Saturday 22 December 2012

Weaving courses in the UK

I am currently researching spinning courses of two or more days so that I can publish details in YarnMaker, it's going to be a new part of the "Events for your diary" section. However, for the time being it will be only spinning, not weaving or dyeing and only courses of more than 2 days as there is not space for all the short courses and tutors to be listed.

Weaving courses I can list here - and there are some excellent tutors and superb opportunities. These are just a few...

If I had not gone into publishing, I would have been very keen to study with Janet Phillips and especially interested in her Weaving Master Class.

Stacey Harvey Brown offers a wide range of classes at her studio in Staffordshire, and she has a wonderful collection of looms there including a restored Jacquard loom.

Alison Daykin has an established business weaving for interior design and teaches a regular evening class in Leek for new weavers, it's worth contacting her if you are interested in other types of course as she is setting up a new studio for her own weaving and teaching.

I know these three tutors through us all being members of the Online Guild of Weavers Spinners and Dyers, which runs a few online weaving classes each year, in 2013 there will be one on rigid heddle weaving and another on network drafting. In the past I have enjoyed courses with this guild including lace weaving, twills and double-weave. In 2012 there was a deflected double weave course, which unfortunately I didn't have time to participate in, but I did enjoy reading the teaching notes and seeing the photos of work.

For people interested in basic weaving, there are some fun courses for new weavers each year run by Janet Phillips at the Threshing Barn, near Leek. I met someone who had attended a rigid heddle class at The Threshing Barn, bought a loom and went on to set up a business making wall hangings. Don't underestimate the possibilities of simple looms!

There are a number of interesting courses offered in London at the Handweavers Studio and Gallery, some weekly and some short courses catering for all kinds of weaving.

Hiliary Charlesworth of The Loom Exchange who is writing a series on beginning tapestry weaving for YarnMaker runs various courses including tapestry and peg loom weaving.

There is also a list of tapestry weaving tutors on the British Tapestry Group website.

One of my weaving friends very much enjoyed a course with Snail Trail Handweavers a few years ago with a beautiful blanket woven double width on the loom of her own handspun yarns to show at the end of it.

And... not forgetting (as readers of YarnMaker will already be aware!) 2013 sees an Association of Guilds Summer School, in Wales, at which there are various week long courses including weaving. You don't have to be a guild member to attend, but guild members get a discount.

Monday 3 September 2012

Braids 2012

My commitment to YarnMaker meant I was unable to partcipate in the workshops at Braids 2012, the Braid society conference held in Manchester a couple of weeks ago, but the organiser kindly took a booking from me for the conference dinner and so I was able to pop down to Manchester (less than an hour's drive) and meet old friends - some of whom I have known for years over the internet but not met before in person. It was a super evening and gave me an insight to how much I was missing out on! The workshops sounded fantastic and the opportunities to talk and exchange skills and make friends were greatly enjoyed by everyone.

The next Braids conference will be in 2016 in Seatle, so popping in for dinner won't be an option for me.
Link to Braid Society website, link to Laverne Waddington's blog post about the conference.

One person I met at the dinner was the person I sold my first Marudai on to, when up-grading from this acrylic stand to a wooden replacement, and I recalled that I hadn't got around to posting up photos of the acrylic stand. Although not so nice to work with as wood, it was lovely for photos and good for a beginner as you can see exactly what is happening.

These can be bought in the UK from The Carey Company, Jacqui Carey who runs this business with her husband is also author of the most useful beginners book I have found - Japanese Braiding: The Craft of Kumihimo, I couldn't see this on her website, so here is a link to Amazon UK. 

 My new Marudai was second hand, found on eBay with 16x 100g weights. The maker was Leanda, no longer trading, but Carey Company also sell wooden Marudai, and so does Michael Williams.

Here are a few simple braids -

Friday 27 July 2012

Even warp tension

I'm going to have lunch in 15 mins, it occurred to me I can use that 15 mins for one of my quick blog posts.  I took these photos a couple of weeks ago when setting up my little Greg Meyer Oonagh loom to take along to a Cheshire Guild meeting for people to try multi-shaft weaving.

How to wind a good warp and get it on the loom without tension problems is something every new weaver needs to learn.

I use weights, as they are always around whereas I don't always have a friend handy to hold the warp for me. In some respects weights can work better, as a person has two hands and can hold up to two bundles of warp separately, but you can tie weights on every few inches of warp threads.

Here are my weights, attached to the chained warp.  They are tied to hang slightly above floor level at the start.

I have tied them on with a medium weight linen warp yarn tied in a simple slip knot (or half hitch, depending how you look at it).

When I have wound on enough warp to raise the weights to table height, I stop and re-tie them.

Something I forgot to photograph is the warp winding on the beam with sheets of strong paper, wider than the weaving width, going under the warp threads as they wind on. On my larger looms I have wooden slats for the same purpose. These (paper, sticks, or some people use card) are very important to make sure the warp winds on evenly.

The path of the warp as I wind it on to this loom is over the top of the beater and though the shafts (not at this stage through the reed and heddles, I thread heddles and sley the reed last). On the left hand side you can see a green tie around the warp that I put on when it was on the warping board to keep the threads together, I'm just about to remove this tie.

At the back of the loom the threads are separated alternately over and under the lease sticks (they were prepared for this by making a "cross" on the warping board" and then they are spread out to the width of cloth I am going to weave by the raddle, which on this loom is a permanent feature of the back beam.

That's all for today, 15 mins are up and I will go over time now as I post this to the blog. I hope some new weavers will find this helpful.

EDIT 1st August 2012 add a link to Charlotte's blog Atellier Stellaria so you can see the ingenious 'Weaver's Friend' (besten Freund) invented by Andreas Moeller (see Charlotte's comment on this post).

Tuesday 24 July 2012

Mystery of twisted fabric solved?

I came to put a new warp on my little Greg Meyer loom, and discovered this:

The bar I'm tying my warp to is sitting crooked. It was the same both front and back of the loom, how careless of me! This may have been a factor that helped create curved cloth.

I replaced the string ties with texsolv so it is easy to get them exactly the same length.

It's also easy to do up / undo the texsolv by removing the little anchor peg.

Wednesday 13 June 2012

Weaving with 100% British Wool - handspun

With the latest YarnMaker at the printers (due to be published next week) I had time for some weaving last weekend.

I have a huge stash of handspun yarns. Most of these were spun in 2006.  The wools that went into the blanket include Black Welsh Mountain, Grey Welsh Mountain, Manx Loaghtan, Shetland, Jacob. Some were spun fairly thick like an aran weight yarn, others like a fine sock wool.  There was a good mix of colour, yarn weights and texture.

This photo shows the warp yarns ready to wind onto the cloth beam of my Ashford Knitters Loom, with a 10 dpi reed.

I found that I like using the Glimakra rug shuttle as it passes through the shed without friction.

Here is the new blanket when cut off the loom, before washing in hot and cold water to full the fabric, after which the loose ends and the tassels were trimmed.

Thursday 7 June 2012

Louet S70 and Louet S15

I have found that images of some spinning wheels are more easily found on the internet than others. So here are two classic Louet spinning wheels that are not in production and less easily found.

(Click on the image to see it larger.)

On the right is an S15, made in beech with a plywood drive wheel. It was orginally finished in a thick dark varnish which you can still see on one of the bobbins on the lazy kate. I don't know how old this wheel is, I know of at least 2 previous owners and expect there were many more. It could be around 20 years old. It arrived something of a wreck and has had several new bearings, new brake band, flyer shaft, treadle connector, lazy kate and two new three-speed bobbins. I was pleased to find that Louet make all the parts I needed. The difference between this and the similar S10 model is that the S10 has a round hole in the wheel which compensates for the weight of the footman and treadle for steadier spinning.

On the left is an S70, made in solid oak. This model and the S71(identical apart from a dark varnish) were made for only a couple of years, 1983-1985.

The S70 is a very new addition to my collection, it arrived last week from an ebay seller in the Netherlands, beautifully flat packed in a fairly small box. The postage was over 20 euros and all paid for in beautiful postage stamps, I've cut this out to keep!

You can find some other photos of older  Louet spinning wheels on the Low Lands Legacy website. Louet themselves only have photos of the models currently in production. More detailed information can be found on the Louet North America website.

The question arises from time to time, "Why do people want these old fashioned spinning wheels?". For me, the reason is that I met the talented art yarn spinner, Daniela Klopmann, of FeltStudioUK spinning on one on her stand at Woolfest in 2010. Not only are they easy to spin on, as the heavy drive wheel has good momentum, but they are ideal for bulky art yarns. They are also popular with people who have discovered that they are fast for plying and have huge bobbins for creating big skeins. Some people I know use them only for plying. Other people use them for spinning all kinds of yarn, from lace weight to bulky. Before anyone comments: I know they aren't the easiest wheel for learning to spin fine, and I wouldn't recommend them to someone who only spins fine, but nonetheless if the spinner can spin fine, the wheel can.

Thursday 31 May 2012

Curved cloth

It would be an interesting challenge to get this effect on purpose, a curve down the length of the cloth.

The secret of this error lies in the winding of the linen warp. I wound half one evening, half the next. It might have just been that one day I was pulling the yarn tighter on the warp board. It could be that there was a second  factor - humidity. Linen is stiffer when drier, more flexible when damp.

I knew that there was a difference in tension when I was winding the warp on the loom, it was showing where the warp pulled through the lease sticks

(Super little lease sticks by the way, they came with the loom and you see them here joined together with a treasury tag and tied to the castle)

The warp in front of the lease sticks on the left is distinctly slack, whilst on the right the tension is fairly even. When the warp was wound on the ends on this side were a few inches longer. I trimmed them off before tying the warp on, assuming that the tension problem was resolved.

It looked fine when weaving, and fine when I first removed the cloth from the loom, only showing up when laid out flat to measure the piece before washing.

Something else I discovered very late, only when trying a few inches of wool weft near the end of the warp.  A threading error, that showed more with the wool and more on the reverse of the fabric.

Somewhere I have a mirror for inspecting the reverse of the fabric while it is on the loom - next time I should use it! This error hardly showed from the front with the cotton weft (left) although I would have seen it on the reverse (right).

Friday 18 May 2012

Stick Shuttles

I want to explain why I prefer a short length stick shuttle (this is a 26cm shuttle made by Ashford) and why I wind my shuttles like this:

The yarn is wound in a figure of eight pattern which I learnt some while back from this post on Laura Fry's blog.

This is how it works as I weave, I don't have to twist or turn my shuttle to unwind the thread, it's all a natural and easy part of the weaving action.

Monday 14 May 2012

Weaving on my Greg Meyer "Oonagh" loom

I don't have the spare time I once did to enjoy crafts and blogging, but I am getting my work/life balance organised so I have "a life" again after 2 years of all work, and re-organising aspects of the work to spend less time on business administration and more on editorial work.

The Oonagh loom I bought from Greg Meyer at Wonderwool Wales is part of finding craft time. It only takes up a third of my table and is small enough to pick up and carry around, so I can weave but still have the table available when I need it for paperwork.

It's warped, and I'm weaving again and what is more I've worked out I can blog as well, so long as I keep it short. So, this is a 15 minute post.

Pictures next:

I'm using these cotton yarns together as weft on a bright green linen warp.

All 12 shafts are in use with 3-1 and 1-3 twill taking 8 and plain weave borders on 4. I know I could have set this up on less shafts, but I wanted to use all of them - I haven't had a 12 shaft loom to play with before.

Friday 11 May 2012

J C Rennie & Co, wool spinners

I have just enjoyed a blog post by knit designer Kate Davies about visiting the Scottish wool spinners J C Rennie and would encourage you to read too and enjoy the lovely photos.

J C Rennie's own website is here. The business was set up by two brothers in 1798, spinning locally grown wool for weavers working in their homes.

I have shade cards from J C Rennie as their wools are suitable for weavers, although I haven't used them yet due to the rather large stash of weaving yarns I acquired within the first few months of loom ownership which I have yet to work my way through!

Saturday 5 May 2012

Things for weavers from Wonderwool Wales 2012

Last weekend I was at the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells for the two days of Wonderwool Wales. I was there to meet people, talk about YarnMaker, and come away with material to write about the show for the handspinners who read YarnMaker.

So, this post is for weavers. I came home with two superb weaving things, firstly a new loom. A 12-shaft Oonagh table loom from new British loom maker Greg Meyer.  It is 12" wide and folds with the warp on.  This is a really practical loom as I am short of space for weaving!  When I started working on YarnMaker in December 2009 I had to find office space, and in doing this I gave up part of my craft room. I have been shuffling things around trying to get them to fit ever since.

This is how things look today:

I can get to the table (where my new loom sits), to my spinning wheels, to the desk where I was sitting to take this photo, but the floor loom is difficult to access.

How to make space has been troubling me for some time. Just shifting stuff into another room while I weave and back again is not a good answer. One of the biggest problems is behind the floor loom, near the bench, where my Leclerc Table Loom is stored. I have nowhere else to move it to where it is not in the way. It is going to have to go. After all, it actually duplicates much of what I can do on the floor loom.  The Toika floor loom is not going, so the Leclerc loom must. I am consoling myself with the fact the Oonagh has more shafts. Because it folds flat, the Oonagh can fit under the table when I'm not weaving.

I also brought this back from the show:

A shade card for the Venne yarns sold by a new supplier, My Fine Weaving Yarn. They also import bamboo and soy silk yarns. The colours were hard to resist, so I've promised myself that if I use up some weaving yarns in the next 12 months I could buy some more next year.