Record keeping

If you’ve been reading this blog then you’ll probably have noticed that I like to play and figure stuff out. The important thing about doing this, is that I have to keep records, because otherwise I’d forget what yarn or what reed I used for a given project.

It also allows me to record what I was trying to do and what I noticed as I went.

So what do I write down for each project? Well, the basics are the yarns (brand/type/colour/ball length) and roughly how much of/many a ball got used. I also record the reed, the number of ends and the finished dimensions of the piece.

I have to say this all leads me to constant surprise at how little yarn weaving uses compared to knitting!

But my little project cards from the past 6mths now give me a guide to how much of a certain yarn I’ll need on a particular reed. This is handy as I plan a few new projects even though it’s all approximate.

My goal for upcoming projects is to measure yarn onto my shuttles (right now I just load them up and hope!) and also to measure my warp length more accurately. This does pose the question of whether my little cards I’m recording on, will be big enough. It may mean graduating to a notebook!

Good thing I own plenty of ornate notebooks…

Exercises in doubleweave

Something I’ve played with recently is more doubleweave. Having done tubes and a two colour cushion cover, I decided to try doubleweave:

  • with different patterns on the top and bottom layers
  • where the top and bottom layers are swapped over for part of the weaving

The patterned piece has log-cabin on the top layer and a stripe on the bottom. This led to me trying a few new things, including threading front-to-back.

Crossing is kind of a feature of threading log-cabin on a rigid heddle loom if you direct warp, and doing that with another set of threads for the other layer of my double weave seemed like it would make a big mess. So I figured if I threaded the loom front-to-back and then wound onto the back-beam, I’d have lovely flat threads. It actually worked well.

First up, I direct warped like normal and then put some Ikea bag clips to work to hold the threads ‘in order’.

direct warping the RH loomThen I cut the threads from the back-beam and pulled all the threads clear of the rigid heddle (I only had one in place when I warped, for simplicity). I then added the second rigid heddle and threaded them. Finally, I tied onto the back-beam and then wound the warp on, under tension, removing my clips as I went. Then I tied onto the front-beam like normal.

So, it was a bit sort of backwards, but it did exactly what I wanted. Nice flat threads!

The idea for the second doubleweave piece is that you begin by weaving two layers, each with a different coloured warp and then ‘swap’ the warps part way through. How does this work?

In this little diagram, the bit on the left shows how doubleweave works; i.e. there are two separate sheds and in this case the top and bottom layers are different colours. This means you see just one colour on top while you weave, as shown by the lines to the right.  When you bring the lower warp up to the top, you then see the other colour, as shown by the blue in the middle of the last part of the diagram.

This is damn hard work on an RH loom because you have to manually pick out the warp to bring it to the top for half the picks. For the top layer that’s just a bit time consuming, but for the bottom layer it’s kind of mind-bending!

I’ll pop some photos up of this soon.

Itching to blog, but…

I had planned on blogging about further xmas gifts that I’ve woven – keeping the post for Christmas day of course – but sadly my family’s festivities have been postponed!

It seems I wasn’t the only family member to pick up a pre-Christmas bug, and the other sickie isn’t likely to be well for the big day. Plus it’s hot here, so on the basis of illness + heat = yuk we decided to shift the whole thing to next week.

That is good in terms being able to enjoy the xmas fare on a cooler day, but it does mean that the blogging embargo must remain in place. <insert anguished cry>

Yeah, I know, I’ll get over it.

Anyway, a Merry Christmas to all those out there who observe it!

Another experiment

a weaving experiment
yep, another blurry photo!

This experiment came before my hand-towel in fact, but I can’t say it was as successful…

The idea was to weave a continuous piece, but not weave the whole of the warp and change the section of warp used to create off-set rectangles.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s fine for a first experiment. It did however throw out some interesting challenges, the first of which was that you would need to graph this to make it really work. Why? Because as you wind forward onto the cloth beam, you lose track of how your “squares” are positioned.

Freeform is great fun, but I think this technique you want a particular mix of balance and asymmetry to make the final piece eye pleasing.

The other challenge was what to do with all those ends? Every “square” has at least some warp ends that need handling and they aren’t always very long. You can see in the picture that many edges look like they’re suffering from some kind of termite problem (well, that’s what it makes me think of!), but that’s the natural result of trying to sew in a looooot of ends.

The ends were also largely responsible for the not-square-ness of many corners. You weave and learn!

Christmas excitement isn’t the only thing catching…

I’ve had a whole week tucked up in bed with angry tonsils and a cough, too exhausted to type. So, if this post isn’t full of Christmas cheer, I hope you will understand!

Strangely, despite being so tired, I did manage to do some weaving. Not much, but the project I was working on was small and pretty well suited to low energy levels. I was making a hand-towel…

Creating yarn loops with a crochet hook and a knitting needle for a towel

This is the towel in process. You can see my lovely bamboo crochet hook which I’ve used to pull loops of caramel coloured cotton through the black cotton warp and onto a knitting needle.

Now, I didn’t use a pattern for this (I know, you’re surprised), but after some thought I decided that I’d:

  • use an 8ply cotton as my plain weave base, on a balanced but slightly open weave
  • use a finer cotton for my loops
  • do a pick of the 8ply in the same shed as each row of loops
  • manually give each pick a bit more of a beat after changing sheds (did that with a darning needle, but something like a tapestry hand-beater would have been useful)

I’ll admit that my selection of knitting needle was more of a “that looks about the right sized loop” type decision. And, yes, the selection of needles that were close at hand may have influenced me!

So, for all my slap-dash experimentation, how do I feel about the finished product? I’m very happy with it. The density of loops is lusciously soft and thick, and the caramel looks lovely against the black. I wove a little tag at one corner to make a hanging loop and it hangs rather nicely, too.

Of course, I won’t know how it goes functionally until wet hands have used its drying services. I will report back on that and provide a photo of the finished hand-towel.

And we’re back… with a sucessfully delivered gift scarf

There’s not been a lot of weaving happening during my blogging break, mostly because of the same things that meant no blogging! But also because it was kind of tiring working on a gift scarf. (Me, a perfectionist…? Never.)

The good news is that the recipient of the scarf likes it (yay) and while it’s hardly scarf weather here, I’m hoping she’ll find it useful come the chillier months.

And how did I feel about the end product? Pretty good. My selvedges were alright and I only made one, not too visible, error in the pattern. Phew!

sample of the finished zig-zag pattern
Can you see the zig-zag pattern? It’s green and teal which I don’t think this pic shows all that well…

What did I learn from this scarf? A lot! Some of which I’ll talk about in more detail in future posts.

  1. When calculating sett with two reeds on a rigid heddle loom, it simplifies things if you just look at the front reed/heddle.
  2. Patterns in twill can change in interesting ways when you take the tension off and wash them.
  3. Just because you use a floating selvedge doesn’t stop you getting bumpy bits when you are using two shuttles… you need to think about how the floaties relate to the rhythm of the pattern.

I will say that I feel like I’ve conquered 3 shaft twill now. Though I have a few other fun patterns for 3 shaft to try! I might tackle a 4 shaft next…