Sunday, 15 February 2009

Preparation ...

Haranorte-san wrote on her Japanese Embroidery Diary that framing up is an important task.
"It isn't too much to say that this task will decide finish."
As much as I enjoyed stitching Karahana, throughout I struggled with the tension of the fabric, constantly having to add wedges to keep it taught. The problems began the with framing up; I have never had the problems that I experienced with Karahana, and when I removed Karahana from the frame I experienced further problems. Let me tell you about the framing up process, and then I'll tell you were I went wrong with Karahana.

In Japan, Japanese Embroidery is normally done on kimono or obi. In the west we tend to embroider on shortern lengths of silk and frame them as pictures. Since the fabric itself is too short for the frame, addition cotton fabric is attached to each end of the silk, matching grains along the weft threads.

So, the first thing is to find the straight grain on both ends of the silk and one end of each piece of cotton. I do this by removing any lose threads until I can remove a complete weft thread.

I then trim the off the warp threads using a long rule and a rotary cutter.

One piece of cotton is then machine stitched each end of the silk, matching wrong sides. It is more common to join fabric right sides together, but we do it the opposite way round so that the seam is on the top were we can keep an eye on it. The seam is then overlocked to prevent fraying.

The Japanese frame has a couple of features that I believe are unique, one of which is the spilt rod called half dowels. The fabric is placed over the bottom half of each half dowel (which has been insterted into the frame) the weft aligned with the dowel. The top half is then slid into place so that the fabric is gripped between the half dowels. The dowels are rotated, wrapping the fabric around the dowels and creating tension in the warp direction. The dowels are held in place (and the tension maintained) by long nails that catch against the weft bars. This sounds simple but it can take several attempts to position the fabric correctly so that the tension is just right. (It was this step that caused me so many problems with Karahana and almost resulted in me throwing everything in the bin in a fit of peak.)

When the warp tension is correct, the fabric is laced to the frame through holes in the frame.

This is another feature that I believe to be unique to the Japanese Frame. The lacing is then pulled as tight as possible before the ends are secured. Finally the weft is tensioned by wedging the weft bars with chop sticks cut to the correct length; these are held in place with off cuts of cotton tied around the weft bars.

Finally, the framing is finished. The fabric is taught in both the warp and weft direction, and the weft is perpendicular to the frame and the preparation can begin.

Oh, I promised to tell you where I went wrong with Karahana. Well, I failed to correctly identify the weft direction on the cotton ends and joined their warp edges to the weft edge of the silk. Because of this the two fabrics were stretching in different directions and distorting. This was particularly evident when I came to mount the Karahana and I had to work very hard to realign the warp and weft threads. I did actually realise my error during the embroidery but by the time I did, I had come too far to take the work of the frame and reframe it, I just had to keep adding wedges and adjusting as best I could.

I really enjoyed stitching Karahana and am very pleased with the result, despite the problems. Had I prepared correctly, I certainly would have encountered less problems and maybe the stitching would have been better, who knows. But one this is for certain, I would have not have learned the lessons I have.

Happy Stitching


Plays with Needles said...

We've all been there CA. AT least you know enough now to fix it. JE is such a humbling teacher. Nothing better than a new project!! And thanks for the step by step photos...can't wait to see what's next...

Jeanne said...

So the question is: if you don't have selvage on your fabric, how DO you tell weft from warp?

Thanks for the interesting tutorial! I'll get around to trying JE eventually!

Jackie said...

Interesting today I had to frame Loving Couple ready for Bmo and I had done the same as you did on Karahana, so had to undo the machine stitching and start again, I really hope this is the only problem I have with this after my start last time on Karahana

Jane said...

Yep, been there too!

For Jeanne, and any one else who is wondering, we tell the difference in the warp and weft by pulling on the fabric. The warp direction doesn't stretch the weft does. It's a subtle distinction which is why we can get it wrong.

coral-seas said...

Thanks Jane, for answering Jeanne's question.

In addition to the stretch, there is a subtle difference between the warp and weft threads. If you remove a thread from the raw edge in each direction, one will be more kinked than the other, this is the weft. During weaving the weft thread is forced under and over the warp thread. The warp thread is under greater tension so remains straighter.

As you can see from the other comments, it is not obvious which is which until you get it wrong and the problems begin.

Jackie, think positive, you detected the error early and have corrected it. Can't wait to see your ducks. I am quite excited that I am only one Phase away from Loving Couple.