Tuesday, 15 January 2008



Apparently, no-one in the UK uses ironing aids. Not that I'm one to speak, it's taken me more than two years to notice this fact.

After a wonderful tip from a fellow weaver suggesting using ironing aids to limit the amount of fluffing the linen is doing, I went hunting for some last Friday. It took much more effort than I had thought it was going to. I finally managed to track down one product that was silicon-based. Knowing how effectively the silicon-based hair serum I use to turn the frizz on my head into something resembling hair works, I decided to try it...and it's amazingly effective. I've been spraying it on the warp threads just as they come off the back beam every time I wind on (this means I can keep weaving as it's dry by the time it gets to the heddles), with only the occasional additional spray behind the reed when required. It's reduced by hundreds the number of large fluff balls attached to warp threads and taken the clearing of fluff balls from the threads from a constant necessity to an occasional task. Even better - contrary to my expectations, I've still not had a single broken warp thread, and there are only two stretched warp threads in the back as opposed to the dozens I had before. Because of this, I must have managed to weave well over a metre of cloth over the weekend.

As you can see by the photo above though, there's still a lot of fluff accumulating below the loom! I'm sure it's all going to gather and rise up at any moment, and I'm going to find that I have a pet husky I wasn't expecting.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Onward with the linen: sampling

All those brave words I typed about taking the irregularities in the linen as evidence of the rusticality of the piece, and being able to live with the threading errors? I really ought to know myself better. After weaving 8-9 inches of the linen, I stopped to assess. And discovered that the two places where I had missed a dent in the reed when sleying both had a threading error with two threads in the same dent, right beside them. Aaah. You can see this in the picture below, marked with purple threads:


In addition to this, I wasn't happy with the balance of the loom for the plain weave. A very broad cloth of plain weave is a most unforgiving thing to weave - all errors stand out like a sore thumb. So I decided that this was the perfect time to cut off the first section and use it as a sample. In doing so, I fixed the sleying errors, rebalanced the loom and retied the warp. I'm really pleased with the way the linen yardage feels after coming off the loom. It's a nice firm fabric despite being an open weave, and will do well for cross-stitch, I think. The next step is to zig zag the ends, wash it and use it for a sample sewing piece. In the meantime I'll get on with the rest of the yardage.

Now to illustrate exactly why you shouldn't weave with a fluffy single as a warp, this is what happens behind my reed as I beat:


Don't you envy me the job of clearing that off each of the 700 threads after every few beats?

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Linen cloth for cross-stitch

I lived the life of a retiree over the break, pottering around with my partner, taking lots of long country rambles, and spending a lot of time in the garden pulling out the ivy that has overgrown it during years of neglect, so I can make a garden when I get back in spring. That has meant, of course, that very little was done on the weaving front. However I did prove that it is possible to warp using a sticky single without tangles after all (using my back-to-front-to-back technique), and after readjusting the tension on the front of the loom, weaving commenced.


I've woven a bit over 6 inches so far. It's quite a change for me to go from weaving small items with complex weave structures to a large piece of plain yardage. I've not found throwing the shuttle the extra length to be a problem, in terms of width or maintaining an even tension, which is good, as I have a couple of larger project in mind for the future.

Weaving linen for cross-stitch is hardly a complex weave as it's a simple balanced, slightly open plain weave, but it is extremely useful for highlighting any errors that occur in selvedges and weaves. I've had no problem with the selveges, but the weaving itself has been slow going. I've completely gone against the advice I always give novices and I'm not only weaving with a single warp, but I'm weaving with a fluffy one. This makes weaving very slow, as I'm also weaving with a 20-dent reed. every few picks I have to stop and clear slubs of fluff that have formed on the warp, which is very good at developing patience. If I miss one, I risk stretching an individual warp thread which ruins the evenness of the tension across the threads. This has been happening quite a bit despite my care, so the back of my loom is starting to look like an odds and ends store.


Old watches, bracelets, little jars, anything that is the right weight are being employed. I really must try to buy some fisherman's lead weights, I think!

The result of this is that occasionally a thread isn't shedding properly, and a thread will be skipped, resulting in a float.


Rather than try to fix this, I've made the command decision that it will make little difference once it's sewn over anyway, and it will add to the slightly rustic, antique feel of the piece. It's great when you can explain away all errors so easily! I've found that as the warp is stretching so much, it helps to take a leaf from the book of beaming, and go to the back of the loom and tug on the warp thread every so often, to even out the tension. It's been working:


It's not the relaxing weaving I was expecting it to be because of the difficult warp, but I'm pleased that I'm able to surmount those difficulties. I really shouldn't say it because I'm expecting one at any moment, but I've not had a broken warp thread....yet!

Now is really the time that I need to be deciding what to do next, and I'm undecided. I've threaded this current project with a straight threading on all eight shafts, so if I choose the right project I can just tie the next warp on. I could do a few more scarves, or a baby's blanket for some friends who are expecting. Or I may try to take on a couple of experimental samples that have been floating around in my head....I'm thinking of playing with something like Swedish flessbergplegg.