Tuesday, July 7, 2020

How to Use the Pattern Editor

Recently, I wrote a set of instructions and a made a video about my favorite, fantastic free online tool, the Band Weaving Pattern Editor, created by Jeff Bigot.  I hope they will help users to take advantage of many of the cool features of the program. They only cover plain weave designs, although the program also has the ability to create pickup patterns as well. When new functions are added, Jeff writes about them along with other tips here on his blog. This is where the instructions can be found. They are in PDF form, so you can download the document and keep it handy when designing.  http://www.raktres.net/blog/2020/06/29/basic-instructions-for-using-seizenn-%e2%88%92-band-weaving-pattern-editor/

You can watch the video here  or on my YouTube channel: 

This week I've been working on camera straps (1.5" wide) which are a little bit narrower than the guitar straps (2" wide) which is what I am often making. The main yarn that I use for all my straps is Omega Sinfonia.  Jeff has made it really easy to match my yarn colors by creating a list of codes for the yarn colors. You can find that here: http://www.raktres.net/blog/list-of-yarns/

The new instructions give some detail about adding colors to use in your designs. 
It's fun to choose colors to add to your Loom Color Pallet! 
Colors on the World Wide Web (and therefore this online tool) are represented by 6-character  HEX codes.
You can select any color using it's HEX code and add it into your yarn palette. Of of my favorite sites for color choosing is this, although there are many. : https://htmlcolorcodes.com/ 
You can even google the name of a color you want, for instance "turquoise hex code", find the code and add it to the color chooser on the Pattern Editor. 
 If you use DMC products, they provide a chart of their floss colors with HEX codes here: https://threadcolors.com/

It's easy to draw up a pattern using the Band Weaving Pattern Editor and then change it up in a myriad of ways. So, I can play around with different color combinations and preview the patterns before deciding which one I want to weave. The graphic preview of the pattern so closely represents what the woven pattern will look like that I've been using it to show customers when I'm creating a custom woven strap for them. 
The first two patterns below are the same, except for a change from red to dark red and a change in positions of the colors. (Below each pattern, I've shared the direct links. You can click on them to go to the Band Weaving Pattern Editor and use them as a way to edit and create your own pattern if you wish.) 

     http://www.raktres.net 4i                                http://www.raktres.net/l/2F

I changed the look radically by using different colors in the turquoise and purple one below left. 
And on the right, I shifted the elements of the pattern slightly before changing colors again.


  http://www.raktres.net 4v                                           http://www.raktres.net/l/2o

Here's my collection of camera straps so far. Most commercial straps have a patch of leather or vinyl which attaches the 1.5" strap to the 3/8" nylon webbing that fits to the camera. To skip this difficult part, I found a plastic piece that acts as a reducer. I've put it together as a kit and sell it in my Etsy shop here. https://www.etsy.com/listing/206025133/camera-strap-kit-do-it-yourself

The straps also show up also in this photo that I took last Saturday when I had a small weaving class at my house. As it seems like traveling to teach workshops will not be possible any time soon, I plan to join the new way of doing things and have committed to learning to use Zoom for online classes. I don't yet have a timeline for getting this done, but if you are interested, send me an email and I'll put you on a list for the future.  iweavestraps@gmail.com 

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Although I own about a dozen inkle looms, it is the 5-6 Schacht looms that get constant use.

4 Schacht looms in action

A couple of years ago, I became a Schacht dealer so that I can sell inkle looms to my students. Through that relationship, several very cool things have happened. When my book came out, I sent a copy to them for the company library and received a very nice email from Barry Schacht, founder of the company. He said "It's terrific", which pleased me greatly!

I was recently asked to write a piece for their monthly newsletter. Maybe you subscribe and saw it? If not, you can read it here: https://schachtspindle.com/newsletter-june-2020/
They asked me to talk about how I use color in my weaving, which is a BIG topic for me. Those of you who have seen my book know this, right?

It's great to have so many photos taken over so many years to share. I chose to include the ones below, because, in this instance, the color inspiration was direct and immediate. I follow Trujillo's Shoe Shop on Instagram. Marcos has an artistic eye and I enjoy his photos. He and his dad, Rey, have also done some fine repairs on my shoes and boots since I discovered them.

Even though my book has been out for more than a year, I still like flipping through it and looking at the illustrations. Of the 200 patterns charted there, some of them I had already woven and some of them I had not. This past week, I've used a few of them, changing them slightly according to the yarns I had on hand. Boy, that was fun! I'm trying out a new yarn, Knit Picks Curio #3. You can see it in the strap on the right, dark teal and turquoise. Other yarns that I used in the two straps include: Omega Sinfonia, Tahki Cotton Classic, Gedifra St. Tropez, and Red Heart Fashion Crochet Thread #3. 

I had to add a stripe of black between the teal and gray, because
there was not enough contrast there. The trick worked perfectly! 

For the strap shown below, I used wool. The blue and gray do not have a lot of contrast, and the fuzziness of the wool makes the pattern less distinct. But, I like it that way. 

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Baltic Pickup (Part Two)

Because I'm concentrating on the Baltic pickup technique, I had a look at my library and have found Susan Foulkes' book, "Weaving Patterned Bands" to be an absolute treasure. I learned a few things by reading my way through it that I didn't know before, although I've been using the technique for many years. I highly recommend it! 

In the last post, HERE, I showed two bands. In this post I'll be looking again at the design from    Band A. It's a simple zig-zag design woven in Baltic pickup using 9 pattern threads. 

For today's example, the warping draft is given below in two different formats. 
It shows 9 black pattern threads with a turquoise border and background, 37 warps in all. 

In the first one, the shape of the colored cells look much like the way threads do in a woven band. With it, you can visualize what your band might look like. 

In this one, the colored blocks represent the warp threads and there are white spaces in between them just to spread them apart and make the draft easier to read. The white spaces don't represent threads. Because of the space in between, this format may be easier to read when warping your loom, but it doesn't visually represent the band design very well. 

The warping draft tells you how to warp your loom. For a plain weave band, it's all you need! Just warp and weave to get your pattern. Plain weave can be awesome with an exciting combination of  warp colors in the right order. I wrote a whole book about it which you can find HERE

Pickup patterns add another extra level of design possibilities. Undoubtedly, you have seen beautiful examples. For a pickup design, you will also need a pattern draft, showing you which threads to pick up (and/or drop) to weave a given pattern motif. Baltic patterns are created on a warp where speckles of one color are contrasted against a background of another. Traditionally, the pattern warps are doubled (two strands used as one) or a thicker pattern thread is used to make the design stand out from the background. In my weaving, I often ignore this rule. This would be frowned upon by traditional weavers, I think, but it's worked for me as you can see from the photo in the last post, a collection of my recent work. 

For this post, my samples were woven using cotton Sugar 'n Cream yarn and the pattern threads were not doubled. The finished band measured 1 3/8" wide.  

Illustrated below are:
A) At left is a photo of the woven band. 
B) At center is a pattern draft (TYPE B) made using the Band Weaving Pattern Editor, V1. It shows all 37 threads (background, pattern and borders) as well as the pickup pattern. 
C) At right is a typical pattern draft (TYPE C) for Baltic pickup. It does not show the border threads or background threads, only the pattern threads and pickup pattern. This one was created using the Band Weaving Pattern Editor V2.  Just about every source you will find for Baltic patterns uses this grid format. Details for reading this pattern draft were given in the last post. 

             A                             B                                     C

Although this method is called "pickup" because you literally pick up threads out of their normal woven sequence, many (most) patterns require you to also drop threads. Look at the examples below. 
Shown, left to right are:
1) Picking only to create the pattern. This is the same as the photo and drafts above. In between the black < and > zig-zag lines, you see black speckles meandering along the center. 
2) Picking and dropping. Notice in the center of the black < and > zig-zag lines the black speckles are not there. These warp threads have been dropped and if you look closely, you can see the turquoise weft showing through in those spots. 
3) Picking and even more dropping. As in the previous example, the warps in the center of the black < and > zig-zag lines are dropped, but also warps have been dropped along both sides. Look again at #2 and notice that on the outside of the < and > there are 3 black speckles. Now they are gone and there are no black speckles are showing at all. 
4) This one is the same as #2, but the weft is now white. Do you see where it shows through? Is it more noticeable than when the weft was turquoise and matched the background? The simple act of using a contrasting weft color can add a lot of interest to the design overall. 
5) Same as #4 with a finer white weft. It's harder to see the weft showing and the whole pattern is a bit more compressed because the rows pack tighter with a thinner weft. 

             1                     2                      3                    4                       5

Below is a closeup look for comparison of bands 1, 2, and 3. Notice how the design looks different when no threads are dropped, some threads are dropped, and more threads are dropped. (Click photo to enlarge).

          1                        2                          3

Below is a closeup look for comparison of bands 3, 4 and 5. Notice the effect that using different wefts has on the look of the band. (Click photo to enlarge).

                3                         4                         5

Below are two sets of pattern drafts which correspond to the photos above labeled 1, 2, 3.
I'm going to call these drafts TYPE B and C.

First, the TYPE B draft that shows ALL threads including borders and background.
                      1                                   2                                       3

And, the TYPE C (or traditional grid) pattern drafts for these same 3 versions.

                        1                                         2                                            3

Please leave a comment to let me know what you found helpful and what left you wanting more information.

Which type of draft did you like better? Grid chart (Type C) or the one which shows the background and borders also (Type B) ?

In the next blog post, I'll describe how to use the Pattern Editor to create your own charts and talk more about Type B drafts. (Type C drafts were described in the last post.)

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Doing Some Baltic Pickup and Looking at Charts (Part One)

Quarantine collection! Guitar straps in Baltic pickup woven between March 16 and April 8.
Patterns are from Foulkes, Dixon, Hergenhan, Bläse, and MacHale.
Please click on the photo to enlarge it! 

I was really looking forward to a series of workshops that I was scheduled to teach in California early this year and had fun preparing for them. Before the Corona Virus Pandemic hit and shut down our social interaction, I happily got to complete the first two workshops in San Diego and Exeter. We did Baltic-style pickup in both places. The charts for this technique were hard for me to wrap my head around in the beginning, so I though I'd share some things that helped me.

Here are two that I just finished. They are similar, but slightly different zig zag designs which use 9 pattern threads. These designs require picking only, no dropping.  Many Baltic pickup designs require that you pick AND drop some threads out of their normal sequence.
But, simpler designs like these are a nice way to ease into the technique. My next blog post will have pick and drop versions of Band A.

Band A                                           Band B

Once again, I am SO grateful to Jeff Bigot for making a tool for creating inkle weaving drafts.
It's FREE and I encourage you to play with it to create your own designs.
Here's the link to Version2 where I created the warping and pattern drafts below: http://www.raktres.net/seizenn/v2/editor.html

Here is the warping draft for Band A made using the Pattern Editor.
The warping draft shows you how to arrange your colors when warping the loom. 
The top row represents the heddled warps.
The bottom row represents the open (unheddled) warps.

The Pattern Editor is a great help to me in planning the warping of my loom, as I need to be sure that I have the right number of threads to get the 2" width I want. Once I know how many pattern and background threads I need in the central area, I can choose a plain weave pattern for the borders. In this case, I chose thick stripes in chocolate, rust, turquoise blue and royal blue. 
Looking at Band A  there are: 
75 threads altogether. 
46 border threads (23 on each side) 
20  tan background threads in the central pattern area. 
9  royal blue pattern threads: 4 in the heddled row and 5 in the open row. 
Because of this offset alignment of the pattern threads, diagonal designs are formed easily. 
Diamonds, chevrons and zig-zag patterns are some of the easiest to understand and weave. 
In traditional Baltic woven patterns, the motifs are often much more complex. 

Reading the Pattern Drafts Below
The pattern draft for weaving the design is quite a different type of chart than the warping draft. Baltic pattern drafts are typically shown as a grid, like graph paper. The border threads are not shown.  
In looking at the drafts below the blue squares represent the pattern threads. The white squares are just place holders, creating visual space. Don't mistake them for background threads; the background threads are not represented on the pattern chart at all. 
The columns on the chart are numbered 1-9 , starting at the left.  One column = one pattern thread.

The horizontal rows indicate your woven rows (picks). 
Row 1 has the odd numbered pattern threads: 1-3-5-7-9. 
Row 2 has the even numbered threads: 2-4-6-8. 

The lower portion of the two drafts looks like a checkerboard. This shows the position of the pattern threads as they naturally appear when woven in plain weave.  
To read the draft, you start at the bottom, this is the row closest to you as you start to weave. Then you work your way up the chart watching your design grow up from the bottom as you weave. 

                                         Band A                                                     Band B

Rows 1-7 on the chart for Band A show, simply, plain weave and it looks like the checkerboard. 
The variation from the checkerboard starts at row 8 and indicates where you have to manipulate threads to get your pickup design. Everywhere that you see a vertical stack of 3 colored squares, it illustrates where the pattern thread is floating across a row, out of it's normal sequence. Most picked threads will float across 3 rows. In the first row, they appear naturally on the surface of your weaving. In the second row, you have to reach down and pick them up, adding them to the top layer. In the third row, they are naturally on top again. Band A and B  have diagonal lines which turn at the edge to change direction. At the point where a line turns, it will be necessary to pick up a thread which has just been picked up, causing it to float across 5 rows instead of 3. 

Visualizing the pattern by looking at the areas where the checkerboard is altered is one way to weave the design. Can you follow the zig-zags visually and pick up the correct threads to mimic the charted design? This has been my habit, although it is not the only way. Nor, the most common way.

Most sources recommend reading the chart one row at a time. Start at the left. Is the colored square in column 1 blue or white? If blue, pattern thread #1 needs to be showing on top of your band. If the square is white, the pattern thread on that row should not be showing. In Band A, the need to pick up threads begins in row 8. Column 1 shows a blue square, so that one needs to be picked up. All of the rest of the threads in that row are following the regular checkerboard sequence, so no need to do anything here. Continue, row by row, checking for colored squares that don't follow the checkerboard pattern. Lift warp threads as necessary. 

The sequence, row by row, for Band A is this:

Please leave a comment to let me know what you found helpful in this post and what you think needs clarification. This will be the first in a short series. 

For more information, check out these resources: 
Susan Foulkes writes a very interesting blog here with many bandweaving tips:

Heather Torgenrud's website gives some really helpful design tips. Check out this page: https://norwegianpickupbandweaving.com/2015/05/12/pattern-design-basics/

For two patterns from this blog that also use pick-only designs (with no dropping) :