Measuring Your Progress

Before I give you my “Measuring Your Progress” tips I’d like to follow up on my last post about the Warping Trapeze:
I recommend the wood be 2″ x 2″ rather than 2″ x 4″ as seen in this YouTube video. And I didn’t cut the ends of the boards as seen in the video.  However it shows how it works.

Also I didn’t drill holes but used brackets from the plumbing department at my hardware store and my rod is smaller at 1/2″ diameter. And I used ½” brackets like in the photo below. That way I can easily take the trapeze apart for storage.

Be sure to measure the width of you loom before you buy your rod. A curtain rod might work if the length is okay.



I like to use adding machine tape to measure my progress. Using 3 pins keeps the tape from slipping and sliding so you can be accurate. When you need to move the pin closest to you, “leapfrog” it over the other pins and place it near the edge (fell) of the cloth.

Mark with a fine enough pen so you can see your measurement exactly.

Here is a page from my book Weaving for Beginners showing the tape. Notice it does not get woven in with the cloth. I mark where the hems are to be and any changes as well as where I want the beginning and the end to be.

Making My Own Warping Trapeze

Now that I’m restricted to my apartment in my retirement place because of the corona virus, I have more time on my hands. I think that may be the case for others, and maybe people are at their looms more than ever. So I’m planning to send more frequent posts about weaving. While I was allowed to go out to my studio I wove more than I have in a few years. I was afraid we’d get guaranteed and then I could dye what I wove at home. That is my plan.

Peggy

 

I was so excited to get everything I needed to make my warping trapeze in one afternoon. Everything came from my local hardware/lumber store. My tech guy screwed in the brackets in 5 minutes. Whoever said there was no such thing as a 10-minute job! I got 8 ounce fishing weights from a sporting goods store and 2 bungie cords while getting the lumber (2×2, 6ft long), solid metal rod (1/2” d.), and brackets (from the plumbing department).  My apprentice, Vera, gave me her plans.

The trapeze will be used for beaming—making tightly wound warps for perfect tension. Here-to-fore I’ve used my warping drum (a hassle) or cranking and yanking (works ok but the trapeze will speed up the process with perfection.

Now all I need is a new warp to beam on. That won’t happen until we are allowed to leave our apartments until the virus settles down.

When Teaching is Wonderful!


Here is proud Gao Yu after he was on a 3-month internship with Slow Fiber Studios. He is a textile scholar from China and his personal knowledge of backstrap weaving and weavers paid off. He came several times to my studio to learn how a floor loom works. He asked great questions and understood so much what was happening. After one experiment where he had to lift many shafts, he said, “Now I understand why people weave the cloth wrong side up!” Here he is showing his sample with a supplementary warp he planned and set up on my 10-shaft loom. Then he wanted to know if he could also do supplementary weft. The white wefts show that: both supplementary warps and wefts as well as other treadlings he figured out.

Gao Yu made another warp on my 4-shaft loom. He had seen a textile with a space in the warp which was his inspiration.

Then he tried weaving each side separately. The orange warp thread had been in the center as a supplemantary warp to weave with the unwoven wefts. (I suggested he put in the thread between two heddles–working like a floating selvedge–when he wished for another shaft.)

The final challenge was to make the floor loom work like a back strap loom. I grapped a shirt I had with straps–and voila!

He wanted to use a large tube for the natural shed and only one shaft for the counter shed like in a plain weave backstrap loom. Not perfect but close. My loom was not deep or tall enough to get a good enough counter shed. But more thinking about it he can do when back home in China. (We all were lucky that he got here before the virus outbreak.)

A Hair Comb is a Lifesaver


I discovered a threading error after I’d woven about an inch or so and an ordinary comb helped isolate the mistake in the heddles. [click photos to enlarge]

I discovered the error in only a few of the sheds—2 warp threads were closer together than the rest of the warp.

Then I vaguely saw in the woven part what looked like an error in the reed. It wasn’t the reed, but a mistake in the threading which was obvious when I isolated the area in the heddles with the comb.

I took out all the threads from the error to the edge of the warp. It was helpful to have the woven part still in place.

Here are the first 4 threads in their proper heddles.

Thank goodness for the lease sticks in the cross! I always keep them in behind the heddles in case of an error or broken thread so I can quickly find the correct heddle(s) to make the repair.

I put the threads into the reed as I went along.

Here the 40 ends are re-threaded and re-sleyed in the read, ready to tie on. I’ll take out the previously woven part and tie on the whole warp again. I like to lash on, especially with this slippery and expensive silk warp thread.

More Surprises at the Silk Factory


This gorgeous irridescent sari caught my eye immediately. I brought it home with me and hope to make collages where the light plays on the fabric in different ways. So inspiring! It would be lovely as a garment with gathers but I can’t think of anything I would wear. [click photos to enlarge]

THIS IS A SKEIN HOLDER! I asked about the bamboo pieces with “feet” that were laying on the floor under a loom. Immediately a skein was produced to show the purpose. The threads came off beautifully. I would like to think it could be put up on a table.

If you look closely in the corner of the photo the weaver is winding the thread from the skein on a wicker cage-like tool with a stick for a handle. He is winding very fast and the fine silk thread is coming off like magic.  I wish I could make skeins that well.

This close-up shows a stack of the cards for the Jacquard loom and the “cage thing” that threads are wound on. They could  twirl the cage fast and wind up the thread really fast.

I watched this weaver for a good while while he was separating warp threads so he could move the lease sticks. I thought I was the only one who needed to fiddle to move the sticks sometimes. It’s VERY important to keep the sticks in. The reason is that if a thread breaks you will know exactly where it belongs.

The woman in the sari is weaving along with a fly shuttle that works when she pulls the handle on the cord. (It shoots the shuttle across the warp.) I  visited a factory once in another part of India where all the Jacquard weavers were men because lifting all the threads with their weights took a lot of muscle. I was very surprised to see one woman. The others were men but not beefy types.

Silk Sari Weavers in India


In the town of Thanjavur in southest India we visited Sri Sagunthalai Silks factory. One of their specialities is weaving special borders on the fabric. They developed a technique so the join between the body and the borders was barely detectable by feel. [click photos to enlarge]

There were 5 or 6 Jacquard looms. Here is how the (two) Jacquard mechanisms were set up: one mechanism for the borders (with yellow cords) and the other for the body of the cloth with white cords. Each and every pattern warp thread was weighted separately so each thread could be lifted to make the complicated brocade pattern seen above. Each heddle was attached to its own cord going up to the mechanisms (yellow and white cords). One punch card was made for each row of weaving which the mechanisms operated to make the sheds. This inspired the develpment of computers; you can see why.

This shows the two warps for the body and a border. I think the shafts lifted the ground threads and the Jacquard lifted the separate pattern threads.

Here the woman weaving (wearing a sari) lifted the border threads with its own treadle. I think the Jacuard worked automatically when a shed was made. (You can see some of the weights below the border).

Another treadle worked the shed for the body of the fabic.

Here she was VERY grumpy when the Jacquard mechanism overhead malfunctioned!

My New Baby is a Cutie!

Now my studio really looks like a weaving studio. My newest loom is in the center. All my looms except this new sweetie were built by Jim Ahrens. Now the new one was made by AVL looms—the “A” stands for Ahrens, so all the engineering is related. The ‘V’ stands for Jon Violette, who began the company with Jim and the ‘L’ stands for looms.
Are you wondering what the other looms are that circle the new one in the center? Starting with the loom on the left and going around clockwise: 10-shaft, side tie-up, 4-shaft loom, 40-shaft dobby built by Jim Ahrens in the 1940’s, and my love, the 4-shaft loom made of bird’s eye maple wood which I have used exclusively for years and years. Going to 12 is a giant and exciting step for me!

Here she is—a real sweetie. I’ve been trying to reduce and give away things but this loom from Jan Langdon I fell in love with years ago. When she decided to down size, she said I was the only person who had longed for it. It is a 12-shaft dobby about 36” wide. Note that in the photo, my 10-shaft loom with a side tie-up is back behind the new loom. Small in a way but the dobby will increase my capacity for new structures greatly.  I’ve been wanting to weave a structure for years and finally decided to do it until I realized I would run out of treadles. The dobby solves that problem. Two treadles work the mechanism to raise the shafts. Notice it is on wheels—that has been very handy already. I just need a pillow on my bench.

Here’s the back of the loom. The dobby mechanism is on the left side in the photo.

This is the dobby mechanism. Each bar represents one shed or row of weaving.

A close-up shows the pegs in the bars. A special tool makes it easy to ‘peg’ each shed. The holes without pegs are the shafts that will go up. Since there are 12 shafts, there are 12 holes in each bar. When the right treadle is pressed, the mechanism raises the shafts for one bar—one shed. When the left treadle is pressed, the shed closes and the mechanism readies itself for the next shed. When all the holes are filled nothing will go up. It’s a way to mark the end of a repeat.

Here is the first thing I’ve woven! I wanted to shade the 12-shaft satin weave to go from only the warp showing graded to only the weft showing. The white warps are shiny spun silk (2 different yarns) and the weft is handspun silk from Bhutan that is not shiny.Then I dyed the piece lightly in black walnut dye. I was hoping the shades of the color would contrast more, to go in shades from light to dark–but that is what I’ll work on next. I thought the two yarns—one shiny and one mat would contrast more when in the dye. Lately I’ve been weaving cloth for the dye pot—really fun to weave and get my creative juices flowing.

I’m Bending the Rules


Here is my current warp on my loom! Just what I taught my students to avoid–unevenly handspun singles yarns that are lumpy and sticky for warp threads. This is silk yarn I brought back from Bhutan–mainly to show the tour group what handspun yarn looked like. I did use plied threads for the 4 selvedge threads on the edges and weighted them separately. I used 5/2 cotton but a plied silk might have been a better idea.

From Linda Heinrich’s linen workshop at Convergence in 1994 and from her book on weaving linen I learned how easy it is to size a warp on the loom. Before now I’ve always been afraid to size anything. Her recipe is 1 tsp flax seed (any kind will do) to 1 cup of water. Simmer 15 minutes and strain. Refigerate and use within 2 weeks or freeze.I brush on the sizing then strum the threads and then open the shed to dry. Don’t apply too much–sort of like dry painting but pat the threads to get the sizing to go through to the bottom of the threads.

This is the yarn on the skein. I’ve shown it before to show the cross  made in the skein. The threads are horribly sticky but with the cross the threads are coming off perfectly. There are plenty of soft-spun lumps and thin areas where it is twisted tighter. I knew from winding the yarn off the skein that the threads were strong–that’s what convinced me to try them for a warp. The stickyness would have prevented the sheds from opening without sizing I realized.

Here is the cloth off the loom and wet finished. I got the cloth really wet in the sink then blotted with a towel. And ironed until dry I love ironing and ironing until dry and I love the sheen I got with the totally mat yarns.

Here is the cloth I just dyed with black walnuts I collected last week. What frun all this is. I can’t wait for the warp to dry and begin weaving again.

Crafts Fair Not to Miss at Beautiful Windrush Farm in Petaluma


Here are pictures I took at the fair over the weekend. Don’t miss it–rain or shine–it was glorious to be around a variety of crafts people. Most people don’t get to see this part of Petaluma–a real farm with animals in gorgeous countryside. The last day is this Sunday, Dec. 2 from 10:00-4:00 at 2263 Chileno Valley Road, Petaluma 94952. www.windrushfarm.wordpress.com 

Yarns of course from the farm’s sheep as well as a booth with unusual yarns from Japan. The ball of yarn in the photo is made from fiddlehead fern fuzz and the brown skein is made from the stems of wild silk cocoons. This is a small sample of the unique things not found in yarn shops. 

These fibers are hand dyed ready for spinning or making felt.

Here are a variety of goodies made by this happy woman.

Delicious pizza was made to order and baked in the outdoor oven. I had two!

Fun for the kids, too. These LEGO experts were having a grand and vigorous time on a bench where they found a box full of pieces.

These boys are having a great time on a wood structure.

Here’s a curious cow wanting to know what I was doing as I left for home.

I’m Weaving Again!


The fine silk warp at 125 ends per inch stymied me and I walked away and left it on the loom for a year and a half. I thenbegan dyeing. I knew there were enough threads left unbroken to weave so I began weaving with some heavier handspun silk from Bhutan. When I took off the entire warp, This piece is what I found had already been woven–and I loved it. Originally I was weaving a tube but had decided to weave two separate layers–hence this piece was formed! [click photos to enlarge to see detail]

Here is the cloth woven with the silk from Bhutan. I decided just to weave off the warp with it so I could cut it up to dye later with the natural dyes I’ve been playing with.

You may remember the skein from Bhutan from another post. The skein was unusual because there was a cross in it. Even this extremely sticky thread came off the skein perfectly.

Here is my latest peice–5 yards to try the new silk/retted bamboo thread I saw in Handwoven Magazine. I love it. I the twill warp face on one side and weft faced on the other so when I dye it I’ll have two choices of tones of color.

Weaving Again!


Today I started to weave again after over a year. It takes two swifts to hold the skein.

This skein of raw silk from Bhutan has a cross in the middle of it! I’d never seen such a skein before. However it really makes it easy to ball off the yarn because of the cross. This is definitely hand spun and sticky.

Here’s that hand spun yarn woven with my fine silk warp at 125 EPI.

I decided to try a fatter weft so the weaving would go faster. I may have a dog on the loom. I’ve spent so much time already with broken ends I can’t quite give it up yet. I think I’ll use the cloth to dye with my dyes I brought back from Japan. I’m weaving two layers at once. Well since I’m going slowly anyway, why not?