Weaving and Teaching Studios Update

My teaching studio before vacating

I’ve decided to give up one room–my teaching studio. I think I began to notice how much I had accumulated when I posted the photos of my studios in December. I realized that both rooms were filled with stuff that I no longer needed. So, I gave notice and will give up the teaching room on March 1st.
Today I gave up 400 pounds of very good weaving yarn! There is a bit more to go, plus magazines and other stuff. It felt good. Now I know what I’m likely to want and it is time to pass on what I thought I might need someday to younger weavers who can actually use it (or keep it for their own “someday”).

My weaving studio before mucking out

Fan Reed Mystery

Obi woven with fan reed (click to enlarge)

Last night before my head hit the pillow I had a solution to the fan reed problem. I wonder if anyone else came up with it? I’ll wait awhile to see, and then post my solution. The problem was how can straight selvedge-to-selvedge wefts be woven as well as the wavy wefts shown
in my obi.

Fan reed
Obi woven with a fan reed (click to enlarge)

More About the Fan Reed

Fan reed (click to enlarge)

Lauri asked how the fan reed works to make wavy wefts and well as straight-across ones. When the fan reed is raised and lowered, the spacing in the reed changes to cause warps to be more dense or less dense in areas, making the weft wavy.  The waves occur this way: where the warps are close together, the wefts can’t beat down as much so the wefts will be higher so-to-speak. Where the warps are sparse, the wefts beat down significantly more. At first I just thought that if the reed were stationary the wefts would be straight, but there is no place on the reed where the wires are evenly spaced. I, too, wonder how the obi was woven with mostly straight wefts and areas with wavy lines. Any ideas? The obi hangs in my living room, across from the computer where I look at it everyday. I’ll be pondering this question. I hope someone will have the answer.

Read more about fan reeds in my post on January 18, 2011.

Heck Block for Warping Reels

Jennifer asks for a quick way to warp multiple threads at a time. The most available method for weavers today is to use a paddle. I have a chapter on using various types in my Book #1, “Winding a Warp & Using a Paddle.”

Jim Ahrens’ warping mill which I use in my studio has a heck block–a marvelous (and old) mechanism that he made. I am warping 10 ends at once while  making a thread-by-thread cross (lease).

This is from Page 16 of my Book #1 ,” Winding a Warp & Using a Paddle.” I don’t know if anyone makes them now, AVL did for awhile. You might look them up in old weaving books from Europe.
The heck block

Heck Block (click to enlarge)

The heck is a mechanical way to spread your warp at precisely spaced intervals along the frame of a warping reel. It moves up and down on a vertical support that stands next to the reel, or if the reel is horizontal, it moves back and forth on a support alongside the reel. The central
support of the reel extends beyond the reel and turns with it: a cord wound around this support is attached by a pulley to the heck.
As you turn the reel to measure out your warp, the cord unwinds, and the heck block moves along the length of the reel. As you turn the reel for the return trip, the cord winds back round the pipe, drawing the heck back along its support. Multiple warp ends, which are threaded
into a leasing and tensioning device on the heck block, are carried with the heck
and so are laid down on the reel automatically.

Jim Ahrens’ Warping Reel

My Weaving Studio (click to enlarge)

In my photo of my studio, Jennifer Hill noticed my warping reel which Jim Ahrens built and used. She wrote: “Is that a warping mill attached at ceiling and floor in the back? Can you give whys and wherefores of having it so tall, but having only a smallish section to wind on the warp? Or am I totally mis-identifying the tool?”

It is indeed a warping mill or reel. It is so tall because Jim was tall. He liked a vertical reel (gravity helps when winding) so made his to be attached at the floor and at the ceiling.

There are two reasons why the section for winding the warp is small. First, he used fine silk threads like the ones I’ve been using–at around 100 epi or so. The threads are so tiny they don’t build up much on the reel which allows for more spirals that can be made closer together.

The other reason is that he only wound one section for his sectional beam at a time. This is a technique he talked a lot about because a lot of spools aren’t needed. He called it “Combining Sectional and Plain Beaming.”  You see, you wind one section’s worth on the reel just like normal. Then take it off and put it in a section on the beam. I’ve described his method in Chapter 12 of my Book #2, Warping Your Loom & Tying On New Warps. In a post to follow I’ll talk about a modification of this technique that is more weaver friendly.

Fan Reeds Fascinate Me

Regular Fan Reed (click to enlarge)

I’ve always been fascinated by illustrations of fan reeds in books.  In Japan, I purchased an obi woven with one. I also saw another style which I am calling a “special”  fan reed.

"Special" Fan Reed

The reed must raise and lower to accomplish the variety of spacing. Overhead beaters are ideal. I’m still trying to figure out a way to use one with my underslung beater. At any rate, I do love the wavy lines in the

Obi Woven with Fan Reed

obi that are caused by the reed. Only a portion of the obi is woven this way; most of it is woven with the wefts going straight across from selvedge to selvedge. Maybe someday I’ll get to my photos from the Japan trip and show cloth woven with the “special” fan reed.

Solid Colors in Rep Weave

I received a question about weaving the Rep Weave portion of the sampler in my new book, Weaving for Beginners, on Page 127.
QUESTION: “I’m not clear on how to weave a few rows that cover exactly the same threads.”
ANSWER: Remember, in rep weave, there are two sheds and they always alternate. There are never two consecutive rows of weft that cover exactly the same threads. The look of the cloth is a solid color, but the 1,2 shed ALTERNATES with the 3,4 shed. The solid color is achieved when you use the same color weft for BOTH sheds. With this weave the wefts pack down so you can’t really see the two rows because they appear as one row. So, just remember, always change sheds  and alternate them–never repeat the same shed twice.

See two important tips for Rep Weave in the weaving Tips Category.

An Illustration Found!

I have been very unhappy that an illustration in my Book #2, Warping Your Loom & Tying On New Warps, wasn’t correct. Today,  I found the correct version of the illustration in my own Book #3, Weaving & Designing Your Own Cloth.
It’s on page 43. See the comment I got about this technique.

Concept for Tying On New Warps Behind the Heddles

The incorrect illustration is  in the Tying On New Warps chapter, right at the beginning. (Page 99, Figure 142.)  It is meant to show the concept for tying on new warp threads BEHIND THE HEDDLES. It really is a much better way of doing it. Most weavers don’t know about this method. Read more in the Weaving Tips section of the blog. Here is the way the illustration should be.

A New Idea for Floating Selvedges

My student today had trouble seeing the floating selvedges. I got the idea to make the threads in a contrasting color! I never thought of doing that in all my years of teaching! It’s so much fun being able to dream up solutions after so many years.

Floating Selvedge in the Shed

Read more in the Weaving Tips section of the blog.

More on weighting separate selvege warps begins on page 306 in my new book, Weaving for Beginners.  All about floating selvedges can be found beginning on page 304.

Twill Diaper

Twill Blocks (click to enlarge)

I got a question about blocks in “twill diaper coverlets”. Diaper is a term that means the textile is patterned in an all over design. Often it is in small diamonds. In Twill Diaper Coverlets the principle is based on warp face (3/1) twill contrasting with weft faced (1/3) twill. In other words the blocks  woven in either 1/3 or 3/1  twill. Each block requires enough shafts to make twill (so that means 4 shafts are needed  per block).  Let’s say the blocks that are weaving pattern will be in 1/3 (weft faced)  twill and those in the background are 3/1 (warp faced twill).  Read about profile drafts in my new book Weaving for Beginners, and in Book #3 Weaving & Drafting your own Cloth (in the Drafting for Multi-shaft chapter beginning on page 236. )Read on.

Twill diaper coverlet

Beautiful examples of these coverlets are in the book, “Keep Me Warm One Night” by Burnham & Burnham. They look like overshot coverlets, but instead of being overshot weave structure  (which needs only 4 shafts to make 4 blocks), they are woven in twill diaper (where each block needs 4 whole shafts and a 4-block design would then require 12 shafts).  For the pattern blocks instead of weft thread floats, the blocks are woven in weft faced twill (1/3 twill).

This is not a beginner’s weave but the concept is the same as block substitution anywhere. You start with a profile draft and plug in the weave structure that you want to use.  Read about block substitution in Weaving for Beginners and Weaving & Drafting Your Own Cloth.

Search Button

Today I put up a new question–about what to do when the warp is too big for the warping board. When I was going back and forth doing the editing, I could find my place with the Search Button on the home page. Try searching for bouts.
Clicking on the link will get you there, of course, but if you want to search the whole blog for a word or phrase, use that handy button. It’s on the right side near the top, right under “Ask Peggy.”

I spent all afternoon on this one question and answer–I sure hope things get easier. At one point I lost everything. Often what my teacher told me I’d see wasn’t there and something else was–and wouldn’t go away. What a day!!

Silk Cocoons (white and colored)

Silk cocoons (click to enlarge)

Since I’ve been working with silk threads, people have asked about silk worms and silk cocoons. Here are some cocoons I brought from my studio. You can see one where the silkworm escaped leaving the cocoon so it can’t be unwound because it isn’t intact. The others are whole. The colored cocoons were dyed at a place I visited in Japan. We reeled the silk off of blue and yellow cocoons and the company knitted up the thread

Colored cocoons, green scarf

into the green scarf in the photo. In another post I’ll send pictures of mereeling green silk from blue and yellow cocoons. The gold  silk I previously unwound from a skein onto a Japanese spool is the natural color of the cocoon. A friend sent it to me from Cambodia. One fine strand of silk is made from unreeling many cocoons together at once. These fine threads are what I used in the pieces in the  gallery.

Preparations for a exhibition of my weavings

I’ve been preparing my long silk pieces and other hangings for a show in January. The work was already finished and ready to hang, or so I thought. The silk pieces needed to be significantly shorter for the space so I knew that job would take some time and consideration. Of course, I didn’t want to shorten them by cutting off anything! Most of them I sort of made them 1/2 as long by turning the bottom end to the back and attaching it to the top–sort of like a roller towel. One I rolled up as much as needed and had the roll at the top on the front of the piece. Since the pieces are sheer, it  took tiny stitches here and there and making sure the two layers were smooth against each other. I’ll have pictures of this when they are in the exhibition.

Other pieces needed their fringes combed and invisible hanging loops made. This has been a relaxing pleasure. I love handling them and looking at them up close again. You can see the original pieces in my gallery.

Joey played with my silk thread!

Joey investigating spool (click to enlarge)
Joey scratching his cheek

I have two cats–this morning  I heard scratching noises by my spools of silk thread. I have wound two more spools and each one has a thread sticking out from it. Joey was trying to get at one of the threads! Yikes, I said and covered them up. He kept hanging around, wondering where his precious thread-toy had gone!. After all my work, having a cat snarl the threads up again would have been awful. Molly is seen investigating the first spool on a previous post.

I’ve been winding more of these lovely Japanese spools from cones of fine silk. They are so nice to look at–“thread-sculptures”, really.

Silk spools are the thing!

Silk spool (click to enlarge)

I’ve been showing people the  spool of silk thread that I made from that skein which took a month to unwind. (See a previous post.) They love the full spool as it is–as a work of art. I’m beginning to love it, too. I’ve been worrying about what I can weave that will be as beautiful as the silk. Now my thinking is to weave something, but leave a lot on a spool because it’s beautiful that way. The silk came from Cambodia–the gold color is the color of the cocoons–the threads are c9omposed of 20 or more filaments (cocoons). The thread is slightly slubby and many were stuck together with the sericin from the silk worm.  This is what makes it so lovely, I think.

My weaving and teaching studios

My weaving studio (click to enlarge)

Here are what my studios look like today–after finishing a book and accomplishing a major move. The two rooms are adjoining. They are a mess, but workable for both teaching and weaving. Someday you’ll see them all cleaned up with everything put away. (Don’t hold your breath.)

My desk and weaving classroom

Good news! My silk skein is finished!

Skein almost finished (click to enloarge)

I finished the skein last week–that is, I stopped just short of finishing it. You can see that it’s almost completely unwound. I stopped unwinding so I could just cut the skein. Then I  have a hunk of this thread to use to lay in the sheds –similar to the silk pieces in my gallery.

Japanese winder

You can see the wound spool and I think it’s absolutely gorgeous. The “spool” is the style used in Japan for silk–a much larger circumference than “our” spools.

Molly and full spool