5 Wefts Used to Create This Weaving
Do you want to know how to draw like a weaver? I'll use a recent weaving built with five wefts as an example. Take 6 crayons or pencils or inks and arrange them so you will use them in the same sequence, over and over and over. In this case, weft one (color 1) is salmon, weft/color 2 is black, weft/color 3 is dark green, weft/color 4 is white, and weft/color 5 is light green. The sixth color represents the warp--red in this case. It might help if you have a page with horizontal lines on it, or under it as a guide, or just go freehand--weavings tend to be wobbly even though they follow a grid.
How a Weaving Builds
Now make a series of horizontal dashes, on the same line, with the red color that represents where you want that color in your image. Follow this with some dashes on the same line with the black color where black should go. Put the black down and pick up the light green and draw your light green dashes on the same line. Then put that color down and pick up the white color--and draw your horizontal dashes on the same line, followed by some horizontal dashes of the dark green. Depending on your image, you might have filled in the complete horizontal row, if not, fill in the spaces with the red color, which represents the warp. Now move to the next line and continue building color by color, line by line. Some lines might not show any of one color. You get a break here drawing on paper, but as a weaver, that weft is still thrown, working at the back of the cloth rather than the front.
Most of my recent weavings are composed of series of four or five weft colors. I am averaging 140 picks per inch--sometimes more, sometimes less. If using four wefts, that means they pack down to look like 35 horizontal rows composed of four colors, plus warp color. To be fair, I don't actually draw my images line by line but use Photoshop to make compositions and insert weave structure. The book Alice Schlein and I wrote, The Woven Pixel: Designing for Jacquard and Dobby Looms Using Photoshop®, is a great resource if you want to learn how to do this. When I want to weave a design though, I do have to build it, pick by pick, and in this example that would mean five picks (wefts) create one horizontal row in the cloth. It is not unusual for my weavings to exceed 5000 picks. I am standing at the loom most of the time, though recently I obtained a stool that I can use too. 300-400 picks per hour adds up to alot of hours at the loom. What would be excruciating for some people turns out to be sanity for me.
Sea Glass formation on Bear Island
Sea Glass by Bhakti Ziek, handwoven jacquard 2010
Sometimes though I want things to move a bit faster. Sea Glass was woven in a new structure for me, a lampas that used a plain weave ground against a three shaft patterning twill. I dropped my wefts to three systems in the center, but created 15 structures with them. The sides of the weaving are a damask structure using just one weft. When I saw this bottle of wine at the store I had to buy it. I didn't know sea glass existed until the summer vacation in Maine, but the wine and wikipedia showed me it is a well-known phenomena.