Wednesday, 26 September 2007


I've cut the first samples, of 8 different weave structures, off my sample warp now. I washed them vigourously in hot water so that the yarns would shrink and the washing/drying help to stablise the fabric. Using my sewing machine, I made lines of plain stitching as basic hems before cutting the length of weaving into separate sections.

Now the samples are stitched onto sheets of cardboard along one edge, leaving the fabric otherwise loose so I can turn it over and see the reverse, and so it can be handled to check the "feel" and stretch of the weave.

Also on each record card are:

  1. a diagram of the loom tie-up, threading, treadling pattern and structure

  2. notes on type of yarn used, and where it came from

  3. a record of the sett (warp ends per inch) and the reed used

  4. pattern source / references

  5. miscellaneous notes about the weave structure or particular sample (anything I think I might find useful to know in the future)

As I organised my records, I was sorry to see how poor and irregular the selvedges are down one side of the first few samples I wove. However, there's some good news here, as I had become of this when I was weaving, and solved the problem.

There are many different problems affecting selvedges. I use "floating" selvedges, which are a couple of extra threads on either side of the cloth which do not form part of the pattern. These are very useful with most weaves.

Something I didn't do this time is to increase the density of warp threads in the last few dents of the reed before the selvedge. I have used this technique before, and found it very helpful to give a nice neat edge. Some of these 8 samples looked like they really should have had that knid of edge - the weaves that were least balanced with longest floats. The worst case was a length of sateen weave, which has long weft floats. The edges of this sample were drawn in and tending to curl up. However, a length of plain weave was absolutely fine. My conclusion is that in the future, when making sample weaves in preparation of a particular project, I will need to test out different arrangements of warp threads at the selvedges to see what is best for a particular weave and yarn.

The particular problem I'd had though with this sample weaving, which I was able to correct, was down to the way I was working with my right hand. I slowed down everything I was doing and looked at each part of the weaving process. I was allowing some extra weft thread across the width of the warp to allow for take up (in the unders and overs of the weft going around the warp) when the weft was beaten in.. I was using a Crossley end feed shuttle, which has a tension device to control the release of the weft yarn. I was pinching the beginning of a weft to prevent it pulling tight it when I pulled the shuttle out of the warp. I was beating evenly.

But, when the shuttle was in my right hand, I was tending to move my right hand back towards my body as I used my left hand to operate the beater. When the shuttle was in my left hand, I didn't do this, I held the shuttle close to the beater. Looking and watching carefully, I could see that certainly was causing a problem! When I moved the shuttle towards my body, the yarn at the selvedge was pulled back, compressing the weave at the right selvedge.

It's just one of those little personal eccentricities, not necessarily something all weavers would do, that goes back to the fact I injured my right arm very badly in an accident five years ago, and have only recently been learning to use it properly, having had many weeks of physiotherapy last year. I still tend to favour the left for physical work, and rest the right arm, all quite unconsciously, and have to learn to identify and then break my bad habits.

This does explain something that puzzled me for ages - I heard sometime last year that it is normal for weavers to form one selvedge better than the other, and that this tended to reflect whether one was right or left handed. As a right handed person, my right selvedge should have been better, it's taken this long to spot why it was worst!


Peg in South Carolina said...

Yes, keeping that shuttle up front and away from your body as you beat is very important. If you let the shuttle move towards your body as you pull the beater towards you, you are lessening the amount of weft thread that will be pulled into the warp. So, keep that shuttle up towards the heddles when you beat!
Good analysis of your body movements, by the way. It's very difficult to do that kind of analysis but it can be very important.

Leigh said...

Ah, very informative. I love all the little bits I glean from your posts. My right hand selvedges are my worst too, but I'm not sure of the reason. You've inspired me to pay closer attention to my body movements as I weave.