New Old Loom

Two weeks ago a hole appeared in the craft room:


And a loom appeared on the dining table:


Then all these bits and pieces turned up in the garage:


The scent of rust converter and furniture oil filled the air for the following week, along with the occasional curse and muttered doubt that anyone would remember how all this went back again:


But it did. Around 15 hours of hard work later what had been a rusty, dusty old loom became a gleaming, reconditioned one with several part replacements, like chain instead of musty old ropes for the tie-up and brake release.


New aprons were sewn. Heddles arrived before Easter, then today the reed was delivered:


It’s a bit bigger than the former occupant, but took surprisingly little rearranging of furniture for it to fit.


Now to plan the first project.

A Touch of G(rrr)lam Shawl


Sheesh! Did this project kick my butt. What should have been straight-forward, enjoyable weaving wound up being tortuous for most of the project.

1) I didn’t have enough yarn. In fact, I fell so far short I had to combine two cones of Bendy 3ply for the warp and buy a 500 gram cone of black for the weft. I blame this on being too tired and distracted at the time to calculate my way through the project preparation.

2) Black wasn’t really what I wanted, but because Bendy don’t sell 200 gram cones any more and this was a stash-using project, I didn’t want to end up with more purple yarn left over than what I was trying to use up.

3) I ran out of heddles ridiculously early and had to attach about 100 string ones.

4) Because the string heddle eyes weren’t exactly the same level as each other and the texsolv ones, and I’m new to throwing the shuttle, the shuttle kept falling through the warp.

5) I fudged a race, using a piece of my warping board first then, when I needed to measure a warp for another project, swapped that for a long stick shuttle and a metal ruler. This worked, but because my beater swivels from above the race scrapes across the bottom of the fabric, meaning I can only weave 4-5 cm before I have to advance the warp.

6) The metallic thread was a b*tch to weave. It pulled the fabric in, no matter how much extra yarn I left at the sides or angled the weft. Using an extra long stick shuttle, because the yarn ends unravelled and I didn’t want to cut it any more than I had to, meant it kept getting tangled in the curtains on one side.

7) I discovered too late that I made a threading error at one side. Too late because I wasn’t going to unweave and reweave all the metallic thread after all the struggles with it.

8) Thanks to the dodgy string heddles, I have skipped threads at the other side.

9) I didn’t notice I had stepped on three pedals instead of two, not long after the first stripe of metallic, and sewing in a substitute pick didn’t really fix it.

10) Once off the loom I realised I had beat really hard at the start, making a far denser fabric at the start to the end.

Because of all these errors I’ve come to despise the shawl. However, it is lovely and soft, especially after washing, and proof that the yarn is a good one to weave. I kinda want to make another, to prove… something. That I can get it right, maybe?

And the up side to some of the frustrations is it has motivated me to get over my fear of floor looms. Throughout the project I came to long for a tie-up system. Lamms! I want lamms! And a beater that swivels from below, so I can have a race. And a removable front beam or folding back beam so I can thread the loom without hurting my back. I’d had the idea that floor looms were too big for the small bedroom size craft room I have now, but as I looked around I saw that some weren’t much bigger than my table loom and it’s stand combined.

Where that led me, however, is fodder for another post.

Loom Delivery Weekend

Last weekend we headed to Lake Hume:


I took Donna’s loom, my Knitter Loom and two inkle looms. Donna and her partner, Matthew, joined us in a lovely cottage with a fantastic view. The sunsets were gorgeous:


In the late afternoons and evenings Donna and I wove. I taught her how to do leno lace on the rigid heddle on the first night, and she produced this beautiful bamboo scarf:


While she warped and wove that, I started a clasped weft scarf so I could show her the method. I didn’t make a lot of progress because I’d underestimated how much yarn I needed:


On the second day I taught Donna how to weave on the larger inkle loom. I was quite rusty, and stuffed up the warping on the small loom by winding it around the warping peg, but Donna’s warp was fine. She, as always, picked up everything really fast, and finished this ribbon by the end of our stay:


We went for a drive around the southern half of the lake on the second day. The lake is really a dam, and it’s very low, so there were old dead trees everywhere. An eerie sight, but quite beautiful:


By the weir the water was deepest:



There are signs of a defunct railway line, and these relics from the past:



It was a enjoyable, relaxing weekend with good friends, and I’d love to go back to the area one day.

Cheesecloth Top

This top began life like this:


At the time I was hand sewing clothing, as I hadn’t got over the aversion to sewing I’d had since my mid 20s. I never wore the top. Earlier this year I made a few adjustments to make this:


Better, but a little plain. I needed something simple to do while watching tv. Inspired by Rebecca Ringquist’s book and kantha embroidery, I stitched lines of running stitch, using up lots of leftover floss.


Simple. Fun. Flattering. Only problem is, now I need another easy project to do while watching tv.

Rep Runner


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.


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.


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:


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.



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.


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:


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:


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:


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.


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:


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.


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.


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.