Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Crackle (Finally!) and the Shawl

To answer Bev's question about the shawl first: There are actually five different supplementary warp yarns in this shawl, most of which is 5/2 perle cotton. I'm sure you can't see them all in the little photo. One of them is Dazzle, a green and gold ladder ribbon yarn. Another is Tartelette, a chenille that was a blue/green mix. It wormed when washed but since the floats were so small it actually produce a pretty nice effect.

After the Complex Weavers conference in Florida this year, I told a friend of mine that my favorite class was the polychrome crackle workshop. She laughed and, after a pregnant pause, said, "You're kidding, right? That stuff is so ugly." Well, I wasn't kidding, although some four block crackles can be pretty unsightly. With more blocks, though, I think you can get some wonderful subtle blending of colors.

Crackle is a block weave that allows you to have one block per shaft, which is pretty unusual. They aren't pure blocks because some of them sort of weave together, but you can still see the blocks. In four shafts, the blocks are (A: 1-2-3-2), (B: 2-3-4-3), (C: 3-4-1-3) and (D: 4-1-2-1). When you move from one block to the adjacent one, you need to add an "incidental" to keep the odd/even shaft sequence. For instance, threading A and B next to each other would be: 1-2-3-2-1-2-3-4-3, with the middle, bold, 1, being the incidental.

There are several ways to tie up and treadle crackle, but a common way is to make it a twill derivative. When you do polychrome crackle, you usually thread the warp with one color and use multiple colors (and, thus, multiple shuttles) in the weft.

The crackle warp I have on the loom now is a concoction I call crack-hell. I started with an 8-block polychrome crackle and then turned it (flipped the warp and weft) so I could put the colors in the warp and weave with a single shuttle. That worked well until after I wound the warp and beamed it on the loom and then noticed that when it turned, it also morphed into a 10-shaft structure. Of course, if I had put it on my 16-shaft loom this wouldn't have been a problem, but I put it on my 8-shaft loom. So ... back to the drawing board to come up with something that I could salvage. I finally came up with something that works and sort of looks like polychrome crackle, but I'm not sure exactly what it is. Anyway, the draft, if treadled one block after the next, produces cloth that looks like this:

I'm not weaving it exactly like this - I'm varying the block sequence as I weave. I'll post pictures of the two scarves when they've come off the loom and have been washed.

I think blogging is supposed to be about short posts, which I don't seem to do well ;-) Thanks to those of you who actually read it.


Peg in South Carolina said...

I'm curious to see how you are going to vary the sequence. It was an experience with polychrome crackle in my first workshop as a beginning weave where I fell in love with it. Absolutely beautiful......not ugly at all. And blog post lengths should be whatever it takes to communicate the message.....(grin!)

Nancy said...

Thanks for that blog post. I've been trying to decide what to take at CNCH in April, and you just tipped the scales towards the Polychrome Crackle class.

Nancy said...

Thanks for that! I've been trying to decide what classes to take at CNCH in April and you just tipped the scales toward Susan Wilson's crackle classes.