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?


MegWeaves said...

Yeah, glad I stuck with you. I've got to go into town today but will revisit tonight when I come back.

Kerstin på Spinnhuset said...

Welcome back!
I would be particularly interested in learning industrial techniques that can be adapted to handweaving... but whether I can afford it, I don't know

Andrew Kieran said...

Hey Meg, good to hear from you again :-)

Kerstin - have you any particular techniques in mind. I wonder myself whether one could build a pick regulator whereby the batten had a natural stop which also triggered an incremental advancement of the cloth, with the warp held by a brake.

Also wondered about installing a rapier device onto a handloom. But then how far can you go before a handloom becomes an industrial loom? Another post on that in the future, concerning a visit I made to a textile machinery factory recently.

Kerstin på Spinnhuset said...

Re rapier: from what I understand there were (hand operated) rapiers for horsehair weaving - have only seen a description in text form, obviously written by a non-weaver. Anyway: I would *really* like to see one of those!!! (It might have been in the museum of Lavenham)

Auto-advances can be built, a tinkerer weaver friend of mine told me he had built a combination fyl-shuttle-auto-advance thingy for a disabled weaver.

Otherwise: no - IF I knew of them (techniques), I would already know, right? :-)

Andrew Kieran said...

How about the use of leno as selvedge binders, allowing the production of multiple scarves on one warp? The fabric is washed in one piece, the leno binders are removed after felting has taken place and the edges are then hemmed.

There is a finishing machine down the road from us that twists fringes, and entire warp's worth, in two swift motions. It's brilliant

Kerstin på Spinnhuset said...

Shure! (but it has to wait for next year... finances, you know)

MegWeaves said...

Interested to learn how you do with how many layers on multishaft looms, as I had a hard time with two layers of 8-shafts while a friend did fine with four layers or plain. I bed you'd do superb with 12 layers...

Andrew Kieran said...


Don't hold your breath, I think I may be trying leno first, as I recently found a collection of leno shafts in the production workshop

neki desu said...

yay new posts!
i never comment, but these deserve hurrahs.
i'm also in for multi layered cloth. being a mathophobe any instruction in plain english would be greatly appreciated.

Andrew Kieran said...

OK then.

Multilayer weaving is it? Well, I can do that.

I've already done a post on multilayer weaving actually, but it was rather mathy.

Explaining advanced concepts like that is something I've been having an issue with as they're so easily described with mathematical language, but it seems about half to three quarters of humanity find mathy language really jarring and difficult, so I need to find another way. Consider yourselves guinea pigs.