The Power of Negative Space

Now that I have the new loom, I’m off and running. The first project was from Season 3, Episode 1 – Denting of Jane Stafford’s Online Weaving School in brown and rust 16/2 cotton. I showed a bit of the warping process in my previous post about the loom. The idea is to add some interest to plain weave by considering the spaces as well as the fabric. The warp was arranged in 1/2″ segments – 1/2″ of warp at 24 ends per inch (12 warp threads), then a 1/2″ gap. The colours started at rust on the edge, moving through browns to a light ivory then reversing. There are 14 of the 1/2″ segments of warp and 13 empty gaps between.

Warp with gaps in reed

When weaving, the idea is to weave some normal plain weave, then leave gaps. I decided to attempt to space the weft the same way as the warp – weaving 1/2″ squares and leaving 1/2″ square gaps.

Leaving space while weaving

There’s a bit of an art to getting the spacing right, but once I got the hang of it the whole process was pretty quick. I wove three scarves this way. In the first I did 2 of the 1/2″ woven stripes in each colour before changing – mirroring the warp with the weft. The second divided the length of the scarf into 7 pieces so that I would have longer bits of each colour. For the third I used a tencel thread for the weft and wove the same colour for the whole scarf. All three scarves are light and breezy – perfect for spring and summer here in Brisbane (click on the pictures to see a larger version).

After three scarves I was ready to try something different, so I took the warp out of the reed and re-sleyed it. This time I made the rust and light brown 48 epi with no gaps, the medium brown was sleyed at 18 epi and the ivory at 12 epi. Then I wove it by beating harder for the rust and the light brown, and leaving square gaps between threads for the medium brown and ivory.

Varying ends per inch

The result is a gauzy fabric with tight bands.

Crammed and Dented Scarf

After 4 scarves, I had about 20″ of warp left, not enough for another. So I took the opportunity to sample the 16/2 yarn at 24epi. I’m quite happy with this fabric, so I’ll be weaving something out of this yarn at 24epi in the future – perhaps yardage for sewing.

This project has been a great way to see the importance of density in the woven fabric – and how gaps or negative space can influence the result.

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