Monday, 13 August 2007

Balancing the loom and working on more scarves

I've succeeded in getting the loom balanced. Naturally, it was just a simple mistake. This loom is 8 shafts and 10 pedals, which means each shaft has 11 holes in it for tying to the lams - five on each side of the centre and one in the middle of the shaft, to attach to the jacks on the top of the castle. Because the first project I did was a simple plain weave on two pedals, I hadn't noticed this. In the process of tying up my current project, which uses all eight shafts and nine of the ledale, I realised that instead of tying to the jacks in the centre of the shafts, I'd tied to the fifth hole instead of the sixth and this left the shafts unbalanced.

I are geophysicist. I were teached counting good, honest!

Before, the jacks in the castle were insisting on sitting at a 30 degree angle, and (oddly enough) nothing I did could fix that. Because of course, the shafts were unbalanced.

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After, the jacks are now so even you can't even see them in the castle from this angle:

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And so, with that, I could finish tying up this project and finally make a start on weaving. There's nothing quite so tempting as a fresh warp on a loom, just inviting you to weave it.

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Only in this case, there was still quite a bit of twisting in the tail of the warp to be evened out before any decent weaving could be done. That's where the leader comes in. I always weave a piece of scrap cotton (or other yarn of a similar diameter to that of the weft) for an inch or so before I start weaving with the actual weft. This evens out the warp spacing and also allows you to find any warping errors that may have eluded you until now. Then I weave an inch or so with the weft I plan to use and when that's in place, I hemstitch the bottom few picks. That will keep the weaving in place once it's off the loom. When I'm done weaving and remove the fabric from the loom, I then simply unweave the leader from the fringe and the piece is ready to be finished. You can see the leader in purplish cotton at the base of the weaving here:

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After all of the pain of getting the cashmere onto the loom, it was really quite well behaved once I'd started weaving. I'm weaving this at a quite loose tension to reduce the pull on the delicate warp threads, and I'm advancing the fabric much more rapidly than I normally would: I'm pulling the fabric forward after I've woven every inch or so.I'v woven somewhere from 4-6 inches and so far I've been rewarded with no further brekages, which has pleased me greatly.

I've chosen this weave structure to compliment the colours. Because the silk is yellow, orange, red and brown going through the brick-red cashmere, I wanted a weave structure that would reflect flames licking softly:

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I think I've achieved that. And as this weave is based on an advancing twill, it ought to have a lovely drape as well.

And I've come up with a colour match for the next scarf as well. The next one is going to have a handspun silk cap weft in three different shades of brown with yellow accents. I had thought it was going to have a brown or caramel warp, but it appears to be screaming to be matched with yellow 60/2 silk....

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Don't you think?

Friday, 10 August 2007

Warped, finally

I finally got the 10/1 cashmere warp completely tied onto the loom last night.

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Never again. The stuff is stunningly luxurious, but between being really soft and therefore incredibly easily broken and a being a really active, springy single, what on earth made me think using it as a warp would be a good idea?! Fortunately it's on now, and all I have to do tomorrow is tie up the pedals before I'm ready to weave.

Lesson of the month: never, ever warp with a single yarn if all you have is a warping board. It's just not worth the angst unless you can do a sectional warp under constant tension. Save it for the weft, where it has real potential for use in collapse structures and textured weaving....doing just that is one of the many rich and varied ideas that are floating around in my head. I need to weave faster so I can get some of these into fabric.

Friday, 3 August 2007

"Apple Orchard" - the pure silk scarf

It's bad of me to post this, as I still haven't documented the five metres of tea towel fabric I wove while clearing off the old loom yet, but this is the first project I've made on the new loom, and I'm pleased to report that it's working and balanced. There's also a post about building and balancing a countermarche loom floating around in my head, which needs to be posted at some stage.

As part of seeing whether I can make this hobby defray its expenses, I decided to hand-paint several silk caps, with the idea of making individual scarves for sale. Each silk cap, when dyed and spun finely, yields enough silk thread for one scarf. I had four silk caps, so I painted each a different colour:

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The first to be spun was the green, yellow and brown silk cap, furthest from the camera in this photo. I had an apple-green and white 10/1 Shantung silk noil yarn that seemed ideal to try rather than rayon, which would of course give a pure silk scarf and add that bit of extra luxury. I wound a 7.5-inch-wide warp at 24 epi and started weaving the spun silk cap into it. I chose a simple plain weave, so the weave didn't distract from the pattern. In addition to this, of course, a plain weave would quickly allow me to spot any problem with the balance of the loom.

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And here's the scarf finished, fringed and washed.

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A close-up of the weave structure:

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Washed and with shinkage, I have a 6.5"-wide scarf. A 2.5-metre warp gave me a 1.9 metre (76") long scarf, which is a good proportion.

I put this up for sale on etsy, today. Let's see how it goes. In the meantime, I'm putting a 10/1 cashmere warp in brick red on the loom, to make a scarf with the red/orange/yellow silk cap. This warp is proving as much of a pain as the silk, because it's so fine and soft it keeps breaking. I'll be saving this cashmere for use in a weft, in the future, I think. One of the big things I've learned from these two projects is that I never want to use 10/1 yarns as a warp, ever again. You can see in the second photo, the way the singles wrap around themselves when not under tension. That and the ease with which they break are a huge disincentive.