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.