Trying new things on the RH loom

20 January 2015

Here in Oaxaca I have been studying backstrap weaving and looking at a lot of textiles made on backstrap looms.  Backstrap looms are basically 2 shed looms just like our RH looms  and at a certain point one gets bored with plain weave.   The  things people have invented to add to or modify plain weave is astounding.  The enhanced plain weave textiles I have been studying fall into two classes; brocade and leno or gauze. 

These past few days I have been trying to do some of them on the RH loom I brought with me, a 16″ Ashford that is warped with 8/2 natural, unmercerized cotton; 10 dent RH, 2 threads of cotton per dent with a heavier stripe (4 threads per dent) every inch.  This is the same warp I used to make some brocade towels.

I had started a project at home , a small Christmas tree, that I had to finish and get off the loom before I could start on any new projects.  I didn’t want to roll up the thick textured part on the cloth beam- it would crush the nap and wreck havoc with the tension on the loom.

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This was done with a cartoon, the technique  is boutonné and I plan on sewing on some sequins,….  Anyhow it’s off the loom but  not done yet.

The first thing I tried was the inlay that I have been doing on the backstrap loom.

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Here the warp is natural 16/2 cotton and on the RH I have 8/2 doubled so about 4 times thicker.  On the backstrap loom I used 3 strands of embroidery floss, so to keep the same proportions I used 4×3=12 strands of floss.  Here is the same zigzag design on the RH loom;

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using purple and gold floss. One weaves the design with the right side down so you are looking at the backside with all the turns and ends of the brocading weft.  I also took a pic from underneath

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so it is backlit but you can see the design.  Not yet off the loom to photograph again.  I think it worked well.  Clearly not the delicate inlay of the finer cloth  but good for the cloth on the RH.

While looking at textiles in the shops I took some photographs of two different textiles that had a style od brocade that was both inlay and overlay.  The inlay created a kind of halo around the overlay part and the whole design was accented with turns on the top.  Here are some pics of them  (sorry for the poor quality pics, the new camera is bad)

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As you can see the backside of these are pretty clean, just the tails from the beginning and end of each brocading weft.

Since I only have pics and not the textiles I can’t tell what the proportion is between the ground and the brocading weft.  One has to start somewhere so here is my first attempt to duplicate this style of brocade

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The placement is off and everything worked  well in the design but the brocade is thin.  Might work well so some projects on others I might want a denser brocade weft.  So I tried again with thicker brocade weft

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I added the tails that I see on many designs , they sort of define the design band.  This is denser and works well too. I did another of the designs, but the pic is bad

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I think these are pretty successful .  I like the inlay and turns  in addition to the overlay, to make a more complex design.

I am currently working on some leno designs with some successes and some failures.    But I’ll finish today with a view from the loom

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in the garden.  There has been no measurable rainfall in the 5 weeks I have been here but the succulents are thriving. 

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