Monday, May 31, 2010

AVL Mechanical Loom ~ I'm Calling Her Avril

There was an interesting ad in the guild newsletter this month for an AVL mechanical dobby. Mum and I were talking about it so when the lady called asking Mum about donating books to the Ponderosa Guild library, Mum asked about the loom. We mulled it over some more and Googled it. Then we went to see it! Here she is being released from her former home in the storage locker.
The loom was built in 1981 and is one of the prototype mechanical dobby looms made by AVL, its’ production number is 217! It has 12 shafts and the weaving deck with the cloth and back beam swing upright for easier warping, threading and storage. It is a little smaller then Mum’s Louet Spring but has the same weaving width and shafts! Avril came with 90 bars and lots of pegs so lots of ideas are bouncing around in my head for the first project!
This is my first loom so when I received a bunch of accessories I was really excited! 2 AVL end feed shuttles with 13 pirns and one long bobbin style shuttle, I don’t know who made it but it has a jumping stick figure one it. If anyone can identify it please let me know.Three reeds and a raddle.
A bunch of tools – McMorran Yarn Balance, a Linen Tester, a corduroy slasher and the much needed peg wrench!
A bench from Woolhouse Tools with a nifty little box in the bottom.
Two different sizes of Texslov heddles, some work for Avril and the little ones work with Mums Louet Jane which is lucky!
A Leclerc 14 yard warping board, there is some missing pegs but I also got some doweling that can be cut down to replace the missing pieces.
The last picture is of the lease sticks, warping sticks and some metal doweling which I am not sure what was intended for but I will be using them for the aprons so I was really happy to see them.
I am really excited by this loom all the possibilities for projects are dancing through my head (and Mums!). The one thing I am missing are the instructions which will probably show up in the next couple of days if they can be found, but if anyone out there has information on how to operate a mechanical dobby and is willing to share the information, I would be most appreciative.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Beading the Fringes ~ or ~ Beading Bonanza

The four Woven Shibori scarves, that Mum wove, were in need of our finishing touch – beads! The first step for beading is to grab the bead bin and pull out any beads that could work with the scarves. It is always surprising what works with the scarves so everything and anything is tried.
Here is the final selection for the two orange and red scarves. I’ll not be using all the beads but it is always good to have a choice.
I really like to use quilters pins with extra long shanks to test drive the bead arrangements and it is also a good way to make sure that there is enough beads for both sides, because there is nothing worse then running out and having to pull out all that hard work out!
All the scarves have a similar beading arrangement to reinforce that they are part of a design line. I really love the silver bees and bronze stars! There was one scarf from the beginning of the year that Mum never got beaded so since I was already beading four scarves; what’s one more?! The scarf is a networked circles with hand spun silk warp with navy Tencel weft. The fringe looked a little grey so I chose blue seed beads in various shades to highlight the variegated blues of the silk warp.
Beading is time consuming but the finished product always looks worth it.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Rya Knots ~ It's Just Shag by Another Name!

I’ve been working on and off on a small rya piece for the weavers test I'm doing. I put the warp on my Louet Jane table loom and that was my first mistake; the wee Jane loom just isn’t doing well with the high tension and hard beat needed to cover the 8/4 natural linen sett at 8 threads per inch. Consequently I’ve been letting it sit, but today I decided it was the day to finish this small sample piece.
Here’s a short tutorial on creating a rya piece. These are the colours I’ve chosen to work with. I’m doing colour blending for each Ghiordes (pronounced yor-deez) knot, so I have pre cut my wool to 4” lengths. The length is necessary as the tail of the knot must be longer than 1-1/8” and up to 6” and must lay flat to fall into the rya category; a shorter tail would make it stand upright and it would then fall into the Flossa category.After doing a weft protector, which in my case was Weft Twining which I demonstrated here; I began with a 2 ply wool border. You've got to give the wool ample allowance so it can cover the warp yarns, so it is laid in on a very steep angle. Then you bubble the weft to ensure good warp coverage. I’m using a wooden needle for this job, but a knitting needle will work as well. I've woven in a 2 inch wool border before the first row of knots, the large border is due to the fact that the knot tails will cover about 1-1/2” of the border and only ½” will show. This is one variation of tying a Ghiordes knot; by the way the knot is named for a town in Iraq and is also known as the Turkish knot and the Smyrna knot (another town in Iraq). In this photo the yarn is placed over two warp threads and then the tails are tucked between. In my actual woven piece I am tying the knot over three threads. When pulled downward the knots tighten and remain in place, the more you tug on it the tighter it gets.Rya knot rows are set quite far apart as traditionally the edge of the new row of knots should only just cover the previous row of knots. I have decided to overlap by ¾”; consequently I am weaving 10 picks of background wool between each row of knots. The shaggy appearance is normal, but I've got to admit that I'm not a big fan....If you tie knots right up to the edge of the piece it will tend to curl under, so 2 sets of doubled warp threads are left unknotted at the selvedge. These warp ends are filled in after the knots are tied by winding the weft in a figure eight between the two sets of ends to build it up and to keep them in line with the knots. This treatment is known as ‘argatch’.To join the background weft I unply both ends and splice them seamlessly together.
I'm bound and determined to finish this piece today!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Pleated Twill Scarves Again

I am doing pleats again but this time I am using 2/20 mercerized cotton because I wanted the scarf to have more shine. I used a salmon pink and a dusky rose, with the rose as the weft also.
There are 5 stripes in the rose colour and 4 stripes in the pink; each is one inch, making the scarf 9 inches in the reed. The structure of the scarf is that the stripes are either 1/3 or 3/1 twill so one stripe curves up and the other curves down. After washing the scarf is 2 ½ inches wide.
The colour combination is really pretty, a lot more subtle then the black and white one.
I am having a little problem with this scarf, it is really wrinkly. To dry the scarf it is pulled length wise to help encourage the pleats and it should be flipped about halfway through the drying process. Well, I dried it outside on a 30 C day and forgot to flip it and now it is wrinkly. So I am going to wash and dry it again hopefully it will come out better.
But it may be the cotton, the scarf is much stiffer then the black and white one, which is a Tencel/cotton blend. The drape of this scarf is quite funky, very stiff so I am hoping that washing it again will help.
I wish that I had read my post about the first pleated scarf because I said that next time I should try the stripes at ½ inch. I think that maybe the cotton would have worked better with shallower pleats. I am going right now to my record sheet and writing that observation down!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Woven Shibori - Done, Done, Done

Woven Shibori is just like a box of chocolates ‘cause you just don’t what you're gonna get until you cut it open! There are so many variables that you just can't predict how the dye, water and weave will react!This is scarf number One which was woven exactly as I created the pattern….I dyed it with salmon on side one and fuscia on side two. This one had the greatest number of pattern threads per inch, so the greatest amount of pleating.You can see that the each side of the scarf is unique.Scarf number Two was dyed in jade green and purple stripes. It was painted the same on both sides and had the fewest number of pattern threads per inch, consequently the least amount of pleats.Although it looks as if there is texture, the weave is smooth. This is really all about colour.I think that number Three is my all over favourite; it will just look great with denim. I have dyed this combination before, but it looks very different from the first scarf which had a twill ground and this one has a tabby ground. Scarves three and four have pleating in the mid range.The scarf was painted jade green on one side and royal blue on the other, so very lovely..and completely different looking on each side.This one is hot, hot, hot….just like an Okanagan summer! Scarf number Four was painted orange on both sides and then fuscia was dropped randomly on top. It is stunning and the photo just doesn’t do it justice, my camera just didn't capture the amazing colour at all well. The Procion MX mix that I used on each of the scarves was for medium value, but they still came out very bright and rich.

On a completely different note, I live in a rural area of British Columbia and our water supply is from a high plateau lake. This makes our water prone to spring turbidity(dirt) due to run off, and fall staining as the leaves fall into the lake and leach out their colour. The end result is that white clothing in my neck of the woods is iffy at best. I recently went shopping for a bra and found a smokin’ deal on my favourite brand, but it is white – drat! Not any more! The Shibori dye day gave me a great dark purple left over and I was looking forward to a bright purple bra, but after rinsing it came out this stunning pink/lilac! I'm happy anyway!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Huck Lace Circles with Beaded Fringe

I have not done many lace weaves, so when Mum and I were looking for some ideas for this year’s Sheep to Shawl and I found a pattern for Huck circles on eight shafts in Russell Groffs’ book, I knew that I had to weave it! We changed the original pattern and somehow managed to reduced the shafts and treadles from 8 to 6!
For added interest, as the body of the scarf is only plain weave, we designed a three colour succession. We pulled out all the Tencel and started trying out different colour combinations; some were safe like a blue gradation and others like the one that I chose were a little out there; Lemon to Gold to Lime. The colours are wonderful together and are really exciting.
I did have some trouble picking a weft colour, the original idea was to use black but against the lemon it looked too spotty. I tried dark grey, light grey, even burgundy and the one that worked was taupe! It made all the colours look fantastic and yet unified them.
The Huck circles are placed so they are only in one colour, but the stripes are not equal so the circles are interestingly spaced. The scarf is all about the Huck circles and the more attention that they get for being unexpected the better. Here is a close up of the Huck circle on the loom.
Here is the same circle after is has been washed and only lightly pressed, it will get its final pressing with McSteamy when there is some other stuff to be pressed. Also there wasn’t enough time before the guild meeting and I really wanted to bring it for Show and Tell!
I think that this scarf was meant to be because when I went to the bead bin there were all three colours in just the right sized beads, so I was able to echo the stripes with the beading! I even added little seed beads in the cup of the twisted fringe.
All and all this scarf was a pleasure, seeing the colours mix and blend together was just magical. Add the always mind blowing experience of having circles appear out of straight lines! I would totally do this pattern again and I may, it is going to be presented at the guild Sheep to Shawl planning meeting and I have been asked to be the weaver again this year! So I could be revisiting this pattern in a couple of months and turning it into a shawl.