Tuesday, 16 December 2014

All ends accounted for.

You can't easily know how happy this picture makes me.

So I'll try to explain.

First off, what's happening? Well, when I tied the new warp on to this loom the other month, the knotting machine found a few instances where the ends in the crosses for the old and new beam didn't match up. So, doing what I've seen done before, I broke them out, knowing I could always run some new ends in from cones. 

Now though, I've managed to completely sort out the warp and managed to put every end in it's place. I checked each row of hooks individually and tied new warp ends in. Where possible, from threads hanging off the back, of which there were a few on the left hand side there. Also, on the right where the threads go up,  I ran 4 cones up, around the beam and into the heddles and reed. 

When I finally finished, I realised I had 4 free ends on the left hand side, in exactly the right colours, so I took a stick with a hook on either end, ran them down, along, and back up onto the loom.

For context, you should know that I've been trying to get all threads accounted for on this loom for over a year without success.

When I came to this loom, the selvedge drums were unloaded. They instead had rough cotton selvedge warps sitting on the floor underneath the loom and running up and around the unloaded drums. Naturally, consistent tension on the false selvedges (this is a rapier loom) was something that was impossible to maintain. Plus the selvedge cones gathered stoor and get really dirty, and made it very difficult to clean up around the bottom of the loom.

Also, for so long, I had loads of ends hanging off the back on the left hand side and other ends in the middle whose place I couldn't find. All this was exacerbated by a warp of viscose that refused to weave as much as a metre without bursting out at least 5 ends. I spent more time repairing ends than the loom spent weaving, it was truly infuriating. The warp has now been changed to 2/20's cotton, basically the same weight of yarn, but cotton is a much more agreeable yarn than the viscose we have in stock here. Now, the Viscose is fine for handweaving and knitting, but when you put it in a power loom and run it through a cross, it's just a nightmare, as it's so brittle and inflexible in comparison to cotton that it just breaks all the time. Also, it really kicks off a lot of stoor, so much so that last year I was weaving with a dust mask. I don't have that problem anymore. Used to be there'd be an inch of stoor sitting on the loom at the end of half a day's weaving, now I barely need to worry about that at all. Which is nice, as the springs underneath the heddle frame have to be cleaned of stoor when they get clogged up, and that's a real pain.

So now, I have new selvedge drums (the selvedge was also breaking a lot, but that was due to a slight misadjustment on the right hand selvedge picker, rather than anything to do with the yarn), I have a nice new warp yarn and there isn't a single yarn that isn't going somewhere useful. There's no cones on the floor, or trailing ends. Every heddle that should, has an end in it and I'm pretty damn sure there's nothing wrong with the sley, but I'd have to check to be sure. It's really difficult to tell from a cursory inspection. 

Anyhow, got my last metre of the year to weave on this thing today, so I'm gonna do that and then wind the cones for the next warp. We get our warp made outside and they require 50 cones of each colour to make the warp with. So I'd best get to it.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Folding loom part 2

It's taken me a little while to get round to this.

Finally though,  I have the space and,  in the form of the remains of a large pile if shafts we got shot of from work over the summer,  the materials. Lots of pieces of wood of uniform dimensions. Nice strong stuff too,  tasty. Also,  the drop saw makes short work of cutting the stuff down.

I drew up some plans the other night,  and built the frame and Castle today.

The castle has been built in such a way that I expect to be able to be able to swap different shedding systems in and out.

The castle is probably a little tall just now,  but I thought better bigger than smaller.

The first shedding mechanism I'll install will be counterbalance,  then maybe a countermarche and perhaps eventually a jack mechanism,  though I'll need a router to do that,  so it may have to wait for some time.

Also,  there are lessons to be learned in the process.  Even in the building of the frame.  But certainly in the building of the shedding mechanisms.

Anyhow,  two pictures of it as it is,  in folded and open conditions. I also need to dig out a track for the locking arms to travel on.

Once this is all done and tested,  i'll have learned enough to try again with bought wood.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Dense as heck

Here's that warp on the loom. I beamed it with sticks,  despite the fact I don't believe in them. Sadly,  my wee loom has a tottie wee warp beam,  about the thickness of a broom handle,  so it's really the only way. Still,  it works for short warps.  Heyho,  we have to work with what we've got.  The loom is currently beamed at 60 epi and sleyed at 112 epi.  I'll really it after the festival two samples at something like 80 epi,  which is a more natural sett for thus yarn.  I'm trying to make denim,  so am upping the epi in a bid to increase the density of the cloth. 

I'm also going to try different samples with differing tension,  to see if I can increase the prominence of the warp floats.

A part of me is wondering whether this is a useful exercise as I plan to weave a proper quantity on the big floor loom in the new year and the characteristics of the loom are very different. 

For starters,  the shed us a good deal deeper,  which I'm sure has some kind of effect on the cloth,  but the tension is also a good bit different as well. Also,  if I succeed in putting a tension brake on it,  then I shall have more consistent tension control,  which ought to help.

I'm currently running on the theory that a lower warp tension will cause greater take up in the warp and increase the prominence of warp floats in a 3/1 twill,  also that a heavier beat will help too. 

These are things that I can't really control on the table loom. So,  like I say,  I'm not convinced that these samples will truly reflect what the big loom will churn out.  I've got to do something in the meantime though and it'll at least give me a rough idea. So there's that.

The coloured samples are from the last warp and are 2/20's cotton set at 42, 56 and 70 epi

Saturday, 22 November 2014

New cotton arrived today.

This arrived today from Devere Yarns. 1.5 Kilos of 2/20's combed cotton and 1.5 Kilos of 2/40's.

Well packaged, each cone of 250g labelled properly and arrived in good time.

This is my first warp in 2/40's cotton of 396 ends. I'm going to make samples with this to determine the correct sett I need to make reasonable denim. After that, a larger warp with 4 solid colours, trying different twill variations and wefts.

In other news, I shall soon be getting my big counterbalance loom down from up north, now that I've got somewhere to put it. Then I can get some serious weaving done. It'll be awesome.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Celtic knotwork in wood.

Something I did yesterday. The car is still in the workshop, but I expect it to be out soon. Then I can start properly making things. First in line is a couple of tapestry frames. After that I'll make a counterbalance rug loom on two shafts. But I'll make the castle big enough that it could fit 16, in preperation for the day when I get round to building a dobby box.

For now, there's this. I'll paint it and the backing up in contrasting colours and put it on the wall. I'll probably make more, but have to work on my knotwork design skills.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

New workshop and rigid heddle loom

Well, we had a brief discussion the other week/month (time flies) about making tablet weaving accessories.

So, last month I bought a scrollsaw and a pillar drill. And since then I have been getting a workshop space ready at a garage on a friend's farm. There's been a lot of work, and it still isn't quite ready yet. I'll have a lot more space when the car is out of the way. There's a long workbench for my woodworking tools and the desk where they're currently at will have a cheapo laptop and some of my 'leccy tools and projects, I also intend to build a very simple, but biggish, rug-weaving loom which I intend to have set up in such a way that I can fold it up against the wall when it's not in use if i need to. Thinking of maybe having the warp going up and over a rail at the top and weighted down, with the back beam of the loom sort of attached to rails on the wall. Difficult to describe, I have a picture in my head.

Anyway, I moved my tools in today and made a very simple and rough rigid-heddle loom for a friend.

A very simple counterbalance set up for now anyway, probably with an underslung beater.

Desk with tools on. Plyboard marked out and ready to cut.

I should have taken more pics while I was in the process but I was kind of in the zone. This is a detail of a ratchet and pawl, 5 minutes to cut out on the scrollsaw.

Finished (well, sort of) loom. the long stick in the front is the cloth beam.

So, moved in today and made a wee rigid heddle loom. Just add heddle.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Some designs for Tablet Weaving accessories

This is the kind of thing I get up to when I'm bored and the loom isn't cooperating.

These are drawings for Tablet weaving card. From left to right, 6 3-sided cards arranged radially, one 6 sided card, which I haven't figured out the best way to arrange yet, and an array of 4-sided card. Also, a comb and a shuttle.

Everything but the shuttle can be easily made in plastic by laser or waterjet cutting. The shuttle may be a little trickier as I would like the beating edge to have a gentle slope leading to a nice curved blade edge for good beating.

The warp can be tied into the comb with string on top, I see no need to make a hinged attachment to go on top.

I may make other shuttle shapes tonight, and rethink the comb.

I am undecided about what material to get these things made in. I reckon the cards should be as thin as reasonably possible, 1mm acrylic perhaps. They will be breakable, but these things tend to be. In my experience the thinner a weaving card the better for the turning, especially when not mounted on a loom or board.

Annoyingly, I made the shuttle 190mm long instead of 1900mm as I intended. And it was a very pernickety part to make.

I've found a number of manufacturers who specialise in laser and waterjet cutting in the UK. I am going to get some samples of square cards made, if I find the finish and material acceptable then I shall have a larger number made of all three types of cards. But mostly the square ones.

Thje square cards are 7cm square and I welcome any expressions of interest in this product, it would be cool if I had a box of several hundred of these and just got a wee trickle of ebay earnings coming in now and then.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Found this video online. Just randomly. Check out the way she swaps the cards around, about 30 seconds into the video. Can't believe I never thought of that. Don't know what language this is. Also, I love those cards.

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?