Not a bad week at the office – first weaving samples

This week I finally got down to some actual weaving. To summarise, the brief asks us to imagine we are designing a collection of 4 interior fabrics for a well-known designer. I have chosen Jane Churchill, as I like the variety of modern and more traditional designs and her use of bright but controlled palettes, particularly in the Autumn 2012 collections. I have mainly upholstery in mind for these fabrics, rather than curtains or throws, but that may change. On Tuesday I threw my first shuttle across the loom, then did it again and a few more times, and my heart sank. Instead of the pattern I’d drawn and patiently pegged (16 shafts!), I had a mess of threads with no resemblance to anything.

Oh dear

Not an encouraging start. But I thought oh well, it’s my first time weaving and what are the odds of it all going smoothly anyway! There’s always that little hope though isn’t there 🙂 So with a bit of help from tutor and technician I finally got it working – I think I’d hung the shafts too low. Here’s what happened next:


And we’re off – the pattern gets totally lost in the yellow-orange textured (bouclé) yarn at the top so I’ll be avoiding it for this design

Compare with the paper design

Using the same peg plan, I stepped forward for 8 and back for 8 which created a sort of diamond pattern. You can also see how I had some trouble keeping the previous pattern evenly spaced when beating in the weft yarns.

The pattern emerges much better using thicker (and more contrasting) yarn. The highlight colours are just laid in.

Self-coloured texture with magenta highlights

This one was woven on a slight variation of the former where instead of a block of weft stitches in between the wavy lines, those stitches are scattered so that the stripe is more the main event.

Easier to see on paper to compare to the previous pattern (weft stitches = blank squares)

Cushion maybe? Or a whole chair cover if you’re feeling bold and bright? I have to say here that this is very similar to one of Churchill’s fabrics that I really love, Furrow Stripe. I am somewhat learning by imitation and wasn’t sure how close it would turn out before I started. No plagiarism intended!

The next sample was again achieved by stepping forward and back through the same design – this time for 6 courses each way.

So that is my first week of weaving, I have a week to go to the end of the project. One thing I’m not so happy with is how spaced out the warp threads look. They are set in the reed at about 20 ends per inch – I wonder if any more experienced weavers can tell me if that would normally shrink in a bit when washing to finish the fabric? I also wondered if it might be more apparent because I’m mostly using comparatively fine yarns in the weft. (2/7’s worsted in the warp, mostly 2/20’s viscose in the weft for those in the know – I like the shiny finish from the viscose).

It’s actually really useful for me to see the samples all lined up like this, as I do have to give some thought as to how the collection will be put together. I have another three pattern designs to sample next week so there will be plenty to keep me busy, they’re not all this complex though. I will have better quality photos next time too – these were all taken on my phone so apologies for the uneven/dull lighting in a lot of the pics.



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