From a loom disaster comes joy…

Some warps are cursed. Seriously. And yes, I had one this past week. Bad yarn choice for the pattern, led to changing to a different pattern that used the same threading and then a tension issue showed up! Sheesh.

So off it came! But I learnt a good lesson on using flecked yarns for patterns and I ended up with a great result on the fresh warp.

teal and black patterned scarf draped over the loom

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String heddle options

Something I did on my recent pattern that needed string heddles, was to try a different way of doing making the heddles. Didn’t like it as much as my usual way! I’m sure it could be refined though, so here is a comparison of the two methods…

A: As outlined in my older string heddle post, this involves using a continuous length of yarn/thread and pulling up loops with a hook, or finger tips. The dowel/shuttle/knitting needle – whatever you use as a backbone – is inserted through the loops. Finally, stick down with tape.diagram of method APros – I find this fast to set up, easy to adjust so all the loops are the same height (giving you even lift of warp threads) and your string heddles cannot come undone.

Cons – If you make a mistake you often have to undo all the heddles to that point to fix it and you have to start from scratch for each project.

B: You take a rigid heddle (or put two nails in a bit of wood a “heddle distance” apart) and you wrap your yarn/thread around to measure a loop, then tie the ends together to close the circle. Each loop you make is one heddle. You then squash the loop and put a twist in the middle. Feed one end under the warp thread you need to add to that shaft and slip both ends of the loop over your dowel/shuttle/knitting needle. Finally, stick down with tape.Diagram of method BPros – You can reuse the loops in future and the loops are easy to redo/adjust if you pick up the wrong warp thread.

Cons – I found the loop lengths varied making the lift a bit uneven, the knots occasionally came undone (I also broke one, but that might have been my thread choice) and they pulled sideways more, causing my tape to lift in places. Now that last point doesn’t matter too much, except it seemed to contribute to the knots coming undone.

In my very non-scientific single attempt with B heddles, I also thought it caused more abrasion of the warp threads…so overall, not a success for me. But, I did see a weaver online somewhere using this technique – cannot remember where – so others go okay with it!

Might need to try both methods side by side in a half and half to really test which works best…

Oh the skein of it all!

OK, I can’t resist a groan-inducing pun, but if you’ve ever found yourself converting skeins to balls, then you know what I mean. Skeins can tangle. They require a 2nd pair of hands (or a chair back / ironing board / door handle) for holding. Plus, winding balls of yarn is… not very mentally engaging.

In all honesty, I kind of like doing it. (It is meditative when you do it on your own and a good excuse for a chat if borrowing hands.) Despite this admission, it’s also fact of life that I suffer from “skein resistance”, where skeins build up in the yarn stash, unused, because I can’t be bothered dealing with them.

So, I finally did something useful with a discount voucher I had lying around and invested in a ball winder.

*Insert emphatic sigh of relief.*

A day of hanging skeins off the ironing board and winding them into tidy balls of yarn-y goodness has removed all skeins!  And it was so simple. If only I’d known earlier (should have listened to my mum… she suggested it ages ago).

Best of all, I can now plan a project using some hand-spun yarn that I picked up at the local agricultural show last year. It’s unique in my stash and I’m excited to see how it weaves. Mind you, I did my wraps, pull test and weighed it etc, only to discover it’s a 10-12 ply, not suitable for warp and I have nearly 600m of it… so it’s going to go a loooong way!

Loomy-goodness

As you may know, I didn’t do much weaving in 2018. It was a low project year. But 2019 is looking not too shabby as we head to the mid-point, with three completed projects and one on the loom… so much fun!

What started out as a plain weave scarf, ended up – due to plain weave fatigue – as an experiment in using up some thrums doing… well… it basically tapestry. Can’t wait to see how it fulls.

Cloth woven by laying in rows of different yarns to make shapes and textures
In a good/bad result – this didn’t use up as much of my thrum stash as I expected!

Then I decided that I should do something with my vari-dent reed… poor thing has been unloved since I bought it. Of course I didn’t use it for different gauge yarn – why would I use something for it’s intended purpose?! – instead I used it to play with spacing. Very pleased with the result!

Yarn threaded into a reed containing mixed heddle sizes
You can see the sections of 30/10 and 20/10 reed – I used the larger size to double up my 8 ply
A section of cloth with different warp spacings from using the vari-dent reed
A quick (and lumpy) photo of the finished cloth

For the first time in 3 years or so, I did twill. Just a 3 shaft, straight treadling, but it was useful to find all the things I’ve forgotten about twill! Pic might come later… accidentally deleted the pic of it on the loom… ahem.

What’s on the loom right now is an optical illusion 2 shaft pattern… soooooo enjoying this. And it meant I got to do string heddles and have all manner of fun with calculations… but, honestly, I’m in it for the way it messes with my eyes!

Cloth on the loom showing a black and white pattern that looks like the cloth undulates
Isn’t this pattern a doozy?

A new washing machine means new fulling potential!

This past week the existing washing machine (good bye, old friend) was put on the kerb for collection. Thankfully it was snaffled within 24 hrs, so it will live on in parts, if not intact.

Of course a shiny new machine arrived. A shiny new machine that I can stop the wash and open the door – something my old one couldn’t do. You realise what that means, right? Well, I kind of gave it away in the heading… I can now do machine fulling!

Not sure when I’ll try it. The scarf I began weeeeeeekkkkks ago is still on the loom due to various distractions. But maybe I’ll do some swatches and play with settings? You never know.

I be weaving again!!

So, finally the craft room has its new windows and a new coat of paint AND has been rearranged (bit weird; everything seems backwards). About 10 seconds after the last decorative touch was hung, the loom was liberated from its bag and some yarn selected from yarn storage!

Decided to keep it simple (resisted my brain’s urge to do double weave right out of the blocks) and am enjoying a nice, plain weave in contrasting colours. Aaaaaah…

The only downside to all of this was discovering that my threading hook is missing. I mean it can’t have gone far, but I have no idea where little thing is.

Thankfully my yarn choice was incidentally conducive to hand threading!

The shrinking dishcloths

I’m happy to report that my two woven dishcloths have been in service at work and doing just fine! Sadly though, I brought them home for a wash and accidentally threw them in a hot wash. Oops.

Not that they’re ruined. They’re just… well… a lot smaller! Like maybe half the size and twice the density they were previously.

Once I’m back at work in the New Year (where did 2018 go, huh?) I’ll report on their cleaning efficiency now they’ve been miniaturised…