Weaving Wednesday – April Fools

140401 April Fools (1)

Last night’s weaving class was one disaster after another it seemed.

My towels were tracking funny in the loom, the more I wove the worse it got until the weft had taken on a decidedly diagonal line.  I asked Pam if I should take off the toweling and tie the warp back on but we started out trying to see if we could just start over again and make it straight.  We checked all of the mechanics of the loom, tightened every screw, nut and bolt.   A few picks into it the problem was still there and it became obvious that the tension was more loose on one side than the other.  I had to unravel a good amount of weaving to save the warp length.  Wasn’t as bad as it sounds, once I got going it was almost relaxing.

140401 April Fools (2)

As I’m unravelling my mess, Jan, to my left is having the exact same problem.  It was hard to believe that both of us, doing completely different projects had the same thing going on.  It was true.  After tightening up her loom and measuring and remeasuring to see if it could be anything else she had to unravel her project as well.

As we were rebeaming my warp we found a problem with the brakes on the loom that might have been a factor in my whole fiasco so we had to pay attention to that before I continued.  All in all a rather stressful night for Pam.

While we were talking about warp tension she told me I should post a few photos of another project that has turned into what I would consider a nightmare.  A class member decided she wanted to weave yardage for a jacket out of chenille.  The pattern is lovely and they thought they had beamed her warp perfectly until she began weaving.

140401 April Fools (6)

In the process, while moving the warp forward, all hell has broken loose with her warp. This may be the nature of chenille since none of us has ever woven anything wider than 10 inches.

140401 April Fools (3)

The only way to salvage this was to use lease sticks in the warp while weaving.  This holds the tension evenly (although I couldn’t tell you how at the moment).

140401 April Fools (4)

Every time the lease sticks get to the heddles everything behind it has to be untangled as the sticks are pulled back.

140401 April Fools (5)

I’ll be honest with you – this might just be the project I would walk away from.  Or it might have turned into yardage for a vest instead of a jacket.

All in all last night was the first night I might have thought for a second we were the biggest April fools of all.

Weaving Wednesday – Huck Warp

140211 Huck warpThe newest project in class for me is Huck lace.  I was threading the warp last night with 10/2 mercerized cotton.  The pattern is simple although a little time-consuming with so many ends, there are 552 in the warp.  Fortunately it’s easy to stop and pick it up from week to week.  I left class last night with about 50 or so ends left to thread, I stopped there because there weren’t enough heddles on shafts 1 and 2.  I just wasn’t going there once I figured out there weren’t enough to finish threading.

Adding heddles isn’t difficult to do.  I should have counted first and had everything set before I started threading them.  Once you’re in a rhythm in threading you just want to keep going until it’s done.  This is what I love about weaving, there are defined steps that are taken in sequence for the set up to be right.  There are little nuances that make it better or worse and knowing your particular piece of equipment helps.  It’s a long process learning this craft – there is so much information, so many ways to screw up.

Each project I do, whether on my own or in class affords me the opportunity to learn something new (sometimes many things).  I think this is why I love weaving so much.  Other crafts afford challenges but most of the challenges for me have to do with perfection and not actually the mechanics of the craft itself.  With weaving the perfection enters a little but it is really the mechanics that I love.  There are so many things that can go wrong – or right.  When it all comes together I really feel as though I’ve conquered something.

Having an instructor like Pam feeds right into this for me – each project is about a different structure in the weave.  I could see myself doing overshot or twill for the rest of my life because they are comfortable and there are a million ways to change the project within one of those structures.  The classes push me outside of my comfort zone.  It also allows me to do finer work which is a challenge in and of itself.

At the moment I have three looms with wildly different projects on them. Depending on where I am I work on what’s available.  That can be a challenge in itself, but a most welcome one.

 

Back to Weaving

140112 Towels (1)I had grand plans over the holiday break to weave some towels as gifts for family and friends.  As often happens the best laid plans . . .

This is the first project I have put on the new/used loom I purchased in November.  The photo above is the second towel in progress.  I had some issues with the first one but wove it until the desired length anyway.  It was supposed to be about 27 ppi (this is the number of weft threads per inch – it has to do with the density of the weave) but I think I was only getting about 15 ppi.  I didn’t want to stop halfway through the towel so I just kept weaving.  I have a thing about things being uniform and even.

Once the towel was finished I got out some tools and tightened up every nut, bolt and screw on the loom (something I should have done to begin with). I started the next towel and was relieved that the whole process was much, much better on a much more solid loom.  In my excitement to use the new loom I forgot the most fundamental thing – make sure your loom is solid.

These are the first striped towels I’ve done and the colors are fantastic.  The towels are a nice size too – 23″ x 36″.  They are done in an M and W twill pattern.  I had a difficult time getting into the swing of the treddling initially because it wasn’t making sense to me but I finally got into a rhythm and it went along fine.  This is also a little different to weave because the weft threads are counted to make the design instead of measuring the piece as you weave.  It’s very precise and as you know that is something I love.

Once this towel is finished I will weave the original towel again – it’s an advancing twill treddling pattern.  I’m sure this one will look completely different than the first attempt.  That will teach me not to lose sight of the most basic rules just to get a project going.

 

Weaving Wednesday

M&W Twill Towels (1)Wow, I have a confession to make.  I wound this warp for the newest loom in what is rapidly becoming my fleet.  I picked the loom up over the Thanksgiving holiday.  It’s an upgrade, it has 6 treadles instead of 4 so I will be able to weave a little faster and not have to figure out all of my drafts for a direct tie up.  There will be less thinking on my part.  I have an overshot scarf on my other loom.  I now have looms in two rooms of the house and one in pieces in the shed.  It’s a little out of hand.  The confession part . . . I really like it that way.  I’m going to miss the older Harrisville when it goes.  You see, I made sure the older one had a home before I bought the new one knowing full well that Bill would have a bit of a fit thinking every room in the house would have weaving equipment in it.

The warp I wound on Saturday and Sunday is for a set of M&W twill towels done in 10/2 mercerized cotton.  These are going to be stunning. The best part is that in addition to the M&S pattern they can be woven in an advancing twill on the same threading and tie up – BONUS!  I warped it for 5 towels with the idea that I could get them done in time for Christmas.  Ha! That means that’s probably all I will be doing on the weekends between now and then.

Hmmmm, I may have to enlist the help of others for the decorating.

M&W Twill Towels (2)

 

End of Round Robin

131126 TreesI finished my last towel in our twill round robin class.  It seems appropriate that it’s the holiday design.  This was a plain weave with twill trees.  It’s quite cute.  I thought I would be really bored with the plain weave but found the challenge to be keeping an even beat.  I’m curious to see how it looks once it’s washed.

That’s the project for the long weekend – hem and wash most of the towels that I’ve woven over the past few months.  I picked up another 6 of them at class last night, there are still a few more to come off of the looms.

This was a wonderful opportunity for all of the weavers in Pam’s class.  It’s one thing to look at a draft and envision what your weaving might look like but to be able to weave something different every week has been wonderful.  I photographed each project as I did it and now have a reference for 11 drafts and a vision for future projects.

Initially in class we talked about having 11 towels to give away for Christmas but as I looked (and felt) them last night I was thinking I wasn’t ready to let them go.

 

Beauty in Warp Winding

131124 Green Warp (2)I was winding a warp for a scarf out of Alpaca on Sunday and took a few photographs of it as it progressed.  I love the way this fiber feels – who doesn’t really?  The color is a wonderful light green with flecks of yellow.

I wind my warps on a table made for me in front of large window facing east.  The light is always beautiful and I can never resist recording a project from beginning to end.  There is so much beauty in every step.

131124 Green Warp (1)I moved the loom to another room for the Christmas projects.  I have another loom I’m picking up this coming weekend and this one will find its way to its new home after the holidays.  Hmmmm, is it possible that I could have two projects going on at the same time in the same room?!?  Wow, talk about ADD.  We will see what happens.  I’m just thankful to be running my fingers through wool while there is snow and wind outdoors.

Weaving Wednesday – Coming to the End

131119 Dornick Twill (2)Last night I wove a Dornick Twill in 8/2 unmercerized cotton.  This went very fast – 27 inches in less than two hours.  It was mindless and beautiful.  Mindless is quite often just what I need.  The act of weaving itself being totally meditative for me (and the counting, oh how I love the counting).  Yeah, OCD is me.

I finished this towel and moved onto my last one.  I’ll post about that one next week because my phone died before I could take its picture.

Yardage is coming off of the looms each week now and I came home with three of my towels ready for finishing last night.  I’m looking forward to seeing them washed.  I see hemming in my future.

131119  Dornick twill (1)Isn’t it amazing what threading and treddling can do?  How beautiful.

 

 

Weaving Wednesday – Round Robin 8

131112 Extended TwillLast night’s weaving adventure was extended twill.  The warp was 8/2 unmercerized cotton in a mint green.  I chose to weave it with a dark green tencel and was really pleased with the result.  I had been looking at these towels and different weavers choices in color and I have to say before I started weaving this I was not a fan.  It is a really quick weave though and once I was into it I have to say that it’s one of my favorites so far.  I probably say that every week about whatever I wove in class so take that for what it is.  This one was a little different in the fact that the entire time I was weaving it I was thinking about different ways to change this up.  I’m thinking of doing this with a striped warp and a dark weft, maybe towels but maybe a wool scarf.  The possibilities are endless and having something that looks complicated be so easy helps to get those creative juices going.

We are coming to the end of our round robin and I am pretty sad about it.  This has been a wonderful experience giving me (and I would say many others) the opportunity to weave out of our comfort zone.  The results are beautiful. Only 2 more towels to do and then onto finishing.  I had thought that these would make great Christmas presents but I’m not sure I will be ready to part with them by then.  Maybe a they will go off for birthdays later.

One of the best aspects for me was photographing them as I went along.  I now have the drafts along with the photograph of the finished product and in the long run that is all I really need.

 

Weaving Wednesday – Round Robin 7

131105 Point Twill (1)In weaving class last night I decided on a Rosepath Point Twill.  This was woven on a Leclerc counterbalance loom (my first experience).  It is warped and woven in 8/2 unmercerized cotton.

The draft for this one was interesting because it gave me choices.  It was drafted with 5 different weave structures and I had to decide how I wanted my towel to look.  I decided to do a 4″ band of one design, a 12 pick band of plain weave and the body in another simpler design (which I modified even further to satisfy my symmetrical OCD).  It was warped in a soft pink color and I chose a chocolate brown for the warp.

All in all I was pleased with the end result.  We are coming to the end of this weaving adventure.  Fabric is coming off of the looms now as people finish it up.  As a sewer this takes on a different feel.  I looked at the 8 yards of towelling that was taken off a loom yesterday, folded and looking like a bolt of beautiful fabric and couldn’t help but think I may have to weave something to make into clothing at some point.  It is just too beautiful to use just for a dish towel.

131105 Point Twill (2)

 

Weaving Wednesday – Round Robin 6

131029 WeavingThis week I decided to tackle the False Satin Blocks in 10/2 mercerized cotton.  I chose a buttery yellow for the weft.  I sat down at this loom last week and simply could not do this.  I was over thinking to the point where I just had to walk away. I didn’t understand what the selvages were doing, the sheds weren’t opening the way they were supposed to, ugh! (Of course if I had just waited and asked a question or two that might have helped).  I spent the entire week fretting about this whole set up.  8 shafts intimidate me, I’m not sure why.  I think it was just out of my comfort zone right then. I was looking for meditation last week, this week I was up for the challenge.

I sat down and wove this without a single issue this week.  I think having my head in a different place made all of the difference.  I wasn’t distracted.

Pam had to unweave a Navajo rug she was working on because there was a problem with how it was warped.  She was trying to fix and then re-warp the frame.  Her cat, Fred decided he would help her out.

131029 Fred (1)Fred loves the studio.  He is always there, waiting for a pat or cuddle (or food).  He helped Pam read her measurements – we all know tempting any owner reading a paper of any kind is. I think he was just in tune to her frustration and was working on a little comic relief.

131029 Fred (2)He did a very good job.