Wednesday, June 30, 2010

No Tabby Crackle

I’ve finished my first project on Avril, the AVL. It’s a tone on tone No Tabby Crackle scarf.
I found the basic pattern on I used the program PCW to make all the changes I needed to make the pattern work for me and I’m really happy with the result.

Weaving on the AVL is taking some getting used to because the treadling is totally unique. I have to make sure that I am sitting directly over the treadles and that my whole foot is being used to depress the treadles. If I use just the ball of my foot the pain after a few minutes is like wearing 6” spike heels for a day!

For some reason my scarf turned out with quite a masculine feel, the tone on tone of olive and lemongrass makes the woven pattern fairly recessive. Don’t get me wrong, it’s beautiful, but in no way flashy or dressy. Because of its’ overt masculinity, and because I love to add beads to my woven items; I only added a single seed bead to the cup of the twisted fringe, just a wee bit of bling!
I was worried about the hard beat I felt I was getting with Avril, and feared that it would turn out like a board. After washing the 2/8 Tencel really came into its own and it’s soft, supple and oh so shiny!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

About Overshot Weave

I’m not mad keen on weaving Overshot, but right now ‘needs must’ as the saying goes. I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned along the way.

I’m using white 2/8 unmercerized cotton as the warp and as the tabby weft and a great magenta coloured 2 ply La-mieux wool as the pattern weft. It is really coming up nicely and after trying out 8 other wefts I’m happy as it is weaving in squarely. I swear I tried every combination of wool I had, what a pain! As you probably know Overshot should be woven square with the same number of pattern and tabby wefts as the warp. I’ve sett my warp at 20 epi, so I have 20 tabby picks and 20 pattern picks in every inch. My Louet Spring loom is not happy with the hard beat I have to use to get my weft packed in. I created this Overshot pattern and am weaving it ‘as drawn in’ star fashion, so that there is a strong 45 degree angle from corner to corner. I used the Name Draft technique to find the pattern and kept plugging along until I got one I liked, then I made borders to compliment the pattern.
One way to weave Overshot is ‘woven as drawn in’. This means that the treadling sequence is exactly the same as the threading sequence…well sort of. To make this happen you have to do a little fudging on the treadling. You write down the threading sequence and when you see 121 you think of this as block A and fill all three of them in on shaft 1; 232 is block B and is filled on shaft 2 etc., before you know it you have a pattern!

When I tied up my loom I tied up tabby (a) to a far left treadle and tabby (b) to a far right treadle, my four pattern treadles are in the middle. I started my tabby throw with tabby (b) from the right, so I always know which tabby I should treadle by which side the shuttle is on.

I will have this piece done today and am ready to weave something fun….Echo Weave, or Turned Taqueté I think.
Pavlova for Father's Day - my Kiwi's fav...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Modifying the AVL Loom

My first warp on Avril is a No Tabby Crackle scarf. I warped the AVL in the same method that I used for the Minerva. Unfortunately most of the photos that I took have disappeared into the ether, but you can see my method here. This AVL loom has to be kept in balance, so the heddles are kept half on the right and half on the left. To keep track of my centre heddle on each shaft my Mum came up with the following idea that she used on her previous Scandinavian countermarche loom. The centre heddle on each shaft has a pink knot added above the heddle hole. To make sure that the knots stay where I want them I added a drop of Fray Check to each one. When I take the scarf off the loom I will be able to just push the pink knot to the right side and won’t have to count to get the heddles to keep them even on the shaft.
The warp is 2/10 Tencel in Olive and the weft is Lemongrass! I am going for a tone on tone iridescent look. When I was tying on the warp to the front apron I noticed that the warp touched the bottom of the beater bar. The problem with that was the reed has a rough edge from the tape and it was rubbing and wearing the warp. Doing a little reading I found that AVL looms are supposed to have the warp sit very low in the reed so I didn’t want to make any permanent changes without working with the loom first. My temporary solution was to lash a warping stick in front of the reed, which lifted the warp off the reed but didn’t really change the shed.
I also noticed that metal pins at the end of each shaft, which keep the shafts stable, were wearing a groove into the wood. The solution that I came up with is to add a bead. I was hoping for pink to match the pink knots on the heddles but the only beads that we had that worked were large white pony beads. They look neat and tidy and well, they match the texsolv heddles!
When I was looking for my first project on Avril I looked through Alice Schlein’s book on Network Drafting and she had a chapter on how to make a peg plan. My stomach dropped looking at the instructions I wasn’t sure that I could do it. Then after some thought I realized that a peg plan was just a lift plan and our computer program does that for me, thank goodness. I was soon happily pegging a way then I realized that with a lift plan the numbers are for the shafts that are lifting. I was putting a peg where the number were so the dobby would hold that shaft down, darn; I was going to weave the scarf upside down. No matter, I will remember for next time (actually I won’t, but I have resigned myself to the fact I will be weaving everything upside down from now on!). The second thing that I did was put the chain on back to front and well I wasn’t going to fix it. So I am now weaving the scarf upside down and the pattern is going in the wrong way. Thank goodness it’s Crackle and you can’t tell!
It was the Guild’s summer break pot luck last week and I brought a dessert. It was darling little tartlets filled with lemon curd cream and topped with Dianthus and Johnny-jump-ups. Very pretty as well as yummy!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Knitted Shrug ~ Feelin' Groovy

There have been so many things keeping me from my loom this month…I’m definitely feeling a bit loom deprived lately! Ngaire has been doing all the posts for almost a month!I decided that my outdoor dining set needed a revamp and this funky 70’s inspired fabric was just the thing! I’m not the worlds’ fastest seamstress by any means, so making the cushions for six chairs took me a week. My poor wee Janome sewing machine was really put to the test as the outdoor weight fabric and the heavy gauge thread really tested its’ limits. I’m pretty happy with my groooooovy cushions! My evenings were spent knitting this fun shrug. I used my own handspun merino in a lovely coral colour. The yarn was spun around the time I was asked to take early retirement from my job; a stressful time to say the least, so the yarn is nowhere near perfect, this piece was destined to be mine. Here it is being blocked on my ironing board.The shrug was constructed by knitting the sleeves first, then the back. The sleeves were sewn together and added to the back on circular needles. Then the fun part began, the collar sides and back frill were knit in the round, finally the frill was added to the sleeves. This was a really fun project! I took it to the end of the season Ponderosa Pot Luck Dinner on the 10th and it received rave reviews. I told my tale about why the spinning was not up to standard and was stunned when the hostess came up to me and asked to buy it! I was thrilled to see it go to a good home! I found this pattern free on the net at, it was named Comfy Shrug.I recently received a nice big 12 pound order of Tencel; lovely for me, but sadly I made this large (for me) order as my supplier will no longer be carrying it! I’ve stocked up for a good long while, and have plenty of ideas for future shawls and scarves!I do have a short warp on Lily Louet….another GCW Test piece…..Overshot with Borders is next on my agenda.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

AVL Loom Getting Acquainted

The AVL was a little dusty from being in storage and there were some greasy marks around the handle for the folding weaving deck. I was able to clean the greasy marks off with a combination of VIM and Murphy’s Oil Soap. It is amazing to see the difference.
The AVL came with a couple of issues that needed to be fixed before I can weave. The treadles had come off so just needed to be bolted back in. Of course some bolts needed to be tighten after five years in storage. But the main thing was the top pulley had split in half.
I had never seen an AVL before let alone a mechanical dobby so I didn’t know how integral the pulley is to the loom. It is the connection between the dobby system and the treadles without it the loom doesn’t work. Thankfully, my Dad is handy and so he was able to come up with a solution. He laminated oak to the sides of the pulley; the grains are running in opposite to give extra strength. By using the original piece it fits perfectly and there is no change in the tension of the system. We call his solution the Hamburger!
The aprons on the loom had some holes in them so my Mum cut off the worse off it and re-sewed the aprons. They are really pretty now! Also the front apron was much larger then the back apron, at least twice as large, so they got swapped. The loom didn’t come with lease sticks, or what I recognized as lease sticks. There were two sticks of maple that I asked my Dad to drill holes in so I could use them as lease sticks. But what I got back was amazing; he had used my Mum’s Louet lease sticks as a template and reshaped the maple into proper lease sticks. The Louet lease stick is on the bottom and my new knife edged stick is on top.
I am endlessly fascinated with this loom so here is a closer look at the dobby system. There are trestles or bars that move around a cog. The trestles are held in a chain with either C rings or with plastic strips. When using the plastic strips a half peg is needed if the shaft is to move so it can hold down the strip but not interfere with the pattern, you can see it on the far left in the picture. Behind the cog are thin strips of metal that correspond to the shafts. When the trestle is even with the strips the pegs hold down the shafts. So where there are no pegs the shafts go up.
Mum and I have taken turns pressing the treadles so the other person can watch the system work! One of the many things that I didn’t know was about the treadling. It turns out the right treadle does all the work of lifting the shafts. The left treadle clears the shafts and moves the system to the next trestle. So the right treadle is much heavier then the left, I wonder if my right leg is going to be much larger and stronger than the left!

I am really excited about this loom and I have my first warp planned and colours chosen . . . can‘t wait!