Tuesday, November 25, 2008

How to Warp a Louet Spring Loom

While on a vist to our friends Susan and Bruce on Vancouver Island this summer, my husband bought me a Louet Spring loom during a day trip to Jane Stafford Textiles on Salt Spring Island. My friend Susan spoke of our fantastic day on her blogspot called Thrums http://weeverwoman.blogspot.com/. It's on her entry ‘It’s Like Winning The Lottery’ and I don’t think that I can improve upon her story. It's a fun read!

As I put the second warp on Lily Louet I thought that I’d take photos and share how I am dressing her. This method has given me, without a doubt, the best tensioned warps I have ever had. Thank you Jane Stafford for the CD Discover the World of Weaving Looms, by Louet!
I make my warp on a standard warping board, but since I’m a bit of a shortie I hang my warping board on the wire shelves in my studio. The boxes of yarn on the shelves made it very hard to see my warp threads and kept boggeling my eyes, but I fixed the problem with a few clothespins and a towel, not pretty, but it worked. I know I'm a bit retentive about keeping my yarn in clear plastic bins, but, that's the way I am! This warp is 4 yards long, 2/10 Egyptian cotton in pale cream.
I moved the warp to the loom and inserted the thin metal rod through the loops and then put the lease sticks though the cross, pretty standard stuff so far. The lease sticks are tied to the sides of the loom with a half hitch knot and then firmly tied to the back beam. The half hitch becomes important later on.
I then lashed the thin metal rod to the 3/8” metal rod that I added to the loom, at about 1” intervals. I take time here to ensure that the distance between both ends of the rod is exactly the same.
Now we come to the different stuff. The Louet Spring has a built in raddle on the castle of the loom, so the warp goes over the top of the loom for sectioning between the notches. To keep the warp threads not yet in use from falling into the cracks I use a piece of plain paper to lay them on.
Once the warp threads are raddled you need to secure it with a piece of twine to make sure that it doesn’t pop out of the raddle spaces. I thought about it, and never one to waste yarn, I thought that making a giant elastic band that I could use over and over again was the way to go. I found this thin round elastic in my sewing box and it worked pretty well.
The warp threads are beamed with a paper separator on the back beam, and the care I take to start the paper off evenly and straight is rewarded later on with an evenly beamed warp. After winding on a turn or two, I pull down very firmly on the paper and this tightens it on the beam, then off to the front of the loom and a very hard pull snugs it up even more, it's really quite amazing. Repeat, repeat, repeat…..
To keep the warp threads from tangling as you are beaming you run your fingers over the threads right at the raddle level, this and a bit of shaking is all that is needed to ensure it moves through the raddle. I never finger comb or fiddle too much with the warp threads as it usually causes more grief. Even though this was extremely sticky yarn, this method works.
As you can see, it beamed very evenly and so I only cut off an inch or two of loops, using the front of the shelf as a guide line.
Then on to threading the heddles; because the lease sticks were half hitched to the sides of the loom, you can move them up and down to be at the perfect height so you can easily pick the threads from the cross. This was one of the best things I learned, it was a real improvement on my previous style of threading. As you can see below it is sticky, sticky yarn and wants to clump! I have a print out of my threading taped to the loom shelf on the left and use a pin poked through the paper to keep my place in the threading sequence.
To tie to the front beam I take very small increments of warp and pull it under the bar then split it in two and under the warp bout and tie it in an overhand knot that you put through the loop a second time. Putting it through the loop a second time makes it a moveable knot. After going from right to left across the warp, I tighten the tension on the warp until some of the groups are quite firm. Now I have some groups slightly tighter than others; to even them out I lay my hand over the tightest bouts and rock back and forth on them to make them all the same tension, the knots will loosen just enough to achieve it. This really works!
Now the final step, I start at the right side and pull up each bout as tight as I can and give it another overhand knot. Working from right to left without stopping you give the bouts a final knot. You will probably find that the right side is slightly looser by this time, but leave it alone and walk away from the loom for about 20 minutes and you will be rewarded by an evenly tensioned warp as the bouts most recently tied relax.
This warp will be a submission piece for the Guild of Canadian Weavers Senior test. It is an original Overshot namedraft bordered on four sides, minimum size must be 12" x 18" and I only have about 6" done so far. Not really my favourite thing to weave, but.... I’m using 4 strands of 2/20 wool for the pattern thread and the same 2/10 Egyptian cotton for the tabby. I set it at 24 epi and am aiming for 24 ppi. Although the photo looks black and white it is actually blue/olive and cream. I think that I'll change the pattern weft to be silk for the next one. I put on enough warp for 4 runners, thinking that I'd gift one to each of my children because the namedraft is our family name.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Lucky Me!

My husband Michael finished the prototype of my travelling loom bench. This prototype is made from unfinished pine; the final product will be made from hardwood and will be finished to match Lily Louet. This is a working model; and work it does! The bench is 41” long and has a seat that moves on bearings for 35”. The seat is set at a 15 degree angle and overlaps the front of the bench with a rounded edge to help me to sit forward and straight.

The angle on the seat stops that annoying tendency to have your legs go numb after hours at the loom. The seat movement allows me to sit directly over my farthest treadles, which due to my lack of height were a tremendous stretch for me. The bench will have a fairly deep storage box for all those little tools and will have handles on the front to allow me to scoot the bench forward after I’m seated. Unfortunately, I will have to wait until the weather warms up before I’ll get the final product as my husband Michael does all his woodwork in the carport and it’s too darn cold to work out there now (first few snowflakes today!) The prototype may not look pretty but she will do the trick until Spring….

I have decided to change my masthead and have chosen a photo of a scarf I wove for my daughter using Italian ribbon and Orlec. I wove the scarf in straight twill on 4 Shafts, but because of the bumps in the ribbon I achieved a lovely undulating effect.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Pattern for 12 Shaft Twill Scarves

My idea was to make two summer weight scarves. I found a lovely pattern in the book 200 Patterns for Multiple Harness Looms by Russell E. Groft; the pattern is called Mother of Pearl Pink.
I used 2/20 tencel set at 45 epi; 7 inches in a 15 dent reed, sleyed at 3 per dent. This gave me 315 ends. I put on 6 yards for 2 scarves, each 70” long with 8” fringes.

I wove the first scarf with gold 2/20 mercerized cotton and loved the look, but didn’t like my edges (this was before I bought my end feed shuttle!). I decided that the best way to deal with the edges was to bead the edges every 2” with seed beads and to make the scarf crimp in by pulling the beads in tightly I also added long bead runs to the fringe. I love this scarf and it is now one of my favourite to wear.

The second scarf was an opportunity to use some 2/20 procion dyed tencel that I had dyed at a Monashee Guilds’ dye day. The colour run is very fresh, but….the white tencel dulled it out a bit. I also didn’t like the fact that the scarf was turquoise, but the fringe was white. I decided to dye the fringe in a diluted procion dye bath. I soaked the fringe in mordant and then placed it in a cup of turquoise dye and allowed it to wick up the fringe. Much better, but the scarf needed more. I found some lovely silver butterfly beads and added them to the fringe along with seed beads and as a final detail I added butterfly’s to the centre of the scarf so that when worn folded the silver detail shows.
I had a gathering of Spinners coming up and wanting to show something to the group I decided to tie onto this warp. The previous year I had won a bag of Baby Camel Down and decided to use it and make a shawl. I tied on a handspun 2 ply Merino wool warp set at 10 epi; 30 inches in a 10 dent reed, sleyed 1 per dent. This gave me 300 ends. I put on 3-1/2 yards for 1 shawl. The Baby Camel Down is the weft. It really does look different from the scarves but came from the same pattern and treadling.
I'd like to thank Frick and Frack for their modelling!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Louet Spring Loom ~ Limitations and Perks

I’ve finally cut off Lily Louets’ maiden voyage. I think it looks lovely all draped on the treadles ready to cut off.

I took some time to really think about and analyze this project – a new loom has many foibles and if I note them now, it will save time and warp in the future.

I was able to weave right up to 4 inches from the beater, but to do this I had to change from my Schacht end feed shuttle to a lower profile Leclerc boat shuttle.

I found that I could weave right up until the warp bar was almost touching the heddles on shaft 12.

One of the things I did learn about my Louet Spring was that with 2/8 cottolin – 10 yards of fabric brings me to within 2 inches of the bottom of the beater bar, so no long warps of 2/8 are in my future, it will be a 12 yard maximum. I think that I could get 15 yards of 2/10 or 2/16 warp yarn though; this is something that I'll have to bear in mind when planning my projects. The strings hanging out are my measurement markers - I put a tied piece of string every 5 inches to help me keep track.

I cut off and measured the unwoven warp that went through the heddles and got 12 inches of loom waste at the end of the project.

I also measured what was unwoven due to the front tie up and spreading of the yarn prior to weaving and found another 12 inches of waste. Not bad compared to my previous Scandinavian Countermarche loom. I had put on a slightly longer than 10 yard warp and off loom, unwashed I got 9 x 33 - 36 inch tea towels and 1 bread cloth about 22 inches long. So overall I had very little loom waste.
I also took a photo of the back of the warp as it shows a tendency for the thin metal rod supplied to bow. I will change it over to a 3/8 inch steel rod before I beam again.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Rep Weave or Ripsmatta Weave

Rep Weave is a weave structure that was completely new to me a few months ago; so when I was planning for my Guild of Canadian Weavers Intermediate test question on warp faced weaves, I knew that sampling would be in my future.

I pulled my rep weave warp in light blue, purple and navy orlec, set at 45 epi. Yup, 600 threads! I wove my samples, trying different wefts and in the end, I thought the overall effect was bland.
I decided to start again, but to change the selvedge to navy to help hide the navy weft I had decided on. Then, to add a bit more colour I added a pink thread for each of the two blocks. Well it was obvious that I didn’t completely understand the weave structure; my 2 thread pink stripe was not balanced on the sequence changes so it looked a bit dot, dash, dot, not what I had envisioned at all.
I bit the bullet and warped it a third time, a big undertaking, this now was my third 600 thread warp in two weeks! This time I used 4 pink threads, 2 for each block change, making the pink stripe appear solid in each block change; this worked much better. This would be my final test submission warp and finding a soft 6 ply cotton weft made the piece I wanted.

Hindsight tells me that this whole thing was moot - I could have easily submitted the first rep set and it would have done as well for the test as my third effort ! Ahhhhh well....
The upshot of the whole repeating rep weave was that I had a number of pieces that didn’t match. They kind of look the same, but with differing wefts they couldn't be used as placemats, close but no cigar! What the heck was I going to do with all of these bits of fabric? And yes, I had more than just these three samples to deal with - I had done 3 yards each time!!

When life hands you too many rep weave samples - make PURSES....
I tried to make them a tad more interesting by adding some beading to each bag - they are all fully lined and have plastic inserts for structural integrity.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Flying Fibers!

The secretive Flying Fibre also known as the Common Dust Bunny hides during the day under looms and in paper rolls as they fall from the warp. At night these little fibre balls run amok through the house and populate wildly under beds and sofas…..here are a few that I found under Lily Louet!
I see Dust Bunnies as a good thing; it’s a clear signal that I’m working often at the loom; of course, anywhere else in the house I’m not so keen on seeing them!

Like a lot of Weavers I came upon weaving as a way to utilize my handspun fibre. As a break from weaving I love to sit at my Lendrum wheel and just feel the fibre run through my fingers. Here’s a peek at my current spinning project.

I had white and blue merino sliver in my stash and found them a bit uninspiring; a blend would be the way to go; so, at the recent Ponderosa Weavers Guild Spin In, in Kelowna I purchased a lovely grass green sliver that I knew would liven up the other two colours.
I pulled 12” sections from the green sliver and fanned it open; in each section I placed a small amount of the white and blue wool. I then rolled the green sliver around its filling and made little snails.
I think that they look very lovely as they wait for spinning, and are looking exciting as a spun single too.