Saturday, 5 July 2014

Think I might start using this blog again

I felt that when I started working that my journey was pretty much done.

But far from it, who was I kidding?

Think I was being a bit daft. To be fair, the original purpose of the blog was to chronicle my getting-to and getting-through college, and that's done now. But it'd be silly to think it really ends there.

A lot of good has been built up here, I've been coming to realise over the last year, in the friends I've made on the comment sections and the things I've learned from the other weavers, sometimes seeing other people taking on similar paths to my own. It's all good.

So why waste it? I may work in education for the time being, but why should I limit myself to one job when there's so much more to do? I realised this truth recently when I got an email from youtube telling me that one of my videos, Tablet Weaving Lesson 1, had gained 10 000 views, which was frankly surprising. To be fair, it's the first video I put any serious effort into in terms of production values (I had my partner hold the camera, rather then simply tying the camera to a chair or something) but the number of views is still surprising. I suspect it was picked up by some other high-traffic crafty site or mentioned on a reenactors forum or something like that.

Also, weirdly enough, and possibly largely driven by that video, traffic for this site has, with normal peaks and troughs, actually climbed somewhat in the last year of complete and utter inactivity on my part. Weird.

Anyway, that's that, I'm back. Again. Whoop!

I'm not doing as much weaving these days as I'd like, for myself that is. But I am learning a huge amount about industrial weaving on power looms, which is extremely useful stuff and will no doubt continue to be useful in the future.

I am still trying to figure out how to become self-employed as a weaver, and in months to come I may share some of my ideas. Others I may keep to myself until they're ready to roll.

In the long run I think education is going to be a big thing for me. Something I've come to realise is there's a lot of people out there that want to learn how to weave in a social environment. So setting up a series of workshops in the Highlands would probably be a good idea. I feel like I have enough experience teaching basic handweaving now that I can approach that confidently.

At the moment, I can teach Handweaving on all types of handlooms including dobbies both mechanical and electronic. I can teach interchanging double cloth design, drafting and construction. I can teach yarn setting theory, basic design methodologies for translating concept into colourways and onto cloth. I can teach basic tablet weaving, double-faced patterning and the backstrap method of weaving.

Running on from that, there's a number of advanced weaving techniques that I'd like to develop, both for my own benefit and in order that I can teach them.

Off the top of my head, there's Leno. I can use leno for edge-bindings, but that's about it. I'd like to learn more.

There's terry towelling. That looks like an interesting technique that requires careful control of warp tension on the pile beam and particular use of a light versus heavy beat. It's acheived in industry by a modified batten that allows the reed to slip backwards on the light beats. Very interesting.

I'm interested in finding out how many layers one can practically weave on a rising-shed shaft loom before everything just gets silly and the shed refuses to open. I'm just curious, as a platonically perfect 24 shaft loom could theoretically weave a 12 layer cloth. If that cloth was woven with one weft going through all layers one after the other, it seems to me that it would be possible to weave a cloth 382" (nearly 32') wide. It would be amusing to find out how close to that I can get. Probably by setting up a straight draft on 24 shafts and setting it in the reed for treble cloth (I know I can do double). Then weaving a wee bit and setting it down again.

I'd like to figure out a better way of explaining to students how to create double layered cloths with extra wefts. Some people are naturally good at mathy stuff like that, and grasp it easily. Some people aren't, and I need to find a more natural way to describe it for those people, because they are most people.

I need to get better at stake-warping wide cloths to avoid the slide-at-one-side thing. In particular I need to get better at beaming a long warp through a raddle.

I would dearly love to be able to make double cut-pile cloth. This involves a whole post in it's own right as well as some very serious loom adaptations (two different sheds, two different sets of shafts on two different layers, two cloth beams pulling on at exactly the same rate and a cutter to seperate the cloth as it's wound on). I suspect this may never happen.

That's just off the top of my head. Do you good people have any techniques you'd love to learn in a limitless world of perfect freedom?

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

I got a job

I'm the new weave technician at the college now.

How utterly odd, who would have thought things would turn out this way 4 years ago when i started studying here.

I am in charge of teaching students how to weave, weaving jacquard fabrics and eventually getting the hattersley working.

It is part time so I can create my own collections in my spare time, and begin some serious progress on the lifting box

From now on I shall publish videos on youtube and articles and so on on my own webspace

I shall at some point begin selling plastic tablet weaving supplies, don't hold your breath for that though. If you don't find out one way or the other then my advertising strategy shall be seen to be rubbish.

I continue to have a really scarce involvement in weavolution, but I'm mainly a youtuber these days.

I've enjoyed my journey blogging here and all the lovely people I've met. I started this blog to document my journey in learning how to weave. Now I am a weaving instructor employed at the university and shall be producing my own collections on an annual basis. I think my journey has come to it's natural conclusion, and with it my journey as a blogger, in this particular format

Thank you all, and I shall see you on the interwebs or upon the face of the earth, at one event or another.

The blog shall remain here until google eventually crashes and brings western civilisation crashing down with it. I shall continue to answer comments for as long as gmail keeps running. Feel free to get in touch with me


Andrew Kieran

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Transitional phase is beginning

So I sold the Dryad loom yesterday. It is gone out the door and shall not return. I also took back all the yarn I'm not absolutely certain I want back to the college because most of it came from there anyway. I retain a small amount of wool and silk and stainless steel yarn too.

This is all to say things are changing. We've been doing a lot of clearing out over here, I've sold many surplus books on amazon, only retaining the fiction and those which are definitely useful. Beginners weaving books are all sold but all the tablet weaving and historical clothing books have been retained.

In time I shall be moving my online weavey presence over to which shall predominantly be a place where I post notes on my progress in designing a jack loom. It's useful as I can easily give collaborators access to the page with which they can also post or edit. I'm not sure exactly how i'll be using this page in the future, but I suspect that it'll be tapering off.

I have work now, at House of Cheviot in Hawick, a manufacturer of fine country socks and kilt hose which promises to take up most of my time for the forseeable future. So it looks like I won't be making my living as a weaver after all, which is strange and ironic, but perhaps all for the best as I can continue to simply "Weave 4 Fun".

In time I expect to be able to export the contents of thi blog as an XML file or some such thing and send them to the new site to be hosted over there outside of blogger, but I haven't figured that out yet.

As far as weaving goes the main focus of my time will be on tablet weaving and on designing the jack loom. The jack loom if successful will be followed by a small jacquard lifter for ribbon weaving.

So that's that for now. I will be attending a living history fair dressed up as a 13th century cloth merchant this coming weekend, which should be fun.

I guess that's all for now, at some point the new site will be looking better. When I have a bit of time to spend on it I expect. For now it's just a postboard. See y'all around. I might be tapering off blogger, but I'm not going anywhere. I can still be found lurking on WeaveTech and weavolution so nae worries :-)

Friday, 12 July 2013

Hochdorf Two Hole Tablet Weaving

So, I saw a picture of a Hochdorf band woven by a member of the Historic Tablet Weaving group on Facebook. It looks like you can get more detailed patterning with this technique and you also get a nice sort of pebbled effect in the background weave.

Anyway, so I googled it and found this webpage The Warp Factor, with a nice explanation of how to weave this band and a good diagram to go with it that tells you exactly when and where to turn the cards. Nice stuff.

This is my second attempt at Hochdorf patterning. First was in acrylic to work out the technique and the use of the board. Second in 2/60's silk, to make something extra special nice.

This is my new weaving board. It's a bit scrappy but it does the job. there's a few wee annoying problems with it, but the next one will be better.

This is how tension is maintained on the band, with a nice even consistency. The main part of the band is held as one with a bag full of weights. The selvedge tablets however are twining continuously in the same direction, so they need to be weighted individually in order to remove the twist

To understand the threading diagram you need to know which hole is which on the cards. You can see the woven band on the right there, which will of course be on your side of the cards.

This explains what I mean by S and Z card direction. As you see, S and Z both have a diagonal component, the thread follows in the direction of that component.

Of course, it's not for nothing the S and Z threading direction are called that, as there is an already established method of indicating the direction of the twist in a yarn, as you can see.

So this is the full threading diagram for this band. I have an extra selvedge card on each side of course, as this is very fine stuff. As you can see there are only two holes threaded in each card, and the cards are threaded in a manner whereby two cards are threaded together as S and the next two are threaded together as Z. These cards are also then turned together and you'll see that when you take them together one is threaded in holes A and C and the other in B and D. This means that together they make the equivalent of 1 card threaded ABCD.

So, in order to weave, you turn two quarter turns for each pattern step. From this position if you turn forward you will get white, and if you turn backwards you will get Blue. Following this you'll see that The positions of the threads in the cards has reversed, so if you were now to turn forward you would get blue, and if backwards white.

So, if you want to weave continuously white from this position you do two quarter turns forward, then two quarter turns backwards.

This is the basic threading draft for the pattern, along with an explanation of the terms used. The actual turning diagram is on the page I linked to. The only difference is that I believe she threaded her cards the other way from how I did it, so if you're using my threading diagram and her turning diagram, for F read B and vice versa.

You can probably follow the turning diagram exactly if you were to swap the blue and white threads around in my threading diagram.

I'd add my own turning diagram for this band but I don't yet have the means so you can get the turning diagram at The Warp Factor

Sunday, 30 June 2013

New Designers 2013

Spent the last week (or so) at New Designers in London (LaaaaahnDaaaaaahn, innit guv).

New Designers is an annual exhibition of work by graduates from colleges all over Britain.

Anyhow, it was absolutely amazing. It's generally considered rude to take pictures, but let me tell you some of the 3D design work was simply jaw dropping.

Here's some of my display anyway.

I had a few useful conversations, of which more shall be said later. The week was very useful and completely exhausting (as all trips to London inevitably are) and we're glad to be home. Now I'm off out back to cut my loom-wood down to size so I can get it into the house.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Building a jack loom Part 1: Vague plans and messy diagrams

I've been thinking about it for a while to be fair.

What I'm thinking about is an 8 shaft folding jack loom. The interesting part comes when I point out that I'm going to build an electric dobby controller into the bottom of it so it operates from one pedal and a computer program.

So far I've been thinking and thinking and I'm basically roughly copying the kind of frame you'd find in a Siever's school or Baby wolf loom. Basically it's like an X that folds up on itself with the castle in the middle. Should be able to reduce it's depth from 3 feet to about 1 for storage.

I don't think it's really that difficult to design the loom frame, aside from building the beams and making the ratchets and so on, which I may just jigsaw out of thick MDF. I have most of the wood I need asides from some panelling and I need to buy some aluminium sheet to make the shaft dividers with and also to hold the shaft bodies together with.

The rising levers will probably be made from mdf 6mm panelling, perhaps with rollers or aluminium plating on the ends to stop it from wearing.

underneath the levers there'll be about 8" of space for the wires to go down before entering the selection box, which shall be controlled by servo motors (I have them from a previous project, I also have the programming for a 16 shaft controller nearly done already and the electronics are all laid out so I'll just have to fit them into the new frame).

Then I have to figure out the best way to set up the pedal, whether front or back levered, or if there's a way I could easily create an assisted lift, or even put in a wheel there.

If I was to use a wheel then there's be less wasted mechanical energy in lifting and dropping the shafts, but it's a little complicated. Of course the thing about a rotary mechanism is it could just turn and turn and raise and lower the shafts automatically if powered by a motor or a bicycle pedal which then offers the possibility for further automation of the mechanism, though it's probably troublesome to install automatic beating and weft insertion on a 2ft wide folding jack loom.

But you never know, as long as the frame was sturdy enough I don't see a problem, assuming I can make all the mechanical parts out of MDF. I'm convinced it's possible, with enough tinkering.

Maybe I'll just start with a pedal then try adding a wheel for shedding.

Anyway, I'm going to throw up my diagrams here. As you shall see, I am not trained in the art of the technical draftsman

 General side view and approximate dimensions. I may change my mind on the exact height
 More detailed calculations here, trying to figure out relationships between the height of the castle, where the bolts go and the length of the folding legs
 Building the depth of the castle, taking into account the wood and cladding for the shafts (which have to be square and rigid as well as smooth) and clearance and dividers (which will be made from doubled over aluminium plating)
 Figuring out the total weaving width, and then from there the exact width of the frame, taking into account washers and clearance space again. One arm will have to wider than the other, I think it should be the one that carries the beater and cloth beam, as the beater needs something wider than itself to pivot from. The warp beam can afford to be a little narrower than the cloth beam. So i think anyway.
 A double arm raising jack action. Perhaps unecessarily complicated, but it does look very effective.
 The shed. Dictated by the size of the heddles, the maximum shed depth is 6" at the shaft.
 Figuring out the height of the castle and how big the lifting zone needs to be. Everything is now in millimeteres. The lifting zone has to be the height of the shaft (heddles, plus generous clearance plus the shaft frame) plus the lifting height.

In order to reduce height and because i think it's pretty I've set it so the shafts will raise a couple inches out of the castle. I find that pleasing.
 The total space for the lifting mechanism (the jack action) which shall go under the shafts to push them up.

Also, a split lever jack action. Which is what I'm going with as it looks like it uses less space depth wise
 The split lever jack action in raised position. The action needs twice the lifting height, plus the width of the frame that holds the levers, and a little extra space for it's cords.

Then it needs a wee bit extra leeway before it enters the selection box, which I haven't designed yet.
That's the whole mechanism there. I may have made a mistake here, as I don't believe I need to leave any space between the fully extended jack action and the selection box there. I think I need the extra space between the box and the lifting pedal

In principle I see no reason why this system couldn't be simply automated with a continuously rotating wheel.