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.

Monday, May 8, 2017

World Ovarian Cancer Day

I couldn't finish the day without mentioning World Ovarian Cancer Day.  I have written about it before and will continue bringing attention to this cancer that is often missed until it is too late.

This is just one link describing what to look for and it encourages women to become their own advocate.
Ovarian Cancer Symptoms

If you don't care to go to links, here is a brief rundown of the symptoms.
1. Abdominal or pelvic pain
2. Indigestion
3. Loss of appetite
4. Bloating
5. Urinary frequency
6. Feeling full quickly
7. Constipation, diarrhea or alternating between both
8. Lower back pain
9. Sudden unexplained weight loss
10. Vaginal bleeding
If you experience any of these symptoms over a 2-4 week period of time, make a visit to your doctor and express your concern. There are no screening tests for this cancer, but there are tests that can be run if you have symptoms. Be persistent.

An Update on My Disease
I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in July, 2013.  I underwent extensive surgery and six cycles of intense chemotherapy.  After completing the initial chemo, I was put into a clinical trial with chemo treatments every four weeks for a year. I followed up with my doctor every three months, per the trial protocol.

At the end of two years, about the time I was supposed to start six month check-ups, I started experiencing the symptoms again. My CA125 test had been rising, so my doctor kept my next scheduled exam at three months.

About a week or two before my doctor appointment, I started bleeding rectally. I was told to go to my regular doctor to be checked. I called my local surgeon and he got me into his office a half hour later. A colonoscopy was scheduled for the following Monday. A tumor was found and the biopsy found it tested for ovarian cancer. I met with my gynecologic oncologist and he scheduled surgery for the following Monday.
I had a bowel resection and exploratory on April 3rd, five weeks ago. Here I am, ready to head to surgery. Boy was I puffed up from two colon preps in a week!
On a positive note, I had a great roommate for the week I was in the hospital.
Our daughter Carolyn came over from Green Bay to visit and brought her sister Becky (no photo) from Petoskey.
My aunt and uncle and family sent a beautiful plant.

Three and a half weeks later, I started chemo treatments again. I will be having a treatment every three weeks with two chemo drugs. My next infusion, another non-chemo drug will be added that is supposed to shrink blood vessels, and hopefully starve any new tumors that may develop. Other than days four and five after chemo, which I pretty much slept through, I have been doing well, as long as I don't overdo.

Weaving Again
I finally picked a small weaving project to start on yesterday. I finished the design this morning, and got the warp wound this afternoon and had it wound on the back beam by this evening.
This only shows half of it spread in the raddle. Hopefully I can start threading it tomorrow after I get back from the infusion center in the morning. I just need lab work drawn. Hopefully it will be in the okay range.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Taming Towel Hems

A few sewing techniques that aren't common knowledge can make a difference in how hems on towels turn out.  After taking so much time designing a beautiful towel, the goal is to have a hem that is equally attractive.

The techniques I use avoid some common complaints such as flared hems, rippling hems, and weft threads unraveling or poking out from the ends of the hems.

The first thing I do is serge apart my group of towels before wet finishing, leaving a thread tail of about 1 1/2" - 2" at each end. Serger chains tend to unravel, so an overhand knot on the chain somewhere will allow the chain to stay intact during wet finishing.  Many of the machine stitches on a sewing machine will work also if a serger isn't available, but the ends should be very secure so the weft doesn't unravel.

Wet finish using standard instructions for your yarn type. Dry and steam press.
 I turn the hem while doing my heavy steam pressing.  Don't let the hem area flare out.  The best time to control flaring is with pressing during wet finishing.  That is the press that will set the threads into memory.  If they are allowed to flare at this point, it is almost impossible to correct it later.

Pull the tail onto the first hem crease, pulling a tiny corner of the towel into the hem.
Fold up the next fold, enclosing the tail and corner. There shouldn't be anything sticking out. Pin if necessary to keep control. The top and bottom layer should be aligned.

Pick a thread color that is the least conspicuous when placed across the cloth and thread the sewing machine.
Starting at the top corner, one warp thread in from the hem edge, put the needle down through the layers and check the alignment again at the edge.

Do not sew over pins, unless you like to fix snagged warp or weft threads, purchase new needles or to pay for your machine to be timed again.

Stitch to the corner and reverse back to the start point, leaving the needle in the down position. Raise the foot and pivot to start sewing across the hem.
If you look carefully at the photo, you can see a little ripple of fabric in front of my finger. (Clicking on the photo should enlarge it.)  This is an easing technique used in the sewing industry. The little ripple is pushed toward the foot as the hem is sewn. It actually eases a tiny amount more fabric under the foot than the feed dogs are pulling and keeps the hem from flaring. Don't ever pull on the hem while sewing.

If you don't have a lot of control of your machine speed, you may want to use something other than your finger to do the pushing. Pierced fingertips will leave blood on your pretty towel!

Remove pins before you get to them, keeping stripes or pattern aligned until the other end of the hem is reached.

As you get close to the end, the beginning process will be repeated.  If you didn't turn in the other chain and tiny corner when turning up the hem, do so now.

When you reach the end, put the needle down one thread from the edge, pivot, align the edge and sew to the bottom corner, and reverse to the top of the hem.

Monday, March 6, 2017

MacQueen Tartan on the Weaver's Delight and Other Towels

My association with the MacQueen tartan is through my Grandpa Howard Sluyter's mother, Mary Jane MacQueen, her father, John MacQueen and his father, Hugh MacQueen.

For my 2016 towels given to my girls and my dad in December, I decided to put this tartan on my Weaver's Delight rug loom. At the time, I was teaching different ways to warp looms and also how to warp stripes. The Weaver's Delight has a sectional beam, so I decided the easiest way to do the stripes was to wind each section on the warping board, since no section was going to be repeated.

As the sections were filled, I taped the thread ends to maintain the order for threading.
 I counted out my heddles for a section and then taped that bundle of threads to my beater and carefully removed the tape maintaining the order.
Threading goes pretty quickly, since there were only about 50 warp ends per section.
Partially threaded as seen from the back of the loom.
A rod was inserted in the lashing cords and then the warp was tied to the rod. I spread the warp at the beginning with a few picks of black. I weave two or three picks before beating and then beat until they all come together. If there are still "v's" showing, I will do it again.  Six picks is usually sufficient to spread the warp and eliminate any separation between warp threads.
I wanted to take my first towel off before finishing the rest of the warp.  I wove a small section after my towel, put some Tacky Glue on that 1" section and let it dry.  After drying, I was able to insert two sticks into the next two sheds and then cut off the first towel at the glued section. I then tied onto the first stick in several places and was able to continue weaving.
The first towel looks very pretty on my dining room table.
I wove enough towels so my dad, three daughters, and I could all have one.
I believe I already showed this six-shaft towel that I gave to my daughter-in-law Rebecca. It was woven on a counterbalance loom and is a six-shaft pattern that I found on
 Wet finished and hemmed.
Except for this towel, which I kept for myself, I didn't get photos of the Cajun Inspired Towels I did in this colorway.
This pattern was a Tom Knisley design and was in Handwoven, Jan/Feb 2015, page 67. Refer to the magazine for the full instructions.

I gave the plaid one I wove (no photo) to my daughter-in-law Jenn this past December.
The plaid is pictured in a screenshot from my Fiberworks program and shows the slightly confusing threading from the pattern in the magazine.  Note the four threads periodically threaded on the same shaft but in different heddles.

The weaving also has four weft passes in one shed, so it is necessary to wrap around the outer warp threads. I didn't use a floating selvedge. The four passes in the shed leave ridges, giving the towel some texture.

I substituted orange for the red and dark brown for the white.