Thursday 12 December 2013

Tablet Weaving on the Cricket Loom

Weaving is now going well. It's a simple pattern with all the cards turned together 4 turns one way, then 4 turns back.

I looked in the Ann Sutton tablet weaving book to see how she recommends winding warps. She threaded each card as she made the warp and stood it in a stand, something like a toast rack. This idea comes from Morroco. The toast rack has a pin through the top so cards can not jump out, and later, when weaving it is used as a warp spreader.

I'd had the idea of using a rigid heddle to spread the warp. After turn the idea of toast racks around in my head for a few hours, I realised a rigid heddle could also hold cards, although it doesn't have that useful pin through the top, however I can put a knitting needle  through the centre hole of my cards.

I think this might work, maybe with the rack raised a bit so the cards sit further into it.

There is a continuous warping method that works when all your cards are threaded the same. You thread the pile of cards onto the yarns all at the same time, yarns would on four separate bobbins, and then distribute the cards into the warp as you wind it. You can see this demonstrated in YouTube videos by Linda Hendrickson and by Andrew Kieran. It is interesting to see both videos and compare the working style - Linda seems to have a fully equipped weaving studio, Andrew achieves the same result without any special equipment.

When it comes to equipment, you might have noticed I have bought special cards. You don't need to buy special cards. You can use playing cards, or other cardboard squares, I have a secondhand set made from beer mats. Another idea that came up in a Ravelry UK Weavers discussion is to use plastic squares cut from the side of a plastic milk carton.

Wednesday 11 December 2013

Tablet weaving - uh oh... not like this

Some flaws in my warping system:

  • insufficient precautions taken to keep warp threads from getting crossed in the wrong places and out of order
  • I think the warp threads need threading through the cards as the warp is created (so they sit well on the warp and the warp tension will not need disturbing and the threads are all in order)
  • cards not held securely in the correct order, and this happened -

I dropped them.

Hope I manage better next time!

All my screen breaks from the computer today have been spent sorting out the warp. In the end I wound the warp on the loom twice (on to the front, then back through the cards onto the back beam) to get all the threads in order and even out the tension.

Note there is now a wooden knitting needle through the centre hole in the cards to preserve the pattern order and a cotton tie through hole B on each card to stop individuals rotating.

Anyhow, ready to weave, and whilst I have been typing this post I backed up my work for the day. I'm working against the clock to get YarnMaker published before Christmas, have a little weaving project is supposed to help keep me sane and make sure I take my screen breaks.

Tablet weaving - preparing the warp

I finished weaving the scarf on the cricket loom, it's washed and drying at the moment, last stage for that project will be to sew in a few weft ends. I'm pleased with it, it is a scarf I will wear.

Next project - tablet woven band.

I'm preparing the warp, using 2/6 cotton from William Hall & Co in Emerald and Navy.

I have an old pair of Dryad warping posts for the ends of the warp, clamped to my table, 3 feet from the new single warping peg that came with my Cricket loom. I will have a six foot long warp.

My warp starts at the left of the two posts, and part way down the first side I'm making a cross, using knitting cotton to separate the four warp yarns that belong to each card. the loops on the right of the pair of posts will transfer to the cloth beam of the Cricket loom.

My yarns bobbins are on a lazy-kate. This came second hand with one of my spinning wheels, homemade, I like the wooden rods for the bobbins, they don't over run as much as on steel shafts.

My pattern is in an old book, Tablet Weaving by Ann Sutton and Pat Holtom. I find it easier to read and understand that the Candace Crockett book, and I like the simple patterns.

I'm warping for a 16 card pattern.

Back to work on the magazine now, but it is good to have another project to help make sure I take my screen breaks. I spend too many hours at the computer some days, and have bad RSI problems. These are helped by swimming and exercises, but I recently had to take a 3 month break from swimming due to a different problem, recurrent sublaxation problems with my knee joints, part of 4 years of trouble with walking, dating back to when I was ill in 2008/9. I've had more physiotherapy, I'm walking again, and swimming. Thank you NHS!

Sunday 8 December 2013

A small loom, for bands, samples, scarves.

I don't get much time for weaving at the moment, not enough that I feel I can go ahead and set up a large project on the floor loom. However, small projects are achievable: samples, scarves, bands.

I've been thinking for a while about getting a small loom for band weaving and samples. Criteria were: a solid frame, a good choice of extra heddles (for non-band projects), small adjustments possible on cloth beams and secure ratchet and pawl.

Candidates were Ashford SampleIt (8" wide), Ashford 12" knitters loom, 10" Schacht Cricket loom. Each has its own merits, but I chose the Schacht Cricket, because I wanted 10" width and also because they are beautifully designed and made.

Here is my Cricket:

and here is the rest of the loom. It came flat packed with assembly instructions (that was easy, put pieces together, use 6 cross head screws provided), weaving instructions, 2 shuttles, one 8 dpi heddle and two balls of yarn. Well I don't know what to do with two balls of yarn and a loom, except warp up and weave... so I did.

You may not be able to see the tape measure clearly in the photo, total length of the loom is 18". This loom doesn't take up much space!

I like the design, the heddle positions are good and the table clamps (for use when warping) slot into the back of the loom sides and hold it securely - I know this is important have had my 20" Ashford Knitters Loom escape its clamps once, midway through warping using the single post method.

This is the ratchet and pawl...

...and for more about band weaving on small looms, I refer you to YouTube and the latest video from Sue Foulkes which accompanies a book -

Five Ways of Weaving Narrow Bands, video

The book, The Art of Simple Band Weaving, is available from and either as an e-book or print on demand hardback or softback. I haven't got a copy, yet (maybe after Christmas!) but I have Sue's other books, on Sami band weaving, and they are excellent. (Also available from blurb, search for Susan J Foulkes.)

Saturday 3 August 2013

Woolfest for Weavers

YarnMaker, spinners, and spinning supplies were my reasons for being at Woolfest in Cockermouth in June. However, I took a little time here and there to look at weaving supplies.

One of my friends ordered a new Saori loom at the show. She's been doing Saori weaving for sometime now on rigid heddle looms so knows that the two-shaft Saori loom with the benefit of foot treadles is ideal for the weaving she does. We now have a Saori agent in the UK and The Saori Shed had a large stand where I happily sat and wove a few inches of cloth.

I was very interested to see a beautiful range of Estonian wool yarns spun for weaving now offered by Jane Flanagan Textiles alongside her dyed wool batts for feltmakers. Jane is a weaver herself although spends much of her time running textile workshops for schools.

I enjoyed meeting one of my weaving blog friends, Dorothy Stewart, who was helping out on the Ripples Crafts stand. Dorothy has been weaving beautiful silk scarves and I was delighted to see them for real and talk with her about weaving. Helen of Ripples Crafts custom dyes silk yarns for Dorothy so she can work with whatever colours she chooses.

The yarns I fell for however were from the range stocked by Helen Brotherton My Fine Weaving Yarn. She seems to be constantly extending the yarns offered and it is wonderful to visit one of her stands and have a choice of modern yarns all spun for handweavers in a range of colours like I have never seen before in the UK. I know other people do stock a large range but selection is normally from shade cards or samples that arrive in the post. It is rather different to be surrounded by yarns of different fibres that you can see and touch! And pick up and buy... here are the yarns I brought home, all silk. I made two colour selections of four cones for scarf weaving, each including one varigated yarn. However, having got them home I think that the green I chose could belong to either group.

Sunday 28 July 2013

Spun to weave...

I get more spinning time than weaving time nowadays, but I often have weaving ideas for my yarns.

In the past couple of weeks I have been spinning:
Castlemilk Moorit fleece spun longdraw from rolags;
Cotswold fleece worstead from combed fleece;
coloured Merino longdraw from carded rolags.

The Castlemilk Moorit is not quite as soft as it looks due to having two types of wool fibre, a soft wool undercoat and some stiffer longer hairs. I might knit a jumper or jacket, if I have enough. If not enough to knit I could weave with a different wool for contrast in colour and possibly a longer fibre wool to add strength (the fibres in the fleece were around 3-6cm) or a softer wool for comfort.

The Cotswold, centre in photo, I could dye and weave into a firm twill fabric suitable for a jacket or for upholstery.

The Merino, bottom in photo, is lovely and soft. I have also spun blends of this with alpaca. It would make warm, soft woven scarves and would also be lovely to knit into a jumper or scarves, hats, mittens. It was a large fleece and I have plenty.

Saturday 30 March 2013

Weaving beautiful cloth

I want to share with other weavers this awsomely beautiful film from the Scottish weavers
Morton Young and Borland Ltd 

Learn more about their product range here on their website. Beautiful stuff!

I came across this while checking references for an article going into the next edition of YarnMaker, my work is generally more about spinning yarns than weaving, but my aim with YarnMaker is to cover the whole textile story from where fibres come from, how yarns can be designed and spun through to the ways we use them, taking in past, present and future. I am always learning new things and enjoying the contributions people make and the connections and conversations that preceed and follow on. (Those of you who read YarnMaker can have fun guessing where this might be found in the magazine!)

I love the way this film shows the relationship between machinery, the punch card programs, the oily hands of workers maintaining the machines, and the fine, beautiful white cloth. We see yarn on bobbins and being woven into cloth. We meet the people involved, face to face. There is so much in one short film.

Wednesday 2 January 2013

Another loom...

Saved from the waste tip - last year I bought some spinning equipment from a man who was clearing out his mother's house, as an after thought he mentioned there was an old loom that he had been going to take to the tip, but could drop off at our house instead.

We think this was made to the plans in David Bryant's book, also available from his Craft Designs website. It is probably around 30 years old, same as the spinning wheels I bought at the same time. The owner had clearly been a keen spinner and weaver and taught the crafts - I also have yet to sort out a bag of homemade rigid heddles, stick shuttles and backstrap loom pieces.

We have had fun caring for this loom, it has been taken apart, all the wood and metal re-finished, got new supports for the beater and rubber stops for the beater on the castle, new aprons, new shaft springs. A couple of nights ago I rubbed the shafts with candlewax to help the heddles slide along them.

I like the metal ratchet and pawls and the way the shaft levers lock in position. I like the solid wooden frame, it's rather beautiful. However it has sat on our living room floor in the way of my piano for six months and it is about time I got a test warp on it to check the shaft action as there is now a weaver ready and waiting for a loom, so if she likes the look of it and I find that all is working well it can go on to a new home - and then I can play my piano again!

Postscript: two blog posts in the two days of 2013: I shan't keep it up, you know!

Tuesday 1 January 2013

A Day in the Life of My Loom

This is an annual 1st January event started by Meg where weavers around the world post photos of their looms on New Year's day. I expect most weavers have cloth on their looms, due to a series of foot/knee/ankle problems my floor loom has not been in used for weaving for some while. With the aid of an excellent physiotherapist that should not be the case for much longer.

What is on my loom here is - on the back beam,  a collection of recently spun skeins of yarn that I washed to set the twist a couple of days ago (a range of coloured merino and alpaca blends) on the top bar a few woven bands (right), a couple of skeins of handspun white Portland and a beautiful stole I have been wearing woven by one of my weaving friends, Mavis Lakin, in plain weave and showing Mavis' incredible talent for putting together yarns and colours. The warp is a Collinette boucle yarn, I'm not sure of the fibre content, and the weft is a darker varigated wool yarn. It feels wonderful and drapes most elegantly.

Behind the loom are boxes and bags of fibre and yarn and a box with a few spindles (on the left).

Work in progress today includes spindle spinning a merino and silk blend (one of those from the New Zealand spinning wheel makers, Ashford) and a knitted cowl from my own handspun yarns (the pattern by Elizabeth Lovick is in YarnMaker no. 12). The red wool in the cowl is left from a scarf I wove for my Mother for Christmas 2009.

Best wishes to all for the New Year - 2013!