Monday, October 28, 2013

For Sale: A Rare Beauty


Let me share my weaving friend with you.  This is a Woolhouse Tools Gertrude Loom, number 61, who I call Emmatrude. We met for the first time July 11th, 1998 and we have spent many, many happy hours together.

Built by John Low in his workshop on his Armstrong property in the Spallumcheen Valley, BC. John has been building fine weaving equipment since 1977. He would go to a wood lot and select his birch trees, have them cut and milled, then air dried for one to two years. All wooden parts are made by John and there is very little metal. The large Gertrude looms are numbered and so as John moves towards the gradual closure  of his business and into retirement, these looms will become exclusive. In fact, most owners like to get to know the number above and below their looms to feel a part of the continuity.  { in my case, number 60 is a 16 shaft and lives in Lumby, BC, and number 62 is a drawloom and lives on Whidbey Island, Washington}

As I explained in my previous post I have decided to sell this loom as she's not getting the attention she deserves anymore.... and its not her fault.  Weaving on her (or treadling to be more precise) seems to aggravate my lumbar spine where I have some disc issues.  Okay, enough of my whining and let me give you an introduction to her.

She is a  45 inch weaving width, 12 shaft parallel countermarche (or floating lamms) with a full set of  16 rear mounted  treadles. These are great for those drafts that gobble up treadles such as summer and winter. 

Made from  select birch and has a hand rubbed Danish oil finish. This has turned to a wonderful golden colour over the years. ( I wish I aged as well as she has!)  

She has a ratchet and pawl  braking system and will handle delicate laces right through to rugs (though an extra weight for the beater bar would be recommended if rugs become a regular item.)

Treadling is made much easier due to all texsolv cording running over pulleys smoothly. The rear mounted treadles  maximizes the effort used.

There is a second warp beam if you like to weave supplementary warps or even pre-load a second warp while weaving off the first one. Great for production weavers. 

 There is a set of sectional rakes, modified from a Leclerc sectional. It can be used on either beam, though I prefer the lower setting myself. There is a Woohouse Tools tension box as well.

sectional rake on lower beam

There is a full length raddle and two sets of lease sticks, one ten dent reed, and she has 3600 heddles for any project you can dream up. (that's 300 per shaft and it only came with 100 per shaft)  Apparently I was dreaming big when I ordered the heddles.  There is a cloth protector to keep your newly woven cloth from being rubbed the wrong way by a tummy.

lease sticks

cloth protector in place

Then, she also has the 20+ tie up system that gets the weaver out from under the loom for tie ups and sitting at the back and pulling cords in minutes, versus the previous hours. Save those knees! 

20+ tie up assist at back of the loom

simply sit and pull the cords...

It may be tedious to set all the cords up at first but you'll agree it was so worth it when you can sit and pull cords for an eight shaft / eight treadle weave in eight minutes.   

Speaking of cords they were all replaced brand new as of July 2012, when at that same time, the Big Girl got a thorough cleaning and oiling.

new cords for the 20+

heddles washed

all wood oiled

reassembly under way

Another side benefit of the 20+ system is to pull the cords up tight so all treadles are lifted and you can easily vacuum underneath. 

You see this loom is a Big Girl and not easily moved coming in at approx 450 pounds according to John Low the builder based on his freight weights.  

She's tall : 69 inches high over all to the top of the jacks.
She's long:  68 inches over all to the back of the 20+ box
She's beamy:  60.5 inches wide overall, with 45 inch weaveable.

I have the original manual and instruction papers for the loom and all upgrades added to her over the years.

There is a nice bonus to this loom (if she isn't special enough already) and that's she can have a Drawloom attachment added to her. This can be also detached or suspended so you can do regular weaving or re-set to a drawloom once more.  This added device would add to the overall height and length for footprint considerations. 

At the time of this post, Mr Low is still manufacturing all the parts for the Gertrude looms, including the drawloom portion.

As you can see, this is no ordinary loom and no freight box for her! I would like the loom to viewed in place and the prospective buyer to visit and try her out. Once my current warp is complete, I will place a sampling warp on for the viewers to try.  The purchaser will appreciate that its helpful to be present during the dismantling for their benefit and help to ensure a happy reassembly at their home. So I must decline all offers that include my handling of the shipping as I'm not able to undertake this at this time.
Pick up at Duncan on Vancouver Island only please. 

Let's break down the loom into sections based on current 2013 pricing:

  •  12 shaft loom and 14 treadles:   $4771.00
  • one extra set treadles:   $95.00
  • additional heddles:   $398.00
  • second warp beam:   $699.00
  • sectional rakes:   $416.00
  • tension box:   $133.00
  • raddle:   $104.00 (no longer offered at web site)
  • 10 dent reed:   $126.00
  • 20 + tie up assist:   $984.00 (when purchased)
  • all new 20+ cords July/12: $484.00 +/-
Totals:  8106.00 plus freight costs of 8% of total purchase of 648.48  for grand total of $8754.48 in Canadian dollars. This is added as this is an additional cost of the loom when ordering directly as  brand new. While my loom is used, I think we can agree that she is in 'like-new' condition and *very* well maintained.


....can you see yourself here?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Inge Dam, Master Weaver

Inge is like a "best kept secret"....  well, its time to spread the news about her wonderful blending of ancient  card or tablet weaving with more modern looms and breathtaking fabrics.  I had seen her work and even tried my own take on her unique cloth but as nice as it was, it paled in comparison to hers!

Fashion Show coat by Inge Dam

Detail of Fashion Show coat

 Inge actually inserts card weaving with a conventional warp on the same floor loom. So you must be familiar with card or tablet weaving AND floor loom weaving. Judging by the fabric above, she is also at home with a dye pot too.

Now what would motivate her to do something like this? Well, that's where we share a love of historical textiles.  I love reading about ancient discoveries and the scraps of textile found in the various archaeological digs around the world but Inge took it much, much further!   From her bio at her web page :

I have been weaving for 31 years and in 1992 I completed an in-depth study for Ontario Handweavers and Spinners to become a Master Weaver. The subject of the study was Iron Age Textiles from Northern Europe (the Iron Age was from 500 BC until 800 AD). In the course of my study, I became interested in tablet (card) weaving. In excavation of Iron Age sites in Northern Europe (particularly in peat bogs and graves), ancient textiles have been found with tablet woven borders. Through inspiration of these textiles, I now incorporate tablet weaving into my fabrics by weaving the tablet borders and bands simultaneously with the fabric on the loom. I also make unique jackets and bags from my leftover handwoven fabrics.
And wow does she ever make unique fabrics!

At the Theatre Shawl by Inge Dam  (32 shaft twill)

Close up detail of shawl

This method intrigues me! So when I heard that Inge had written a book on her method, I was eager to get a copy. It combines many techniques and clearly Inge has mastered them beautifully.

I have been reading her book slowly and carefully as I really want to try this for myself. Its become clear my first place to start is with tablet weaving basics. To simply dig them out and start fresh.  Once I have my projects complete for the coming Christmas sale, I plan to get out the cards and thread them up.

Inge's book is well written, very clear instructions and many photographs and diagrams to refer to.  That will be a big help once I take the step to progress to something like this:

At the Theatre on the loom

If you are looking for a unique Christmas gift for a weaver, or for yourself, you find all details on this book at  Inge's web site:   A visit to her gallery is a wonderful browse!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Life has other Plans...

So here's my Bruce in his private hospital room and his private 'spa' bathroom in behind. He was the first occupant of a brand new $15,000.00 special gel bed that shifts to balance the pressure points every time you move. They placed him in this room as his older medical file kept coming up showing him as MRSA positive, but they finally cleared that off the file with a negative test. He got to keep the room as no one more deserving needed it. 

He's smiling as he's been told he can go home and we are waiting for the paperwork to be done and the IV to be disconnected.  He's not been 100% since we got back from our trip and finally normal treatments for his diverticular disease just weren't working. They admitted him and gave him the "special" IV antibiotics that they save for times like this.  He will be going back in sometime in January under better circumstances and having an operation to resolve this.

So my days of driving to and fro have come to an end and we will now slowly get back to normal around here! (emphasis on slowly)  I guess I don't need to tell  you that there has been no weaving going on  around here but I plan to make a fresh start again tomorrow.

This is as far as I got:

I'm weaving two shawls using the same draft and colour schemes as the previous scarf project I wove back  in July and August. They were stunning and sold right away...and I'm down to only one shawl in my inventory!

Deep Breath....

I have also made a decision to sell my big 12 shaft/ 16 treadle 45" Woolhouse Tools Gertrude Loom and so will be building up a list of its components and formulating a price. I'm not in a position for doing shipping / freight so it would have to be picked up here on Vancouver Island. I do recommend the new owner actually comes and dismantles it here with me so they have a better understanding of how it will go together at the end of its journey.   More on this to come.
In the mean time if you have a serious interest, email me at weever at shaw dot ca (remove the spaces and put the right symbols in.  

Why am I doing this? Well, I can get joint replacement surgery for my knee and last hip and even my foot in time and still carry on weaving in time, but my lower back is the way it is and there's no surgery to fix that. 
Weaving with this loom aggravates it.  Trust me, if this wasn't the case, I'd be keeping it!

I have been weaving almost exclusively on my Louet Spring and I guess its time to get friendly with the Megado and "make nice".  I'm coming to terms with my limitations, and I plan to keep weaving!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Seeing Red

So, with the parcel  with the gray runners on their way to California, the loom is now available for a new project.  I had  something in mind for the 9/2 red linen in my last yarn order from Brassards. Last spring when we were in Vancouver I stopped by my Dad's place and had a nice visit with him. During the time chatting with him, I spotted a small lace cloth on his table that I woven some years ago. It was a fine 20/2 cotton with a huck lace diamond pattern. I had been given the pattern by Linda Heinrich and she in turn got it from Virginia West. It has to be one of the loveliest lace patterns and it went onto my mental list of projects that are up soon.

I wanted to weave something Christmasy.... my second ever project with a holiday theme. I had woven some Christmas tree card inserts one year on a table loom that took too long, but did make it out in the mail that year (as opposed to the next!) . I'm not a fan of weaving for Christmas especially for gifts as it can be a recipe for disaster. There is far too much pressure on folks that time of year so why add more?   {Weaving for birthdays and other special occasions is far better as you aren't coping with the "Christmas Crunch".}

So the yarn arrived and I had found my old draft.... project was duly planned and the warp wound.  The 9/2 linen came in at 3700 yds/ lb which is finer than an 8/2 cotton. The cotton is 3360 yds/ lb and recommended setts are 18 epi for lace, 20 epi for plain weave and 24 epi for twills. It gave me a place to start at least. I wrapped a ruler, and I emailed Gudrun for her input as she uses this linen too.   So we finally settled on 22 epi and I thought I could up or down from there if need be.  When it came time to sley the reed I had to do a pattern of ends that meant I had to use a more open reed to get the desired sett. Now my past experience with linen is that its better to use either single ends through a reed or double ends. If you do groups of three or more, then  reed marks can be an issue. I did not want any problems like this so I changed my reed to something finer and got smaller groups. With a 15 dent reed, I sleyed 1, 2, 1, 2 etc. It averages out to 22.5 epi which was darn close!

The runner warp was  5.25 yards long, 14.9" in the reed and a total of 328 ends.  Winding the warp went well. When I wound my pirns I ran the linen through a damp cloth and it seemed to tame the linen and take off a fair amount of lint.

Weaving was pretty darn nice and the sett looked perfect! The weft lay into the pic beautifully, there was very little draw in so I didn't need a temple. Then with plain weave borders, there was no need for floating selvedges either. Very liberating! The treadling was a nice little five treadle dance (plain weave, pattern, plain weave, pattern, plain weave). You very quickly settle into a good rhythm and it wove up at a nice rate. You could also see the pattern clearly already which was very nice.

I planned on two runners, both sixty inches long and with six inch hem allowances (which would reduce down to two inches after folding), and some samples.  I wove one runner to sixty inches plus hems and I had my samples all done. There seemed to be a lot of warp left so I decided to simply weave a longer runner as the warp held out.   The second ended at seventy four inches!

Once off the loom I pressed my hems much like in my last post and pinned them.  The hand sewing didn't take very long and then they were into the laundry tub for the hand wash and rolled in a towel to absorb water.  The ironing was a real workout!  I was pressing as hard as I could and the wrinkles were still there. I found myself lusting after a mangle or steam press like Lynnette's. I just kept going back and over them again until they passed muster.

Time to take some pictures, which can be tough this time of year. We had cloudy skies and trees all around. the brightest place was my big loom and  so I laid a cloth over the loom and tried for some beauty shots.

The lace is really defined now after washing and looks stunning....

Photographing all red is almost as bad as all white !   First of all the real colour of the runners is a blue based red and the pictures I see are a bit more orangey. Then its hard to see detail with tone on tone colours.

So I tried to show the white cloth in behind...

I was arranging and rearranging and trying different placements and shifting the lights around..... and that's when I saw it.....

At first it looks like a soft line in the cloth....

...and when you look closer, particularly at the corner of the four diamonds. Its a treadling error!  (this one is for you Linda....) . Its the shorter sixty inch runner and the longer one is just fine. That one will be going up in my Etsy shop. The other? I'm not sure what to do with it now.  Keep it for myself or sell as a second? If anyone is interested in buying it, let me know.    Sold!

It really bums me out as I was watching carefully as I wove but apparently not quite enough...    So what's the best cure for this situation?   Another project.... basically move on to something new and start fresh!

Its under way.....

Calli says "cheer up Mum"