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Sunday, 29 March 2009

loom in danger

there is a loom in the lake district that is in danger of being chopped into firewood.

for reasons that are too long-winded to go into on a wee 15-minute net sesh, i find myself in the central belt of scotland about to take a trip to greater manchester and back.

there was a dobby loom in the same location, and i was considering running over to rescue the box and reeds, but somebody has bought the loom as a One.

there's still another loom though, a 4 shaft counterbalance by the look of things, tho was unsure from my phone conversation. but it has a beater bar, with fly shuttle. and i'm starting to think that it might be worth my time doing it on foot, just to rescue the beater bar, shafts, back and cloth beams, pullets, ratchets and all that. i would feel awful taking a saw to a loom to cut off the useful parts, but i guess it's no different from taking the good components form a messed up old car that's gonna be scrapped

i don't want to break it into bits, but if it's that or kindling, i'd rather the expensive bits got saved.

-a

Sunday, 15 March 2009

lovely pink yarn

i'm going to weave it in a 2/2 basket weave twill on the table loom. i can't figure out how to turn the picture round on this computer. i really hsould prepare these posts at home before i go out.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Teaching weaving

hooray!

I taught my first person to weave on a loom today!

It's the lady who taught me to spin, Anne, and she's got this wee Kromski Rigid Heddle loom, with a stand and all that she got at woolfest.

it's quite a pretty wee loom, very nicely made, and it's got a warping frame built into it with the removable pegs and all that. the ratchet mechanism is not very good though. never mind. anyway, i managed to make a right hipse of the warping demonstration, doing everything back to front and that. but we eventually got a wee warp onto it with some disposable machine-knitting cotton and started getting some checks woven up.

it doesn't seem to work too well with the stand as it goes, i don't think it's that stable. but it's cool, cos you can just lean it against the edge of a table. used to do that with my table loom actually, but it's uncomfortable cos it's heavy.

anyhow, yeah, wow. i am so incredibly bad at explaining things, it's completely unreal. i mean, maybe teaching's something you have to learn perhaps, but i just do not have that gift like. i don't think i could explain eggs to a chicken, even with the use of a slide projector.

never mind, we got there in the end. and she's got a copy of "learning to weave" which, though i've only flicked through it looks like a very very good book to me. though it does do this funny thing of a warping method where it has you threading and sleying before the warp's on the beam and that's never worked for me. it seems to raise a lot of possibilities for buggering the warp right up in the beaming process as well, so never mind that. i know i'd make a hipse of it anyway, my warp handling is pish

oh oh oh, i've just remembered something

oh great, now i can't copy and paste embed tags from youtube. just brilliant. you know, this is absolutely typical, abitrary, computer behaviour. you know the one time my mother came round to my house to have a cup of tea and sit for a bit and do some weaving, i go to put a dvd on the computer and, guess what, it wasn't working. for the first time ever. and after she left i went to put the same dvd on and it was fine. i mean, it's just silly. so why can't i copy and paste the embed tags?

damn damn damn

that's buggered that right up. oh well.

on a lighter note, i'm lying on the couch, and my dog is asleep against my legs. but there's very little space between me and the back of the couch. so her face is on my legs, and her arse is halfway up the couch stickin in the air. it's kinda amusing. she has no decorum

-a

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

The 100 scarf project

Hi there.

I know i haven't had much of substance to say recently, but i haven't been idle. Oh no.

You've seen the green and white scarves from a previous post maybe, and perhaps you've also seen in my last post a tri-colour scarf shot on the loom from a curious angle. I was originally going to call that series of scarves "Accidentally Irish" because i didn't realise till the warp was on the raddle that it was basically an irish tri-colour, and thus something you can't wear or sell in certain parts of Northern Ireland or the Central Belt if you're an excessively careful sort like me.

Now, I am developing with this a scarf that can be woven inexpensively. In the first warp i left 5 inches between scarves for twisted fringes. And that's all well and good, and terribly nice, but it took me ages to twist the fringes up for finishing. So i scrapped twisted fringes in the name of efficiency. In the second, Accidentally Irish, warp I decided to leave half an inch between scarves, separating them with a warp stick from the table loom. I then washed the entire warp together, and then cut them apart, as the finishing process (60 degree wash and 30 minute tumble dry in the laundrette with the rest of my washing) binds the fibres together so well that they'll never unravel. This worked very well

This way i got an extra scarf out of the warp. 7 instead of 6. Nice. It takes me the best part of a day to make and beam the warp, although i'm pretty sure i'm doing something wrong in the beaming process, and although i am currently incapable of vocalizing my thoughts on this issue, i think i know what it is, and i think i'll get it nailed next time. It doesn't take much longer to actually weave the warp up.

This is the longest warp i can get out of my warping board when it's put together. Obviously, the next thing is to make a longer warp. Presumably, by taking the warping board apart and nailing each end to the wall at a greater distance from one another. Another method may be sectional warping, but that's just fraught with difficulties.

Now, that's great, and all fairly obvious if the aim is to make very nice scarves with very good selvedges that show off my skill as a weaver. But that's not the aim at all. The aim is to make very nice scarves with nice, reasonable prices that show off my skill as a sensible weaver for a mass market. Thus, the idea is to make wider warps. Each scarf is 400 ends wide. I have 1000 heddles. Therefore i can only make 2 scarf width warps. my loom is wide enough to take a 1200 end warp at least, but i don't have enough heddles. curse. I have been in touch with Lunds of Bingley, and they don't make heddles anymore (it's them that made the frames for my loom, back in the 70's)

Even so, it shouldn't take much longer to warp an 850 end warp than a 400 end warp, and so i can weave twice as many scarves in only a little longer time. So, call that 14 scarves in 3 days, to be generous with time. That's not a bad rate really, as far as i'm concerned. Working on the basis that whatever i make, i'll eventually sell, then spending all this money on wool (at £10 a kilo, each scarf costs £1.10 in wool, with loom wastage taken into account) and all this time on weaving is probably the best investment i could concievably make these days. And i have so far managed to sell almost everything i've made. It just comes in fits and spurts.

Here's the math

3 days work = £150 (i used to work for £25 a day as a labourer, so i'm being generous here)
14 scarves worth of wool = £15 (1 scarf worth of wool is accounted for as loom wastage)
Laundrette fees = £8

Total price of manufacture = £173

Minimum price for each scarf = £12.35

Getting there, getting there. My aim is to develop a range of scarves, and associated working practices, that allow me to sell them for £10-15 to the public and £5 to shops and suchlike.

With a 3-scarf warp of that length i can make 21 scarves in just under 4 days. It's not bad, but it's not good enough.

The aim now is to develop the ability to produce 100 scarves in 6 days. To do this i will need much longer warps. I believe this is possible, at least with the loom i'm using now, which is a very nice loom and makes me happy.

Here is the math

100 scarves of wool = £102
50 hours work @ £6/hr = £300
Total Price of manufacture = £402

minimum price for each scarf = £4.02

I could concievably sell for £3 or less and still make it worth my while. This being based upon that fact that one can live quite comfortably on £80 a week without recourse to benefits.

Mind you, everything that's made has to be sold. And that's something i don't know anything about: selling.

I have no illusions however, and i shall persevere. I will make a living out of this.

-A