Saturday, December 2, 2017

Dyeing With Black Walnuts

I’m trying to get some projects wrapped up before leaving on our train trip next week. I’ve been dyeing some yarn with black walnut. In the first photo, on the right, is how it looks straight out of the pot and on the left is after it’s been rinsed. The skein on the right is from my friend Mark Maier's sheep, and the rinsed skein is some rug wool I purchased quite a while ago.
These are both rinsed skeins. Considering how dark the skeins were before rinsing, they lost a considerable amount of color.
 The dye bath was made from husks that had already turned black, and the liquid was very dark. I simmered the husks for a while and then let it sit for a couple days before straining the solids from the liquid.

Yesterday, I heated the liquid and then added hot washed wool yarn and simmered it for a while. Then I let it soak overnight and rinsed and dried it today.

I don't have enough time right now to do any more dyeing, even though there is a lot of color still left in the pot. Doing a gradation experiment or trying some different mordants would have been interesting. I'm wondering if adding a mordant such as alum would have made the yarn darker.

Perhaps next year I will do some experimenting with it again. I read that a darker dye can be obtained from the green husks or the the nuts without the husks.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Patience and Persistence Pay Off

For a little over a year, I have been working my way through this book with my 10-shaft Swedish counterbalance loom.
I started out with four shafts and a coarse yarn, making a table runner.

 Moving on, I skipped over trying a 5-shaft weave because it sounded a bit more complicated than I was ready to tackle. Six shafts was next on my list.

This was fun to search for a six shaft pattern. I chose #49712.
My friend Julie gave me the counterbalance loom I have been working on, since she had owned it for a long time and never used it.  I asked her what she wanted for it and she told me to weave her something. When I got to the time to try eight shafts, I decided to make her a Teddy bear.

It was back to choosing patterns again.  I wasn't going to weave for a single bear, so chose several patterns to pick from.
Jenny MacPokebeary joined Julie's family, and she loves the clothes and tartan Julie made for her.

I'm in the process of making other bears with the above fabrics.
I was finally ready to try five shafts, and that brings me to my frustration over the last few days. I chose a fairly simple pattern I found in a Handwoven magazine from Nov/Dec 2009.

My problem was with the tie-up of the counterbalance loom. Four shafts are pretty straightforward, but when more than four are used, some additional maneuvering around needs to be done.

 All the tie-ups start at the top when hooking up a counterbalance loom, with the pulleys, shaft levelers, the height of the shafts and beater, lamms, and last of all, the treadles. 

On page 218 of The Big Book of Weaving, the author gave instructions to hang five shafts with four horses and four pulleys. I think I tried it with various adjustments about three times, which meant getting under the loom and disconnecting all the treadles and lamms each time, leveling the shafts again, and doing all the tie-up again. Nothing was working well enough to get a good shed. 

In the book, under the first instructions, she mentioned switching to the eight-shaft pulleys if the first way didn't work.  I wish I had tried the second way first, because it worked!

Here is a side view of the shafts, horses and the two 8-shaft pulleys. Each pulley unit uses four horses. The first horse connects to shaft 1 & 2, the second to 2 &3, the third to 3 & 4, the fourth to 4 & 5.  The other pulley unit connects in a mirror image of the first one.

Right side horses connected to the shafts.

Left side horses. Note the mirror image to the right side.
A test gave me pretty good sheds so I wove a little scrap yarn.
I'm a happy weaver now!  This warp will become place mats or a runner.

Warp and weft is 8/2 cotton in black, navy, red and white.  It is sett two per dent in a 12 dent reed for 24 ends per inch (epi).

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Weaver's Friend Shafts and Heddle Repair

This loom only has two shafts, so it would seem like the restoration of these parts should go quickly. That is an erroneous assumption, because there are a lot of small parts that make these two shafts do their job well, and ended up being a two day job. Of course, I was not working on them more than a few minutes at a time.

The cast shaft brackets were removed and shown in my previous post.

The long metal bars fit into a couple brackets that are attached to the loom frame.
The metal heddles on this loom were not in real bad condition.  They had a little surface rust, but nothing that couldn't be fixed.

I removed them by threading craft chenille wires through the top and bottom loops while still on the shafts, to keep them in order. For a two shaft rug loom, there were a lot of heddles. I wired them into eight bundles and then pulled the shaft bars out of the shafts.
I started the process of removing the rust on the heddles by soaking them in a tub of vinegar, one bundle at a time.

My energy level was just coming back following my most recent chemo treatment, so this was a good project, taking just a few minutes at a time.
After soaking for a while, I took a scrub brush to the bundle to remove any loose rust and then rinsed them.
I mixed a jar of water and baking soda to give a final neutralizing rinse before blotting on paper towels.
I placed the bundle on a tray in my oven, set at 200 degrees F. to dry.

I just left them in the oven until I was ready for the next bundle, anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple hours.

After removing them from the oven, I sprayed the bundle with silicone to keep rust from forming again.  They will need to be wiped down well before using them to make sure any dark residue is removed.  I will make sure to not use a white warp for the first run of rugs.
An electric sander was the quickest way to remove the corrosion on the shaft bars.
I almost forgot to sand the edges, the most important surfaces of the bars. The heddles won't slide without them being smooth.

I finished up with a silicone spray.
The wooden frames weren't in too bad of shape.  I started by sanding them just enough to remove any lose finish, but not enough to remove the stain.
I have tried numerous things to spruce up the finish, but found that sanding, followed by wiping well with lacquer thinner gave the best results if the stain was pretty well intact. It helped smooth out the remaining finish and stain.

Once all the loom pieces are prepped, I will finish all the wood with a polyurethane varnish.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Weaver's Friend Progress

The Weaver's Friend loom is still in pieces, but I am slowly making progress on its restoration. I could have just reassembled it and started weaving, but where is the fun in that? I know myself well enough to know I wouldn't enjoy working on a loom that didn't feel nice. If the wood looks dirty or rough, it would bother me.

Here are the little steps I have accomplished so far.

I chose something simple to start. This handle and pawl only needed a light brushing before a coat of spray paint.
This is the part Bob made to replace the broken one. I did get a coat of stain on it yesterday, so it doesn't look so naked.

The cast iron parts on both frame ends were removed and painted.
The bottoms of the corner posts were originally painted black but much of the paint had worn off.  Here is one end drying after a new coat of paint.
Both end pieces were painted with a dark red trim around the frame. I mixed some paint and touched it up with a couple coats. It is probably a bit brighter than the original color.  I did tone it down with some brown.
The opposite end. The stenciling on the bottom rail needs some touch-up.
Not a perfect touch-up, but legible now.
 This is the cloth beam.  The ends couldn't be removed without stripping the flat head screw slots, so I just covered the wood and spray painted the ends.The ropes were not in good condition and needed to be removed.
The ropes were nailed into recessed holes and I couldn't pull them out because the wood was so hard.
My neighbor happened to come by so I enlisted him to try and remove the nails. All it needed was some muscle!
Various other parts were painted.  I wish I knew the names for them. Some of them do have a letter and number cast into them, for identification purposes when the Reed Loom Manufacturing Company was still in business.

Back beam brackets. Numbered L23 and L24.
Shaft brackets and screws. They attach to the bottoms of the shafts and are the connections to the four pitmans. Number L8.

There is a little more done, but I still need to download the photos, so I will save it for the next post.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Old Looms Have a Way of Finding Me

Garage full of Weaver's Friend loom parts.
My friend Joan Sheridan, shop owner of Heritage Spinning and Weaving in Lake Orion, Michigan was contacted by someone recently who wanted to find a home for an old loom. It is called a Weaver's Friend and was manufactured by the Reed Loom Manufacturing Company. Since I have gotten several old looms going again and no one else took the bait, she asked if she could bring it up to me.

It now sits on my garage floor in multiple parts.

This part attaches to the crankshaft and the lower back frame support board, and is cracked enough to not be usable.
It is the board in the center of this whole assembly of crankshaft, pitmans, and back support board.
Bob thought the design might not have been strong enough for the force on it, so he beefed it up a bit when he cut a new one. He also made holes for the washers at an angle so they would be perpendicular to the bolts instead of at an angle when everything is tightened down.
The other part of all this assembly is the support board with an arched metal piece that engages with the cog wheel in the center of the crankshaft. The pitmans are the four curvy wooden parts (two are shown in the photo above) and connect with the bottoms of the shafts. It all becomes the automated part of the loom to raise and lower the shafts during weaving.
This is a two shaft loom.  The shafts are very heavy due to the thick hardwood frames and the cast iron pieces. The metal heddles add weight also.
Sectional warp beam.
(L to R) Part name?, cloth beam, front bottom brace, breast beam, and back beam.
Beater that includes a 12 dent reed.
Top to bottom: handle with pawl, sleying hook, crank handle, rag shuttle.

A few boxes of rag strips were included.

Also included was a blue chained warp and three  large cones of cotton yarn and one mystery fiber.

My hope is to get the restoration done by next week and get a warp on and threaded by the beginning of July.  If that all happens and everything is working well, it will take a trip over to the Walloon Lake Antique Flywheelers grounds to be used as a demonstration loom at the end of July.

That is all contingent on how I am feeling on any given day.  I am halfway through my chemo treatments, with my forth one scheduled next Thursday. I have four or five days of not feeling well following treatment, and am finding I am getting progressively more tired from each one. Daily afternoon naps have become part of the routine. This project has been a nice distraction.

I have started cleaning the loom and removing cast iron parts and painting them. My next post will start showing my progress.