Sunday, May 26, 2019

Those people, who came before and were weavers, they were clever.

The weavers who came before me, they were clever. They worked out ways to do things that work. Some times, those of us who come later, who come late to doing things, the next generation or the later generations think we understand - but usually then find that the ways of the 'old people' work better than we expect. Today I have an update on weaving - still not weaving, and on knitting, which is actually knitting.
 First up is the knitting, I have reached that moment in bottom up knitting where the sleeves are introduced to the body. Knitting in the round has lots of benefits, like being able to try it as it is  knit, no seams to sew, and for some patterns being able to mindlessly knit around and around instead of working back wards and forwards.
There are also some awkward moments with knitting in the round. Just after adding the sleeves to the body - there is a weird awkward stage where the top of the sleeves are constrained by the shortness of the underarm section - it really takes knitting for 2-3 cm's  with a variation of magic loop before true knitting in the round can be done. The fun part of this is about to start - working a full yoke in colour work. Unfortunately I have another project that needs attention, so this will proceed slowly almost as a treat for working on the 'things that have a deadline'.
 And the weaving, well I warped front to back,  so sleyed the reed/beater first. The instructions generally are to 'rough sley' - in an approximation of the final distribution across the reed. Usually in a pattern of paired yarns - and then thread the heddles, then re-slay the reed with the final distribution. I say distributions as there is seldom one thread in each slot of the reed - usually there is a distribution pattern like 2/2/3 threads in the reed slots.  This sleying twice eemed like an unnecessary step so I sleyed with the final distribution - in my case 2/3 in a 12 dent reed for a final sett of 30 epi.
I transferred the cross to behind the reed and threaded the heddles. Then tied the warp to the back beam and wound it on. Then I tied the warp to the front beam. And tested the treddles - and found several - well more than several threads were twisted at the reed. It happens, well with 600 threads and several operations it is likely that  some might jump over their neighbors as the threading is worked. I spent a good 10-15 minutes sorting the threads in the first inch of the warp - before deciding that those weavers who came before me - the ones who resleyed the reed - they actually had a point. So I untied the warp from the front beam - and pulled the bouts of warp out of the reed - securing each inch bout in a slip knot.
 Then working from the right to the left I re-sleyed the reed. All the time i thought how clever those weavers were - the ones who had not only worked out how to do this complicated thing - installing 600+ warp threads on a loom in pattern - but had shared their working method of how to do it. This took a little over an hour - but was much quicker than finding and fixing all the odd twisted errors. By this time it was too dark to see in daylight - even though it was only 5pm - I needed the extra punch of the desk lamp to help me.
 Then I had a magic moment, I settled myself on the floor with my draft diagram all ready to retie up the treddles for the new pattern. What I discovered was the lift for this draft was identical to the lift for the previous project - so I was all set to go. I was a bit lazy and wove the header inch using the 8/2 cotton from the last project that was already on the shuttle (this project is thinner 12/2 cotton).

Finally I checked the shed - and with no twisted threads and with no change to the tie up of the treddles it was clear. The end threads are my pair of floating selvedges so will sit in the middle of the open shed. Once I wind the cloth over the cloth beam I think i will get a better shed - that is something I might play a little with. Adjusting the treddle tie up to see if the shed can be larger. This is the second project with Texsolve - and it does make me more inclined to play.
I think I need to check the threading - there might be a few places where it isn't quite right. That will have to wait until the weekend I think.  A bit disappointing but something I suspected. I hope it is a straightforward fix - but if not most redos are quick as the how has already been worked out.

na Stella

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Hello again

I have been knitting and setting up the next weaving project. My Afterparty sweater/jersey/jumper* is coming along nicely, I am into the third sleeve. Yes three - the first sleeve didn't quite follow the rate of increases, I had worked the increases every 5 instead of every 6 rounds. So I frogged back to the beginning of the increases and worked it again. This morning I joined up with James, and J - all three of us gathered at James house to watch the final of Eurovision Song Quest. I rediscovered it last year - and decided to make a point of watching again - just like we did as kids when it was televised. Of course New Zealand isn't European and has no way to enter (unlike Australia!). That little jaunt made for nearly four hours of straight knitting time on a Sunday morning - which is nearly 1/3 of a sleeve. And the winner - lets just say it wasn't my pick - but I'm not officially European (so don't get a vote) and the final show as pretty light spectacular fantastic!

The loom is part-way dressed, I successfully moved the cross from in front of the reed to behind it - a little bit of magic that completely confused Bear who was helping.  This link provided really clear instructions, and it was kind of magic, turn lease stick,  pull warpk insert new lease stick and voila! Transferred.


Saturday I threaded 1/3 of the heddles, and Sunday afternoon managed to get the rest threaded. There are 600 in total - and the pattern repeats over 20 threads - between working in sets of four and checking - it was slow going. This time I am using iWeaveIt, the weaving app for iPad. This has a neat feature that lets you work through threading block by block. I spent the time turning the loom so the best light from the window was over my shoulder - and eventually added a desk lamp so I could work beyond sun set (it is May so dusk falls around 5pm now).
As I began to wind it onto the back beam - I realized that I had missed tying on 4 threads - and now I have to pause and unwind and attach it with the others to the back beam. I cant believe I missed it - and there is nothing to do but fix it and continue carefully. I know that it will be fiddly to fix - as there are also two broken threads to fix and re-thread through the heddles. There is something a little odd about some one like me working on something that requires so much careful managing - I really prefer things that flow craftwise - but once the prep is done - weaving flows.
 Here is the progress shot of the sleeves, at this rate these will be done soon - which means the yoke is next. The yoke on this sweater is colour work - so lots of fun to look forward to.
I liked the proportions of this sweater, a slightly wider boxy body and longer sleeves - and I am hoping this darker burnt orange will fit into my wardrobe of blue and blue grey and black easily.

* sweater/jersey/jumper, I grew up in New Zealand speaking of these garments as jumpers, and perhaps jerseys, but with the leap into online knitting communities the word sweater has joined my vocab. This leaves me a little confused as to what word to use when talking online so I use all three.

Na Stella

Thursday, April 25, 2019

And yes, I have been knitting

Today it is a late post, I have a weeks leave from work and little things like weekend routines tend to slide. But there is knitting,
The knitting is Scottish, Le Petit Lambswool Biches and Bouche, I am shamelessly copying a sweater I saw at Unwind - Afterparty by Astrid Troland. The yarn was a late Unwind 2019 purchase - I told myself I didn't need it, that I had lots of yarn, but  Sunday morning, 3 days in I realized that I would regret not adding the Le Petit Lambswool to my stash. The yarn is not merino or cashmere soft, but is light and soft to touch - more like Shetland yarns only perhaps softer. After party should look good with dark plain dresses and jeans and other wardrobe staples.
As well as knitting on Afterparty (and a few other languishing projects in the WIP basket), I have been playing with my Inklette loom. I've had this for a few years but only recently realized that it was perfect for making matching tapes for hand woven items. This was meant to be a perfect match for the black-white shaded warp that is currently on the Loom. I say meant to be as the idea was good but a little naive.
I knew in theory that the white weft would show on each edge, and that if it matched the warp it would appear invisible. What I failed to understand was that it would show as tiny white blips on the black side of the band. I could have switched the white weft out to a grey - dark or light, but decided to continue to weave the band and use this as practice for my tension. I worked purposefully on this - making sure the white blips were as even as I could make them. I also worked my way through several Inkle forum threads on, testing advice and suggestions for keeping Inkle selvedges neat and tidy.
What I learned I put into practice on a wider band.  This one has 91 threads, and I have added an Inkle temple. This is a wrap of sturdyt paper taped to a fixed width. Every time I place a weft I change sheds and tug the weft until the band width matches the temple width. This simple little trick (Thank you Inkle weavers Help Desk of Ravelry) is genius. I am not too sure about the orange - but knew the grey/blue/black band needed some sort of bright. Bear asked how wide Inkles could be - I said not much wider than this on the Inklette and asked why.  Seems these have Guitar strap potential - which is one of the classic uses by many weavers. I might have to explore weaving wider  Inkle bands on a floor loom some time soon.
The weaving on the floor loom continues, this is tea towel number 3, in a chevron twill. I still consider myself a beginner weaver, and the inconsistencies in my beating are really clear in this photo. The good news is that washing and tumble drying seems to help even things out. The messy bits just above the orange weft are the anchor pegs  of the Texsolve supporting the lamms. The plan is to place a narrow decorative band in a darker colour 2/3 of the way up the piece.
Over the past week I have tweaked and adjusted the tie-up and now the loom is working nicely.  I've worked out which cords go behind and which in front, and how long each cords should be. There were some adjustments to make as the Texsolv anchor pegs don't fit the the holes in the shafts - but they do work as buttons to hold the cord in place. Some of the lamms didn't work so well with the pegs - they rode so closely together that the pegs would get caught and flick out. of the Texsolve holes.  For those positions I switched to cotter pins, which clamp on the cord and lie very very flat on the top of the lamm. I might have celebrated the loom being in lovely smooth working condition by ordering some loom toys.
 I also dropped into the local library and picked up two books on Inkle weaving.l I have Anne Dicksons weaving on four shafts book and think I will add her Inkle pattern directory to my bookshelf in the near future.
Helen Bress's Inkle weaving book is a little dated - no colour but  sections on how to add sticks and found objects to ones inkle bands.. What I did like is full detailed plans for making both a  table top and floor standing Inkle loom. I don't have immediate plans to build any more looms - but it is nice to know where to find plans.
The sweater, Afterparty, is at the stage of needing sleeves, so that is the next thing to work on. I have been procrasta-weaving at the thought of working two long tubes (sleeves) before the fund colour work of the yoke. The loom is in the room at the far end of the house, and the lighting isn't the best in there so knitting in the living area with nice bright lights is the best choice now the daylight hours are shorter. 
take care
na Stella

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Are we there yet?

So, last week I said I was nearly there, and it seems I jinxed it maybe just a little. I am weaving but there has been a lot of little tweaking between then and now. I should have expected that, I have replaced all the plain nylon cord with Texsolv and knew I would need to spend some time finding the right lengths for each of the cords so it all worked nicely. I also knew that with 580 thread ends, 4 shafts, four upper lams and four lower lams and eight treadles to connect in the right order and with the right distances between them that there were lots of placed to confuse things. That is 297,859 points to connect and 297,859 points to muck up. At some level it is a little like knitting, as a complete garment can contain that number of stitches - all of which need to face the right way and be the same size and in order. In another way - with Weaving, the corrections mostly happen at the start, once things are sorted the actual weaving is simpler.

So ...first I sorted out where I had accidentally crossed threads between the heddles and the reed.
Then I placed a flat stick into the weft, changed the shed and placed another flat stick,  so I could identify where the threads were not in order. It happens - but easily fixed at this stage. a matter of undoing the tie on knot and pulling these gently out and rearranging in the correct order. 
Then it was a case of weaving a little bit - and looking carefully for other errors. Here several set of two threads are twinned, sitting beside each other rather than taking turns - over/under. Again it is a case of gently pulling these out of the weave and sorting them into the right order.
Once  that was sorted - I wove a little more, just to check the threading was right. And then thinking things were good I worked a two-stick header, so I could eliminate the bulky tie on knots. This is something I have seen in Peggy Osterkamp's book and blog. I like it, it is neat and tidy and rather cool. It did seem to waste a bit more yardage- or at least it did in my case as I didn't have the foresight to place this closer to the beginning of the warp. Live, weave and learn.

The last little bit of checking is to make sure the treadles are tied up in the correct order.  Two things need to be 'right' here, that the order is correct for the pattern, when treadle two is depressed - in this case shafts two and four should rise and shafts one and three should fall). The other thing is that the treadles need to be tied up so that the 'shed' or opening created by lifting or lowering the shafts is clean - no stray threads sitting in the middle that could go either way and muck up the pattern. When I started weaving  my pattern, a point twill, - the pattern created was nice - but not the pattern I had planned. It took a wee bit of time sitting on the floor fiddling with the tie up to make sure everything was working together in the way I wanted it to.

Finally, it looked good, the top few rows of pattern are the one I planned. There is one little teeny mistake that I do need to fix. If you look carefully one quarter of the way in from the left of the photo - there is an interruption of the pattern. I think - this involves re-threading two threads and adding an extra thread - but I will sleep on that before I do anything drastic.

And while I did all that, Bear and Frank held hands on the sofa. Truly they did, Frank reached out and quietly with soft paws/no claws made sure he was in contact with Bear... so cute.
na Stella