Wednesday, June 11, 2014

"Not so Livestock" Competition - Andean Pebble Weave

On my last post, I mentioned Sangre's very successful event, the Shrewsbury Faire.  As the name implies, the event was themed as a medieval faire in the market town of Shrewsbury in England. As any proper faire, there were plenty of competitions. We had a very yummy baking contest, a cordial tasting, and a "Not so Livestock" competition.  This last one involved people bringing in their crafts with some sort of livestock theme to be judged by the Duchess (no actual livestock need apply). I decided that I would enter this competition, and managed to land a third place ribbon (also woven by myself).

Since I've been on a pickup streak, I technique I decided to go for this time was Andean Pebble Weave.  Luckily Anne Dixon's book has a couple of very nice animal motif patterns which I was able to use.  I chose swan and rabbit patters (both medieval feast fare) with some additional patterns to separate the motifs.  I also went one step further and decided to add an interesting little border pattern on either side. All in all, this is the most complicated piece I have ever woven, so it was probably not a good idea to start 2 days before the event. Once I started weaving I realized how very time consuming this technique is.  Even the "plain" weave requires a lot of pickup. Since it was just a short demonstration pattern, though, it did not take as long as it could've.

The Andean Pebble Weave technique for inkle is not exactly the same as the authentic South American craft, which is done with a backstrap loom. Rather it is a recreation of the same motifs and styles adapted for use on an inkle loom. The basic idea is to have the loom warped such that the shed is separated into background and pattern threads. Background will always be heddled and pattern will always be unheddled. This means that by doing a plain weave, you will actually get alternating bars of pattern and background.  The pebble texture is created by pickup and is ultimately achieved by alternating two steps:
  1. Weave one pick of plain background.
  2. Weave one pick of the pattern by dropping/picking up alternating pattern threads.
Repeating this will create a "pebble" pattern, with dots of pattern staggered every other pick, and the background threads forming a sort of diamond shaped pattern around them. This produces a very striking and beautiful look.

Now onto the actual weaving. this being a very complex pattern, the total number of warp threads came out to 90. It became immediately obvious that my heddles were far too thick to accommodate that many threads on my inkle loom. This meant that I had to make new heddles. 45 of them.

The inkle loom all warped
90 warp threads means very tiny heddles

Notice the separation of pattern and background threads in the shed
Since I used an amalgamation of different pattern from the book with some personal additions, I had to draft my own pattern. As always, Excel makes this a whole lot easier than doing it by hand. The pattern turned out to be about two pages long. 

I would not exactly call weaving for this technique difficult, but it is time consuming and requires a lot of concentration to keep from making mistakes.  This is just due to the comparatively huge amount of pickup that needs to be done compared to other techniques like Baltic Style.  Here the background does not form naturally, so care needs to be given to picking up to create the background every other pick.

Half of the pattern used
The swan's head

There we a few minor mistakes in picking up that I did not notice until it was too late to unweave, but the largest issue I came upon was getting the band width to stabilize. In order to keep the pebbles in the background well separated, the band needs to be woven somewhat loosely. I began way too lose and it took about a couple inches to get down to where I wanted the width of the band to be. However, even being very careful, the width of the band very gradually decreased as the weaving progressed. Fortunately, it's not noticeable unless you fold it over itself.  Since this is just a presentation piece, I am not too worried about it.

Below under the cut are some additional images with closeups of the motifs.


Background pebble weave and separator pattern, also visible is the border pattern

Note the technique creates double sided bands

1 comment:

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