Wednesday, 14 January 2009

I'm in

That's it. I got an unconditional offer today.


[ trumpets, sirens sound, crowds cheer with wild abandon ]

well, that's me all cheered up, despite my sprained neck which has had me in a bad mood all morning.

so now i've got 5 months of college left to find something to do with. I could just go and sign on the dole, but that would inevitably lead to waking up in the evening and not getting any weaving done. it's funny isn't it, that when you have all the time in the world it's impossible to get anything done. I guess if the vehicles already moving it doesn't cost much to do an extra 20 miles at the end of the day, or something.

I have a table frame in the class room that i can use as a frame loom if i want, so i can either make a tapestry, a knotted pile rug or just work on tablet-woven brocade and double-face effects. If i wanted to be really ambitious i could buy the late Mr Collingwood's Ply-Split book, or the one on Sprang (whatever that is) and do a bit of that.

What would you do in my situation? I am leaving a poll on this page. I'm going to stick it on the right hand side so it'll outlive this post

-hb exits to wild applause

ps. the sectional warping is getting easier, now that i've added thread guides. I've also pulled the spool rack more towards the back of the loom, so i can get in behind it to change spools. I got 3 sections done last night, and i expect to finish beaming the warp tonight. If all goes well i shall thread and sley the reed on thursday. I then have to make a warp for friday because i'm going over to Wick High School to show an art teacher how to warp his Weavemaster table loom, which is a bigger version of the one i've got at home. That should be fun, i've never taught loomy before

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


Thursday, 1 January 2009

happy new year

As i haven't remembered to take the pictures of my new rug what i made for in front of my folks's fireplace, and it's new year, and i haven't posted since christmas, and this whole internet thing is rather addictive when you get into it, here are some pictures of cute dogs. i think to myself, in the following manner:

"if i know my readership, i'm sure they'll like pictures of cute dogs"

well, you didn't ask, but you got anyway

on we go.

This is Blot, the elegant and handsome prince of Doggy-Kind, he is a gentle, acrobatic and not even remotely clumsy animal without even the slightest hint of youthful enthusiasm. He wants a biscuit, and is probably going to get one
This is my little Eris, who i have had for 2 years since she was an ickle-wickle puppy. this is her when she was an ickle puppy, all wrapped up in a shawl on the living room sofa. she's still the only dog in the house that can get away with crawling into bed with my mum. She thinks she's the queen of england. But she's wrong, cause i don't like the queen of england half as much as i like Eris, and would certainly never let her into my bed

This is Old Man Ginger, slowly melting into a puddle in front of the fire. He is now a Grotty Old Sod and makes alarming throat clearing sounds occasionally while yawning. When Eris is on heat he tries to catch her but he's too slow. Luckily, the other two dogs don't know what their equipment is for, so she's safe as houses
Blot and Ginger again. Definitely one of the best photos ever taken, in my opinion
This is little Blot, when he still was little Blot, before he became large, cumbersome and over-enthusiastic Blot that scares children with his friendliness. He has this game he plays on the beach where he runs directly at you until you dodge and then veers away. I think it's a bit like doggy chicken. Eris tries to play it, but she isn't big and cumbersome, so it doesn't work
I'm not sure how this got in here. It's a picture of the first warp I wove on my old backstrap loom, which is now missing presumed dead in a possibly abandoned house in bristol. I wove rugs on that on middle meadow walk and next to the museum during the edinburgh festival. Someone told me a year or so later that the last time they saw me i was selling rugs in the park and i thought they said i was selling drugs and got a little flustered. much hilarity was had by all. as it goes i've been trying for years to figure out how to turn that "(D)rug dealer" pun into a decent joke, of the kind that makes your audience groan and weep as tumble-weed rolls across the high streetm but i just can't get it. shame
And, of course, Eris, again. This time with the tongue hanging out sideways. it's a good look.
And with the seaweed. She likes the seaweed. She also likes rotting fish carcasses. I wish she could in her mind connect "rolling-in-a-rotting-fish-carcass-to-impress-her-doggy-mates" to "getting-hosed-down-and-shampooed-outside-the-garage" and "being-shunned-by-everyone-in-the-house-because-nothing-can-get-rid-of-that-smell"
Well, that's that i guess. Hope you liked the doggies and hope you don't all have awful hangovers. I don't, I'm sober as a judge is supposed to be


Oh my god, i just ran across this video for my all-time number one favourite live band. As far as i'm concerned dancing to Ska is the best thing in the world

Bombskare ruule y'all