Saturday, November 23, 2013

Pinwheel Tea Towels on Eight Shafts ~ Cutting Out

 The beautiful 8 shaft pinwheel tea towels have become the bane of my weaving world.  I just can’t believe how many problems I’ve had with this warp!

The first 36 inch tea towel had been woven and I was about 8 inches into towel number two when I started to notice that there were loose threads in the centre of the web. 
This was essentially the same place where the threads had snarled when I was pulling the warp through the raddle when I beamed the warp. 
As you can see the stripes are bowing toward the centre….not good!

There is really only one fix for a poorly beamed warp and that’s cutting it off and re-beaming.  This is my process.
I choose a spot near the selvedge and push apart the warp and carefully clip each weft thread.  I do the same on the other side. 
I don’t clip the weft right on the selvedges because it can put too much stress on the selvedge threads.
Then using a blunt needle I pull out each thread from somewhere around the centre of the web.  I change up the spot from time to time to minimize damage to the web.  I unpicked the weft right back to the end of the first teatowel.
Before I went any further I inserted my lease sticks back into the web, to help with re-beaming.
Then I cut off my first tea towel.  Here it is off the loom but still not washed.  It is so pretty and light, but I’m not sure if I’m preserving with this hideous warp because it makes a pretty cloth or if I’m just too pissed to quit!
At this point I needed lots of hands, so my husband manned the back beam and brake and Ngaire and I pulled the warp through the heddles and the reed from the front.
This warp didn't pull through the heddles and reed without a fight and there were more snarls and snags to contend with; but thankfully it finally came off the back beam and I could start the process of beaming all over again.
I could not believe the difference in the length of some of the threads when I tied on, it was several inches between the shortest and longest!  While I was teasing these twisting, torqueing  threads onto the beam the first time I beamed it; I was sacrificing the overall tension of the warp and boy did I pay the price.

Monday, November 18, 2013

8 Shaft Tea Towels - Pinwheel Pattern

 The never ending story of these 8 shaft twill tea towels continues, with yet another set back. 

The warp was on the loom and I had threaded the heddles and was almost completely finished sleying the reed.  I began to notice that the warp was getting wider than I thought it should….and that’s when my basic math skills leapt to the fore.  I was sleying the threads 4 to a dent in an 8 dent reed….yup 4x8=32 and I was supposed to be at 36 epi.  I wish I could say that I grabbed the wrong reed, but no, I remember looking specifically for the 8 dent reed and not the 9 that was right beside it!  Complete brain fart!
Since I was working with 868 ends I really didn’t want to pull all the sorted ends out of the reed and start again, so I popped the reed out of the beater and placed it onto the framework of the loom behind the beater with the cut ends face down.
I put the 9 dent reed into the beater and one by one I carefully transferred each 4 end bundle into the dents. 
 Surprisingly it went very quickly and without a hitch. 
Finally, ready to weave!
If you squint just a wee bit I think you can see the pinwheels developing, but only a wet finishing will tell if I’ve got this right.
I made myself a template tape to help me keep consistent, and I run it along the left of my web.  I marked off 2” for turn-under and then I insert a red thread guide my first pressing line.  I separate each towel with 4 picks in yellow as a cutting guide.  I’ve also marked off when to start the pattern on each end.
Just thought I’d show you how different the same pattern can look with different warp and weft…on the left is hand-painted silk and bamboo weft, the middle is tencel with muga silk weft and the pattern elongated and the right is tencel with tencel weft; a super versatile pattern! 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Twill Tea Towels ~ 8 Shaft Pinwheel Stars

Wanting to use yarn from my stash is always a challenge. I’ve wanted to weave a set of fine tea towels using 2/16 cotton for some time and I’ve wanted to try out this colour and weave twill pattern that looks just lovely with the tiny pinwheel stars.

Off I went into my stash cupboard and found that I had some lovely blue and green cotton in 2/16, but I didn’t have anything that went with them.  What I found was some 24/4 white cotton which has approximately the same yards per pound.

Then came the realization that the ends per inch needed to be somewhere between 30-40 threads ~ 30 for loose plain weave, and 40 for lace weave.  Since I was doing twill I decided on 36 ends per inch.  My final thread count is 868 ends for a 24 inch tea towel and that is more heddles per shaft than I have on my loom.  First order of business, move heddles from shafts 11 and 12 onto shafts 1 to 8; this is fairly straight forward on the Louet Spring loom, but it sure hurts your fingers after a few shafts! I'm thinking this is my first big mistake.

The plan is to weave 6 tea towels at 36 inch long each, so I pulled a warp of 242 inches.  This is just shy of 7 yards but still gives me lots of loom waste and take-up.  Since I had 2 cones of the white cotton yarn I decided to pull them at the same time, but to separate them at the cross to keep them in order.  This proved to be my second big mistake, and the reason is torque.  As the thread is pulled up off the cone it creates a spiral and by using 2 cones at the same time, the spiral turned into twist.  I pulled the warp in 3 sections over 2 days because it was a tad tedius.  I’m already having doubts about this project.
This is how it looked as I was trying to pull the warp onto the loom.  This was such a nasty warp to pull on that it took 2 people 1-1/2 hours to get it through the raddle and beamed because the torque was immense.  Starting to really dislike this project!
Nothing but snarls and twists as the threads passed through the raddle!
And even more sticking and bridging as they tried to pass through the lease sticks.
I had to stop and strum the warp with the back of my fingers to separate the web, every half turn of the back beam ~ awful!
 Right now I’m threading the loom and up pops my next challenge; bear with me while I explain my problem.  When I work out the pattern on the computer I have the tie up on the top right of the screen, when I pull the warp on the warping board I start at the same place, but start building my warp from the back left of the loom.  So when I start to thread I’m sitting at the loom and I start threading from right to left and that is from the left of the screen printout.  Normally this is not a problem, but on this particular colour and weave pattern if you thread it backward the pattern does this and you lose the star pattern.
There is another very odd foible in this pattern, if you don’t get the threading and treadling exactly right you get this.  Not only do you lose the stars but you lose the rest of the pattern.
Because of the way I put the warp on the back beam I’m having to thread my heddles from left to the right to make sure it works out.  I'm finding it completely counter intuitive and it’s taking me forever to get anywhere, but I have to admit that it's looking really, really lovely.