Friday, June 17, 2011

It Takes Two to Tangle

Over the years that I’ve been weaving I’ve learned there are some items that, when controlled by me, can be dangerous.

The first lesson was with scissors. Actually, I learned that lesson twice (so much for the “You’ll never do that again” theory). The first time, I was weaving napkins with a difficult pattern and, after messing up two napkins, I finally nearly finished a good one when the scissors, which I had placed on the castle, slipped off and landed in the middle of the warp, blades open, and sliced through about the middle third of the warp. The second time was when I had actually finished two scarves, complete with hem stitching on the loom, and decided to cut them apart while they were still on the loom. As I cut through the division between the two scarves, I neatly cut the bottom scarf in half. Both times resulted in my saying many words not in any weaver’s glossary, but scissors don’t live on the castle any more and things don’t get cut apart until they are well clear of the loom.

The next dangerous item was the sewing machine. It’s my wife’s and it hates me. I only ever do two things on it – zig-zagging before hand hemming or hemming with a straight stitch. I’ve come perilously close to ruining nice towels by getting snags due to whatever I did that day to displease the sewing machine. I’ve now learned to trick it by using a scrap piece of fabric when I first sit down at the machine. I let the machine play its sadistic game on that and then adjust things until they run smoothly before giving it one of my woven articles.

Now, apparently, I can’t be trusted with yarn in skeins. I had this beautiful 2000-yard skein of 20/2 Tencel hand-dyed by the wonderful ladies at Just Our Yarn. I couldn’t quite figure out if it needed to go on the swift in one loop or if one of the ties was supposed to be undone and opened up before putting it on the swift. Well, I cut one of the ties before putting the skein on the swift to see if it would unfold. It didn’t, of course, but what it did do was tangle so badly that I was temped to put it in the trash and take a two-week sabbatical from weaving. Thanks to my lovely wife, together we spent over a week, in shifts, winding the yarn onto bobbins and untangling it, sometimes inches at a time, until it was all unwound. There are plenty of knots in the yarn because we sometime just got to places where we gave up and cut somewhere else to start over, but we got it all unwound and I’ll deal with the knots when I wind the warp.

This is what it looked like as we got close to the end:


Note the six bobbins on the table. Finally, here is what we have to warp from:


After eight days working on this project, I should have had scarves, but I only  have seven, painfully won bobbins. You can bet I’ll never again cut a tie before putting the skein of yarn on the swift.

1 comment:

Restless Knitter said...

I enjoyed your post. I'm willing to bet that while those words aren't in any official glossary, they're in most weavers' vocabulary.

I was using a roll of paper on the back beam and apparently I didn't get it straight when I started it. It was winding on crooked and getting close to the brake so I thought I would cut it and start it again, straight this time. Not only did I cut the paper but I cut part of the warp too.