Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Sectional warping: typing warp bouts onto the back beam

A commenter in my blog asked how I go about attaching each warp bout to the sectional warp beam so I thought I'd answer with photos. The answer is to use headers. In the photo below I've just finished weaving the previous project, so the headers are stretched all the way to the back heddles.

Each section of the warp beam has a cotton thread tied to one of the dividers. Some sectional warp beams have a steel bar for this purpose, mine does not so I simply tie the thread to a divider, using the convention that it's tied to the right-hand divider for each piece. These are simply long pieces of sturdy cotton cut to twice the length between the warp beam and the back heddles, then with the ends tied in an overhand knot so that the thread runs around the divider.

The length of this thread is important. It's ideal to have the thread long enough so that they an reach the back heddles, which minimises loom waster, but also a length so that the end of the loop furthest from the warp beam sits between the wooden bars of the sectional beams. This is so that the knot for each bout (which can be quite large) doesn't interfere with the rest of the warp as it is wound on.

Each bout of warp (1" or 2", depending on the spacing of your sections) is tied with an overhand knot, and a larks-head knot is made from the end of the cotton header: fold over the end of the cotton thread and pull the two pieces through the end loop.

This is then slipped over the overhand knot on the warp bout, and drawn taut. Beaming can then continue.

One hint is to cut all of the header bouts at the same time so that they're all the same length. Do this even if you don't intend to use them. It saves having to undo one to check the length in the future. I just leave all of mine on, all the time, regardless of the width of my warp. They flop around a bit but they've never got in my way.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

More krokbragd

This time actually a floor rug. It's not finished yet because I've literally only just cut it off the loom, but it fulfills my need for a floor rug to catch mud and the like trekked in through the front door. The yarns are assorted scrap rug yarns I've accumulated over the years, in addition to handspun rough wools (mostly Welsh), which I picked up during my British wool spinning experimentation phase. I was surprised at the take-up in the warp on this project. The rug is shorter than I'd planned, but still a good length for a foot-mat.

We've had a lot of snow and ice on the ground since a blizzard blew in on Thursday night (the temperatures haven't really risen above freezing since then, in fact it's -1C at 1pm today), so aside from short walks to enjoy the sunshine and views that's done a lot for my staying in and weaving! The light bouncing off the snow has been marvelous. I can really see why weaving is such a strong winter pastime in Scandanavian traditions. It's just as well: this is the rug I was going to have totally completed a full month ago, before my operation. I've been weaving this in short, careful bursts over the past couple of weeks.

Next up: the handtowel for the bathroom, which I've been threatening to weave for a full year.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Sampling really pays off

So: on due consideration and serious inspection under natural light(it was a rare lovely sunny day), my friend and I were unanimous that we liked all-light, and also all-dark, but that the two marled together lost something in the loveliness and subtletly. It's the contrast in texture between the camel and the silk that makes the yarn, and throwing another colour into the mix lessens that. We also decided that the all-light was lighter and more luscious with my complexion. So I'll be going with all-light for the top.

Fortunately I have enough of each for a project, and it may be quite nice to have a top and cardigan /scarf in almost-matching yarns. If there's enough left over, it may be wonderful to weave a scarf utilising the colour differences in the warp and the weft.

And so with that decision made, now to ply.

Knitting: sample, sample, sample!

A sample swatch in homespun brown alpaca

With all my sitting down time, I've been spinning and knitting. I'd thought I'd be working on my cross-stitch project, but it's been taking the back foot. I've started to learn that one of the reasons I've never liked knitting is because the yarns normally recommended for beginner knitters are too chunky for my taste, and that I apparently spin a very precise fingering-weight yarn. Who knew? I found that I had some dark brown handspun alpaca in precisely the right weight to give a good sample on one of the projects in the book I bought last weekend, so am currently knitting that on 3.25 mm needles.

I've also been spinning up the camel and silk roving.

Camel and silk roving on bobbins, L-R, darker variation and two bobbins of the lighter.

The intention had been to make a three-ply of two strands of light and one of dark, but the pattern I would like to use this for was originally written for a knitting machine, with a gauge of 33 stitches and 42 rows to 10cm. Three-ply would be too thick for that, even at the fine rate I spin. So I sampled. I tried various plys of the two colours, at various thicknesses of ply, and knitted the lot into a sample on the finest needles I have in the house, 3mm. The different variations were marked with a small amount of dark roving spun into the ply as it was made.

Sample swatch, with dark smudges to mark variations. L-R, two-ply one dark one light, three-ply one dark, two light, two-ply both light, three-ply all light.

It was immediately apparent that three-ply was a bit too thick for what I want here, and that two-ply gave a lovely soft drape and could even afford to go slightly smaller on the needles. In addition, a check of the gauge showed that on 3 mm needles, 33 stitches and 43 rows comes to almost precisely 11cm, so it's still slightly too large. The ribbing and pattern on this project are complex enough that I don't really want to be fiddling with adjusting numbers of stitches. So I'll be knitting another sample swatch for this project before going too much further with the plying. For a non-knitter, I own an awful lot of knitting needles:

But the smallest I have is 3 mm. Or so I thought. I've just remembered that I own a pair of 2.75 mm circular needles, so will have another go on those to try to get the gauge. The question now is, do I want to go for the all-light ply (saving the darker variant for another project) or do I like the dark-light marl?

Top: dark-light marl. Bottom: all-light two-ply.
This photo doesn't really do the colours justice as the darker marl is a beautiful caramel colour. I haven't made a decision on this yet, as both colours are lovely. The project I intend this for was originally done in white and I'm trying to remove that prejudice from my head before I make a decision. A friend is coming for lunch today so I'm going to canvas her opinion on which colour suits me better before she sees the original project. In all honesty there' s little enough difference between the two that it may not matter. In the meantime, until I make a decision, I'm spinning a second bobbin of the dark.

And finally; a photo for Meg, to assure here that I'm not torturing the gumnut babies!

Monday, 7 December 2009

It's December, there must be swag.

Saturday was the end-of-year meeting of our spinning group. This is always the Christmas party, an occasion even more social than our normal meetings, with a pot-luck lunch (and oh, so good it was). P&M Woolcraft also bring a substantial portion of their shop to the meeting, and typically we make it worth their while. Yarninmypocket has already commented that she was restrained. I, on the other hand, did my bit to make it worth their while, almost single-handed.

From left to right, some baby camel and silk roving (400g), a fold-down Ashford sampler niddy noddy (to make samples for dyeing) , above and behind the niddy noddy, some brown-and-white merino roving (600g), an Ashford Challenger three-bobbin lazy kate so I can do 3-ply (my Majacraft Gem lazy kate only holds two bobins), one new Majacraft bobbin (I buy one every year) and in the front another 33cm Glimakra shuttle, bringing me up to three of those because I do a number of three-shuttle weaves.

I also splurged a little on expanding my acid dye collection and now feel like a have a workable critical mass. I spent part of yesterday dyeing skeins and caps of silk. I'll post on the dyes and dyeing later in the week.

Although I spent a lot of money, I didn't really buy anything I didn't plan to buy. The hardware was all things I'd requested they bring as I saw a need for it. I rarely buy roving so have none in my stash, and while I've found spinning to be an ideal occupation for my recuperation, carding has proven to be just too hard: so I can't card any of the raw fleeces I have in the house to spin. I'm going to call the roving physical therapy. I've been spending a lot of my recuperation spinning the baby camel and silk roving. You can see two bobbins full of it, ready on the lazy kate. I bought 600g of this last year and want to turn it into a top, but wanted to make sure that I have enough. So I bought a little more again this year, cautiously because at £6/100g it's not cheap...but oh, so worth it. This year's camel is darker than last years, as can be seen in the photo below:

(this year's rovings in the back, last year's in the front). Slightly darker it may be, but it's even softer than the already-soft roving I've been spinning up. At the moment the plan is to ply two strands of the pale with one strand of the dark and compare it to just the pale. The 'dark' is a beautiful caramel colour so I'm hoping it will result in deepening the subtle colour graduations already playing in the yarn. I'm half-way through the third bobbin so will sample within the next couple of days. Eventually this will become a top for me.

The astute will notice that I haven't mentioned the book evident in the to image. Yes, it's a knitting book. No, I don't really knit. Yes, I've already done a sample for one of the projects in some brown handspun alpaca. Yes, I'm being corrupted.