Monday, April 18, 2011

Low Warp Tapestry Loom

In a previous post I said that I found it much easier to weave tapestry on a horizontal table loom rather than an upright tapestry frame. I had read previously about the two styles of French tapestry high warp (haute lisse, aka Gobelin) and low warp (basse lisse, aka Aubusson), knew what a Gobelin loom looked like and I had seen all the upright tapestry looms that are available on the market. What I had not come across was any information about low warp tapestry looms.

Searching the internet on "low warp" didn't give me much, but once I switched to using French weaving terms (basse lisse, metier a tisser, tapisserie and aubuson used in various combinations) it started getting interesting.  It took a while to get used to looking at French sites but what with recalling my schoolboy French and using Google Chrome as my search engine with its translation functions I soon able to get the hand of what I was looking at . I needed to exercise care with the automatic translations  as some of them, particularly of weaving terms, came out a bit wide of the mark. For example, fils de chaîne  (warp threads) is translated Google as "son of string".

To start with, an explanation of the difference between "Le metier de basse lisse" and "le metier de haute lisse" is here;
I must stress that my research has been on the use of low warp looms for tapestry. The term “basse liise” when applied to looms in French also covers conventional cloth weaving handlooms.

The loom – metier a tisser de basse lisse
The montage of photos below gives a pretty good idea of what the looms look like:-

and here is a larger picture;

The construction is quite straight forward. The main differences between these looms and conventional horizontal looms are;
  • No beater
  • The warp runs directly from a beam at the back of the loom to a beam at the front of the loom.
  • The  back beam is mounted in an adjustable dolly or carriage  that allows additional control of the tension – over and above that put on by rotating the beams.
  • The back beam is higher than the front beam so that the warp slopes slightly upwards from front to back.
  • Warp threads are held in place on the front and back beams by a “verdillon” (I can’t find a translation). This is a metal rod that is held in place by hooks set into a groove that runs the length of the beam.
  • There are two sheds which are controlled by harnesses positioned below the warp. The connection between the warp and the two pedals is shown in the series of photographs on this page here - It took me a while to work out how this all fits together
  • There is a plank just behind the front beam that extends across the width of the loom.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Getting ready to tie on

The two Brighton Honeycomb scarves are finished and safely wrapped round the cloth beam. I have but lease sticks in behind the heddles and cut of the warp where it is dangling ready to be tied onto the new warp. The new warp is beamed and ready to be tied onto the old warp. This is going to be fun!

For this scarf I m going to try Breaks & Recesses (Strickler #47).  I will be using chocolate alpaca for both the warp and the weft.

This will mean changing the tie up but it should be fairly straight forward the second time around. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Two yarns in the weft

Having finished the first Brighton Honeycomb scarf and for the second scarf I have been using a weft of two strands of 15/1 merino and so far it looks quite good. I have no idea how it will behave when I washed but I wove a 12" sample that I shall experiment with first.

I tried using a shuttle with two bobbins but got into an awful pickle with the selvedges so I fabricated a doubling stand from a milk crate and wove successfully with the two strands wound onto one bobbin.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Weaving on a Countermarch Loom

Last week I started weaving and it is all good.

My first threading is straight 8 with a Brighton Honeycomb tie up. I have woven this before so I know what to expect and can focus  on the touch sound and feel of the loom. The warp is two colours of Bendigo 2 ply (Pampas and Ginger) set at 18epi and for the weft I am using some nice 2/12nm chocolate (70% alpaca / 30% bluefaced leicester) yarn  that I bought in the UK a couple of years ago.

I did a bit of sampling first to get a colour combination that I liked and also to get used to the overhead beater. It was all over the shop to start of with but settled down after a while. I still have to squint down to check that I am getting the correct treadle but I am not having to adjust as much as I did when I started.

 The amount of effort that I have to expend  is minimal so I find that I am weaving for much longer at a stretch. The size of the loom suits me and I like the fact that I can see exactly what is going on. I get up every now and then, take a stroll round the loom, give it a pat and then it is back to the pilots chair and the loom and I sail  serenely on. A bit fanciful I know but the creak of the beam and the sounds of the treadles and the two capstan wheels on the side all  bring images of large sailing ships to mind.