Posted by: bschutzgruber | March 26, 2023

Cell Weaves with Martha Town

After taking the Michigan League of Handweavers online workshop Twill Weaves with Martha Town last winter [see 2022 Jan & Feb blog The Thrill of Twills & The Thrill of Twills part 2] I was excited to see that MLH was offering another online workshop with Martha.

Cell Weaves on 8 Shafts.
A simple repeat threading on paired shafts creates 4 ‘cells’ which can be woven
as Lace, Deflected Double Weave, Monk’s Belt, Overshot, and Honeycomb!
Weave a unique sampler that includes all these structures,
play with bold color and weave effects, and gain confidence in fabric design.
This on-loom workshop requires
an 8 shaft table or floor loom, and an adventuresome spirit.
Threading guidelines will be provided; you apply the cell sizes and colors!
Work (play!) at your own loom, and also learn from other class member’s results!

The format was the same as last year – the workshop would last 5 weeks with us all working at our own pace at home with an evening Zoom session once a week. We were sent instructions for picking our yarns for a 5 yard warp in 3 sections: one color, 2 colors/light-dark, and 3 colors/light-medium-dark. Martha also created 4 different theadings for us to choose from.

She encouraged us to compare a color photo with a black/white photo to have a more accurate idea as to the relative value (lightness or darkness) of each color chosen as the value difference will enhance the structure. With 15 in the class it was very interesting to see all the different color combinations and gave me lots of ideas for future projects using colors I would not normally be drawn to.

To be honest, never having worked with cell/block threadings, I was feeling way over my head after the first zoom lecture because as a self-taught weaver I do not have a working knowledge of the vocabulary. Luckily Martha had excellent definitions, explanations and slides which helped me grow more confident each week:

Lace – plain weave with adjacent warp & weft floats
Deflected Double Weave – a two layered fabric in plain weave alternated with either warp or weft floats
Monk’s Belt and Overshot – supplementary weft pattern using single or combined blocks on plain weave base fabric
Honeycomb – plain weave isolated in individual or combined cells, with heavier outline weft woven selvedge to selvedge.

I liked the textures created in the Lace and Deflected Double Weave.

The geometric shapes in Monk’s Belt and Overshot creates a very different look and feel to the fabric.

Honeycomb was the most playful and dramatic! For each treadling sequence I used different thick outlining yarns including loosely spun silk fibers, ribbon, wool roving, and 6 very thin yarns grouped together and I varied the size of the cells. I’m not sure how I will use Honeycomb fabric in future projects but I really want to play with this some more!

This workshop offered challenging and inspiring moments
and has sparked my imagination for future projects.

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