Friday, 12 September 2008

Colours and thoughts on looms.

Sitting here, looking out of my window in the Derbyshire Peak District today I see dull greens, and lots of grey. There's a few bright colours around the garden, but typically for this summer the dominant colour is mid to deep grey sky and light grey mists.

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 is at the stage of having the apron rod through the end of the warp chains and tied to the cloth apron, and lease sticks in, ready to lift off the floor and onto the loom. I bundled the warp chains into a cloth bag to make it easier to lift everything, see below.
Then I tied the apron rod to the back beam with spare linen warp thread and got out my homemade raddle and clamped that on the back beam. I had a counting thread in each chained warp bundle that separated out bunches of 15 threads to slot into the half inch gaps in the raddle.

And, then I wound the warp onto the back beam:Sorry the next photo is a bit dim, with such feeble daylight on these dull grey days I'm depending on my camera's built in flash and this was just a bit far back from the loom. However, the warp was on the loom at this stage and our tabby cat Phoebe was inspecting it and scent marking the loom just so we all know it belongs to her (?)
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).

6 comments:

Irene Adler said...

Those colours look lovely on the loom - would make a beautiful wall hanging.

My loom is a Cyrus, by the way, and I love it. I bought it on ebay, we had to hire a van to get it home. I've added a few things to it, eg canvas aprons, strong metal rods and a weight for the beater. I think it is perfect - though the countermarch tie up on eight shafts can be trying.

Do you subscribe to Vavmagasinet, if so would you recommend it?

Your blog is fascinating, by the way - like a weaving magazine in itself!

Leigh said...

I love all the color! And I love how you ordered them for the warp. Beautifully cheerful pictures.

I would love to have a portable loom too. Maybe someday. But about those big looms. I can tell you that with the Glimakra standard, shaft kits are available to add additional shafts. That possibility would be something to check on in the event you ever find yourself on the verge of picking out your perfect dream loom. :)

Barbara Blundell said...

Promises to be fantastic !Look forward to seeing the finished result !

Peg in South Carolina said...

Conventional weaving wisdom is that the longer the loom the bigger and better the shed. That said, all you need is a shed that is clear and that your shuttles fit through.
You have an interesting way of getting your bouts on the loom. I do it just the reverse. I lay sticks the length of the loom on which to rest the holding rod and the lease sticks. Then I raddle the bouts. Then I attach the rod to the apron rod and wind on. I have a small TV table at the back of the loom on which to rest the rod while I am raddling.

Geodyne said...

Those colours make me very happy. :)

I'm so looking forward to seeing what you do with them!

Helen said...

I loved the colours as they gave out such a warm glow, very cheering on such a grey day when all colour seems to have vanished from the world.

I recognised that dream of the perfect tool, I have had had it too- is it a bit like a dream of a perfect marriage?

Happy weaving I shall look forward to seeing the interplay of colour which is something that always fascinates me