Archive for March, 2010

2010 Weave of the week #5: Wool links
March 29, 2010

Wool links, front view.

I began to collect weaves during the years that I worked as a sample weaver and designer for the apparel textile industry in NYC (read about it here and here).  My co-workers and I wove so many interesting samples  (we wove plenty of dull ones,  too,  of course) that I started to keep swatches and write drafts of the ones that I especially liked for . . . well,  I’m not really sure what I planned to do with them,  other than have a library of interesting drafts.

This week’s featured weave (front view above,  back view below)  is a favorite from the deflected-threads file.  It came to mind when I was researching chain-link fences for my last post, but I was surprised at how much the design really does resemble fence links.  Before I wove this sample,  I had never seen a cloth with distorted floats,  and it made such a deep impression on me that I remember where I was on that day the same way I remember where I was for more momentous events.

Wool links, back view.

I was in Burlington House,  1345 Avenue of the Americas,  a new, 50-story skyscraper that my employer,  Burlington Woolens,  had recently moved to.  I worked there as a handweaver,  and that day was the first time I worked with Minos,  a newly hired designer.  He gave me a layout for three different weaves that could all be woven on a 16-harness straight draw,  and one of them was the deflected-thread weave that is my subject this week.

Last year I wrote another post about a more recent deflected-thread sample (here) that contained this explanation of the structure:  Yarn distortions are created by weaves that juxtapose areas with few interlacings (loose yarns) with areas of tightly interlaced tabby (firm yarns). I should add that the distortions that appear in the fabric won’t appear in the design as it’s shown on graph paper or a computer screen.  For example,  the 16-harness computer draft shown below will produce the weave shown at the top of this post,  even though you can’t tell from the draft what the finished cloth will look like.

Wool links draft on 16 harnesses.

That was certainly true for the sample that I wove that day;  it was magic.  Not only had I never seen a deflected-thread weave before,  but the crepe and rib structures were new to me too, and I didn’t know that three such disparate weaves could be woven on the same warp.  I handwrote drafts of all three weaves for my file,  but only kept a swatch of the deflected-thread weave that I called “floating diamonds” because I didn’t know it had another name.

Computer renderings of the crepe and rib weaves are shown below:

Crepe weave draft on 16 harnesses.

Rib weave draft on 16 harnesses.

Preparing to write a post about a fabric always makes me look more closely at it than usual,  and something I hadn’t noticed until now about “floating diamonds” is that it doesn’t have to be woven on 16 harnesses and treadles.  Burlington Woolens’ designer chose natural wool for warp and weft and had me put it on a 16-harness straight draw,  so he — and the mill — could have maximum flexibility to weave different fabrics on the same warp,  and probably piece-dye them.  But if flexibility is not a concern,  the same weave can be done with a 9-harness draft,  as shown below.

Wool links draft on 9 harnesses.

In fact,  the crepe weave is an 8-harness,  8-treadle weave that was expanded to fit on the 16-harness warp, so it can easily be reduced back down,  and the rib weave will work on 6 harnesses and 4 treadles,  if it is threaded this way:

Rib draft on 6 harnesses.

To date,  I haven’t used the deflected-thread weave for anything except this post,  at least partly because the long floats make it impractical for the kind of functional weaving that I do,  but I admit to being more inspired by a 9-harness-and-treadle weave than by a heavier 16-harness one.

My thanks to friend and fellow WordPress blogger Eva Stossel for her clear instructions on how to post drafts on my blog.

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2010 Weave of the week #4: Links
March 14, 2010

Katherine Daniels, "Fence Embroidery With Embellishment."

I enjoy outdoor public art installations,  but few have anything to do with weaving.  So when I find one that does,  I give it special attention.  Several months ago,  I was pleased to read that a non-profit group called the Downtown Alliance funded five public art projects in 2009 to create “a little cheer,  whimsy and excitement”  at some of Lower Manhattan’s many construction sites,  according to Elizabeth H. Berger,  president of the alliance.  Most significant to me was that one of those projects,  Fence Embroidery With Embellishment,  by New York artist Katherine Daniels,  was woven on site (see photo above).

Ms. Daniels and her team wove vinyl strips through fifty-four chain-link fences and embellished the strips with brightly colored spools,  lids,  and other construction materials to create abstract climbing “vines” (detail below).  The fences stretch for 600′ along the East River Bikeway,  from the Wall Street Ferry to the South Street Seaport, and will be there until the end of this year.  For a link to Katherine Daniels’s website, with a map, click here.

Katherine Daniels, "Fence Embroidery With Embellishment" (det). Courtesy BravinLee programs.

Katherine Daniels usually works in beads and embroidery thread,  and I was struck by the similarity of form between her delicate 2009 bead-and-wire piece,  Garden Grid (shown below),  and the Fence Embroidery With Embellishment installation.  Her artist statement says that she is  “interested in the idea of paradise as a garden of beauty and peace that expresses the human need to create and cultivate beauty as a counter to our acts of destruction.”  You can see more of her work here.

Katherine Daniels, "Garden Grid." Courtesy of the artist.

As often happens with my articles,  this one evolved as I wrote it.  In this case,  looking at Katherine Daniels’s installation,  and thinking about chain-link fences for the first time in my life,  brought to mind Liza Lou’s Security Fence,  a silver-beaded,  full-size,  chain-link enclosure,  complete with razor wire,  shown here:

Liza Lou, "Security Fence" (2005-2007). Courtesy L&M Arts

and a detail here:

Liza Lou, "Security Fence: (2005-2007). Courtesy L&M Arts.

And while I was contemplating why an artist would bead a cell,  an observant friend, artist Joan Levinson,  brought to my attention Swedish artist Klas Hällerstrand’s silk-wrapped baseball bat (!) because it reminded her of  Sheila  Hicks’s wrapped pieces (see my posts about Sheila Hicks’s work here and here), and this in turn led me to Hällerstrand’s 2007-2008 work “luttra”  (“to purify”), shown below:

Klas Hallerstrand, "luttra" (2007-2008), metal fence wrapped in cotton yarn, 1.2 x 3 x 3m

The fence isn’t beaded,  but it’s completely wrapped in cotton yarn,  for goodness sake.  Here’s a great close-up of  Mr.  Hällerstrand’s painstakingly wrapped links:

Klas Hallerstrand, "luttra" (2007-2008).

A press release provided by the Galleri Charlotte Lund in Stockholm,  Sweden,  states,  “Klas Hällerstrand’s working process takes an extensive amount of time and care.  He has a great interest for the materials he uses and is captivated by seemingly incompatible elements.”

I was starting to wonder whether writing about,  and meditating on,  chain-link fences had taken me too far from textiles and fiber,  but here’s something else unexpected that popped up in my research.  In 1844,  Charles Barnard built the world’s first wire-netting machine in Norwich,  England,  to produce chain-link fencing by machine;  Norwich was a worsted weaving center,  and his wire-netting machine was based on cloth-weaving looms (read more here).  Now there’s  a link!