Thursday, August 13, 2009

Elena's Shawl: getting under way

This is part two of Elena's special shawl.... these posts are being written with non weavers ( or a newbie weaver) in mind.

Okay, where were we? We're real close to starting on Elena's shawl... I take smaller half inch groups of warp and divide across the warp and then start by tying on the far left and far right groups to the apron rod.

This means the bar is supported and ready for the balance of the tie up.

In this picture I have done a surgeon's knot ( sort of like the first half of tying your shoe laces but with an extra wrap around) This holds all snugly until all groups are ties in place. Tencel can be slippery to work with but I managed quite well with this. Now once all are in done, we are about to do a dash from far right to far left doing up the final tightening and complete the top or last tie. Lift each group and take out the slack and quickly tie the second half of the knot and move to the next group. The key is to move quickly and decisively. Even with speed on your side, if you feel the warp tension you will find the right hand side is bit looser than the just finished left. As per Jane Staffords' method, take the flat of your hand and roll the palm over the warp from the left towards the right, easing up as you approach the right side. Do this two or three times and stop. Go make a cup of tea, and take a break... a 20 minute break. When you come back, the tension will be even and you can start.

At the very most, I *might* have to tighten the edge groups just a touch and that's all! Next I wound 4 red threads, divided between two film canisters, and the third is the floating selvedge. There is another on the other side of the warp. With twill patterns, the weft or filler yarn may not be caught at the edge every time and can produce a messy edge. Having an extra thread passing from front of the loom, through the reed, to back, but not threaded through a heddle, helps to keep things neat and tidy. The shuttle enters the shed (or opening when the treadles are depressed) over the floating thread and come out under the thread on the opposite side. It take just a short time to get used to and then becomes routine. {For weavers who do not want to use a floating selvedge, there is a method of where to start your shuttle to avoid this. We'll talk about this another time.}

Thanks to Lynnette, I now make a small separator to keep the canisters from tangling. A piece of card board and a hole punch. That's it. By the way, film canisters are now a rare breed! I snagged a bag of them from a camera department. I'm glad I did and hopefully I have enough for the coming years.

I have removed the hanging supports or cords from the lease sticks and pushed them to the very back of the loom. They are taped shut at both ends so secure. They will stay there until we see if there are any threading errors. They maintain the threads in order if we need to re work a section to correct a mistake. If all is okay, then they are taken out. Even at the back, they can restrict the threads from opening as fully as we would like.

The locking pin, which holds all shafts securely in place, is now removed. If you have a balanced tie up, the jacks won't move! They shouldn't with the 20+ in place. Note the hooks and texsolv towards the back of the jacks. These are shafts 9 to 12 which are not being used this time and are secured in position by attaching the cords to the hooks. If they weren't tied, then all the shafts would slump downwards and get in the way. ( you only forget to tie them up once!)

Time to wind the weft! In this project the weft is 2/8 black tencel and I'm carefully and tightly winding a pirn for the end delivery shuttle. You concentrate only on the last half inch and advance slowly and methodically.... until it's full. I normally wind three or four. Winding more pirns usually is timed to adjust the hanging canisters at the back and have a good stretch. For a great tutorial on winding pirns, go here.

My bobbin winder is an old late '50's or early '60's Leclerc model. It came with my very first used loom and all that was needed was to replace the foot pedal. Fifteen dollars at the local sewing machine repair store and we were back in business. ( I do have a manual hand winder as a spare. Power outages can happen :)

So here you'll see my blue scrap yarn that pulls all the warp threads into alignment. I throw three shots with no beating in between, then beat after the three are in place. I might need to do this a second time. The white yarn is for seeing the pattern better. I have treadled it running from 1 to 8 twice. The verdict is in and it seems I can't count.... there are no threading mistakes!

Those four red warp ends didn't appear anywhere else as an 'oops'. (phew!) I wove the border repeats and then I have hemstitched every 4 ends across the warp. But I didn't use the 2/8 tencel. It's a bit on the thick side and so will produce a thicker hemstitch line, which I really don't care for. The purpose here is this case is to secure the ends from moving and destabilizing the cloth, not be a feature. With some projects, fancy needle treatments such as trellis hemstitching, for example, are lovely. That would be lost with the size of the shawl and the patterning in this case. The picture below shows me laying in the finer silk thread. The silk has more 'bite' to it and stays snugly wrapped.

Here the hemstitching is going well and I'm taking the threads in groups of four warp ends. The twisted fringe later will be two groups twirled together. I'd like the fringe to be a bit finer than normal.

I'm using the larger version of my Schacht end delivery shuttles (or end feed shuttle as some call it) This means I can load more weft, cross the warp quickly and have nice selvedges. I'm not using a temple on this project and so it should go a bit faster. A temple 'stretches' the warp to keep the weft from drawing the sides in excessively. It must be moved every inch or so.

After weaving the border, and a couple of repeats I paused to look things over..... and, ta da! here it is:
Looking good! I will post more progress soon. I have another project that is time sensitive on the other loom as well. It's been getting ignored lately and that's about to change!


bspinner said...

This posting maybe geared for new weavers but I'm enjoying it and learned a few things too.

Lucky you!!! I would love an electric bobbin winder.

Shawl's look good. Can't wait to see it off the loom.

Dorothy Stewart said...

Susan - what a great post and super pictures ! What a lot of work just to create this post never mind the weaving !
Dorothy in Scotland

Lynnette said...

Thanks so much Susan; it's always a treat to see another weaver's methods. I love the look of the shawl, what a lovely pattern and so beautifully woven. I can see that the balance of warp and weft is perfect - the pattern simply glows! I can't wait to follow your progress.

India said...

Thank you for showing us how you do your loom. I have been weaving for many years but i did not understand everything anyway. Your loom do not look like mine. So this was very interesting

Life Looms Large said...

You're doing a great job of documenting this project!!!

The shawl will be so beautiful!!

Your pictures of the electric bobbin winder make it look so calm! When I tried one at our guild workshop in April, it kind of got out of control for me. I guess I need to practice!

Looking forward to learning more from your shawl progress!


Peg in South Carolina said...

This is a wonderful series of posts.