I started out weaving this with a two-ply handspun, churro and Icelandic. But the sett is too close with this reed, and the weft did not show through enough and I didn’t like the result, so I tried the churro singles. It was still on my spindle, and I discovered that this particular spindle (from Allen Berry) is of a length and whorl shape that works perfectly as a shuttle. Convenient! And I like the look of this weft, so I just kept weaving with the spindle as shuttle. Allen, who also carved the beautiful yellow cedar sword/beater, mentioned that he’d heard of people using spindles as bobbins/shuttles before, and this rang a faint bell for me, too. I knew I’d definitely seen people winding a warp directly from full spindles, and I found the video: winding a warp directly from spindles, in Western Ladakh.
It does sound familiar, though, putting a spindle into a shuttle as bobbin…. maybe a quill spindle, for cotton…? I can’t remember where I saw or heard of that, but pipe up if you know anything.
At any rate, I’m enjoying having a plain weave project with the reed on the loom again, and this time I’ve wound the far end, so I can weave a longer length without dealing with the full weight of a 3+ yard warp between me and the loom bar. Seems to be going ok. I have tension issues, but what else is new?
Otherwise, I’m working on the opposite end of the spectrum from plain weave - trying to wrap my mind around a pattern and technique that have been calling to me for years. It’s the typical Central Asian yurt band weaving, which Laverne has graciously explained in various tutorials, under the name of “simple warp floats” (simple because they float on one side only, the top.) I’ve had those pages, and this one, bookmarked and screen-shotted, and photos copied and printed since she started posting about it back in 2010. For some reason, the yurt bands have always grabbed me, and I knew I would have to figure it out someday. Yes, Laverne has explained it nicely and given plenty of ways for it to make sense - BUT, the actual translation of woven pattern to chart, especially with the Central Asian tendency to stipple the background, is really quite challenging. That final link, where Laverne made a wide piece with pickup in foreground and background, has just always thrilled me.
Note that in the tutorials, the background remains striped, which is plain weave with no pickup. Doing pickup on the whole surface is another ball game, and a very different one from Andean pebble weave or complementary warp pickup. The designs look similar, especially on the front, but structurally they are a different technique, and the rules for composing patterns are not the same at all.
I found out how different, and what some of the rules were, while trying to chart a section of a yurt band pattern, based on a printed photo of an actual band belonging to Marilyn Romatka.
I was still daunted by the wide yurt band patterns, but I really wanted to figure it out. Recently, circumstances came together that allowed me to sit down, look at Laverne’s images once more, and take on the pattern. I charted a quadrant of a symmetrical design, and started weaving a half-width to test it. So far, it’s working!
I’m continuing to look at the yurt band photos and trying to understand more of the typical patterning, so that I can create border designs in narrower strips. Spending my morning on this kind of thing is deeply gratifying, in the way that finally being able to weave something one has admired for years can be. The next effort at this will be with handspun wool.