Monday, 12 January 2009

One big rug, two woolen fabrics and a host of warping issues

So, I said i was going to try out sectional warping didn't i?

Well, we'll get to that.

First though, I'd like to show off my pretty new things i made over the new year break.

First off is the 6'x3' rug i made for my mother, which she has put on the back of the sofa, this is it sitting in front of a dead fire not being singed by flying cinders.

Right, now i'm actually almost furious. That's the third time i've attempted to transfer that rug picture to my mp3 player for upload to blog at college, and the third time i've plugged the thing in to find it mysteriously missing, despite the fact all the other pictures i need are there. It's very aggravating, are the gods of the internet, in their infinite wisdom, preventing me from showing off what is possibly my finest work to date, in case pride comes before a fall? I will prevail, next time, i swear, next time.

Never mind, i have also made two pieces on the big loom, warping problems of which have already been documented somewhat in the comment thread of the last-but-one post, the one before the dogs.

Hope you liked the dogs btw, a bit off topic i know. But i do like dogs, a lot.

So, the first piece was supposed to be a spiral twill, i call it a spiral twill, it's not really a spiral, but it is kinda interesting. it doesn't really work very well with such fine detailed yarn. just too fine detail for the eye to cope with reasonably. works better with chunkier yarn. the warp is alternately blue and grey, as is the weft. the treadling sequence is a 12-up, 12-down pointed twill, as is the threading sequence

As this was less than pleasant to look at, and was also giving me a headache trying to keep track of my place in the treadling sequence, i tried a few other things, notably 2 plain weaves, using wefts in different combinations or something. i should keep better records (correction, i should keep records, period), because i can't remember which is what. i know one of them is 2 and 2, and the other one is just one, but i'd really have to have a good long think about it, and i'm not in the mood

I'm not at all convinced those show up well on the monitor. They don't show up much better to the naked eye i'm afraid. That's one chalked down to experience anyway. never mind.

The next is much nicer. This is obviously just a simple checked tartan pattern. nothing fancy, but it is terribly effective, and i do enjoy doing them, cos you can just clatter away quick as you like without having to think hardly at all. This can be seen firstly draped upon a chair, cos the lighting's good, secondly pleated, because this is me working towards kilt fabric and kilts are pleated, and thirdly i've got a close up which, if we're lucky will show the discrepancy in the twill line. This is cause by a chunky reed. unfortunately, the finest reed i have for the monster loom is 12 dent, and i was weaving this at 30 epi in a 10 dent reed. the dent seperators are quite chunky, which meant the ends were crammed into the dent, effectively causing the warp to be woven at a higher epi than intended, leaving very noticeable reed lines in the loom-state fabric. these warp-ways lines are no longer noticeable, now that's it's been through the wash with my laundry, but the twill line does have a step effect if you look closely.

Still, i continue in my eternal quest for a perfectly consistent 45' angle. i will, as i've said before, prevail

Now, sectional warping.

I said i was going to do this, as i need to clear my cupboards of the oodles of awful and hideous knitter's yarn i've got. getting job lots from charity shops and car boot sales means you end up with a lot of baby pink and baby blue, along with a lot of other hideous greens and creamy whites that would never get used in the normal run of things. luckily, i live in an old-fashioned house with very draughty interior doors, and am currently sleeping, eating and working in the same room to cut down on heating costs. with 3 or 4 months of crap weather left, i thought i might as well make insulation curtains for the doors and windows.

Now, you might have guessed that i am working towards the goal of large-scale fabric production, as opposed to individual small pieces. so, with this in mind, i have begun making a 40 metre warp. I have enough yarn to do this, i am glad to say. I also have a warp wheel (as opposed to a warp beam) with a 2 metre diameter, meaning each warp section recieves 20 revolutions of the wheel before being tied off and taped down

The weaver i bought the loom from had a long shed, and he would arrange his cones in long lines on the floor, below rows of hooks, which ordered the yarn before feeding it into the tensioning box. This is a very sensible way of doing things. i do not have a large shed though, i have a small room, with only enough space for the loom and me in it. So i need a spool rack. I do not have a spool rack. So i made one, out of two cross sticks and a lot of string.

Luckily, i have a lot of cardboard bobbins i inherited from the presious owner.

Now, the spool rack orders the yarn as best as possible to avoid tangle at the mouth of the mini-reed, which is located at the front of the tension box.

That is the tension box. If you thread it up the other, as the set of instruction i found on the internet told me to do, then a primitive spool rack such as this will cause you to have horrific snarls and traffic jams and such when it finally does meet the reed, due to the yarns getting mixed up as they feed over the tensioning bars. trust me, you don't want that. it's enough to make a grown man cry

And this all, eventually, after much pain, heartache, and mistakes which you don't need to repeat, leads onto the warp wheel, pictured above. the warp sections are 4 inches wide each, and are held in place by these metal angle brackets, which are arranged in such a way that there will be enough of them for said porpoise. Sorry, i mean purpose. As these do have sharp edges rather than curved edges as can be found on commercially available sectional beams the warp has to be guided on by hand, with the right hand turning the wheel, and the left occasionally pinching the warp to prevent the outermost threads from finding themselves in enemy territory, on the wrong side of the tracks, as it were. Or, even worse, uncomfortably straddling the middle line, creating a potential tension problem for the future, which is the last thing any of us wants, obviously.
Now, stress and trouble free as this may seem, it was anything but. I shall now proceed to list the many problems i encountered along the way, and the possible solution which, over the course of the coming week, i shall attempt to put in place in hope of alleviating said problems

1. If the thread falls of the side of the bobbin, it can become wrapped around the string holding it, thus getting itself caught, or even pulling a whole bunch of yarn of the bobbin. in this case you need to cut it out with a little knife and discard it, to rewind all that yarn more carefully back onto another bobbin later. This problem can be usually avoided by leaving a good 1/2 inch clearance or so between the end of the bobbin and the edge of the wound yarn. Also, when winding at the ends of the cone, keep your hand going in a left-right motion, never let it remain still, as this causes a tight section to build itself up, sometimes pushing yarn off to the side which will later inevitably tangle itself up and make you weep into your coffee

2. The threads must remain in order as they feed into the tension box. This might seem obvious, but when a bobbin runs out and you tie a new one onto the old thread, it's very easy to accidentally cross it over an adjoining thread. this causes tangle and warp breakages at the reed, and is also a potential source of tragic grief and infinite sorrow.

3. Smashing your skull of the loom. There is no solution for this, aside from being a bit less clumsy and not working past midnight

There is a potential solution for the first two problems. The first one is aggravated by the fact the the threads pull away off to the side of the bobbins in some cases, and the second one os aggravated by the fact that it's really not that easy to get all the threads in the right order all the time. Both these problems can be solved by a thread guide, which is a line of little holes for the thread to go through that keep the yarn coming off the bobbin right in the centre, before getting pulled off to the tension box. I will make one of these out of string, again, and see how it goes. At this point though i can fully recommend buying a spooling rack with a thread guide if you are going to buy a spool rack. It should save a lot of grief.

As you can see i am only three sections into this warp. I have 7 or so to go before i'm finished i'm afraid. This should take all week. When i'm done i'll tell you whether i have the courage to attempt doing this again without investing in some proper warping equipment for this loom.

Cheers now



trapunto said...

Nice fabrics. The subtle stripey one shows up well enough on my monitor to look really good, actually. I would do a jacket out of it.

40 meters!! Reading this, I wanted to hop on a plane and come rushing with a spare reed, a drill (probably wouldn't make it through security) and a bunch of dowels. Straightened-out wire coat hangers through a cardboard box? (if you turned it with the open side to the rear, you could punch holes for thread guides in the side facing the loom) Bamboo skewers from the grocery store? The sad thing is, I often see cheap spool racks for sale in classified ads. Where I live, there seem to be more stray racks floating around than actual looms with sectional beams.

You were up against a lot, and I'm really impressed at the nice fat warp you managed to get on in spite of your travails! I hope you try sectional warping again because it sounds like it can only get better.

(I bump my head by standing up under the right corbel of my loom every time I warp. I'm sure I will do it again this time, too--right after I think "this is when you bump your you head every time you warp.")

Do you hope to do kilt fabric just for friends and family, or are you thinking of a business?

humblebumble said...

I hope to do alternative tartans as a business, aye. i can weave a straight twill at a pretty decent rate i think, and i have a notion that i can work my way up to a larger, more mechanised loom someday.

what i'm going to do for making a better spool rack is probably to use a lot of stiff fencing wire, or something like that. i should be able to find an abandoned spool lying about somewhere, or cannibalise a ruined fence or derelict building site to get such materials.

alternatively, i could make the uprights from square wooden rods and attach the pins by hooks and staples.

what i did last night for thread guides was to simple rig a couple of cross-sticks 1/2 a foot in front of the spool rack, and run a doubled up line of warp cotton down the centre line of each column of spools, with one line on each side. this seems to have solved a few problems, and i can now get away with winding thicker spools, which means i don't have to change them so often.

wire coat hangers are a good idea actually, easier to work with and straighten out than fencing wire i should think. thanks for that. is handy actually, i work in a charity shop at weekends, shouldn't be a problem.

one of these days i'd like the opportunity to make a long bolt of cloth, say 100-300 metres that i know in advance is already sold so i can do the proper thing and spend a couple of grand on wool and sectional warp direct from cones.

it's going to be interesting to see how many metres i can weave in a week. i must, absolutely must, keep an accurate timesheet this time.

as it goes, there isn't really the weaving scene here there is in the states, or even england for that matter, and i was really lucky to get such a good loom so close to home. it's a very versatile frame and i'm very confident i could easily update it to more shafts if i could just get hold of the appropriate dobby box. or build one. when i get down to that college, i'm gonna take one of those things apart and see exactly how they work.

T Scanlin said...

great spool rack!
Glad to find your blog through your comment on mine. I still weave on floor looms occasionally and love the process. I teach a beginning weaving class at my school and tonight will be their 4th session... threading, sleying for most this session!

Are you a WeaveTech list member? Did you read about the recent performance in NYC with loom as musical instrument in a composition?