Monday, July 10, 2006

Knitting on the River

I did two new things last weekend...I sailed on a river and knitted on a sail boat. Not too many folks can say they did that over the weekend!

There just was no time to knit in Grand Rapids at Convergence so I took my little scarf up to Sonoma for a little vacation. We all went sailing on the Napa River - quite fun...a bit times very warm...Fortunately my scarf is made of a light cotton and modal blend so knitting in the heat was not too much of an issue.

I got six to eight inches done and even changed the yarn color!

While in Sonoma I also had the time to visit the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art which had a textile exhibit of Jack Lenor Larsen; creator & collector. To know more about him & the exhibit read the article from the Press here.

The exhibit was fabulous. It was like being back at the Great Lengths Yardage Exhibit at the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids. There were many different weave structures on display plus they had a touching gallery. The yardage was hung well from the ceilings. There was one piece which had a lovely front and back that hung over three sets of pipes hanging from the ceiling so viewing both sides was quite easy.

The exhibit goes through August 20th so if you are in Sonoma make sure to go!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Workshop Results

I had the pleasure of taking a class in color optimization at Convergence this year in Grand Rapids. It was taught by Pat Williams. Below are pictures of the TC-1 loom which was warped with six colors of warp. We used this loom to weave our jacquard 'tapestries' developed from photos we brought and 'fixed' in photoshop and other software programs. The six warp colors along with a light, dark and grey weft allowed us a color palette of sixty colors. The results were quite varied in color, design and composition. Take a look below at the results.

Color Optimization - Weaving on a TC-1

Here is a little story about my first experience weaving on a TC-1.

This is quite the ultimate loom - no limitations on design due to the number of shafts. Each heddle moves on its own. There seemed to be thousands of them! How cool!

I took a class called Color Optimization at Convergence this year. It was quite fun. We started with a photo. I took this one in China and it has been one of my favorites. I already did one tapestry of this scene. We played around with the photo in Photoshop to get to the right resolution. We also spent some time changing some of the pixels so we would not have long warp or weft floats on the front or back of the final weaving.

The loom we were using was a TC-1 from Norway which was warped with six colors of warp in a repeating format. The warp colors were white, black, yellow, green, blue and red. By selecting a dark, a light and a grey weft and through the magic of color optimization we were able to fool the eye so from six colors we ended up with a palette of 60 colors for our weaving. Here is a photo of the palette if one used black and white as the dark and light weft colors. You can see the colors do have varying hints of darkness...

Here is the loom with my weaving ready to go. You can see it has a computer assist - obviously. Just look at all those individual heddles which move separately from each other. The heddles are about three feet long. The green box on the right is an air compressor which lifts the selected heddles and makes the shed. There is a beater that you pull by hand like on a normal floor loom. There is a foot pedal on the floor to move along to the next shed. I found the pedal quite uncomfortable to use - it bothered my foot. It might have been easier with a bench or at a different angle.

I must admit that I find this loom somewhat odd...with all this technology one still has to push a pedal to make a shed, beat by hand and throw three shuttles to weave. Why not automate the entire process? It certainly seems like the real value of this process is the able to design anything you might want without being constricted by the number of shafts. Why even throw the shuttles and beat? Perhaps in the next generation....

Here is my selection of wefts. I chose an off white and a dark green as my light and dark weft colors. And a thin grey as my binder weft. We saw a number of examples of pieces at the beginning of class and I felt they were way too dark and somber for my taste so I wanted to see if I could get a light airy look for my piece. This is a good picture to see the varied colored warp. Since my piece has a lot of reds and greens that's why those warp colors are near the top. The colors I don't use are underneath. You can just see where the lilly flower is starting to show.

Here is the finished piece. It is an interesting technique to use.

We learned how to do something similar on an eight harness loom...getting a 24 color palette from a four color warp. I may try experimenting with this to see what I can do...