Saturday, January 26, 2008

And off We go....

Today we're starting on the false damask towels. It's exciting for me as this will be my first weaving since last June. It's been a long time with our selling, packing, moving, then painting, new carpet and then finally unpacking and setting up my loom *twice* Phew.... To make this even better, they are forecasting snow today. Can you imagine? A snow day! Perfect weaving weather if you ask me ( and we have a full fridge, so let the white stuff come! :)
So, the tie up is done and the locking pin is pulled....everything balances. I use some scrap yarn similar in size to the warp to pull the groups together. I throw three shots reasonably close, then beat all three together. Throw three more and repeat. In as little as 6-12 shots of scrap weft, you are ready to weave. The picture also shows just how much loom waste there is at the beginning:

I will weave further until I have enough done to hold the temple (or stretcher as some weavers call it) Mine is a Glimakra and is okay for your usual range of home weaving. If you weave rugs, you will need a stronger temple and they come made of metal to take the heavy load. I have an old metal one made by Toika and it's what I would call 'industrial strength'. So here's the temple slipped into place:

So why use one of these? Its for when you are weaving and the draw in is more than an inch, such as in twills. With excessive draw in you can have abrasion of the edge threads and need to do repair threads or your floating selvedges drop away from fraying.With a temple the draw in is greatly reduced. You will however still have shrinkage after the item is wet finished as the threads pull closer together but the edges are uniform. Some weavers say "it slows me down' . Yup, it does but it all depends on what you want to achieve and what you get used to doing. For me the end result is worth the extra step. I'm not what I would call a fast weaver anyhow. I'm more results orientated. So how often do you move the temple? I move it every inch of weaving to be consistent. Or in this pattern, every two full repeats:

I'd like to talk about the shed for a minute. Some weavers are hesitant to make adjustments to their looms. I have a countermarche loom and they are known for their large weaving shed. One place to make an adjustment is at the top of the beater 'swords'. I shifted the peg to a lower hole:

To here:And this is the size of shed I'm working with: ( I have floating selvedges on if you see a fuzzy black line midway):Now that we have checked for threading errors ( none this time.. yeah! ) We can pull out the lease sticks from the back as they can cause some small interference with weaving and advancement of the warp:

Let's talk about hems and hem stitching now. This is a twill pattern, and the tie up can produce a plain weave, but I won't weave plain weave hems on a twill towel. Why not? With plain weave, the threads alternate over and under every thread which results in a wider, spread section. While with twill, they go over 2-3, and then under 1 and then maybe over 5.... and it all weaves up closer (drawn in) and even closer still (shrinkage) when washed. The difference between the plain weave and twill areas will be greatly magnified and accentuated even more with hemstitching! I use hem stitching on runners and other items that aren't washed as often and even then, I will weave the hem allowance in the primary weave structure. So twill hem allowance, a spacer thread, hemstitch and then weave twill in the main part of the piece. Just find some regular number of ends to use across the cloth and I try to use even numbers such as '4' or '6'. You might like to try trellis hemstitching where the groupings are split in two. Produces a nice effect! We'll discuss finishing techniques in some detail in future entries...

By not stopping to weave special hems, we speed up the time we spend on the towels. All we need to do is simply keep track of things like ornamental borders and the amount woven there so that we can track the inches and reproduce it at the other end of the towel. In this towel, I have woven 10 repeats of the pattern for 4 inches of weaving (this includes the turn back for the hem). I wove a contrasting colour border that measures 1 and 3/4 inches. If my towel's total length is to be 34 inches, I must subtract 5 and 3/4 inches x 2 (for both ends of the towel) from 34 inches. That means the centre of my towel is to be 22 and 3/4 inches or round up to a full 23 inches. When it's all done, I simply throw a few shots of my scrap yarn to show me where one towel ends and another starts.

I have also woven 8 yards continuously of a tartan and then cut apart into towels after it came off the loom. Some tartans don't have convenient places to start and stop! :)

So here's the border and some of the main part of the towel, plus a close-up of the weave structure:

Next time, we'll look at the 'new to me' 60 year old counterbalance loom and what's happening there....thanks for stopping by. Any questions or comments, please feel free to leave a message.


Cynthia said...

Hello, Susan -- it's very interesting to see the process of setting up. I'm a new weaver & am about to weave some dishtowels so your thoughts on hems & hemstitching are very timely!

Louisa said...

Pretty warp! I have another alternative for hems on twill towels. Even though I'm a fast hemstitcher, I don't like fringes on household linens. They wear out much too soon. I weave my hems with a finer matching thread and plain weave (if possible or whatever is closest to plain) and then machine stitch (gasp!) turned hems after the cloth is off the loom. The finer yarn usually makes it come out close to the width of the twill areas and if I match the stitching thread closely you can barely even see it. I have to be sure not to beat the hem in too hard though. And yes, I use a temple often also. I'm bad at pulling my selvedges in too far.