Friday, 6 November 2015
Thursday, 20 August 2015
Still not been posting much to the old blog recently. Things have been a bit busy. Been visiting my brother in Greece, and so much moving.
So, yeah, life's been a bit hectic eh.
So, I was staying in Galashiels and working at the uni as a technical assistant, repairing and maintaining the looms and running the power loom.
First off, at the end of last summer, I moved my tools into a farm outbuilding at a pal's place in Earlston, about a 20 minute drive away from my house. I got a little bit done there, but not that much in the grand scale of things. Then in April I decided to rent a garage unit in the same town and moved my tools there. I then found a cast-iron dobby head online and decided to buy it and get the floor loom back from up north.
The funny thing about this was that the dobby head was in the deep-south of England, which required two days of driving and added about £150 onto the (very reasonable) price of the thing. The thing came with a compressor. An absolutely ridiculous compressor, about the size of a decent-sized pig and about as heavy. At least it was on wheels. My poor wee car.
The loom itself was stored in an old church near my folks house in the northestness of Scotland, which geography buffs among you will recognise as being at the opposite end of this fragile union of ours from the South of England. So I went up there on the train a day after coming back from the south to load the loom into my father's trailer, he then drove me and it back down here to Galashiels (which is close enough to being right in the middle of the country, lengthwise).
Another thing, I hate driving in the south, it's horrible, especially around London. I mean, give a boy a break, I'm not used to the road man, I'm trying to get across this dual carriageway and who knows what lane I'm supposed to be in? If I make a mistake I end up 20 miles in the wrong direction at 10pm at night in heavy traffic. So take your hand off the hooter would you?
So, that's the loom in the borders. In the meantime, we've made the decision to move to Dundee. We'll be closer to family and we'll be in a city and I was starting to tire of the repetitive nature of my job, it was making me start to get tired of weaving in general, and we can't have that can we? So, away we go, planning our new life.
After about 2 months of flat-hunting we finally find a place and after a nerve-wracking week of waiting for forms to get processed we finally put the first month's rent down and secure the place, at which point my other half goes up to stay at her sister's place and take up her new job, she being a little more organised in the career department than I.
I'm sure I'm not supposed to end a sentence with the word "I". I don't care. Not I.
Such an individualist, me.
Anyhoo, I set to work over the following two weeks dismantling the flat, feeling something like I'm living in a particularly disorganised squat somewhere in London, albeit without the worry about getting raided by police, bailiffs or yardies.
That done, it's time for another joyful driving experience, my first time driving a van. And not just a wee transit or that, oh no, a merc sprinter. Biggest vehicle I'm allowed to drive.
I normally drive a Hyundai Getz, which pistonheads will categorize as "little".
So, I planned to get everything done in two days. What a ridiculous idea that was. I had 2 extra bodies at both ends and I still only managed to do the house over those two days. And we were all completely exhausted, none of us being accustomed to hard physical labour.
Did I mention we moved from a council flat to an unfurnished flat? Both on the 3rd floor. Of course, the new flat is a tenement so it's extra tall. Hurrah for Victorian architecture! The thing about council flats generally is that they're absolutely bare when you move in, no cooker, washing machine, nothing. So we had literally everything. I never want to lift a washing machine up 3 flights of narrow stairs again.
So, I had a day to lie about on my back panting and figure out what to do about the workshop (and the few bits and bobs left in the flat).
So I hired another van, and drove back down. This time on my own, without help at either end, cause my helpers were now working and probably sick of the sight of me and my huge pile of crap anyway.
Loaded the loom and other crap up, drove back up, slept, got up at 7 (had to get the van back for 11) and unloaded the loom at Dundee Makerspace which is to be it's new home. Got the van back to the depot with 30 minutes to spare and not a scratch and then went home and lay down for about two days.
Anyway, this town is pure jumping like, it's a hidden gem so it is. Scottish people traditionally have a pretty poor attitude to Dundee in general, but it's completely unsupported by my experience. It's full of creation and ideas and music and stuff. Also, it's really quite a little city so I reckon it's probably pretty easy to get to know everyone important in your field here in a reasonably short period of time.
I've already met a good number of really sound and solid people and expect to meet more in the months to come. I am pretty optimistic about things working out here.
So that's that. The work's been worth it already.
But there's no way I'm doing it again in any hurry at all. My shoulder is still killing me
Monday, 23 February 2015
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Wednesday, 3 December 2014
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
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