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Poppies Brenda Gibson

This silk shawl, entitled Poppies , was made specifically for one of my Guild’s annual competitions: the Gwen Shaw Competition, named in honour of a founder member. The competition is design-based and open to any work incorporating hand- spinning, weaving or dyeing, and its 2014 theme was ‘1914’. The poppy of the battlefields, even though not adopted as a formal Remembrance symbol until slightly later, seemed to me like a fitting subject for the brief. I like to work within constraints, and whenever possible to produce different pieces on any particular warp. The constraints this time were working on no more than 16 shafts (though I have 24 available on my loom) and using four-colour doubleweave as the structure. This is because I also belong to a Complex Weavers Study Group called ‘The Sixteens’, which runs an annual sample exchange of a set weave structure. For 2014 the chosen structure was four-colour doubleweave and samples for this group must be woven on (and require) exactly 16 shafts, so my samples also came from this warp. The other self-imposed constraints were to weave the full 24 inch width of my loom and to use 60/2 nm silk (of which I have a good stock in a variety of colours), and to achieve some iridescence while representing the red of the poppies, green of the leaves and brown of the earth in both positive and negative colourways. Four-colour doubleweave is a fascinating weave. I first encountered it at an inspirational workshop with Bonnie Inouye called Opposites Attract held at Devon Weavers Workshop in 2009. It is based on a parallel threading and parallel treadling, alternating two colours in the warp and two different colours in the weft. Each design line alternates odd and even shafts, and the distance between the two parallel threading lines is typically half the number of shafts. The cloth contains four colour blends in the pocket doublecloth areas: warp A with weft a, warp B with weft a, warp A with weft b and warp B with weft b. As well as pocket areas, there will be areas of integrated cloth. My design process started with a small segment of poppy design line that would join up correctly in a repeat that advances by three shafts each time. I checked that the shapes worked correctly by viewing the pattern line ‘as drawn in’ on an 8/8 tie-up. Satisfied with this, the next stage was to translate the design lines into odd/even alternation, insert a parallel threading line eight shafts above (extended parallel) and a treadling line 16 shafts apart by adding a further 16 (notional) treadles and to add the alternating colours. I say notional because 16-shaft treadle looms do not usually have as many as 32 treadles; in practice this was woven on a dobby loom. The special tie-up for four-colour doubleweave completed the picture. Starting with the first treadle of the left hand 16 x16 area, shafts 1 to 8 weave plain weave and shafts 9 to 16 control the proportions of the colours on each face of the cloth. I chose a 5:3 ratio so that the two sides of the cloth would have a different colour emphasis. The tie-up proceeds in twill order for the first 16 shafts. The second block of the tie-up is the negative (opposite face) of the first half and, because the threading lines are eight shafts apart, the tie-up block is also moved up by eight shafts.The end result looks, and

Poppies Shawl

Below: Eight-shaft sample Photos: Brenda Gibson


Journal for Weavers, Spinners and Dyers 256, Winter 2015

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