archive for 'weaving'
bound seams a little much for a toile? i will be taking out the tailor tacks!
and in other news, mystery shopping
eta: heh. i wrote this before i read yesterday’s discussion on gertie’s new blog. i’ve only ever made a couple of garments for me before and i had no real idea how my measurements were likely to match up with commercial patterns. but i also knew that this pattern would take a lot of work before i could get any true sense of fit, and i’m not one to want to do the same thing twice. so i figured i’d make up the bodice in cheap but wearable cotton first, before deciding if it was worth the extra 4m ( ) for the skirt. it’s shaping up no worse than much of my rtw, perhaps a bit on the big side, but i don’t think i’m going to get a true sense of the fit, especially ease required for movement, until i’ve worn it about a bit. so perhaps not a “muslin” in the true sense of the word, but – hopefully! – wearable nonetheless.
this is my happiest project in a long long while, the one that convinced me it wasn’t an even slightly lunatic idea to fill my peaceful little craft room almost to bursting with an enormous, expensive new loom. this is the project that made me think “oh right, i’m supposed to be a weaver!”. i’ve come down a little from that high, i know i’ll always be a dabbler, but it does feel that weaving absolutely has to be a part of that dabbling, to round it out somehow.
anyway, the project started as an impulse purchase from squoosh on etsy. i’ve long yearned after the beautiful hand dyed fibres i’ve seen us spinners using, but that haven’t been available here (although i see that’s gradually changing, the most luscious fibres still seem to be over there). so when a friend mentioned that she’d like to learn to spin i thought it was an excellent excuse to get out my wheel again, which got me thinking about fibre, which got me browsing etsy, which is where we came in.
then i decided to try weaving it on my spears #4. i think last time i mentioned spears looms here i was still on the #2 which wasn’t a happy experience, but the 4 turns out to be pretty usable. the front and back beams have teeth to hold the warp and secure with wing nuts – a much better arrangement than the smaller loom (although i believe the #3, the inbetween size, has the same mechanism as the #4). the heddle has wire loops which can be awkward as the ’slot’ threads can catch on these, and there’s no place to rest the heddle in up- or down-shed positions, you just have to hold it. still, i’d done a practice scarf on it that had turned out okay, although it showed i needed to be more attentive to skipped threads as they’re not as easy to invisibly mend afterwards as i’d hoped.
it turns out i much prefer the colour of the cashmere, but i do like the gleam of silk from the other warp thread and the subtle lengthwise striping counteracts the horizontal stripes in the weft, so its all good. i had a sudden panic about uneven shrinkage and decided to give the warp a hot soak before i put it on the loom.
the weaving itself was trouble free, and seeing the cloth building up was a genuinely magical moment – something so beautiful and i made it i didn’t have as much length as i’d have liked but i made a consious decision not to make a scarf. i warped it the full width of the loom so that it would be cloth rather than a strip, and if it ended up being too short to use for much so be it. it just about serves as a shawl, but i haven’t made any firm decisions what to do next – the ends are hemstitched but i haven’t knotted the fringe or even cut it equal yet, it just lies around so i can stroke it occasionally as i pass…
but i have to say this is one of my “oh wow” crafting moments (that i think tend to occur most often when you first realise you can do something, hence my addiction to trying new things), i’m beyond proud of it, i really really love it
this is what it’s been taking a back seat to this week. i got me a louet kombo 4-shaft table loom, the big one – 70cm/28″ weaving width. i’m about two thirds through warping it after working on it all day yesterday, and i doubt i’ll get to do the throwing the yarn back and forth bit – which i always through was weaving but turns out to be about a quarter of weaving – until the weekend.
so today when i was given something wonderful – a whole afternoon to myself – i decided to get round to a bit of finishing. i feel sooo cleansed and productive. after 3 weeks of school holidays the feeling of making genuine progress, of doing a job and it not being undone behind your back 10 minutes later, is a rare relief.
i worked through my mending pile, sewing buttons, darts and binding, i learned how to kitchener stitch knitting and how to hemstich handwovens, and while i’m not blogging everything just now (which marks a project as well and truly finished) i took pictures which is the time consuming bit. i’ve even done some long-overdue paperwork and i may yet get round to my teetering pile of admin before the night’s out.
i only warped the loom shown in the picture last night and the project is still ongoing, but i did finish the shandy, and a couple more
to be fair, yes, it’s just a toy, and i think it might be fine for short lengths – mats, pouches etc. – but the instruction book leads you to believe it’s possible to make a scarf, so that’s what we tried. the problem lies in the construction of the loom – putting tension on the warps pulls the bottom bar (cloth bar?) out of its slot. the problem got more pronounced as i wrapped more fabric around the bar, as i guess this angles both bar and warp threads so it’s more inclined to pull out. this was absolutely the longest length i could get before the loom became completely impossible to use. the system for tensioning the warps through little holes with pegs, whilst ingenious, is pretty fiddly to use too (although with the basic design flaw you really don’t want to be advancing very much anyway).
added to the problem of the loom itself was my choice of yarn. as with our previous weaving adventure i decided to use cotton as, basically, that’s all i have in any quantity. of course i soon found out why wool is suggested – the cotton is smooth and slippy and doesn’t want to hold in a balanced weave. i think we were actually okay for yarn weight/sett and something with more fuzz might have turned out quite acceptable. as it was the cotton really wanted to smoosh together a lot more, turning out more of a weft-faced fabric.women’s work: the first 20,000 years.
in between cursing the loom i had fun too, the basic process had just the right balance of repetition and concentration, and i like how quickly it comes together at the wefting stage. i didn’t find the warping too onerous and i liked the observation that what we think of as “weaving”, where you’re adding in the weft, is actually only half of the process, that warping is weaving too. i think i would thoroughly enjoy the process on the right loom. um, anyone know if the schacht flip loom is available in the uk?
edit: fibrecrafts will be stocking the flip in about a month’s time…
to that end i got her kids weaving by sarah swett for her birthday. to be fair i’ve seen it recommended as a great beginner’s guide for adults, with its design for a bargain loom made of plumbing pipes, so let’s call it a joint present (who was it doing all the hard work 4 years ago, eh?).
i was really impressed at how quickly she picked up the first project, weaving paper strips together, i only had to show her once and she was away. and while i knew she wouldn’t have anywhere near the patience for the little woven bag, made on a cardboard loom (hell, i barely had the patience to finish the thing… ), i was impressed at how she maintained her interest in the project as i worked it. she did manage to thread the needle through the warps, even though she found it really tricky, but it became her main job to flatten down the “hill” of yarn with a plastic fork. she got really into it, insisting she could do it without further direction “don’t tell me what to do mama!”. my willing assistant did tend to wander off at intervals taking her fork with her though, as the tale of mrs fork she was weaving concurrently with my efforts took her in other random directions
as for the finished article, i’m quite impressed. i remember rigging up similar cardboard looms as a kid, but not having any guidance i had no idea how to warp them to actually produce a useable item at the end. so i’d end up with a piece of cardboard with raggedy bits of wool attached that would eventually get binned. this on the other hand is a proper little baggie. not having a vast stash of wool yarn and not reading the directions to the end i used cotton yarn for the weft, not realising it was supposed to be fulled to hold it all together. as it is there are fewer holes than i expected and the only modification i would make for using cotton yarn is to knot in the ends of new threads rather than just overlapping. it’s supposed to have a drawstring that weaves through the little square sections (that have gaps between) but once it got to this stage we discovered it made a perfect sleeping bag for a gruffalo – his arms go out the side holes – so we never felt the need.