Although it wasn’t totally planned I spent most of the weekend doing something related to weaving (in between cooking, cleaning and loads of laundry). I make the mundane more pleasurable by rewarding myself with loom time. I finished the blue and white and moved onto a green variegated version of the Maltese Cross and discovered something in the process. Being a newby to this craft I didn’t realize what a HUGE difference yarn would make in how the pattern looked. (Apparently I’m paying too much attention to other things while I’m throwing a shuttle). The last two throws I have woven in this pattern I used Bartlettyarn Maine Wool for the weft with a warp of Jaggerspun Maine Line 2/8 wool. I love the feel of the wool when it’s been fulled and finished, it’s a warm, heavy blanket but . . . the crosses in the pattern were more elongated than I had thought they would be. When I started weaving the green version of this I was using Noro Boku, a wool/silk blend. Both of these yarns are worsted weight but one is thicker than the other and the less hefty of the two brought the pattern into what I had expected. Yes, I continue to weave with the variegated yarn even though the judge didn’t like it at the Big E.
Sunday I spent a good part of my afternoon at the weaving studio helping Pam put together a new Harrisville 36″ 8 Shaft, 10 Treadle Loom. The latest addition arrived in two boxes and reminded me of something I might have picked up at IKEA.
Parts, parts, parts, tools, instructions.
Okay, I’ve built IKEA before – Harrisville should get some advice from them on their instructions.
Pam’s attaching the treadles.
You have to be fairly flexible to get this job done ( at least be able to get up off of the floor).
About 3 hours later here she is ready to go – well, with four shafts ready to go. After 3 hours we were fried, so opted to add the other four later.
Set in the new spot with the other looms.
This was a great experience. I now feel as if anything that happens to my loom I will be totally prepared to repair. The maple that the loom is made out of is quite beautiful. I also learned why Pam asked me for help – it is virtually impossible to put this together without an extra set of hands. I also think it was an extension of my weaving education.
Weaving has become an obsession with me. I warped my loom in Rowe last week. I was proud to say after 430 ends only one was threaded wrong and I was able to fix it with a string heddle. I love having an instructor who knows the craft so well she can teach you the tricks that get you out of a jam.
I wound an extra long warp so I could weave three of these throws in succession with different colors. This is the traditional blue and white. The next will be with a variegated green/brown combination and the last will be anyone’s guess. Christmas is coming. I figure I can have these off of the loom by Halloween and move on to other gifts.
Although I weave during the week at the studio in Brimfield we are weaving cotton. Cotton is what I started with when I began learning to weave, it gives a beautiful definition to the structure. For that reason I like weaving with it, especially when I am doing something new. My last project for the class this past spring was the red and white wool throw and it was revelation.
I love the feel of wool. I love the way it feels going through my hands. Winding the warp seemed effortless, it had a calming effect. That’s really the reason I love having something in wool always going somewhere. It’s not just the counting and meditative repetition of the act of weaving, it is also the feel. This throw is warped in Jaggerspun Maineline 2/8 yarn, it is soft and wonderful to work with. The weft on this section is Bartlettyarn Maine Wool which is a beautiful worsted weight yarn.
The other aspect of weaving with wool is the smell – I’m thinking it’s only fiber people that will understand that statement. It smells like it came from an animal, it’s wonderful. Don’t get me wrong – it doesn’t smell while you’re weaving but you can take a hank of wool and breathe it in, ahhhh. It’s in the finishing that some of these remaining oils are washed out and that’s what makes the fiber “bloom”. There are so many times when I look at the weaving on the loom and think it doesn’t look as good as it should. Once it is washed and dried a miracle happens and it often looks better than anticipated.
That’s the thing I’ve found with weaving – every aspect of it is equally important to the finished project. People tell me they love to weave but hate to warp. To me that is the most important part, otherwise nothing else works. It is time consuming, yes, but I take it as a challenge. I try to beam my warp so the tension is even, thread my heddles so there are no mistakes, slay the reed without skipping a space all the first time. It becomes tedious when I don’t pay attention and have to take it all out and start over. Throwing the shuttle is the easy part most of the time. Finishing can be tedious as well but when you do it it’s magic. What looked just okay on the loom becomes a masterpiece once it is washed. All aspects of the process come together.
I finished the Maltese Cross overshot throw this past weekend. I don’t know when I’ve felt more proud of a project. So many different steps go into something like this, it’s the perfect foil for someone who bores easily.
After taking it off of the loom I took out the sewing machine and sewed the edges along the weft before the start of the fringe. I then put it into a sink full of cold water and shampoo (just a touch). I had a minor freak out when the water turn red with fugitive dye. Eeeeekkk! I rinsed and rinsed. Whew. Then I added a little conditioner and rinsed again.
After air drying overnight I cut the tabs off of each end to release the fringe and twisted and knotted it with a total of 8 strands in each ply. What a nice finish that is.
It is so soft, so beautiful, I can’t stop looking at it – and touching it.
Now I’m planning the next one. It has given more urgency to finish weaving the cotton towels now on the loom. I just need more hours in the day!
Last night I finished my overshot throw and took it off of the loom. I’m amazed at how quickly the weaving went. I will post a photograph of it once it’s finished. I still have to sew, wash and do the fringe (twisted I think). It’s quite beautiful and I’m pleased with the way it looks. This was a lot of fun along with the frustration.
Taking this project off of the loom in class marked the end of weaving lessons until the fall. After we took it off the loom Pam spread it out and said “Well, it’s beautiful, now you’ll just have to come to weave for fun because there is nothing else I can teach you.” Yeah, right. I have to say I have never taken a class where I learned so much in such a short period of time. I’m excited at the prospect of the many, many new weaving projects ahead. Every time I take something off of a loom the next project is rolling around in my head. I haven’t really got the Maltese Cross out of my system yet so I will probably make another one on the loom at home in another color. I’m also looking at other overshot drafts. I figure since I’ve done one design it shouldn’t be a problem doing another, just read the draft.
I have a 40 minute drive to and from weaving class. It always seems like it takes forever to get there in anticipation of what new thing I’m going to learn. The drive home seems like it takes much less time. I go over and over what I’ve done in the last 3 to 4 hours. I think about the structure, the colors, the process. I think that’s the sign of a good fit in craft – you dream of the possibilities.
My weaving instructor rethreaded the mistake in my warp over the weekend – have I mentioned just how awesome she is? I began to weave this throw in earnest last night. It’s a lot of fun. I love a complicated pattern and overshot really fills that bill. The draft is hanging from the castle of the loom at the top of the photo (well part of it is). I was able to get through 3 1/2 repeats and probably wove 15 inches or so.
I’m still a little bit in awe of the whole process. It amazes me that something that looks this incredibly complicated can be quite simple if you break it into small steps, sort of like life’s problems. Weaving could really be used as a metaphor for life with all of its steps in process, problems to be figured out, moving through it with some mundane work interspersed with possible broken threads or mistakes.
As you weave you become intimate with the pattern, you know every jog and curve. The draw down on the draft tells me exactly where I have left off in the treadling. It’s a good thing because I have to rewind the bobbin with the red yarn about a third of the way through each repeat. I’m always coming back to my bench and thinking, “Hmmmm, where was I?” I’m happy to report that it became much easier to figure out the third time through. I think the best part about this pattern is by the time I’m sick of weaving the repeats I’ll be done! Win, win.
I finished warping last night and began weaving a dry run to see if there were any mistakes with some different yarn than I have to weave the throw. Pretty cool isn’t it? Well, not as cool as you might think because there WAS a threading error and we narrowed it down to the 15 or 20 threads. Now it has to be fixed. This is always amazing to me – you thread four harnesses in a certain way, weave with your treadling a certain way and this is what happens. All I can say is WOW. I am sooo hooked.
Last night at class I started by winding the warp onto the warp beam for the Maltese Cross throw that I’m making. The warp is JaggerSpun Maine Line 2/8 wool yarn (it’s yummy). This is my first foray into wool and it behaves a little differently than cotton – it’s “sticky” so extra care was taken as the threads came through the lease sticks. The warp is 36″ wide so it’s just fitting on the loom. This loom is the same loom that I have in Rowe. I’m seeing many wool projects in my future, mainly because I just love the feel of the yarn. Somehow loving the feel of it makes every part of the process that much more enjoyable.
These are the chained warp threads from the front of the loom as they are being wound onto the beam. I warp from the back to the front.
This is the view from my seat as I was threading the heddles. You can see a little piece of the draft hung on the castle of the loom, that’s my instructions, it shows what thread goes into what heddle in order. There are a total of 432 threads in this particular warp, I had half of them threaded by the time I left last night. Next week I will be finishing up the threading and sleying the reed.
It seems like such a production when you try to describe it to someone but I find all of it to be very relaxing. I need to concentrate to make sure threads are in the right order, and they aren’t crossed. The perfectionist in me tries to make sure everything is in order so when I throw my shuttle the first few times I’m not looking at it in disgust trying to figure out how many mistakes I have to fix before I can weave. This is where I think the perfectionist trait pays off, weaving is very unforgiving. If it’s wrong, it’s wrong. Of course some of those errors quite possibly are only things that I would see – but I would see them from across the room.