Sunday, December 9, 2012

Technical Challenges

One of the reasons I was approached by the designer in Vancouver was because she needed some fabric of very particular specifications that the mill wasn't able to accommodate.  They recommended that she contact me.  (I did some 'sample' weaving for them a few years ago.)

The cloth had to be a particular quality in a very specific width.  And she wants just 50 meters of each design.  At least, to begin with.  The mill has a minimum length of 100 yards and they didn't want to deal with such a narrow fabric (47-48 cm).

For me the width was not a problem, nor was the length.  I used to do 100+ yard long warps for the fashion designer I wove for so 50 meters isn't that big a deal.  I know what I need to do to weave 100 yards - 50 meters presents no difficulty for me.

The challenge was getting exactly the width required.  Since the same yarn at the same epi but woven in a slightly different weave structure will lose different amounts in terms of width (granted only a 1/4", perhaps, but enough to make the cloth too wide for it's purpose) it required extensive sampling to find a) the right weave structure to produce the quality of cloth required and b) the correct width in the reed to provide a finished cloth of 47-48 cm.

Since the ideal width in the reed requires a fraction of an inch I had to figure out how to make that fraction work in my one inch sectional beam.  The easiest way to work with it was to beam whole numbers, then cut back the excess threads.  (It is not a good idea to fill one section with fewer ends than all the rest as those threads will be a different length than the rest of the warp.)

To make it easy, I threaded the extra threads and tied them on, wove my header and then cut the extra threads away.  

If you squint you can see the cut threads at the top of the photo.  The extra threads where then stripped out of the reed and heddles and taken to the back of the loom where they were wound around an empty cardboard tube and suspended from the tension box rail (there is no back beam as such on my AVL).

As I weave the tubes will drop and when the threads are long enough I'll route them up over my warping valet so that they have a longer drop and I only need to wind them up every 2 yards instead of just under 1 yard.

And no, the extra threads won't go to waste.  I know someone who weaves a lot of inkle bands willing to deal with these bundles of yarn in order to get 'free' yarn for her inkle bands....

Currently reading Skeletons by Kate Wilhelm

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