Posted by: bschutzgruber | January 28, 2022

The Thrill of Twills

Since Covid-19 continues to be the ‘gift that keeps on giving’ the Michigan League of Handweavers is offering another set of virtual talks and workshops. I signed up for the workshop Exploring Twills with Martha Town. For those who are not weavers, twill is a simple weave whose distinguishing characteristic is a diagonal line.

“Understanding Twill Weave structure is basic to understanding many other weave structures, making this workshop useful for beginning and advanced weavers on 4 or 8 Shaft Looms. Weavers will work at their own loom to weave several twill samplers called ‘gamps’. These gamps will show how threadings and treadlings interact to create many twill structures and how the tie up changes the structures. During the sessions, you will get to see how the weaving design software, Fiberworks PCW, is used, so you will get a tutorial of sorts that may help you decide if it is something you want to purchase.”

I’ve used twill threadings from pattern books but don’t have an understanding as to how they are created. The workshop involved meeting once a week via Zoom for 3 weeks in January. After each presentation we had a week to complete a given assignment and the month of February to weave 3-4 different gamps. I am not a fast weaver plus I’ve never used weaving design software so this format was very appealing. Not having to drive to a location in Michigan’s winter weather and having folks in the workshop from other states and even countries (one of our members is joining us from Singapore) are added bonuses!

Martha’s lectures and handouts were excellent and I now have a much better understanding of how to create a twill threading. Technology and I do not usually get along very well but using Fiberworks to create my starting gamp was fun. Being able to move things around, have a sense as to what the visual pattern might be BEFORE starting a project, plus getting a heddle count for each shaft is wonderful!

I made a serious mistake while winding out and grouping the warp threads by NOT paying attention to ergonomics. This caused me to totally mess up my neck muscles. I then painfully strained my shoulder girdle muscles as I threaded 8 very different sequences. All of this caused me to loose several days of weaving time while my body recovered. Lesson learned = PROPER POSTURE IS IMPORTANT!

For those of us who tie the warp to the apron rod Martha suggested we try lashing on because with a gamp there is no need for the extra warp to twist into fringe. I gave this a try. I’ll have to do this several more times before I can do it as quickly as tying on but it eliminates wasting several inches of warp.

All our gamps are to have a section that’s a basic twill to make sure our tension is good and our weaving is balanced.

As I wove through my gamp sequence I found myself stopping to just gaze at the patterns as they slowly appeared!

One gamp down….. 2-3 more to go!


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