Wednesday, 31 December 2008

New loom!

After a nice Christmas break away, we picked up the new loom on the way home. It took a little bit more fiddling than I expected to fit it into the van, but that was mostly because we already had a wood lathe and workbench in there (yes, this was the Christmas of Large Toys). After clicking the 'Buy' button, I had had a few second thoughts - what if it turned out to be a mistake (for one reason or another). I spent the last couple of days clearing out the loom corner, and evicting the table, and stacks of fabric and junk. And then this evening I started to build the loom.

It is a 48" David Thorpe 8 shaft Countermarche loom with a second back beam, which looks like a much more serious piece of machinery than my mother's small jack loom. From a bit of hunting online I get the impression that it is very similar in design to a Glimakra, but built in NZ. The ad had said it was 6 years old (which I doubted even at the time), but I can categorically say that it is at least 20 years old, although probably not much more. There is a letter to the original owner from 1988 answering some setup questions, and the phone number on the plate on the side of the loom only has three digits...

From carrying the pieces in from the garage to getting everything attached that should be took about 4 hours (although there was a dinner break in the middle of that). It appears that it is possible to assemble the loom singlehanded, although it is a bit interesting to start with - trying to balance crossbeams on shoulders and things to get the second side on...

It's a very solid loom, and I mostly enjoyed the process of assembling it. It would have been a bit easier to do the first part with a bit of help (see previous paragraph), but I'm nothing if not stubborn. It would also have been more fun if it was a bit cooler (got up to 28°C today - probably not too hot by many standards, but still far too hot for me to be comfortable).

I still need to adjust all the lengths of everything, and really come to terms with how a countermarche works, but I got through far more of the building than I expected to (aided by finding some instructions, even if it was only a single A4 sheet). I'm guessing that the previous owner never actually used all the shafts, so the back four were missing some of the strings. I've replaced them with other bits, but I don't know what I'll run short of later... I think having to assemble the back four shafts was probably useful for getting a better idea of how it works.

And just as a bonus, with the way it's constructed it looks like it shouldn't be too hard to upgrade to having more shafts. Getting too many more pedals in could be interesting, but there is physically room in the frame for at least 8 more shafts should I decide I want to go that way.

The disadvantage of this whole floor loom thing is that I no longer have a table to store my boxes of yarn and dye stuff under, which means I'll probably have to keep them somewhere other than the lounge. I guess really I'm just lucky that our lounge is big enough to fit a (fairly large) loom in the corner without really noticing it too badly.

I have a zillion things to take photos of to post, so I will try to make tomorrow photography day so I can show off my new toy.

I am also planning a post on my warp weighted loom, since I've had a few questions, so I'll try and get that properly written up sometime in the next few days.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Results of the experiment

Here is the post that I thought I'd lost, about the comparison between weaving from the warp weighted loom and the horizontal table loom. And there are now photos...

I know, the background colour isn't great for this...
Width - 85mm
ppi - approx 32/4"
stretch - 50cm unstretched to 57cm stretched

Width - 82mm
ppi - approx 31/4"
stretch - 50cm unstretched to 56/57cm stretched

I think the conclusion I can reach here is that the wool itself is extremely stretchy. I could possibly do more experimenting and come up with slight differences, but given that there was a couple of years between the two pieces of weaving I don't think I can really conclude that there is any real difference between these pieces. The actual weaving process is quite different. To try and get the same weft density on the table loom I had to use a denser sett on the selvedges, and then I still had to beat very lightly. On the warp weighted piece the warp density is actually lower towards the edges - I suspect that this is mostly through inexperience with a warp weighted loom.

I think both looms have their particular advantages and quirks, depending on the project. The warp weighted loom has (in some ways) more flexibility than the horizontal loom. It theoretically has an unlimited number of shafts, and with a clever tie up can have warp threads attached to more than one heddle rod (this is one of those things that messed me up when I was trying to tie the heddles on the 2-2 twill currently on it - it took me a couple of attempts to work it out). I guess you could think of it as having an infinite number of shafts, with the heddle rods being a treadle equivalent. Too many will get confusing, but you can use as many as you like at one time. It's much harder to change the tie-up though.
Probably my favourite part is that you don't have to wind the warp onto anything, and tension is much less hassle. The downside is that you have to move the weights, which I think would get pretty annoying on a wide cloth.

The horizontal loom is a more sophisticated machine. It has a lot of added features that help to make a good, reliable end product. The reed helps to get a tighter beat, as well as holding your cloth at (or at least close to) a fixed width. (You can kind of do this on the warp weighted loom by fixing the spacing on the heddles, but it's not as neat). The threading is a lot faster, and I think it's also easier to fix mistakes. You are limited to however many shafts you have built in, but I guess you could add heddle bars to a horizontal loom too...
You have to wind the warp onto the back beam too, which is my least favourite part. The weaving is also a lot faster, which I think is the biggest advantage.

So overall, the same result appears to be achievable with both looms. The stretch in the original band appears to be entirely due to the elasticity of the yarn. Which I guess really means that I don't really need to build a full size warp weighted loom.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

A saga of photos

So, the napkins are now off the loom. I've just pulled a (rather large) batch of photos off my camera, so I can now show what I've been doing over the last month. (Yes, I just discovered that some of the photos on my camera had been there for just over a month. I really don't know what I was thinking.)

First of all, the loom modifications. My table loom now has aprons at both front and back, which is (I think) the biggest thing I had planned to do. I've also added another hundred heddles, but that's not very exciting at all in pictures.

Secondly, the napkins. These are what was keeping me too busy to transfer photos for the last couple of weeks. Not sure what my excuse was before that...

These are a Christmas present, but I don't expect to have them hemmed and completely finished until the end of the year. That's fine by me, it's when I'll be seeing the recipient anyway. I finished them off in a fit of staying-up-too-late on Tuesday night. Most of the last one was very smooth - I was finally at the point where I was comfortably able to throw the (too short) stick shuttles through the shed relatively reliably. The last few inches were rather interesting though - I only just managed to squeeze it in. I was working with a teeny tiny shed (and having to manually push the heddle bars down), and it was right up against the reed - the one time that I have felt particularly grateful for having stick shuttles.

I had meant to have a photo of the back of the loom showing just how much warp was left, but I managed to fail to upload it. Needless to say, I physically could not wind it on any further (and that wasn't because I'd made the aprons too short).

The napkins are a summer and winter design. The blue weft doesn't cover as well as it should because it's the same thickness as everything else. The original plan was something entirely different that would have worked just fine with these thicknesses, so I thought I'd see how it went. I think it came out okay, but I'd probably use thicker pattern weft next time. These photos are before washing. You can see the markers I put in on the middle section so that I never had to count any higher than 20.

The sizes were not identical, but they were all within a couple of cm in length. Width before washing was 54cm, length ranged from 58-60cm. After washing they look like they're about 50cm wide and 53cm long, which should make them roughly square once they're hemmed.

I still have to catch up on blogging - I've got exchange towels to write about, and I've just discovered that the post that I wrote and thought I'd lost (about the warp weighted loom comparison) is not in fact lost, so I'll have to sort out all the photos that go with that too.

No idea what the next weaving project will be. I've nearly finished the scarf I was making for Christmas, and I'm not sure what the next project there will be either. The new loom will be being picked up after Christmas, and then I can see how long that takes to get sorted out - might be a while before I need to have a project planned. And in the meantime, I can always resurrect my warp weighted loom if I need a quick(?) fix:
It's only about 60cm high, and this warp has been languishing for quite a while. I need to find the ball of indigo dyed wool I was using for weft, which I think is why I stopped. I also stopped because it's just an annoying height to work at - I think I'll have to try putting it on a coffee table or something. Oh, and the orange thing hanging off the corner of the loom? That was the first thing I wove on it, a 2-1 twill bit of cloth, madder dyed. It was supposed to be a little hat, but it ended up being to small. It's probably going to turn into a bag eventually, but until then it's a decoration.

And a gratuitous close up, showing that the weaving is in fact a twill:
That's all I've done, and the warp is (probably) around 6m long. The weaving takes about 3-4 times as long as the table loom. It was my first attempt at a 2-2 twill on this loom, and I have to admit that making the heddles took me about three attempts before I got it to work nicely (and without mistakes). I like the flexibility of this loom - you can have as many heddle bars as you like, although too many is likely to drive you mad. But my favourite part is that you don't have to beam the warp, the tension takes care of itself quite nicely. Of course, the downside is that you have to keep moving the weights which can also get a bit tedious.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Optimism and pretty tea towels

Looks like I may not have been too optimistic after all. I've just finished the fourth napkin, which means only two more to go before the end of Saturday. I think I'll be pushing it to get them all hemmed before going away though, I'll probably do that on holiday.

The scarf is staying roughly on track, I'm hoping it'll be ready for blocking by Saturday afternoon at the very latest.

And on Friday I got home from work to discover a package on my doorstep. In it were two tea towels and a very nice calendar, thanks to Geodyne. (Also thanks to Meg for organising the festive towel exchange - it was good fun). I haven't taken any photos of the package yet because I'm slack (and I've been busy doing weaving and stuff), but there is information about them here. I think Autumn Leaves was my favourite of all the towels, so thank you Meg, you chose the swap well.

When I've actually taken some nice photos they'll get a post all of their own

Thursday, 11 December 2008


Looks like I really was being extremely optimistic. The scarf is probably still a day away from being half done (according to the pattern, it looks awfully short at the moment though). The prototype sock is done once I graft the toe, I think I will put an order in for wool over the next couple of days. The sock pattern is remarkably quick to knit up (lace pattern, only 58 stitches around). Although I could just be confused about normal knitting times, since the last pair was done on 2mm needles, with 96 stitches.

The napkins could be a problem though. I overlooked one vital thing in the planning stages - my shuttles are not long enough. At the moment I only have stick shuttles, and they're only 40cm long. I managed to get 1/3rd of a napkin done last night. I'm not as happy with the result as I could be - I think it would have been better with a looser sett, and the pattern weft is the same thickness as both the warp and tabby weft so the coverage is fairly meagre. That aside, the pattern does show up nicely, and I think washing will help. I suppose it's vaguely possible that I could get the rest of the napkin done tonight, since I don't have to spend time tying up, or working out what the hem is going to do, or finalising the pattern...

The new loom comes with shuttles though, so I'm hoping I'll get something decent there (and if not I guess I'll have more incentive to go out and buy some).

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Making of Christmas stuff

For some reason I find myself trying to make a set of six napkins for Christmas, as well as knitting a scarf and possibly a pair of socks. The knitting is not implausible, since it's nice and portable. I hope to be nearly half done with the scarf by the end of today, and I only started it on Sunday night. The socks are still debatable, although I'll have to decide soon so I can buy the wool I want...

The napkins will be interesting though. I'm going away for Christmas - leaving home on the 21st, so that's my self imposed deadline. (I say self imposed because I don't think it will matter if I don't get them finished before New Years...). I just finished threading the loom last night, just needs tying to the front beam. I hope to get at least half a napkin woven tonight. I have a feeling I may be deluded in thinking I have any hope of doing this.

Project details:
420 ends, 18epi
Fairly plain summer and winter design, just with patterned borders. I'm vaguely considering doing a pickup motif in one corner on each napkin.
Warp is the same cotton I used to do the tea towels, wefts will be blue and natural cottolin. I'm not sure whether the pattern weft will be blue in all of them, or if I want to do some with the natural weft. I'm going to start with pattern weft blue, tabby weft natural though, and take it from there.

I think the (almost) 60cm width of these napkins is pretty close to the limit of what my table loom can handle. Luckily I've just bought a floor loom. I don't get to pick it up until Christmas though, and then I'll get to have fun working out what makes it tick. It's a 48" 8 shaft countermarche, and I've only seen one picture. It looked like what I was wanting though, so I gave into temptation.

And on the theme of looms, the aprons were attached before I started setting up for napkins. They're just stitched onto the beams through the holes that were already there, and are possibly not quite perfectly straight. I'll have to see how they behave when actually weaving, but tying onto the back beam was definitely more pleasant than without the apron.

I should have photos of various things, but they're still sitting on the camera. I expect I may not have time to do anything with them until holiday time, when there will be no loomy distraction...

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Towels sent, loom mods under way

Towels got sent off on Thursday. I missed the cut-off date for overseas Christmas shipping, but I'm hoping it'll still get there in time anyway. I took more photos of them after I'd rewashed (to try to remove all traces of cat hair), but they're still on my camera.

I am making cloth aprons for my loom - the string was starting to drive me mad. So far I have canvas cut out, and the cut edge zigzagged. I've got some aluminium bar (which I also plan to make some warp sticks, and new lease sticks from), and have two pieces cut and drilled. Next I just need to put the canvas, bars and loom together in a way that actually works...

And just to make it all interesting I appear to be making a set of 6 napkins for Christmas presents, theoretically finishing within two weeks because that's when I'll be going away for Christmas. I think I've also managed to talk myself into knitting a lace scarf and quite possibly a pair of socks within the next two weeks too. Could be interesting.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Festive exchange towels

Sorry Meg, I said I was going to post this yesterday...

I have two tea towels to enter into this exchange. I've posted about them both previously, so nothing new and exciting here.

They're both a cream cotton (not sure of size, maybe a little thicker than the 22/2 cottolin that I have). The colour is a fairly dark cream, but isn't "dirty" looking at all. They can either be a pair or separate - they're the same colour but not the same design or size.

The patterning on both is Swedish Lace. "Chantilly Cream" is 32cm x 55cm, and is an allover lace pattern (blocks of varying sizes).

"Devonshire Cream" is slightly larger, 32.5cm x 63cm. It was done on the same threading, but I did a pickup pattern to make a plain diamond in the middle.

I've already been told quite a few times that the second one would make a nice table mat, so I guess there's that option too. The pictures don't really show the lace patterning too well, but my photography skills could do with a bit of work.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Wickelbander off the loom

During the weekend I decided that I wouldn't get my weaving finished by Tuesday morning, so I didn't put too much effort in. Last night I decided that maybe I could do it... Four hours later I was cutting the 6-ish metres off the loom and giving it a bath. And now I am trying to drape it over things at work to get it dry without making it dirty (not so easy when you work in an office attached to a foundry...)

Using an eyeometer it looks like a fairly good replication. The new version feels stretchy, but possibly not as stretchy as the old version. This may just be wishful thinking though, since it's the result I was hoping for. When it's dry and I have space (and a tape measure on hand) I will test stretchiness, take photos, and compare weave density more closely. If they really are different then I might have to think about incarnation three - warp weighted horizontal loom. I'm not sure how well that will work with a table loom though, it seems like it would be a lot easier to set up on a floor loom.

Next table loom project is making a cloth apron for the back beam, my (somewhat bendy) stick tied on with string is starting to drive me batty...

Thursday, 20 November 2008

First differences

I've found the first differences already. When I wove the first set of wickelbander I beat them as hard as I could. With these ones I found that I had to resley the outside threads to try and keep the number of picks per inch down - and I'm still beating very lightly.

I'm assuming the difference is a combination of different tensions (beating harder on the WW Loom just lifts the weaving because the ends are not fixed - maybe heavier weights would allow for tighter weaving?) and the different method of beating. The warp weighted loom is beaten with a 'sword' (or a ruler) across the weaving. I can see how that might behave differently to being beaten with a reed.

I only managed a couple of inches on it last night, after fiddling with threading and tension. With any luck the set-up will be good enough now (I think it's still not quite as loose as the first pair, but I don't think I can do much about that easily).

Monday, 17 November 2008

Let the experiment begin

And the experiment starts... A couple of years ago I wove some wickelbander (leg wraps) on my baby warp-weighted loom. The bands were coarser than they should historically be (12 epi), but as they were my first real project on that loom I was more interested in getting a feel for the loom. The wool was a DK semi-worsted wool (Ashford Tekapo), in natural grey/brown (warp) and dark madder-ish orange (weft). The weave was a 2-1 herringbone twill, 8 ends in each section (48 ends total). The end result was an amazingly stretchy strip of cloth (each one is around 2.4m long unstretched, and stretches to around 2.8m (I think, I'm pulling numbers off the top of my head - I'll actually measure it at some point)).

Anyway, the short version is that I now want to see how much of that stretchiness is related to the wool, and how much is the weaving method. I have wound a white warp onto my table loom, which will be woven with a blue (indigo-ish) weft.

I expect there to be some difference between the two methods of weaving, but I'm not sure how much it will be because the wool is a fairly stretchy knitting wool.

I still need to finish threading, but I'm hoping it should be a fairly quick weave, even if it is around 6m long.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Tea towels

Tea towel 2: Before washing - 34 x 66.5 cm, after washing - 32.5 x 63 cm
This one was an experiment with warp manipulation

Tea towel 3: Before washing - 34 x 62 cm, after washing - 32 x 59 cm
This one was going to be simpler, with some colour experimenting and a combination of warp and weft lace spots. But then the middle section looked like it needed some warp manipulation too, which also had to contain warp and weft spots...

Apparently they're too pretty to use...

Friday, 31 October 2008

Tea towel 3...

Oops. I thought that this one was going to be a simpler pattern, and just be interesting because it has colour. Instead it's turning out to be even fiddlier than the second one.

I think the moral of the story is that I can't cope with doing plain things, at least when I have no set plan. I just have too much fun thinking "I wonder if this will work..."

The other moral of the story is that Swedish Lace appears to be even more fun with a bit of manual manipulation thrown in. I just hope it looks as interesting as it is to make.

Tea towel 2

Is woven. Still on the loom though - I was happy enough with how the first one washed up that I will finish the warp off before cutting it off. Second tea towel is similar to the first one, but should be a bit longer, and was a bit fiddlier to do some of the patterning on.

Planning is now happening on the third one, I think it's going to have some blue stripes at the ends, but I'll see what I think of that once I've actually tried it.

Photos will probably happen sometime after they're off the loom, which I'm hoping will be this weekend.

Friday, 24 October 2008


I managed to organise myself enough to take photos after work today. The sun was a bit bright, so I have a bunch of wonderfully washed out pictures, but they give the general idea

First - the tea towel.
The colour is actually somewhere between a light butter yellow and a heavy cream, definitely not the off-white type of cream.
It has Swedish lace patterning:

And the cat seems fairly happy with it (or at least is willing to claim it as his:

There are also some photos of bits of the mystery stole.
It's large and pink (and yes, I'm aware that the deck needs painting):

And this seems like a better choice than the tea towel:

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Tea towel 1

Just cut the first tea towel off and hemmed it. It's a bit smaller than I would have liked, but still quite usable - 33.5cm x 59cm before washing.

From a quick measure while damp after washing it looks like the finished dimensions are 32 x 55. It may end up turning into a hand towel or something, if it doesn't seem big enough to be useful.

I'll have a look at it tomorrow, but I'm thinking it's likely that I'll be resleying - it doesn't actually look too tight, but I think it could possibly get away with being a bit looser anyway.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Slack about updating.

I've been pretty slack about updating over the last couple of weeks. What have I been doing?

I wound a cotton warp for making some Swedish Lace tea towels, which then magically got itself onto the loom somehow. The first tea towel is now 2/3rds woven, and I'm procrastinating on rewinding the shuttle. Because I really am that lazy. I think the sett is slightly too tight, so I'm probably going to cut the first one off when it's done and wash it to see how it comes up. I should take a photo of it sometime, but there's procrastination blocking that too...

I've also been knitting a "mystery stole" over the last six weeks. It's large and lacy, and I'm glad it's done. There's nothing wrong with the pattern, it just didn't really click for me. It's currently a fairly drab pink, but I'd always planned to overdye it once it was done (and once I'd seen what colour it looked like it wanted to be). Currently I'm thinking I'll overdye it blue, but I want to let it sit and think about it for a while.

And now that I've gotten the stole off the needles I feel justified in making socks again. I bought a few skeins of Vintage Purls sock wool, and am now working on two pairs of socks (and planning a third)...

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Bad waffle photos

I took photos of the scarf this afternoon, but it was very sunny and they're not very good. Here they are anyway...

Here's the whole scarf
Only one end is fringed and had the ends sewn in (and I noticed one fringe that still needed finishing).

And a photo just showing the (mostly) finished end. The fringing still needs to be cut to the right length.
I had fun playing with interlacing the fringe in an attempt to effectively add scarf length. When I tie it around my neck the point of the interlacing almost reaches my waist...

And after that, I wound a cotton warp for some tea towels (otherwise known as an excuse to try Swedish lace...) I probably won't get it on the loom until next weekend though.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Yet another scarf

The wool/rayon warp is now done. After the green scarf I decided to rethread because I was quite keen on trying a waffle weave. The weft is a pale blue 4 ply baby wool (left over from a pair of socks), with a couple of stripes of a grey/purple sock yarn. Total woven length is only 115cm (and I had a whole 60cm of yarn left over). One end is now fringed, but the ends still need to be woven back in, and the fringing needs to be trimmed to length.

It's very soft and squooshy, it's a shame it's so short though. That being said though, it is long enough to tie around my neck once with fancy fringed dangly bits showing.

Photos tomorrow sometime.

Not quite sure what comes next. I'm thinking I'll have to try something texturally interesting, I'm just not quite sure what. Here's hoping that I don't have any sett issues on whatever-it-is...

Friday, 26 September 2008


I thought I'd posted that last post, but apparently I saved it as a draft instead.

Long story short, I did rethread for a waffle, but I don't really like it. I'm going to try resleying, and if that doesn't help I'll pick some other threading to try. Maybe this weekend...

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Two scarves done, madness following

The two scarves are now off the loom and washed. The brown one is 140 cm long. The only thing I don't like about it is the breaks between the patterns. I'm also not quite sure how I want to do the fringing, but that can at least wait until it's dry...


The green one is only 115 cm long, but I am rather enamoured of the effects (particularly on the centre pattern):

And the other side is interesting too:

The only repeats in the pattern are a couple of sections of zigzags, and the mirror image on the second half. It was a little firm before washing, but it seems to have softened up nicely with washing.

And now that they've been cut off I'm planning to re-thread the rest of the warp to make a waffle scarf. I suspect I'm at least a little mad (it's only 105 ends though, so not really too bad).

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Second scarf started

I'm about a third of the way through the second scarf. It's going a bit slower than the first one - partly because I haven't even finished drafting up the pattern, but mostly because the weft is finer.

The weft is a white 2-ply tabby and a variegated turquoise 2-ply pattern weft. I'm really enjoying weaving the two colours (now that I've gotten into a rhythm with it) - I'm foreseeing some overshot planning in my future.

I'm quite happy with how the patterns are weaving up too. And now it is time for gratuitous photos of the first 20cm (I've done about 50cm so far).

It looks kind of wonky in this picture because it's not under tension:

Close up on the first part of the pattern:

Close up on the second part of the pattern:

The cloth beam tension issues seemed to settle down after the first little bit of winding on. Either I was being a bit to finicky or I got used to it (I'm not entirely sure which).

Not entirely sure what I want to do with the rest of this warp after I finish the green scarf. I'll see how much I have left when I get that far. I'm currently being very tempted to try re-threading for a waffle weave, but then I don't know what I want in the weft. Maybe I'll get some bamboo, or some of the "weaving silk" from the (semi)local craft shop. Decisions, decisions...

Monday, 15 September 2008

One scarf done

The first rosepath scarf is now woven. Second one is still in the planning stage (worked out the first 8" or so so far).

One day I might manage to take photos during the day, when I have real light.

The beginning...

And a bit further on...

I know they're horrible photos but I didn't want to wait until I had real light for them, because that would have meant having to stop weaving. The colour seems to be fairly accurate, at least. There will be more photos when it's off the loom and finished.

The next scarf is going to have a turquoise and white weft in more complicated patterns. Unless something goes wrong with that plan, I haven't tested it at all yet...

Saturday, 13 September 2008

More rosepath

Started the second piece of weaving on this warp yesterday. It is going to be a scarf in fairly simple patterns (including the one I liked so much from the last piece). The weft is a pale brown merino.

I have about 40cm so far and have taken a couple of photos, but they're still on the camera. Will probably attempt to download them tomorrow.

I think I need to do some tweaking on the cloth beam on my loom. The last piece I had no problems because it was so short, but this piece doesn't seem to be winding on quite as nicely as I would like. I'll see how it goes when I've done a bit more, it may just be that I've tied something slightly wonky.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Rosepath, sample one

Just done the second half of the first sample and cut it off the loom. I'm fairly happy with the patterns, and particularly like the small flowery one in the second photo.



It appears to have washed up quite nicely too - the tabby section is fairly firm, but not too stiff.

I think the next thing on this warp may be a scarf with a pale brown wool weft. Still deciding on the pattern though. And then I might have to order some more of the wool/rayon so I can see how fabulous it is in both the warp and weft.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Progress (and photos)

It turned out that my cold was actually a sinus infection (and probably caused by some sort of allergy that I never knew I had...). The result of all this was two weeks of being sick and not getting enough sleep, and therefore not getting much done. I've finally managed to get under way with not-quite-so-mindless stuff again, which is nice.

The madder dyeing was finally finished last Sunday. I'm not sure how much it was affected by the big delays between mordanting and batches of dyeing, but there is definitely some colour difference. In all three batches the first few are clearly lighter and then it gets rather hard to pick the order.
I think more time may have made more difference at the higher percentages of mordant, or possibly more madder (only used 50% of the dry wool weight).

I will get better photos when I have actually sorted them and twisted them into neat little skeinlets again.

I made the first modification to my loom in the weekend - I added a quick release cord so I can wind it on without having to get up. (It also means I can actually wind it on by just winding the cloth beam rather than having to unwind the warp beam by some arbitrary amount first).
It's the cord travelling from the back, and up to the top of the castle to avoid the beater. I did put an eye on the front too, but then I had to take it out again when I warped the loom (the raddle fits over the front of the loom). It seems to work reasonably well - it's an improvement on not having it, at least.

And I got a warp set up again. This time it's a wool/rayon blend (2 ply, one of each), set up in a rosepath pattern so I can just do pattern samples. I was foolish though, and went from memory in working out the width and sett and originally had it at 12 epi. After getting it all tied on and doing a bit of weaving I decided that it really was too loose. I then rechecked the wpi of the yarn, and discovered that I should have done it at 15 epi (which would have been easier to start with, since I have a 7.5 dpi reed). I resleyed, which took it down to around 7" wide, which I think is still wide enough for a couple of scarves although not as wide as I wanted it. And because I can't count I have one floating selvedge wound with the rest of the warp and the other one hanging off the back of the loom (conveniently tied to one of the weights from my warp weighted loom)

And here's a picture with it sett at 12 epi (just to prove that I really have done something)
I've now woven about 20cm of the first sampler - some of the patterns I made up didn't work so well, but it's all a learning experience (I think they really need a tabby to help them hold their shape)

The other problem I had with my entirely slapdash method of loom dressing was that I didn't actually measure the length, I just guessed that crossing the warping board once was close enough to a metre (it's a sampler, I didn't need a specific length). This has turned around to bite me in that I used up nearly all of the yarn I had (about 20m left), so I will need to order more if I want to use any as weft. And since I had planned to dye some with various types of dye to see what effects I could get from the wool/rayon difference I guess I will be getting more (maybe I'll do some small experiments first though). It's not really a problem, I think I wanted more anyway, and I have been very tempted by some of the other yarns from the same place...

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

The long overdue madder experiments

On Saturday I started the mordanting marathon. I'd hoped to get it all done then, but no such luck. About eight of the eleven batches were done on Saturday, the rest were finished on Sunday morning.

Of course I then managed to come down with a nasty cold and spent the rest of the day in bed with a fever, so no madder for me. So all I could hope for was that I'd be feeling better enough sometime during the week to spend a few hours dyeing after work - before the damp, mordanted wool had been sitting around for too long.

Today, I had a stroke of luck (if you could call it that...). I'd had basically no sleep the night before from being sick, so was not awake enough to go to work. Really, this meant a day of sitting around not doing much - but sticking a pot on the stove and vaguely poking at it every now and then isn't too energetic, is it?

And so the actual step of making things change colour begins...

First madder bath has taken place. I managed to pick the correct order of increasing mordant for the first six by eye, the last six (10% up) all looked much the same.

Pictures this weekend I guess, by which time the other baths should also have happened.

I apologise for any incoherence, my brain is full of cold and sleep deprivation.

Rough outline of experiment:
Wind many many (36) little skeins of wool (15m of lace weight wool each, approx 1.6g)
Organise into bundles of 3 (5g each) for mordanting
Mordant with the following percentages of potassium alum sulphate (by weight) for half an hour:
0%, 1%, 2.5%, 5%, 7.5%, 10%, 12.5%, 15%, 20%, 25%, 30%, 50%

Reorganise into 3 sets of skeins, one of each mordant batch in each set.
Put water, 1/2C of vinegar in pot, heat to 70 degrees C
Put in 10g of madder, hold at temp for 10 minutes.
Add one set of skeins, hold at temp for 45 minutes
Remove skeins, top up water lost through evaporation and reheat to 70 degrees C
Add second set of skeins for 45 minutes
Repeat with third set.

In theory, there should now be lots of skeins in varying shades of pink/orange

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Napkin photos!

I spent this morning hanging out at the local guild meeting, hemming napkins. I have now hemmed 3.5 of 6, and hope to finish the rest off tonight.

And then, when I got home I remembered I was supposed to take photos. And so, without any further ado, here they are:

The "right" side:

Close up showing the diamonds in a (possibly) slightly less eye-watering way:

And with a folded corner to show the pattern on the back:

Not sure what the next project is - I've got too many things I want to try, choosing one is kind of tricky. (Actually, I think my next project might be to build a warping board - there's a limit to how much I can do on my inkle loom...)

Wednesday, 13 August 2008


Napkin weaving was completed on Monday. There are six napkins, four of which are exactly the same size, one slightly shorter and one slightly longer. I think for a first attempt on this loom (and first attempt at all for a while) I didn't do too badly, especially since I was beating entirely by eye/feel rather than measuring.

They have been washed and are currently drying, then they just need to be hemmed.

Will make sure I get photos in the weekend (when I have actual daylight).

Friday, 8 August 2008

Inaugural posting

I decided I wanted somewhere specifically for keeping track of textile stuff. Thus, Insanity Looms was born.

Textile projects currently being worked on:

On the loom I have a set of four napkins. The first four are woven, I just need to do the hemstitching on the last end. I appear to have plenty of warp left, so I think it may turn into a set of five - after all, you can never have too many napkins...

I haven't taken any photos since I was about half way through the first one, so here is a gratuitous partially woven napkin.


On the knitting front I'm working on a pair of socks (no pictures of these at all, they'll probably be finished by the time I get that far)

And on the dyeing scene I've got a zillion little skeinlets wound up to do some samples with, but that won't be getting done until next weekend.