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:

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:

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

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Quarantine eBook Special

I hope you are all doing well out there during this strange time!

Since my teaching tour in California got cut short by the Corona Virus Pandemic, I am working on some lessons which I'll share here on the blog and some that may be a future book or workshop. I'm also going to be exploring ways to teach workshops online in the future.

In the meantime, I thought I'd run a special on my ebook for the next week.
The offer is good until April 6th.
You can get it here in  my Etsy shop for $6.


It's also available in print. Have a look at the Etsy listing for a peek inside.

The book has received some high praise from some special people in the weaving world!

Susan Foulkes told me in a recent email: "Looking at your book again is so inspiring.  The work you put into it is tremendous and the photographs are superb. Just the sort of colourful book to cheer us up in these difficult times." She also wrote a review and tested a pattern from the book on her blog here:

Sara Lamb wrote a lovely review in the March/April issue of "Handwoven".
She says "Annie MacHale has produced a beautiful and useful book for inkle weavers who want to understand color and proportion in their woven bands........This book is a feast for the eyes."
I love this especially because I've taken a color class from Sara and she knows what she's talking about!

In the Fall 2019 issue of "Shuttle, Spindle & Dyepot", Gail Gondek wrote:
"Vibrant color paired with exceptional and unusual art direction in this book make it a rare find. Annie MacHale is known for her use of saturated color: anyone who adores color will be unable to resist it, as it is ALL ABOUT COLOR!"

In a personal email from Barry Schacht, he told me that "I just read through your Inkle book. It’s terrific."

This is one of my favorite pages! It shows the same pattern in 12 different colorways. Fun!

Saturday, December 7, 2019

My Mandala Craze

Mandalas are my new favorite thing! Please add a comment to tell me about any ways you have of making or exploring mandalas. I'm interested!

I just finished reading this book which neatly ties the forms of everything in the universe, sacred geometry, spirituality, and human behavior all neatly together in a circle.

"The mandala is an archetypal symbol of wholeness that is replicated on a cosmic scale, not only in manifestations of art, architecture, and religion, but throughout the natural universe. The concepts and primal patterns it represents are the base upon which all physical things are created. Thus, we are attracted to mandalas because they are at the core of who and what we are."

It raises lots of new questions and I plan to make more study time over the next few months.

One of the realizations that I came to was that, while I love all kinds of patterns, it's radials that I love the most. Radials are patterns that radiate outward from a central point in a symmetrical pattern. These include round stained-glass windows, kaleidoscope images, flowers, snowflakes, Islamic tile patterns, spider webs, cross-sections of plant stems, fruits and vegetables. For some lovely photos of snowflakes, check this out: Macro Images of Snowflakes

Since inkle weaving, my main creative pursuit, creates linear patterns, it doesn't give me too many opportunities to explore circular patterns. I have thought about various ways in which I could play with radials.

Did you know that the Spirograph is back and popular this year? Loved playing with this set when I was a young kid. Now that I'm an older kid, I'm going to do it again! Bought one yesterday!

I've also considered some fibery way of playing. Crochet mandalas? All the rage! If you used to call them "Granny Squares" get with the times. A Google search for "crochet mandalas" turns up so many results that it makes my head spin!   Would you like to see? Check this out. Crochet Mandalas

A while back, I played with some software programs that can turn a photo into a kaleidoscopic image. Starting with photos of my woven designs, this activity gave me hours of  amusement! I didn't find a program which allowed me to save my results at a very high resolution, however, so my hopes of saving and printing and sharing them were dashed. Maybe I need to look further. In the meantime, I hope that you enjoy looking at a few of them.