It starts with this. Poorly wound cones of wool. Not only are the cones badly wound but the wool is not greatly spun. There are slubs, lots of them – places where the fiber is not twisted and readily comes apart. That leads to this.
The yarn breaks while winding it onto the bobbins either due to the slubs or by catching on the tangles that are on the bottoms of the cones. Or the bad spinning leads to this –
Endless broken warp threads, endless repairs.
I really should have been helping her instead of taking her picture. The weaving was a real stop and start affair for the past two days. One blanket wove with a single broken warp thread, the next had over 30 I would guess. It often looks like this –
Then you can have issues that cause mechanical failure – there have been a few broken bobbins lately.
I have to tell you that makes a pretty ugly sound when it happens. The other day Peggy suggested my next blog post should be titled “Breaking Bad”. It made me chuckle and it helps to have a sense of humor when things aren’t going along as well as you’d like but then your morning ends with an image like this –
Crawling under the loom is never good (even if it was highly enlightening for me). The top of a heddle frame caught and broke while the loom was running, number 16. I stand and watch for broken threads while it’s running and tell Peggy to stop it, I didn’t even see this happen. There is so much to look at while the machine is running – so much. We moved the threaded heddles to the frame in back of it (thankfully unused) and took the frame apart and off of the loom.
I learned a lot from this particular incident. First, experience is everything, Peggy knows where to be looking or knows the sound of a happy or not so happy machine. Second, this is no game for an older person in questionable physical condition. I could have gotten under the loom but the question remains, how long would it have taken me to get back up?
Then there is the question of just how long can you run machinery that there are no longer parts for? With the best running practices things are still going to break. There are piles of loom parts in the barn where the looms are located but it’s not like you can just order something up on-line when you need to. I supposed the metal parts could be reproduced by a skilled machinist, but at what cost? Then there are the bobbins which I daresay were discarded quite often in a running mill. Who makes those now?
I feel privileged to be able to experience this first hand but am saddened by the knowledge that this is truly the end of the road for this weaving (unless I’ve missed something). I’m not saying it ends this year or next but the end is visible. The day you can no longer fix this loom is the day is becomes a ton and a half of scrap metal and that is sad indeed.
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So sad, Jo! How old is the loom?
I don’t think they’ve made them since the early 70’s. It’s the way of the world.
Just got back from a UK bus tour – got to see a lot of old looms in operation. Donegal still has looms ru nay hand. Edinburgh runs old looms right in the center of town. It’s out there, just a matter of finding the right place in the world. Blanket looks great, by the way!
Also, unevenly spun yarn is a killer as a warp. Found out the hard way, with my own handspun. Them’s the breaks!!! (pun intended)
Oh my! I am so sympathetic, and amazed at your skill and patience. I am enjoying your weaving mill saga immensely.
I often use mill ends. This week, I noticed a cone in my stash that was poorly wound like your picture. As a handweaver on foot-powered looms, I could afford to take the time to untangle the yarn as I unwound it into skeins. I made it a meditative process as I enjoyed the quality of the yarn that I salvaged.
I can imagine how precious Peggy is during this adventure. What a noble project!
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I so miss the mills, my dad worked for K&N as a teacher for loom fixers. I do miss the w3 looms!