Thursday, April 13, 2017

10 Shaft Crackle Scarf

From the last dye day that we did in June, I dyed two 96 thread yellow Tencel bundles in really pretty colours of teal, turquoise and purple and another in shades of orange and brown.  My plan was to use each of the painted bouts to make a shawl. I was going to use a complementary solid colour tencel to make up the width needed for the project
Unfortunately I couldn’t figure out how to add the stripes without making the shawl look like a Frankenstein monster of three individual scarves mashed together.  So I felt my best option was to just make a scarf highlighting just one of them.  I added aqua coloured Tencel bands to the edges to make up the width needed.
I found a lovely Crackle design on Handweaving.net that is a large diamond motif; they are large enough to show the colour changes in the painted warp.  The weft I chose is navy Tencel. The diamonds have a lovely embossed feel to them. and I think it really looks lovely.
The scarf is two sided, a dark side highlights the navy blue diamonds and the light side that highlights the hand dyed warp with the splashes of colour.
The finished scarf is quite lovely.  I like the framing that the blue Tencel gives to the scarf.  For Sale.
Final Garden Shot is a wonderful explosion of colour.  The new lime green of the ornamental grass against the last of the purple flowers on the heather.  It is nice to see some colour in the garden because it has been a very grey spring so far.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

All About Shuttles

Today I gave a short presentation to my guild at our monthly meeting about shuttles and I thought I'd share it with you.

One common definition of a ‘weaving shuttle’ is that it is an appliance which holds the weft, and which can be passed or thrown through the shed in the warp.  These are a few from my collection.

Stick or Poke Shuttle
 The simplest shuttle is a flat stick that has a notch at each end.  It can be passed through the shed but cannot be thrown.
Loading the stick shuttle begins with a slip knot looped over a notch the yarn is built up in figure eights alternating sides after every few passes.  This builds the weft up outwardly to minimize the drag of the shuttle going through the shed. The weft must be unwound by hand every pick and care must be taken to unwind enough yarn to pass through the shed without tugging on the selvedges.
The middle two stick shuttles have a tapered edge on one side.  The edge can be used to beat the weft into the web.

Rag Shuttle
The rag shuttle has two flat sides and pointed ends. These sturdy shuttles have traditionally been used for rags although they are excellent for heavy rug yarns and chenille.  They must be unwound by hand every pick.  There are two distinct styles of rag shuttle, open bottomed and closed bottomed, but both styles have sides high enough for all the yarn to pass smoothly through the weaving web.  These shuttles are wound in a circular path around the centre of the shuttle.

Ski Shuttle
Ski shuttles do essentially the same job as rag shuttles and are designed to hold medium weight yarns. Begin winding the shuttle by holding the yarn in place around the ski base and anchoring the yarn with subsequent passes.  Continue until the ski section is full but not overflowing the shuttle. This allows the smooth bottom and top of the shuttle to slide through the web.  These shuttles are unwound by hand before each pick.

Boat Shuttle

Boat shuttles were the first type of shuttle that unwound in a continuous and automatic manner.  The boat shuttle has a spool or bobbin rotating freely on a fixed spindle.  The shape, size and weight of the shuttle vary and should be chosen with the weavers needs in mind.  Currently two styles are most prevalent, open bottom and closed bottom, there is little difference in the performance and is strictly preference. There is little doubt that a boat shuttle loaded with a bobbin increases your efficiency because you don’t need to unload the yarn at every pick. Boat shuttles are excellent for looms with shuttle races like table looms and floor looms.  The quality of the weaving bears heavily on how well the bobbin is loaded.
To wind a bobbin you fill up each end of the bobbin in turn, close to the inside of the bobbins ends. Then you run the yarn back and forth across the centre of the bobbin evenly, right up onto the ends which have already been filled.  Lastly you create a small hump in the centre of the bobbin.  Filling the bobbins evenly like this stops the yarn from tugging and giving you ‘mouse nibbles’ at the selvedges.

A helpful hint is to extend the slit on the side of the shuttle, it should be the length of the bobbin. This decreases the angle that the weft is released of the bobbin, which helps to even the tension that the weft is released from the shuttle.

Double Boat Shuttle 
A double boat shuttle is a very specialized tool that you may choose when you want to put two wefts through the same shed.  Although you can wind two threads together onto a single bobbin, it’s really difficult to keep the yarns from crossing around each other and to maintain an even tension. Inevitably one gets wound tighter than the other regardless of how much care you have taken. Winding two separate bobbins and releasing them individually alleviates the problem.

End-Delivery or End-Feed Shuttles
These shuttles are the ultimate automatic releasing shuttle for hand weaving. They are lightweight, comfortable to throw and catch, adjustable to a variety of yarns and easy to thread. The end-delivery shuttle has a pirn which remains stationary, instead of a free spinning bobbin. The weft yarn unwinds off the pirn’s tip when the shuttle is in motion and stops unwinding when the shuttle stops unlike a bobbin which continues to spin and release yarn. The yarn comes off the pirn and goes through a set of tension pads and comes out of the shuttle at a constant tension. This even delivery of weft causes less draw-in, which in turn makes better selvedges.

Pirns are loaded differently from bobbins; they are wound from the large end toward the narrow end, decreasing in volume as you go along the pirn.  You can never backtrack more than a half inch or so while filling a pirn or the yarn will not unwind correctly.  Here is an old post on how to wind a pirn.
My favourite End Feed Shuttle is a Schacht because it is so light, it's the lightest on the market.  And because the tensioning system which is incredibly easy to thread, some of the others you need to use a crochet hook and good luck.  But with a Schacht all you need to do is pull about a three inch length off of the pirn, hold the thread with your finger against the pirn to give it tension then just place the thread between the pads and follow the slit.  Easy!

Netting Needle or Netting Shuttles
These were formerly used to mend nets but now have become a tool in the hand weavers arsenal. They are not shuttle in the truest sense of the word, but rather a pointy end attachment to get the yarn through the web.  The yarn is not wound on the needle but rather hangs freely like a hand sewing needle.  This is a great tool for tapestry and inlay techniques where the weft is carried in and out of the warp, rather than as a primary weft supplier.  The pirn is for scale.

Tatting Shuttle
As the name indicates these tiny shuttles are used for hand tatting, but are quite perfect for holding those tiny fine threads used for inlay or finger manipulated weaves.  The shuttles are loaded by sticking the end of the thread through the hole in the centre of the shuttle and wrapping the thread round the bobbin until it is fully loaded.  Only a tiny amount of yarn is held on this shuttle.  Again the pirn is for scale.

E-Z-Bob
This is a really great tool for securing yarns while weaving.  Designed for use with the Loucet or Kumihimo Disks they serve admirably for inlay, finger manipulated weaves or as I have used them in the past for weaving bookmarks, five patterns at the same time on the loom.  They are loaded by pressing the centre and popping the spool open, then winding the yarn around the centre.  Clicking the E-Z-Bob closes secures the yarn in place and they must be manually unwound for each pick.

That's it, it is amazing all the different shuttles that are out there.

Monday, March 27, 2017

12 Shaft Crackle Runners

In January I always get a case of ‘must use up the stash’.  So I went through our stash book and found that we only have two entries for 4/8 cotton.  Perfect, I could find a project that used up 3 cones of lime green and 5 balls of navy blue.

The balls of navy blue cotton have been kicking around for a long time in the stash and they had picked up a lot of other fibres and fluff.  But a quick pass over with a lint roller and the balls look like new.
The project that I picked is runners because the 4/8 is a heavy yarn so it makes for nice thick and heavy runners.  And the weave structure was . . . surprize Crackle!  Crackle is a good choice for the thickness of the yarn because it only has a three thread float and a lot of plain weave to add structure to the runner.  The draft is an original of mine.
While I was pulling the warp I found an area of high over twist in the lime green yarn.  You could pull the twists out but as soon as the tension was gone the yarn would twist up again.  So it had to be cut out but I have never seen this before so I thought it was interesting.
One of my favourite spots to take a picture on the loom is of the threads going through the heddles.  I love seeing the basic shape of the pattern already appearing before a shot of weft has been thrown.
Last time I wove Crackle I noticed that there was some ‘mouse nibbling’ on the edges of the shawls. It was from the picks of the three thread floats moving to areas of plain weave.  I was able to get away with having the crackle design going all the way to the edges of the shawls because I used such a fine grist - 2/30.  But with such a large grist, 4/8, used for the runner I had to address the issue.  So this time to help the edges I added a two inch band of twill around my crackle design.  
For the runner project I had to do some math because I only had five small balls of the navy blue yarn so it was going to be the limiting factor of the size of runners that I could make.  I figured that I had enough yarn to make 84 inches at 20 inches wide.  So I decided on two runners that would be 30 inches long and 50 inches long.

The Crackle design that I created had a very long repeat, it is one of the hallmarks of Crackle.  So for the 30 inch runner I made the repeat smaller with large diamonds.  The repeat still ended up being 13.5 inches long because of the pattern and the grist of the yarn. The 30 inch runner only got two pattern repeats making it a little shorter then I hoped.
I don’t include the hems in the 30 inches of length so the runner is woven to 30 inches of pattern and the hems kind of used as the take up and shrinkage fudge factors.  After washing, drying and hand hemming the final piece is 26 inches long so not too bad.  This photo doesn't capture the amazing colours at all well ~ it is soft celery green and pure navy blue ~ stunning!
The runner has a really graphic punch.  For Sale.
For the 50 inch piece I was going to use the very long repeat but when I sat down and crunched the numbers with the information gleaned from the first runner I figured that the repeat would have been 25 inches.  I thought that it would have been too long and I wasn’t sure that I had enough weft for the full 50 inches, I had 3 ¼ balls left.  So I decided to use the same pattern so I could get the most length possible.
It turns out that I was able to get 5 repeats and a finished length of 58 inches!  Bonus!  I absolutely love the large scale of the pattern, it is very modern.  For Sale.
Final Garden Shot is actually a picture of some clouds that I photographed back in February.  I was reminded of the picture when I read the recent article in BBC that 12 new types of clouds have made it into the International Cloud Atlas.  I may not have captured it well but it really looked like the Asperitas Cloud.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

12 Shaft Crackle Shawls – The End

The shawls are finally off the loom, washed and pressed and they are looking amazing!  Here is the first side of the black shawl.  The large flowers really draw the eye.
The second side of the black shawl the large crosses stand out more.
The pattern is quite large and when the shawl is being worn it makes quite the statement.
The red shawl looks totally different; it is amazing that the only difference between the two shawls is the tie up which is just two different angles for the twill line.  Here is the first side, the pattern looks like fancy Christmas ornaments.
The second side of the red shawl, the ornament shapes stand out even more.
The glow that the red shawl has absolutely amazing.
There is something wrong with the shawls though, they both have a white stripe about five inches from one edge.  The white stripe is from sun bleaching on the cone that I used for the warp.  I didn’t notice the colour change when pulling the warp.  But you can see a very faint two inch line only the shawl but where it really shows is in the fringe.  I am not really sure what I am going to do, I think that I am going to dye the shawls.  I think that blue could work for the black shawl, but I have no idea for the red shawl.
An added bonus problem for the red shawl; some of the red dye ran when I was washing it.  I did a rinse with Synthropol but there is still a half inch of pink at the top of the twizzles.
So the shawls are going to sit in the closet waiting for some warmer weather so I can fix them.

Final Garden Shot is the first leaf on the Black Beauty Elderberry Tree (Sambucus nigra 'Gerda').  This poor leaf has been out all by itself for about two weeks as we keep getting snow storms, the last one on Thursday!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

12 Shaft Dyed Crackle Scarf

Crackle weave is still the hot topic around here.  After making some quite unattractive 8 shaft crackle tea towels; the pattern worked really well and showed the various gradations of crackle blocks, but the colours were yukky!
I know I’ll have these tea towels kicking around the house for years....why do the ones we hate last so darn long?

I had purchased a bit too much Lemon Drop yellow tencel in the heat of the moment and I thought it would be a great candidate for over dyeing. Late last summer I pulled a tencel scarf warp in 5 bouts of 40 thread segments.
 Before I painted the warp I flipped alternate bouts end for end and applied the procion across the warp.
When I put the warp on thee loom I flipped them back again to the original position and I was really pleased with the result.  

I created an original Crackle design by using an advancing curve of crackle blocks for the threading and then I treadled it with a regular twill treadling.  I was attempting to get a circular design with the centre of the circles in plain weave.
 I sett the scarf at 24 ends per inch because there was so much plain weave in the crackle and wove the scarf using black 2/10 tencel for the weft.
This scarf turned out really beautifully, upon reflection I would do smaller areas of each colour.  The scarf is yellow with red, brown, orange and bronze areas.

The bronze falls right in the centre of the scarf and is much prettier in real life than the photos show.  For Sale.

The final garden shot is really one for the books, it's Ngaire waist deep in snow last week!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

12 Shaft Crackle Shawls - The Middle

I added the six string heddles needed for my extra threads to fix my drafting mistake, it is very quick and easy and described in my last blog.  I now have a lovely collection of threads hanging off the back of the loom.  To keep the threads from tangling I use a piece of cardboard with thin slits to keep the threads in line.
I started weaving again after re sleying and re hemstitching.  I stepped back to take a picture before the design goes around the cloth beam and it is looking pretty good.
Then Mum notices some doubled threads in only one area of the pattern.  It goes for about three inches; starting where I had begun weaving in the morning.
On the underneath of the shawl you can see that there is a long float.  Sorry for the blurry photo it was a little awkward to photograph upside down.
When I am finished a weaving session, I place my hanging threads on top of the castle of the loom to prevent them from untwisting or breaking.  Somehow, in the morning when I dropped them down to begin weaving again I had overlapped a hanging thread with a thread on the warp beam and  the threads twisted together making this mistake.
After unpicking the three inches I fix the overlapping threads and could really start to weave this stunning pattern.  One of the interesting things about Crackle is that there can be very large pattern repeats and for this shawl that pattern repeat is thirteen and half inches!
After all the drama at the beginning; actually weaving the shawl went quite quickly.  Then I had to choose the weft for the next shawl.  I had a choice between a pretty blue 2/16 bamboo and 2/20 red Tencel.
I was worried that the blue was too pale to show the pattern, so I picked the red and it is a stunner! This time the pattern looks like the draft because I started the treadling sequence from the other side! Lovely.
Final Garden Shot is some tiny bulbs that are just starting to bloom.  What a hopeful sign of Spring, I am ignoring the weather report that says that we could get some more snow on Friday!