Sunday, June 30, 2013

Summer and Winter Baby Blankie - threaded

Is it just me, or is the early morning light shining through heddles threaded in blocks a thing of beauty?

Maybe it's just because I threaded every one of those warps.  So anyway, we're threaded,


tensioned and checked.  Here's another cool picture of the wavy tabby shed formed by shafts 3 through 16.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

This summer's "Summer & Winter" weaving continued - moving heddles

As I mentioned, I haven't done much weaving using the Summer & Winter weave structure.  This structure requires a lot of heddles to be on 2 of the shafts (the tie-down threads get threaded on these 2 shafts), while relatively few heddles are required on all the other shafts (these are the "pattern" shafts).

In fact, half of all the warp ends are threaded on the first 2 shafts; the other half are distributed on the other N-2 (where in this case, N=16).

So, before I get to the threading, now I have to do what I've decided is my least favorite task in weaving: moving heddles.  I will redefine shafts or reorder them before I'll move heddles.  I've found something to enjoy about all the other jobs.  Still looking for the spoonful of sugar this one.

Moving heddles involves removing the heddle frames from the loom, counting out heddles, unhooking the heddle bars and sliding the heddles off one frame and onto another that needs them.  Here are the frames removed from the loom and all piled onto a table.

Part of the job is done, and that's counting out how many heddles are already on each shaft frame.  Last time I moved heddles, I put a piece of masking tape with how many heddles were on each shaft.  Those are the pieces of tape on the left.  The ones in the middle are just the shaft number (1 through 16).

After getting enough onto frames #1 and 2, the task ended up being largely taking heddles off and storing them.  The inserted-eye-type ones have a direction that makes it easier to thread if they are sitting pointing the right way for your threading hook to go through.  So here I'm threading them onto some cord to keep them in order...
...and bundling them up with the cords.

On many of the frames, the heddles were all every-which-way, so I didn't bother threading them on cords.  It will just be extra tedious to put them back on, one by one in the proper direction, when the time comes.

It will be nice then to know they're all lined up in the right direction like soldiers.  Maybe then I'll take the time to clean the rust off the bars as well.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Warping a sectional beam - #3: last step before threading

The yarn was wound onto spools in step #1, then wound off the spools onto the warp beam in step #2, now we're going to partially unwind it back off of the warp beam so there's enough length to thread through the heddles on the loom.  I know, seems like a lot of wind-on, wind-off, repeat!  But of course it's really important to keep the yarn neat and under control, and this does it.

So next I transfer the ends each section of warp, still stuck on the pieces of tape, from the warp beam to a rod that I have now suspended from the back beam.  This is so that I can simultaneously unwind all the sections, a distance enough to get them threaded through the heddles.  You can see the wire heddles there in the background waiting to be threaded.

Next I slip the rod out of its hanging cord, and unwind the warp beam carefully while holding the rod.  I have found that if I unwind until the rod gets about to the front of the castle, in front of the upper jacks, it is a good length to pull through the heddles.
Look inside the loom in this photo; at the bottom of the loom behind the lower jacks.  I have put a piece of cardboard down there, in preparation for what I do next.

Now I've moved the cardboard up over the beam... that when I drape the warp down into position behind the heddles, it doesn't catch on the warp beam spikes.  It can be really annoying when it does that while I'm threading.  I'd be interested to know of different solutions people have come up with for this problem.  I've tried a towel, but I think I like the cardboard better.

So now the rod gets suspended from the castle, at a convenient height to reach through from the front of the loom while threading.

Everything from here on out is the same as when threading back-to-front on a loom with a standard warp beam.  The only difference is that instead of the warp ends being held on lease sticks behind the heddles, they are held on this rod with pieces of masking tape, one inch per piece of tape.  So when I thread, I count out 1 inch worth of heddles, bring the next piece of tape with its ends stuck to it and stick it somewhere convenient, usually the cloth beam, and thread as normal for a standard beam loom.

Ready to thread!

Sprang lecture and workshop with Bobbinwinders Guild

Last week I gave another lecture on my work in combining sprang with my on-loom weaving, plus an afternoon hands-on workshop introducing sprang, this time for the Bobbinwinders Guild in Covina, California.

The workshop was a little hectic because it was a bit shorter than the ideal amount of time, but everyone at least started to get the hang of working the sprang, and a few people finished their pouche projects completely.

Here are some bags like the ones we made in the workshop:

The Bobbinwinders were very warm and hospitable, and made me feel very welcome.  Plus they serve a great lunch as part of their meeting!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Gallery photo shoot

Fiber artists' response to the "Woven Together: Firestorm" exhibit was outstanding.  Here's a picture of my piece, Regeneration, with others in this show.  Mine's the one in the lower right.
 photo Firestorm_hpd_9_zpsd85aaa40.jpg
Below you can view the entire slide series of the gallery.
MizRock145's PPWG FIRESTORM album on Photobucket

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Warping a sectional beam - #2: Winding onto the warp beam

Continuing from the last post on sectional warping, next those 24 spools are put on a spool rack.  If your "packages" are not spools but rather cones or spills, etc., they would go onto an appropriate apparatus to deliver the yarn off them instead.

From each spool, the yarn is run over to the tension box which is attached to the back of the loom near the warp beam.

The cords running vertically up the middle of all the spools are to keep the yarn from catching on the edges of its cardboard spool.  It's important that the yarn comes off smoothly and consistently.

I've also found that I need to keep the spools from wandering over to the frame of the rack.  In the column of spools closest to the camera, you can see some tiny wooden thread-spools I've put there to act like separators; these seem to do the job.

In this next photo you can see the yarn going through the tension box.  Each yarn goes through a bit of reed, then back and forth through those tensioning dowels, and out through another comb where they are all hanging down there now, tied together in a knot.

This is not the type of tension box designed for my loom.  It's just one I got for a cheap price.  It's designed by LeClerc Looms for use on a LeClerc loom.  My loom is a Macomber.

The tension box is normally supposed to sit so the yarn takes a more direct route to the beam, usually more horizontal.  Mine is sitting vertically, clamped on with grip clamps, because that's how I can get it to fit on my back beam.  I should invest in the right tool someday...

Here's that knot in the group of warp ends hanging down from the tension box.  I have attached it to the leader cord of one of the sections on the sectional beam, by making a "lark's head" knot in the leader and tightening it around the warps just above the knot in the warps.

As the warp beam is turned, the leader cord draws all the warp ends taut and starts to wrap them onto the warp beam.

The plastic tubing looking things are guides that I made from aquarium tubing.  I put them on the sectional beam "spikes" so the spikes don't pierce through the group and get some of the warps into the wrong section.

As the beam continues to turn and the knot is no longer affecting the group of threads, the warp section spreads out nicely.  This is where those guides come in handy to keep them in the right section.

As I mentioned in the previous post, this project needs 3 turns worth of warp in each section, so I turn the beam a total of 3 times.  My loom has a crank on the end of the beam, with a clicker-counter to count the turns, but for a shorter warp like this one I usually just turn it with my hand on the beam, and count out loud to myself every time I go past the knot.

When 3 turns are complete, I put a piece of masking tape across the group of warps, pressing to make sure I get them all stuck to the tape, and cut the warp just above the tape.

Then I stick the tape to the beam, tie a new overhand knot in the warp, move my guides to the next section, and I'm ready to attach to the next leader cord.

Repeat for each section across the width.  Next installment will be bringing the ends near the heddles to prepare to thread.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Warping a sectional beam - #1

When I first acquired my loom that has a sectional beam, I looked in the books I had, and then on the internet (searching "how do I warp my sectional beam") to find information on how to use it, and found that what is out there is a little short.  From what I was able to dig up, I've worked out my way of warping my sectional-beam loom.  So I thought I'd post here how I do it at least, with the thought it may help someone searching as I was.

Instead of putting the whole width of the warp on the beam at once, like you do on a standard warp beam, the warp gets put on in "sections" (hence the name "sectional warp beam").  The first thing you need to prepare is one "package" of yarn for each warp-end in a section.  These packages could be cones or spools, or I suppose even balls of yarn.

My sectional beam has 1-inch sections, and the project I am making is 24 ends per inch.  So I need 24 packages.  In my case, I am winding 24 of the cardboard spools in the photo.

The yarn I bought came on a cone, which I have sitting on the floor.  The yarn goes through a stick with holes drilled in it - the tension helps my yardage counter work better.  Then it goes through the counter and onto the spool which is fitted onto a bobbinwinder.

My sectional beam is 3/4 of a yard per turn, and I will be putting 3 turns worth of warp onto each section, 3 x 0.75 = 2.25 yards.  Adding 2 tenths of a yard for a knot and some overlap gives 2.45 yards per section.  I will be using 40 sections (since I want my project to be 40 inches wide in the reed), so I need to measure 2.45 x 40 = 98 yards onto each spool.  If you are used to doing the calculations for a standard beam, the math logic may seem kind of "sideways" until you get used to it.

I guess "yardage counter" is a bit of a misnomer since my counter actually counts feet and not yards.  Sigh.  98 feet x 3 ft/yd = 294 feet.  So I'm running the counter up to 300 feet "for good measure", as they say.

If you just buy a bunch of tubes or cones, then you could skip this whole step.  I don't buy yarn in anywhere near that kind of quantity, so I divide it up as I need it for each project.

Next installment, winding onto the beam, where you'll see my jury-rigged tension box and an alternative application for aquarium tubing.  Stay tuned...

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Leaves in Summer and Winter

I spent a little time and yarn sampling on my table loom, using the structure known as "Summer and Winter", and made these leaf figures:

I want to use this structure to make a baby blanket, since Summer and Winter is a traditional weave for coverlets and throws.  I did the sample because I don't think I've ever actually done a project using Summer and Winter, and I wanted to test out the weights of yarn I thought I would need before ordering more (!) yarn.  I am using 10/2 cotton as warp and the tabby weft, and 5/2 cotton for the pattern weft, which is pretty standard I guess.  I think it is working fine.  I can see, though, that I am going to have to pay attention and make sure I am consistent in how I treat the selvedges in the real piece.

This weave is called Summer and Winter because, as it is traditionally woven, one side of the resulting fabric is darker than the other.  The other side of this sample appears as a white leaf motif on a green background.  The portions of white are where the white tabby weft is showing more, and the green areas are where the pattern weft is allowed to float over more of the warps.  There are several different treadling sequences that can be used, each giving a different shape to the little pixelated units.  Here I am using a sequence that gives each dot of color a kind of rounded shape.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Stash reduction garment

The blue mixed warp fabric I was weaving "just to weave" has become something to wear after all.  This was my first experimentation with making a pattern using a draping method.  It's a simple and non-fitted style, so it wasn't that complicated; a good intro for me.

My concept was to use the fabric left from cutting the asymmetrical hemline to make the triangular gussets on the sides.  Those triangles turned out to be too wide, so there was still a strip of fabric left over there.  I also cut armholes and facings, so while I used up some tubes and balls of yarn, I still have a pile of scraps in my stash.  Oh, well.

Those horizontal lines in the front piece aren't flaws or weaving errors; I just couldn't let well enough alone and had to introduce some random weft variations to relieve the monotony of weaving plain weave with a single yarn.

The hand of the fabric is a little heavier than I would have liked, but it's wearable, I had fun and I'm happy with the pattern I created.