And so, lo, hath I been looming. ::chuckles:: That is, weaving, of course.
Now if you’ve been reading this blog for a while you might remember that last year… actually possibly year before last now. My good friend, Lynn kindly warped a lovely twill pattern on her table loom and loaned the loom to me to try out, after showing me the basics.
I proceeded to weave some spindle bags and some spindle holsters. And loved every minute of it.
I fell in love. So, a while ago, back before I lost all my time to graduating with my Ph.D. I bought a used 4 harness counterbalance Hammett loom. But I didn’t get it cleaned up, much less rehung (I acquired it disassembled). Once I moved home after graduating, I finally managed to get the Texsolv and hang the harnesses and treadles. This was a learning experience in and of itself, as this is a counterbalance which hangs very differently than the jack-style table loom I had experienced with Lynn’s!
Eventually I got it all hung. Yay! But what to do for a first project?
As you might guess if you look at my Ravelry projects and see that my first non-granny square project involved garment design from scratch, I don’t do things by half measures. I’ve found that crafts create artificial patience, and when I’m starting a new craft, I need more artificial patience than normal. So, I often purposefully pick “hard” projects to launch a new craft. If I’m going to struggle with something, I need it to be worth it, to know I’m going to love the end result. And if I know it’s “supposed” to be hard, then it’s easier for me to be patient with myself.
So, I decided to go for it and make something that excited me, a twill scarf. Now, of course I decide that I want it to be more than just a scarf. I think, “Gee, I never keep anything, what if I did one that was kinda elegant that I could wear? That anyone could wear?” And then I think, “Well since I’m warping one, I could warp more than one which would let me try a couple different things… hey… you know what I have that I don’t know what to do with? Abbybatts from Abby Franquemont! And all this lovely fine polwarth/silk I’ve spun! Ok… so I need something to show off the handspun… and the polwarth/silk is white so something that works white or I could dye against and be fine…” And suddenly I have my idea. I want to do a goose-eye twill, white on black. Simple, elegant, I can dye the white if I want, put any of my fancy Abbybatts with it I want… YAY! Right?
Well of course if it’s going to be an elegant scarf, and a backdrop for my own fancy handspun… then the warp (the long threads in a piece of fabric) has to be nice fiber. So finally, with some help from friends, mostly Jennifer of Holiday Yarns I decided on Zephyr by Jaggerspun. So I buy two cones, one white and one black.
Now at this point, the experienced weavers in the crowd are yelling, “What were you thinking!?” but we’ll get to that later.
I sat down with Excel and mapped out my pattern, tie up pattern, etc. It changed a little later, but nothing that changed the setup… It was actually a lot easier and more logical than I would have thought. And the Excel chart was perfect, combined with the copy/paste function for figuring it all out in a way that made it logical how the pattern would grow. This is a single pattern block, 38 threads. There are six pattern blocks in the scarf width, plus two floating selvedge threads (two extra threads on the outside that you always wrap around to make it so the twill comes out neat, rather than trying to unweave as you weave). So, a total of 230 strands, all the same length.
So I’ve picked it out, I’ve got my warp yarn, I’ve got my loom ready, mapped out the pattern, we’re off! I pull out my Deb Chandler book Learning to Weave (a weaving classic, and excellently written as many will tell you) and started following the directions.
Ok, took me forever to wrap it all, but it seemed to work great! I was terrified of losing it all, especially the cross (a point where the strands cross so you can keep them separate as you put them on the loom), since I was warping for 4 scarves at once and didn’t want to lose all that yarn, so I got a little overzealous in my tying the cross, but hey nothing wrong with extra. I tied it by color repeats as well as all together, which actually turned out to be convenient later.
And if I thought I was paranoid about that… well the next step showed how wrong I was. I had to get all this yarn OFF the warping board. But, I followed the steps, crossed my fingers, and pulled it off into a crochet chain…
Woot! Ok, so far, everything is looking good. Now… to put it on the loom. Eep!
First I realize I’ve put the cross way too close to the end of the warp, but that’s annoying, not a deal breaker. Eventually, I get it all sleyed (through the reed, which you use to make the weaving tight), 22 epi (ends per inch) in a 10 dent (10 slots per inch) reed.
Now comes the fun part, the reason the seasoned weavers were crying earlier.
You see, Zephyr yarn is great stuff. But it’s also not the easiest stuff to work with. It’s very “grabby” so it tends to stick to any yarn nearby. Also, I chose to do it in black, so seeing it is hard.
So I started threading it through the heddles, and it quickly tangled itself back behind the reed. But I persevered, being careful and counting twice and threading once…
And then, I tied all the pattern repeats tied it all onto the back beam, and then started winding onto the back winch… oh good heavens. The tangling hit. Every thread grabbed every other thread, tangled, made a general mess. WHEE! I got out one of my ancient combs from when I was a kid and by combing a foot or two out at a time and winding on got it all wound on…
Only to realize that I hadn’t put any blockers between the layers of warp wrapping around the back. NOOOooo. So they had all layerd on top of each other unevenly, thus taking up differing amounts of warp, pulling it all uneven. ARGH.
Well, luckily I had a handy yarn management tool already built in. I wound it onto the front beam off the back again. Then I wound it BACK to the back beam again, putting cut open grocery bags in between the layers, and everything looked much better.
With much more futzing and fiddling, I got it tied on the front! ZOMG I HAD A WARP!
I was SO excited! I was going to weave! On my own loom! With my own warp! My own pattern!
And so I did…
You’ll notice that doesn’t look like the pattern I showed you before… Yeah, I noticed that too. PANIC! FLAIL! WHAARGARBLE!
Luckily, I have Ravelry. And I went there and flailed, and people made lots of helpful suggestions that eventually made me go back and look at things like treadling patterns. ::breathes sigh of relief:: So I retied the harnesses to the treadles in a more logical order and…
Gee, THAT looks like a goose eye twill! HUZZAH! First pattern repeat looks like actual weaving! Complete with a little plainweave header to keep it all in place.
And so once that was done (and a little more, because really once it worked, I couldn’t stop THERE now could I?) I had to set the bottom of that weaving so it won’t fall apart once I take it off the loom. I plan to have fringe on this one, so I used hemstitching to set everything in place.
Woot! And now I get to move on with weaving!
But eventually I run out of yarn on the weft bobbin, so I have to wind another. I did the first one by hand, but damn that’s slow. So… I borrowed Dad’s power drill, and a larger screwdriver bit. Wrapped a bit of shetland fiber I had lying around on it, and stuck on the bobbin… instant bobbin winder!
So, off I go again! Weaving away!
The selveges (edges) still aren’t perfectly even, but not too bad. If you look close you can see the spirit/demon leak I wove in, a purposeful flaw in the pattern so that demons won’t take up residence.
I’m having a blast. And I still have a long way to go! Squee!
So, back to the loom and the dye pots (also dyeing more for an update early next week).
That’s all for now!