Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Weaving Around Christmastime

 It's Christmastime!

This big (oh, dear.  It's true.  A five yard warp can be very big for me!) project finally got cut off the avl!  I switched to a different weft near the end and got a visible pattern: 

The fabric was sewn, cut apart (two blue sections, one yellow-ish), washed and put into use! The invisible pattern in the blue on blue section becomes visible when the sun shines through the window where it is being used as a curtain!

And look what I got to play with!  It's Anne Dixon's Inkle Pattern Directory book.  At the left is my little inkle loom warped in 5/2 cotton and a rayon.  The pattern is one of the early ones in the book.  My goal is to weave a new belt strap.  I'm not sure that this is going to be stiff enough to work, but I'll weave it up and give it a test run.  I'm looking forward to trying the Baltic patterns in the book!

Sunday, December 09, 2012

AVL Test Warp #2 "Open Work Weave"

 I am slowly working on a second test warp with my new-to-me AVL 16 shaft production dobby loom.  The piece is from a work by Mary Meigs Atwater entitled "An Open-Work Weave" and is a huck lace variant.

It seems like there is a huge list of things I am learning with this warp.  Thing #1 is that the cloth storage beam system works.  Instead of having yards of cloth build up on the front apron beam, the cloth feeds through multiple rollers to a storage beam at the back of the loom.  The big trick for me is to remember to unlock the counter weight for the system.

Mechanical Dobby head with pattern bars.
Thing #2.  Mindlessly treadling through the set of dobby bars is, well, wonderfully mindless.  It was so easy!  Unfortunately, I don't have enough bars to do the checkerboard pattern I really want (each pick needs a bar with pegs).  So, I've had to employ a trick I read from another weaver--weave two steps forward and three back.

The woven pattern is four repeats of pattern A followed by a few shots of plain weave, then four repeats of pattern B.  I had enough bars to peg pattern A, the plain weave, and pattern B.  I wove that.  It was my wonderfully mindless weaving.  To get the checkerboard design, I weave the six picks of pattern A, reverse the dobby mechanism and treadle through the bars (without throwing the shuttle) to get back to the start of pattern A.  Then I re-reverse the dobby mechanism (back to the original direction) and weave the six picks of pattern A again.  Rinse and repeat two more times.  It has not been easy weaving.  Hmm.  That's not right.   The weaving has been straight forward, it's keeping track of where I am that has been hard.  Throw into the mix the fact that I cannot see the pattern well--though I've learned to feel it like Braille--and it's been challenging!  The other night I was able to sit down and weave a full bobbin of weft.  It felt like a great accomplishment!  (And, yes, my children were in bed and the house was mostly quiet!)

 Thing #3.  Some things take care of themselves.  The yarn I am using for this project is not a favorite.  I chose it because I am (in theory) making fabric for a bag for my pvc niddy noddy and wanted something durable that could handle a bit of water in case I put things away wet.  It is a polyester or other synthetic yarn.  It's a single, and, it turns out, likes to catch on itself.

So, every time I advance the warp it pulls the harnesses/shafts in use forward.  I've been able to wait to advance the warp until the end of the pattern repeat sections.  That means that the first few picks that I weave are plain weave, which makes it easier to separate the warp threads and go on with the weaving.  I'm hoping that this is a yarn choice problem and not a more generic warp advancement issue.

Thing #4.  Five yards is a long warp for me! (How embarrassing!)  I feel like I've been weaving this piece forever!  I either need to weave more (hmm.  That might be a possibility now that we're done with construction!) or I need to use shorter warps.  I'm still learning the waste allowances for this loom, and since I was testing the cloth storage beam system, I probably couldn't have used a much shorter warp this time.  Next time, I'll know to either pick a structure that I can peg completely or use a shorter warp!

And, just because they make me laugh, here is thing #5:  blocks.  My legs are just too short to work comfortably with the treadle/bench height of this loom.  So, I added blocks to the treadles (like blocks on the peddles of a tricycle!).  These are just leftover pieces of construction 2x4's covered in shelf liner or rug underlayment (it's a wide open mesh covered with soft foam-like plastic), and attached to the treadles with plastic zip-ties.  They work great!

Happy Weaving!

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Needle Felting--Fibers and Fairies

 I made some boxes from cardstock and filled them with wool fibers for felting.  They have gone to the shop where I teach (Grandma's Room/Needles & Knots in Crawfordsville, IN) for sale.  These are the first boxes I've made like this.  They were really fun and really easy! 

Start with the finished dimensions of the box.  This little one is about 2" square.  Add twice the desired height (1 1/2" x2=3").  Cut out a square that is the sum of these two--twice the height plus the base of the box (2"+3"=5").  Score the cardstock 1 1/2" from each edge to mark the height of the box.  Cut a wedge out of each corner so it is easier to fold, then fold, tape and viola!  You just made a box!  I punched out the window in each lid prior to taping them. 

And these are my latest needle felted fairies.  They are made over wire armature in a style outlined in the book Beginner's Guide to Needle Felting by Susanna Wallis.  The larger fairy lives at our house.  The smaller one was given as a birthday present to a friend of my youngest daughter (the one who requested, "Please, Mommy, will you make me one of these?" as she pointed to the picture of the dolls in Wallis' book!).

The dolls are made of Romney wool, natural and hand-dyed, plus a bit of unknown breed wool (the browns for the hair), and a little bit of angelia fiber to make the wings on the little fairy sparkle.