Saturday, March 16, 2013


We have been away for a couple of days trying out camping and getting ready for a bush walk  Back to my weaving today, another scarf finished and on to the next one. I am beginning to get to the stage where I want this warp finished so that I can move onto the next project. I feel a bit guilty about this the warp  has served me so well and taught me so much! 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Double Weave Lace

In that brilliant book  Doubleweave : On Four to Eight Shafts by Ursina Arn-Grischottthere there is a picture of a beautiful double weave shawl with what seems to be two layers of airy lace held together by almost invisible stitcher threads. My next project is to work towards weaving a similar type of shawl. There are going to be several stages to this, the first being to determine a weave structure. I shall start with double weave huck and weave a sample using something nice and visible like an 8/2 cotton. This will enable me to see how the different layers sit together and where to put the stitchers - these are the places where the two layers intersect to join them together. 

As always when thinking about double weave I have to go back to first principals otherwise I get confused as to what is happening. The Complete Book of Drafting for Handweavers, Madelyn van der Hoogt explains very nicely the ins and outs of huck lace and there is loads of material on doubleweave by Paul O'Connor on 

The pictures below show how I have derived the doubleweave draft. The first draft shows the basic 4 shaft huck lifts; this is the draft for my blue top layer. The second is exactly the same but with the threading moved to shafts 5 to 8 and a similar movement on the treadles; this is the draft for the pink bottom layer. The third draft shows the two interleaved together and the lifting of the top layer out of the way when weaving the bottom layer.

Now as the draft stands both layers will be the same; plain weave top/plain weave bottom, huck lace top/huck lace bottom and so on.  The draft shown below has been modified to allow for different structures in the layers, in this case huck lace on the top with plain weave on the bottom. 

One of the problems I have with double weave drafts is that I find  it is difficult to see the structure from the draw-down. It is possible to see the warp and weft floats in the draft below but not easy. I use PixeLoom for all my drafting but WeavePoint, which I use to drive the control unit on my loom, has a cunning feature that recognizes double weave in the View/Fabric function.  So I derive the drafts in PixeLoom and view the fabric in WeavePoint. The screen grabs from WeavePoint of the blue and pink layers (top and bottom) are shown in the picture next to the draft.

The next think to do is to work out where to put the stitchers as there is nothing joining these two layers of cloth. There will be a bit of theory needed that I shall address tomorrow (I love theory but I know that it is not everyone's cup of tea) but their ultimate position will be decided when I weave the sample.

In the meantime I am still weaving my scarves and they are looking pretty good. I have put up an inordinate number of pictures of these scarves, so no more now until they are being modeled!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Keep it tidy

In my last few posts I have written about the fun that I have been having weaving a series of scarves with occasional diversions into technical stuff. I have also been doing a bit of planning for my next project (double weave lace).

Somehow during all this activity I managed to completely wreck my weaving area so there has been no weaving today and a big tidy up. My wife was less than complimentary about the difference I had made but I think that it is all a bit tidier. The top two pictures are "before", the bottom two are "after".

Considering the size of our house I am very fortunate in the amount of space that I have for my looms, equipment and supplies. I just put it down to a lack of charity on my part that I find the picture on the front cover of this excellent book intensely irritating.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Back of the loom

I rewove the last 6 inches of the scarf and all is good.

I decided to critically reappraise my arrangements at the back of the loom. Have a look at the photos below - it is all a bit industrial and just asking to get itself into a pickle. The selvedges warps are on netting shuttles and at great risk of getting tangled with each other and the live tension system. The netting shuttles sometimes unravel and the weights fall off and they tend to get caught in sectional warp beam.

One of the blessings of traditional European style loom is that there is always somewhere to hang things from. So instead of letting my weighted selvedges hang from the back beam I have raised them up. I have used two broomsticks and the pictures show how the new disposition looks. I have replaced the netting shuttles with tapestry bobbins and I can see them from my weaving position. I am of an age where dealing with things above waist height in infinitely preferable to messing around below knee level so that is another plus for this arrangement.

This is all fine and dandy (as my sister would say) but ultimately I am going to have to move to dedicated selvedge rollers. I have done a bit of a web search and I have found information from AVL, Luther Hooper and Bill Koepp. I need to find a wood turner - wooden cotton reels have disappeared of the face of the earth.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Pipped at the post!

I started and finished a scarf today which is a first. Using an office chair rather than a stool made a difference and I think that the fishing line in the selvedge may have enabled to throw my shuttle with a little more gusto than usual. It was all looking pretty good as the top two photographs show.

Unfortunately I got over excited as the finishing line drew near and didn't notice that the selvedge threads on the left were inexorably tightening - the results can be seen in the bottom two photographs. No great disaster as I can easily re-weave these last few inches. The cause of the tightening was two of the selvedge threads becoming "pilled" together and catching on the lease sticks. A silly mistake because I am supposed to check for exactly this sort of thing when I put in a new pirn.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Fishing Line in the Selvedges

There have been several informative posts on WeaveTech about reinforcing the selvedges with fishing line which is removed when the weaving is completed. I rather liked this one;
I have been told that my selvedges are amazing. I always use a floating
selvedge of the same fiber in the body for consistent shrinkage etc. also, I
was told, by another weaver in my group who does beautiful work that she
adds to that selvedge following the same track and dent, as the floating
selvedge fiber, no heddle, is 12 lb test clear fish line weighted separately
from the main warp and not wound with the warp. Then when you are done
weaving and taking the piece off the loom, pull out the fish line. It pulls
out easily and the other selvedge thread maintains your edge perfectly. This
fish line helps support and defend your edge while weaving and gives it
strength and preventing some draw in. I love it.
I have done this but using the fishing line to augment the existing outermost selvedge thread on each side rather than adding a floating selvedge. I had to cobble together something to tie the line on to and came up with a bit of wire cut from a clothes hanger. I had to fiddle about a bit with the weights and the warp tension on the end feed shuttle but once that was done I got nice even selvedges on each side and a greatly reduced draw in.

I am trying out using an office chair (adjustable) rather than a weaving bench. It is definitely more comfortable when working for any length of time. I have tended to keep stuff on the bench beside me so I had to commandeer the clothes peg basket as an alternative. It works a treat and now that I have bought a replacement for the clothes pegs I am no longer in trouble.  In the photo you will see that next to the basket is my "grabber". There is nothing worse than getting settled and then having to get up to retrieve something that has been dropped under the loom.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Weaving Timings & Checks

I have finished the scarf that was started yesterday - much quicker that I thought. I took some notes of times spent  and picks woven.

My basic unit of weaving is a pirn. I am using an AVL end feed shuttle and the pirn is about 5" long. I am getting about 140 picks per pirn  which is around 9" of weaving. I takes me just under 20 minutes to weave off a pirn. It takes me just over 10 minutes to to be ready to start weaving again. During this time I do the following;
  • Have a stretch
  • Wind a new pirn
  • Unwind more yarn for the selvedges (they are weighted separetely and hanging from the back of the loom
  • Check that the live tension system is OK (sometimes the cords get twisted)
  • Check that the warp is moving freely over the lease sticks
  • Have some water
  • Change music (if necessary)
  • Have another stretch
  • Feather in the new weft thread
So with the weaving time and the change over/checking time I am getting around 18" of weaving an hour. In  theory this means that I could weave a scarf in four hours but I think that six hours would be more realistic; I find that I need to take a longer break every 90 minutes - a good turn round the garden and a cup of tea sets me up nicely for the next session.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Change of plans and distractions

I have been a little bit distracted over the last few days because I stumbled on a loom in a second hand shop that called to me! I walked away from it initially but in the end I just had to buy it even though I have no need whatsoever for another loom. It is a traditional 4 shaft counter balance of unknown provenance but with the dignity that comes from age and experience. It is now safely wrapped up in my shed waiting for me to do a bit of reorganisation to find a space for it.

 In my last post I confidently stated that I would be weaving a rosepath patterned scarf using a "Ginger" weft. Well I won't! I wove a little bit and it looked shocking. It was both insipid and messy; because of the variety there is in the warp the rosepath pattern was lost. It looked marginally better in blue and in yellow but was still a bit ratty. I also wove a bit of 1/3 and 3/1 twill - the Ginger yarn is going back on the shelf!

So, no more rosepath - it is a striped warp so I focussed on a pattern that would emphasise this. I have settled on a weave called Tricot which comes originally from A Handbook of Weaves by G.H. Oelsner ( I got it from A Weaver's Book of 8-Shaft Pattens by Carol Strickler.)

The picture below shows the theory;

and this is what it really looks like;

There is a very pronounced rib which looks good and the scarf is much brighter in the daylight than depicted in the photographs. I wove about 35" today so I should get it finished over the weekend.