And Another One

One of the forms of doubleweave I didn’t intend to try when I was sampling was pleated doubleweave. When I heard one of the other students ask questions about it during a lesson, I got the itch to try it. I’d had enough of a break from sampling to have recovered my interest and enthusiasm.

So I put on a new warp. I was rather distracted by a family matter and completely forgot to wind only one layer of warp onto the back beam so I could weight the other. I had to unwind, cut the red yarns and rewind with just the blue.

I used an old hand weights base rod for the red warp:

I tried a few different ways to make the pleats and found that sandwiching the fabric for the pleat between two rulers then tying them to the front beam worked the best when the pleats were large.

I tried using dowels, too. The dowels were actually a little easier. Better for smaller pleats.

Once off the loom I turned in the hems and sewed them, then gave the sampler a wash.

The wash didn’t close up the gaps in the back as much as I’d hoped.

All in all, it was an interesting experiment but I reckon there are probably easier ways to achieve pleats of fabric on a backing, whether using a loom or not. I’d need a lot more dowels or rulers to make something larger, and I’m not sure how well tying them to the last one would work once the fabric began to turn around the front beam.

Three Heddle Rosepath

I started this project months ago, but as my left thumb grew worse lifting the heddles was too painful, so I put aside. This is the post I began:

The heddle for the AKL arrived just at the right moment. I didn’t want to put a project on the Lotas that might take a while to weave because we were having the Loom Room painted soon. I didn’t want to put a project on the Jane because I had only a week until the next sampler would go on it. I didn’t want to put a project on the Katie because there was no room for it in the Loom Room so it would have to go in the kitchen, which would also be being painted soon, or the craft room, which was occupied with the materials for making folders for my course notes and samples.

The AKL on its stand was easy to move around the house and could be worked on anywhere so that won my attention. The three heddle rosepath project was complicated, but should get easier as I got the hang of working with three heddles. So I finished threading the loom, took a deep breath and started weaving. Here’s the photo I should have taken for the last post on this project:

And here’s the loom warped up with three heddles:

The weaving is fiddly, but not difficult once I’ve memorised the sequence. It is slow, but that’s fine. I had a photo of a few cm of the pattern woven, but I can’t find it now and I’ve packed the loom away until my hand is healed. It was looking rather lovely! Hopefully I’ll be able to post the completed scarf in a few months.

Washerwoman’s Sprain

That’s what I have. Otherwise known as ‘de Quervain’s tenosynovitis’. Back at the beginning of April I felt something in my left wrist go ‘twang’ when trying to lift the end of a redwood sleeper. It really hurt… then it didn’t. After a few weeks my thumb and wrist began to hurt a little and feel stiff, then I began to notice that an hour of reading on my iPhone made them increasingly sore. Remembering the sleeper incident, and with lockdown eased, I decided to see my physio.

The weeks later things were no better. If anything, they seemed to get worse in the last fortnight, and I began to drop things. So yesterday I had a scan and was relieved to find I hadn’t torn a ligament, it was the sheath around the ligament that was inflamed.

Next week I’ll be seeing a hand therapist, who’ll set out a treatment plan. Most likely it’ll involve rest, maybe a splint, and perhaps a cortisone injection.

Fortunately, we only have two samplers left to do for the certificate course, and both will be done on the same warp. I’ve already wound mine, and am hoping to get it onto the loom while I still have two working, albeit one painful, hands. Because I’m fairly confident that I can weave one-handed, but can’t imagine threading heddles would be easy.

What else I can do mono-handed will remain to be seen.

That Makes Ten Looms

If you count the inkle looms, and the one in the garage awaiting renovations…

I was going to build my own 16 shaft loom, but then this came up on Gumtree.

It’s a 16 shaft Leclerc Voyageur. The one I was going to model my homemade loom on. I doubt that there are many in the country, so to have one come up for sale in my own city was unusually good luck.

It has so many cool features. Levers that don’t get in the way of threading. A front and back that fold up for transport (though at 16 kg it’s not a loom I’d take to workshops – if any were happening). Magnets to hold the levers in place. However, accessing shafts to switch heddles around is insanely difficult and I am considering how that might be made easier. I dislike making string heddles as it is, but the thought of trying to tie one onto one of the middle shafts inside such a deep castle is a strong motivation to find solutions.

I had to order a table to put it on. When that arrives I will weave a few projects on it before deciding which of my 8 shaft looms I sell – the Katie or the Jane. I’d have sold the Katie without a question a year ago, but I’ve learned since that both looms have pros and cons, and I find it’s not an obvious choice. You really need to use a loom for a while to really assess its suitability for your needs. So I won’t be selling any table loom until I’ve used the Voyageur several times. In fact, I’m thinking of using it for the next class project, even though that means only using four shafts. It’ll get me familiar with everything but using the full 16 shafts, before I launch into a all-shaft project.

Pause, then Go!

When I started the weaving course I was worried that I wouldn’t have the energy or focus to last the year. Instead I found a deep hunger for learning. I was energised. I couldn’t wait for the next class. Covid could have ruined everything, but lessons continued in Zoom and that’s had some real benefits.

But outside of the class, I’ve been feeling more and more restless. Having to isolate means abandoning plans to teach rigid heddle weaving. Other activities halted and spraining my thumb has limited what I can do even more. Time seemed to be slowing down even as it felt like the weeks were slipping away.

I am clearly not ready to sit and watch the world go by. I need to set my mind to something. I’ve considered making online video tutorials, or vari dent weaving projects for magazines or a book. The trouble is, I need the expertise of other people for the first, and do a lot of computer work for the second. Now is not the time for either.

Then it occurred to me that I had an opportunity, now, to make this part of my life all about learning. The perfect excuse. As if I needed one, but it’s amazing how indulgent it feels to spend time and money educating yourself.

But I stumbled at the question of ‘how?’. I’ve looked for online weaving classes, but most are beginner level and I’ve already learned the intermediate subjects available. I can go back to teaching myself from books, of course, but acquiring them is proving a challenge. A few that I would love to have are suddenly not available in Australia and are VERY expensive to ship from overseas (and aren’t available as ebooks). The second hand markets in Australia – via eBay, Gumtree and bookstores – appear to have dried up. I have managed to track down a few in overseas stores, and I have two orders making their way here. (One, I learned later, is from a store that has some disturbingly bad reviews but it’s too late now!)

The next question was ‘what?’. Weaving is so broad and diverse that studying it all at once would be impractical, and I prefer to focus on learning one subject at a time anyway. That realisation took the decision out of my hands. Studying a different subject to what I’m learning in classes isn’t ideal, so why not go deeper into the subjects we’re learning?

That’s why I wove samples of doubleweave that were beyond what the class instructions directed us to. And it worked. I was completely absorbed in sampling weaves I’d never tried before and writing up notes for a couple of weeks. So much so that by the end of it I needed a day to just sit and read and let my brain recover a bit.

In a couple of weeks I’ll have a new subject to get my mental teeth into. In the meantime, I’m back at the Lotas. The silk I ordered arrived so I was able to start the fabric for the second top. But more on that later…

Familiar Weave, Old Yarn

Doubleweave is the subject of the current weaving class sampler. I love doubleweave. I’ve been weaving it about as long as I’ve used twills.

In our class project we chose a combination of ‘light’ and ‘dark’ colours for the warp, so the top and bottom layers will be more visible. Having established that most of my Bendigo Classic 3ply was a decade or more old and should be used up, I was pleased when it was one of the suggested yarns. I wasn’t so pleased when one turned out to be thinner than the rest, however. I doubled it up with a fine yarn only to find it, and the thin 3ply, had breaks in it and, on closer inspection, were moth eaten. I had no other light 3ply. So instead of having one layer of mid-dark coloured yarns and the other all light naturals, I had to add dark brown. I figured that meant my laters were ‘dark colours’ and ‘naturals’.

After doing the class samplers, I started exploring further. I wanted to try pick-up, so I researched the structure and made myself a picture to weave.

Well, in my defence, a TARDIS has a lot of straight lines. Only the words have curves and by the time I got to them I had a good grasp of the method and the confidence to tackle them.

What next? Well, stitched doubleweave seemed like it might be similar to pick-up. All the information I’d found on it was for eight shafts drafts and I was restricting myself to four, but by using the pick-up method I’d just learned, I was able to get a passable stuffed stitched doubleweave. Then I moved on to try interlocking doubleweave, double-faced twill and colour and weave.

Then I ran out of warp, and wound another ready to try doubleweave blocks. I wove check, colour and weave and tubular log cabin. Then I started playing, doing alternating bands of floats, hopsack, interlocking doubleweave and double-faced twill, and finally wove a net of warp and weft floats with plain weave between and filled the ‘pocket’ with a fabric strip.

Finally I rethreaded the warp with a doubleweave overshot pattern.

“Stop weaving and play with me!”

By this point I’d well and truly exhausted my options and energy for doubleweave. I decided it was time to turn my mind to other projects, both weaving and not. The pantry was looking like it needed a clean and reorganising, for a start…

Cat Mat Sewing

From time to time I wash Slinky’s bedding, by which I mean the blankets around the house that cover his beds or my knees when watching tv. Unfortunately, when they are in the wash there’s nothing to protect his beds or my knees, so I decided to do something about that.

First I made two fitted sheets for the heated cat bed under my desk which, not surprisingly, he prefers at this time of year. He pronounced his approval by vomiting up a tiny hairball that first night. Thanks Slinky.

Then I sewed up a new knee rug using leftover bits of flanellette.

It has proven very suitable, protecting my knees from claws and providing extra warmth for both of us.

One Thing or Another

Nature abhors a vacuum; weavers abhor a naked loom. The Lotus remains idle, but for want of trying to get something on it.

I’d like it to be the rainbow flanellette rug, but there’s still a whole lot of sewing together and ironing of strips to do so I may as well put something else on the loom in the meantime. Recently, I planned out four projects for the Lotas…. and then I had to abandon all of them.

1.

The Little Fluffy Clouds top has been on my to-do list for a long time, and it had a twin: the Seta Soie Silk top. I had four balls of Dairing Yarns Seta Soie Silk in a brown shade and one ball of black leftover from the Comely Shawl. Five balls of the black had made that shawl, so I reckoned five should be enough to make a top. But when the first ball of brown only gave me me a fifth of the warp ends I needed, I knew I was in trouble. I did some mental calculations and realised I only had half the yarn I needed.

How could I be that far off? The answer came when I wound the black yarn. I got 1 1/5 times the ends I had from the brown. I think I bought the brown at a sale, so maybe it was cheap because of a winding error.

What to do? I looked up Dairing’s website and they had the yarn in stock in black but not brown. A quick look at the stash told me I had no good alternative, so I ordered black then hung the warp I’d wound up on the wall, not wanting to thread the loom in case order took a while to arrive.

2.

Next I turned to the curtains project. I’ve wanted to weave sheer curtains for the little window our walk-in-wardrobe since we had it built. Having just done lace for the weaving course, it seemed like a good time to be designing a lace project. Though I hadn’t yet come up with a design yet, I’d done all the calculations needed to wind a warp. But when I started winding, I found the linen I’d chosen felt a bit brittle. Not so much that I wouldn’t ever use it, but I’d definitely want to wait for more humid conditions. Which meant waiting until spring, as our heating system has a nasty side-effect of stripping moisture from the air.

3.

Two idea down, two left. Back at the Kay Plus Fun workshop, Kay had us wind a cotton warp and paint it with dyes. I’ve always wanted to use it in a deflected doubleweave project with a full-able wool. Finding a non-machine washable wool has been tricky, but I recently worked out that I have two small cones of it. But as I contemplated the tricky prospect of combining the painted warp with the new yarn it suddenly occurred to me that I’d be better off weaving this on the Katie or Jane.

4.

That left one last possibility. During my stash review and cull, I decided to keep the Navy Bendigo Luxury 3ply intended for machine knitting after I saw a navy shawl with multicolour stripes in a book. My calculations told me I had enough yarn to make a full size, wrist to wrist, ruanna. But as I considered the project notes I realised that this was going to be a time-consuming project, and I doubted I could get it done before the loom room was painted. While I intended to cover the Lotas and leave it in the room, it would be less of a worry doing so if there was no project on the loom to get splattered, and if I had to move the loom anyway it would be easier if it was naked.

At this point I decided the Lotas would just have to wait for a few weeks before it was clothed again. But at least I have a choice of projects I can start weaving once the room is painted and everything in back in place.

Use it or Lose it

Having gone through my stash spreadsheet to note the yarns that were more than ten years old or were bought second hand, I figured I should examine them in person before deciding whether to use or cull them.

First I said ‘hello’ to a few cones of 16/2 cotton bought new in 2008. We’d been reacquainted recently for Mum’s tea towels and the Little Puffy Clouds fabric. I see myself using them. They can stay.

Next I surveyed the cottons and muttered “What’s with all the yarn for baby blankets?” Most of my friends are way beyond having babies, and while I could sell blankets through the guild I have more exciting things to weave. I’ve adopted waaaay too many possible baby blanket yarns at destashes and op shops, and even new last year. Most of it will be culled.

I have a multitude of cone yarns bought second hand. Most are worth keeping, but I found two small ones of cabled yarns, which is puzzling, since they just don’t play nicely as warp (unravelling fringes) or weft (hard to deal with the ends tidily) have got to go. Don’t know what I was thinking the day I picked up those. Out they go.

Discovering that most of my Bendy Classic 3ply is from 2007 or 2008 was a surprise. It’s a staple weaving yarn, and would only take a couple of projects would use it up. Possibly in the next weaving course samplers.

As I beheld the sock yarn stash, I heaved a melancholy sigh. Most are nine years old. I SO loved knitting socks before rsi came along. I keep telling myself I’ll get the Passap knitting machine going again and remind myself how to knit socks on it… when I don’t have more exciting things to weave. Still, it does make nice scarves so I’ll be keeping most of it, though I do wonder if I’ll ever get around to dyeing that 1 kg batch of sock blank.

Next ‘Hmm’ moment was the mystery yarn for weaving a collapse weave shawl that was supposed to be super stretchy, but isn’t. I think it’s just lace weight. I don’t know if it’s wool or not, so it’s going in the cull pile.

The big batch of Bendigo Luxury 3ply in navy is nine years old. I was going to make a cardigan on the Passap. Really, if I’m not getting around to making socks it’s even less likely I’ll tackle a cardigan. But it is nice yarn and a shawl I spotted in a book the other night has given me an idea.

To the old, slightly very dark brown bulky wool I said “Maybe your role in life is to be rug yarn”. Out of one stash and into another, then.

Uncertainty kicked in when I got to the knitting yarns. I went through them twice. They all whisper ideas for Bond machine knitting, some even have printed patterns with them. I do like to use the Bond, and I might need something other than weaving to do soon, as the loom room is going to be emptied and painted soon.

But the mustard-coloured 8ply should probably go, as it’s so not my colour. I could dye it, though. Well, it’ll be a while until I can find homes for the yarn, so it can sit with the culled yarns and if I get interested in dyeing I’ll sling it in a pot and see what happens.

Post-cull, the stash is 3 1/2 kilos lighter, and a little less deluded, indulgent and potentially decrepit. I only wish it was that easy for me!

The Country Rug

While waiting for my flannelette orders to arrive two things happened. First, I wound up going in person to the shop I’d ordered from. It seems like everyone is coming out of isolation much faster than they went in. Which would be fine, if everyone was physical distancing. But that’s another grumble for another time and place…

I bought a half metre of plain purple and red flannelette as back up, figuring I could weave it as it was, or draw all over it with a black fabric pen to create an impression of pattern. Part of my order arrived faster than before, so I now had three pieces of fabric to cut up and weave.

However…

In the meantime, I’d hit upon another solution to the need for more strips for the rug. The problem with using the rest of the strips I’d already cut was that they were half an inch narrower, so they would form visibly thinner weft. But what if I cut strips half an inch wide and wrapped the 1 1/2 inch strips around them?!! That would bulk up the thinner strips equal to the larger.

I was certain it would work. So I plucked out some strips in colours that would suit – burgundy patterns and a plaid – and sewed those strips together with a thin filler strip at the centre, cut from strips in colours that didn’t match any of the batches I’d put together. Then I carefully folded in the edges and ironed them flat.

I got weaving, starting with the blue batch I’d already prepared, moving onto the burgundy plaid then the two burgundy patterns… and ran out of warp.

I didn’t even get to the point of cutting up the red plaid I’d ordered. And I also found that I didn’t have enough warp left to weave a 15 cm header. So some unweaving began. I removed the first batch of burgundy, then the second as without the first it was too bright against the rest of the rug.

Finally I was able to weave the header and finish the rug. All without using any of the fabric I’d bought. After I cut it off the rom I took it into the kitchen, I flung it out over the floor.

It looked good. I got out a measuring tape and noted the dimensions of the rug, and then the distance from the start to when I ran out of weft the first time. And I discovered that I had stopped a few scant inches shorter than the rug was supposed to be. All the waiting and adapting of strips and buying of more fabric had been totally unnecessary.

How could this be? I had measured the length of the rug on the loom by winding the tape around the front beam following the woven fabric. But I must have missed a round somehow. Such a doofus!

Well, at least I now have confirmed that my maths brought me reasonably close to the actual result, confirming that I can weigh strips to calculate how much square meterage of rug I’ll get from them.

Once I’d sewn the hems, I took a deep breath and threw the rug in the washing machine on the delicates-cold setting. Why? If the rugs are going to be sold, I need to be able to recommend how to wash them, and know whether I should prewash before selling them. The rug shrank about 5% in the weaving and another 5% in the washing. The hems shrank more, but a good stretch while they were wet got them almost back to the full width.

The next rug I want to make will be a colour gamut – a rainbow of warp yarns and a graduating rainbow of weft rags. I’m hoping to get a 2 x 1 metre rug. It’s for a friend’s daughter, either birthday or Christmas depending on when I finish!