A journey down the rabbit hole called collapse weave sampling …

I have to apologise, I know it has been three months since I blogged, and there is no excuse, apart from the fact that I am firmly of the belief that someone has increased the speed of”time” and there are now only 12 hours rather 24 in a day.

If someone could find the “pause” button I would be extremely grateful.

With the dawn of a new year, I had in my hot, not so little, hands, a hand dyed warp which was sent from the States and called “New Dawn”. It seemed appropriate that I start the new year with this warp.

I managed to get 6 items from this warp, and I think that a couple of them might just make it to the exhibition. It was so nice to be weaving with a beautiful hand painted warp of purples, pinks, oranges and lemon.

The warp was 8/2 tencel, and the weft was also 8/2 tencel except for the Jin piece which was woven using a 20/2 black cotton weft.

new-dawn-jan-2017-1g-use-menew-dawn-jan-2017-3a-use-menew-dawn-jan-2017-2g-use-menew-dawn-jan-2017-4f-usenew-dawn-jan-2017-5c-usenew-dawn-jan-2017-6f-useThere are two shawls, two wraps and two scarves. The drafts range from 8 shafts all the way through to 16, with the final scarf being Jin (still an ear worm for this weaver).

In order to get more than just four items out of this warp, I wove off the two larger wraps, then split the warp. I kept the warp threaded through the reed, but not the heddles, and I pushed it over to one side so it was out of the way whilst I continued weaving.

All was right with the world, and I thought that I was doing well … y’all know, as soon as that thought enters my head, disaster will strike.

I went to bed with the new section of warp threaded and tied loosely with slip knots at the front of the loom.  The next morning I had breakfast and was delighted that Fleegle (canine) was not sitting in front of me drooling, and Chi (feline) was not sitting on my shoulder trying to put his paw into my bowl. Life was good.

Breakfast finished, bowl cleaned, but wait … no dog on her bed, no cat to be seen. Then I went into the loom room, still no cat nor dog to be seen, but I knew they had been keeping themselves amused whilst I breakfasted in total bliss, completely unaware of the havoc they were wreaking.


480 ends x 2.5 metres – so much for slip knots !!! Dog and cat found hiding in the bedroom. The rest of the day was spent trying to separate all the ends and bundling them into little warp chains so that I could get them back onto the loom.

Despite the hiccup, it was a colourful way to start the new year :0)

It was around this time that I was commissioned to do a scarf which had a mixture of fine alpaca, thicker alpaca, brushed alpaca and alpaca boucle yarn in the warp and weft.

If I am going to put a warp on, I like putting enough on for at least two scarves. The end result was a scarf that felt just like a squishy marshmallow and which provided so much warmth that I had to have the air conditioner on full blast whilst the lovely lady handled, and tried the scarves on !!!dce-2016-alpaca-1

I liked the end result so much, that I decided to put on another warp, this time a little wider, and in addition to the alpaca yarns, I included some chenille, silk (in two different thickness) and some tencel.

If I thought the pure alpaca scarves were marshmallow like, these were super squishy and I fell in love immediately.

Now the lovely lady who purchased one of the alpaca scarves, saw the mixed fibre shawls on FaceBook and she came right on back. End result, I now no longer have one of these marshmallow shawls for the exhibition because she bought both of them.  All I have left are photos …

shawl-dec-2016-k-useshawl-dec-2016-fIt was around this time that I started planning out the exhibition in my head and I realised that there was very little “texture” in the items that I had woven. With this buzzing around my head, I decided that I should put in a couple of collapse weave scarves, just to add interest.

Now I say this in an offhand way, as though I have woven collapse weave items in the past …. no! This was something totally foreign to me, but I figured there were a couple of beautiful books in my library that I could use as reference.

Well to admit to not having connected brain cells at this point would be an understatement. Not only was I unable to get any of the yarns suggested in the reference books, but I was too stubborn to wait until an international shipment arrived. I just plowed forward.

Granted, I did go on FaceBook to see what people would suggest for a sett when using 60/2 silk as a warp.

May I share with you now that there are times when the access the internet grants you, only leads to more confusion. People were really kind and generous with their suggestions, but the setts suggested ranged from 20 epi to 120 epi.

The only thing left to do was to sample….

Another confession, I am not a sampler. Well, technically not true because I will sample chocolate, but I am not a sampler of weave structures. I would much rather weave a full length scarf as a sample, rather than little bitty bits.

But on went the Big Girl Pants, and a sample warp.  It was only after I was finished with the silk warp, over twist merino singles weft samples, that an experienced collapse weave weaver contacted me and suggested that silk was probably not the best warp because there could be some “slippage”.  Whaaaatttt ….

This immediately put doubt into my head.

These are the silk warp/over twist merino singles weft samples. In order to work out an appropriate sett, this warp has different setts. On the immediate left of each photograph is 60/2 silk sett at 40 epi, the pink warp is 20/2 silk sett at 20 epi, and the 60/2 silk on the right of each photograph is sett at 50 epi.

I wove 2/2 twill, 2/2 twill with tabby, 3/1 and 1/3 twill – all with different ppi. If you are interested in each samples information, it is on FaceBook under Billie Weaver. I won’t bore you with all the details here as life is way too short ;0)

collapse-sample-1-a-after-wet-finishcollapse-sample-5-a-after-wet-finishcollapse-sample-7-a-after-wet-finishcollapse-sample-8-a-after-wet-finishI wove 11 samples in total, and some were intriguing, some … well, let’s say they won’t be repeated any time soon by me.

But there was growing doubt in my head that I had been silly to use silk as the warp, so I wound another warp, this time using alpaca, and I was happily threading the loom when I realised that I had used the wrong cone. This alpaca yarn was singles … sigh …

You would think that I might have taken the warp off the loom and put on a plied alpaca warp, but I figured why not try with the singles, who knows, something spectacular might occur.

Eight samples were woven, again full details on Face Book, and some were kind of cool. The setts used were 20 epi for the left hand side of the sample, 24 epi for the middle section and 28 epi for the right hand side of the sample.

alpaca-ot-sample-1-wet-finishedalpaca-ot-sample-6-wet-finishedalpaca-ot-sample-wet-finished-aIt was around this time that I realised I was falling head first down a rabbit hole, or, as Leonard has described it, less rabbit hole and more sink hole !

Because I had used singles as a warp, I hadn’t really given the collapse weave a  chance to behave properly. The only solution, yet another warp.

This time I not only had the BGP’s on, but the brain cells were connected. The warp was a 74/2 merino warp. Again the sett was 20 epi, 24 epi and 28 epi. The weft was OT merino singles and a mix of OT merino singles and the 74/2 merino warp yarn. I was cooking with gas and the results were pretty amazing. There is a real difference between tabby, 2/2 twill, 3/1 twill and 1/3 twill.

merino-col-tabby-2-2-twill-15-ppi-ot-and-mer-weft-wf-1merino-col-tabby-2-2-twill-15-ppi-ot-and-merino-weft-wf-1amerino-col-tabby-20-ppi-ot-and-merino-weft-wf-1amerino-collapse-2-2-twill-20-ppi-wf-1merino-collapse-tabby-2-2-twill-20-ppi-wf-1amerino-collapse-tabby-20-ppi-wf-1aWhilst I was weaving these samples, I was also going through the reference books and I was fascinated by Z and S yarns. I figured whilst I was in the rabbit hole, I might as well try some of these yarns.

Now, with hand on heart, I swear to all the weaving Gods that I had read that if you use Z and S yarns in a warp, threaded as 1/3 and 3/1 twill stripes, the weave will collapse weft ways (as in the above samples). Fail !!! But I didn’t realise this was going to be a fail until I put the blasted samples into the water.

As I wove the samples, I repeated exactly the same threading, treadling, tie-up, epi and ppi as in the 74/2 merino samples. I had figured by doing this I could put the samples side by side to see any differences.  HA !!!

The samples hit the water, and the weft ways collapse that I was expecting did not happen, the collapse happened along the length of the warp. What started out as being a 12 inch length of warp, ended up 5 inches and less.

Samples were posted in FB, reference books were hurriedly searched, internet scanned and nothing. I had totally made it up in my head. Before I threw my hands up in despair, I reached for the chocolate (thank goodness I don’t drink, because I would have been totally drunk for the past 5 weeks), waited for the samples to dry and then took the time to look at them properly.

Something magical had happened. And although it wasn’t what I was expecting, or hoping for, there was a magic to the samples.

s-z-sample-1-wfs-z-sample-2-wfs-z-sample-3-wfs-z-sample-4-wfs-z-sample-5-a-wfs-z-sample-9-wfIn order to try and justify my 5 weeks spent down the rabbit hole, totally ignoring the looming (pun intended) deadline, I decided that I just had to put the samples to use. So I woven a full sized collapse weave scarf. Warp is the 72/4 Merino, Weft is the OT Merino Singles.

As I was trying to photograph it on the mannequin before wet finishing, there was a light breeze which kept lifting it into the air. It is so light, and a delight to wear. I think this one will be making it into the exhibition, along with a sample board of all the samples so that people can see what went into creating just one scarf.

LOL – I am thinking of including a second sample board with all the empty chocolate wrappers so any visitors get a sense of the despair that I felt at times ….. or is that TOO much drama queen ;0)

Before wet finishing

collapse-scarf-feb-2017-1m-useAfter wet finishingcollapse-scarf-feb-2017-1t-usecollapse-scarf-feb-2017-1zzNow I haven’t quite made it out of the rabbit hole, but my head is above ground.

I currently have another sample scarf on the loom, this time using the 74/2 Merino warp, but with a section of Z and S weft yarn running down the centre. My weft is the S yarn, and I am hoping, if things go according to plan, that the centre panel will try to collapse along the length, thereby dragging the 74/2 Merino with it. My hope is for gentle fluting along the edges.

My hope, and the actual final result …. well ….. who knows. I will leave that for another day.

If y’all are still with me, thank you for coming along for the ride, it has been a bit bumpy, with unexpected detours, but I enjoyed your company.

A friend sent me an email with the most apt sentence in it, and I have asked if I can use it, so I will leave you with this thought, “Weave with a happy heart”.

Till next time

Weaving with a happy heart … Billie



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