This latest weaving project is therefore particularly appealing. Here's the yarns again:
I'm setting up to weave a multi-colour sampler to look at how different warp and weft colours interact. Thre are 15 different colours in the warp, and I plan to use a few extra in the weft. The extras are blues, greens, white and navy blue (I don't have black). Using them for weft only means that I won't see the interaction of these extra colours with each other, only with the rainbow of warp colours.
I'm going to weave plain weave in every colour, then twill in every colour, then - not absolutely decided on this but probably a pattern from the Janet Phillip's sample blanket that moves from 3/1 twill to 1/3 twill. I'm a bit tempted by the idea of a textured weave, like waffle, but I'd have to cut off and re-thread the loom to get this.
I have put on 4.5 metres long warp and I'm using 12/2 mercerised cotton. Well, mostly 12/2. I got to the burgandy shade and discovered it seems to be a finer yarn than the others, not sure what it is, so I am compensating for that with extra threads - 40 epi instead of 30 epi. 30 epi is is fairly dense for the plain weave, but a bit loose for the twill. I'll test this out in weaving the first few inches of header, and if I don't like this compromise I'll re-sley between the plain weave and the twill sections.
I spent a week of spare bits of time winding the warp, and then it took 8 hours last Sunday to get the chained warp onto the loom. Here's some pictures from doing this:
This picture gives you a good idea of how my compact Toika Norjaana fits into the available space. Note the sloping ceiling and the box at the right of it which encloses a structural beam. The head room is rather low at the front of the loom, I can sit or stand there but taller people have to be warned about banging their head on the beam or the ceiling.
I have realised that I could get a slightly bigger countermarch loom in here. The space behind the loom to the step in the floor is enough to fit in a larger Toika - such as the lovely Liisa, or a Glimakra Standard. I got quite excited when I realised this recently, as these two larger looms have a space at the back that makes it easier to get in behind the loom for tying up the treadles. I then got to looking at the wonderful Oxaback Cyrus loom, which is featured in an article in the latest Vavmagasinet. It is a superb loom, but needs 2 metres width and I don't have that much space.
I started dreaming of my perfect loom. Eight shafts. Or twelve. Second warp beam. Big and beautiful. I had the notion that the slightly larger looms might hive a good weaving shed more easily. Easier to get access to tie up those treadles. Mmm. I looked around and checked out the prices.
Then I read that someone else thought that one's first loom always seems the best. I realised I love my loom. It's beautiful. It works. I can weave. Also, I can get extra shafts for it (up to twelve) and I could fit a second warp beam., if my resident woodworker drills extra holes in the frame (note if you buy a new Norjaana, do ask for this to be done at the factory. They can do it, it just isn't done as standard). Although it's a bit cramped and uncomfortable to get in at the back of the loom, it doesn't take long to tie up the treadles.
In spite of all those wonderful dreams, I breathed a sigh of relief. I don't have to advertise and sell my dear Toika, I don't have to go through the hassle of seeking out the next loom. I don't have to buy brand new to get what I want (brand new looms depreciate by 50% about as soon as you get them home).
And, as regards getting a better weaving shed on a bigger loom, I have consulted other members of the Weave Tech yahoo group. The Glimakra and the Oxaback (Lilla) looms are 2 1/2 to 3 inches taller. That's not much, I don't see that it will make a substantial difference. Vertical jacks at the top of countermarch looms might be better than horizontal, but lots of people work on looms similar to mine and are entirely happy. I'll keep working with this one, have a go at improving my tie up technique and then look at getting the extras for it.
I am seriously tempted however by the thought of a portable loom - the Louet Jane, (link to Susan's blog "Thrums") a new model based on the popular Kombo model, due out this autumn. (More about the "Jane" from Jane Stafford who recommended the improvements to Louet).