All Wrapped Up

I’m getting ready to wind my warp for a workshop I am taking at the Weavers Guild of Greater Cincinnati.  Nationally renown weaver Rosalie Neilson (of rep weave fame) is conducting a workshop on block design and color with huck lace at the Guild house and it starts next week.  First I had to get my vintage but new-to-me 4 shaft, 4 treadle,  22″ Harrisville Designs loom ready for the workshop.  I wanted to use it rather than my Dorothy loom table loom since it has treadles.  The HD loom was a freebie from a neighbor of a friend who was cleaning out her basement. I was so excited to get it because I really like my bigger HD loom.  The “new” loom needed shaft cables and tie up cords replaced along with a good cleaning.  I also rearranged the direct tie up from 1, 2, 3, 4 on the treadles to 1, 3, 4, 2 so that I can “walk” the treadles while weaving.

I finished up the restoration yesterday and started to prepare my warp today.  I had to choose 4 colors, one is for a border to separate the blocks and the other three are the colors for the blocks.  We were instructed to make a wrap of our warp colors to see how they all went together. Making a wrap is a common part of design in weaving. I dithered a lot and finally settled on the colors I had originally been drawn to and wrapped them up. They are a bit bold aren’t they?  Now to wind the warp!

Tea (Towels) For Two

I got a new 20 inch Schacht Flip Rigid Heddle Loom! I have been wanting to design some color and weave tea towels for the rigid heddle loom. The 16 inch looms I own (an Ashford RH and a LeClerc Bergere) wouldn’t cut it for the size towel I wanted. As much as I love my little 10 inch Cricket looms (another well made Schacht product), I think the Flip is the best rh loom on the market when you want something a little bigger. Yesterday I put the loom together in about five minutes, and then finished designing and calculating the yarn needs for my project.I’m using two colors of 8/2 cotton in the warp and weft  I decided to direct warp the project. I put enough warp length on for two towels plus a little extra for sampling. Keeping the spools of yarn separated at the back of the loom on the floor keeps them from twisting around each other as I warp. Using 8/2 cotton will keep the towels from being too bulky and the great thing about the 8/2 Cotton is that two threads and each slot in hole of a 10 dent heddle works perfect at 20 e.p.i. for plain weave. I just direct warp, filling both the slots and the holes with one loop of thread following my color sequence for the pattern. (Using the IWeaveit app’s threading tracker made that a breeze).

To make direct warping easier for such a wide project, I did two things. I put my loom on a stand that was high enough so that I didn’t need to bend over as I was threading the heddle. Ergonomics in weaving are very important.  And rather than direct warping to one central peg, I used a small warping board clamped flat to a small table and used three pegs with a third of the warp to each peg. (See the first picture above). That will keep each warp end closer to the same length.  If I had using only one centrally placed peg, the warp ends would be longer at the outside edges of the warp than in the center of the warp since they would have a longer distance to travel. The warp only took about an hour and a half to measure and thread 360 ends (180 slots and holes). Since the holes are already threaded, when I wind on and tie onto the apron rod, I am ready to weave.

I did make one miscalculation while warping. I assumed my heddle was 20 inches wide since I bought a 20 inch wide weaving width loom. Since my warp was going to be 18 inches wide, I started threading one inch in from the edge of the heddle to center my warp (there should have been only one inch left un-threaded on the other side).  As you can see, it’s not centered. The heddle is actually 20 and 5/8 inches.  If I had checked before warping, I could’ve added another repeat of the color sequence and still not be weaving the full width of my loom. I think weaving from edge to edge the full width invites problems, so I like to leave at least two slots empty on either side of the warp. I will have to remember that tidbit for the next wide project I make. Now off to wind shuttles!

Fiber Arts Sale

IMAG3190I am selling some of my handmade items at the upcoming Fiber Arts Sale at the Weavers Guild of Greater Cincinnati.  The sale begins Friday, November 13 at 4 p.m. and continues on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday noon to 4 p.m. The work of many skilled artisans of the guild will be available to purchase for yourself or for Christmas gifts that show you care enough to give hand-made. My cowls that are pictured here are hand-knit with luxurious merino wool hand dyed in Uruguay by a family business (Malabrigo Yarn) that hires local women, uses environmentally friendly dyeing practices, and sources the wool from non-mulsed sheep that are shepherded in the hills of Uruguay. They are a warm and cushy fashion statement.  If you can’t make it to the sale, contact me about knitting one just for you!

Some of my indigo dyed, shibori style cotton napkins are also in the sale.  They are priced for sale in pairs so that you can make a set of 2, 4, 6 or more, and each napkin is unique.  Indigo is a classic color and shibori-inspired fashion and home decor items are really trending right now. They sure make a for snazzy table at a dinner party or just for you family meals.IMAG2998

I have a dye day coming up and can make more napkins, along with generously sized silk scarves that flatter everyone.

I also have submitted handwoven cotton and linen towels to the sale. The warp is ring spun natural cotton and the weft is a blue cotton/linen blend.  Each has a unique weaving pattern. They are individually priced, so you can buy one, two, or all four if you get there in time! Want to commission a set of towels for a gift? Contact me and I can make something similar to meet your needs.
IMAG3193

The Weavers Guild is located at 480 Gray Road, near Spring Grove Cemetery. I’ll be there from 4-8 p.m. on Friday evening.  Get there Friday if you want the best selection, there is always a line waiting to get in.

House Call

2015-07-08 10.43.04I have been going to Suzanne’s house on Wednesdays to teach her to weave on a floor loom.  She had been weaving on a rigid heddle loom on her own, and decided to buy a floor loom.  She found a used 4-shaft Macomber loom in okay shape, but it needed some TLC. I went over one day and gave her a written evaluation of what she had bought, what she still needed to do to get the loom in working order, and what she still needed to buy or make in the way of tools and accessories.

I showed her how to put the rachet brake back on the loom and sent her instructions to make lease sticks and a special raddle to work with her sectional beam.  She cleaned up the wood with Old English; de-rusted and painted the shaft; de-rusted and polished the heddle bars; sorted heddles on a jig so that the tops and bottoms were aligned, alternated in an A and B pattern and then replaced them on the heddle bars; replaced the dirty old old apron and dry rotted apron cords with some Texsolv then was ready to weave a couple of weeks later.  2015-07-08 11.04.19

beaming the warpThe second time I went to her home, I taught her how to wind a warp on a warping board and warp back to front onto the sectional beam without any special sectional warping equipment. The warp went on easily and before she knew it, she had the heddles threaded and the reed sleyed in the pattern from my Dishcloth Cotton Point Twill Towels project that I use when teaching people on their own equipment.  I call it a “get to know your loom” project.

The third time I was there, we troubleshooted for crossed threads and added the floating selvedges. She learned about the tie-up and treadling portions of the draft and how to change the tie-up to “walk” the treadles. We began with a plain weave hem and then she started weaving the first treadling pattern.  She is now weaving away on the towels and will treadle some different patterns. The next time I go back, we will cut them off and she will learn about wet finishing and hemming the towels.


009
003

Color Play

I am pretty sure I have decided on Bumberet for the structure of my next set of towels. Bumberet is a textured fabric with a ribbed appearance and plays well with color.

Color is always where I struggle.  I know what I like, but I have trouble knowing if they “go” together with an artist’s eye. I was never good in art class; I guess I never found my medium.  Crayons and paint never spoke to me the way fiber does.  I have learned to trust more that what I like usually turns out fine.  The color workshop I took at the weavers guild in the fall helped a lot to convince me to trust my choices.  I have a few tools I lean on such as a color wheel and the computer.

palette

I uploaded a picture of a beach volleyball game that I took in May and used an online tool to help pick out colors. I chose to select the medium blue color as the color I would choose to coordinate with.  I also thought I would put the suggested triad colors in. I didn’t have a limey green so picked a turquoise (one of the other colors in the generated palette) to be part of the triad with the blue and fuchsia which I had in my stash.  I also picked a gold to make the split complement. I think 4 colors is plenty for the warp, but may play with adding a neutral tone in there too.

turquoisegreen  gold fuschia bermudablue

Then I looked to my other colors of 8/2 cotton for weft colors knowing that I wanted to weave towels with only one shuttle for weft. I like to keep the weft in darker values to liven and help the warp colors pop.  If I chose white or light pastels they would wash out the warp colors. You can see how the gray in the last image washes it out a bit.   I changed the weft colors around to see what each looked like.  I chose black, navy, purple, then a lighter blue and gray. My favorites so far are the navy and the purple.  What do you think?

black weft  Navy Weftpurple weftbluegray weft gray weft

 

Summer School

I have 2 private lesson students starting this week. I love teaching new weavers. One has prior experience on a rigid heddle loom which is a great way to get started.  She has since purchased a used 4 shaft Macomber Loom that needed some TLC and has since restored it to nice condition.  I met with her a few weeks ago to evaluate what she had, give her some advice on continuing the restoration, helped her put the brake pieces on properly and give her a list of things to buy or make that she needed before getting started.  We met again this morning to start winding the warp for her first project which I call a get to know your loom project.  They can be hand towels or placemats.

point twill towels

Tomorrow evening I am meeting with an art student at DAAP who wants to learn about weaving.  I will start her on a rigid heddle loom and a beginner scarf. After one or two projects, I will rent her my 4 shaft Dorothy table loom and a few items to begin 4 shaft weaving.  She doesn’t own any equipment yet.  We plan on meeting twice a week through the month of July.

I am really excited about it.  If things continue this well, I may have to get another small table loom or floor loom for students.

Wrapping up the Towels

CH Towel 1 CH Towel 2

CH Towel 3 2015-04-01 14.23.32

 

Pictured above are the 4 tea towels off my warp of 8/2 cotton woven with cotton/linen blend weft threaded in the Caroline Halvorsen pattern in Davison’s A Handweaver’s Pattern Book.  Each one is a different treadling pattern.  The fourth towel is my own treadling variation using an M and W treadling, but I think I like personally like pattern 3 the best.  I will probably keep one and sell the rest once I have them hemmed. They will $23 each right now to local folks who can pick one up and pay by cash or check, if you want one, send me a note.  I plan on creating a shop page before the end of April. If I use Etsy or another shopping cart service and take credit cards, the price will be higher due to their fees.   I have hand knitted cowls for sale as well and will post about those once I can get a couple of pictures taken.

 

H3

Halvorsen 3

I love this treadling variation.  (4,3,2,1,4,1,2,3) I may do the 4th towel with it rather than the 4th variation included in the book. (4,3,4,2,1,2)  I want to finish by tomorrow morning for my guild study group meeting.  I have caused myself a time crunch because I spent some unweaving time  yesterday. I had made 2 treadling errors in towel #2 and contemplated keeping that towel for myself and leaving the mistakes in. But, I decided to heed my own advice, I would rather keep a towel that didn’t have a mistake, so bit the bullet and unwove.  I wasted time over the weekend not weaving most of Saturday and all of Sunday because I couldn’t make myself go on with the mistake in, and I didn’t want to unweave.  It only took me about 20 minutes to unweave the 4 or 5 inches yesterday and much less than that to reweave.  I should have done it right away.  The towels would be finished by now if I had.

I need to leave to teach a rigid heddle class soon at the LYS and that will cut into my weaving time tonight.  Its a good thing I get up early with my son in the morning.  Hopefully I can push through and finish then before I need to leave at 9:30.  I used fusible thread in my hems, so a quick iron on the ends and I can take the cloth along to study group with out fear.  Washing,  cutting apart and hemming of the towels can wait until after the meeting.

I was there this morning teaching a knitting class.  I love my knitting classes.  It is so gratifying to see how successful people feel the first time they use increases and decreases to make something shaped like a hat in the round, rather than a rectangle or square.  Many people knit for years without going beyond the rectangle.  In my hat class not only do they use shaping, but they learn to knit on a circular needle and a set of 4 double pointed needles.  Such a simple project that creates skill and confidence when they complete it.

Everyone in the class wants to make a sweater now, so that will start in two weeks!

 

 

 

Halvorsen 1 & 2

Halvorsen 1

This is the first towel on my current warp of ringspun 8/2 cotton (bought at M&R Yarns while on a road trip to Georgia). The weft is Borg’s 22/2 cottolin in light blue. I got a copy of Davison’s A Handweaver’s Pattern Book, I studied it looking for a nice twill that had some threading changes so it wasn’t all one pattern and with some nice treadling variations to keep me on my toes.  I chose the Caroline Halvorsen patterns on pg. 44.  Above is Halvorsen I.


 

Davison Halvoersen 2

This is the second towel on my warp.  From Davison p.44 Caroline Halvorsen II.  The first treadling was the easiest.  4,3,2,1.  The second was a slightly longer sequence of 8 picks.  4,3,2,1,2,3,4,1.

The treadlings get progressively more complicated in 3 & 4 but should be fairly quick to memorize as well.  I am halfway finished with towel #2 and should start on #3 later today.


 

Here is the draft for towels 1 and 2.  There are plain weave sections at the beginning and end of each towel.  I am using a floating selvedge since there are some point twill treadlings.  I hope to finish all 4 before my study group meeting at the WGGC on Wednesday.

Halvoersen 1 & 2I

 

 

 

 

 

User Error

1 thread in dent

Yes the auto reed hook kept me from skipping a dent yesterday, but it didn’t prevent user error. You can see in the picture above slightly left of center what the problem is.  I got my whole warp sleyed and tied on, then it was time to check for issues. I treadled some plain weave sheds and I examined the sheds from the front of the loom. Each dent should have two threads and when treadling the plain weave shed, one in each should move up and the other stay down. But, I saw an empty dent when I treadled the sheds. With the shed closed and flat, I hadn’t noticed it, but two of the dents only had one thread in each instead of two. When I raised a shed, the thread in one of the dents that only had one thread stayed down and there was a one dent gap. Fortunately the dents with one thread each were right next to each other. I contemplated leaving it, but it could leave a reed mark in the finished cloth. Since it was only about 4 inches away from the left selvedge, I fixed it and  resleyed those 4 inches.  If it had been in the middle, I probably still would have fixed it and resleyed 11 inches of warp.

I also looked into the sheds from the side and found 2 threads in the middle of the shed. I had twisted them between the heddles and reed. So I marked the threads with a piece of red string from a thrum and located the bout and untied it. I traced the threads back and sorted them out, resleyed them and retied the bout.

I  always look for problems before I start weaving.  That is the best time to fix things.  I don’t want to go through all the work that it takes to weave something only to have a flaw in the finished product that I was too lazy to fix.

I am like this with my knitting too. If I can fix it, I do.  I have been know to rip out almost completed knitting projects.  My philosoply is that if the mistake will bother me, I won’t want to wear it or give it to the person it is intended for.  I like knitting and I like weaving so ripping out or unweaving may take me a little longer to get that particular project finished, but I still get to knit or weave and will like the sock or the towel better.

DownhillSee this sock , it was a project I started last year during the winter Olympics. Shortly after this picture was taken, I ripped it out even though there were no errors in the knitting. I tried it on, and it was really tight. I didn’t take into consideration how the twisted stitches would affect the stretch of finished sock leg and they were intended for me. My daughter who has thinner legs said she probably would not wear them. I still had one sock to go, so I ripped. I want something that fits.

I will restart them on dpns (2.25 mm) for the leg with the same number of stitches. That will give a little more stretch. Then when I get to the foot, I will switch to two circular needles, one for the top of the foot in size 2.5 mm needles and stick with my usual 2 mm(US size 0) for the bottom of the foot. That should do the trick.

Meanwhile, I do have other socks on the needles.  I am trying to weave during the day and knit in the evenings, but have instead been working on weaving into the evenings since my days have been interrupted here and there by normal life.

Well, now its back to the loom to finish the last inch of resleying and hopefully to start weaving.

 

Dressed For Action

reed being sleyed

The warp has been beamed onto the warp beam and I have threaded the heddles.  I had a bit of a setback on Monday, I got the warp on the loom, spread it out to 22 inches and beamed it on only to look at it and think, “something is not right”.  I had only wound half of the number of threads needed. So, I carefully unwound the warp from the beam, scooted everything closer together onto one side, and wound more warp.  I then put that on the apron rod with the rest of the warp and beamed it all again.

I got most of the heddles threaded into the pattern yesterday and finished up this morning.  I started to sley the reed with the normal reed hook, but it was sooo slow.  I have gotten used to the auto reed hook, so I had to look for it in my unorganized studio (I promise to work on organizing) and am now sleying faster.  No it doesn’t automatically sley the reed for me, it just moves from dent to dent on its own, while I pick the threads, catch them with the hook and pull. I can leave it in a dent and do something else with my hands, and it doesn’t fall out, and most importantly,  I don’t accidentally skip a dent while sleying.
Here’s a short video to show how I use it. It works best if the reed is laying flat, not standing up in the beater.

After I run a few errands, I should be able to finish that up quickly and get to the real action of the day, weaving!

Measuring Threads

warpI recently took over one of the bigger bedrooms in the house as my studio.  I got it sorted out enough today that I could wind a warp to start a project.  What that means is that I am measuring and counting the warp threads (in this case undyed 8/2 ringspun cotton).  I need 528 ends (strands of warp) that I will sett at 24 e.p.i. (there will be 24 strands in each inch of my warp).  This project is dish towels which will be 22 inches wide on the loom.  Even before beginning to wind the warp, I had to plan out my pattern to fit into 22 inches with the yarns that I chose to use. The pattern is a twill, and 8/2 cotton is good at 24 e.p.i. for a twill pattern.

I chose a pattern from Marguerite Porter Davison’s book  A Handweaver’s Pattern Book on page 44 titled “Caroline Halvorsen’s No. 30”.  This is a classic book of 4 shaft patterns for weaving, that was written in 1944.  There are 4 variations of the pattern that I can treadle by changing what feet and treadles I use in sequence.  My warp will make 4 towels, so each towel will be a different variation of the pattern.  To make the 4 towels I need 4 yards of each strand. The pattern is a twill, and 8/2 cotton is good at 24 e.p.i. for a twill pattern.  I want 22 inches wide on the loom, so my warp takes 2112 yards of yarn.  This 8/2 cotton has 3360 yards in one pound of yarn, so I am using almost 2/3 of a pound of yarn.

These kind of calculations are necessary to know that you have enough of a given yarn to make the project (or to know how much to buy) and to know how much your project costs to make for pricing decisions, for inventory and for profit calculations.

I have a limited amount of the yarn that I chose for weft (the threads that I weave with), and wanted 4 towels as wide and as long as I could make them, but still trying to keep the weaving width a multiple of 2 inches with 24 ends per inch.  I have a  loom with a warp beam that has 2 inch sections, so to make warping easier, I try to keep my projects a multiple of 2 inches.  I changed the draft in the book a little to accommodate this by increasing the number of ends in the first and last repeat of the pattern. There are lots of decisions to make before you even start to wind your warp.

I have been thinking about the project for a while, but actually sat down with a calculator, graph paper, my spreadsheet and weaving software this morning to pull it all together.

This post shows a picture of about half of my measured threads on the warping board. (A warping board is a device used to measure your yarn so that each strand is exactly the same length and keep the strands organized so that you can then take it to the loom to “dress” the loom.)

So, off to wind more warp and perhaps get it wound onto the loom today.  Tomorrow, I will need to thread the strands through the heddles on the loom in the order required to make my pattern.

 

 

Now I’m Cookin’

image

Waffle weave is a heck of a lot of fun and fast to weave. The hems are slow as molasses though. They are made in boundweave and I need to use a fork to pack the weft in to fully cover the warp.   So I guess I have breakfast: waffles with molasses using a fork!