The most strange stat I read today: “Akismet has protected your site from 888 spam comments already” the spammers love me LOL. Please note the new page I have added, it has links to all parts of the weaving tutorial series. Well, now to business, here is the next tutorial.
Soumak weaving is an old weaving technique hailing from the near east. It is another technique that requires you to work with a needle on the looms I use. traditionally it was done on a vertical loom or a vertical “loom” with weights holding down every individual warp thread, and bundles of weft threads without shuttles or bobbins.
Soumak woven rugs are said to be more durable than normally woven ones because the warp is protected by more than one layer of weft, but not just as durable as rugs with pile. There probably were many, many variations, here I show the soumal variations I could come up with through research and trying things out.
To achieve the most simple pattern , you work raised stem stitch over the warp threads as shown. In weaving, you have to work to and fro. That means, if you have worked the stem stitch so that you always come up from under the thread in one row you have to work the opposite direction and come up over the thread in the next row. Please not that in weaving terminology, the thread used for the soumak knots should not be called weft because it is not interlaced with the warp, but I’m at a loss what else to call it.
This kind of weave is always somewhat stretchy in the weft direction. If this is undesired weave the back rows in plain weave to stabilize the fabric.
The next pattern is in fact the same, but the backside was turned into the frontside. I how how to do it because you can’t work from back and front on most loom. Other than the previous, this pattern would be mostly ruined by intermittent rows of plain weave. For embroiderers: It is done the same way as ribbed woven spiders.
This one is called counter-soumak. You work soumak stitches to and fro but always come up under (or over) the previous thread. Again, you cannot easiely add rows of plain weave in between, but yoou could add them after two rows of soumak. In some old needlework books this very technique is used to repair holes in knitted cloth.
This is a variant. Instead of going four threads forward/two threads backward as in normal soumak (or stem stitch) I went four threads forward and three threads backward, producing a broad, tightly packed stem stitch. Coming up under the previous stitch is next to impossible with this, because adjacent stitches overlap each other. On the right side, the back rows are plain weaving (almost ivisible), on the left side, there are three rows of plain weaving between the soumak rows.
As you see in this picture, soumak weaving doesn’t need to be at right angle to the warp. Just go play.
Also there sure are many more variations to it that I haven’t discovered jet.
Oh well, the stitch explorer catchup month has gone out of the window because of my obsession with weaving. Here is another finished piece. I’m not sure Sharon B would count this as needleweaving in the sense of the challenge.
My brother saw it and exclaimed “oh cute a wall carpet for a doll house – it shows a sundown in the desert right?”. In fact it was done as a tryout piece, without anything pictorial in mind, but now I do think his description fits.
In the previous parts I have shown how to construct improvised looms. There are many more methods to do this, I have just shown the ones I use. I also have shown traditional weaving techniques.
In this part of the tutorial I will show a few things that can’t be easiely done with a shuttle, on a normal production loom. At least for modern people, these techniques are too time consuming for producing the amounts of fabric needed for clothing and should best be used for things like ATCs, postcards or small panels.
You can do chain stitches over the warp instead of weaving.
This is how the chain stitches look when carefully done and worked to and fro. Achieving a nice and regular look with this is not easy because you have to maintain even tension. Practice will improve the outcome.
Another possibility is to work the chain stitches in one direction and then work the row back in normal weaving. If you alternate after every row (the purple rows) you won’t see the rows of plain weave and get chain stitches pointing all in the same direction. You also can do more plain weaving between the rows of chain stitch in order to get stripes (the brown part).
Another thing to remember is that warp and weft don’t need to be at right angle to each other. you can weave at a different angle with any technique, but something like chain stitch is definitely making it easier.
You can probably use more stitches over the warp of a weaving piece than chain stitch. Just try out.
Another fun thing I didn’t get round to do in my recent pieces is knots with a pile, as in carpets. Yes, oriental carpets are woven/knotted on a loom, over warp threads. See Marla Malletts explanations on how this is done.
First, I want to show you another method of starting threads that I found in this tutorial. Split the tread in two parts for this if possible or use a thread you can use double. fasten it arround a warp thread with a slip knot.
Another remark: Diane suggested in a comment to ue plastc canvas as a loom, just anchor the warp threads in it and cut it away when you’re done. Thank you Diane, sounds like a good idea to me (or would, if plastic canvas was common here).
In my previous works woven on improvised looms you have probably seen many areas of different pattern side by side. Here I show how this is done as best as I know.
The first method is the slit weaving method. You simply turn where one colour ends and weave back and forth in the intended shape. The adjacent shapes are done the same way, so that slits form between colour areas. This is more difficult than it looks. If you pull the warp together just a little bit while weaving the slits will become ugly holes. Also, the pattern should be designed for this to avoid really long gaping slits.
The advantage of this is that the borders between colours are very clearcut. This is usually used in traditional Kelims.
In the piece I show, one side of the round whape is strictly slit weaving, on the other I cheated because the thing was slightly pulled out of shape.
The next method is called dovetailing, and is imho the easiest and most versatile one. The two areas in different colours share one warp thread at the border. With a needle, you can weave one shape first and add the adjacent one as shown in the photograph. With a shuttle or something similar you will have to weave both shapes simultaneously, alternating between colours.
You can use this when the two threads are different in gauge, just weave arround the shared warp thread where it seems appropriate, not strictly after every thread of the first shape.
The next method is interlocking. With a needle, thread the the weft of one shape through the loop the weft of the other shape has formed when turning, you can pick up the warp thread either or not as it suits you. With shuttles, weave the two shapes simultaneously and wrap the two threads arround each other where they meet.
This will only work well when using same gauge thread and a similar weaving technique for both pieces, but then it can look more cleanly than dovetailing.
The last technique would be brocading, but i have never done this myself. In this technique, you use 2 or more differently coloured weft threads simultaneously and alternate between them leaving floats either on the backside or on the front side, comparable to fair isle knitting. This technique is suitable for conventional western looms and can be done by machines easiely. I’m not sure about the other techniques.
The other 3 techniques are mainly used in folk craft, for example slit weaving in oriental kelims, dovetailing or interlocking in Navajo rugs. These are usually done on vertical looms, without combs and heddles as we know them from conventional western looms, more often than not even without shuttles or needles.
I’ve not got that much new stuff to show, so here are a few pics I took during the last two weeks, dokumenting the creatures I chanced upon.
A rather battered butterfly, maybe that also was the reason why the poor thing ignored me while eating, allowing me closeup photographs. It was tiny, only about 2 cm, the pic is enlarged 2fold.
This is a spider, it was so satisfied with the world that it didn’t bother to eat that other bug.
I met this pidgeon at Munich main station. Isn’t he beautiful?
This dragonfly hatched at the garden pond, we took it inside to dry and learn how to fly so that the sparrows won’t ear it.
The last one is a male bee (I think). I saw it late in the evening, on my way home, so it was cold and slow so that I could photograph it close up.