Weaving with metal rings

I was wearing this handflower the other day and it got me thinking about how long it’s been since I did any chainmaille.

image of a chainmaille handflower

This weaving with metal rings is good fun, but takes a certain amount of concentration and dexterity. So, not as relaxing as weaving with yarn. I think that’s the main reason I do it periodically. Oh, and the fact I already have a handflower for each day of the week!

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Fuelling a shuttle

image of the space shuttle in spaceI miss the shuttle. It was such a cool and technologically wonderful part of human endeavour! So I’m using this post about a different sort of shuttle, as an excuse to put up a pic and give it a little love.  🙂

And now to those other shuttles… I use stick shuttles with my rigid heddle loom and, I may have mentioned I work with knitting yarns. This poses the question; how much 8ply can I and should I put on my shuttle?

Well, in answer to the first part of that, I’ve discovered I can get an entire 50g ball of cotton – approx. 106 metres – on my big shuttle (56cm).

image of a stick shuttle

The second part of the question can be answered with another question; how deep is your shed? I could just squeak that shuttle through the shed, so it worked out well.

image of a weaving shed
This is the warp for the second “spot” scarf

Pity I didn’t take a pic of the shuttle in the shed… ah well.

I guess the final consideration for me in loading up my shuttle is that I don’t want too many joins in my scarfs, so I’ve tried to get as much on as possible! Also why I’m using my big shuttle even though I’m weaving much narrower pieces than that.

Of course, I’m also weaving without a pattern here so I don’t ever know how much yarn the scarf will take. My last scarf, I ran out within about 15cms of the end, which was quite amusing.

Floating selvedges – they float?

After having done a few patterns with alternating weft colours, I am all for the idea of using a floating selvedge. If you’re not familiar with this little trick, then it’s where you have an extra warp thread each side of your warp that isn’t woven in the pattern.

This allows you to always catch the weft, regardless of whether the pattern would take it into the shed without wrapping around a selvedge thread.  (Trust me, it’s really annoying trying to get a neat selvedge when you have the weft sometimes being caught and sometimes not!) So, with the floating selvedge, you enter and exit the same way regardless of direction – i.e. over on the way in and under on the way out (or vice versa).

A few things to note about floating selvedges though… firstly, on a rigid heddle loom you need to pop them in slots so they are never lifted or lowered… secondly, you may need to weight them, because, as you weave, those warp threads won’t be used up at the same rate as their pattern baring friends and will get a bit soggy.

Now, I haven’t tried this yet, but I gather S hooks are good weights to use.

You can also avoid warping them with the rest of the threads by having them hang – weighted – down the back of the loom. To my mind that’s probably more work, but I may be proven wrong!

I’ll let you know how I go when I finally try it.

Because looms are herd animals

My obsession with weaving – let’s call it what it is! – coincided nicely with the local spinners and weavers having an open day at their association. So I popped in to watch people weave on different looms and to have a go before I went and bought the one I had my eye on.

The woman whose loom I sat at for a while, was answering my question about what is a good size to start with in the rigid heddle looms when she explained that it didn’t really matter because looms are herd animals, so every weaver ends up with more than one! I thought that was hilarious.

Given how many sets of knitting needles I’ve collected in my knitting life, it didn’t surprise me at all to be told it applied to weaving accoutrements too. So far, I’m too entertained by the capacity of my loom to have an eye on anything bigger/smaller/fancier, but I can imagine the day when maybe, just maybe, I’ll upsize to a table loom. Probably not a floor loom – they just seem like too much work!

I may live to laugh at myself over that statement, ey?

Weaving patterns #2 – a different way with weft

One of the very first things I saw online when I started my massive weaving research bender, was “captured weft”. I think I fell in love with it right then!

So what is it? Well, you have weft coming into the shed from both sides and you wrap them around each other, before passing them back out of the shed the way they came. image of interlocked weft threadsThis means you have two weft threads on every pick, and they change colour / texture wherever you choose across the width of the cloth. It usually gives a staggered or jagged contrast line.

There’s a lovely freedom to making your pattern as you go, which appeals to me. I’ve been so busy trying other things there’s only been a teeny test of the technique in my weaving so far. Looking forward to a full scarf!

Draw-in and selvedges

It seems to be a common cry of the new weaver “I get tidy selvedges and a lot of draw-in, or I get messy selvedges and little draw-in!”. Believe me I understand this cry well.

So, what is draw-in? Well, it’s the amount that your weaving narrows on the loom as you create the web (cloth).

What causes it? If the amount of weft thread isn’t enough for the width of the web, as you bring the beater foward it pulls the yarn from both ends of the shed. This tightens it around the selvedge you’ve just wrapped it over, as well as pulling in from the shuttle end.

Why is this bad? It causes the selvedge edge warp threads to bunch together (get closer) and that leaves less room for your weft just at the edges. This often results in a curved “smile” at the fell line. Bad news if you’re weaving a pattern, or anything with colour changes!

Having said that, I had a heap of draw-in on my first few scarfs that I wove and it didn’t really cause me a problem in the finished product. Still, it did mean the finished product was narrower than it had to be.

So how do you avoid draw-in? You leave your weft in the shed at an angle of about 45 degrees. Some people leave a “frown” of weft. Mostly, for me the angle seems to work best.

But the less draw-in I’ve had, the bobblier and wobblier my selvedges have been. Why? Well, if you want a guaranteed neat selvedge, then letting the weft tighten as you beat will certainly do it! It’s just not the best way. Getting tidy selvedges is a lot about just good old practice and – I suspect – practice with different yarns too.

I found that I have a naturally neater selvedge on one edge and I think that’s a) my handedness & b) plied yarns untwist a bit more in one direction. Possibly a bigger issue for weaving with knitting yarns than other kinds of yarn? Not sure.

Something else worth mentioning here is that you will get different amounts of draw-in if you do patterns with weft floats (where the weft skips a few “unders” on the way across the warp). That’s because the fewer interlacements you have, the fewer barriers there are to the weft being drawn-in.

You can see this clearly in this first sample of mine:

My first weaving sample

Notice how it pulls in more at the intensely white bits? Those were points where I played with creating weft floats!

I love blogging communities!

So I got nominated for a Liebster Award liebster-awardby Orange Smoothy Knits. Very cool!

Sadly I don’t have enough fellow craft bloggers to nominate to meet the requirements, but that’s okay. I’m still buzzed to have had From This Cloth’s name put in the virtual hat.

Maybe some time in the future when I’ve accrued a few more weaver/knitter blogger peeps…

Still, I can happily answer the questions, because it’s just fun!

1. What is your dream vacation?

Stay in one of those villas in the Maldives that has a glass bottom so you watch the fish from your lounge room.

2. What is your favorite method of creating (knitting, crocheting, weaving, something else)?

Well, until I began weaving I’d have said knitting. I think weaving may turn out to really be “my craft”.

3. What creative achievement are you most proud of?

Hmm… many moons ago I knitted a long winter coat and I still wear and love it… but I am also a novelist and I think my current novel is my proudest achievement.

4. If you had a superpower, which one would it be?

Super strength… because it’s just so handy!

5. What does a perfect day look like to you?

Cold and sunny with clear blue sky and a few puffy clouds. Me, wearing a snuggly jumper and doing something creative with a cup of coffee and some chocolate on hand.

6. If you could witness any event of the past, present, or future, what would it be?

Assuming we ever do get to this point – I’d love to see the day humans stop going to war.

7. How did you get into the blogging world?

Writers tend to blog so I came to it through that. I have… um… a couple of blogs (should I admit to that?)

8. If money wasn’t an issue, where in the world would you live?

Paris. I love Paris.

9. What is your favorite show and why?

TV show? That’s a hard one. Probably the original Dr Who during the J.Pertwee/T. Baker years.

10. If you could recommend just one place in your country to a tourist, what would it be?

Kakadu National Park.  Amazing.

11. Do you have pets?

I have no pets currently, but there will be puppies at some point! Probably a rescue and then a little pup too. Some variety of small breed so I can get them to the vet in a carrier (no car).