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To Think That I Saw it on Sullivan Street

Sally Orgren's picture
First sample testing weft colors, stripe width, and size
1/2 of sample, wet-finished, with 9.6% warp and 6% weft take up and shrinkage.
Design based on Sullivan Street, NYC photos captured 1983,1997, 2017
Draft #6.
Project Status: 
Project Date: 
Sat, 01/06/2018 - Mon, 01/29/2018
Number of Shafts: 
Number of Treadles: 
30.00 EPI
Length on Loom: 
8.00 yd
Width on Loom: 
23.00 in

This project is the 2018 Cross Country Weavers color challenge, based on the book, "Colors of the World," by Jean-Philippe and Dominique Lenclos. The samples are due in March.

The book visits select sites from all seven continents, analyzes the geography, soil compositon, architecture, and colors used by residents on their dwellings, and in some instances, records changes in some of these locations over time with skteches and photos.

Sullivan Street, NYC, was one of the locations identified, so I decided to see how this particular block of brownstones featured in the book had changed from their 1983 and 1990s image. I made scans, zoomed them up to locate the exact street address, and was surprised to find the same general set of colors were still being used, but appeared on different buildings in 2017.

In addition to taking my own photos to compare to the book, I ran the scans through a color batching program to define the color identity and distribution of colors. Of course, these software programs take into account colors in the background of the images like the shadows, parked cars, trees, and sky, so I wasn’t taking the data produced by these algorithms literally. I want to weave fabric that gives off the feel of the street.

Of all the colorful places in the world featured in the book, I was drawn to this location because it was nearby, and these were not colors normally in my wheelhouse. I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could come up with something pleasing.

I need 32 generously-sized samples for the exchange, and I decided to make towels with the remaining warp for the guild sale. If the towels sell - I will know I was successful!

In planning, I typically make some colored pencil sketches, yarn wraps, and then move to the software to refine the design further. I started out with evenly-sized stripes, and then challenged myself to make them irregular, but to have an overall balanced appearance. This has been the toughest part so far!

The plan: 24” wide at 30 epi = 720 warps (5.5 pattern repeats)

I also plan to use 20/2 white or beige cotton for the weft. The draft is 6 shaft, so the thin accent stripes (threaded on shaft 5 & 6) can float for 3 (or more) pics in the wider stripes, repeating the way the windows regularly break up the fronts of the brownstones. Note, this could easily be woven on 4 shafts.

1/19/18 Revised Draft with potential crammed sleying for accent threads.

1/20/18 720 warp threads wound, beaming up next.

Another draft revision (#5), this time to 10 shafts because I didn’t have enough heddles on shafts 3 & 4, and it is far faster and easier to redraft with the software than physically move heddles.

I have also decided to sley the “peek-a-boo” pinstripes 4 per dent instead of 3.

1/22 Dope slap to forehead. Reboot! I am now working off Draft 6 as I realized when I was beamed, warped, sleyed and ready to weave, that I made a drafting error. I didn’t want white weft floats on the opposite side of the warp floats. So, I pulled everything out and am re-threading. No kidding. (And not without considering a lot of options first.)

1/29 Was weaving by Friday night, 1/26. Located and corrected a few errors: one threading, and three crossed threads between the heddles and reed.

Sampling included testing warp float lengths (3 vs 5 picks), weft colors and stipe depth, and weft yarn size (20/2 vs 16/2). I was planning to use 20/2, but actually like the 16/2 better.

I have woven about 24” so far, and weaving is not proceeding as smoothly as expected. The “relaxed” paired warp threads seem too loose, and are sometimes interlacing when they are not supposed to.

I have weighted these warps (on shaft 9 & 10) separately, but I may need to make further adjustments. You can see what these skips look like in one of the blue areas on the wet-finished sample. I am trying to monitor them, but would prefer to come up with a 100% solution.

Note to self: if I ever do this again, do not put a 2 thread dark stripe along the selvedge with a light warp (left side of washed sample.)


I am weaving off the yardage and it's going smoothly. (Hope I don't jinx anything by saying that!) I added weight to the rod: Two 20 oz bottles on each end, and left the 8 oz bottle in the center. The first set of towels (23 X 34" on loom) are plain, the second set has the 6 weft stripes as seen in the photo, and the final set, well, I haven't decided yet.

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Sally Orgren's picture
Joined: 06/08/2009
Differential Take Up

I was noticing two problems when I started weaving the yardage: the relaxed warp pairs were going a little too slack for my preference, and they were bunching up at the fell line when weaving. When I lifted these pairs after 5 picks, the slack snapped out, but there were sometimes spots of errant interlacement that I missed.

I suspended a weighted rod over the paired warps, and lashed it to the back beam. But this seemed to make the problem worse, and the warps hung several inches lower that the warp plane.

Next, I added my warp extender, slipping it under the entire warp, attaching it behind the back beam, and then suspending the rod with 1.5 pounds of water weight between the beam and the extender. Now the paired warps only sat about an inch below the warp, and the weaving is progressing much more reliably. Sara T recommended going around to the back and giving them a tug every once in a while, which I do. And I am using a temple, to make sure the weft packs in.

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