Saturday, December 15, 2012

Twill Blocks

 I finished this scarf a couple of months ago, just in time for the summer so apart from posing in the garden it has not been worn yet.

It is quite effective but I could have  done better with contrasting the darks and lights in the colours.  

PS: I have just checked; it was August when I started this and October when I finished it (Practise and vibes). Not very good productivity but I had to address the garden!
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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Museum in Bhuj

I would recommend that anyone fortunate enough to visit Bhuj in Gujarat, India  should visit the Bhuj Museum; One of the exhibits that I liked was this one - it is worked in cross stitch and goes above a doorway. I have the name of these written down somewhere but it has gone missing!

From the photos that I took I have derived a needlepoint design which I have started on -  I shall be at it for years! I took a few liberties with some of the colours  When the sun is shining I take the frame into the garden, stitch away and listen to the birds (and occasionally the neighbour's lawn mower)

Practise and the vibes

There has been a very interesting debate on WeaveTech on tensioning and advancing a warp on a Glimakra standard. I played around with putting some live weight tension on the cloth beam but it didn't do much for me so I took it off. Because the cloth beam is so low I had to involve a pulley and it all became to complicated to adjust - besides which I think that AVL have already done it!

I have reduced the weight on the back beam and use a bit of piping to fit over the spokes of the cloth beam ratchet wheel so that I can advance the warp without herniating myself. I am much happier with the weaving - there is nothing that a good robust bit of washing and spinning won't resolve.

The scarf that I am weaving at the moment is on the same warp that was causing me grief (  After trying some technical solutions I have concluded that the deciding  factor is practise  - obvious really!

I suppose I would call it block twill stripes. I am trying to reduce my stocks of odds and ends of Bendigo 2 ply. I like the design; let's see how it executes!

I usually use end feed shuttles but on this scarf I am using boat shuttles because I don't have enough pirns for all the different colours. I am having a few problems with the selvedges as one of the pictures below shows. Little loops can be worked back into the scarf once it is off the loom but the occasional excessive draw in is a little bit more difficult to hide. As I progress I am getting better at controlling the tension of the warp using my finger on the spool. The truth of the matter is that because I am an occasional weaver I should allow for much longer samples on the warp so that I can weave myself back into the swing of it all.

I have decided to let all the warp ends at change of colour hang out and I'll thread then back in when the scarf is off the loom. I am doing this so as to get as few interruptions as possible to the actual weaving - it's the vibes man!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Mandvi, Gujarat - Household Textiles

In early April we found ourselves in Mandvi. We hadn't planned to visit but it kept on coming up in conversation with local people as a good place to go to. We were quite pleased with ourselves as we got there from Bhuj on a local bus which we organised by ourselves without the help of friendly staff from wherever we were staying, which was how we had been organising our transport up until then. All the signs at the bus station were in Gujarati script and we couldn't find any English speakers - Virginia got it all sorted and put us on the right bus.

Mandvi is a delightful place and as it is not on the main tourist route there was no hassle. As with virtually everywhere we visited in India everyone was kind, courteous and helpful. The town had everything that we could want- beaches, bazaars, medieval gates and walls, lovely food, a palace, shipbuilding (magnificent - I will have to intrude it into this weaving blog), tie dying and weaving.

We stayed at the excellent Rukmavati Guest House. It was quite hot so we usually spent the afternoons there having a nap, chatting or reading. I found some of the household textiles quite interesting. I had my pick glass with me so I spent a couple of happy hot afternoons looking at them in detail. I had bought myself a book of graph paper in Bhuj so I was able to attempt  to record my interpretations of these fabrics. Our host was a  bit concerned at first as I rifled through his linen cupboard until I explained what I was doing. I think that he thought that I might be mad!

Cotton Blanket
This was not a particularly remarkable piece but I was very taken with the subtle shift in the weft colours. My photographs does not do it justice - something similar in mercerized cotton might be most effective. I ended up wearing it at times.

Cotton Hand Towel
The analysis of this was quite tricky because the threads kept shifting as I tried to determine which one was going over and which one was going under. The colours had faded so much that it was difficult to work out the sequence so the one shown below is part guess work as the pink and white were virtually indistinguishable.

This pattern was lurking under a synthetic cover that had been put on the cushion. It was torn and I spied the pattern through the hole. For some reason that I can't fathom I didn't take a photo of it.

All of these drafts can be done on a straight 24. I have never woven anything substantial in cotton so perhaps this can be my next project after I done enough wool scarves to keep family members happy.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Delhi - Design Ideas for Transparancies

We were in Delhi for four days right in early March right at the start of our trip to India. We stuck to the tourist straight and narrow, visiting the Red Fort, the Jama Masjid mosque, India Gate and the government buildings around the Rashtrapati Bhavan. I found the Red Fort rather melancholy probably because I knew that what we see today is just a shadow of its former glory but the Jama Masjid mosque was alive and vibrant with its purpose and the government buildings were interestingly quirky.

I wasn’t really expecting to see anything relating to textiles, but I soon became fascinated with the sheer volumes of colour that emanates from any group of Indian women.  The amount of beautiful decorative details on the buildings, particularly the Red Fort, will provide me with plenty of ideas when I finally get round to doing some transparency weaving.

The pictures below show some of the lovely decorative detail on the buildings we saw and some of my preliminary work to convert then to cartoons 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Weaving in Kotay, Gujarat

On the 1st April this year my wife  and I visited the village of Kotay in Gujarat. We were a third into a twelve week trip we took earlier this year to India. My wife wanted yoga and meditation, I wanted textiles and we both wanted what ever India would serve up; we weren't disappointed on any counts.

We were in the village to look at the C10th Shiva Temple (which was very impressive and sad in the way that long abandoned buildings that have lost their people are).

In the village we tracked down the house of a weaver (with the help of some local youths who had decided to become our guides) and invaded his privacy. He was weaving a shawl  with some lovely inlay work. His loom was 4 shaft counterbalance with a fly shuttle and there were additional sets of heddles behind the shafts that were hand raised. As I was imposing on his time and I did not have his language I was unable to determine how these were threaded.

The diagram on the left is a scan of the notes that I wrote shortly after the visit.

This was my third opportunity to look at how hand loom weavers work in India and the equipment they use. I am still reflecting on the contrasts between the Indian production hand loom weaver and the western hobby weaver (me). I have yet to finalize my conclusions.

I have put the draft into my weaving software and I am happy to say that I can do it on a straight 24S threading  I am not sure however that I have the patience.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Diamonds and curves

Well, the streaky twill scarf is finished and is hiding on the cloth beam whilst I work out what I am going to do for the next scarf. I played around with the profile draft for my threading and came up with a traditional looking diamond pattern.

I used the block substitution feature on my weaving software (Pixeloom) to come up with a draft that looked quite nice. I have built up a small library of twill blocks that I can use for substitution so rather than using the traditional blocks with a clear cut and straight twill lines (on the left) I used the one on the right one which is much gentler and kinder to the weaver with a variable beat. The drafts on page 61 of "A Weavers Book of 8-Shaft Patterns - Strickler" shows what I mean.

I wove a little bit of sample and it all looked good.

After my supper I went back to the loom and looked at what I had woven and I looked at the draft and after a bit of contemplation I decided that whilst what I was about to weave would be very nice as a table runner it would not be so good as a scarf.
A scarf must envelop and flow. I have a very nice scarf that I wove in red and black waffle weave which I was very pleased with at the time but which I wear less and less nowadays because it is not "scarfy" enough. It looks fine but does not sit round my neck in the same comfy way that a scarf in Brighton Honeycomb does. I decided to abandon this draft and come up with something else.

The joys of weaving software! My threading was a given but I could do what I liked with the tie up and treadling. I finally came up with this. The curved treadling is from Sandra Rude ( it was an article on the web where I got this threading and also the idea of  dedicating 4 shafts on a 24 shaft loom to the selvedge).Whenever I see a nice threading, tie up, treadling  or colour scheme I do a small draft and put them in my "Weaving Elements" folder. The tie up is of my own devising which I had to fiddle around with a bit to get rid of some long floats. It needs a bit more work; I "reflected" the treadling which doesn't quite give the right effect. A bit more work and then it gets woven!


 PS - Sorry about the text back grounds and inconsistent breaks between the paragraphs. I know that Mr Google provides this software for free , but....

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Twill streaks

I am still fretting over the quality of my latest bit of weaving.

The twill line seems to be fairly regular and the selvedges are OK. What concerns me is the "streaking" effect that I am getting. Light on dark twills are not that forgiving on irregularity of the beat. On inspection I can see that the streaks are occuring at fairly regular 1" intervals which probably correspond to the regular advancement of the temple and the moving forward of the beater.  I suspect  that when I get the piece of the loom I will find some evidence of where the warp has been advanced every three inches.  This is not a smooth process as the back beam jerks forward when I release the ratchet. Every time I advance the warp it goes from  full tension to no tension and then back to full tension which is probably not the same as the original tension.

I  thought that the situation might be helped by putting some weights and rope  at the back to create a live tension system. This will resolve the problem of jerking the warp whenever it is advanced.

The photo on the right shows what I have done. I played around with the weight and settled on one 10lb weight (plus the weight of the bar). The warp tension is now set at a constant as determined by the weights. 

There might be a slight improvement - it is hard to tell. I shall press on and see what it looks like after washing. If there are still problems I shall dye the scarf black and move on!

On this page ( I describe how I put  similar system on my AVL WSD loom and here ( ) is a picture from the AVL website showing the general principal.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Oh gosh!

My excuse is that I have had a long lay off. I have been in India for 12 weeks and I didn't do much weaving for a month before. The photos below are of the sample section, trying various pattern possibilities on this threading.

The plan will have to be changed a bit - at the moment my beat is so uneven that I can't maintain any significant area of twill. I shall weave a striped scarf (the last bit of the sample) which will be kinder on my wobbly twill line. The draw in and selvedges are dodgy as well! I have to think about tension overall and the tension of the selvedge thread as well.

The answer is to weave myself back in! No matter, my tennis is rubbish at the moment as well!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Weaving again

Finally I have started weaving again. I am weaving a simple alpaca scarf with a forgiving draft. The design is derived from a 3/3 six shaft twill that I used as a profile draft and then substituted in broken twill (or are they satin?) blocks.

There is a nice 2" shed, the pedal operates the shafts, the monitor shows progress and position and I can focus on the weaving. Bliss.

Monitor Positioning and Lighting

Whist threading the loom I put a threading draft onto the computer and used this to "treadle the threading".  This was easy as I could put the pedal on the stool  next to me and operate it by hand. I had the control unit in slow mode where one press of the pedal opens the shed and another press closes the shed. In the past I have found it difficult to treadle the threading on other looms because the low height of the stool that I use for threading meant that I coudn't operate the treadles.

I slight problem was finding a suitable location for the laptop computer. I had it to one side on a small table but this was not ideal. I finally came up with the arrangement shown in the photos below. 

A shelf of a light fibre board is put on top of the top rails that hold the control unit. The laptop computer sits on top of the shelf. It can be seen in the photograph below to the left of and behind the penguin.

The rails from old jack assembly to suspend a computer monitor behind and above the shafts. The rails are held firmly in place with pegs and a bit of texsolve - any slippage would be disastrous! The arrangement is a bit industrial but it works,


 Drafting is done on another computer and transferred on a memory stick using the USB port in the side of the monitor.

The computer is operated by a wireless mouse which sits on the weaving bench. It is not connected to the internet, there is no need to use the keyboard (which I can at a pinch standing on tip toes)

Another add on is a small neon light that I have attached to the back of the beater using texsolve. I have positioned it low enough so that it shines forward through the reed and lights up the fell. I used to have a plethora of clip on lights but this single light does the job much better.

Toika Control Unit onto a Glimakra Standard - Levelling the shafts

Where was I? Christmas and New Year and the lead up were a whirlwind and whilst I was able to snatch bits of weaving time there was no time left to blog.

When I last wrote I was feeling very pleased with myself having successfully put everything together and demonstrating that I had a working loom.

The next task was aligning and straightening the shafts. The photo on the left  shows a red cord that I ran between the front and back beams; this was aligned with the bottom of the heddle eyes on the front and back shafts.

I used a small spirit level to ensure that the shafts were level  and then I ran two  cords across the tops of the shafts on each side (yellow cord in the photo below) and used these to aligned the rest of the shafts to the front and back shafts.

Once this was done the loom was ready to thread but I didn't get back to this until after Christmas.