The last few months I’ve felt excruciatingly snail-like in my progress towards weaving velvet. I’m glad to say that I am now rabbiting along!
My friend Chris built my cantra for me in about five hours on Friday. Whoopee!!
Here it is, minus the rods that hold the bobbins:
The rods that hold the bobbins aren’t in yet – I forgot to order the rods! – but they will drop into the slots on the sides. I’ll add a brake weight and a counterweight to each bobbin, like this:
The brake weight’s job is just to put a little friction on the yarn so the bobbin doesn’t spin out of control. The counterweight (right-hand weight) is what tensions the yarn. It’s basically live-weight tension for individual threads.
Now that the cantra is built, I can start winding bobbins and tying on the pile warp. My plan is to do polychrome velvet with two different pile wefts, which (for non-weavers) basically means you get two colors of the fluffy bits, and can choose what color of fuzz you want on top.
Not satisfied with two solid colors (why do anything the easy way when the hard way will do?), I’m doing two color gradients, one in each set of pile warps.
Pile warp one will be a blue to green to blue gradient, like this:
Pile warp two will be a yellow to red gradient, like this:
I had already experimented with designs a bit, and you can see the results in this blog post.
This time, instead of hunting down royalty-free imagery on the Web, I decided to play with Dall-E again. I spent about twenty minutes playing with different artistic styles. I finally settled on two designs to develop further: a California poppy in a woodcut style, and (in honor of Lunar New Year) a Chinese dragon, paper-cut style.
I took them into Photoshop and started modifying the images and simulating the gradients. Here’s the poppy, so far:
I’m not super pleased by the green anthers, and may change them to the orange. Or maybe not. It’s not realistic, but it does add nice visual focus to that sea of orange.
I will also probably change the frame to blue/green rather than yellow/red – far less distracting. Or I could just make it plain black, which might work even better.
I’m still working on the dragon, but I’m excited about the possibilities! Here’s the partly-finished drawing:
I need to add more touches of blue and green and fiddle around a bit, but I think it will look really good when I’m done.
It will still be a while before I’m actually weaving velvet, though. I need more tools, for one thing. For another, I have to wind 440 bobbins and get all those threads loaded onto the loom. So it will likely be another month of prep work before I’m actually weaving anything.
(I know that takes patience…but can’t I be patient faster?!?)
To assuage my impatience, I’ve started picking out yarns for the pile warps. Here is the blue-to-green gradient (pardon the messy table):
I’m using the ones in the middle row; the other two rows are candidate yarns that I eventually decided not to use.
I spent this afternoon working on bobbin-winding. After nearly four painstaking hours, I had wound….five bobbins.
But what beautiful bobbins!
I didn’t actually spend four hours winding those five bobbins, of course. Mostly I was figuring out the process of creating bobbins, and how to make sure they all had about the same amount of thread. I still have to make some modifications to my process, but I think I’ve mostly figured it out.
You may have noticed that each of the bobbins has several colors on it. Four colors, in fact. This is because I’ve only got one spool of most of my colors, but I rather like it – it adds subtle color variations, and a little pizzazz.
These are only test bobbins; I’ll actually be winding 220 bobbins in each color gradient. Once I have the process down, it should go a lot faster.
I’m already dreaming of advanced structural games I can play while weaving velvet. The possibilities are AMAZING. But first, I have to get the loom set up and the basics down. Patience, grasshopper!