Thursday, 13 April 2017

4-Shaft Waffle on the RH - a New Tutorial in Progress

I have been working on the tutorial/pattern for 4-shaft waffle on the rigid heddle since March Break. The cloth is woven, lots of pictures taken, and most of the text is written in first draft form.  I just have to finish the hemming process, including taking the step by step pictures, write that section, write the summary "pattern in one page" and theory sections and then I can hand it off to my proof readers, testers and formatters. 

The one on the left is one of the photos in the warping section.  The one on the right is what my space more usually looks like; with my coffee cup, and papers and at least one cat.  Hobbes was the designated "Helpy Helper" for this shift.

 I work in my dining room.  I did tidy up a lot, and camera angles hide a multitude of sins, but chairs are part of dining room life, so I left them.

Seriously, my dining room rarely actually looks like that, even when I'm working on a new project.

A few days later I was trying to get this shot to show how I measure progress.

This time, Seven was on Helpy Helper duty.  She decided Mum needed a "petting break".  When Mum did not immediately comply, this was the result.
Cats are a major cause of poor sheds.

I got the cloth finished and off the loom and then needed to photograph it.  The cats decided it was time for another photo bombing.  I can't do much about the lump on the cloth in the first one, but I think I can crop out the tail in the second one... 

He's slowly learning some subtlety.  Mabye I'll leave it in, but I will crop out my foot, which I just noticed.  Rats.  This is why I usually write as I go, to make sure I have the right pictures that work with the text.  It's hard to go back and replace them.

I had a bit of warp left to play with at a the end which I used to play with another structure that I will do another tutorial on.  The list grows, it never shrinks.  That's probably a good thing.  Hopefully, the new tutorial will be ready to go into the Etsy shop in 4-6 weeks.  That may be a bit optimistic, but we shall see.  I also need to work on a workshop I'm giving at the Ontario Handspinning Seminar in mid June on spinning flax.  It ties in nicely with an article I'm contracted to write for PLY magazine's "Flax" issue, which is handy.  It's going to be a busy Spring and Summer.  Just the way I like it, I think.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Scribbling Warp and Weft

The first "Scribble Scarf for the Rigid Heddle" was done by "scribbling" with the corespun weft yarn on a plain weave ground cloth.  The second scarf, which I am naming "Floating Warp Scarf for the RH" was done with the corespun in the warp.  It has a regular geometric pattern but the principles are pretty much the same.  Here's the basics of how I did both.

The Scribble Scarf has the corespun as a supplementary weft tied down by warp floats.  To make it I set up a ground cloth in plain weave using a wool yarn that would full nicely, Ashford Tekapo 8 ply.  In this case I used a 5dpi heddle for a sett of 5epi.  I put a pickup stick behind the heddle that picked up every other slot thread starting and ending 2 threads from the selvedge.  This gave me "tie down" floats a bit less than 1" apart.  If you were using a different yarn for the ground cloth at a different sett (say 10epi like in the sample I did on the doubled 2/8 Tencel warp), you might pick up every 3rd or 4th slot thread.

To weave the first scarf I wove plain weave for about 1", then put the heddle down (or in neutral, your loom will tell you what works best for it) and brought the stick forward on it's edge.  This raised only the "tie down" warp threads.  I put the corespun in the shed where I wanted it, watching how it made any turns, then pushed the stick to the back of the loom, put the heddle into position for the next plain weave shed, threw a shot of ground weft and beat carefully, watching how the corespun was lying and adjusting tension as necessary.  In the case of the yarns I was using I knew that the Tekapo would full and the corespun would not, so I wanted the corespun to lie in a neat line without slack. 

I chose to leave the stick in place throughout the weaving, never changing the pickup, but there is no reason you couldn't move your floats around if that pleases you, other than making sure the corespun is tied down often enough.  Different yarns might call for shorter or longer floats, only sampling will tell you for sure.  I did find that with the stiff Noble Fibre Mill corespun that it didn't like bending at a 45deg angle, so all my moves were 90deg angles.  A more flexible pattern yarn might be fine with sharper turns.  You could also tie the pattern yarn down more often to allow different shapes like curves.

Putting the corespun in the warp did not go well at first.   I wanted to do a deflected warp technique, but the corespun didn't fit even in a 2.5dpi heddle.  I tried hanging it over the heddle and manipulating by hand, but that turned out to be rather fussy.  If the effect had been what I wanted, I would have fussed, but it wasn't, so I didn't and the loom sat in time out for a good bit.  The other day I was leafing through Mastering Weave Structures by Sharon Alderman (worth it if you really want to understand how different weave structures work, even though it's written for shaft looms there is a wealth of fundamental information that applies to RH looms if you are willing to make the connections) when I ran into "spider weave".  "THAT'S IT" screamed my muse, you don't have to incorporate the corespun warp into the ground cloth, you can just float it like you did the weft.  This time I wanted weft floats to tie down the warps.

I cut 3 lengths of corespun about 3 times the length I wanted my finished scarf to be.  These I folded in half so that I had 6 working ends.  They have a tendency to unravel a bit at the ends so I put knots at the end. I wove my header as usual, and then wove the corespun ends into the header by hand where I wanted them to start, I threw the tails over the heddle and down the back of the loom.  I wove 5 picks of ground cloth weaving in the corespun in by hand by pushing it down into the down shed and passing the shuttle over it.  I hemstitched over 4 warps and 3 picks of weft treating the corespun as a warp end.  This and weaving the corespun into my generous header held it well enough, though I considered pinning it in as well.

To weave the pattern I did a pick up that created 3 weft floats of slightly more than 1" centred across the width for the A pick up.  This stick remained in place throughout.  For the B pick up I used shorter floats at the outer edges and centred the other two floats between the A floats. This stick had to be repicked each time it was needed, but it was quick to do based on the A stick pick up.   I wove about 1" of ground cloth in plain weave ending with an UP shed.  Put the heddle in neutral, brought the stick forward and turned on edge.  This left gaps in the shed where I could push down the corespun then pass the shuttle over them.  Beating that shot was a bit messy and it required a bit of hand tensionning, but the next shot after cleaned things up weftwise and I just adjusted the warps by hand.

Obligatory Helpy Helper Hobbes Picture

I set up a regular pattern and continued along to the end of the scarf.  At the end I repeated what I had done at the beginning, weaving in the corespun for a few shots and hemstitching.  After gentle washing the Tekapo fulled as expected, though more on one end than the other, so I redid the washing.  Once dry I adjusted the corespun, which had kinked in places, and made a twisted fringe with the Tekapo ends.

Step by step instructions for the Scribble Scarf on the RH are available here on the blog on a separate page accessible from the header.  Writing "Step by Step" instructions for the Floating Warp Scarf is my next order of weaving business.  That pattern will be available in my Etsy shop as soon as I'm happy with it, this may take a little while as two of my friends (a tech writer/editor and graphic designer) wish to help me by editing and formatting the "Step by Step" series more professionally.