Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Back on the loom again...

If you could see me, you would see a big fat grin on my face. Because after almost a year and half I am actually doing some more weaving. As I have mentioned before we acquired the loom in December 2010 and made three scarves and a tie as presents (literally finishing late into the night before we left to be with the family for the holiday) and since then it has sat unused.
The three warps marked up
Whilst they all came out quite well, we were always battling the warp – both in terms of getting it onto the loom and inconsistent tension. Most of this was caused by the fact we didn’t have a warping frame and was using a upturned sofa or two chairs stood apart. Neither worked well – unsurprisingly! However, as you’ll see here I finally got around to making a new warping frame at the start of this year.

Now, in typical me style, as soon as the warp frame was finished (actually there was still one peg to do!) I decided to weave a 12m (39ft) length of fabric, at the full width of the loom, which is 36”. As you see from a photo on that previous blog post from a couple of months ago, I even warped out half of it. However, I got into a right old pickle, the tension still didn’t feel quite right, even on the warping frame and I couldn’t remember how to warp the loom, never mind that I had added a homemade raddle into the mix since.

And so the whole project ground to a halt and I found myself unable to see the wood for the trees – inertia invariably took over and still the loom sat unused.

After 1 1/2 years the first new warp
being woven on the loom
Then last week someone suggested that perhaps I should start a little smaller. Put the troublesome 39ft warp to one side and try again, with scrap yarn on a short warp. Hmm... now that sounds obvious written down, but at the time it was just the prompt I needed. And so I wound a short 2m (6ft) warp onto the warping frame and... well... buggered it up! I didn’t have the raddle cross and the thread cross at the right end!

But no matter, scrap yarn that I can use for something else, take two...

I can’t remember what went wrong with take two... but something did. Time for some help, time for youtube. So I went looking for a step-by-step guide to warping the loom and found myself being helped along by
Barbara Elkins.

Finally warp three was a success, a real success actually. A nice even tension, that so far has persisted through the warp and I even managed to do it single handed.

3/8" stripes, but soft lines because of the
slugs in the cream yarn
 I deliberately haven’t loaded a ‘useful’ length of warp onto the loom, so that I don’t get seduced into trying to ‘make something’. The point is that this is a tester warp, for trial and error...

The yarn is one my mother-in-law found at a charity shop a while back and to look at it on the cone I wasn’t too keen, but actually on the loom it doesn’t look too bad. The label says it’s a wool/cashmere mix, but it also seems to have a cotton or poly core to it, under the slugs. I only set the warp to 8 ends per inch (epi), so that I didn’t waste too much yarn until I got the knack of warping and with the intention that I would do two more tester warps, at 16epi and 24epi, so that I can see the difference that increasing the number of warp threads has - perhaps doing the same designs as I have on this one so I can compare.

I started out trying a very loose weave, with the same yarn as the warp. This looked nice, but moved easily up and down the warp so that the pattern never held. I then tried a block of weaving, in both tabby and twill, again with the same yarn. Nice, but perhaps a bit 1980s Marks & Spencer.

A 5" tester sample piece
and then on to something new.
On the shuttle bobbin I had a pale blue silk/cotton mix yarn that had come from a jumper we bought at a charity shop (see the post here on recycling wool). It’s a fine yarn, but I thought I would give it a go and I was rather pleased with the result. Again it moves up and down the warp a bit (I assume this will stop when I increase the epi), but I actually quite liked the ribbed effect. It is beating in at around 160 picks per inch.

After an inch or so I decided to try a striped pattern, using a tabby weave on the blue silk/cotton and twill on the wool/cashmere, in 3/8” bands. I am really pleased with the result – the colours and pattern have an almost Georgian undertone – but looser and softer. The slugs in the wool/cashmere yarn stop it from ever being ridged or precise, which is good as even this is moving up and down the warp a bit (not quite sure how it will sit once off the loom). The twill would have benefited from floating selvedges, which I’ll do next time, but I am pleased with the silk selvedge.

I could have quite happily have done a whole warp of this and made something out it... but that’s not the point is it? So I restricted myself to a 5” square block and now it’s on to try something new...

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