Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Overshot sampling

I have had some overshot projects lurking in the back of my mind for some time now. It is over three years ago that we all first studied overshot in our weaving classes and I have decided to revisit this technique over the Christmas holidays.

I put a 3 yard wrap of 16/2 cotton set at 24epi onto my table loom and I have been weaving a series of little 6" to 8" samples varying the wefts and the beat.  So far for tabby I have used 16/2 cotton, 20/2 perle cotton, 28/2 silk/alpaca, 28/2 merino and 18/2 merino. For pattern weft I have tried perle cotton, 11/2 wool, 18/2 wool/silk, appletons crewel wool and 22/2 merino. I have a few more yarns to try and I want to see what some treadling variations look like.

This should be finished in a few days then I will cut them off, hem and wash them to see how they all turn out. I might tie on a short warp of 28/2 silk/alpaca to see how it goes. The objective of this exercise is to come up suitable yarn, treadling and beat combinations for a scarf, a wall hanging and some yardage for a skirt.

It is so nice to be doing straight forward weaving again!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


At long last I have finished this tapestry. The most difficult part was deciding how I as going to treat the dangling ends. I tried several treatments but ended up with this one which is made of painted fishing weights. I shall call this work " Composition in cotton, wool, lead, acrylic and bamboo"! The bamboo bit is the hanging stick.

The tapestry workshop that I referred to in an earlier post has been and gone. The topic for our work was "The Owl and the Pussycat". This photos below shows how far I have got.

 I am finding the diagonal lines very tricky! I hope to find some time over the Christmas holidays to get it finished but in the meantime I have a threaded loom which is calling out to me to weave some stitched double eave and turned taquete.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Tapestry on a horizontal loom

I have nearly completed the "Sun" tapestry but I have put it to one side whilst I worked on how I could improve the mechanics of what I was doing. I had found that after a while working at an upright frame became uncomfortable. Working on my lap solved this but in this position I found that I had difficulty in keeping the frame still whilst I opened a shed with my fingertips and controlling it whilst laying in the weft. Because I felt that the whole setup was unstable I was unable to focus on getting a consistency of texture across the piece. I had also being having problems with getting an even warp tension on the loom and keeping it nice and tight.

Pondering on all of this I remembered and re-read an article by called "Weaving a tapestry on a horizontal loom" by Jay Wilson in the May/June 1995 edition of Handwoven. What he had to say made eminent sense to me so I dug out a 2 shaft loom that I had sitting on a shelf  and put on a 2 yard warp of 12/9 seine twine.

I have started weaving on this warp and my main problems seem to be resolved;
  • No more tension problems. I laced on the warp at both ends and gradually increased the tension whilst "twanging" the warp to spread the tension. Using this table loom I can get the warp much tighter than I could on a frame and this helps with packing in the weft.
  • I find the working position very comfortable and I can see exactly what I am doing. 
  • Making the shed is easy and I no longer have to struggle

I have started using netting needles as well as bobbins and I find the needles easier to use in certain circumstances.

I have been working on a piece using slits and wrapping technique and trying (not always successfully) to get even selvedges and uniform coverage. Three strands of Appleton's crewel wool seems to be doing the trick for the weft. Early days but I am much more comfortable about it all.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Tapestry Diversion

A tapestry workshop is coming up and I have booked for it. The workshop is being run by Marie & Yvonne. I have been to a couple of their workshops and they were both very good. (They do other things, see

 To quote from the notice for the workshop "More experienced make tapestries using supplementary weft or work on your own design while learning more advanced techniques."

The problem is that apart from a two day tapestry workshop where I wove a little sampler that is languishing in a drawer somewhere and a play with a very 70s style wall hanging about six months ago my tapestry experience is non existent. So, I have until the 21st October to become "more experienced"!

I took the warped frame from the wall hanging, shifted it around until I had "empty" warp and off I went.

It became a sort of extended doodle that I have been working on all last week. I tried various yarns that I had and found that Paternayan Persian seemed to suit me best. There is a tapestry shop about ten minutes walk from my work (Morris & Sons) so I have been able to pop in during my lunch break to get fresh supplies.

I didn't have a cartoon (apart from one for my attempt at a circle) but I did sketch what I had done with loads of notes. There is a load of work to do on my technique (tension and coverage) and until I started colouring my warps (red shed/blue shed) I had all sorts of problems.

 I still tend to get lost when building up shapes and then filling in their complement; I feel much more comfortable doing a row at a time but even then shapes tend to wander off an do their own thing. Great fun but I think that this piece of work has run its course so I shall do another couple of inches (columns or pillars I think to get this weft interlock thing nutted out) and the I shall start a fresh piece of work.

Friday, September 17, 2010

How to make a sticky warp

Sleying went very well and took no time at all. I used a small comb to straighten and sequence the threads before pulling them through the reed. I also used the comb when getting ready to lace on to make sure that all the threads in each bout (20 threads, 1" each each), were in place and tight before tying the final knot. Lacing on also went very well.

I spent a bit of time putting on my automatic tensioning system. I have advanced from house bricks suspended from an old shower curtain rail to proper weight lifter weights. It took a bit of time to get the tension right and I have made a mental note to go for the box of rocks solution next time  (as shown here).

Disaster struck when I started lifting shafts to start checking my threading - the plastic comb had induced so much static electricity in the warp that it was impossible to achieve any working shed separation.

I did some research (Handloom Weaving Technology - Allen A. Fannin and Weave-tech archives) and as a result of this I have applied children's untangle hairspray, put in some round lease sticks and shortened the distance between the back beam and the castle. After a couple of days rest the warp seems to have settled down and I shall have another go at getting the weaving started this weekend.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Still threading

I am now halfway through threading the warp for the Big Block Blue Blanket. I think that the seond half is going to progress much faster beause of two changes I have made.

My life (ie Weaving)/ work balance was all wrong. I had got into the habit of getting to work just after 7:30AM with the idea of getting away smartish to do some weaving in the early evening. I didn't work as I frequently didn't get away on time and was often too tired to do any weaving when I got home. I now get up at the same time and get in at least of hour of weaving before I leave for work. Now it doesn't matter what time I leave work in the evening or how tired I might be as I have already done some weaving work.

The other things I have done is change the way I hold the threads in place just before threading them. Rather than having them held in place by a snitch knot to a piece of cord attached to the breast beam I now spread them out in a small open topped reed (from my warping wheel) and hold them in place with a strip of velro. Having the threads in order right in front of the heddles means that I am not straining to pick up the correct thread from the cross on the lease sticks which is behind the heddles. I am sure that this is being done by loads of other people but I am quite pleased with myself for stumbling upon it. My shoulders and neck are thanking me for it.
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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Threading position

I am finding the threading on the AVL much trickier than on the Nilart.

Try as I may I cannot get myself into position where I can see the lease sticks and heddle being threaded all at the same time, unless I m sitting so low that I can't operate the treadles. I need to use these so I can lift the shaft that is to be threaded. This means that there is a bit of craning and squinting, particularly when putting the thread on the hook. I messed around with mirrors and I even tried using a web cam mounted behind the loom but to no avail. However it was  OK as long as I g0t up and stretched every five minutes or so.

I have just read  what Laura Fry has to say on the matter (Threading Motion) and I see that the threads that are next to be threaded are taped to the bottom of the back shafts. The answer for me must be either to follow this method using Velcro to preserve the cross or to substantially lower the lease sticks. I shall experiment tomorrow!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Keeping the cross safe

Over the weekend I took the dust sheet of my AVL Workshop Dobby Loom and did the upgrade to the ratchets and pawls on the cloth and breast beam. The original ones were plastic and just not up to the job of maintaining any decent sort of tension. I must have bought my loom just before they corrected this design flaw, so I had to buy an upgrade kit. The templates that came with the upgrade kit were as not as accurate as they might have been, or I am cack handed, as I had to re-drill one of the holes for the pawl. All done now but one has to ask what sort of testing they did with the original design.

I have put on a 21" wide warp for a stitched double weave shawl. I use an AVL warping wheel with a cross maker attachment (didn't come as standard; should it have done?). In the past I have tied the crosses before winding the warp on to the beam. This time I tried using a stationery ring to secure the cross and it worked a treat. When the warp was safely on the beam it was a simple matter to replace the ring with the lease cords, which were tucked up between to rakes when I was doing the actual winding.
Ring on the cross
In position on the beam
Warp being wound on

Lease cords threaded
Ring removed

Lease cords secured to a couple of rakes

Friday, August 6, 2010

Bi Colour Warp on a Pointed Threading

I have mentioned earlier that I attend weaving classes at the Hand Weavers and Spinners Guild of NSW. Out tutor is Liz Calnan.

Last term we built on some work we had done previously on Summer & Winter and moved onto Taquete, Double two tie Summer & winter, other DoubleTwo Tied Unit weaves and Stitched Double Weave and then Turned Taquete. I did some samplers of some of this ( see Stitched Double Weave and Back to the Tent Stitch) but I put it all to one side when I started on the Big Block Blue Blanket.

Classes started again last week and after a nice catch up (Liz had been to Convergence) we studied Interleaved Threadings. What was of particular interest was the insight that we were given into the number of different things that one can weave with an interleaved threading.

Armed with my class notes and handouts, several reference books and magazines and my weaving software (pixeLoom) I have been combining what I have learnt in the classes with things that I have read and thought about in the past and only partially understood. I have ended up with a set of drafts that fit onto a 22s pointed bi-colour threading (I started with 24S as that is what I have but gave up two shafts for plain weave selvedges.) I think that there is sufficient here to keep me going for years!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Threading the heddles on Big Block Blue Blanket

I have been away for a week in new Zealand (part business part pleasure)  so progress is slow. I think that I have to accept that this blanket is going to be for next winter. With that in mind I can take it nice and steady and have a couple of other projects going at the same time. Our weaving lessons start next week so I shall do what ever we will be learning on a table loom and keep on plugging away at his blanket at the same time.

Having finished beaming the warp I then had to insert the lease sticks. I am not sure if I am doing this in the most efficient manner but I picked up all the warp crosses (one for every section on the beam) with a netting shuttle and threaded a cord through them before trying to put in the lease sticks. I did it this way because I found that 5' lease sticks were a bit to unwieldy to insert directly into the crosses. The photo below shows the lease stick in place and the warp divided into 4 bundles (only three visible) ready for threading.

In preparation for this I took off the breast beam and the cloth beam. This presented more opportunities to do a bit of cleaning and polishing!

Threading is proving fairly easy as the blocks are large (120 ends each) so it is practical to tie up shafts 1 to 4 when I am threading shafts 5 to 8. The important thing is to sit at the right height so that I am not struggling to clearly see through from the first shaft to the lease sticks. Bi-focal glasses are proving to be a bit of a problem as when I glance up to the lease sticks I am looking through the long distance part of the lens. I might need to get special threading spectacles!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Autumn Leaves

My needlepoint is finished and back from the framers. I like the tessellation and I shall certainly use the colours again.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Unknown Brackets on Beater Box

At some stage in the past someone has screwed three L shaped brackets to the bottom of the flying shuttle beater box at each end so that one arm of the bracket sticks up vertically in front of the box with gap between the bracket and the front of the box of about half an inch. I presume that they are later aditions as I can see no reference to them in the Leclerc documentation.
They look as if they are designed to hold something that slots into the gap. I don't want to remove them if they could prove useful.

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Counting heddles

Earlier I said that I had checked the heddles for this project. The statement was true but useless as the basis of any planning because what I had missed somewhere along the way is that there was a completely uneven distribution of heddles between the shafts.
So what I had to do was get all the rubbish of the castle, then remove the top of the castle, slide out the shafts and then remove and add heddles to get an even distribution.   I used cable ties to slide the heddles on and off the heddle support bars and there were no mishaps. Look at the build up of dust and fluff on the frame.

What took the time was that this exercise provided an opportunity to do several other maintenance tasks;

  • Get the vacuum cleaner nozzle in amongst the jacks and lamms
  • Clean and polish everything exposed by the removal of the shafts
  • Lubricate the metal links between the lamms and the jacks
  • Colour code and number the heddle support bars (for ease of threading)
  • Clean the shafts
  • Find a proper home for all the stuff that was on top of the castle

    Wednesday, July 14, 2010

    Beamed at last

    The warp for the Big Block Blue Blanket is safely on at last. It took slightly longer than expected but it is done. The next task is to distribute the heddles evenly. As I am using the full width of the loom I can't have the spare heddles bunched up at the sides of the shafts, they must be spread out amongst the active heddles. I have been caught out by this one in the past on a table loom.

    Wednesday, June 23, 2010

    Big Blue Block Blanket

    All the planning is done, the wool is ordered and delivered, the heddles are counted and I even have a couple of five foot long lease sticks so there is nothing to stop me starting to beam the warp. This is the pattern that I should end up with:-

    This is my plan.  The yarn is Bendigo 2 ply. The usual twill set for this is 18epi but I am making it a bit tighter for a blanket. There is just one weft colour, Bendigo Raffia. The tie-up is for broken twill which will be a bit more forgiving if there is any unevenness of beat.

    I am putting on a 9 yard warp which will be enough for two blankets. I am still working on the design for the second blanket; I am planning to be a bit more adventurous and use more than one colour in the weft.

    I have a busy work week until the weekend, so perhaps on Saturday I can get started.....

    Tuesday, June 22, 2010

    Back to the Tent Stitch

    The sample did not work as I planned as I put on a ridiculously short warp so I was only able to do about two inches of the double weave that I wanted to sample but I did manage about eight inches of double two. I have rolled it up and put it away for consideration some time in the future.

    My next project will be a blanket (twill blocks) using the flying shuttle on my Nilart. Whilst I have been planning this  I have resurrected a piece of needlepoint that I haven't touched for nearly three year, in fact since I took up weaving. It took me a while to remember the basic tent stitch, but I am up and running now, and will get this finished before I start on the blanket.

    Wednesday, May 26, 2010

    Tying on a new warp

    My next warp on this threading (Double 2 & Stitched Double Weave) is Bendigo 2 ply wool. Having only tied on a new warp to the old once before (not a success) I did a bit of research, studied my class notes from when we had a demo and looked at this blog here;

    I tried this way but could not mange to have the warp in my left hand with the cross neatly separated by my fingers  AND select the correct ends AND tie knots at the same time. I got cramps, dropped things and generally got into a right royal mess. But I persisted and as I struggled along  what Adam Smith wrote " Men are much more likely to discover easier and readier methods of attaining any object, when the whole attention of their minds is directed towards that single object, than when it is dissipated among a great variety of things" started to become true.

    I gave up trying to hold the new warp but put it into open ended lease sticks made by taking the cross maker from my AVL warping wheel and attaching it to the beater arm. Picking out the next new warp thread became easy. I overcame the problem of disentangling the old warp ends as they emerged from the reed by combing them out and holding them in place with a mini reed from a tension box.

    I wound little warp chains of  24 ends at a time; I wasn't that speedy but the whole operation became completely stress free.


    Stitched Double Weave

    Once I got started I found it difficult to stop as I wanted to see what each new motif would look like. The end result  is that what was intended as a sampler has become a wall hanging. A bit ropey in certain places and a bit OTT but my story is that it meant to be looked at from afar!

    The photo is equally ropey and doesn't do full justice to the splendour of this piece of fabric art.

    If I were to use this for something like a shawl I think that the more subtle patterns would look best - diamonds or little hollow motifs. I am planning to tie on another warp so I will try something a little more subtle.

    We studied Double Two in our weaving class last week and it is serendipitous that this threading that I put on for stitched Double Weave is also a Double Two threading


    Tuesday, May 18, 2010

    Stitched Double Weave

    At long last I have started work on my Stitched Double Weave sampler. The draft is Strickler #691 with the treadles moved around a bit I could understand it better. The draft below is as it was just before I converted it to lift-plan. It shows the "theoretical" tie up as opposed to the practical.

    Treadles 1 and 3 weave brown in the top layer on shafts 7 & 8. Treadles 2 and 4 weave ecru in the bottom layer on shafts 1 to 6 (7 & 8 are also lifted every time to lift the top layer out of the way when weaving the bottom layer). The stitched design is produced by lifting any combination of treadles 6 to 11 when weaving the top layer. This pulls individual stitches of the bottom layer into the top layer to form the pattern; in the example below, a heart and a box shape.  The practical tie up is as shown below. I got the idea of deconstructing a tie up into its theoretical components from Weaver's Issue 2 Summer 1988 and some of my class notes.
    I have put on a warp of bright cotton in blue and yellow so that I can see exactly what is happening. Rather than having a print out of the lift plan I have positioned my net book computer next to the loom so that I can use a magnified view of the treadling and the cursor keys to check where I am.  I am finding it much easier that marking off on a bit of paper. I change the colour of a weft on the screen to mark where I am whenever I take a break.

    Getting the warp onto the loom took much longer than it should have done because of some silly errors that I made because I didn't properly think through how to thread two warps when using a double back beam.The photo below shows the moment when I  was halfway through sorting out my problems.

    I also became distracted on a nice sunny day by a side project that I have on the go which is weaving a wall hanging. The idea comes from this book ( I felt that I should put on a pair of flared trousers just to read it). 
    There are only three different techniques used and I am particularly taken with warp wrapping which has possibilities. I am not sure what I shall do with it when it is finished as my wife has issued a pre-emptive banning order!

    Thursday, April 29, 2010

    Texsolv Heddles are easy to put on!

    I was not looking forward to putting extra texsolv heddles on my Ashford loom as the last time I put some on a loom it was on 24 shafts and it took a very long time.

    As one tends do do nowadays when pondering on a problem, I did a google and came to this site,, and it all become clear. You do not take off the ties on the bundles of heddles until after you have put them on the harness, so they all go on at once in three simple steps! I have been cutting the ties and putting them on one by one! Oh wa ta na Siam!

    Tuesday, April 27, 2010

    Flying shuttle on Nilart and not enough heddles on Ashford

    Whilst cleaning my Nilart I decided to fit the flying shuttle beater. The fitting was no problem, but oh my gosh, do those shuttles go! The second picture shows the barricades of pillows that I had to put in place to catch the damn thing before it wreaked total havoc. Once I realised that the problem was that the cord was too loose and was deflecting the shuttle order was restored.

    I was very tempted to put on a warp straight away so I could start using it but I was very good and stuck to my plans to work on the stitched double weave sampler.

     Before I do anything else I have to put on some more heddles; not my favourite task. I do feel that the manufacturers could have supplied just a few more to start off with. The draft that I am using has one layer threaded on shafts 7 and 8 whilst the other layer is spread between shafts 1 to 6, hence the discrepancy in heddle numbers. The same problem would have arisen if I had decided to do some Huck.
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