Finally on my trip to Scotland I did something weaving related!! On a day visit to Lewis – same island as Harris – I got to watch a weaver at work. Very cool…
Based in Carloway on the west coast Norman, like many Harris Tweed weavers, has a single peddle powered loom which typically takes 600 ends of feather weight yarn and he weaves his cloth at home. He sends the cloth to a mill for finishing and then it’s certified as Harris Tweed from Carloway which his wife makes onto scarfs for their small shop but he mostly sells it as bolts of cloth.
Yarn pooling is kind of fascinating (this is where you use the colour repeat in a variegated yarn to make a pattern) and some months back I started looking at a few of the vari’s I had to see what their repeats were like. Interestingly, it turned out that all of them have been dyed deliberately to prevent pooling!
So, I might not be setting out to pool anything soon, but I do now have a clearer understanding of the yarns in my stash. Well, and a project brewing at the back of my head.
Having had long hair pretty much my whole life, I’ve done my fair share of plaiting / braiding. So, when it came to exploring different ways of finishing the edges on my weaving, I was pleased to discover how many of the edging techniques are just plaits.
Of course you still have to do something with the ends so, unlike plaiting hair or friendship bands, it isn’t the whole process. Which is why most plaited edges belong to rug weaving. Aside from wanting an edge that will protect the cloth of the rug and help keep it in place, you have a definite ‘wrong side’ for all those ends to sew into!
From my experiments so far, I can see definite uses for some of the edging techniques, but the time investment will also be a part of choosing to apply them.
Due to my long history as a knitter, I’m always checking out what people are doing with their needles. One knitted item that’s been showing up a lot is the “shawlette” and I think they’re a great idea because you can use it as a shawl or as a scarf and – as a knitter – you can do all manner of patterns and stitches!
But I’m not knitting right now. I’m weaving. So could I make a shawlette on the loom? I figured I could.
Here is the unwashed, cotton “proof of concept” shawlette. It certainly proved the the concept worked!
Depending on how you attach your warp to your back beam/ back warp-stick on a rigid heddle loom, you can find that when you’re close to the end of your warp the warp isn’t all nice and level. Some warp ends are higher/lower than others and this creates a messy gap which can make it hard to get a clean shed.
My approach when this starts to happen is to get a nice long bit of scrap yarn and, just in front of the back warp stick, wrap it around bunches of warp ends. This cinches them together and removes the gap. I find I can squeeze the very last out of the length of my warp this way.
In this example I was grouping quite a few ends at a time, but I often do them in much smaller groups.
You may have noticed I’ve talked about not-quite-as-expected projects recently, but I don’t want you to think that I’m having a bad run. It’s not all sad faces and mutant cloth! No, the number of slightly wrong outcomes is partly a reflection of my sheer productivity. I haz been a weaving. A lot.
Here is a selection of the (successful) produce…
It has been wonderful playing with new yarns and lots of different textures!
So I’ve been a bit obsessed with the honeycomb weave recently and decided to do a scarf to play with the weave more. The result is very elegant, but it’s not very honeycomb! This was a lesson in over-fulling.
To explain what fulling it a little too far did to the pattern, take a look at these photos…
Now I didn’t full this more than I usually do. The problem here was just that I really didn’t need it to full at all and should have given it a much shorter, cooler bath.
Of course this is why you should take your samples all the way through the process. I’ll admit I hadn’t washed mine! Still, the scarf itself has a great 3D texture and the overall effect is lovely.
Naturally there will be another attempt at this weave in the future. It’s just too cool not to try again!