Tuesday, 26 July 2016

I Surrender: my first floor loom cloth

When last we met I was testing dye colours and learning to wind a warp.  Since then I have mastered warping on a vertical warping mill (with up to 5 threads at a time, but that's another post), I painted a whole series of small test warps, Jan and I set up her antique Clement loom at my house, Jan helped me warp it and I wove my first cloth on a floor loom.  Also, I might have bought my own floor loom, but that's yet another post after we get it set up...

Here is the array of painted warps on 2/8 cotton:
Once I really get the hang of what I'm doing when I paint, I'll tell you more about the process.  Anyone who knows me, knows I like to measure accurately both so that colours are reproducible and so as not to waste materials like dye stock.  I found very little information to help me with that when it came to painting on cellulose with MX dyes so I am developing my own spreadsheets and procedures; when I'm happy with them, I'll find a way to share them.

My friend Ann came over and we had a play day.  She has a large box of assorted MX dyes, including an alarming number of greens.  I couldn't quite give up the measuring, but these little skeins for weft were mostly thrown together, with the inevitable result that I can't reproduce that lovely warm brown, sigh. I did learn about low water immersion techniques, however.  There are a variety of fibres represented:  2/8 and 2/16 cotton, 2/8 bamboo, cottolin and hemp/cotton.  The bamboo is the shiny, purple one in the middle. 

When Jan came to help me put the warp on the loom she decided we needed something to separate the different painted warps, so I wound narrow stripes of navy and black to divide them.  Jan helped me get the warp on and made sure I was getting the hang of threading then left me to work on my own.  I thread to a straight draw (4-3-2-1) and then sleyed the reed with a variety of setts from 16epi to 30epi.  This took some head scratching and resleying as I realized I hadn't counted width correctly...  It also made tension and beating a little different, but the result was worth it.  I started playing with a variety of weft colours, first in plain weave and then, as I got bolder, a variety of twills.  It took me most of the 3 yard warp to get comfortable throwing the shuttle, mostly because I wasn't putting enough tension on the warp at first.  It is one thing that is quite different on the floor loom, compared to the RH loom.

The final cloth is beautiful in a random kind of way.  Everyone keeps asking me what it will be and I tell them it already is what it was intended to be:  a learning experience and a reference. 

I can feel and see the differences in the setts, wefts and weave structures. I can see how the weft colour and size interacts with the different colours and how the stripes show up. It provides a ton of information I can use to plan projects and I learned a ton winding warp, painting warp, dressing the loom and weaving.

And yes, I actually like the floor loom.  This one isn't as noisy as many looms are and boy, is it fast!  I think the fact that she is an antique adds to her appeal.  She is a direct tie up jack loom, a simple workhorse who still works very well despite her age - she is somewhere between 100 and 115 years old. She started her life in a nunnery in Quebec and was used there well into the mid 20th Century, Jan adopted her at the Great Glebe Garage Sale in the late 1980's but she has been in storage a lot since; she deserves to be used.  She is missing some original hardware, but my Dad (the machinist) and Jan's husband Glenn (the blacksmith) can make more authentic replacements at some point.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Warning: This Bunny Hole has LONG Tunnels

That should have been on the entrance to this weaving bunny hole I fell down some years ago.  I've been wandering around and getting into mischief here for quite some time but really, somebody should have warned me about the wretched side tunnels...

I started weaving to work with my handspun.  Thus far, only a very few of my woven projects have used handspun.  I found that I like to weave with cotton, but I don't like spinning it.  I also like new challenges.  Recall the conversation with Mandy on the way home from Ogdensburg when we picked up my Swatch Maker loom?  I decided to try Tencel.  Seems fairly straight forward.  Except, I never, ever, seem to take the straight forward route, do I?  ADHD has it's "creative advantages", ahem.  I decided I wanted to make painted warps.  But I know very little about fibre reactive dyes for cellulose fibres so I did a LOT of research.  I may be impulsive, but I am also a perfectionist, so when I get an impulse there is usually a lot of research before I actually dive in.  And, oh my, I have dived in DEEP this time.  This post covers barely the entrance to this particular tunnel, so stay tuned.

I learned from Paula Burch's excellent site "All About Hand Dyeing" a LOT about procion MX fibre reactive dyes.  Paula is a tie-dyer, not a yarn dyer, but she still had plenty of information to get me started.  What she didn't have was numbers.  I am a numbers person.  I like to measure and I don't like to waste.  For that, I found Diane Franklin's Dyeing Alchemy.  The book is very good, though again, it's about fabric dyeing, not yarn.  The spreadsheets are AWESOME!!!  I love a good spreadsheet and I will be able to adapt one of them for painting without much trouble, I think.

I ordered 25g jars of 8 colours of MX dye from G&S in Toronto, choosing the colours based on Paula Burch's table of "pure" MX dye colours.  There are 14 pure colours, the rest are mixes made by the various suppliers.  And I enlisted my friend, Sandy, to go on this adventure with me.  There was going to be sampling, a lot of sampling, a crazy amount of sampling.  I did a bunch of playing with the spreadsheets and made a plan.  2g samples of Tencel (I bought some from Brassard, then my friend Judith gifted me another pound cone to play with) are 15 yards long on my niddy noddy.  I made a lot of skeins of Tencel and some of cotton for comparison.  The first Friday we got together at the Guild Studio Sandy made a lot more skeins and we did value runs for Hot Pink, Orange, and Fuchsia and we did a mixing gradient of Hot Pink and Orange which was reported to give a truer primary red.  The skeins tangled rather terribly, but otherwise it went very well and we were pleased with our results. 
The trouble with fibre reactive dyes is they don't keep in solution very long, so I did some more at home that weekend to use up what we had.  I did the Royal Blue value run and the mixed runs of purples using the Royal Blue against the Hot Pink, Fuchsia and a mix of Hot Pink and Orange.

I made a lot more skeins of Tencel and cotton and figured out a way to tie them that I hoped would result in less tangling.  Fibre reactive dyes need a lot of stirring and washing and rinsing, which means a lot of moving skeins around in water.  We got together again on a Friday, this time our friend, Catherine, joined us.  We made more value runs with Bright Yellow, Golden Yellow, Ceruleun Blue and Black and we did the mixing gradients of greens with the blue and both yellows, and of oranges with Fuchsia and the yellows, and Fuschia and the blue.  That was plenty for one day.

At home, I finished the oranges, greens and purples that weren't done yet.  I thought I was doing it alone, but, true to form, Hobbes turned up to be the day's Helpy Helper.  He thought maybe he'd like to try purple highlights on his ginger.  I convinced him that he is gorgeous the way he is and, after checking the set up thoroughly to satisfy himself that I could manage, left me be to get on with it.

Now we have a set of samples to evaluate and work from and we have learned a lot.  I need to get them into a sample book so I can show them to you in an organized way.  There will still be more samples and then we will start sampling actual warps.  But first, Jan is going to teach me to use a warping reel!

Sunday, 29 May 2016


Back in January I ordered a "Swatch Maker 3 in 1" loom from Purl & Loop.  I know I should sample, but the loom takes a lot of yarn to do that.  The little Swatch Maker takes a lot less yarn and I can get a decent sample that will tell me quite a bit in not a lot of time.  And it is quite portable.  It arrived in Ogdensburg, NY at "My US address" and my friend, Mandy, and I went on a little road trip to pick it up.  Ogdensburg is just across the border from Prescott, ON, about 45min from here.  Mandy also had parcels waiting for herself so we shared the trip. 

Mandy has been weaving a very, very long time.  She belongs to the "Complex Weavers" group and mostly weaves on 8 or more shafts.  She has come around to my joy in my RH looms and does admit that they have a real place in weaving.  She has finally stopped asking when I will try a "real loom" and accepts that I already have more than half a dozen quite real looms, which together take less space than her smallest floor loom *.  She is, however, a brilliant travel companion and gladly shares her wealth of weaving knowledge.  She thought the little Swatch Maker was a very good purchase and looked forward to seeing it in use.  On the way home we talked about projects and yarns and sett (I'm still struggling with that one, hand me a knitting yarn and I can usually guess within one or two sizes what will give the right gauge and feel but I am totally lost with weaving structures and yarns, Mandy says it will come with experience).  Somewhere about Kemptville I was firmly resolved to try Tencel next, but that is a different tunnel off this bunny hole I am happily lost in and I will tell you about that another day, or days, or maybe over the next few months, it's a REALLY, REALLY long tunnel and I'm a little nervous and a lot excited about where it might end up...

*(In case somebody is keeping score:  3 RH looms, 1 inkle, 1 Swatch Maker, 1 Brio 2-shaft (designed as a toy, but it really does work!  Thing Tall made a lovely long swatch on it when he was about 8), 1 4 shaft Guild Craft and Thackery (an antique, I haven't actually used it yet, should try it this summer and tell you more about it) plus some peg looms, another little toy tapestry loom, an old looper loom...  If it makes interlacements, it's a REAL LOOM).

Back to the Swatch Maker:  the first thing I realized is that I am not fussed for needle weaving, so this little beast needed some heddles.  First try was a bit less than successful, but I googled (I do so love the Google) and found a very good video by Noreen Crone-Findlay on YouTube.  I decided to use dpns for the heddle rods, so I needed some end caps, otherwise known as point protectors.  Wool-Tyme had notions on sale for February, so off I went.  And discovered they were having their annual inventory sale - 20% off everything.  Those point protectors ended up costing $164! - $8 for two packages of 4 point protectors, $75 for yarn for a new gansey for Himself and $80 for a totally impulsive purchase of Lang Novena for a woven shawl.  I NEVER do that.  I always have a plan.  I bought 5 skeins in total not really sure how I was going to use it. 

I had a think, I pulled yarn off the skein and discovered that each colour was a good 2 yards long and the full repeat was something like 15 yards.  Now how was THAT going to work?

The Rigid Heddle Adventure group on FaceBook pointed me to a lovely little online book called "A Twill of Your Own" that shows a wide variety of possibilities with colour and weave effects from a wide variety of twill structures on 2-8 shafts, including a nice section on 3 shaft twills.  3 shaft patterns, now you're talking, my RH loom is MADE for 3 shaft.   Unfortunately the book has the pictures turned 90deg for some reason.  The warp runs horizontal in the picture, which meant the pattern that most caught my eye wouldn't work the way I saw it.  But, it gave me a starting point.  I spent some quality time with iWeaveIt and came up with a structure that looked promising.  I plotted out a few variations of the striping and then warped the Swatch Maker.  I went to Wabi-Sabi and bought some Ashford Tekapo 3-ply in Charcoal Grey for the background warp and the weft.  It's a LOT cheaper and it shows off the Novena very nicely.

 Here it is warped with some of the continuous string heddles installed.  The section of yarn that came off first from the skein had the least contrast in colour to the background Tekapo, so it's harder to see the warping pattern, but it's there.

 This is the back.  You are supposed to take the yarn all the way across the back of the loom, but that takes more yarn and this did seem to work just fine.

Here is the finished and washed swatch.  I ended up choosing a variation on the more widely spaced striping over to the left.  The sample tells me that my sett (12epi) makes a nice, drapey cloth, and how much shrinkage to expect.

From there I designed a shawl which is still on the loom.  I'll tell you all about it when I get it done.

Monday, 25 April 2016

I Have Been Weaving

But not blogging.  It's just not a habit for me yet.  But I have some things to share, and I've realized that I can do that anytime, in any order, even if the "thing" happened some time ago.

My friend, Marie-France, co-owns a small knitting, spinning and weaving shop here in Ottawa called "Wabi-Sabi".  This winter she purchased quite a lot of Louet Euroflax lace yarn.  It's a 100% linen singles yarn, about the size of 2/8 cotton, that comes in lots of colours.  One of her shop assistants suggested she ask me to make something in it as a sample for the shop.  She brought a selection of the yarns to a Guild meeting, let me poke around a bit, then told me I could have 2 cones if I made a sample.  I had a think, and when I went to the shop about a week later to pick up my new 15dpi heddles I had an idea.  I took 2 cones home, one in "heron grey" and one in "lavender" 630yds/100g each, to make two dishtowels in 4 thread waffle.

Now I had to figure out how to make the colours work together and use up nearly all of both of them.  I played around on iWeaveIt for quite a bit until I had a stripe pattern in both directions that pleased me.  It's a fibonnaci sequence counting by waffle units.  I made my best guess about sett and picks per inch, figuring the towels would be my sampling.  I used 2 15dpi heddles threaded at 150% for an effective sett of 22.5epi.

Hobbes helped me warp.  If it hadn't been for Himself coming to the rescue, Hobbes might now be playing the part of Schroedinger's Cat in a real life re-enactment of the thought experiment since I wasn't sure if I wanted him dead or alive... (for those who do not have a physicist/engineer in the family tree, Schroedinger was trying to illustrate concepts of Quantum Physics and the problem of the effect of observation by imagining (he didn't actually do this) a cat in a sealed box with a vial of poison gas which would be released by the decay of a radioactive isotope.  At any time, you wouldn't know for sure if the cat was dead or alive unless you looked, so, mathematically, the cat could be both alive and dead at the same time).   In other words, Hobbes was being an extra large pain in the backside, in that, half way through warping, he decided to jump on the warp which pulled both the peg and loom part way out of their clamps, thus ruining my tension.  Thankfully, the warp didn't come off the peg, nor did the peg come completely out of its clamp.  He's cute, but don't be fooled.  He is 19lbs of PITA when I'm weaving.

Himself extracted Hobbes from the warp and removed him from the room with stern words, then discussed possible improvements to the clamping systems, none of which he could make happen right then.  Then he disappeared for a bit, returning with the following brilliantly simple solution:

A 2x4" and two Quick Clamps and the loom no longer shifts from the tension of warping, nor from the assault on the warp of 19lbs of "Helpy Helper".  Linen yarn really does need firm tension, the loom was probably slipping even before Hobbes landed on the warp, so I'm really pleased with this little innovation.

A stiff drink and grateful thanks to Himself later I did manage to get the loom warped and ready to weave.

There are variations of waffle weave for the RH, but most of them seem to be simple warp and weft floats laid out as a grid.  True waffle is actually like this:

The threading is a point twill on any number of shafts.  "Stitchers" (that's what Sharon Alderman calls them) of plain weave hold down diamonds of warp and weft floats.  The longer the longest floats are, the deeper the "pockets"of the waffle will be. 

This is what the fabric looks like after washing.  You can see the longest floats are loose on the surface while the "stitchers" are pulled into little pockets.

To make this happen I threaded the draft above with the 1s in the front heddle holes, the 2s and 4s in the slots and the 3s in the back heddle holes.  Then I picked up the 4s on a pickup stick.  The iWeaveIt draft shows a "lift plan".  The numbers in the treadling show which threads should be lifted for each shot.  By manipulating the heddles and the pickup stick in various combinations I could make all the lifts I needed happen. 

The weaving went very well with a little help from Peggy Osterkamp's blog and her Tensioning Linen Warps post.  Linen yarn really is hard to tension.  It is so stiff it will put your eye out.  And knots slip.  And you think you have it all lashed on nicely and you blink and everything is all over the place.  The misting trick worked a charm.  Mostly.  I still had to fuss with the threads on the outside edges, but I often have problems with those.  For the most part, stuffing bits of rolled up napkin under the loose warp threads at the back beam solved that issue.  I also found that the most recent weft shot bounced back when beaten but a firm beat with the heddle seemed to pack in shots lower down appropriately. 

I ran out of the lavender yarn.  I'm not sure if there wasn't quite as much on the cone as stated or if I made a mistake in measuring somewhere.  iWeaveIt did warn me I was cutting it pretty close.  I think the hems were a bit longer than I had intended when I did the calculations.  Also, my picks per inch weren't quite what I expected.

Here is one of the finished towels.  I did press them, but linen wrinkles when you look at it sideways and this one has been travelling a bit.  Fresh off the loom the cloth was almost as stiff as thin cardboard but just one washing softened them up quite a bit

I think this is the one that didn't quite make it to the end of the planned stripe sequence, the longer one is hanging out at Wabi-Sabi for a while.  There should be a short stripe of lavender weft at the top to balance it.  Despite that, I am rather pleased with the overall effect.  Next time, I think I will start with a wider stripe (skipping the "2" and "3" unit wide stripes maybe and going straight to "5") so that I can end with the last stripe completed and a short contrasting stripe at the top. 

I should probably do it again and write out a pattern.  But, for now, I have something completely different on the 32" loom that I will tell you all about another time. 

Friday, 23 October 2015

Summer & Winter: A Tutorial in Towels

I did it!

I finished the tutorial and kits just in time for Twist in August and FibreFest in September.  Then I got busy with work and didn't do much about it, including blogging about it.  Part of that is not really knowing quite what to do next as I'm not really a salesperson or marketer, the other part is having a lot of other things (like work and the new OVWSG workshop schedule for 2016) on my plate.  However, my friend Sandy is a very good enabler and gave me just the right shove to take some more steps.  It was a bit of big shove:  she talked to Liz Gipson, the Yarnworker, author of Weaving Made Easy and star of several very good RH instructional videos, at Rheinbeck who offered her assistance and advice.  Liz suggested just putting the kits and tutorials up on Etsy and writing a blog post about them.  And graciously offered to put a link to them in her newsletter, which is, quite possibly, how you got here.

So, here's how I spent my summer holidays, writing a 54 page tutorial in towels to teach Summer & Winter on the RH loom.  (for more about S&W on the RH see Here Be Elephants)

My friends and guildmates had been pestering me to give a workshop on Summer & Winter for quite some time, but I couldn't quite figure out how best to do that. I'm a spinning teacher after all, not a weaving teacher.  Some of you will recall that I was never going to be a weaver at all.. (see: My Name is Elizabeth and I'm a Weaver).  I decided I could write something, then I searched around for an appropriate project.  I don't really like "workshop samplers", at my house they end up stuffed in a corner somewhere.  I wanted something that would end up as a functional piece of cloth, that would fit on most people's looms.  I finally settled on tea towels.  At least, I think they are towels, at Twist several people informed me they are actually placemats.   In the end it doesn't matter, the cloth is a useful size when it is finished without being too big for a first try at a new technique.

While I wrote my friends Beth, Terry and Sandy pitched in again and read over drafts of the book and did some test weaving.  They had multiple adventures in the process including the pawls on Sandy's loom suddenly declining to hold tension and tossing most of the warp on the floor midway through the project and Beth's grandchildren cutting off half her warp for reasons still not entirely clear...

However we muddled through and here is what the finished project looks like:

The kit contains a disc with copies of the PDF in high resolution (so you can see the pictures more clearly) and lower resolution (so it fits better on a mobile device like an iPad), hard copies of the graphs needed and enough yarn to complete the two towels and the bonus Polychrome sample.  To weave them you need an RH loom with at least 16" wide (it fits on my Ashford 16" which really isn't quite 16" of weaving width after being rounded up from the metric measurements it was designed in) set up for 2 heddles, 2 10 dpi heddles and 2 pickup sticks at least 16" long. 

These are some of the colours of the kits I came up with, with considerable help from Marie-France who joined me on a road trip to Brassard in August.  We spent about 2 hours wandering through the aisles picking out the 2/8 and 4/8 yarns I needed.  A LOT of yarn followed me home!

Then Terry and Christine spent considerable time each helping me wind those balls of yarn to make up the kits.  My "Spare Kid", Claudia spent more than a day of her summer vacation helping me design the packaging and burning the DVDs.  She also drew the threading diagram for me.

Showing them off for the first time at Twist was an adventure.  I had another set on the loom so people could watch the process live.  Many older weavers with tons of shaft loom experience were quite taken by my little loom that can.  They would look at the pattern developing on the cloth, then at the loom, then at the ground and
ask "where are the treadles?".  I tried to show them how the pickup stick and 2 heddles translated to what they were familiar with, sometimes I succeeded.  Several of them were very intrigued with how light and portable my loom is as well.

I repeated the process again at FibreFest in Almonte and more people were intrigued.  Weavers seem to fall into two camps: those who want the loom to do the work and are willing to have big,
complex looms to make that happen and those who like the compact, lightweight, simplicity of the RH loom and are willing to do pickup etc to make complex patterns happen.  I am hopeful there are plenty of people in my camp who want to try this out, and that the kits will be an enjoyable introduction to Summer & Winter on the Rigid Heddle loom.

A few kits are up on Etsy now.  You have the choice of a full kit with yarn and printed graphs (of which I have a limited supply), or just the disc with the PDFs (these I can make very quickly so the supply is reasonably endless).  If you choose the PDF you will need about 410 yards of 2/8 cotton in EACH of 3 colours and 205 yards of 4/8 cotton in a colour that contrasts well with the 2/8 colours.  

I am thankful to my friends for alternately shoving me and supporting me in this little adventure and to Liz for advising and encouraging a stranger.  I'm hoping we won't be strangers for long.  I'm also full of more ideas for the RH loom so I'm hoping the adventure continues with more tutorials and kits in the future.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Here be Elephants

In late January I started weaving again in response to a plea for Linus blankets for CHEO. While the effort described here is not quite going to cut the mustard as a Linus blanket (I have a lot to learn about take up and shrinkage and general size planning for weaving, really, I have a lot to learn about weaving period, but more about that later) it has rather started me down a hopefully long and fruitful path of exploration and ultimately sharing.

I had made a successful blanket in Summer and Winter on the RH almost 5 years ago for a friend's new baby.  Said baby is now in Kindergarten and her Mum tells me the blanket is very well used, as a car blanket, a picnic blanket, floor mat, toy box cover and more.  I'm glad it isn't wrapped in tissue or hanging on a wall, such gifts are meant to be used.  I thought that experience might get me started on the right track.

Summer and Winter on the RH as I do it is really a tapestry technique. Anything I can graph in 2 colours I can weave.  For some reason I was hooked on the idea of an elephant blanket. I just needed a graph. Enter Stitch Sketch for iPad, an app that will import an image and convert it to a graph in as many or few colours as you want. Google images provided several likely candidates.  I finally settled on one that, with a bit of editing and fiddling, produced this graph:

Summer and Winter works in 4 thread units in the warp and 8 thread units in the weft. Each warp unit has 2 "tie down" threads and 2 pattern threads which alternate. On the RH the tie down threads are threaded in the holes of the heddles alternating between the two (i.e. tie down 1 or "x" goes in the front heddle hole, then a pattern thread in the slot, then tie down 2 or "y" in in the back heddle, then the 2nd pattern thread in the next slot).  The pattern threads are controlled in pairs
by a pick up stick.  For each row of the graph you pick up a pair of pattern threads for each filled in pattern square from behind the heddles. For this blanket I used 4/8 cotton for the warp threaded at 10dpi in 2 10 dpi heddles on my 32" Ashford RH loom.

In weaving there are several sequences you can use for the weft which each give a more or less different effect.  I chose x-y-y-x this time based on a sampler I made before I made the first baby blanket. This means that for each row of the graph after I made the pick up I wove the following shots:

1.  Both heddles up for tabby using navy 2/8 cotton (traditionally the tabby weft is usually the same weight as the warp but I wanted this tabby to be less noticeable and Judith said it would work - she's the S&W expert).
2.  Front heddle (x) up, back heddle down, stick forward to raise the pattern threads. Weave with 8/8 cotton pattern weft, in this case, elephant grey. The pattern weft is usually twice the diameter of the ground warp and weft.
3.  Both heddles down for tabby with 2/8 navy
4.  Back heddle (y) up, front heddle down, stick forward to raise the pattern threads with 8/8 grey
5.  Both heddles up for tabby with 2/8 navy
6.  Back heddle (y) up, front heddle down, stick forward to raise the pattern threads with 8/8 grey
7.  Both heddles down for tabby with 2/8 navy
8.  Front heddle (x) up, back heddle down, stick forward to raise the pattern threads with 8/8 grey

Check the graph, make a new pick up and repeat... 147 times. It isn't fast but it isn't really slow either once you catch the rhythm. I used Knit Companion (free version) on the iPad to keep my place on the graph. I used a safety pin with a cleverly designed stitch marker from Clover that holds a little piece of paper for keeping track of what block I was on. Every 10 rows I pinned the marker at the fell line and wrote the row number on the paper.  Every 5th row I put a safety pin in without the note. I leapfrogged the two markers as I went so I could easily count and see where I was.

The tag and marker are at the bottom right of the picture.  This is where I weave, sitting on a pillow on the floor with the loom against the fireplace ledge.  You can also see the iPad with the graph, and two sticks - I always leave the current stick in and use it to guide the next pick up.  When I'm sure I have it right I pull out the old stick.  The heddles are in down position so that the slot threads are on top both in front and behind the heddles.  They show up in pairs, in this case made even clearer because I changed colours every unit.

Since no post is complete without an appearance from the "helpers" here are Seven and Bandit, the newest members of the Helpy Helpers team:

Yes, I can weave with a cat on my lap (well, Seven the extra small one, anyway, not sure Hobbes the extra large would fit), and yes, Bandit is UNDER the loom.  He was pretty good about not trying to catch the shuttle from there.

And here it is all washed and finished, except for trimming the fringe, which I think I like and isn't a problem if it's a wall hanging rather than a baby blanket.  I will spare you the pictures and commentary of fixing a tabby error I found after I took it off the loom for now.

Weaver's side up
Weaver's side down
It came out a bit smaller than I anticipated.  I was aiming for 28"x52" for a Linus blanket.  I warped full width on the 32" (which is actually 31.5") with 96" of warp.  Draw seemed to be less than 1" either side, but off the loom it relaxed to 28.5" wide.  It was only 62" long and I used almost every inch of warp I had - loom waste was about 4" on the front (to the beginning of the hem) and less than 14" on the back.  Lessons in take up learned.  I also noticed that I beat the beginning less well than the end.  Apparently the threat of running out of warp with 2" to go is a good beating motivator. 

Still I am ridiculously pleased with it.  This simply couldn't be done on a harness loom.  There aren't enough harness nor treadles to control 80 independent blocks.

For my next trick, I'm going to work on a tutorial kit that will thoroughly teach Summer and Winter on the RH.  I'm still trying to figure out a good project, but I am leaning toward a tea towel sampler in 2/8 ground warp and weft with 4/8 pattern weft.  I want to have the kit with yarn, complete tutorial and sampler pattern put together in time for Twist, Fibrefest and the Guild Sale which means a lot of work between now and August...

Monday, 11 May 2015

My loom can do 4 shaft patterns, too

I keep getting asked when I'm going to get a 4-shaft or more loom, as if my RH looms are inadequate or limited.  Well, they do have some limitations, but not nearly the limits previously reported.   I have been experimenting with 4 shaft patterns using 2 heddles and 1 pick up stick permanently placed.  The front heddle controls the 1 threads, the slots control the 2 & 4 threads, the back heddle controls the 3 threads and the stick controls the 4 threads.  The limitation is that the 2 threads cannot be chosen independent of the 4 threads, but it turns out that with a bit of clever re-ordering of threads quite a lot of patterns work quite well.

I present the following examples of the new range:

On the left is a sample done in dishcloth cotton on 2 5 dpi heddles threaded at 5 epi.  The bottom half is waffle, the very bottom is beaten much to hard, far too many ppi.  Even properly beaten it's too loose at that sett.  The top half is Bumberet (I love that name, silly, but true), not so bad but the sett is still wrong.  It was enough to tell me I was on the right track, though, as the weaving sequence was easy and it worked.  On the right is the same thing on 2 7.5 dpi heddles threaded at 7.5 epi.  The beat is right throughout this one.  Much better, but the waffle floats are still a bit long for a Linus blanket.  The Bumberet will work for a Linus, though.

I didn't have enough width to try the Atwater-Bronson variation I wanted from Handwoven Jan/Feb 2015 on the dishcloth cotton so I tried a huck next.  Had to fiddle with the threading a bit to make it work in my system, but I'm quite pleased:

On the loom
Washed one side
Washed, the other side     

 I had quite a bit of warp left over from Judith's class so I started messing with that.  Without changing the threading I tried some Summer and Winter and a 3 shaft waffle:

This is 2/8 cotton warp and tabby weft with 4/8 pattern weft .  The waffle sample is 2/8 for both warp and weft.  Sett is 20epi for all.  Summer and Winter really doesn't show itself to full advantage on the loom. Here's what the other side looks like after washing:


Last, I rethreaded the Flip with doubled ends to try that Atwater Bronson Variation.  One of my limitations is the range of setts I can get, especially when I am using both heddles to control threadings that repeat on one heddle.  This one goes 1-3-1-3-1-2 for a bit which means that even with two heddles I can only sett it at the stated heddle dpi, in this case 10dpi.

I love it.  The green weft is 4/8 cotton, but I think I like the doubled weft better.  At this sett it would be great for a teatowel, but I am contemplating dress fabric.  Judith gave me a bit of 2/22 cottolin to sample with.  I think I will try it doubled in the 8dpi heddles. 

Stay tuned, more experiments to come.  Though maybe a little spinning first, as I have an article for Ply magazine due July 1st.