Saturday, September 30, 2006

New Yarn Shelves

Slowly but surely, we're transforming a cluttered basement room into a nice crafts room that is fun to work in. After installing some cabinets, I had a 24" space between the cabinets and the doors that wasn't being used, so I added some yarn shelves. I couldn't find shelves that were an exact fit so I went to Ikea and bought shelves that were 30" wide. I took everything all apart, cut the shelf wood to the right size, then put it all back together again. I just got them together and filled up this morning. This is only about 1/2 of my yarn stash but it freed up space that is better used for something else and got this yarn into a much better organized place.

To the left is my Dorothy table loom that I'm warping with some alpaca to make a scarf during a weaving demo that I'm doing at an alpaca farm in N.Y. next Saturday. I'm also nearly ready to start weaving on the rayon scarves that I've got on one of the big looms. I've got enough warp on to sample before I start the scarves, so I should be able to post a picture of the sample when it's finished.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Sorry for the Pause

Sorry I haven't been posting. It's been a bad week - a car accident and water damage in the basement. All seems to be under control again (nobody hurt and nothing valuable damaged) and I'll try to get back to posting about weaving tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Towel #13 - Deflected Double Weave

This one is different! It is an 8-shaft deflected double weave and I've shown the front and back of the fabric. I haven't studied this one enough to be able to say a lot about it except that this structure has long warp and weft floats surrounding blocks of plain weave. When washed the floats allow the threads under them to collapse and get "deflected" from their normal positions and they create curved lines.

I'm not sure it makes a good towel fabric because of the floats but I've seen a killer scarf made with this structure. The Jan/Feb 2001 issue of Handwoven magazine has an article about this structure and the cover shows a scarf done with it. At The Mannings, they have another scarf on display that is similar and every time I see it I want to make one.

In my towel, all the yarn is 8/2 cotton (sett at 20 epi) and the threads don't deflect in quite the same way as they do in the scarf which has the cells outlined in 18/2 black wool with the cells woven in Tencel®. When the scarf is washed, it is washed in hot water with agitation and then rinsed in cold water so the wool actually felts and it really makes the cells pop out. Someday I'll make one and I'll post it here.

I'm done with this set of towels, but I have another set that was done with a variety of lace weave structures and if my pictures are good enough, I'll start another series of posts based on them. Right now, I'm putting two scarves on the 4-shaft loom. I'm using a white rayon warp and two different variegated rayon yarns for the weft. These are going to be gifts and are "due" by October 21st. I'm using a vertical skip twill from Marguerite Davison's book as the structure. I'm putting extra warp on so I can sample - I think it will look nice but I need to see how it turns out on the loom.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Towel #12 - 4-Shaft Tricot

This 4-shaft tricot has a somewhat similar look and feel to the crepe weave but it has ridges and troughs in the fabric instead of the random pattern of crepe. They don't show up as well in the picture as they do in the fabric. It's another nice fabric.

This one is in 8/2 cotton sett at 16 epi with green warp and tan weft. It is threaded as a straight draw - just 1,2,3,4 repeated and the tie-up is plain weave with a third treadling of (1,2) added. So, it's (1,2), (1,3), (2,4) and the treadling just repeats the three in sequence. The ribs are formed because the threads on shafts 1 and 2 form small warp floats that are offset by one pick so the effect is that you get two threads with warp floats (a ridge), two without (the valleys), then two more with (another ridge), etc.

Here again, if you've been reading my earlier posts, is another structure that you can weave with a straight draw on a 4-shaft loom. This is great to know for times when you either feel like putting a really long warp on the loom or when you have some warp left over after a project. You can just change the tie-up and you can go from plain weave to basket weave to twill to point twill to tricot, etc.

There are other tricot variations, all of which produce ribbed fabric.

I finished the project on the Dorothy today. Once I figured out the trick about the long shuttle I don't mind weaving on the table loom nearly as much as I did before. I still find it pretty easy to lose track of where I am in the treadling sequence. I don't seem to be able to get into the same kind of rhythm that I do on a floor loom where most patterns settle into a nice routine after a short time. With the floor loom, you only have to remember which treadle to push but on the table loom you have to simulate the tie-up with your finger for each pick. You also have to put the shuttle down when it is on the right side of the loom so you can use that hand to change the shed. This may be one advantage of having the levers on the front of the loom as in some newer table looms - you don't have to put the shuttle down.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Dorothy Loom

I'll get back to towels in my next post. Here is the Dorothy table loom that I recently refinished. The four-shaft section to the right of the loom has not been refinished and gives you some idea what the whole thing looked like before I started - covered in paint. It now looks nice and weaves nicely, too. This post shows it when it was apart.

I finally figured out the secret of weaving on a table loom -- weave with a long shuttle! I had thought that you should use a small thin shuttle to get through the small sheds of most table looms but I kept picking up threads from the bottom (unraised shafts) when I threw the shuttle. It drove me nuts. Today, the light bulb went off and I tried a huge shuttle - the one in the picture is 14" long - and I just sort of pass it from one hand to the other. Voila! No more mistakenly picked up threads! I'm sure this would work just as well with a stick shuttle but I like the long boat shuttle because it's easier to weave with. Maybe everyone else in the world knows this, but it sure took a while for me to discover it.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Towel #11 - 6-shaft crepe weave

This is another nice one - a six-shaft crepe weave. The interesting thing about crepe weave is that it is threaded as a straight draw: just 1-2-3-4-5-6 repeated. The magic is in the tie-up. This is another structure that lends itself to long warps - imagine all the things you can do with that threading and just by changing the tie-up and treadling, you could weave 25 different towels.

Sharon Alderman, in Mastering Weave Structures, has a great section on crepe weaves. This is another one that needs more than four shafts to work well. It's fun to design new crepe structures (they're probably not really new but they're fun anyway). There is a technique called "dicing" that is used here. You start with a 3x3 tie-up section and then reflect it as if looking in a mirror but also use the opposite harnesses - tie up those that were not tied up in the original.

It's too hard to explain without pictures but if you look up "dicing" you should find an explanation that would be better than I can give here. In any case, by starting with different 3x3 sections for the lower left corner of the tie-up, you end up with a different 6x6 tie-up which may or may not work as another crepe structure. I hope this isn't more than you wanted to know.

Anyhow, the idea behind crepe is to have small warp and weft floats but also to have a pattern that isn't regular so you get texture without a noticeable pattern. The picture here uses two colors but you can also get nice fabric with just one color and let the texture stand out more. As with many of these towels, this one is 8/2 cotton at 20 epi. To get good crepe, you need a very consistent beat, so you may want to weave one whole towel before taking a break. Also, if you use a yarn that is more tightly spun, the crepe texture will stand out more. It's a little like lace - the threads under the floats collapse to make the texture.

I also should have noted on my last post that the threading for honeycomb is the same as for Monk's Belt.

I got my warp on the Dorothy today and started weaving. I'll post pictures after I've woven a bit more. I'm happy to say that the loom is working well. On the other hand, it's a table loom and I just don't like table looms. It's one of those things, though, I feel that I need one for workshops and weaving demos, but I surely don't plan on doing a lot of weaving on it.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Towel #10 - Honeycomb

Today's towel is a 4-shaft honeycomb. It's an interesting weave structure but I think its use is pretty limited because it is a "one-sided" structure - it has nice cells on one side and on the other side (see photo) it has ugly floats. In my towel, I used it as a border stripe, which creates its own problems because the honeycomb shrinks a lot and the plainweave towel did not, so the honeycomb border draws in from the selvage and looks pretty bad.

This might be a good structure if it were woven as an "all-over" honeycomb and then lined on the back side to make placemats. Mary Black, in The Key to Weaving, says it can be used for household linens, upholstery, pillow covers, small mats, purses and bags. She also says its use is somewhat limited because of the floats.

In any case, this towel was done with 8/2 cotton sett at 16 epi. The "thin" weft was also 8/2 cotton. The outlines of the cells are done with two picks of heavier yarn - in this case a soft 4/2 cotton. The wavy lines are unusual in woven structures and to get them you need to use a big arc in the heavy weft so that there is plenty of yarn to take up and wrap. If you don't do this, or if you use too hard of a yarn, you won't get the nice cells. The cells are done with six picks of the fine weft with two thick weft picks on each side.

I think it has a lot of eye appeal as long as you're looking at the right side.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Towel #9 - 8-shaft (three color) M's & O's

If two colors are good, are three colors better? This is an 8-shaft M's & O's with three blocks, each with a different color. I used the same three colors for the warp and weft. You can use different colors but you definitely want to sample first if you do because you can get some weird effects.

The way this was treadled, I put the floats in the blocks of solid color. Notice that the floats are in the blocks with pink warp and pink weft, etc. With a different treadling, you could move the floats to blocks where you have mixed colors if you like.

With this structure, it's hard to get really nice selvages if you use three weft colors. In this towel, I carried both unused weft colors up the selvages. When doing this, I think there will always be times when the two unused wefts will be on opposite sides of the fabric and times when they will be on the same side. Maybe there's a way to avoid this but I haven't tried to work it out. In any case, if that happens the places where both unused wefts are on the same side will be slightly pushed out from the blocks where they are on opposite sides, so you get wavy selvages. Mine weren't too bad, but this is not the structure to use if you like great selvages.

I haven't done anything more on my Dorothy, although I do plan to do something tomorrow. I just don't know where the time goes. I'm retired, so I'm supposed to be sitting around with my feet up staring into space. Boy is that wrong! I think I have less time now than when I was working - but I have no intentions of going back ;-) The problem is that when you're retired, everything you do is something you like (except the chore list that your working spouse leaves for you) and it's really easy to get overloaded. I try to make weaving and writing priorities but this week I've been painting trim on the house among other things and weaving has slipped a little.

This is the last of the M's & O's -- the next post will be honeycomb.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Towel #8 - Two color M's & O's

Boy, time flies! I didn't realize it had been so many days since my last post. On Wednesday, I attended my guild meeting (The Central Pennsylvania Handweaver's Guild) which meet at The Mannings. I must like this guild because I drive two hours each way to attend once each month. Of course, having an excuse to shop at The Mannings is also a good reason to go. I usually kill three birds with one stone on guild days - the guild, The Mannings, and antiquing on the way home. It makes a fun day.

The past few days, I've been busy with my Dorothy loom. A while back I posted pictures of it when I had it apart to clean up. It is now back together again (at least with four shafts) with a nice fresh coat of lacquer and silicone spray on the moving parts and I'm putting on a small warp to make two washcloths just to test the loom to see how it works. I have the reed sleyed and today plan to thread the heddles. I'll probably beam on and start weaving tomorrow. I may post some pictures a little later.

The picture above is a two-color M's and O's from the towel class. I didn't care much for this on the loom but after washing I like it better. It is a 4-shaft draft with alternate 8-thread blocks of dark and light colors. The treadling also alternated light and dark every 8 picks. It is woven in 8/2 cotton at 16 epi. When weaving, I carried the unused weft up the selvage instead of cutting at each color change.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Towel #7 - M's & O's

OK, enough waffle weave.

Today's towel is just a normal M's & O's pattern on 4 shafts using two colors of 8/2 cotton sett at 16 epi - more open than the previous towels. The warp is natural and I used a green yarn for the weft.

This towel shrunk about 20% after washing. This was another one of my favorites - it makes a beautiful cloth. It is thinner than the waffle weave fabrics, so it makes a lighter towel.

The next two days will have M's & O's variations.

I made a scarf with M's & O's a while ago, from cotton and Tencel® using multiple colors and it turned out wonderfully - I made one as a gift and my wife had to keep the second one. Here is a picture of a section of the scarf.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Towel #6 - 8-shaft waffle weave

Today's towel is a variation of an 8-shaft waffle weave. It is threaded just like towel #5 but the tie-up and treadling are different. In this one, there are two blocks - one block is threaded and tied-up just like a 4-shaft waffle weave and the other block weaves tabby. One repeat of the treadling weaves side-by-side blocks of waffle and plain weave followed by the reversal of the blocks, so you get a checkerboard pattern, but with texture instead of color. With alternate treadling, you could make long stripes of waffle next to tabby if you wanted.

This sample has been washed. It shrank about 18% - not nearly as much as all-over waffle weave but somewhat more than plain weave would shrink. It was done with 8/2 cotton sett at 20 epi. It was woven with one color in the warp and a second color for the weft.

I know I skipped towel #4 - it was just a 4-shaft waffle weave but it used a darker thread at the "turning points" - shafts 1 and 4 in the warp and picks 1 and 5 in the treadling, so the waffle cells had dark borders and a dark dot in the middle. It was an interesting color effect but otherwise it was the same as towel #3.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Towel #5 - 8-Shaft Textured Waffle Weave

This was my favorite weave structure of the 13 we did in class. It is called an 8-shaft textured waffle weave. I can't find this draft in any of the standard references that I have, although it might be called something else in those books. It is threaded with two point twills pointing at each other: it has a 1-2-3-4-3-2-1 section followed by an 8-7-6-5-6-7-8 section. It has a similar, but not identical treadling and a fairly complex tie-up. It makes a beautiful cloth with the small criss-crossing ridges. It doesn't exactly "waffle" like a normal waffle weave because the cell borders overlap but it makes a gorgeous fabric. I think it would look great in a scarf and I think I'm going to have one on the loom in the very near future. This, like most of the towels in this grouping, was woven with 8/2 cotton sett at 20 epi.