The in-between yarn

I have some lovely silk that is just begging to be woven, but it has always struck me as being a little bit skinnier than wool of the same ‘size’. So, before launching into this project, I decided I should do the wraps per inch test just to be sure. I discovered it is a 12 wpi yarn and so technically needs a 6 dpi reed.

Well, this is where I had to stop and think, because the 5 would be too open and the 7.5 a little crowded. What to do? I know I could have gone the 7.5 and it wouldn’t have been a bad thing – after all it’s silk! – but I decided I’d try to actually get 6 dpi. How? By taking my 10 dpi reed and threading 6 ends out of every ten!

This worked pretty well with a pattern like so:  ||- -||- -||||- -||- -||

It also gave me a weird sense of achievement (I have conquered yarn!!!!) (*ahem*) which will only increase if the cloth turns out as silky and delicious as I imagine.

One month a weaver

Well, technically I think it’s just over a month, but who’s quibbling! I’ve had a ball doing samples and making scarfs, trying different yarns and colours in plain weave. Here are the first 4 scarfs…photo of 4 scarfsThe blue and white one came first (excuse the brightness of the mohair – there are more blue stripes in that bleached area). Woven with a white blue-flecked cotton warp and a variegated blue and white mohair.

Then, of course, the log cabin scarf – woven in black and creamy white cotton.

Here’s a detail shot of that green and black scarf.  It was woven with black cotton and a teal silk.

Scarf with green spots on a black ground

This is probably my favourite pattern so far, and interestingly both sides of the scarf look the same! (The fact you can see a green on black section, is because I ran out of black cotton weft half way and I just used the rest of my ball of teal silk!)

And finally, I wove the blue stripey one with a blue cotton warp and both the blue cotton again and a blue silk/cotton mix in the weft stripes. I had fun making the silk/cotton stripes wider as the scarf progressed while keeping the straight cotton the same.

There have been two warping crises so far… one where the yarn was too slippery for a 7.5 dpi reed, giving me too open a web, so I’ll try again when my finer reed arrives. (Yes, I’m already buying accessories!)

The other disaster involved black wool and a rather neat little sparkly poly. That was totally a lack of planning prior to my “dressing the loom”!

Thankfully, both “crises” were instructional and the yarns will get put back on the loom at a later date.

Heddles, reeds and beaters

Loving words comes in handy when there is a bunch of new terms to learn. Weaving is a treasure trove!

I particularly like “heddle” because it’s fun to say. (Also fun is “raddle”, which I’ll talk about another time.) But what is a heddle, and why is my loom a “rigid heddle” loom?

Like the eye of a needle, the heddle is the part of the loom that holds the warp thread. Usually looks a bit like this:

Image of a plastic heddle

 

 

 

 

 

Or this:Image of  metal heddles

 

 

 

The heddle is what keeps one warp thread separate from another and, ultimately, what lifts a set of warp threads up to allow you to weave.

As well as passing through the heddle, each warp thread also passes through a comb like thing called a reed. This helps to keep your weaving tidy and – to some extent – image of a metal reedcontrol the density of the cloth. It does this by setting the spacing of the warp threads.

The reed, while a thing in itself, is also a part of the beater that you use to “beat” the weft threads into place. Usually the reed sits inside a frame of sorts so that you can easily pull the reed forward to beat the weft when you need to.

So, why is my loom a “rigid heddle” loom? Well, that’s because in this type of loom the heddle, the reed and the beater bar/frame are all together as one thing. How? Like this:

image of the reed from a rigid heddle loom

You can see the long “slots” are just like in a reed for other looms, but the solid area between each slot is a heddle (“hole”) and it’s altogether used as the beater. Very clever way to combine 3 things into one!

I’ll talk more about this type of reed when I get into the specifics of rigid heddle looms, but it has both benefits and limitations. So far, I’m just loving the benefits.