Rep Runner

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What I’ve learned from this experiment in warp rep:

1) The Dyer & Philips loom does appear to be better at weaving with closely sett yarns, thanks to it’s method of raising and lowering shafts at the same time.

2) I really have been a mental clutz lately. I thought I’d taken the wpi for the cotton from my weaving class notes but I mistakenly used the one for the Bendigo Classic yarn.

3) So I re-threaded the reed. I had it in my head that the sett needed to be double what you use for tabby. No, it needs to be double the wpi – four times what you use for tabby. Which means I could only weave a four inch wide strip on the number of heddles I have…

4) … if I’d bothered un-weaving what I’d done and re-threading again. I didn’t, because when looking for information on rep I eventually found a q&a where the answer was that 8/2 cotton wasn’t a good choice for warp rep, as it’s fuzzy and will stick to itself when sett that closely. Mercerised cotton is better as it’s smoother – yet it shouldn’t be rope-like as it’s suppose to flatted out to cover the weft.

5) I didn’t bother using a thick and thin yarn, as I was only testing to see if the loom would cope. However, from watching videos I can see it would be very satisfying to see a pattern emerge.

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6) Rep takes ages to thread thanks to the insane number of warp ends, but weaves really fast. A really good tip I picked up was to use doubled warp ends – covers the weft well but is faster to thread and doesn’t use as many heddles.

7) It is still not quite worth buying a book on rep yet. I’m resisting, because there’s no point buying a book on a weave structure only to discover your loom isn’t suited to it. However, if I remember next time I’m at the Guild, I’ll see if I can borrow one.

8) I kinda want to buy a countermarch floor loom now. I won’t though. No room for it!

Weaving Lesson Class 2

The second weaving less was held last Sunday. I warped the Katie loom for the first time.

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I got it done just as the class ended, so I stayed a little longer to start weaving and make sure I understood how to weave overshot. My first attempt was wrong, thanks to a very silly misreading of the draft, but I had the gist of it and when I got home I unwove and started afresh. It now looks like it’s supposed to:

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Unfortunately, my back pain was a lot worse the next day. I started to worry that I couldn’t even weave now, until I reminded myself that normally I wouldn’t spend 5 1/2 hours at the loom, and certainly not while doing the more back-straining task of warping. The weaving shouldn’t be as problematic, especially if I keep to my usual habit of short bursts of work. The next class isn’t for several weeks, so I’ll easily finish this in time – and maybe start another overshot project.

Loominations

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There wasn’t much progress happening on this project for a while, thanks to my cranky back. And thanks to my back I’ve been examining the whole set up for good ergonomics. We’re going to make some changes.

First up, the support beam on the front of the table needs to move further back as it prevents me getting my legs close enough under the loom. Secondly, I’m not sure the height of the table is right, now that I use pedals.

Putting pedals on the table has opened my eyes to all the features a floor loom has that make weaving easier. I had no idea what lamms were until recently. Now I want some badly! It would mean I could weave on days where my mind wasn’t up to the challenge of keeping track of pedal combinations. Also, a loom with a beater that swivelled from below the reed, not above, would mean the race didn’t rub against the underside of the fabric, forcing me to advance the warp every few centimetres.

However, shopping for looms when you’re in Australia is no straight-forward task. If I want to try before I buy, the only place to look at looms is the Guild, so I have to hope they have a good range for comparison. Then either I buy from Europe or the US, with expensive shipping rates and a long wait for delivery, or I keep an eye out for second hand looms.

It’s easier to keep modifying the loom I have. I’ve come up with a way I could possibly tie up two or three heddles to one pedal without using lamms. It’ll also provide the bracing currently given by the support beam on the front that I want to remove. I’ve even been considering removing the beater and making a new one that swivels from below the warp.

All which means I won’t have the problem of a table loom to sell – probably for much less than I bought it for. Unless I kept it, of course. I have no idea where I’d put it, though!

Yarn Dessert

Weaving yarn isn’t the only kind I’ve been stashing. I’ve also been buying embroidery yarns from eBay.

First up was a batch of wool.

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I wasn’t sure what I wanted to make out of it, but when it arrived I got a wave of nostalgia, remembering how I use to do bargello work when I was a teen. However, I don’t have any canvas, I’m not sure what size to get to go with the yarn, and embroidery shops don’t appear to stock it.

Then there was some retors a broder/coton a broder:

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I’d read about it on embroidery blogs, but never seen it. After finding a skein in an op shop I went hunting on eBay. There didn’t appear to be any available in Australia, but I recognised the labels on a batch listed as tapestry thread, and more research told me that Anchor ‘soft cotton’ was the same or very similar.

Again, I’m not 100% sure what I’ll make from it yet, but I’ve read that it was better than using the full six strands of stranded cotton, as you don’t get loose strands from them being snagged when pulled through the cloth. I can see that being helpful when doing tambour embroidery.

Yarn Banquet

I’ve been buying yarns. Weaving yarns!

It’s not that I couldn’t keep weaving with knitting yarns, but the yarn in my stash tends to dictate what sort of projects I attempt. Having more ‘weaving’ yarns in there will inspire me to explore in new directions.

However, cones of yarn are expensive! Particularly so if you buy them from outside of Australia. It’s been a while since I’ve ordered anything from the US, and yikes! Postage is incredible! Unfortunately, there aren’t many shops selling weaving yarn in Australia, and with not a great deal of overlap in yarns they have available there’s little competition in prices.

So I’ve been trawling eBay and googling intently. My first score was $50 worth of sample cones from eBay:

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There are some interesting yarns in there, though I’ve put aside the ones with mohair in them to give away at the next weaving class.

Next I discovered in a round-about way that the shop I’d recently bought a book of Saori garment designs from, Curiousweaver, sells yarn. I typed in ‘weaving yarns’ and specified Australia in Google, and up came a rainbow of colour that led me back to her site.

I grabbed a three pack of wool yarns:

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And one of the packs of coloured cotton – perfect for that colour gamp project I’ve been wanting to weave for ages – for around $17 a cone.

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Of course, buying this much yarn did more than fill up the space I had left in my yarn storage tubs, so I had to get creative:

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My craft room feels more like a weaver’s studio now.

I think I have enough yarn now. Of course, I’ll probably stumble on a pile of yarn going free or incredibly cheap now. And I won’t be able to resist.

Hibiscus Scarf

The test scarf from the Dyer & Philips loom is done.

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The loom weaves very nicely, with a good clean shed. I’m measuring a warp to try a small warp rep runner on it next.

Since I needed my warping board, I had to take the piece I’ve been using for a temporary race off the table loom. In it’s place I put my longest shuttle.

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But when I went to weave later I found it was sagging in the middle. I wound up tying a steel ruler to the back of it, which straightens it enough that the shuttle still slides through okay.

First Ever Weaving Class

I’ve been weaving for nearly ten years now, but I’ve never had a lesson. Having a job that goes from steady to busy and back again, with overseas work trips, has meant I could not get to classes that go for several weeks.

Since I got RSI and gave up knitting, a determination to weave my knitting yarn stash down below 10 kilos means there’s been little incentive to try more complex weaving structures using fine yarns. Last year I decided it was time to stretch myself. First I finally attempted the Scary Tea Towels, using ‘proper’ weaving cotton. Then I bought the Katie Loom so that I could attend a class at the Handweavers & Spinners Guild.

The class seemed designed for me. Called ‘Intermediate Weavers Project Sessions’, it gives students the freedom to see a project through from start to finish with the help of an experienced weaver. There are just three sessions, spaced a few weeks apart, and the first one was held last Sunday.

I decided, with the teacher’s advice, to try my first overshot project. She suggested a draft she likes, and it reminded me of peacock feathers, so I selected a range of blues and greens. I was going to add orange, but she convinced me to use it as the overshot pattern weft so as to not muddy the warp colours.

By the end of the class I’d planned out the project and had the warp half measured. While I did the latter the cones were threaded onto a dowel which was suspended over a plastic bowl, which worked really well but swapping over every five threads to another colour was driving me crazy. So I wanted to make a cone holder when I got home. Maybe one that could be attached to the loom. Then I noticed the extra holes Paul added to the table loom stand so I could position the cloth winder wherever I wanted. I found a long metal rod that was the exact length. Five cones fit perfectly along it.

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So I got winding and in no time the warp was done.

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But that’s where I stopped. I want to thread the loom in class, so the teacher can cast an eye over my efforts, correct any bad habits and give me tips. As well as trying a new weave structure under guidance, that’s the reason I’m doing the class.

Handspun, Handwoven, Handsewn

The olive yarn in this has had quite a journey. I bought it at the Handweavers and Spinners Guild in Christchurch in 2009. In 2013 I used the Bond Sweater Machine to make this:

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Which I didn’t like that much and was eventually frogged. Late last year I wove it on the rigid heddle into lengths of fabric. There was no ultimate plan for them, I just wanted to get it out of the stash and have something easy to weave. I got three strips out of it: two the width of the loom, one a little more than half the width.

Using the book Simple Woven Garments as inspiration, I pinned and unpinned and repinned on the dress model. The two wider pieces were perfect sewn together to make a sleeves-front-back tube. By adding a pleat to the back neckline I got a cowl at the front, which I liked so much I decided that whatever else I did had to build on this. I just had to attaching the narrow strip somehow. My first attempt had it flat at the front…

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… and a pleat at the back to make a peplum. But there wasn’t enough fabric to make it peplum-y enough, and it sat too high.

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Next I moved the darts on the back to the shoulders and pinned the strip flat so I could crossed over the ends at the front. (I don’t have a pic, unfortunately.) While this looked better, but it hid half the fringe, and I like the fringe, so I kept experimenting.

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I tried folding the ends out to form fringed pouch pockets at the front.

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Pockets! Cute! However, with the fronts pinned together I couldn’t get it off the dress model. I rummaged through my sewing box and found a short black open-ende zip. Perfect!

So after a bit of sewing while watching tv and some zip insertion, I have this:

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I may trim the fringe a little more, if it’s annoying at that length. And I may decide in future to cut up the centre front to make it a jacket. For now, however, it’s packed away with the rest of my winter clothing. Far too hot for this right now!

Loom Identified!

My neck and shoulders are better, but it’s taken two weeks to get to this point. Two weeks away from computers, looms, crafting in front of the tv, driving, etc. Though I admit, in the last half of this week I’ve been doing short bouts of all but tv craft, to test how well I’m healing up.

Keeping away from computers is not easy, especially when you want to look something up. I turned mine on to do a quick search in eBay and stumbled upon the same model of loom that Paul had rescued. This one hadn’t been renovated ever, from the looks of it. So I downloaded the pictures, and there was a close up of a label.

It said “Dyer & Philip Pty Ltd” and an address.

So I googled the maker and found two blogs by women in Melbourne who adopted the same loom a few years ago. They, too, replaced the string heddles with Texsolv. They also replaced the reeds. I don’t want to spend the money on a new reed unless the loom is nice to work on.

Before my back started playing up I had started putting a warp on it. Since the reed can’t be removed, it’s a bit cramped for warping. Bit by bit – about 16 strands a day in two batches – I finished warping it. On Saturday I finally tried weaving.

Within a dozen or so picks the sticks that hold the heddles fell out of their straps. I fixed that by tying the straps on, but I’ll have to come up with something more permanent.

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So far so good. You need a tall chair to work on it if it’s on an ordinary table, as it sits so high above the table surface. I’ve moved it to the top of my drawing board, set in a flat position, so to put it at a comfortable standing height and to free up my craft table.

It has a nice clean shed with the new heddles. I read somewhere that the best looms for warp rep weaving are those that pull all threads up or down, rather than just raising the ones required. Since this loom does work in that way, the next project I’ll try will be rep with 16/2 or 8/2 cotton I think.

Say Cheese

My recent itch to sew led to me popping around to a friends place for some spontaneous stitching recently. I woke up in a grumpy mood that day, but thanks to having some company with which to create and chat by the end I was in a much better state of mind. I even got some sewing-with-cat time:

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However, I wasn’t exactly sewing at my best. I took four possible projects and thought I’d start on an easy one – a men’s shirt into shorts refashion. But when realised I wasn’t going to get enough fabric so I put it aside and started on another – a cheesecloth tunic top.

I knew I didn’t have much fabric. It was a choice between a short top with long sleeves or a longer top with short sleeves. I went for the latter:

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However, I realised too late that the front was also supposed to be cut on the fold. I had to sew a strip down the middle. And in retrospect, I think I should have eliminated the sleeves altogether. And made it a size smaller, as it has turned out rather wide.

But I’m not too fussed, as I mainly wanted to a) use up the material, b) try out Little Jen, my mini sewing machine, c) just sew.

I want to embellish it, and I’m thinking of using some of my inkle. Trouble is, I can’t decide between three of the tapes.

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Any preferences?

No matter which I choose, I’ll have to weave some more, as I want to put it around the sleeve cuffs as well.