Monday, 23 February 2015

The first really proper thing I've woven since graduation


So, this is largely Roslyn's idea. She had the idea of doing a kind of stepped-backwards grade in blocks on a dogtooth weave. As it goes, I misunderstood her and when she said dogstooth I heard herringbone, which is kinda odd, but it's still a twill I guess, so it works.

Anyhow, we talked over it all night. I say all night, I mean till 1am. We didn't literally stay up all night mucking about with pointpaper and coloured pens. That would be obsessive to the point of compulsion. We might like weaving, but not to the point you'd have to call the men in white coats.

So, anyway, this is going to be a sampler scarf. Now I made a mistake here when I was making the warp. One of the blocks is 4 ends too wide. I wove all this then Ros said "is that bit a bit bigger"? So I took the measure and it was, then I counted the ends and it had 32 instead of 28. So that's annoying. Now, this yarn is expensive stuff so I'm going to actually unpick the weft, untie the starting knots on the left hand side and resley leaving those four ends hanging. 


I should add I got the yarn from Weavers Bazaar who have an amazing range of wool yarns in various counts as well as warp cottons and some nettle kind of arty yarns. Now, the problem with having such a huge range of colours (really, just so many, if you're in the UK do go and have a look) is that there's just too much choice. What we did was we bought a shade card from them which has all their yarns in stock. But we were still a little stuck, so what we ended up doing was buying some collection packs. This is from a pink and purple collection pack. As we're largely designing with grading colours this is a really cool way for us to buy yarn. Especially as a designer, it's very useful to get a decent range of colours in small quantities.

The only gripe I have is the price, but that's just the way things go when buying from this kind of online shop. I certainly think we'll keep using them for yarn for our designing, but when we go into manufacturing mode I think we'll have to find a bulk supplier for kilogram quantities. The bulk suppliers don't generally have as much range, but I guess the thing to do is find a company with the a range that roughly fits what you're using and go with that I suppose. That'll be a challenge when it comes, but one thing at a time for the moment.


So, we'll try a bunch of different wefts on this scarf, after I fix my mistake here. That's what we're taught in college, but we also want to actually have a scarf at the end of the day so we'll no be cutting it up and mounting it or anything like that. We also want to do these scarves in different colourways, like maybe 3 or so, so we're also trying to find wefts that'll fit into all 3 colourways so the scarves can be woven side by side on the big loom, when it eventually arrives


Anyhow, that's enough for the night. Do you like my little divider lines? That's me being all professional and that. Good, eh?

Also, I dinnae ken if you all know, but I kinda have a youtube channel, not sure if I mentioned it here before. Mostly videos of tablet weaving, with explaining and stuff. And captions for the deaf and those who can't understand what I'm saying because I don't know how to talk for video well.

Check it out, over here

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

All ends accounted for.

You can't easily know how happy this picture makes me.

So I'll try to explain.

First off, what's happening? Well, when I tied the new warp on to this loom the other month, the knotting machine found a few instances where the ends in the crosses for the old and new beam didn't match up. So, doing what I've seen done before, I broke them out, knowing I could always run some new ends in from cones. 

Now though, I've managed to completely sort out the warp and managed to put every end in it's place. I checked each row of hooks individually and tied new warp ends in. Where possible, from threads hanging off the back, of which there were a few on the left hand side there. Also, on the right where the threads go up,  I ran 4 cones up, around the beam and into the heddles and reed. 

When I finally finished, I realised I had 4 free ends on the left hand side, in exactly the right colours, so I took a stick with a hook on either end, ran them down, along, and back up onto the loom.

For context, you should know that I've been trying to get all threads accounted for on this loom for over a year without success.

When I came to this loom, the selvedge drums were unloaded. They instead had rough cotton selvedge warps sitting on the floor underneath the loom and running up and around the unloaded drums. Naturally, consistent tension on the false selvedges (this is a rapier loom) was something that was impossible to maintain. Plus the selvedge cones gathered stoor and get really dirty, and made it very difficult to clean up around the bottom of the loom.

Also, for so long, I had loads of ends hanging off the back on the left hand side and other ends in the middle whose place I couldn't find. All this was exacerbated by a warp of viscose that refused to weave as much as a metre without bursting out at least 5 ends. I spent more time repairing ends than the loom spent weaving, it was truly infuriating. The warp has now been changed to 2/20's cotton, basically the same weight of yarn, but cotton is a much more agreeable yarn than the viscose we have in stock here. Now, the Viscose is fine for handweaving and knitting, but when you put it in a power loom and run it through a cross, it's just a nightmare, as it's so brittle and inflexible in comparison to cotton that it just breaks all the time. Also, it really kicks off a lot of stoor, so much so that last year I was weaving with a dust mask. I don't have that problem anymore. Used to be there'd be an inch of stoor sitting on the loom at the end of half a day's weaving, now I barely need to worry about that at all. Which is nice, as the springs underneath the heddle frame have to be cleaned of stoor when they get clogged up, and that's a real pain.

So now, I have new selvedge drums (the selvedge was also breaking a lot, but that was due to a slight misadjustment on the right hand selvedge picker, rather than anything to do with the yarn), I have a nice new warp yarn and there isn't a single yarn that isn't going somewhere useful. There's no cones on the floor, or trailing ends. Every heddle that should, has an end in it and I'm pretty damn sure there's nothing wrong with the sley, but I'd have to check to be sure. It's really difficult to tell from a cursory inspection. 

Anyhow, got my last metre of the year to weave on this thing today, so I'm gonna do that and then wind the cones for the next warp. We get our warp made outside and they require 50 cones of each colour to make the warp with. So I'd best get to it.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Folding loom part 2

It's taken me a little while to get round to this.

Finally though,  I have the space and,  in the form of the remains of a large pile if shafts we got shot of from work over the summer,  the materials. Lots of pieces of wood of uniform dimensions. Nice strong stuff too,  tasty. Also,  the drop saw makes short work of cutting the stuff down.

I drew up some plans the other night,  and built the frame and Castle today.

The castle has been built in such a way that I expect to be able to be able to swap different shedding systems in and out.

The castle is probably a little tall just now,  but I thought better bigger than smaller.

The first shedding mechanism I'll install will be counterbalance,  then maybe a countermarche and perhaps eventually a jack mechanism,  though I'll need a router to do that,  so it may have to wait for some time.

Also,  there are lessons to be learned in the process.  Even in the building of the frame.  But certainly in the building of the shedding mechanisms.

Anyhow,  two pictures of it as it is,  in folded and open conditions. I also need to dig out a track for the locking arms to travel on.

Once this is all done and tested,  i'll have learned enough to try again with bought wood.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Dense as heck

Here's that warp on the loom. I beamed it with sticks,  despite the fact I don't believe in them. Sadly,  my wee loom has a tottie wee warp beam,  about the thickness of a broom handle,  so it's really the only way. Still,  it works for short warps.  Heyho,  we have to work with what we've got.  The loom is currently beamed at 60 epi and sleyed at 112 epi.  I'll really it after the festival two samples at something like 80 epi,  which is a more natural sett for thus yarn.  I'm trying to make denim,  so am upping the epi in a bid to increase the density of the cloth. 

I'm also going to try different samples with differing tension,  to see if I can increase the prominence of the warp floats.

A part of me is wondering whether this is a useful exercise as I plan to weave a proper quantity on the big floor loom in the new year and the characteristics of the loom are very different. 

For starters,  the shed us a good deal deeper,  which I'm sure has some kind of effect on the cloth,  but the tension is also a good bit different as well. Also,  if I succeed in putting a tension brake on it,  then I shall have more consistent tension control,  which ought to help.

I'm currently running on the theory that a lower warp tension will cause greater take up in the warp and increase the prominence of warp floats in a 3/1 twill,  also that a heavier beat will help too. 

These are things that I can't really control on the table loom. So,  like I say,  I'm not convinced that these samples will truly reflect what the big loom will churn out.  I've got to do something in the meantime though and it'll at least give me a rough idea. So there's that.

The coloured samples are from the last warp and are 2/20's cotton set at 42, 56 and 70 epi

Saturday, 22 November 2014

New cotton arrived today.

This arrived today from Devere Yarns. 1.5 Kilos of 2/20's combed cotton and 1.5 Kilos of 2/40's.

Well packaged, each cone of 250g labelled properly and arrived in good time.

This is my first warp in 2/40's cotton of 396 ends. I'm going to make samples with this to determine the correct sett I need to make reasonable denim. After that, a larger warp with 4 solid colours, trying different twill variations and wefts.

In other news, I shall soon be getting my big counterbalance loom down from up north, now that I've got somewhere to put it. Then I can get some serious weaving done. It'll be awesome.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Celtic knotwork in wood.

Something I did yesterday. The car is still in the workshop, but I expect it to be out soon. Then I can start properly making things. First in line is a couple of tapestry frames. After that I'll make a counterbalance rug loom on two shafts. But I'll make the castle big enough that it could fit 16, in preperation for the day when I get round to building a dobby box.

For now, there's this. I'll paint it and the backing up in contrasting colours and put it on the wall. I'll probably make more, but have to work on my knotwork design skills.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

New workshop and rigid heddle loom

Well, we had a brief discussion the other week/month (time flies) about making tablet weaving accessories.

So, last month I bought a scrollsaw and a pillar drill. And since then I have been getting a workshop space ready at a garage on a friend's farm. There's been a lot of work, and it still isn't quite ready yet. I'll have a lot more space when the car is out of the way. There's a long workbench for my woodworking tools and the desk where they're currently at will have a cheapo laptop and some of my 'leccy tools and projects, I also intend to build a very simple, but biggish, rug-weaving loom which I intend to have set up in such a way that I can fold it up against the wall when it's not in use if i need to. Thinking of maybe having the warp going up and over a rail at the top and weighted down, with the back beam of the loom sort of attached to rails on the wall. Difficult to describe, I have a picture in my head.

Anyway, I moved my tools in today and made a very simple and rough rigid-heddle loom for a friend.

A very simple counterbalance set up for now anyway, probably with an underslung beater.

Desk with tools on. Plyboard marked out and ready to cut.

I should have taken more pics while I was in the process but I was kind of in the zone. This is a detail of a ratchet and pawl, 5 minutes to cut out on the scrollsaw.

Finished (well, sort of) loom. the long stick in the front is the cloth beam.

So, moved in today and made a wee rigid heddle loom. Just add heddle.