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 www.weavespindye.org 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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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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Sleying and Reeds

Marcy Petrini


I wanted to sley my fall color warp (see Blog of 11/30/15) at a sett of 20 ends per inch, but I don’t have a 20-dent reed. I do have a 10-dent reed, and conventional wisdom would have me use it and sley 2 warp ends per dent (epi).

I often dent multiple warp ends; I think that, when threads are sett more closely, sleying one per dent may cause the threads to rub the metal slats of the reed and be weakened by it. So, I sley a 36 epi warp double in an 18-dent reed; a 48 epi warp is sleyed 4 per dent in a 12 dent reed, and so forth. Of course, not all combinations have to have the same number of threads per dent.

Somehow, though, this 20 epi warp seemed “too lose” doubled in a 10-dent reed. I think that the multiples work better when the threads are a bit smaller. The 36 epi warp doubled in an 18-dent reed mentioned above works just fine, but a 10 epi warp doubled in a 5-dent reed can bunch up and not spread out evenly. So, for this 20 epi warp I wanted another sleying. I have reeds with 12, 15 and 18 dents for that loom. What would my denting look like? The principle is to make the sleying as even as possible across an inch; but we also must remember that the last dent of an inch is followed by a dent for the following inch, and the evenness must continue.

For these reasons, I like to figure out my denting for two inches, here superimposed because of space. Following is what my sleying would look like in the 12, 15 and 18 dent reeds for the 20 epi warp; the first row in each table, with the red numbers, represents the dents in the reed; the second row is the denting of the 1st inch (beige background) and the third row is the denting of the 2nd inch (in light blue).

Notice the transition between the 1st and 2nd inch: for example, in the 12-dent reed, the 2, 2, 1 denting at the end of the 1st inch is followed by the 2, 2, 1 denting at the beginning of the 2nd inch. The same even progression is true for the other reeds. Ultimately I decided to use the 15 dent reed; I was afraid that doubling every 9th thread in the 18-dent reed may show up as vertical lines; the 15-dent reed is more regularly spaced, as is the 12-dent, but the warp is more spread out in the 15th. The weaving has begun…

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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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Colors in Nature

Marcy Petrini


I love color and nothing inspires me more than nature, with her subtle differences in shades, juxtaposition of hues, and tint contrasts that make the eye jump from one color to the other. Here in the South, the brilliant spring shades of flowers lead to a myriad of summer greens, followed by greens dotted with a bit of fall colors, leading to more muted browns in the winter. But we don’t get the brilliant fall colors that I love most, so I like to get away in autumn to the woods north of Mississippi. Earlier in the month we did a bit of driving and walking in the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia. The local folks told us that the peak of the fall colors had passed; no matter, those glorious colors were all around us.

So, I came home and planned my next weaving project, inspired by the trip: sage green, rust, gold and brown in silks and cottons, with a pointed undulating twill, also inspired by the trip: the wind rustling through the trees moved the leaves and branches in waves. The warp in on the loom…..

Meanwhile, I am reminded that this was not the first time I came home from a fall trip and just had to weave those colors; a couple of years ago we went to the hills of Arkansas and I came home to paint those browns, greens and a bit of orange with oil-based crayons (Shiva Artist’s Paintstik®). There was some snow already on top of the mountains, so I left some of the 10/2 white cotton warp unpainted; then I wove a scarf with a light brown 5/2 silk using a broken twill, shown below:

Fabrics, painting and photography can reflect nature’s colors, but nothing comes close to what the eye can actually detect. Still, looking at the scarf, I can see those glorious mountains in my mind’s eyes

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