Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Closer Look -- Stretch of the Imagination

This post is part of a series taking a closer look at award-winning entries from exhibits at Northern Wefts.

Jean Hutchison's Stretch of the Imagination was the result of a challenge Jean posed to herself.

"I was introduced to bead leno in a Robyn Spacy workshop," she says. "Experimenting on my own after the workshop, I was excited to find that I could get a somewhat stretchy fabric depending on my sett and fiber.  I went on to try doup leno where I achieved much more stretch.  After experimenting with a series of doup leno scarves, I challenged myself to weave fabric for a garment."

That garment won the Margaret Grant Memorial Award for weaving on no more than four shafts in the fashion show at Northern Wefts. This award recognizes an elegant fashion fabric developed from a simple structure that complements a garment's design.

Whispered aside from Donna: As a volunteer handling garments at the fashion show judging, it was exciting to see judge Daryl Lancaster's appreciation for this entry. I knew I couldn't do justice to an explanation of what it takes to weave this structure. Jean generously answered the questions I should have asked. These are her words.
Doup leno is a structure where two warp ends twist around each other and the twist is held in place by the weft. It produces a lacy fabric. 
First doups must be made. These are the loops that produce the twist. I used nylon mason cord. These are attached to the bottom of shaft 2. 
The doup goes through the eye of a heddle on shaft 1. Then a thread on shaft 4 goes over the doup and a thread on shaft 3 goes through the doup.
The result is that the warp ends threaded on shafts 3 and 4 can twist. I found an article by Irma Spaartaren, “Give it a Twist:  Doup Leno” at  to be very helpful in figuring this all out.

As far as the actual weaving, there are only two repeated pics.  The shed is very small for one of them.  On this shed, I used a sword to establish the shed, put the sword up on its edge and then put the shuttle through.  Luckily there were only 8 picks per inch.

The weaving and sewing of this project were definite challenges for me.  I am very thankful for encouragement and help from Alie Thompson and weavers in her Woodstock Weavers garment class, and from Virginia Reisner from Chicago area guilds and Joanne Hall from Glimakra-USA for tips on getting a better shed.

The warp for this fabric is 20/2 pearl cotton doubled and novelty yarn sett at 16 doubles per inch and sleyed as 2 doubles-2 doubles-0 in a 12-dent reed. The weft is Bambu. The garment pattern Jean used is Simplicity 2283.

Jean learned to weave at Sievers School of Fiber Arts almost thirty years ago. Jean is known both for her weaving for the home -- table runners, placemats, window treatments, rugs, coverlets and more -- and her elegant handwoven garments.  "I enjoy designing fabric through  understanding and using different weave structures," she says.

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Thanks for sharing!