Monday, 25 April 2016

I Have Been Weaving

But not blogging.  It's just not a habit for me yet.  But I have some things to share, and I've realized that I can do that anytime, in any order, even if the "thing" happened some time ago.

My friend, Marie-France, co-owns a small knitting, spinning and weaving shop here in Ottawa called "Wabi-Sabi".  This winter she purchased quite a lot of Louet Euroflax lace yarn.  It's a 100% linen singles yarn, about the size of 2/8 cotton, that comes in lots of colours.  One of her shop assistants suggested she ask me to make something in it as a sample for the shop.  She brought a selection of the yarns to a Guild meeting, let me poke around a bit, then told me I could have 2 cones if I made a sample.  I had a think, and when I went to the shop about a week later to pick up my new 15dpi heddles I had an idea.  I took 2 cones home, one in "heron grey" and one in "lavender" 630yds/100g each, to make two dishtowels in 4 thread waffle.

Now I had to figure out how to make the colours work together and use up nearly all of both of them.  I played around on iWeaveIt for quite a bit until I had a stripe pattern in both directions that pleased me.  It's a fibonnaci sequence counting by waffle units.  I made my best guess about sett and picks per inch, figuring the towels would be my sampling.  I used 2 15dpi heddles threaded at 150% for an effective sett of 22.5epi.

Hobbes helped me warp.  If it hadn't been for Himself coming to the rescue, Hobbes might now be playing the part of Schroedinger's Cat in a real life re-enactment of the thought experiment since I wasn't sure if I wanted him dead or alive... (for those who do not have a physicist/engineer in the family tree, Schroedinger was trying to illustrate concepts of Quantum Physics and the problem of the effect of observation by imagining (he didn't actually do this) a cat in a sealed box with a vial of poison gas which would be released by the decay of a radioactive isotope.  At any time, you wouldn't know for sure if the cat was dead or alive unless you looked, so, mathematically, the cat could be both alive and dead at the same time).   In other words, Hobbes was being an extra large pain in the backside, in that, half way through warping, he decided to jump on the warp which pulled both the peg and loom part way out of their clamps, thus ruining my tension.  Thankfully, the warp didn't come off the peg, nor did the peg come completely out of its clamp.  He's cute, but don't be fooled.  He is 19lbs of PITA when I'm weaving.

Himself extracted Hobbes from the warp and removed him from the room with stern words, then discussed possible improvements to the clamping systems, none of which he could make happen right then.  Then he disappeared for a bit, returning with the following brilliantly simple solution:

A 2x4" and two Quick Clamps and the loom no longer shifts from the tension of warping, nor from the assault on the warp of 19lbs of "Helpy Helper".  Linen yarn really does need firm tension, the loom was probably slipping even before Hobbes landed on the warp, so I'm really pleased with this little innovation.

A stiff drink and grateful thanks to Himself later I did manage to get the loom warped and ready to weave.

There are variations of waffle weave for the RH, but most of them seem to be simple warp and weft floats laid out as a grid.  True waffle is actually like this:

The threading is a point twill on any number of shafts.  "Stitchers" (that's what Sharon Alderman calls them) of plain weave hold down diamonds of warp and weft floats.  The longer the longest floats are, the deeper the "pockets"of the waffle will be. 

This is what the fabric looks like after washing.  You can see the longest floats are loose on the surface while the "stitchers" are pulled into little pockets.

To make this happen I threaded the draft above with the 1s in the front heddle holes, the 2s and 4s in the slots and the 3s in the back heddle holes.  Then I picked up the 4s on a pickup stick.  The iWeaveIt draft shows a "lift plan".  The numbers in the treadling show which threads should be lifted for each shot.  By manipulating the heddles and the pickup stick in various combinations I could make all the lifts I needed happen. 

The weaving went very well with a little help from Peggy Osterkamp's blog and her Tensioning Linen Warps post.  Linen yarn really is hard to tension.  It is so stiff it will put your eye out.  And knots slip.  And you think you have it all lashed on nicely and you blink and everything is all over the place.  The misting trick worked a charm.  Mostly.  I still had to fuss with the threads on the outside edges, but I often have problems with those.  For the most part, stuffing bits of rolled up napkin under the loose warp threads at the back beam solved that issue.  I also found that the most recent weft shot bounced back when beaten but a firm beat with the heddle seemed to pack in shots lower down appropriately. 

I ran out of the lavender yarn.  I'm not sure if there wasn't quite as much on the cone as stated or if I made a mistake in measuring somewhere.  iWeaveIt did warn me I was cutting it pretty close.  I think the hems were a bit longer than I had intended when I did the calculations.  Also, my picks per inch weren't quite what I expected.

Here is one of the finished towels.  I did press them, but linen wrinkles when you look at it sideways and this one has been travelling a bit.  Fresh off the loom the cloth was almost as stiff as thin cardboard but just one washing softened them up quite a bit

I think this is the one that didn't quite make it to the end of the planned stripe sequence, the longer one is hanging out at Wabi-Sabi for a while.  There should be a short stripe of lavender weft at the top to balance it.  Despite that, I am rather pleased with the overall effect.  Next time, I think I will start with a wider stripe (skipping the "2" and "3" unit wide stripes maybe and going straight to "5") so that I can end with the last stripe completed and a short contrasting stripe at the top. 

I should probably do it again and write out a pattern.  But, for now, I have something completely different on the 32" loom that I will tell you all about another time. 

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