Monday, October 31, 2016

Swedish Weaving: Part 3

"Right" (top) & "Wrong" (bottom) sides
Swedish weaving, or “huck” weaving, is traditionally done on a closely woven cotton toweling fabric called “huck” (shortened from “huckaback”). If you If you examine the fabric closely, you will find that one side is rough to the touch, while the other side feels smooth. Since the purpose of a towel is to dry something, the rough side is the “right” side of the fabric. Look closely and you will see rows of raised stitches running horizontally across the cloth, perpendicular to the selvage edges ( ). Turning to the smooth, or “wrong”, side of the cloth, you will notice pairs of upright (vertical) threads running parallel to the selvage edges (⌡⌡ ⌡⌡ ⌡⌡). these slightly loose threads are called “floats' or “slubs”. The “floats” alternate position in each row, so that one “float” that is directly above another is in the second row of stitches above it not the first. It is with these “floats” that Swedish weaving is done. This makes it a rare type of embroidery done entirely on the “wrong” side of the cloth!

Horizontal and diagonal stitches
It has been several months since we discussed this topic, and some of you are new readers, so some of this material will be repetitive. We concentrated in the first two sessions (March 11, 2016 and March 31, 2016) primarily on horizontal stitches and diagonal stitches and the patterns which can be made with them. Vertical stitches were shown only as connections. These stitches, however, are decorative on their own. They are also useful in making tall, columnar patterns and four-sided designs. To make an upright (vertical) pattern stitch, run the needle right to left under the first float. Move up to the float directly above and again run the needle under the float from right to left. Continue until your column is the desired height. This produces a “wrapped” appearance to the stitches. A block of upright stitches gives texture to a design. Upright and horizontal stitches combine well. The red patterns will give you ideas for simple patterns you can do with this stitch. In the purple patter, each upward and downward vertical stitch skips a float in the center of the stitch.

The step stitch combines a horizontal stitch and a vertical stitch, and moves diagonally upward and downward across the fabric Multiple rows of this stitch produce interesting designs, particularly when a different color is used for each row. To do this most easily, begin with the bottom row of the design and work each following row directly above it. The rows can also be worked in reverse to make a larger more complex design. Do all the upper rows first. Then turn your fabric upside-down and repeat the pattern, starting once again with the bottom row. A diamond-shaped space is created in the design when it is done this way. If you like, you can put initials or tiny embroidery designs in these spaces.

A simple step-stitch pattern, repeated two different ways
 Another useful basic stitch is the loop stitch or circle stitch. Begin with one or more horizontal stitches. Slip your needle under a pair of floats from right to left. Point your needle in the opposite direction. Move up to the floats directly above the one you just worked. This time pass your needle from left to right. Return to the lower stitch and once again run your needle under the same floats from right to left. Pull the thread gently until it makes a loop or circle. Tension is very important with this stitch. If you leave the thread too loose, your stitches will be irregular and not look like even loops or circles. If you pull the thread too tight, you will distort (pucker) the fabric. Practice until it feels right. Spacing the loops differently in parallel rows makes different patterns. To make reverse loop- stitch rows, turn your fabric upside=down and proceed normally. Loop stitches and horizontal stitches combine attractively, as you can see in this border. Here the loops are alternated, with the top of each loop passing under the same float as the spacing stitch either above or below it. If you want to have even lines of loops, try them two ways: evenly spaced so that the loops intersect, or lines of loops spaced a row of floats apart so they do not intersect. You will be surprised how much difference this makes.

Aqua/turquoise loop-stitch design
There is another loop stitch that you might like, called half-loop stitch. It is used for up-and-down borders, stems, etc. Work from right to left, make a couple of horizontal stitches, and pick up a float. Then, working from left to right, insert the needle under the float directly above the one you just picked up, but complete only the right half of the loop by picking up the float above. Complete the left half of that loop by crossing under the middle float with the needle pointing from left to right. Complete the right side of the bottom loop, working under the first float again. You can make the column of loops as tall as you like by working in this back-and-forth manner. Make at least one horizontal stitch between loop columns. The stitch gets its name because it is made a half loop at a time. To make the pattern below, begin with a couple of straight stitches. Make a loop stitch and a spacer stitch, then make a column of two half-loop stitches. Continue making columns of half-loop stitches in increasing sizes, with spacing stitches between them, for as long as you like. Then repeat the stitches in the reverse order to the end.

Dark blue half-loop stitches
Finally, there is the long stitch. This is a very flexible stitch which can be used in a variety of ways. It is primarily used to create diamond shapes. In the top example, a long diagonal shape is created by skipping more floats horizontally than you skip vertically. One long-stitch row is worked across the design. Then a second long-stitch row is worked as a mirror-image of the first row. Where the rows intersect, both threads pass under the same floats. The second set of diamonds is more open and the diamonds are square. The same number of floats are involved, both vertically and horizontally.

Two kinds of diamond shapes
The weaving is done with a small tapestry needle. Tapestry needles have blunt points that can slip under the floats without breaking the float threads. The smallest needle that will hold the type of thread being used for the embroidery and slide under the floats without breaking them is the one to use. If the “weaving” is done properly, the needle never dips through the huck fabric and no stitches are ever seen on the other side of the cloth. (NOTE: This is not possible when doing the designs on other fabrics like monk's cloth or Aida; you will always see some thread on the reverse side of the cloth.)

Practice your stitches and patterns, please, because we will soon begin a project with them.

Have fun.

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