Archive for October, 2008

It seems months since I wrote anything . The hip operation went well but I didn’t anticipate the length of the  recovery period. I am walking with a stick, a progression from crutches. I can nearly walk unaided but my hip muscles need to be a bit stronger to hold me upright and level. I lurch rather than walk. One of the most  frustrating aspects of all this is being unable to bend to adjust the loom. I have had to wait until this week before doing my first sample piece!

I have kept in touch with all your blogs, which  have kept me inspired and feeling part of a network. Three weeks ago I went to my first meeting of Hampshire Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. It was an open meeting for new members and the hall was full of spinning wheels, table looms and an outdoor dying session. Before the meeting finished I had arranged the purchase of a second hand warping mill and half a fleece!

During the last few weeks I have also spent money buying weaving books. I rationalised this splurge of spending by telling myself  that it was less expensive than going on a course! I read reviews on blogs and bought Deborah Chandler’s ” Learning to Weave”, Peggy Osterkamp’s “Warping Your Loom” and Anne Dixon’s “Handweavers Pattern Book.”. There are two more on order , both practical , one on scarves and the other towels. I want an 8-shaft pattern book but I have only set up 4 shafts while I am learning. The thought of adjusting 8 is rather daunting

A week ago I felt ready to start. I am not in possession of warping mill yet , I collect it next week. So I had to resort to two chairs upside down.

warping with chairs!!!

warping with chairs!!!

I do not recommend this. The chairs walk even when weighted down and its almost impossible to maintain an even tension.I decided to work quietly through Deborah Chandler as I liked the illusrations and she gives several alternative warping methods. I think I was also influenced by  the fact that each chapter is a lesson with tasks to practice! I followed instructions to set up a 2 metre long and 10″  warp in stripes.

I have got many cones of yarn because I also have a knitting machine. Some of  it is good quality some cheap bin ends. My daughter studied Textiles at college and specialised in Constructed Textiles. She had given me about 20 cones of cotton/silk which she had used when she was designing. I found it difficult deciding what to use for this sample. I somehow didn,t want to waste the good stuff but the wool was dull. A mainly grey and navy selection. In the end I treated myself to the silk/cotton realising that first attempts with rubbish would probably lead to disaster. Actually that nearly happened anyway. I followed Chandlers first method  method,  warping front to back and selecting the ends for threading directly from a cross held in place by ones hand. Never never again. I was  clumsy and  tense and in a hurry and I  managed to miss/drop one whole stripe without noticing until I finished. The warp  had become a slippery tangled mess which I battled with to get tied on.

This was the first warp I had ever had on my Bergman. It wasn’t perfect by any means but I can’t describe the pleasure I felt when I started actual weaving. I found that I was spending masses of time adjusting, and I am still never sure which adjustment will resolve what problem. Some shafts produce a perfect shed, other an uneven tiny one. I tried a small example of twill and then decided it would be better to concentrate on tabby and develop the physical skill and rhythm of weaving, getting the treadle changes and beating right. And tell me how you find treadles 5 and 6 without looking! Also does everyone weave in bare feet?   Shoes are too big and I found I was pushing on to two treadles by mistake. I felt rather proud when I finished the length got it off the loom. I think it looks rather like something an Ancient Briton might wear!!!

My first sample

My first sample

By the time I had woven some bulgy and wobbly inches I gradually improved. This is the best bit washed and pressed. I’ve hidden the funny lumpy bits. I did feel that this could have been a scarf and wearable if longer!!!


The best bits of my first sample .

The best bits of my first sample .

I have just measured another warp longer this time, but still on chairs. I used the same yarn as before and in the same stripes. I like the natural cotton/silk and the browny grey combination. I hoped to experiment with twill and realised I needed a selvedge. I used a floating selvedge as it seemed easy. It was hard to warp because I can’t really walk without a stick but it was impossible to walk up and down the length with one. I lurched up and down and developed back ache and a warp but rather an uneven one. I am being philosophical about this . As I am weaving in less than perfect circumstances things can only improve with a mill!!

This time I read Peggy Osterkamp. Now here is a clear. well illustrated and user friendly book. This time I was warping back to front. I had to make a raddle ( with some help). and had difficulty finding any space long enough for warp raddle and lease sticks as instructed. Although I understood what I was supposed to be doing there is a difference between head knowledge and body knowledge. I dropped things and although I tried winding the warp on a stick instesd of chaining as Osterkamp suggested to maintain tension I lost it when trying to get raddle fixed to loom. I couldn.t find a good position on the Bergman and I had failed to track down clamps. A thoughtful weaver gathers all necessary tools before starting !!  I have learnt lots of moral advice. Also I had only made 1″ spaces on the raddle which are too wide. but we learn from our mistakes.

My daughter visited for the weekend.She is a product manager in the fashion industry.She would love to get out and weave. She is excited about me weaving and wanted to come and try. She wove at college but on computerised looms and I wondered what she would make of my Bergman. Particularly the frequent adjustments. We had great fun together. We worked through the twill section of Ann Dixon’s Handweavers Pattern Book, interspersed with some Hopsack. We took it in turns shouting out the treadling and sharing winding shuttles. Another lack, I have no winder and at the moment have to wind manually. Tedious. Any suggestions for adapting household implements gratefully received. Winders are expensive.

weaving a sample of twills

weaving a sample of twills

 Zoe returned to London intent on buying a loom, but not an antique one she stipulated!.. She is looking for a modern folding loom with at least 8-shafts. I think it is easier in the US to buy looms, there are not many opportunities here.

I am still a bit in the dark over the adjustments. I found one of Leighs  past posts on achieving a good shed in Warping the Glimakra  July 11,2007. It clarified a lot though I am still finding it hard to do.

I hadn’t appreciated the importance of treadle tension. It definately helped though I still find inconsistancy between shafts. Some sheds are excellent but not all. This photo shows a fairly even shed with the floating selvedge thread.. Later I found I could get it larger but not consistantly so.

I am thinking and dreaming weaving. I am surprised how it has  taken over my head. Its wonderful! There are a so many projects to try. I will be apprehensive about a wider warp and getting the shed good enough to throw a shuttle through on its own. I will follow Trapuntos advice in Warping a Bergman. Warp front to back re-sley the reed. I don’t think the raddle is essential

This photo shows my only reed. Its original and  came with the loom. It is 15 dent and rusty, which is obvious from the photo. I have tried to clean it but not very well. I threaded it xxx0 to achieve 12 epi and actually it worked fine and the rust didn’t come off. I wouldn’t want to try it with a good quality fine yarn though. I an going to buy a new stainless steel one. I think a 10 dent one. Again as I can’t afford several would this be a sensible size?

 I have used the end of my sample warp to weave a real scarf. Its still on the go but I feel I’m really weaving!!!

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