Friday, February 3, 2017

Tying a String Heddle

Surprisingly I have never had to tie a string heddle before but I made a drafting mistake with my Crackle shawls.  I need to add six threads but with 852 threads I am not going to re-thread the entire warp!

So to start you need a strong piece of thread, I am using pink 2/8 cotton.  You don’t have to use pink, but it sure is pretty!  You will need a piece that is double the height for your harness plus a couple of inches for the take up from the knots.
Loop the thread over the bottom of the heddle.  Straighten up the ends of the soon to be string heddle. Push one of the existing heddles on the shaft nearby as you will need to measure off it.
Make an overhand knot in the string heddle that lines up to the bottom of the eye in the heddle that you are matching.  Make sure that the string heddle is held taut, not loose.
Do a second overhand knot above the first on; it will close the eye of the heddle.  It is important that the loop you are making also matches up with the eye of the heddle that you are matching.

Last step is to go around the top of the heddle and tie two knots to hold the string heddle in place. Make sure that the string heddle is tied not too loose or too tight; you want it to slide across the harness but not to be sagging.
The last step is to trim the long tails above the knots so they don’t get tangled in the other heddles.
The string heddle is now ready to use.  Well I guess the very last step is thread the heddle!
Final Garden Photo is Sweet Box (Sarcococca) it is just starting to bloom and it has a lovely strong vanilla smell.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

12 Shaft Crackle Shawls - The Beginning

I developed a 12 Shaft crackle pattern for what I thought was going to be a table runner but the pattern was too ornate and busy to do well as a table runner.  But as a shawl it is going to be stunning.
The warp is 2/30 cotton, I went with a fine warp so that I could get more pattern repeats across the shawl to give it balance.  There are 852 threads, and I of course made a threading error!  I had about 50 threads left but I had run out of heddles on shaft 4.  I had help from Mum, she sat at the computer marking off the threads as I called out the threading sequence looking for the mistake.  It was at near the end, thankfully.  The picture is of the 2/30 cotton and below it is cotton sewing thread, not much difference.
The weft for the first shawl is black Tencel in 2/10.  After weaving 4 inches I stepped back to take a photo and I realized that the pattern I am weaving and the pattern on the draft isn’t the same!

I had forgotten that I tied up my treadles backwards (left to right instead of right to left) by mistake. I had intended to fix the treadling sequence before I started weaving, but I forgot in my anticipation to get weaving!  So, back to the computer and with a bit of fiddling I changed the tie up and found that I liked the new pattern configuration just as much, so I could keep weaving, thank goodness.
Disaster averted, I continued weaving for another 1 ½ inches and that was when I noticed an area that looked like a double pick.  It runs in both the warp and weft and is in six places in the pattern.  I looked at my draft and saw that I hadn’t completed an entire crackle block; I was missing a single thread six times.  I remember when I was threading that I thought it was weird how the threading sequence went but I didn’t follow my gut and check it out: lesson learned.
I have to un-weave the 5 ½ inches, unpick the hemstitching, untie from the cloth beam and pull out from the reed so I can add the extra 6 threads, which sucks!  I have to make extra heddles to add to the harness which I have never done before.  I looked at our Tips and Tutorials section to see how it is done, but we don’t have information posted!  My next post is going to be about how to make and tie on extra heddle!

Final Garden Shot is Heather with the first of the January blooms.  I took the photo this morning after we had a heavy frost.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Black Tea Towels - Eight Shaft Broken Twill

A very strange thing happened, Mum and I wove the same item, tea towels, using the same pattern!  Mum’s were white and can be seen here.  Mine were 2/8 cotton in black, purple, blue, red and yellow.  Sorry for the blurry photo.
The pattern is a simple broken twill that only used 4 treadles, the weaving was quick but really effective.
I did a plaid border at one end of each towel in red or yellow.
To make the hemming of the tea towels easier I add a single pick of sewing thread at 1 ½ inches at the beginning and end of the tea towel.  The sewing thread has about a 2 inch tail at each end, this comes in handy later.  After the tea towel is washed and dried, it is time for hemming.  The first fold is pressed into the tea towel at the line proved by the sewing thread, the fold is straight and it is easy to see.  The sewing thread is then no longer needed at can be pulled out.
I also ran out of warp for the last tea towel, I needed about 6 more inches.  To extend the warp I tried to add a shorter warp beam that could fit past the last four shafts.  I found a piece of wooden dowel that was a little rough so I wrapped it in a piece of tissue paper.  It was a little thick but I thought it could work.
When I added the tension to the warp there was a SNAP!  I had used 2/8 cotton to tie on the warp and under the tension they had snapped.  I then tied on with some cord that worked much better.  Again sorry for the blurry picture.
The finished tea towels have a really graphic punch!  Here are the three yellow plaid tea towels.  For Sale.
Here are the two red plaid tea towels.  For Sale.
Final picture is of a Anna’s Hummingbird that is over wintering here on Vancouver Island, we actually have three hummingbirds coming to the feeder this year!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Annual Loom Maintenance ~ Louet Spring Loom

January is a time when I feel very optimistic.  The days are getting longer and for some strange reason I think it’s Spring even though I’m reminded that it’s really the beginning of Winter.  I have this driving need to clean and organize things, so loom maintenance leaps to mind.

My Louet Spring loom is my primary loom, so Lily Louet gets lots of use and frankly I should do my cleanup more often.
I like to start from the bottom up, so lifting the loom onto a table in my studio was my first step.
 Wow, when it’s at eye level you sure could see the black marks on the treadles from the bottom of my slippers.  A bit of Vim took it right off!
I have noticed that the tie up cords to the treadles were getting quite loopy as they have stretched over the years.
This caused enough slack so that the long tie ups from the upper lamms would occasionally catch on an adjoining treadle making my weaving come to an abrupt halt.  Pretty scary looking while it is in the relaxed position.
To fix this problem I removed all of the tie up cords and lined them up with the end that attached to the treadle facing in the same direction to see if they had stretched out unevenly; they looked the same length, so I marked the opposite end with black felt on the second button hole.
 I will put them back onto the lamms reversing them end for end and button them to the treadle screws one hole tighter.
Now that the cords have been replaced, you can really see the difference.
My next job was to pull out the breast beam and to check that it was still balanced.  You can imagine my surprise when I found out it was not just a little out of whack!  On the Louet Spring the apron cloth is replaced by three doubled over texsolve cords which are snitch knotted onto a metal rod.  The rod is 36 inches long and there are 3 sets of cords, so there will be 4 spaces between the cords; 36 divided by 4 gives 9, so there should be 9 inches of rod at each end and 9 inches between the cords. When I measured mine they were off by several inches.  I think this was caused by my nudging the knots to one side or the other when I was tying on my warps. I think this would make the cloth beam pull the newly woven fabric onto the beam unevenly. A fairly quick fix to mark these spots and re-centre the cords; this is one thing I’m going to make sure I check more frequently.
I went around with a screwdriver and wrench and tightened all the screws and bolts I could reach while it was up on the table and again, I was gobsmacked at how loose some of them were.
After putting the loom back on the floor, I did the same process of straightening out the apron cloth on the back beam.  It was about 1/2 inch off, as you can see in this photo of it lined up against the back beam.  Frankly, I’m amazed that my weaving has been as even as it has been considering that it was pulling off the back beam and pulling onto the front beam with that much discrepancy.

I took a level and had a look at all the lamms and shafts to ensure that they were level and thankfully, they were still in balance, so I didn’t need to do any fixing on them, just a quick dust off.
Now that the loom has been tightened within an inch of its life, it’s time to put on a new warp and I have chosen to do another Crackle Weave project for the Guild Study Group.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

What is on the Looms at the Start of the New Year

On Mum’s loom is a 2/8 cotton tea towel warp.  It is a striped warp in shades of green, purple and blue.  The pattern is Crackle and the weft is green, she has used some other colours but I’ll let her tell you more later.

On my loom is a 2/30 cotton shawl warp.  It is almost 900 threads in the warp and a lovely cream colour.  The pattern is also Crackle and the weft is black 2/20 Tencel, I’ll be telling you more later.

These are both projects for our Study Group with the Qualicum Weavers, hopefully they will be done before the next meeting on the 19th!
The final picture is of my knitting angel that I made in May sitting on top of my pink Christmas tree.  Adorable!

Monday, December 19, 2016

8 Shaft Broken Twill Tea Towels

A couple of times a year I like to put on what I like to call a ‘comfort warp’.  This is a warp that I know will pose no surprises and will be a relaxing weave and a chance to work on my loom posture and to ensure I’m using a good throwing technique.  If my mind isn’t on the pattern I can really concentrate on sitting up straight, throwing the shuttle correctly and depressing the treadles fully.

Twill is my comfort pattern weave and an 8 Shaft Broken Twill pattern fits the bill of comfort perfectly.  Striped warp tea towels are always a good project for me, it uses up small amounts of coloured cotton and because I usually choose to do only 6 towels at a time, its a quick project and perfect for the Etsy Shop.
These are the results of pulling 10 white 2/8 cotton ends then 4 ends of either pink, red violet, turquoise or peach sequentially.  They are a lovely fresh looking towel.
I like to add more interest to the towels by weaving a weft striped border starting at about 4.5 inches from the beginning of the towel.  This allows me to have 1.5 inches for a turned under hem and then a couple of inches before the stripes begin.  With these towels I chose to weave the weft stripes in turquoise and then using the same sequence in red violet on the following tea towel.  I thought that the pink and peach were too pale to show up well.
The goal was to have 3 pairs of tea towels that matched, each one containing 1 turquoise striped towel and its red violet partner.

I mentioned at the beginning that tea towels hold no surprises for me, but this time I got a pretty good one on my last towel.  I ran out of warp!  I have pre-measured strings that I use for my projects and this time I grabbed the wrong the Sesame Street song ‘ One of these things is not like the others’, really rings true.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Getting Cracking with Crackle Weave

This year the Exploring More Study Group within the Qualicum Weavers Guild is taking a look at Crackle Weave.  As a group we thought that it had lots of potential for all of us; with one caveat, we decided to look at ‘Unconventional Crackle’.  
Our first task was to understand traditional Crackle Weave, so that we had a good jumping off point.  There are a few ground rules for Crackle weave ~  no more than a 3 thread float, the plain sequence must always be maintained, when changing blocks an incidental must be inserted, never more than 4 threads before the twill changes direction.
This is an 8 shaft Crackle threading that I developed; the tie up is the one suggested for 8 shafts in May E Snyder’s book “The Crackle Weave”  and the treadling is plain twill. It is treadled with tabby threads as this is the traditional style.  The green lines show the placement of the ‘incidentals’ which connect one unit to the next.
This is the same draft with the tabby removed from the treadling, you can see the pattern much more clearly now that it is no longer a traditional treadling. 
This is the same threading and tie up; I have changed the treadling to a M&W style of treadling.  Now it’s starting to looking more exciting.
This is the same draft but it is ‘woven as drawn in’, or the treadling is the same as the threading.  Finally it really shows how lovely Crackle Weave can be.  If I was going to weave it I'd remove the twill borders  as I think they detract from the pattern.

The next step is to weave a project and I have decided to weave tea towels using stripes of colour to delineate the blocks.  I am all about using up small cones left in the stash cupboard!  The colours are plum, lime, turquoise, bright green and cerulean green.  I will use navy for the weft.
Now let the weaving begin!