Designing with Stripes

by | Oct 26, 2022 | Uncategorized

inspiration and outcome

There are many on-line or in-print sources with detailed instructions on how to weave a specific item .  They are a great place to start whether you follow the instructions exactly or modify them to fit your needs.  These recipes allow you to work on weaving technique and build up an experience without the barrier of having to develop a design from scratch.  When you are new to a craft it is also reassuring when the finished piece matches the illustration in the source material.

basic design tool

But one of the most satisfying things about being an artisan is being able to take an illusive idea and turn it into a concrete form.  For that to happen you need to learn how to design,  And so was born, our beginner workshop “The Boucle Tea Towel”.  In this workshop, participants learned how to go from paper and coloured pencils to a finished tea towel in cotton boucle.  Along the way they learned about sett, balancing a design to fit a specific width and how to make a striped warp.

tea towel with colour wrapping sample

The students were given the challenge to design, plan in detail and weave a stripped tea towel in cotton boucle.  Students learned to produce a colour wrap using the actual yarns to mimic the stripes in the tea towel.  An example is shown in the picture above.  The wrap does not illustrate how the weft alters colours but it is a quick way to pick a sequence that will be pleasing.

Once you’ve got the pattern of stripes worked out you need to do some arithmatic to determine how to fit the size and number of stripes into the correct width for the tea towel.  And finally there is “balance”.  Sometimes you need to add or subtract part of a pattern on one side so the piece is balanced when viewed as a whole.

two towels one warp

Once that striped warp is on the loom you have still more design decisions to make about the weft.  The photo at the right illustrates two strikingly different out comes with the same asymmetrical stripe pattern in the warp.  The top towel has narrow weft stripes as a border at each end and a pale weft which makes the yellow stripes pop.  The darker weft colour and multiple wide weft stripes breaks up the yellow warp stripes producing a very dramatic piece.  

clasped weft tea towel

The blue and green tea towel was done using a clasped weft technique.  In this technique weft colours do not cross the entire piece.  Two shuttles with different weft yarns are used.  The yarns are linked together so both colours appear in the same shed.  The movement of the colours almost obscures the warp stripes.
composite of tea towels

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