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Friday, March 27, 2015

Weaving by Feel

the breast beam shows through this very open cloth - click on the photo to biggify

As mentioned previously, this yarn is being woven very open.  It is a highly textured silk, a bit stiff and a little coarse feeling, due to the high degree of twist and the torquing that happens as a result of that high twist.  In order to encourage the cloth to drape, the epi/ppi is about 10.  I say about because mostly I'm weaving the weft in by feel more than anything else.

This is truly a situation where "If you can't be perfect, be consistent" is a big factor.  And the way I can get the closest to being consistent with this cloth is to feel how the beater pushes the weft picks into place.

In previous posts I think I've talked about beating a very open cloth.

At any rate, it is a subtle thing and you really need to pay attention when you do it.

When weaving a very open cloth, the beater is moved towards the fell slowly rather than the usual crisp tap.  The whole point being you don't want the weft picks to be side by side but with a space between them.

So as the beater comes forward, slowly, you should feel resistance as it gets closer to the fell.  This resistance usually happens about 1/4" away from the fell line.  When this resistance is felt, the beater is then squeezed, very gently - and with the same degree of force each time - closer to the last pick.  How close will depend on how much space you want between each pick.

With such a textured yarn, the warp and weft threads are not going to be perfectly straight.  I think that is quite clear in the photo above.  There will be some deflection of the threads, again, partly because of the high twist of the yarn and it's tendency to torque, partly due to the texture.

Bottom line, consistency.  That is what is going to work to make such an open cloth from this yarn.

Currently reading The Christmas Wassail by Kate Sedley

Thursday, March 26, 2015

All About the Therapy

Two shots of the same shawl.  The top photo was taken with the ordinary flash, the bottom using the 'red-eye' feature of the flash.  The bottom photo is much closer to real life than the top photo.  I discovered by accident that using the red-eye feature gets me better representation of reds, especially.

This shawl has been wet finished and in the bottom photo you can see how open and airy it is as the blue of the table top shows through the cloth.

Some people get bored very quickly with weaving and won't even weave four place mats with the same threading/tie-up/treadling.

OTOH, I find weaving the same thing over and over soothing.  I don't mind any part of weaving, including weaving repeats of a textile to develop a line of scarves, place mats, shawls.  The colours may, or may not, vary.  Weaving the same quality of textile then becomes a working meditation or, as in the case of these shawls, very much therapy as I try to reclaim my physical fitness after surgery.

I'm still far from recovered, but healed enough that the work of rebuilding my muscles can begin.

On Tuesday I will start physio, but in the meantime I am gently working my way through these textured silk shawls.  My colour selection is limited to what I have left in inventory, but that's ok.  I have four shows coming up in Oct/Nov and if shawls continue to sell the way they did last year, having depth of stock will be A Good Thing.

And I am determined to use up as much of my stash as possible.  I have promised Doug I will not win the estate sale contest.  To that end we are doing two fibre shows this spring to try and sell off more of the re-sale yarns I have.  Whatever is left after those sales will have to be woven up by me, preferably as quickly as possible.

Since I am officially turning into a 'senior citizen' this summer, coupled with the long list of health issues that have suddenly (it seems like) reared their heads, I have some serious thinking to do about the future and how much I am willing - or able - to do.  But I really don't want to think about that too much until I find out what my new normal is going to be.  In the meantime, there will be a lot of repetition as I use up my rather extensive stash.  And that's ok by me.

Currently reading To Dwell in Darkness by Deborah Crombie

Monday, March 23, 2015

Cross Purposes

One of the things we forgot to tape for the DVD The Efficient Weaver was how I rough sley the reed as a raddle and how it gets put into the loom.  Since someone also asked about transferring the cross, here is a photo essay showing those steps.

Laying the reed across a couple of small boxes, I sley the warp into the reed.  In this instance I want 10 epi, but have wound two ends at a time.  Since you never want to separate the loops at the end of the warp chain, a complete loops goes into one dent, then three are left empty to achieve 10 epi density.

Once done, the reed is flipped over top of the lease sticks.

The loop of the warp is now picked up and held by a third lease stick.

The bundle of reed and lease sticks is laid across the bin (or box) and carried to the loom.  In this instance I also threw in the cones I expect to use for weft, just to keep everything together.

The reed is inserted into the beater (see picture below) and the third lease stick holding the loops is carried to the back of the loom.  The apron rod then picks up the loops from the stick.  In this picture you can see the loops are messy.  These uneven loops straighten out quickly by going to the front of the loom and gently pulling on the warp chain at the choke tie, which hopefully has done it's job and not allowed any unevenness to transfer beyond the choke to to the rest of the warp.

The loops have been straightened out.  Since this yarn is textured, it needs a little extra grooming.  I do this by grasping the choke tie, applying gentle tension on the chain and then sliding the lease stick back and forth to encourage the threads to even out.

The weight is applied to the warp chain to provide tension for beaming and the lease sticks are raised as close to the warping valet as possible without snagging any of the threads.  The goal here is to have equal tension on the threads.  Snags will increase tension on those threads caught up. in the snag.

The warp is beamed by rolling the warp forward.  The lease sticks will descend to the breast beam at which point the weight is removed and moved further down the chain and lease sticks raised as high as they can easily go.  Repeat, inserting warp packing, until done.  Here I've divided the warp chain into two sections.  If I didn't the warp is wide enough that the outside ends will have more tension than the inside ends for the last few feet.

Removing the masking tape (or whatever is used to secure the lease sticks) the stick closest to the reed is tipped up on it's edge to form a shed.

Using a longer set of lease sticks I insert one into the shed behind the beater and...

slide it to the back where it is inserted into the Angel Wings (sold by Purrington Looms).  I've found the front set of holes is about perfect for me to thread from.

Removing the first lease stick, the second one now forms the other shed of the cross and another long lease stick picks up the shed behind the beater and...

gets inserted into the front hole of the Angel Wings.  The clamps hold the lease sticks so that they can't pop out of the Angel Wings and the warp is secure.

I cut the loops at the beater and the warp is now ready to be threaded.

Saturday, March 21, 2015


Today is officially the first day of spring...

Hopefully the snow won't last long.

Friday, March 20, 2015

A Few Picks

The beginning of a new 'week', another milestone.

I have been so very good about not doing anything I should not during the 6 week healing phase of this journey.  Now I'm well past that and getting anxious to reclaim my life.  I have boxes and boxes filled with warps waiting to be woven and two looms with warps poised to be turned into cloth.

This morning I decided it was time to try weaving.

I purposefully left the small loom set up with a warp that required practically nothing in terms of beat.  It is a textured silk (I was told it was referred to as 'gimp' not 'boucle' because there are no loops as such, but made from one very highly twisted main singles plus binders which torques and creates a textured yarn) and set very openly at 10 epi.

The goal is to weave it at 10 ppi, which means the weft picks are merely squeezed gently into place.

My left hand is still numb which is making shuttle handling a bit of a challenge but I was able to weave about 15" before I decided that was probably enough to be starting with.

The live weight tension system is also helping because very little effort is required to roll the fell forward.

Ultimately I think if I weave for a few minutes then go do something else for a while then weave for a few minutes, I will gradually build up strength without stressing my body too much.  I might ask a friend to come help dress the loom again once this warp is off, though.

Thursday, March 19, 2015


The vendor hall is open from noon until 5 pm Friday, then 8:30 to 5:30 on Saturday.

We will be there will weaving yarns and some woven textiles.

Come and say hello.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Brain Power

The past week I've been able to sleep on my side - my preferred position - and as a result I've been sleeping a lot better.  Gradually I've been feeling as though I have a little brain power.

Today I set myself the goal of starting to write some long delayed blog posts for Craftsy.  Not sure they will accept them because I didn't get permission for the topic(s) beforehand, they are just things I think need to be said.

So the first one is on weft packages.

New weavers don't always get shown how to wind a paper quill.  Quills can be handy if you are weaving with lots of different colours and you don't have enough plastic bobbins.  Or maybe you just don't like plastic bobbins.  They do make a bit of a chattering sound as the yarn reels off of them and some people just don't like the noise.

I think I've got a clip on You Tube showing how I wind them, but I don't think Craftsy is going to allow a link to my You Tube channel so I won't include that in the post.  Not sure if Janet Dawson covers this in her class on Craftsy, but I'm sure she shows how to wind a bobbin.

Unfortunately my left hand tires very quickly and after writing up the post for Craftsy and this, I think I need to rest my hand for a while.

Read or work on puzzle?  Decisions, decisions...