Tried and True: Weft Rep

The monksbelt piece that adorns our entry is my favorite from all the projects in The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell. This current narrower version on the Standard is another heirloom monksbelt piece in the making. The ground cloth is weft rep.

Classic monksbelt in modern colors.
Multi-color ground weave and vibrant Fårö pattern colors make this monksbelt fabric a standout. Glimåkra Standard in the background holds a new version of this favorite piece.

This is snail’s-pace weaving, with 2 picks of 16/2 cotton for the ground weave between every 6/1 Fårö wool pattern pick.

“To weave [weft rep]…the weft must be longer than the width of the warp and so the weft has to arc across the shed. There are two ways to do this: with many small waves across the width or with a large and high arc…The tiniest bit of unevenness can quickly build into hills and valleys across the weft line…”

The Big Book of Weaving, p. 236

Weft Rep in Three Steps

1. Make a Mountain.

After throwing the shuttle, increase the length of the weft by making it into a large arc in the open shed. Put one finger through the warp to form the peak while keeping enough tension on the thread with your other hand to maintain a good selvedge.

Weft rep tutorial
Weaving monksbelt with weft rep. How to.

2. Make Hills and Valleys.

Keeping the shed open, push the mountain down into hills and valleys to evenly distribute the extra weft.

  • Turn the mountain into hills and valleys with your finger.
Monksbelt with weft rep. Tutorial.

OR,

  • Simply drag your spread-out fingers lightly through the weft.
Weft rep how to.
Monksbelt with weft rep. Tutorial.

OR,

  • TIMESAVER – Slowly pull the beater toward you (shed open), smooshing the weft into a wavy line. Stop two or three inches away from the fell line.
Weft rep using the beater to make wavy line.
Simplified weft rep.

3. Flatten the Hills

Treadle for the next shed. On the closed shed beat in the weft. Two short pulses with the beater distribute the weft more effectively than a single squeeze with the beater.

Simplified weft rep.

Watch for little loops that may form in places where there is a bit too much weft. To correct, open the shed, pull that portion of the weft back into a little hill and redo.

OR,

  • TIMESAVER – Draw the back of your fingernail across the warp where you see excess weft. This is often enough to even out little bumps.
Weft Rep - How to, and simplified.

Slower weaving develops into a rhythmic pace that is comfortable. And the cloth grows, line by line.

Monksbelt on the Glimakra Standard.
Rows of monksbelt flowers.

May your slow pace yield thoughtful progress.

Slowly and Surely,
Karen

Tapestry that Tries to Copy

The jumble of yarn looks like a random play of colors. But if you look a little closer, and push the yarn butterflies out of the way, you can tell that the color choices are deliberate. You see only a hint of the image, though, until you look through the back end of the monocular, or step up on the step stool to have a look from up above the weaving. That’s when you get an overview of what’s on the loom.

New tapestry project.
Yarn butterflies each have a mix of wool, mostly 6/2 Tuna and 6/1 Fårö yarn.
Weaving a new tapestry on the floor loom.
The mix of colors in each yarn butterfly is a deliberate selection for the specific hues, values, and intensities I want to portray.
Tapestry of a butterfly wing.
View from my seat on the loom bench.

This warp is a study project. I want to test some tapestry techniques to help me develop my style. I made the cartoon by cropping and enlarging a photograph I took years ago. The butterfly had just emerged from its chrysalis! The subject for my study: the butterfly’s intricate wing.

Tapestry on the floor loom, and how to view it.
Peering through the *wrong* end of the monocular gives me a distant view of the tapestry in progress.
Get a view from higher up to get a better perspective on life.
I stand on a stepstool near the loom to get an even broader view of the tapestry from a distance. This perspective shows me how effective my yarn selections are (or are not) for the image I want to create.
Intricate butterfly wing - subject for tapestry study.
Cartoon in a reduced size helps me see the color distinctions. Photo in black and white helps me see value contrasts.

Who designed the butterfly wing? A stained-glass artist may conceive it. A tapestry weaver may copy it. A silk dyer may imagine it. But only our Creator could bring it to life. God makes himself known. Push the obstacles out of the way. Look for design. Gain a higher perspective. With each woven row, the image becomes more and more clear. When the butterfly wing begins to flutter you know you are witnessing something from the mind of God.

May you see what is hidden.

Happy weaving,
Karen

Tried and True: Shuttle Shuffle

Some of the monksbelt flowers have a different color for the three center picks. The new color is only temporary, so I simply carry the first weft color up the side for that short distance.

How to shuffle shuttles.
Monksbelt with six colors of 6/1 Fårö pattern weft and three colors of 16/2 cotton ground weft.

More than one shuttle doesn’t necessarily mean more difficult. Everything runs a little smoother when there is an efficient exchange of shuttles between your hands.

Monksbelt flower garden.
Monksbelt flower garden.

How to Handle the Exchange of Shuttles

  1. For this example, the temporary weft starts from the left and goes to the right. Weave the first pick of the temporary weft, catching the shuttle with your right hand. (If the first pick of the temporary weft goes from right to left, reverse the right hand/left hand instructions, here and following.)
  2. Transfer the shuttle with the temporary weft (active weft) to your left hand.
  3. With your right hand pick up the shuttle that has the weft that will be carried up the side (inactive weft). Bring the shuttle all the way around the active weft and then lay the shuttle down again.
  4. Transfer the shuttle with active weft back to your right hand and continue weaving.
  5. Follow steps 2 – 4 until the section with temporary weft is finished.
  6. Tuck in the tail of the temporary weft and continue weaving with the weft that has been carried up the side.

Here’s a short demo:

May your shuttle exchanges go smoothly.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

Hazards and Rewards of Weaving a Portrait

When you want a better photograph you snap another picture. When you want a better tapestry you take out what you’ve woven and weave it another way. I recently showed you my progress on the tapestry of my mother. (See Tapestry of the Heart.) As I viewed the tapestry in photographs I could see that the 6/1 tow linen that weaves between the rows of wool was too bright. The golden bleached linen is lovely on its own, and melts into the background on the sides of the portrait. But this bright linen draws undo attention to itself within the darker portions of the tapestry because of the stark contrast. The day after that post I undid everything back to the starting line.

Weaving a four-shaft tapestry portrait.
Take One, with golden bleached 6/1 tow linen weft threads interspersed.

Undoing a few weeks of tapestry weaving is not physically hard to do, but making the decision to undo it is hard, indeed. Since then, I have been weaving every day to get back to the point where I stopped everything. This time, I am using a different color tow linen that will make all the difference.

Wool butterflies for a tapestry portrait.
Take Two. Golden beige tow linen, as seen in the header rows, is interspersed in the weaving.
Tapestry portrait in progress.
I was able to save and reuse some of the wool butterflies from the first take.
Tapestry portrait of my mother.
Almost back to where I stopped. Besides changing the linen weft color, weaving a second time allowed me to make other improvements to the tapestry, as well.
Is that a look of approval?
Small sample of each butterfly is pinned to the picture beside my loom. I choose colors for each wool bundle in correlation to its adjacent colors, working out the colors a few steps ahead of my weaving. …Is that a look of approval?

Now, instead of golden bleached, the linen thread is a golden beige that disappears into the fabric, while holding everything together. Come to think of it, that is an apt picture of a mother’s influence.

May you know when to go back to the beginning.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

Tapestry of the Heart

It is a daunting task to weave a tapestry of an important person. Do I have enough skill to give what this project deserves? I started with a photograph of a beautiful woman in her eventide years, and made a workable cartoon. The person in the picture is someone who has significantly influenced my appreciation of beauty all around. This is my mother.

Tapestry weaving that starts with a photo of a beautiful woman.
Photo enlargement is printed and taped onto poster board. I keep it near the loom for reference while I’m weaving.
Planning a new 4-shaft pictorial tapestry!
Cartoon replica is printed and taped to foam board. I plan out butterflies for the first few rows of the tapestry and pin them in their place on the picture. Yarn overflow is on the windowsill beside the loom.

In preparation for the tapestry, I have been weaving sample areas of the cartoon. The eyes, the chin and neck, the mouth, the edge of the ear. The biggest lessons I’ve learned are to exaggerate contrasts in value, and to dull the colors that are adjacent to colors that I want to appear bright. It’s time to step out and give myself to the task. This is where I aspire to show more than the unique features of my mother’s face. It’s where I show her heart.

Beginning wool butterflies for a new tapestry.
First row of the tapestry has only four butterflies. Additional butterflies are added gradually over the next few rows. (Tapestry begins with a few rows of white 6/1 tow linen.)
Weaving a pictorial tapestry of this lovely woman.
Printed reference cartoon helps me check my work as I go along. The cartoon that is under the weaving on the loom is not only larger, it is printed at a lighter setting, which makes a better weaving guide for me.

A generous heart always has enough. Giving out of our surplus is not generosity. However, if I give you what I’d rather keep, I give you some of myself. Give time, resources, support. Share talents, fascinations, insights. Mom, thanks for giving me so much of yourself.

May your loved ones benefit from your generosity.

With gratitude,
Karen