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

Sunday, April 07, 2019

Nearly there...

This weekend was a praxis one, putting theory into practice. As part of 'investing' in weaving as a hobby, I have read and re-read different weaving books and blogs on methods of warping but so far I have only warped one way. It was time to try another method - to make sure I was choosing rather than doing the only method I knew. This is probably my 6th or 7th piece of weaving, and all the others have been warped back to front. There seems to be two main schools of warping, Back to Front, one where the warp is distributed using a raddle and wound onto the back beam before being threaded through the heddles, then thru the reed, then tied on to the front beam. Essentially the warp is wound on the back beam and then threaded from back to front of the loom.  The other method is Front to Back, the warp  is installed working from the front to the back of hte loom first it is sleyed through the reed, next threaded through the heddles then tied onto the back and wound onto the back beam.

This is the beginning of my first foray into Front to Back warping. Well actually there was a stage before this where I removed the reed, laid it flat on two supports and threaded the warp evenly across it. I had to find a way of supporting the weight of the warp while I worked - as it was likely to drag itself out of the loom and collapse on the floor. Looping it around my spinning chair worked well. There was a bit of loom ajdustment as removing the reed invovled a bit of a tugg of war - so I sanded and shaved the recess so the reed is a better fit into the beater. This should make it easier and quicker to remove the reed in future.

It seems easiest to work from the centre out so the next stage was to find the centre of the warp, easy in this case - as I have four equal sections of colour, and the middle point is between the second and third colour sections.  Each thread was threaded through the heddles, in  pattern - just a very simple and probably very  old [1-2-3-4-3-2] point twill.

Saturday I   threaded the reed, and manged to get one of the colour sections into the heddles. Sunday I worked a little more on this, and completed out to the edge of the right side. For me the right is always the more awkward side to thread through the heddles - as it means using the threading hook in the left hand ( I am right handed).  It is possible to work from the right side intoward the left - but that involves counting out threads and heddles and being very accurate, for this impatient beginner I find it easier to thread in pattern until I run out of warp.
I discovered that threading the heddles Front to Back is very much more comfortable than sitting at the front. The spacing is just nicer, a more comfortabel reach and height (the back beam is higher than the front on this loom)- that alone is likely to make this my warping method of choice. 

Sunday afternoon Bear helped me wind the warp onto the back beam. My other addition to my weaving kit is 5 meters of screen door mesh. This is my new layer between the warp threads. I love this!  The warp is smooth and it seems so much neater and flater than using warp sticks or wall paper or corrugated card. Corrugated card - oddlly enough would have been more expensive to buy than the door screen mesh. It was a bit tricky to wind on - definalty a two person activity to keep it rolled tight with two hands and to wind the back beam with a third hand. I love how flat and smooth and evenly spread out the warp yarns are.
The next stage was to sort the treadling tie up - to adjust all the cords between the shafts and the upper and lower lamms so that the pattern is correct. This is my first real working play with the texsolv as a tie up system.  It was much faster to shift pegs than it was to adjust the larks head knots on the nylon cord I was using previously. I now have working sheds - that is the warp opens enough to pass a shuttle through - but they could be neater - so over the next few days I will tweak the peg placements until I have it as neat as it can be.   Using two treadles for plain weave, and four for the pattern ... but I will play in iWeave it to see if there are variations to the tie up that I can add in with the last two treadles.
So - end of the weekend and all ready to 'throw' the first weft!
I would have continued but we had a family birthday dinner (Bear's) and it was 5:50pm... we were due at the resturant at 6:30, so I had to push this back to the wall and step away from the loom.

There has been knitting, and there is gardening - but more on those next post.
na Stella