Thursday, January 22, 2009

Bead Leno ~ Stepping Off The Deep End

I decided late last year to take up weaving. My Mum has been weaving for most of my life and it just seemed natural to weave, if anything I was wondering what took me so long to decide to weave! My first project was an undulating twill scarf but for some reason didn’t chronicle the journey so I am going to be talking about my second project – a bead leno scarf.

Bead leno is a weave structure that produces a very lacy look. It is based on four shafts and only three treadles. The structure is produced by the twist that is introduced to the warp threads when the bead is add.

A 2/20 tencel yarn is being used for both the warp and weft. It was hand dyed by my Mum in variegated green, blue, purple and pink. I am hoping that the fineness of the thread will produce a very lightweight summer scarf. Also am hoping that the bead leno structure will show off the colours of the tencel without becoming muddy.
I started to pull my threads on the warping board and was getting into the rhythm then I realized that I am using a loom that has a sectional back beam – oops too many threads. A sectional back beam breaks the warp down into 1 inch segments that get wound on separately. I forgot and pulled nearly twice as many threads that I needed to and had to do some unwinding but it made a good excuse to stop and take a photo!
When I was dressing the loom I was a little naughty – I didn’t use the tension box which you are supposed to for a sectional back beam. I choose not to because the warp is short, only enough for one scarf, and because I had a helper, Mum, to wind the beam while I put tension on the warp. There are extenders added to the back beam to help in the lessening of the loom waste; they reach to the back of the heddles.
One of the tricks that Mum shared with me was to put something under all the shafts to raise the heddles making them closer to eye level, in my case two yellow ceramic rectangular containers were used.
Now the fun bit threading the heddles and adding the beads. I gave the instructions a brief look and was away to the races. The beading is based on four warp threads, with the bead being on only two threads but all four threads in one dent in the reed. I used large white glass pony beads but did not have enough so had to use some smaller black glass bead by the edges. After sleying the reed and tying up to the front beam, I tried out the shed and saw that the threads were getting tangled and it seemed like the white beads were too heavy while the black beads seemed to be OK.
So I went back and re-bead the warp again with the smaller black beads and resleyed the reed and tied to the front beam. I checked the shed again and the beads were still tangling up together so I went back and checked every thread to make sure that everything was perfectly straight, no twists no nothing. It was perfect.
Tried to weave and something was not right, half of the threads were just laying there. I had my Mum come over and look but she got a phone call and so as I waiting for her to finish I looked at the instructions again and soon realized that I had placed the beads completely wrong! They were on the wrong threads and they did not have the twist added. I could not believe that I had done this, so for the fourth time I had to re-bead the warp. This time I had the book beside me and so I finally did it right! In the picture it is a little hard to see the twist but trust me it is there.
So after this little adventure I decided to take a little break and blog about my experience before I start to weave. This was a good choice because I was a little miffed at myself but now with cathartic release of the tension I am ready to start weaving.


bspinner said...

I've never woven with beads and can't wait to see your scarf when its off the loom.

Deanna said...

What a cool project! I've never woven bead leno before, and I'm often a horse headed for the barn myself, so I can really sympathize with the need to repeat a process. Looking forward to seeing your results.

Susan said...

Hi Ngaire...
Congrats on your first posting and welcome to blog world.

It doesn't seem to matter how many years you have in, there will be times when you just can't get things to go right and it's 'do-over' and 'do-over'again.

I'm really interested in how this bead leno goes for you as I haven't been brave enough as yet to try it out. :)
That is lovely coloured tencel so it should be very pretty!

Sunrise Lodge Fiber Studio said...

Oh my! I think I'm inspired for a new technique! Thank you for sharing;)

Gwen said...

Wow, weaving with beads - that sounds difficult and really, really cool! Even though having to re-do it was a pain, isn't it kind of neat that you were able to figure out the problem by yourself? I'm also a brand new weaver (newer than you, in fact, I am just now working on my first piece) and it felt like a real accomplishment when I was able to diagnose my first warping mistake by myself. Good luck with your scarf, I can't wait to see it! :)

Life Looms Large said...

Thanks for sharing pictures of bead leno! One of my weaving buddies made something in bead leno earlier this year, and I didn't get a chance to see it on the loom, so I didn't quite get it.

Now, thanks to you, I understand it a little more!

Good luck!