Sunday, August 17, 2014

My Second Rescue Loom

We hear all kinds of stories about rescue cats and dogs, and that is a good thing.  It is good to bring attention to unwanted animals.  Our cat Schwartz came from our local shelter.  But I think it is time to bring attention to old looms.  Too many of them become kindling for someone's fire because the person that owns the loom doesn't know anything about them.

Bob and I just finished rescuing a second loom.  My first one was my Weaver's Delight from the Newcomb Loom Company.  I detailed my restoration of that loom in previous blog posts.  This second loom, a copy of a Gilmore loom, could have been a big mistake for us if we both weren't so persistent in getting it working. 

This is sort of how it looked when we bought it. I didn't get a photo before I started taking it apart. I sanded the frame but no finish was added yet. 

I purchased it without really thinking it through because it was an 8-shaft loom and the price was right.  I didn't have a loom with 8 shafts except for a table loom. Although it is a nice Glimakra Loom, I don't care to weave using hand levers because they are too slow for me.

Unfortunately, the other owner purchased it not knowing is was never gpomg to be a functional loom for her.  She said the person she got it from told her it was a kit.  That "kit" was not all there, lacking some very important parts.  A loom needs a brake and warp advance system and this loom was missing that.
As I started taking it apart, mainly to get some new finish on the wood, I kept seeing more problems with it.  I contacted Bob at the Gilmore Loom Company  to see if the loom could possibly be a Gilmore.  It turns out is was sort of a copy, but Bob was very helpful anyway.  I was able to get the proper ratchets and a few other parts for the brake system and he showed us how to make some other parts and how to install them.
This notch was an oops, but doesn't affect the integrity of the frame.  It was cut to try and attach the advance lever.  It should have been attached to the cloth beam, but the hole wasn't big enough to go over the beam end pin.  Bob had to drill a bigger hole to install it properly.
 This thin ratchet was what came with the loom.  It looks homemade.
We replaced the thin ratchet with this sturdy one and added the back pawl, which both came from Gilmore Looms.
 At this point, I wanted to get a sample warp on the loom to see how my treadle tie-ups were working, so I put on a short 2" wide warp, put a weight on the back beam so I could get some tension on the warp and proceeded to weave a small amount as I adjusted the treadle tie-ups.
My little sample worked out, so I knew we were close to having a functional loom.  About all that was left to do was get the brake installed.
This is part of the brake system with the new replacement parts, also from Gilmore.  Bob made our own metal bar to catch on the ratchet.
Our son Edwin welded a part that needed to be screwed to the inside of the sectional beam to keep it from spinning. 
A treadle was added to release the brake in the back.   By this time, I just wanted to get the loom up and running.  I might get around to putting some finish on it someday.
 We moved the loom into the studio and I picked a project that would only take one shuttle from the Sept/Oct 2014 issue of Handwoven.  I propped the shafts up on a box to get the heddle eyes a little higher for threading.
Here it is with the start of the loom's very first project.  This is just a sample to check for threading errors.
As hard as I tried to thread it error free, I still had eight threads near the end on the right that I accidently reversed the order, plus I had a weaving error.  I find if I weave a small amount and then take a photo, I can spot errors much easier than just looking at the weaving.  A photo just makes the errors pop out.
I loosened the tie with the errors, pulled the eight threads, rethreaded them in the proper order and retied.  The green stripe is my test after rethreading and it looks fine.  I will go back to using the red when I start my actual project.

I have about five yards of warp on the loom, so I should be able to get 4-5 towels woven.  I like the antique look I get from using the tan warp.  I plan on weaving towels in dark red, navy blue, dark green and whatever strikes my fancy for the remainder.

Another loom has been rescued and doing what it was intended to do and I now have an eight shaft floor loom with a 40" weaving width for about $500.  It feels good!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Weaver's Delight Cams and What They Can Do

Hopefully some of this information will be helpful to someone else with a Newcomb Weaver's Delight loom.  I realized I never wrote about the cams when I was doing the restoration of my loom, probably because I didn't know anything about them at the time.

My loom did not come with all the cams available, but only the basic ones.  The basics are four No. 1-2 combinations, two No. 8-9 combinations, one No. 7 and one No. 10.

Shown at the left are two of the four cams for plain weave.  They are numbered I and II and are reversible.  The left one is I and the right one is flipped over to be II.  Four are needed to weave a simple over and under plain weave.
The four cams would be alternated like this on the cam shaft.

These cams are also used in other weaves besides the plain weave.
No. 7 can be used either side to be a 7.
No. 8, with the notch to the right.  The reverse is No. 9.
No. 9, (No. 8 flipped to the other side).  Sorry I couldn't put this one in the same orientation as the others.  My computer is acting up and won't show them the way they are in my file.
No. 10  can be used with either side facing forward.
 Combinations of four cams are installed on the loom to create different patterns.
The cams are held in place by a heavy nut that needs to be tightened securely.
This short wooden bar, shown in its non working position needs to be raised to an upright position to install the cams.
It holds the four weaving shafts up so the cams can slip on the hub.
The cams will not stay in position unless the square key is in the notch on the cam and the hub. Getting all four cams installed may require pulling the beater forward and back to rotate the cams.
They are easier to install when they are in the lower position.  Here are the first two, controlling shaft 4 and 3.
Three are installed.  Pulling the beater forward will rotate those three until the open spot is toward the bottom.

The above instructions are used if there is already a warp on the loom.  If the loom is empty, it is easier to install the cams because the shafts can be lifted out of the loom to get them out of the way.  It's a good time to add some oil to them everywhere the metal rubs on another metal part.  Do the same for the cams.
Several patterns are included in the Weaver's Delight manual.  It only shows a very small amount of how the pattern will look.  I made a drawdown that shows 16 times more than is shown in the manual.

I made cards with instructions on how to install the cams for each one of the designs that are in the manual.  This is the first one and the rest are below.  Each card shows which cam goes on each shaft, the position of each cam when the key is in the upper left position, which shafts are up and a small drawdown graph of the design.

This is one of my favorite patterns for rugs.  It was suggested to me for my first warp on the loom and I received many compliments on how the rugs looked. It isn't from the WD manual but can be found in the book Rag Rug Handbook by Meany and Pfaff.
This is an example of the Chicken Tracks or Double Seed pattern.
When doing my experiments with weaving cloth on the WD, I used three of the above patterns.

The stripe arrangement is the thread count for the Wanstall tartan.  I didn't weave the tartan since it is for Wanstall family members.

I got four generous sized towels from the warp I was experimenting with.

This one at left is woven with the Kersey Twill pattern, which is just a 2/2 twill.  Click on any photo to make it bigger.
This is a close-up of what Bird's Eye looks like.
The pattern above the yellow line is Union.  It makes a very attractive towel.

With my next towel warp, I will try the other patterns.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

More Projects Completed

Rather than tie up one of my floor looms for just a plain weave project, I put this prayer shawl on my rigid heddle loom.  I used 8/2 cotton for the warp in five colors to go with the rust weft.  It is sett at 12.5 epi.  The odd number is because it is a European loom that a friend from Germany gave me.  At 20" wide, it is the perfect width for the shawls.  The weft from my stash is an acrylic boucle.
This was my choice of yarn for a prayer lap blanket.  I was looking for something suitable for a man.
I think it was a nice choice and will be nice in the chemo room where it is quite often cooler than comfortable, especially when sitting there for hours.  It was given to my neighbor.

The colors are sort of muted in the photo.  The skein captures the actual colors a bit better.  I skipped twisted fringe on this blanket and wove enough for hems with the 8/2 yarn I used for the warp. The threading order is 4-3-2-1 for plain weave.  This was done on my Leclerc Fanny floor loom, since I needed a 34" width.  It is sett at 16 epi.  Both this blanket and the shawl above are not beaten while weaving but just gently placed.  It makes a nice lightweight cover that is still quite warm.

With the remainder of the blanket warp, I chose to weave one of the twill treadlings on page 6 of Marguerite Davison's book, A Handweaver's Pattern Book, version XXXV.
 The patterns in the book are written for counterbalance looms, so I was able to tie up the loom as shown.  If I had been using my jack loom, I would have tied up the spaces instead of the x's.
This is for my almost three year old granddaughter.  Our son says she loves playing with her dolls and blankets.  The warp, as I said before is a teal 8/2 cotton.  The weft is this super soft acrylic and mohair blend and various colors of 8/2 cotton for the dots in the pattern draft.
It isn't very big, but fine for a small child to wrap around her babies.

Now to get back to weaving.  Next to show will be the towels woven with the stripes for the Wanstall tartan.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Should Towels Be Hemmed Before or After Washing?

Regarding wet-finishing handwoven towels before or after hemming, here is my rationale for doing hemming after washing.

I always wet-finish before touching my fabric with an iron for the following reasons. Wet finishing removes the spinning oils, allows shrinkage to take place and also fills in the spaces between the threads when the yarn softens with the washing. 

It allows the threads to move, especially with lace and waffle type weaves and with any weaves that were irregularly sett in the reed, the threads will move to fill in the spaces making the reed lines disappear.  Shrinkage quite often occurs during the wet-finishing process.  If hems are done before washing, they become puckered when the fabric shrinks.  I would want all of the above to take place before doing my hems.

Even with washing first, some reed lines may still be faintly visible, as the center towel shows.

Part of the wet finishing process is finishing your cloth with a hard press and that is not the same thing as ironing.  Ironing is gliding the iron over the surface of the cloth.  Hard pressing is exactly that--pressing hard for several seconds without gliding the iron.

 I hard-press my partially dry towels either with my steam press or I cold mangle them straight from the washer on my counter with my marble rolling pin.  I always cold mangle linen because drying it in the dryer can take away the beautiful sheen and make the threads appear dull.

What the hard press or cold mangling does is set the threads in the fabric, creating a memory for those threads. It makes it a little bit harder for the fabric to unravel and move in the weave.  By pressing a hem in first before wet finishing, irregularities such as reed marks that are there before wet finishing will be made permanent.  Those irregularities become the memory of the fabric and more than likely will not wash out with wet finishing later.

I sometimes wash all the towels I've made without separating them, but more than likely I will separate them with the serger because I have used colors that I wouldn't want to bleed onto another towel.  I try to use dye fast yarns, but occasionally one isn't as fast as was claimed by the seller.  I hate those kinds of surprises!

This is an example of before and after washing.  Notice how the purple bled, changing the white yarn into a lighter purple.  If I had not cut the three towels apart and washed them separately, the small sample at the end would have ruined the two other towels.


Another reason to separate a long row of towels is that they can get twisted in the washer and dryer and that will often permanently set wrinkles into the fabric.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Weaver's Delight Experiment is Done

The experiment with weaving cloth on my Weaver's Delight automated rug weaving loom is done and I am pleased with the results.  The warp of slightly more than five yards yielded five towels and a small sample.

I learned that I can weave with yarn using the big wooden shuttle and pirns.  For simple twill or plain weave, this loom works well.  I do need to work on an even beat though.  The beater is so heavy, I found it was very easy to overbeat.

Since my dad helped me get the old wooden shuttle repaired, he was the recipient of the first Michigan Tartan from this warp (top left).  My mom always said she doesn't care for plaid, so I gave her the striped one (top middle).  She clarified that today by saying she doesn't like to WEAR plaid.  They are both on display in their kitchen.  Thanks Dad for all your help!
The official Michigan Tartan was designed by Kati Reeder Meek from Alpena.  Information about the tartan can be found here:

After finishing this project, I am anxious to find another tartan to try, although I may do a quick run with tartan stripes like my first towel and weave each towel with just one of the tartan colors.  I'm ready for some one-shuttle weaving!