Archive for February, 2009

Down with a bump

a rollercoaster??

a rollercoaster??

My last post I talked about roller-coasters and unexpected curves. Oops. This is not quite what I was looking for – I guess that’s why we call it “unexpected”!

The plan was collapse weave using structure – stripes of 1/3 and 3/1 twill, various wefts all finer than the bendigo two ply wool warp.

collapse_wrong_2What happened? It looked good on the loom. The photo shows the section done with superfine wool (left over from the double weave scarf) on the loom with tension relaxed. Definitely the initial signs of collapsing!

I used six different wefts, 15cm of each. Behaviour varied off the loom.

collapse_wrong_3Three sections with significantly finer weft all showed signs of collapse – bright red on the left is the superfine wool again, in the centre is 20/2 silk, to the right is 12/2 cotton (aurifil Mako – a heavy machine sewing thread really).

collapse_wrong_4Some didn’t look so exciting. These were all specialist yarns supplied by Liz, my weaving teacher. On the left is 110/2 tex wool, a shrinkable merino as used by Anne Field of Collapse Weave (and other) fame. In the middle, a beige colour, is a 98% wool 2% elastomeric yarn – passed on from other weavers, of dubious vintage and many breaks on the cone. To the right, an overtwisted wool – I’ll need to check the details with Liz, but it was hard to the touch and uncomfortable to work with.

installation art??

installation art??

Another view while we contemplate what could have gone wrong? It was a lesson I’m meant to have learnt already, and wrote about back here – “no matter how keen I am, no matter how much I want to finish the next little bit, no matter how careful I think I’m being, I need to STOP when tired.”

In this case, I shouldn’t have started. I got home from work, super tired, the standard million chores to get through, and decided to wash the sample. Down to the laundry, warm water, swooshing away a few minutes – nothing. A big nothing. Did I mention tired? I noticed the pile of towels on the floor waiting to be washed. Front-loader washing machine, nice and gentle… in it all goes sample and towels, and I trudge upstairs to cook for ravenous teenagers. Time passes………. Finally, I remember the washing – but the machine is still going! The towels were unbalancing the spin cycle so it had just kept tumbling. and tumbling. and tumbling. Oh.

I took the pathetic result, complete with pathetic story, to weaving class. We actually found quite a few pluses, in the sense of a sample providing lessons. The three “specialty” wefts had all fulled to the point of having the drape of corrugated cardboard, pleats felted permanently in place. The Bendigo Mills 2 ply warp survived remarkably well. The section with red superfine wool actually feels almost soft, and I like the bright colour peeping out.

I’m feeling quite positive about it at the moment. I’ve still got warp on the loom, so I’ve tied on again at the same sett and will repeat the experiment – all except the washing machine and decision-making-while-tired part!


poisedIt’s that breathless moment, poised at the top of the roller-coaster. Some hard work has been done on the climb up.  Exhilaration, possibly terror and some unexpected curves lie ahead.

In the foreground – cottolin warped and ready to go for some more ringing tea towels, similar to this. Normally I deliberately don’t keep track of time , given it’s the process that counts and this is my recreation.  There’s a good chance other ringers will ask for a towel, so just for once I decided to keep timing notes.  There should be enough for 3 towels, and while everything has gone smoothly so far I’m over 8 hours before starting to weave! I’m a long, long way from doing this for anything other than the love of it… and that’s fine by me.

poised_8sIn the background above is the 8 shaft table loom. Here’s a closer look – just because I love the sense of order and the promise of a warped loom. It’s ready to go too – a class work sample of collapse weave.  This is Bendigo Mills classic 2 ply. The plan is to get collapse from structure – stripes of 3/1 and 1/3 twill. I’ll use a variety of wefts, some overtwisted which should aid the collapse. It’s sett at 20epi, and I should have enough to cut off the first section, finish and review, then re-sley at a different sett (to be determined).

Ringing in huck lace

huck5londonA few weeks ago I had an hour free and wandered into the Kinokuniya bookshop in Sydney. They have an unusually good craft section and I left with Handwoven Laces by Donna Muller. A wonderful book – and I’m now feeling very lucky because when looking for a link I’ve discovered that it isn’t easily available.

I wasn’t particularly planning to weave lace any time soon, but the book’s a good size to carry on the bus and I enjoyed the clear descriptions and logical development of structures. I was busy with my summer and winter interpretation of bellringing, which was taking a while because it’s slow juggling three shuttles (pink treble, turquoise method bell, green rest of the bells)… well, the photo shows what happened next. How about texture to distinguish the bells – warp floats versus weft floats? Maybe enhanced with some colour play of different warp and weft?

The idea grabbed me by the scruff of the neck. I was obsessed, excited – the only problem being finding a lace structure that could support what I wanted. Some have restrictions about what blocks can be woven next to or above each other (plain weave, warp floats, weft floats or full lace). Huck lace offered just what I needed.

huck5_draftHere’s a corner of the draft. I used red threads to help me keep track of the blocks.

On the bottom row the block towards the right, next to the plain weave selvedge, has both warp and weft floats – I used that to represent the path of the pattern bell (the method I wove is “London Surprise Major”). The middle block is plain weave – used to represent the treble or lightest/highest note bell. The lefthand block has spots of weft floats – used to represent all the other bells (8 bells are needed in major).

huck5london_detI love, love, love the result. The ringing method is visible, but more subtle than in the summer and winter. The colours worked well. The drape is lovely. I wove this “full scale sample” as a table runner (still to be hemmed), but am thinking about how to do more for clothing. The yarn is cottolin and I think it would make a very nice summery something-or-other.

The weaving was quick, with a single shuttle, but not without incident.

even shafts lifted

even shafts lifted

shaft 18 not lifted

shaft 18 not lifted

shaft 18 lifted incorrectly

shaft 18 lifted incorrectly

My biggest problem was the loom being a bit temperamental. When I first used the loom I had similar trouble. Shaft 18 was the biggest culprit – not lifting when it should or lifting when it shouldn’t. I don’t know the cause – my foot again again, the heat, the way I did the design in PCW, maybe the loom needs a service… You can see my “solution” – lots of little stickers so I could quickly see which shafts were activated. I had a matching set of odd-shaft stickers on the left. Not elegant, but it worked. I could see the problem before weaving the pick and take appropriate action.

on the loom

on the loom

Deciding denting was interesting. The book suggests the loosest plain weave sett you’re comfortable with. I used 16 epi on my rosepath sampler and was happy with that (also cottolin). I only have one reed on the big loom – 10 dpi. The book recommends maintaining the unity of the lace groups when denting. I decided to be very uneven – the three threads at the centre of the 5 thread huck lace group were dented together, then the outside threads dented separately. So 1, 3, 1, 1, 3, 1. You can see the reed marks when the cloth was on the loom, also how the lace doesn’t really show at that stage.

off loom, unfinished

off loom, unfinished

Once off the loom the threads started moving and the lace areas were more apparent – but the reed marks remained. A machine wash and tumble dry with towels made a wonderful difference!

The plain weave selvedge I dented at 20 epi, the same as the summer and winter. I like the firmer edge it has produced.

Other lessons? Being absolutely besotted with the idea, I wanted to jump straight in, no sampling, no mucking about. Mostly I got away with it. I did have a false start, got my back-to-front and upside-down thinking muddled, so the method pattern was mirror imaged. I was able to rejig the draft and start again, but ended with a smaller runner than planned (I kept the first bit as a sample, rather than unweaving!).

A plus-side lesson – I worked with weft floats on the top as I was weaving to reduce the number of shafts to be lifted. I’m glad I did. My mental chant while weaving was “heavy, light, heavy, light, heavy; heavy, light, heavy, light, heavy”. Much better than “heavy, heavy, heavy…”.

Plus weaving class at the guild restarts this Wednesday. Happy days.


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February 2009

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