of the “Cold War” piece, the only red option I had was to use three strands of thin single-ply. But for the other dark green color I used a soft knitting-weight yarn. I generally only have wool yarn in my boxes, but after using the green yarn, I remembered that it might be a cheap acrylic yarn I purchased on vacation when nothing else was available and I was figuring out how to weave a fringe. So with unconventional images and yarn choices, there is nothing “authentic” about this Swedish art weave piece.
When coming up with non-traditional images, it’s not easy to translate an image to krabbesnår technique without getting inordinately long floats. I don’t like long floats; I think they can look messy and based on some old pieces I’ve seen, the yarn of the long floats can slacken and then it looks badly woven. The longest floats I noticed in our review of old pieces at the American Swedish Institute were 1-1/4”. Yet I felt I had to have a float over 17 threads (about 1.7”, then) in my stars in the hammer and sickle row.
If you choose not to check the other side with your mirror, that’s when you will make a mistake. Listen up, people! If you don’t check with the mirror almost all the time, you will discover that, for example, you put in a shot of background in the pattern shed rather than the tabby shed, TEN ROWS BACK.
Atomic Bomb Band
The atomic bomb section uses halvkrabba technique, where the design is built on squares. It was easy enough to find where I was in the pattern without marking off rows on the paper pattern.
Duck and Cover
Remember, when you are putting in letters, weaving from the back, you have to reverse them!
Hammer and Sickle
In the hammer and sickle section I definitely had to cross off each pattern row as I completed them, in order to see where I was on the pattern. (Note, each square on the graph paper equaled two pattern shots.) In that section,the first shots of pattern took forever, as I counted each thread in each row. Later, I became more confident at seeing the pattern move with each change, and it went much more quickly.
Adjust as you go. In the hammer and sickle row I discovered about 2/3 of the way up that my pattern in the weaving was flatter than the pattern on the graph paper. I decided that the sickle looked fine, but that without another pattern row, the star would look too flat. I added a row. But I also began to really worry about the fallout sign image above, which I really wanted to keep circular, and not flattened.
Fallout shelter symbol
I didn’t ace the fallout symbol. At the beginning I thought I would have to add an occasional extra shot to keep from getting a flat circle, so I did. Then the woven part began to measure higher than the paper pattern, so I stopped adding occasional extra shots. In the end, the top portion of the circle was too flat.
When I started weaving, I was worried that the dukagång technique would make the lines in the design, both the outer perimeter and the lines within the design, look jagged, just badly crooked. But I was happy in the end; the linear quality of the technique was interesting to me.
Other Random Notes
If your pattern goes over just one thread, it gets lost in the tabby. You could cheat and put in an additional thread with a needle afterwards, just to make the pattern look better.
If you make a mistake, it is not impossible to take out a row and needle-weave a new strand correctly. I did that in the lettering band.
When I make pieces that are a series of bands, I need to remember to weave more bands or wider bands at both the top and bottom, just to have to option of using them. You can’t always determine ahead of time what will look best to balance the piece, both in total height and in balancing the weight of bands in the other portions of the weaving. Bands either on the top can always be folded to the back. In this piece, when I took it off the loom, I found that I wanted to use all of the bottom border (no room to fold over), and more of the top band than I anticipated.
And finally, testing is very valuable! Here is the testing I completed before I started on the Cold War piece.