Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Warping the Louet Jane Loom

Well I tried…I really, really tried to call my new Louet loom Lavender, but with the word Jane staring me in the face every time I look at it…..I’ve caved and Jane she shall be.

This is the first warp for the loom. I had to wait to receive the extra heddles and a replacement part, so although I’ve had this loom for 4 weeks this is my first warp.

I decided to pull a short 3 yard warp for Christmas card inserts. Summer and winter trees, based on a Donna Sullivan pattern, but modified a bit to make it mine. As you can see I had just enough yarn to do the warp – cutting a bit fine, but love to use up the stash. I have another cone very similar to use as the tabby weft.

The Jane loom came with wooden apron sticks, and I just don’t find them rigid enough for me, so Michael made me some new 1/4” metal apron rods.
The lease sticks have to be tied onto the upper part of the beater initially to allow the warp to wind on. Again, I must have some weird difficulty wish because I used very sticky 2/10 Egyptian cotton. It clumps together like Velcro!

The Jane loom has Louets’ signature built in raddle and a nifty little shelf, which I really like. The raddle however, is in metric spacing so a bit of mathematical fiddling to convert it to imperial measurements.

Here are my warp threads spread in the raddle.

I tied a string around the raddle to keep the threads all nicely in place before winding it onto the back beam, I used heavy gauge brown craft paper as a warp separator.

To allow you to reach the heddles, the beater and reed just flip over the loom to sit at the back while you work.
The Jane has another nifty doodad. It's a clear piece of plastic mounted on each side of the loom. When the beater is not being used, these little things keep it locked back out of your way, this allows another inch or two weaving space. I'm sure this will come in handy with finger manipulated weaves, when you need to have hand space to use your pick up stick etc.

Now I’m ready to thread the heddles, so I retied the lease sticks around the castle of the loom so that I could have the cross at eye level. I always count small increments of my pattern heddles and pull them out, then thread them. This is just another double check to make sure I don’t make threading mistakes.

Tying onto the front apron rod is next; Louet provided a wood stick and we replaced it with metal. I use the Jane Stafford method and do a simple knot, but go through the loop twice.
When all the bouts are tied to the rod I tighten my tension until firm, then I roll my hand over the bouts to even the tension. When the bouts seem about equal in tension I go back and pull each bout very tight and double knot. This method works extremely well for me.

I started weaving and noticed that the left side of my work was getting fuzzy. Upon closer inspection it seems that the tape on my reed was too high and was rubbing….so Exacto knife to the rescue.

Finally, I’m weaving. I used 2/16 merino wool in moss green for the pattern weft and it’s looking great. I’ll post the draft and the finished cards when I’m done.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Beautiful Bead Leno

I am finished weaving the Bead Leno scarf! It was fantastic, I was so excited that I didn’t want to stop weaving after the first couple of hours but I had to as the light was getting bad. I was finished by the second session and very proud of myself. All in all the weaving only took about 5 hours.

Before weaving I added a hanging selvedge to help with my edges. As the 2/20 tencel is so fine a hint my Mum offered was to use sewing bobbins to wind the yarn around to keep it from tangling, which worked like a dream. With 6 pennies inside the film canister, which are like gold nowadays because of the digital camera revolution, a perfectly tensioned selvedge was produced. After I tied onto the front beam, I had tails of about 5 inches from the knots and as I had allowed for a ten inch fringe I need to ‘save’ some of the warp by weaving in the four Venetian blinds. The brown wool that is packed in next is acting as hem stitching, so that when I take the weaving off the loom it will not unravel before I have a chance to twizzle the fringe.
While weaving Bead Leno the twist made in the warp threads is quite noticeable. But when looking at the beads themselves during the weaving action there is no discernable twist.
Weaving Bead Leno was absolutely bliss. I was only working with two treadles so I always knew where I was in the pattern. But the best bit was that every single time I passed the shuttle under the shed I could see the pattern, so as long as I was paying attention I could see if the pass was correct before I had to beat it in. It was a great bonus because I could pay more attention to how I was sitting and to where I was grabbing the beater bar; I have a bit of a bad habit of grabbing the sides of the beater not the middle. By the time that I had finished the scarf, I was a lot better if not cured.
As I was getting close to finishing weaving my scarf I was getting more and more excited to see the finished product. But as I was advancing the warp for what I thought was the second to last time, I ran into a little problem. My warp extenders were too short, I had this problem with my last scarf and had made new extenders but I must have mixed the new and the old ones together and well . . . I had to unweave a little bit so I could finish the scarf by putting in the little bit of tabby and the brown wool. I have now made sure that I will not have this problem again but in the photo you can sure see the difference in length between the extenders!
Finishing the scarf only involved twizzling the fringe. To do that I had to cut away the brown wool in sections and using the nifty twizzler twizzle away.
Here are some photos of my finished scarf

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.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Tencel Scarf Problems with Pattern

Oh crap……the tencel scarf I had such high expectations for, is not so good.

I learned a huge amount while weaving and then reweaving this scarf. The first thing is that on a weave structure like undulating twill, which has long floats, a pure tencel warp and weft can be very slippery. If I even touched the weaving it left a mark and the weft was almost constantly in motion, didn't set in place at all! Beat was of huge importance and when I first started the project, I wove about 12 inches and left the loom, when I came back to weave there was a very noticeable mark on the fell of the cloth and no matter how I fiddled I couldn't lose it. I un wove all I had done and started again. This time I removed the purple floating selvedge threads as they tended to be pulled under into the curl that was forming and looked weird. I replaced it with red floating selvedge threads which blended with the inevitable curl better. This time when I started weaving I made sure that I had a block of time to weave the 29-1/2” run before I stopped, to ensure that I had no break marks. Then 19” of alternating blocks, then another long run of 29-1/2”.

I used 2/8 tencel from two different suppliers: The Yarns Plus in Ontario and Maurice Brassard et fils in Quebec. Although both are 2/8 tencel yarns they are very different in appearance and structure.

The Yarns Plus tencel is very shiny and smooth and has 10 twists per inch and feels really slippery. The Maurice Brassard tencel is not quite as shiny and seems a tiny bit thinner with 18 twists per inch and feels a little rougher.
Seems to me that the Brassard tencel didn’t move around as much. Sorry about the bathroom photos, but it was the best light in the house today.

I knew right away that this scarf was going to have some physical undulations, I just had no idea how much…there was a very pronounce tunnel effect when it came off of the loom, which wet finishing calmed down a bit. The edges of the scarf in the straight run areas wanted to curl very badly as you can see as it’s drying. The straight run area took in more width wise than the checkerboard area. Took this photo in the bathroom while the scarf dries on the shower screen and you can see the way the weft moved while I wet finished.
I decided to press the selvedge flat and to leave the centre alone. This caused some problems with the weft moving yet again…this was a bit unexpected because I thought that the washing and drying would have locked the weft in place! Yeah, no!

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very pretty scarf, but with the weft moving all over the place unpredictably, it’s gonna have to live with me, because I’m the only person who will constantly push the weft floats back in place with a blunt needle, Oh Joy!

There is another scarf on the loom with the same red, orange, gold, silver and lemongrass warp, this time I will use a weft that isn’t such a strong contrast, probably the mid red, and I will weave the scarf in the checkerboard pattern to minimize the selvedge curl and the movement of the weft. I will switch from the Yarns Plus tencel to the Brassards tencel for the weft also. Would I weave this pattern again, definitely YES, but I would choose a different warp/weft combination, a yarn that’s not quite so slippery.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Can't wait to garden!

To save blog space the photos were removed January 2010.
Now that it’s January my thought seems to be focused on spring; spring gardening, sunshine and dirt on my fingers! All I want to do is to get outside and start digging. Well since I can’t do that with 3 feet of snow on the ground I’ve done the next best thing…..I’ve ordered my new seeds for the year. I have found a wonderful source in Two Wings Farm in Victoria BC. They specialize in heirloom, organic seeds. My husband and I grow tomatoes, soft fruits, squash, garlic and beans. Everything else we can purchase organically, locally and inexpensively – so why try and do it all? We grow our tomatoes on 7 foot tall 15 foot long fence lines; we alternate one plant on each side and espalier them as they grow, can’t seem to find a photo…can’t believe I didn’t take one! I saved the seeds from last years heirloom tomatoes: Black Krim, Old German, Stupice, Manitoba, Tasty Golden, Yellow Brandywine, Red Brandywine, Cherokee Purple and Mr. Stripey. Saving the seeds was a hoot – I really enjoyed the process and I have enough seeds to share. I even made my own little seed packages.
So this year I’m only adding a few new varieties to my garden.
PURPLE CALABASH is a weird, flat, pleated, purple/green tomato. It’s ugly or beautiful depending on your perspective, but delicious with a dynamic flavour. It is a late season, indeterminate variety that is both endangered and very old.
ZAPOTEC is an ancient, bell shaped, ridged and beautiful tomato that looks remarkable sliced on a plate. Pink in colour and late season, indeterminate variety heirloom tomato. The Zapotec people still grow this tomato in Mexico.
RED RUFFLE PEPPER is a beautiful dark red pleated heirloom. Wonderful, complex, sweet flavour, a sweet paprika type with thick walls.
BUERRE DE ROCQUENCORT is a slim podded tender, yellow bean, early and productive. Excellent flavoured Old French bush variety.
LACINATO KALE is an Italian heirloom that has purple/red stems with flat grey green oak leaf shaped leaves. It is the tenderest of kales.
Can't you just see a plate full of these wonderful, soft skinned, robust flavoured tomatoes beside a crusty Boule and a glass of wine! OK, now I'm dreaming of summer!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Honeycomb Pattern for 8 Shafts

I wove this fabric for 2 purposes waaayyyyy back in 1999. My friend Louise and I put on three 10 yard warps on the guild owned Baby Wolf for our local weaving guild project. At the same time Louise and I had agreed to produce samples for the Guild of Canadian Weavers Bulletin, a quarterly newsletter, for the year 2000. We chose to feature Honeycomb and this was the sample for Spring. We committed to doing a series of four samples; 700 samples each time along with drawdowns and record cards. It was a big undertaking, but a truly enjoyable one and we both learned lot's about honeycomb.

The warp yarn is 2/8 navy Orlec, the weft is 2/8 Orlec in navy, emerald and teal, the cell is 4 ply turquoise rayon. This piece was sett at 24 epi, and planned for garments. Due to the long floats on the reverse side, we used fuseable interfacing to stabilize the fabric. We found that the rayon was very slippery and had a tendency to unravel on the bobbin, painful, but worth it.
Well, years go by quickly and finally in October 2008 I made my vest! Only 9 years too late! Because I'm a tad wideish, I chose to weave the honeycomb linear rather than offset, anything to minimize the girth!
There were just a few wee scraps leftover and I could not toss them, so here they are, reinvented as sacks for purse hangers.
What's a purse hanger you ask? Only the neatest contraption ever's a lovely little weighted disk with a hook that wraps around it for storage.
When you need it, you just unfurl and voila! It looks nice on the table, keeps your purse in front of you and best of all; your purse doesn't get dirty on the floor! Now my purse hanger has a nice new bag, one that brings back great memories.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Plaid yardage now Christmas stockings!

I've cleaned up my a bit of my woven stash and it was a fun four day project, it took a bit longer than anticipated, but here is my timeline.
Day 1 – felting the yardage and letting it dry
Day 2 – making the pattern templates
Day 3 – cutting out the pattern pieces and stitching the stockings
Day 4 – stuffing the stockings, inserting the lining and adding the embellishments using only what we had on hand.
I wanted these stockings to be extra large; we have 17 foot ceilings in our living room and a wee stocking would be lost on that vast expanse of wall, so I super sized and changed up the pattern. The final result is a stocking about 2 feet long and 14" wide.
This is mine, I used the twill plaid for the body of the stocking and burgundy crushed velvet for the shoe, the cuff and the back of the stocking. I finished it off by ruching the cuff, dotting it with pearls randomly and adding a beaded fringe and a rosette. I used braiding for the laces and pearls for buttons. I put in a bit of stuffing to round out the shoe before I put the lining in.

I think that the back of the stocking is just as pretty with its’ velvet rosette with pearls nestled inside.
This stocking is for my husband using the plain weave plaid and sage green crushed velvet. It was a challenge to make it both masculine and pretty and I hope I’ve succeeded. I used some brass grape leaves on velvet rosettes that didn't photograph well, but look great, buttons filled with beads and some fringe topped with gold ribbon.

This stocking is for my adult son and again we were challenged to make it masculine, without being plain. Plain weave plaid, crushed velvet and a curled toe are the main features. My daughter added silver leaves at the cuff and for buttons when she decorated this one. I have a few green tassels to add to this one to add a bit more umph!
This one is for my adult daughter and she was on hand and decorated it herself. Twill plaid for the body with crushed velvet for the curled toe boot and cuff. The cuff has a beaded fringe and a diamond studded rosette. She outlined the shoe heel with diamond studs and popped a few more on her cuff. This stocking really shines and unfortunately my crappy photographic skills killed it!
I've found myself the proud owner of 3 extra copies of "Discover the world of weaving looms" DVDs by Louet. These are a fantastic resouce for the Louet owner as they explain and show how to warp a Louet loom, so please send me an email and I'll pop it in the mail for you.
Seems things remain the same.....

Thought for the day....... "The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance" ------------- Cicero - 55 BC