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.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Tablet Weaving Lesson #1: Backstrap weaving a simple diamond motif

This is the first in a series of video and photo tutorials showing basic to advanced tablet-weaving concepts.

These lessons shall each build on the last and hopefully take the viewer from simple diamond patterns up to more complicated double face pattern weaving with finer yarns and eventually onto the heady heights of brocading and other fancy techniques (just as soon as I learn how to do them myself).

In this first lesson we'll learn the basic weaving steps involved in weaving a diamond pattern in the backstrap style.

This lesson is meant for someone who has purchased a ready-made warp from me. The next lesson shall detail how to design and make this warp oneself.

And we begin

This is the basic pattern we are making. The woven band is tied to my waist with another strap. I am holding a small stick shuttle in my right hand which contains the weft.

In front of me are the cards, each card has 4 warp threads going through it. The gap that you can see is called the shed, this is what the weft shall pass through. Each time we turn the cards we cause the warp ends (threads in weaving are called ends if they are of the warp and picks if they are of the weft) to twist around each other, this traps the weft in place.

The following steps I demonstrate are using a practiced hand. Initially when I was learning I often turned the cards using both hands. If you find this easier then please feel free to turn the cards and insert the weft anyway you feel comfortable.

First we need to move the cards up the warp. Place your thumb on top of the warp and your pinky finger below. Place your first finger in the back shed and use your two other fingers to hold the pack steady. In this way you can keep all the cards together when you move them so none of them turn in a funny way that they're not meant to.

Now push the cards up a bit. This gives you a bit more space to get the shuttle in. It's always nicer to have a decent working space for putting the shuttle in, rather than trying to squeeze it into a small space.

Now, get one hand into the shed and use that to pull through the shuttle. I do it this way as I find that if I just push the shuttle in unguided it sometimes catches on warp threads, which isn't good.

Then pull the shuttle through to insert the weft.

Leave a small loop of weft sticking out the side. The purpose of this is to allow you to finely control the width of the band. If we were to pull the weft all the way in upon insertion then the band would tend to become narrower and narrower. This is not so much of a great issue with a chunky band like this, where you're unlikely to notice a small difference of a few millimetres in the width of the band, but when one is weaving very fine threads and making detailed work later on it becomes very important to maintain consistency. If you like you can weave a small amount to find the perfect width for your band and then use a small marked stick or a measuring tape to measure the band every now and again and make sure you are not deviating from your desired width.

Now, to turn the cards, place your hand upon it like so . . 

. . . and roll them backwards . . . 

. . . a full 45 degrees.

This is called one turn. You will notice that I have placed my hands around the cards again in such a way that all cards are held in my hand simultaneously and they all move together. If you have smaller hands or are using more cards, you may find it more useful to turn the cards with two hands or to move them in groups. It's entirely up to what is comfortable with yourself.

Now we're ready for the next pick. Get your hand in front of the cards again . . .

. . . and push the pack backwards to make space.

Again, insert the weft . . .

Now we are ready to "tuck" the previous pick of weft. Hold the tucking side of the band with one hand and pull the weft from the other side with your other, taking care not to pull too tightly. Some designs may call for you to leave a small loop on the outside for artistic effect, but generally you don't want to weft to show too much.

Now the weft has been fully tucked.

And we beat the fell. The "fell" is the point at which the woven cloth or band meets the unwoven weft. The purposed of beating the fell is to push the previous pick of weft into position and to tighten up the woven face of the band. The strength of the beating determines the tightness of the pattern. I prefer a heavy beat as it's easier to maintain consistency and it allows you to get more pattern into a smaller space.

Something to consider when doing this is the nature of the yarn you're using for your warp. If, as is likely, you're learning to tablet weave for historical purposes, then you're likely to be using wool. Wool is very catchy, and if you simply try to push the shuttle down to the fell in the manner that I demonstrate in the following video, you're likely to cause yarns to snarl on each other. In this case it may be better to take the bottom and the top of the shed and pull them apart with your hands in order to separate the top and bottom layers of warp threads before you beat down the fell. This is less likely to be an issue using silk, cotton or acrylic, or for that matter nylon, which is my favourite material for practicing new TW techniques as it's fine, strong and nice and shiny.

And there you have it anyway, your second pick is in place, you have a wee loop sticking out the side and you're now ready to turn the cards again and continue weaving

Now, to observe all these steps in motion, see the following video.

Friday, 10 May 2013

A lovely visit and an interesting challenge

I had the priviledge this week of paying host to Laura Fry and Kerstin Froberg.

Sadly, they arrived the day before the bank holiday and had to leave the following afternoon so were unable to receive the tour of the School of Textile And Design they were hoping for.

Never mind though, as weavers are weavers and we love to talk about weaving. Over dinner and a pint or two we discussed many subjects including Vadmal, the pros and cons of AVL looms and the routes by which each of us came to weaving. It was a very nice evening and a real delight to meet other weavers with such a depth of passion and knowledge.

Why I didn't take any pictures I'll never know, I guess I was just too busy chatting away about looms and yarn and going on about how I learned to weave upside down and back to front and made myself do everything the hard way (which stands me in good stead when I have to rescue other people's warping errors).

Interestingly, I'd had it in my head the Laura was American and Kerstin was Finnish, whereas they're actually Canadian and Swedish, so that's weird. I wonder how that mix up occurred in my brainpan?

Anyhow, the next day they came to visit my house, all rammed with cloth and I showed them through all the work I've been doing for college and sold them each a quantity of cashmere, which was very nice for me as I've been pure brassic this month due to The Economy.

And Kerstin gave me a challenge, to weave a V-neck shawl, on a power loom, as I have been going on about power looms somewhat as I am currently enjoying the prospect of getting use of one soon. I believe it's doable, though not to the exact technique she describes, but nevertheless something similar could no doubt be done on a Jacquard shuttle loom, assuming you were happy to do the hand finishing. It's a thought. I foresee some small technical difficulties, though one could easily stop the machine after every pick to make weft adjustments and still weave quicker than by hand, especially as the bulk would be woven by automagicalness.

Anyhoo, that's only the start, we also talked about the idea of weaving a shirt in one piece without seams straight on the loom. Apparently, back in the heyday of industrial weaving, this was acheived at great length and expense by the son of an industrial mill family who tied up a jacquard loom for a whole year making a garment that came complete with pockets, frills, collars, the lot, without a single sewing stitch, and then proceeded to give it to the queen, or someone similar.

This was done either in Dunfermline or Dundee, it's something I've never heard or read about, but I must look into it. The brain-work demon at the back of my head is telling me it's totally doable with enough thought and careful planning but I suspect it wouldn't be woven quickly, and I'm sure it would need a multi-box shuttle loom, a rapier wouldn't do it.

The knitters are already making seamless clothing on machine, so I guess it's about time us weavers stepped up to the plate.

Does anyone know anything about these seamless woven garments? I don't have time to go searching just now, but I'm more than happy to idly receive links and information or even wild speculation.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Almost totally off topic, hanging onto relevance by the narrowest of threads.

I've just found my new favourite author.

Cixin Liu (or is that Liu Cixin, I don't know) is an SF write from China, I have just read a free offering of his from Amazon which you can download for free as an E-book. It's a novella describing humanity's travails in escaping the death of the sun with the earth as our spaceship.

To say this this book is epic, majestic and terrifying in it's magnificient concept is a remarkable understatement. But to fail to acknowledge the hope gleaned from finding an author who is willing to conceive of humanity facing up to huge and terrible challenges with stoicism and resourcefulness would be a mistake.

The Wandering Earth

It's simply unlike anything I have ever read.

But what is more remarkable is that it hits the very note that I have been attempting to hit with my last warp

Can you see what I'm trying to do? It's supposed to be like a representation of the galaxy as viewed in transit at high speed, with stars stretched out and long wispy streamers of pink gas flitting by. The other thing you'll notice about this warp is the large number of broken ends I've chosen not to fix. As we know, all things in the universe are subject to entropy, which is the tendency of ordered systems to break down into chaos. The yarn itself accelerates this process as the added fibres clung to each other causing broken ends and many weird lifts and poor shedding. As a careless god weaving my own little universe I have gleefully chosen to let the cloth do as it wishes to do, pausing only to remove broken ends from the back of the shafts. The funny thing is you really can't tell until you look closely. This mirrors the apparent simplicity if large systems when viewed from far away, but when examined up close reveal hidden depths of complexity and numerous exceptions to dearly held natural laws. Somewhere on this warp I have darned in a single grey thread, this represents humanity sailing blindly onwards through the incomprehensible vastness of space, unaware of the dangers that may await us, lurking in the darkness to cut short the thread of our existence

Friday, 19 April 2013

A shimmer effect while weaving on the Jacquard

I love Jacquard weaving. It's official.

You'll probably notice an interesting wee effect there in the black areas of this cloth. The reason for this is that this cloth has 2 layers but 4 different wefts, meaning there's always 2 wefts floating in the middle of the cloth at any time. This is what allows me to weave 4 seperate colours across the width of the cloth. Which is pretty neat.

Jacquard weaving is pretty neat, but it's difficult to wrap your head around it unless you start off simple. Luckily, I have a love of geometric patterns.


 That's a wee taster of one of my coming final samples. I'm not shouting this stuff to the rooftops. 

This is something I find pleasing. My sister's new puppy, Lenny. Thinks he's a draught excluder, currently here trying to get a rise out of my Eris

Thursday, 14 March 2013

A twisted yarn

Did I mention I was making yarn? Probably, I know I've been wittering on about the twisting machine and the twist measuring machine lately. Well, here are my first proper results.

The one on the right is called Stretch Starlight and is made with 97/3 merino/lycra with small pieces of English 56 thrown in and the one on the right is called Nebula, which has a greater amount of a longer staple woollen fibre of unknown origin attached to a regular worsted yarn.

These yarns are not yet perfect, but I think I'm getting closer. I still have problems with the fibres not binding into the twist perfectly. Of course, the Boyd isn't actually designed in any way to bind fibre into a twist, but it's a wee hack I guess.

How are these made?

Well, these are what's called Siro yarns. What this means is they're folded yarns made of singles which are practically unspun. In effect this means that when you remove the folded twist what you're left with is roving. As a consequence you can't remove all the twist, as the stuff simpy falls apart.

But I have to untwist this stuff and retwist it in order to get the extra fibres to bind to the yarn.

So first you go and measure the twist of the yarn, as I explained previously in a previous post previously.

This yarn has 13 twists per inch in the S direction, or 13 TPI S, as it shall henceforth be referred to as. henceforthly.

A brief aside regarding yarn twist.

S or Z twist refers to the direction the yarn is twisted in. If the yarn is twisted in a counter clockwise direction you get an S twist, if clockwise, you get a Z twist.

Look at the yarn closely, then imagine the letter S or Z superimposed upon the twist direction, and whichever of those diagonals it follows indicates which twist it is. Quite simply really, though one does wonder how folks with different alphabets, such as Arabic or Chinese speakers go about describing this. I must ask.

Anyway, moving onward (ever onwards), as the yarn had 13 TPI S I had to twist it in the opposite direction in order to remove some ov the twist, but not so much that it became too fragile to run through the machine. So I twisted it 5 TPI Z, another way of saying this is that I removed 5 TPI S

13 TPI S + 5 TPI Z = 8 TPI S

Simples, as the insurance rodent would say.

Anyway, then I have to twist it back.

You'd think I'd simply twist it back 5 TPI while adding the fibre. Oh, if only life were so simple. You see, the stuff doesn't really bind that well on just one twist, so I feel it's better to add it and then retwist to give it a better shot at really binding into the yarn.

So you'd think I'd do 2.5 TPI S twice, to get it back to where it was, right?

13 TPI S + 5 TPI Z + 5 TPI S = 13 TPI S

Of course, you've guessed it, things aren't that simple.

You see, the twister twists onto these big old wooden packages, which are fine for nice big heavy yarns which have actual twist in their singles, but this yarn is none of those things. It is light, fine and has no twist in it's singles. So it needs to be on a nice light package that rotates easily on the upper yarn holders.

Here's where things get weird and a little maddening.

So, I take this big wooden yarn package over to another machine, a cone winder, and transfer it onto a small plastic sample cone. The only problem here is that as the yarn is coming off the bottom package into the tension guide of the machine, it is twisting. Not a lot, but enough to make some kind of a difference. And I don't do that once, or twice, but four times in the process of making this yarn. Here's how it goes.

Yarn goes like this

From big 2 kilo cone to small package

From small package, twisted onto large wooden bobbin + 5 TPI Z

Bobbin to package

Package to bobbin + 2 TPI S

Bobbin to package

Package to bobbin + 2 TPI S

Bobbin to final package

Everytime I transfer from bobbin to package I add an unknown amount of twist into it, in which direction I am unsure, as I haven't taken the time to examine the process in such minute detail yet.

Also, I am reliably informed by a PhD student that the twist added in this manner is very difficult to ascertain as it is determined by the size of the package, the circumference of the yarn on the package at any given point (which is always shrinking), the distance from the yarn to the tension guide (which changes as you go along as the yarn runs up and down the cone on it's way round), the tension of the tensioner and even the speed of the machine.

All you can say is you have to work it in somehow.

The upshot is that it's next to impossible to create a philosophically perfect yarn using this technology. Luckily you can simply steam the stuff, but in practice you have to make allowances.

So I spun 2 TPI S twice and got a yarn that is close enough to being perfectly balance that frankly I'm happy enough with it.

Now I just have to hope the coloured fibre parts will make it all the way through the loom and into the cloth.

Wish me luck