Studio Stories: Inspired by Klee

About Studio Stories

Studio Stories is an occasional series of posts which looks at the inspiration and processes behind some of the projects I have completed over the years. As well as the article published here, there is exclusive content, including downloadable wif files, shared with my newsletter subscribers.

Double cloth sampler

I’ve been sharing occasional peeks at a particular double cloth sampler on this website for quite a while now: you may be starting to recognise the blue and orange colour combination! It was inspired by a visit to Bern to see the Zentrum Paul Klee and some thought-provoking ideas of the artist that made me want to experiment: there is more about this in my newsletter.

The whole sampler is quite a substantial piece and it was an interesting exercise to weave. I wove it on my floor loom and I didn’t plan ahead exactly what I was going to do. Instead, I had in mind a quotation from Klee and an inclination to let my feet and hands find their way.

From blocks to beads

The pattern at the bottom of this photo is one I think of as ‘beads on a string’. I am going to share a draft and a few thoughts on how this part of the sampler evolved from standard double cloth blocks to a pattern of beads.

Do you want to understand double weave?

My six-week online course will introduce you to double weave on an 8-shaft loom.

The threading and tie-up were as shown in this post. The drafts below are annotated to illustrate the basic ingredients. You can download a larger image (without annotations) at the end of the post.

The green box at the top of the treadling highlights the sequence of four lifts needed to create one of the two options for blocks. The second green box highlights the sequence needed for the opposite set of blocks.

Note that two treadles are pressed at a time, but that the centre four treadles (which make the plain weave interlacement) are always woven in the same order. This pattern of plain weave lifts is the same throughout the draft.

The first green box on this draft shows a sequence of four in which the blue layer is on top. The second shows a sequence in which I have exchanged layers halfway through.

When weaving double cloth in plain weave, we work in sets of four picks to complete the plain weave sequence in both layers. However, a set of two picks is sufficient to keep the top and bottom layers in balance, so we can switch things around for either the first or second pair of picks. In this case, just one orange pick appears on the face of the cloth.

And if we can switch layers for a single pair of picks, why not weave blocks for a single pair of picks?

These green boxes highlight two sequences which produce blocks of a single contrasting pick. I really like these bright slivers of yellow and orange showing on the dark blue ground.

This draft shows the final step in shifting from blocks to beads.

The upper green box here is the same as the upper green box highlighted on the previous draft: it makes blocks for a single pair of picks. The lower green box has exactly the same treadling sequence, but for the picks which make blocks I have swapped the shuttles over, so that blue interlaces with orange and orange with blue.

I have only highlighted the first of the two block sequences here, but the second sequence is modified in exactly the same way. I will let you make the comparison.

If you’d like to download an image of the draft without any green boxes on it, you will find one here.

Making it up

Reflecting on this sampler I realised that I would not have thought of these design options in the abstract. It was the process of setting up my loom and then exploring what I could do with that setup which led me to try new things. I hope you will be inspired by this example to try ‘making it up as you go’!

First posted on © Cally Booker