Roc Day

Marcy Petrini


Roc Day is the gathering of spinners that occurs the day following Epiphany. The legend has it that after fortnight, women, who had put up their wheels and looms for the holiday baking and chores, returned to weaving and spinning, but the men wouldn’t return to their farm duties until the following Monday. In between this time, the men would harass the women (figures, nothing has changed), so the women wouldn’t get much done, but merrymaking resulted. Roc is the old German word for the flat part of the spinning wheel.

I am not sure about the merrymaking or the men returning to farm duties in the middle of winter, but when I was growing up in Rome, Italy, the holiday season did end on Epiphany and normal life resumed on January 7th.

Technically, then, Roc Day is January 7th, also known as Saint Distaff’s Day. However, we celebrate the Gulf Coast States Roc Day on the 1st Saturday after the New Year holiday. Our “reason” for the get-together is to spin, knit, or use some other portable fiber technique, but we visit, invite vendors so we can shop, show off our work, catch up on the year events, and have a leisurely lunch with old and new friends. Fiber guilds in the region rotate hosting Roc Day. I am just back from Roc Day 2016, a wonderful event hosted by the Bayou Yarn Benders of Baton Rouge, LA. In addition to the visiting, shopping and, well, yes, eating, I was a vendor, providing the manuscript that my husband Terry Dwyer and I produce.

Here are some people at Roc Day 2016 having some serious fiber fun!



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Treadling Undulating Twills

Marcy Petrini


When discussing Undulating Twill (12/21/15) and showing the drawdown for the Christmas fabric, I said that the treadling was also undulating. And in discussing Colors in Nature (11/30/15), I mentioned that the scarf was threaded in undulating twills. The scarf is still on the loom, delayed by a combination of the holidays but also of spending a lot of time weaving and unweaving. Why? Because the beat in an undulating twill treadling can be tricky.

Here is the drawdown for the fall colors scarf:

The warp colors rotate: rust cotton, gold cotton, light brown silk and sage green silk, sett at 20 picks per inch (ppi). The weft is a yellow silk which I have chosen because of its luminosity. Despite the colors moving across the fabric because of the rotation, the pattern shows.

Using a standard tie-up (1 & 2; 2 & 3; 3 & 4; 4 & 1), the treadling proceeds from single shots – 1, 2, 3, 4 – to a doubling in steps: 1, 1, 2, 3, 4, followed by 1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 4, etc. And then reversing to form the diamond in the undulating pointed twill.

Whenever there are single shots, the beat can be as usual, the different sheds separate each weft. But whenever there are double shots, the two wefts in the same shed want to snuggle together and change the picks per inch.

To counteract the problem I first beat harder (30 ppi), which resulted in a fabric too stiff for a scarf; unweave. Then I tried to beat so that the double-shot areas were closer to the warp sett of 20, but the single-shot areas were too lose; unweave. I finally found a compromise of an overall beat of approximately 18 ppi: the double shots are always going to be a bit denser than the single shots, but as long as the fabric is consistent and drapeable, the scarf will be wearable.

Of course I could have avoided the problem by using an extended pointed twill treadling, but I like the undulations that the combination of the doubling in threading and treadling produces.

The sett of 20 is appropriate for a twill with a combination of 8/2 and 5/2 cottons and silks, but if I were to do this again, I may consider a bit closer sett, 22 perhaps. As long as each project has a lesson, the time working on it is well spent.


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Undulating Twills

Marcy Petrini


On last week blog I showed a Christmas fabric with an undulating twill. The question came up: what is an undulating twill?

I like to think of an undulating twill as the result of stretching any twill. And there are many different ways to accomplish this stretching. Let’s take for example a straight twill: 1, 2, 3, 4, repeat. We could stretch it regularly:

This second, doubled, repeat changes the slope of the twill. We can also stretch the straight will irregularly:

This irregular repeat causes the undulating slope to be more pronounced.

My favorite way to undulating a twill is to do it in steps; I used this method for the Christmas fabric woven with a pointed undulating twill, shown here with its drawdown. The treadling is also undulating, but it is possible to use a number of treadlings, including straight and pointed twill.

Sett must be considered carefully. For example, look at the point where we treadle 3 & 4: the float is over 6 threads. At a sett of 12 ends per inch, the float would be ½”, likely too long for most useful fabrics. At a sett of 48, the float would be only ”. In the past I have used a different sett for different parts of the fabric, but that tends to diminish the undulation, defeating the purpose of the structure.


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Looking Forward to HGA’s Convergence® 2016

Marcy Petrini


Christmas is over and so are most of the religious holidays; 2015 is coming to an end and 2016 is just around the corner. The conventional wisdom is that, at this time of year, people make new-year resolutions, which by February 1 have already been broken.

I haven’t made a new-year resolution for years, but before January 1 rolls around I do like to think about my fiber work for the coming year, not necessarily in specifics since new opportunities often come up, but more in the sense of assessing “where do I go from here?”

But for 2016, since I am scheduled to teach at Convergence®, I do have more specific plans for writing and weaving. For the Color and Weave seminar, I’d like to weave at least one more sample and update the handout. The write-up for the Weaving Errors seminar is really a monograph, which is half-way done; I have gotten a bit behind because of the holidays. For the Four to More super seminar, the handout is very old, so it needs a lot of work. For both studios, Interaction of Structure and Function and Re-Inventing Twills, the handouts are monographs, both completed, but they may need some tweaking. (See for details on the seminars and the conference.)

The process is circular. I write a bit, figure out what samples I need, look for them in my stash, and weave them if nothing fits the bill; then comes the photography by my husband, Terry Dwyer, which leads to more writing, etc. Because the studio is the best place in the house to take pictures, it gets reorganized for a photo shoot – and of course, there are helper cats all over:


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Christmas and Complimentary Colors

Marcy Petrini


Since the day after Thanksgiving, our neighborhood has started to twinkle with Christmas lights and decorations. I love lights of any kind, but my favorite Christmas embellishments are textiles. I made several over time, and every time I weave with red and green I have to remember that they are complimentary colors: some kind of “trick” has to be used so they don’t dull each other (sometimes you read that they grey out, but to my eyes is more brown than grey).

If you look at printed textiles for Christmas using true red and green – or any other true complimentary color pair – you notice that the colors don’t become muddied. That’s because in printing, there are relatively large areas of each color. The muddying of the complimentary colors occurs when there is mixing, as in warp and weft interactions. To avoid dull combinations, I like to use one or more of three techniques that I have found work well: 1) change the intensity or saturation of one of the complimentary colors; 2) use a tertiary color as a substitute for one of primaries; 3) add a third color.

For the first technique, we can use a tone (adding black) or a shade (adding grey) of one of the two complimentary colors, for example, a dark green with true red, or a dark red with true green. A tint can be used just as effectively, that is, a lighter color obtained by adding white, for example pink instead of red with true green. Better yet, use a mixture of all of them. The piece below, a plaited twill for a Christmas tree skirt, uses a variety of greens for the warp.


This fabric also uses the second method, substituting the tertiary of one of the two complimentary colors; for red, the tertiary is red-orange, obtained by mixing the primary red with the secondary orange (which in turn is obtained by mixing two primaries: red and yellow give us orange). The weft of the tree skirt is red-orange.

The fabric below shows the third method. To the red and green I added silver, which has the benefit of having some sparkle. This undulating twill was used for a Christmas wreath sash, using a red warp, and a weft of green with a silver thread.


Now take the complimentary blue and orange and see what you can do to make them sparkle!


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