Sunday, May 29, 2011

Teaching Our Daughter-in-law to Weave

It's always enjoyable having our daughter-in-law Rebecca come up with Edwin.  She is always interested in learning something new.  The last few times, we have gone out to the studio and I have shown her some simple weaving.  This time, she is working on the Atwater-Bronson lace pick-up.  After about 4 picks of needing to beat harder, she caught right on.

I showed her how to read the pattern for the pick-up, on the clipboard next to her, and then showed her how the pattern works.  It didn't take her long at all to memorize the treadling.

She has finished over half of the four rows of blocks! 

While Rebecca was weaving, I finished all the hems on the three towels and dishrag.  I like how they turned out.  To me, they have a vintage look to them, especially with the colors, and the one that has the small border.

Here is a close-up of the details of my variations.  Click the picture to make it bigger.  The dishrag was just woven with a straight 2/2 twill.  The colors are pretty true in these photos.

It's nice to have an extra day off tomorrow.  Maybe I will finish hemming one of my lace towels, and work on my fabric.

I would like to start planning some more yardage, wool, to make Teddy bears.  I'm debating using up some ugly yellow colored estate sale yarn in my stash.  I'm debating whether to dye it a better bear color before warping the loom.  I think I will do some calculations for warp length and width and wind the warp first, and then decide whether to dye it.  That way, I'll know for sure I have enought yarn dyed.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Great Outdoor and Indoor Day

I started my projects for the day with starting the sanding job on the loom stand parts for my Leclerc Jano table loom.  It's a little hard on my arthritic hands with all the vibration, so I am doing a little bit at a time.  I set everything up in the garage doorway, so it's great with a bit of sun.

Well, here I am with my annoying noisy cat, Susie.  She desperately needed some foot pets and tummy tickles.  It made for a nice break, while I got my hand moving again, out of the claw position from holding the sander!

Well, now that I have the camera out, I might as well record the beautiful tulips in my garden.  The tulips had babies this year!  I don't have much luck with them, because of the overabundance of deer that think I plant them for gourmet meals (for them).  They didn't bother them much this spring, so I had a good show and a big increase in the number of flowers.
There must have been over twenty tulips in this bunch.  They are so cheerful and look so picturesque against the picket fence!

Now that I am thoroughly side-tracked, I might as well go across the road and see if there are any more morel mushrooms.  Oh, gosh, look at the size of this one--it must be about seven inches tall.  There is a smaller one, only about 5" tall trying to poke it's head into the picture behind this one.

Ok, now back to work.  A few more pieces sanded.

Now to the studio.  I finished the third and last towel on the Fanny warp, so I finished weaving off the remainder of the warp.  It was enough to make a dish rag to go with the set.  Here they are posing for a photo after serging the ends.  Next up is giving them all a good hot sudsy bath.  Hopefully they will end up being absorbant.  This is my first test of this box of estate sale yarn.

Well, back to work!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Why I Use Sticks When Warping My Looms

 Just recently, on one of the weaving forums I follow online, someone asked about using sticks between layers of warp wound on the backbeam.  I didn't see any replies talking about my main reason for using them.  Cords or straps make lumps that show through paper, light cardboard, window shades, etc. that are used to separate layers of warp.  The tie-on rods on my looms are attached to the front or back beam with some type of cord or strap.  Three different set-ups are shown in the following photos.  

They will all make lumps of varying sizes.  Tying the warp bouts to the front rod also make siginificant lumps.   

If the lumps aren't covered with something sturdy, like sticks, the lumps will distort the warp or cloth, as shown in this photo.  I was working on a lace pick-up, and forgot to add the sticks.  The photo is a little blurry, but I think you can get the idea.

I had to loosen my tension on the loom when I realized what happened, and started to insert sticks and gently work them around the beam to get back to the start.  It's better if you don't forget, since it isn't a good idea to loosen the tension too much.  You can see one of the sticks as I started to insert it.  Moulding used to attach screening to wooden doors works well if it is given a light sanding.  Big box home improvement stores or lumber yards stock it.

This photo shows the cloth after inserting 5-6 sticks.  It doesn't take many.  They don't have to be tight against each other, but only close enough that the warp or cloth can span between two sticks without lumps showing in between them.  I put two sticks over the rod and knots at the start, and then space the others out.

After the back beam is covered once, I use heavy paper or window shades to keep the rest of the layers separate.  It is ok to use just sticks, if you are putting a short warp on, but don't stack them, since they could slip.  It isn't very economical for a long warp, since sticks are more expensive than heavy paper, and they will fill the beam more quickly than paper. 

The separation of layers is very important to prevent individual threads from sinking into previous layers. If that happens, the warp threads are no longer the same length, and will cause the warp tension to be uneven.

My warps are wound under tension.  A trapeze works well when winding a warp without help.  That is another subject and has been discussed in previous posts.

Once the cloth is smooth on the front beam, there isn't any reason to separate the layers.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Towel From Rachel's Dyed Yarn

I finished the first towel from my daughter Rachel's yarn that she dyed quite a while ago.  Since it is plain weave, with only two borders with color changes, the weaving went fast.

Asymmetric isn't really my style, but sometimes I'm in to trying something different.  I guess it doesn't look too bad.  I wish the wide blue stripe was just a little narrower though.
I should be able to get a couple more towels out of this warp.  I'm not sure what I will do to make the next ones a little different.  I'm out of the blue, so that is one detail they won't have.  Maybe I'll try twill next.

Here is a closer view of the yarns, showing the thick and thin and the narrow border (about 1").  I warped this at 20 epi, 2 per dent in a 10 dent reed.  The thin spots on the yarn are twisted pretty tight, and are thinner than an 8/2 yarn.  I hope it is absorbent once I wash it.

Thanks, fellow weaver Michael from Wisconsin, for the idea to use a drummer's stool.  I borrowed Bob's stool tonight, and it was pretty comfortable.  I know I won't get to keep it, since he needs it for gigs, so I guess I will start checking some out and maybe get my own.  It didn't irritate the backs of my thighs, but the lump between my legs was just a bit too wide, especially for treadling side by side treadles.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Current Loom Projects

I recently finished a looper rug that was on Fanny, but I'm not happy with it.  I had trouble with the stretchiness of the loops and it affected the width of the rug.  Usually weaving tends to get narrower, but this rug grew in width.  Oh, well, live and learn.  I can still wipe dirty feet on it at the back door!  The color isn't the best in the photo.  It should have been taken in daylight instead of at night.  It really isn't this yellow.
Yesterday, I wound a warp of thick and thin yarn that my daughter Rachel dyed a while back when she came to visit.   It is a short warp, only 3 1/2 yards of thick and thin cotton.  I put it on Fanny, and is destined for towels.  A towel from the Handwoven publication, Winning Towels from the 21st century towel contest was the inspiration for the warp stripes.  I tend to like things symetrical, so I'm not sure how I will like these.  I wish I hadn't made the widest blue stripe quite that wide, and put part of it on the left half instead.  I still need to thread the heddles and reed.  I will be weaving it with white in plain weave.  I'm not sure if my weft will be the thick and thin yarn, or a smooth one.  I will decide after I sample.

The fabric with wool warp and rayon weft is on Arti, and is coming along nicely.  I can't sit very long at a time to weave, so it is a bit slow, especially with the color changes.  I've got about 30" done.  I really need to get a bench or chair that doesn't bother the backs of my legs so much, and is padded.

Since this project is just fabric, I'm not worrying about yarn ends hanging out at the selvedges, or being carried up the edges.  I'm not sure what this fabric will become, but it is helping to use up some of my stash. 
Victoria still has a narrow warp from a doubleweave class I took a while ago.  I'm not too motivated to finish this project, since it was just for sampling in the class.  It is only about 10" wide, so not very useful, and I don't care for weaving on table looms.  When I decide I need the 8 harnesses for a project, I will probably finish it, or just pull it off.  I'd really like to add some treadles to the loom stand, but need to get Bob willing to help.
Dorothy has a pretty towel started on her, with Atwater-Bronson lace pickup.  My daughter-in-law Rebecca has been up a couple times, and is interested in learning about weaving.  She did the first row of hemstitching on this towel, and did a beautiful job for her first time.  The patterns that will be woven are on the clipboard in the background.  The bottom three are done.
This is a combination of two projects.  Quite a while ago, I decided to weave a bag with green rug warp and old video tapes.  It was  designed as I wove, so I have some twill in different directions, plus some plain weave, or basket weave.  It didn't have straps, so I never finished the bag. 

While my daughter-in-law was up at Easter, I showed her how to wind a warp and put it on the loom, thinking that it could be the straps, but I didn't like how it looked.  The warp was too narrow  for the heavy Fanny, so I scraped that project.  It did serve a good purpose, though, because Rebecca got a nice bit of experience on the loom with beaming the warp, threading, and weaving twill in two directions, and doing some basketweave.  Wish she could be around more.  I enjoy teaching her weaving.

I had a band of red and black that was done on my inkle loom quite a while ago when I was testing it after making the loom.  It has been hanging around, decorating my wall, but I've decided to use it for one of the bag straps, and I threaded another one.  Whenever I get that one completed, I will have a nifty conversation piece grocery bag.  I'm calling this  bag my Secret Message Bag, since the message is on the video tapes.

Enough projects and enough yacking for now, since I have to be to work early tomorrow.