Friday, January 31, 2014

January's towel of the month - wet finishing - and giveaway!

To wet-finish my towels, I just put them through a normal laundry cycle in the washer and dryer.  Then I ironed them.  To end at a good place in the weave pattern, I wove the towels a little short of the 38" recommended in the WJ article, about 37.5" under tension.  Off the loom and before hemming, they measured about 36" x 17.5" - they lost a lot just coming off tension.  After hemming, they were 32.5" long.

Here's a photo before washing.

And here's the "after" photo.  After washing, they measure 32" x 17" - not much shrinkage due to washing.  The photo shows the spots closed up a little, but most of the movement of the yarns happened just by taking it off the loom.

You can see I had trouble keeping the motifs square and the diagonals at 45 degrees.  I kept beating too hard.  I found that I had to just barely squeeze the weft in place to keep it square. 

I'm happy with my towels so far.  Here's the plan for my three towels:  the first I'm going to keep and use in my kitchen.  The second I will send to a test kitchen among the households of my family members.  The third one I will give to one of you, someone who wove January's towel along with me.  Since only one weaver let me know (over on my Facebook page and google+) she was weaving along, the towel goes to her.  Thanks for weaving along, Anna!

If you join in next month for February's towel and would like to win the Towel of the Month, please leave a comment to let us all know you're participating.  You can put a link to photo(s) of your project, either finished or unfinished, in the comment.  At the end of the month I'll draw names from a hat.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Making a Hem with Hemstitching - Towel of the Month

Lots of the handweaving references I've seen show you how to make a fringed edge using the hemstitch.  But you can use this stitch to actually make a hem, as the name suggests.

Press under the edge to be hemmed, and then fold that edge so that it meets the line formed by removing a weft thread or two (or the waste yarn I wove in this case).  Put the needle under a group of warp threads (I'm going under 4 threads here), and pull the thread through.

Put the needle under the same group of threads again, and then catch the fold of the hem, and pull through again.  Going around this second time cinches up the group and forms a decorative line of holes along the edge of the hem.

Monday, January 27, 2014

January's towel of the month - weaving!

Yay!  all sleyed, ready to weave...

I raised shaft one, and checked that I had every other warp raised.  This was easy to see since I used a 15-dent reed: one yarn should be through each dent in the reed.  I raised all the other shafts (two through four) and all the other warps came up, looking similiar - one per dent.
Then I raised just shaft two, and checked that it was the pattern threaded for that shaft, in little groups of two: first six groups, then three spaced out, then five, then three...looked good.  Similarly with shafts three and four.  I tied up the treadles for weaving, and feeling smug that I didn't have any threading errors, raised the first shed to put in a header...and snapped a warp yarn. Presumably it was a threading error, but we'll never know since it came right out of the heddle it was in.  So I repaired it and started weaving.
I wove a couple inches of plain weave for my hem, then inserted a piece of rug warp that I'll remove after it comes off the loom, to make a line for my

Then I started watching the pattern appear.  It's an attractive pattern with a square field formed by the five groups of 2s and 3s, and a sort of an oval leaf shape in a star pattern.  I was happily weaving along thinking how nice it was to weave something that went so fast, when I noticed the right selvedge warp starting to wear.  I was getting too much draw-in.  So I sistered in another edge warp, and "bubbled" my weft more to get the draw-in to lessen.

Plain weave in this threading is formed by raising shaft one (foundation threads), versus all the other shafts (pattern threads) alternately.  You can see by studying the tie-up in the draft that the "spot" in spot Bronson is formed by leaving one pattern shaft lowered while the other shafts continue to raise to make plain weave, causing the weft to float over the 2 or 3 threads that are on the lowered shaft.  On the reverse side, those warp threads float correspondingly as warp floats.  And between them are another couple of layers of threads of warp and weft left just passing across each other, not woven.  These layers of non-interlaced yarns tend to smoosh together and form the spot or bump that makes the pattern.

In her book Handwoven Laces, Donna Muller devotes an entire chapter to spot Bronson.  She discusses the difference in structure and threading from huck spots, and how to use this structure to design your own patterns.

Are you enjoying weaving along in spot Bronson?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

January's towel - threading

Are any other weavers threading this yet?  This one was kind of tricky to thread.  I don't think I have ever woven Spot Bronson.  There are so many traditional structures I haven't explored - like the Summer & Winter summer weaving I did for the first time last year.

I complicated the threading process a bit because I did not have enough heddles on one shaft to be shaft 1, so I used shafts 1 through 4 as shaft 1, and used 5 through 7 as shafts 2 through 4.  I will do this to avoid having to move heddles, which I do not enjoy (to put it mildly).  I hope I did not introduce errors by being lazy.

Next step, sleying the dragon - uh, I mean the reed.

Who else is weaving Spot Bronson towels this month?

Friday, January 24, 2014

Silk nightmare conclusion

Is it possible for me to work my weaving-and-sprang combination in fine yarn?  The answer is yes.  Is it worth the effort?  I'll have to say no.  I'm not happy with the sprang part.  Whether because it is sett too close or because the scale of the rectangles is too large relative to the yarn, the sprang just looks 'blah'.

And in the end, it came down to who was going to be more stubborn: me or the warp?  And the warp won.

I did learn some things.  Silk can look as hairy as mohair at a fine enough scale.  Sett matters.  My eyes are not getting any younger.  There are limits to what I am willing to do.  And color and light is complicated.

The colors in this yarn really surprised me.  When I bought this stuff, and all through the warping process, I thought I was dealing with purples and browns.  Even when I look at what's left of the skeins now, that's still what I see: purples and browns.  It wasn't until I started weaving that I discovered that what I had thought were browns now appeared as reds, golds, and a color I cannot think of as anything but green.

I ended up weaving less than 4 inches.  Part of my motivation for getting this beast off the loom is that I want to use my 15-dent reed for my kitchen towel project, and it's nearly ready to sley.  So, move on and weave on.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I have another follower

Hmmm... this is a pretty interesting blog.  I've heard it features a cat now and then.  And lots of string.  I like string. - Sylvester

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Take-up differential in combined sprang-and-weaving

When I got to the end of the warp for my curved lines fabric, I was curious to know the difference in the take-up between my sprang warp (which was weighted in sections) and the warp that was beamed.

The answer was, not a lot considering this was after 4-plus yards of woven goods.  Off the loom, the portion of the fabric that has sprang measures 4 yards.  There was also some regular doublecloth at the two ends.

The difference between my "full" layer (the warp that always weaves balanced plain weave) and my "half" layer (which alternates weaving balanced plain weave with a loose, unbalanced plain weave when its other "half" does sprang) was 3 inches.  That is, the "full" layer had 3 inches more take-up.  The full and half layers are the knots on the left of the picture, lined up neatly in two rows since they are attached to the two beams.

The weighted sprang layer varied fairly wildly.  These are the knots to the right of the neat knot rows.  The difference was between 4" and 9.5" more take-up than my "half" layer (average about 5.5 inches).  It tells me my technique is not consistent; I must pull up more some times than others while working the sprang. 

An interesting data point from this experiment!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Monster Warp Nightmare Continued

Oh, was I wrong about the sett.  The chart I found suggests to set 60/2 at 60 and 120/2 at 120.  But I should have thought a little: 120/2 is twice the yardage of 60/2, and Ashenhurst's formula is not linear: it goes as the square root of the yardage:

60/2, 15,000 yards per pound, 0.9 x sqrt(15000) / 2 = 55 epi

120/2, 30,000 yards per pound, 0.9 x sqrt(30000) / 2 = 78 epi

Here I am resleying to 90, but it probably should have been more like 75.

So it's still too dense.  My sheds all look like this or worse.  So very sad.  Who knew silk could be so sticky and hairy?  Every minuscule bit of fluff causes an issue, and I have to be careful that one of my own hairs from my head doesn't get into the mix!

I think it's exacerbated by the fact that I couldn't get all those tiny threads evenly tensioned, and then resleying and untying and retying to fix errors made things worse.  And there were plenty of errors.  I would fix one, then discover that somehow I'd fixed it wrong and made it worse.  At one point last weekend I felt like crying.  But I persisted and I'm getting cloth at last, albeit slowly.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Towel of the month - January - Calculating & Measuring the Warp

As it turns out, I don't have white in the 20/2 cotton.  So I'll be using this taupe-colored yarn for my January towel.  It certainly won't be reminiscent of snowflakes as in the original article.  Oh, well.

The article says to weave the towels 38" long.  It's not real clear whether that means 38" worth of warp or to allow for takeup, so I'm hedging and adding 10% for takeup.  And I'll allow 24" of loom waste (this depends on your loom and your method of tying the warp onto the loom).  I want to make 3 towels, so each warp end needs to be 1.1 x (3 x 38") + 24" = 149.4" or about 150", or 4 yards 6 inches.

I'll be using my loom with a standard warp beam.  So I've found a path on my warping board that is 150 inches long, and I'm measuring the warp.  I plan to warp "front to back" so I am making a thread-by-thread cross at one end and a raddle cross at the other end.
Here's a picture of the raddle cross.  My raddle has 1" increments, so I have one inch worth of warp ends (30 ends in this project) in each group in this cross.  (Don't confuse this cross with the "false cross" that forms on the loop end!)  Here I've measured four inches wide worth of warp ends.

So are you warping your January snowflake spot Bronson kitchen towels yet?

Friday, January 10, 2014

A glimpse of the monster

Continuing with my series of variations on my sprang-and-weaving, I'm trying to push various limits.  In this case, how fine can I make this structure?

So here's the scary project I mentioned previously.  It's 3600 ends of 120/2 silk.  I intend to sett it for double weave.  When I did this with 60/2 silk in a previous project, I sett it at 60 ends per inch (epi) per layer, or 120 epi in the reed.  120/2 is twice as fine, which I think means this current project should be 120 ends per inch per layer, or 240 ends per inch in the reed.

I have it through the heddles at the stage shown in the photo.  I don't even know if this is going to work - I'm just pressing on, anxious to find out.  Fundamentally, my concern is over the density of the heddles.  There are so many heddles in there, they don't even fit in the width they're supposed to.  This is even after I modified my design, simplifying to a lesser number of blocks, so I could spread the heddles over more shafts.  So will this cause tension problems because the warps will vary slightly in length due to the different path each takes through the loom?

Or, once I get it tensioned and check for errors, will I be able to recognize the errors and fix them?  Will I even be able to get in and see them to fix them?  Because let's face it, the odds of this monster being error-free are near zero.

Or, when I try to start weaving, will it even open a shed?  As shafts are raised, will the density of heddles cause wear on the yarns as they find their way around the eyes of neighboring heddles on the stationary shafts?  Will the weight of the heddles be really heavy to treadle?

Do people do double-weave with this fine a weight of yarn?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Back to the square again

Or, how I spent my Christmas vacation (most of it and then some).

The next project was back to the 10/2 cotton in doubleweave, with the sprang worked in square areas in a checkerboard arrangement.  This time on a painted warp, with colors in contrasting tonal values to accentuate the curved shapes that appear.

The colors change along the warp from pastel warms with saturated cools to saturated warms with shades of the cool colors.  The weft is black crossing with all the cool darker colors, and a light grey crossing the warmer lighter colors.  It makes me think of a transition from spring colors to fall colors amd back again.

Friday, January 3, 2014

January's towel draft, and about the yarns

"Snowflakes are suggested by an all-white Spot Bronson weave." (Clotilde Barrett, from the original article, Weaver's Journal, Fall 1983.)

Here's the draft I promised, re-drawn since the old one was a bit fuzzy.  I hope this one's clear enough to work from the image.  Notice that Spot Bronson is threaded with every other thread on the same shaft.  This means you will need lots of heddles on the one shaft, and may have to move some from other shafts (unless you have more than four and can use some other shafts to tie up identically and work along with it).  The treadling is "as drawn in".  I've marked the center pick of the pattern, from which point it reverses.  You can use the threading sequence for the entire pattern.  Repeat as many times as needed for the towel length of 38".

Now, about yarns: I don't have any 40/2 or 20/1 linen in my stash.  When I looked to buy it, I found that would mean quite an outlay in dollars to do all the projects (most of them use these two yarns).  So although linen towels sound absolutely scrumptious, I'm going to try using some yarn I have already.  I have some 20/2 cotton that according to weaving books can be sett at 30 epi (the same as the article recommends for the 40/2 linen).

As an aside, in my search I could not find bleached linen in 40/2 or 20/1 anyway; I could only find half-bleached.  If anyone knows a source, please let me know!

So have you decided to try a kitchen towel in Spot Bronson this month?  What kind of yarn will you use?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Towel of the month

Happy New Year!  Here's wishing you and yours health and blessings in the coming year.  If you're a weaver, happy weaving, too!  A few months ago I came across an article by Clotilde Barrett in her Weaver's Journal that gives a project for each month of the year, all kitchen towels, each in a different 4-shaft weave structure, as a way to study each structure and end up with a useful sample at the same time.

I saved the article thinking it would be fun to make the projects starting in January, show my progress and stumbles, and invite other weavers to weave along.  Well, January is here, and because I have a piece going on the loom that is turning out to be very time-intensive, I'm not in a position to commit to weaving anything else this month.  But I'd still like to share the projects.  And who knows, maybe I'll need a break from the scary project.

So, the towel of the month for January is... Spot Bronson.  The vitals are:

Warp: 40/2 bleached linen
Weft: 20/1 bleached linen
Sett: 30 epi double sleyed in a 15-dent reed
Total number of warp ends: 561
Width in reed: 18.7"

I'll work up and post a draft and calculations, and I plan to at least post some thoughts on the project later this month even if I don't actually weave it.

You can find the full article and many other gems at Ralph Griswold's On-Line Digital Archive.