Twill Silk Fabric

Whoops! I should have posted this before the last post. The Seta Soie Silk fabric came off the loom some time ago.

It’s been washed and draped over the dress model for a few weeks.

It’ll be the non-identical twin of the The Little Fluffy Clouds top… when I get around to sewing them. How non-identical? Well, they were woven at 90 degrees to one another. By that I mean the LFC’s neckline and hem will run weftwise and the SSS will run warpwise.

Why the difference? Well, the top design can be shorter but not narrower. The weft for the LFC fabric ran out sooner than I hoped, while the warp for the SSS ran out faster than I expected. But for the SSS, the bonus is that adding black to the sides of the warp means I’ll have an interesting band across the neckline and hem.

Rookie Mistakes & Simple Solutions

The current project on the Lotas is a deflected doubleweave scarf, following the “Bumps in the Night” project in the Best of Handwoven book on the technique. The project uses many different colours of warp for the non-shrinking cotton areas. I’m using a warp I painted at one of Kay Falkner’s workshops.

When it came to choosing the cotton weft I wasn’t sure what colour to use, so I took inspiration from the project and did alternating stripes of green and purple.

However, I soon found that this obscured the colour gradients in the painted warp. I wound up cutting out the cotton and unweaving the black wool (because I only have a limited amount of it).

Then I started weaving with black cotton. Overall the fabric is a bit darker, but you can see the colour gradients.

I’m surprised I made this mistake. I know colour. But, like so many odd decisions or moments of floundering, I’m blaming it on the distraction of the anxiety of the times and part of my mind occupied in blocking pain.

My left arm now looks like this:

Which I must wear for six weeks. Fortunately I managed to warp the Voyageur for class before it went on, with the help of this:

After asking friends on Facebook for ideas to attack a hook to the end of my finger, I wound up making this doovy inspired by butterfly guitar picks and knitting yarn guides. It helps me draw individual warp ends from the lease sticks to the heddle hook, avoiding the pinching movement of thumb and forefinger, which was one of many causing pain.

Thankfully I was right that I can weave with the splint on, so I’ve finished the class sampler. The deflected doubleweave scarf is keeping me entertained. And I’ve started painting again, which uses only my ‘good’ hand most of the time.

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.