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!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Tying a String Heddle

Surprisingly I have never had to tie a string heddle before but I made a drafting mistake with my Crackle shawls.  I need to add six threads but with 852 threads I am not going to re-thread the entire warp!

So to start you need a strong piece of thread, I am using pink 2/8 cotton.  You don’t have to use pink, but it sure is pretty!  You will need a piece that is double the height for your harness plus a couple of inches for the take up from the knots.
Loop the thread over the bottom of the heddle.  Straighten up the ends of the soon to be string heddle. Push one of the existing heddles on the shaft nearby as you will need to measure off it.
Make an overhand knot in the string heddle that lines up to the bottom of the eye in the heddle that you are matching.  Make sure that the string heddle is held taut, not loose.
Do a second overhand knot above the first on; it will close the eye of the heddle.  It is important that the loop you are making also matches up with the eye of the heddle that you are matching.

Last step is to go around the top of the heddle and tie two knots to hold the string heddle in place. Make sure that the string heddle is tied not too loose or too tight; you want it to slide across the harness but not to be sagging.
The last step is to trim the long tails above the knots so they don’t get tangled in the other heddles.
The string heddle is now ready to use.  Well I guess the very last step is thread the heddle!
Final Garden Photo is Sweet Box (Sarcococca) it is just starting to bloom and it has a lovely strong vanilla smell.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

12 Shaft Crackle Shawls - The Beginning

I developed a 12 Shaft crackle pattern for what I thought was going to be a table runner but the pattern was too ornate and busy to do well as a table runner.  But as a shawl it is going to be stunning.
The warp is 2/30 cotton, I went with a fine warp so that I could get more pattern repeats across the shawl to give it balance.  There are 852 threads, and I of course made a threading error!  I had about 50 threads left but I had run out of heddles on shaft 4.  I had help from Mum, she sat at the computer marking off the threads as I called out the threading sequence looking for the mistake.  It was at near the end, thankfully.  The picture is of the 2/30 cotton and below it is cotton sewing thread, not much difference.
The weft for the first shawl is black Tencel in 2/10.  After weaving 4 inches I stepped back to take a photo and I realized that the pattern I am weaving and the pattern on the draft isn’t the same!

I had forgotten that I tied up my treadles backwards (left to right instead of right to left) by mistake. I had intended to fix the treadling sequence before I started weaving, but I forgot in my anticipation to get weaving!  So, back to the computer and with a bit of fiddling I changed the tie up and found that I liked the new pattern configuration just as much, so I could keep weaving, thank goodness.
Disaster averted, I continued weaving for another 1 ½ inches and that was when I noticed an area that looked like a double pick.  It runs in both the warp and weft and is in six places in the pattern.  I looked at my draft and saw that I hadn’t completed an entire crackle block; I was missing a single thread six times.  I remember when I was threading that I thought it was weird how the threading sequence went but I didn’t follow my gut and check it out: lesson learned.
I have to un-weave the 5 ½ inches, unpick the hemstitching, untie from the cloth beam and pull out from the reed so I can add the extra 6 threads, which sucks!  I have to make extra heddles to add to the harness which I have never done before.  I looked at our Tips and Tutorials section to see how it is done, but we don’t have information posted!  My next post is going to be about how to make and tie on extra heddle!

Final Garden Shot is Heather with the first of the January blooms.  I took the photo this morning after we had a heavy frost.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Black Tea Towels - Eight Shaft Broken Twill

A very strange thing happened, Mum and I wove the same item, tea towels, using the same pattern!  Mum’s were white and can be seen here.  Mine were 2/8 cotton in black, purple, blue, red and yellow.  Sorry for the blurry photo.
The pattern is a simple broken twill that only used 4 treadles, the weaving was quick but really effective.
I did a plaid border at one end of each towel in red or yellow.
To make the hemming of the tea towels easier I add a single pick of sewing thread at 1 ½ inches at the beginning and end of the tea towel.  The sewing thread has about a 2 inch tail at each end, this comes in handy later.  After the tea towel is washed and dried, it is time for hemming.  The first fold is pressed into the tea towel at the line proved by the sewing thread, the fold is straight and it is easy to see.  The sewing thread is then no longer needed at can be pulled out.
I also ran out of warp for the last tea towel, I needed about 6 more inches.  To extend the warp I tried to add a shorter warp beam that could fit past the last four shafts.  I found a piece of wooden dowel that was a little rough so I wrapped it in a piece of tissue paper.  It was a little thick but I thought it could work.
When I added the tension to the warp there was a SNAP!  I had used 2/8 cotton to tie on the warp and under the tension they had snapped.  I then tied on with some cord that worked much better.  Again sorry for the blurry picture.
The finished tea towels have a really graphic punch!  Here are the three yellow plaid tea towels.  For Sale.
Here are the two red plaid tea towels.  For Sale.
Final picture is of a Anna’s Hummingbird that is over wintering here on Vancouver Island, we actually have three hummingbirds coming to the feeder this year!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Annual Loom Maintenance ~ Louet Spring Loom

January is a time when I feel very optimistic.  The days are getting longer and for some strange reason I think it’s Spring even though I’m reminded that it’s really the beginning of Winter.  I have this driving need to clean and organize things, so loom maintenance leaps to mind.

My Louet Spring loom is my primary loom, so Lily Louet gets lots of use and frankly I should do my cleanup more often.
I like to start from the bottom up, so lifting the loom onto a table in my studio was my first step.
 Wow, when it’s at eye level you sure could see the black marks on the treadles from the bottom of my slippers.  A bit of Vim took it right off!
I have noticed that the tie up cords to the treadles were getting quite loopy as they have stretched over the years.
This caused enough slack so that the long tie ups from the upper lamms would occasionally catch on an adjoining treadle making my weaving come to an abrupt halt.  Pretty scary looking while it is in the relaxed position.
To fix this problem I removed all of the tie up cords and lined them up with the end that attached to the treadle facing in the same direction to see if they had stretched out unevenly; they looked the same length, so I marked the opposite end with black felt on the second button hole.
 I will put them back onto the lamms reversing them end for end and button them to the treadle screws one hole tighter.
Now that the cords have been replaced, you can really see the difference.
My next job was to pull out the breast beam and to check that it was still balanced.  You can imagine my surprise when I found out it was not just a little out of whack!  On the Louet Spring the apron cloth is replaced by three doubled over texsolve cords which are snitch knotted onto a metal rod.  The rod is 36 inches long and there are 3 sets of cords, so there will be 4 spaces between the cords; 36 divided by 4 gives 9, so there should be 9 inches of rod at each end and 9 inches between the cords. When I measured mine they were off by several inches.  I think this was caused by my nudging the knots to one side or the other when I was tying on my warps. I think this would make the cloth beam pull the newly woven fabric onto the beam unevenly. A fairly quick fix to mark these spots and re-centre the cords; this is one thing I’m going to make sure I check more frequently.
I went around with a screwdriver and wrench and tightened all the screws and bolts I could reach while it was up on the table and again, I was gobsmacked at how loose some of them were.
After putting the loom back on the floor, I did the same process of straightening out the apron cloth on the back beam.  It was about 1/2 inch off, as you can see in this photo of it lined up against the back beam.  Frankly, I’m amazed that my weaving has been as even as it has been considering that it was pulling off the back beam and pulling onto the front beam with that much discrepancy.

I took a level and had a look at all the lamms and shafts to ensure that they were level and thankfully, they were still in balance, so I didn’t need to do any fixing on them, just a quick dust off.
Now that the loom has been tightened within an inch of its life, it’s time to put on a new warp and I have chosen to do another Crackle Weave project for the Guild Study Group.