Saturday, September 27, 2008

An Old Loom and a New Loom

Well, the final yard on my AVL loom at our current house has been woven and it is time to take it down in the hopes that we will be moving soon. Here is the loom on the left with the last warp that was finished soon after the picture was taken. I have a 8 harness AVL modular loom. That means it grows up to be a 16 or 24 harness compu-dobby production loom if I wish to put the money into it. The loom is 60 inches wide as I love to weave fabric. I have a single box flyshuttle beater. It is bottom mounted. I would choose the overhead if I did it again. I have enjoyed this loom tremendously. I am a bit different from many weavers in that I bought the loom before I had learned to weave. I taught myself to weave on this loom.
Peg in South Carolina asked in a comment what it was I had dismantled that would stop me from putting it back together to do another warp. I warp my loom sectionally. To do that I use a spool rack to arrange the warp to run it through the tension box. If you are not familiar with sectional warping bear with me. I am not going to go into it here (unless someone asks!) but I do need the spool rack to warp it properly. I suppose I could improvise but it would be a challenge that I don't want to tackle at this time. I had already dismantled and re-mantled the spool rack when I packed up the majority of the studio. When the first buyers backed out of the house sale I decided to keep weaving for a bit longer. I realized when I saw the (now two time) dismantled spool rack, that I really need to start moving on even though the house still hasn't sold.
I have plenty to do with spinning and tapestry weaving and other fiber arts.
All this time I have had this big loom but never a table loom. I always borrowed one from the guild to take to workshops. This has its drawbacks. We will be living in a small trailer for a while and I still want to weave. When Jane Stafford gave her workshop she gave us a heads up on a redesigned table loom that was coming out. I liked what she described so I pre-ordered one from her. It is none other than the new Jane loom (named for guess who?) from Louet that will be available in December.

Here it is! Notice how small it folds up. Just right for a trailer. It also has 8 harness so I can keep learning and weaving. I am getting the smaller width.
I will of course be reporting on it when I get it and it is up and running.
In the meantime, I will be processing the length of woven shibori cloth and, or course, taking down my AVL loom after a long deep breath.
I definitely have mixed feelings but will look forward to when I can put it back together in a new studio in a new town.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Woven Shibori Sample

Well darn, the pictures for the sample don't even come close to the beauty of the fabric. I will have to try again. I do want to share the results of my sample though. On the left is the first sample. It is woven from a fine merino wool yarn called Pony by Henry's Attic Yarns. I sett the yarn at 16 epi* after doing a wrap to give me a starting point. I have 5.5 yards on the loom, 20 inches wide. The warp is threaded in a point twill, and is woven with a plain weave ground and an 8-harness random twill tie up!
I wove four picks of plain weave and then a pick of the gathering thread using the twill for most of the sample. The top bit after the darker section was woven with eight picks of plain weave between each gathering thread. I really like this the best. I gathered the threads as tight as I could. The gathered fabric looked like this:
The black blot is our cat Nyx whose curiosity has whittled down her nine lives considerably. After gathering the threads, I dyed the sample in Greener Shades midnight black. As I mentioned before, Greener Shades is a non-toxic acid dye. When the sample had been dyed and processed, I carefully cut one side of the gathered thread knots and pulled out the threads. The fabric has a bit of texture from the shibori process. After it dried, I gave it a rinse and then overdyed it in River Blue, again from Greener Shades.

I must say that this picture is worse than I thought it was but, as this is a sample, you get the idea. The sample is so lovely in real life, I want to use it to make something. The finished sample is about 16"x 10.5". I lost 2" in the width and 2" in the length from the off-loom measurements.
I learned two main things from the sampling. The first is that the 16 epi sett is too wide. I changed it to 18 epi. I also found, as I mentioned above, that I really liked the 8 pick spacing between the gathering threads. I did another quick mini sample (no dyeing) with the new sett to check it and to make sure I could still gather the fabric easily and the loom is all set to go. The merino yarn is lovely soft and takes the dye beautifully. I used blue on the sample just to get an idea but I am thinking I want to use a two or more colors in the second dye step and "paint" them on.
The house selling grinds on but it does allow a bit of time for weaving. I will see if I can get a better picture of the sample.
A final note, I was so enchanted with the results from the sample that I was thinking perhaps I would do "one more warp". I then realized that I had dismantled some of my warping equipment which reminded me that, alas, the current warp will have to be the final one in this house. Perhaps it is for the best.
I can't wait to see what the final fabric will look like. I am sure I will have a story so stay tuned. -Renee
*see glossary

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Must have books

I was planning to post a review of the book on the left, Intertwined, but Spin-Off magazine beat me to it! On page 14 of the Fall 2008 issue there is a review by Patsy Zawistoski. The only thing I would add is that the author, Lexi Boeger, has a wonderful section on creativity that I found spot on. I also love her first book, Handspun Revolution, which I have. I haven't purchased Intertwined yet but it is on the top three of my wish list. I checked it out from my local library to get a good look at it.
Since I am not reviewing, I decided to just list the books that I want to get for myself and to bring them to everyone's attention. Check oout Lexi's website, Pluckyfluff, in my Fiber Links list.

The other spinning book on my wish list is The Intentional Spinner by Judith MacKenzie McCuin and is about to be released. I have been fortunate to have had a workshop and attend programs presented by Judith. If you heard the episode on spinning for weaving on Syne's podcast Weavecast, Judith is as calm and laid back as she sounds, exactly what is needed in a weaving/spinning teacher. Her knowledge of fiber, spinning, and weaving is vast. I am thrilled that she has published another book. I will be getting a copy of this one as soon as possible.

The third book on my list is for the tapestry weavers or wanna-be tapestry weavers like me. It is the Tapestry Handbook: The Next Generation by Carol K. Russel. I have the first, out of print, tapestry book by this author and it is excellent. I use it as my first go-to reference book for tapestry.
My big loom is warped up and the weaving has started. As soon as I get the sample off the loom and processed, I will make a post on it. This is the last warp on this loom before I dismantle it. I won't be entirely loomless. I will be doing some tapestry weaving on my copper pipe loom and in December, will be taking delivery on a new table loom. New to me and new to the market. I will be posting about that when it comes. I have never had a table loom in all the years I have been weaving. I usually borrow a table loom for guild workshops. Not always a happy solution!
I still have some interesting fiber blogs to post about and will get busy on that too.
Stay tuned for the shibori weaving sample. -Renee

Friday, September 12, 2008

A Finished Fabric

I have finished weaving the warp I put on the loom. Here is a picture of the warp on the loom from the previous post. Now, if you have been reading this blog for a while you will remember that I am not fond of pale, tepid, colors in general. The "fern" color of this yarn is a gray-green color. I decided before I even put the warp on the loom that I was going to overdye it. I had ordered some new dye called Greener Shades from Still River Mills. I saw the ad in Handwoven Magazine. Greener Shades says it is "a non-hazardous, non-chrome dye for use on silk, wool, nylon, or any animal fiber." I thought I would try it out on this project. I decided to use the warm red called "Flame Red" and overdye it at 1% WOG*, predicting that I would get a lovely rich rust color.
As you can see, that is exactly what I got! I am quite pleased. For those folks who may be new dyers, I used red knowing that red and green are compliments on one another and will produce brown. The green was so pale I predicted that the red would dominate and give me more of a rust than a brown. I used the warm red since I like warm colors. The "ruby red" dye is a cool red and would give me yet a different effect. I fulled the fabric a bit during the dye process. The result is a lovely textured light fabric. The "breaks" in the weave give a slight lacy effect.
Here is a shot of the fabric draped over a rail. The mottling is due to being able to see a bit of the background scenery through the fabric.
Overall, I am quite happy with the results. I started out with a different purpose in mind but decided to go where the fabric took me. I must say at this point that, although the dye was easy to use like many acid dyes, I really didn't like the smell. I still prefer Earthues dye extracts.
So, I have one more warp that I am putting on the loom at this moment. After it is woven, I will be taking the loom down and putting it in storage in preparation for our move. The warp is a wool yarn called Pony from Henry's Attic Yarns. It is undyed and has 3470 yards per pound. I have 5.5 yards going on at 20" wide and sett at 16 epi*.
I am going to make my first attempt at woven shibori. I have Catherine Ellis' book. I was inspired by the woven shibori I saw at the end of the year meeting for the Skagit Valley Weavers Guild.
I will be posting a book review and more blog links very soon so keep checking back! -Renee
*see glossary
P.S. Tina, if you are reading this, it was so great to hear from you! I have asked Janice for your e-mail. Be in touch soon! -Renee