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!

Weaving The Michigan Tartan on the Weaver's Delight

I took on this experiment to satisfy my own curiosity about weaving cloth on this big fly-shuttle rug loom.  I wasn't acquainted with anyone who had done it, but I had a shuttle especially designed for the loom and yarn, so I decided to try it out.

I was using size 8/2 cotton for the warp.  I knew from previous experience that setting it at 24 ends per inch would be just right for a 2/2 twill.  The sections on the warp beam measure 2" between the pegs, so I calculated 48 ends in each section for a width of 20", equaling 10 sections.  I suspected I would end up wishing I had used 26-28 ends per section, since each peg takes up some of the width.

My pattern for the towels was the Michigan Tartan, found on the Scottish Register of Tartans,
Michigan Tartan
I used the threadcount given for the tartan, decided what was going to be at the starting edge and then made a chart noting the order and number of each color for each section.  Each section had to total 48, so some of the stripes were in two different sections.

I used the bright pink post-a-notes to keep my place and crossed off each color as it was wound.
I only had one cone of each color, so I wound the colors on my warping board, one section at a time. 
As I finished each section, I took it off the board and threaded it through my tension box and wound it onto the warp beam.

I use eight pieces of plastic tubing seen on the pegs to keep the yarn from accidentally going into the sections on either side.
Frequent color changes can be aggravating without a plan.  I figured out quite a while ago that it was a waste of time to tie the color changes together at the first peg.  Now I put tape on the board and tape the beginning of each color below the peg and the end gets taped above the peg.  It makes warping much faster.
 Each section end of the warp gets taped before removing from the tension box so the threads will be in order for threading.  Here are eight of the ten sections prepared.
Before threading each section, the warp is taped to the shuttle race at the front of the loom in a handy spot for picking the next thread.

I threaded the 12 dent reed with two warp ends per space.  When I was done, I knew I was right about needing to wind 26-28 ends per section, because the warp in the ten sections was wider than in the reed.  It wasn't bad enough to do over, and besides, this was all just an experiment, with the spacing included.  Next time I will add more warp ends per section.

 I got everything tied onto the apron rod and wove a small amount to spread the warp.  Note that the lacing from the apron to the rod does not extend much past the width of the towel.  If it was laced to the ends of the rod, the towel would pull on the center and bow the rod.  Keep the lacing the same width as the weaving to avoid tension problems once weaving begins.
The first towel was just one weft color as I worked on adjusting the loom.  I had a lot of broken warp threads as I tried to adjust everything.  The shuttle kept going crooked through the shed from the right side.

I eventually ended up putting a different picker heel on that wasn't as worn as the one I started with.  It did help a lot.  All the warp breakage occurred on the first towel and the first inch of the second towel.  I got a lot of practice repairing warp threads on this big old loom!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Replacing the Paper on Weaving Reeds

I came across a reed today that I had replaced the paper coverings on the edges with masking tape.  I knew when I did the repair that it probably wouldn't last long, since masking tape tends to get brittle pretty quickly.

The tape was not sticking, so I decided to try gluing it back down with Tacky Glue.  It sort of worked, but not entirely to my satisfaction because it rippled a bit and I had to keep pushing on it to make it stay. 

I started looking for something else that was thin to try instead and decided to try parchment paper, the type used for covering baking sheets.  It is found in the grocery near the wax paper and foil.

I cut a small test piece, enough to wrap around from front to back, put some glue on the paper, folded it together to smear the glue around and then wrapped it around the edge of the reed.  It stuck with no trouble, created a few wrinkles which I was able to remove and then I left it to dry.

I checked it a few minutes ago and it is firmly glued to the reed edge with no indication that it is going to peel off the reed. 

This is definitely the way to go to replace old flaking paper covers. It is inexpensive, thin, easy to cut with a rotary cutter and ruler, will actually stick, and looks like the repair should last for a long time. 

An added bonus is the remainder of the parchment paper can be used in the kitchen.  I love using it because I dislike trying to get baked-on grease off my cookie sheets.  I never have to do that when I use the paper.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Experimenting With the Weaver's Delight Wooden Yarn Shuttle

Last spring, while visiting Ole' Lou and his wife Betty down in Arkansas, I shamelessly begged an old wooden shuttle off him.  I thought I had seen it during another visit and was pretty sure he didn't use it.  I didn't know of anyone else with a Weaver's Delight loom that had one, and also never talked to anyone who had woven fabric on their rug loom.

I brought it home along with a few pirns for winding on yarn for the shuttle.  This is a big shuttle, about the same size as the cast aluminum ones for the rags.  It measures about 16" long and is 3-4" high.
It has a patent number stamped on the top.  Last fall, my dad took a look at it and did some repairs.  One of the pointed cones came out and needed gluing again.  We got that repaired and Dad turned a couple more pirns, using the old ones for a guide.  I brought it all home and put it away until recently. Other things like cancer treatments got in the way of my doing anything with it. I  got it out last week and decided to clean it up and try using it.
I sanded all the wood and found out most of the dark color was just dirt.  After a coat of stain, I put a couple coats of polyurethane on everything.

The wire fits in two holes inside the shuttle and loops around the pirn in the groove.  Pushing on the flat end of the pirn bows the wire enough to give some tension to the pirn and holds it in place when seated in the shuttle.

I had my dad make the new pirns about 2" longer than the original ones.  I wasn't sure if there was a reason for the original ones to be shorter, so I thought I could start out with them a little longer and cut them off if they didn't work.

There was a reason for them being shorter!  The longer one worked fine until there was just about 1" to1 1/2" of yarn left on the pirn and then it started to get caught on the tip.  It caused some broken warp threads from being tugged off the shuttle race.

Well, isn't that what experimenting is all about?  I know how to fix broken warp threads and will show some photos of the process in another blog post.

Here is the shuttle all loaded with yarn and threaded and ready to go.  The thread is exiting under a spring steel tension clip.  I am thinking bout replacing it with something else that may let me change the tension a bit and have a little more control of the yarn pulling at the selvedges. (Or not pulling!)

Stay tuned for winding a tartan warp to put on the WD sectional beam and repairing broken warp threads.