A Week of Weaving

loom It's been a fun and busy week. I spent lots of time at the loom this week, working on the Spectrum rug.

loom 2

I'm moving through a color sequence from maroon to purple to pink to red to spice to orange, and next, onto yellow.

dye bath

Lots of dyeing has been happening...


...and I'm working on a new sock design to which Rufus has taken a shine. I can't wait to wear these!

Weaving a Rug

warp threads I'm working on a project that's been a couple of years in the planning.

spectrum rug

It's a simple woven rug with a color progression from gold to orange to russet to red to fuchsia and purple.

I'm using a ton of stash yarn in this project, including some of the very first yarn I spun. first yarn

I'm also getting to use up some very special bulky yarn made from the recycled thrums of other weaving projects.recycled yarn

This project is going along really quick, and I can't wait to see what it looks like on the floor.

Moved and Settled

As I mentioned in my last post, I just changed apartments. All the boxes are unpacked, things are generally where they belong, and the process of settling in is progressing. It's taking longer than I'd like, but hey, that's par for the course. When I can find the light switches in the dark by feel, I know I'm properly nested. Not quite there yet... soon. My least favorite part of moving (and there are so many unpleasant parts to choose from!) is disassembling and reassembling the loom. It's a huge pain in the behind, and requires finishing whatever I was working on.

This time I finished a whole three days early! Last move, it was the night before, and before our move to China, the project wasn't done and I had to cut off an unfinished warp with scissors. There were tears. Lots of tears.

My process for loom-moving is pretty simple. I break the loom down, and  tape all the moving parts together with masking tape to make things easy for the movers.  They then decide (in their infinite wisdom) to break it further before they realize they can't. They then put it back together incorrectly, and don't leave me a note explaining what they did.

In any case, the loom is now back in one piece and I'm winding on my next project, which will be bird's eye. These photos are fabric for two blankets, two lengths for pillows, some pot holders, and about six yards of funky twill to make a pull-over hoodie.

Pebble Weave Attempt

My second attempt at weaving twill has not gone according to plan, and surprise! The result is still pretty cool. I was attempting to do Halvorsen's #5 Pebble Weave from Marguerite Davison's book, but I threaded the loom backwards (4321 instead of 1234). I tried to reverse the tie-up and treadling, but nothing made my textile look like the picture. In the end, I played around with random treadling until I found something I liked.

The weft is Shetland weaving yarn from the Pendleton wool mill in Portland. I dyed it bright orange, and it's an unintentional perfect match for the binding of my indigo quilt.

I'm planning to take advantage of the color match. I'll felt the final fabric and use it to make pillows and a throw blanket to go with the quilt.

In other news, Dandylion came home from the vet on Friday. He's in pretty rough shape, but he's made huge improvements over the last two days.

We spent all of Friday afternoon and most of Saturday sitting on the couch watching season 2 of the X-Files with several breaks for tuna (Dandy) and ginger tea (me). All is all, not a bad way to spend a weekend.



Warping for Non-Weavers

I thought I'd share a quick explanation of the first few phases of the process known as "warping." Warping is the process of getting yarn measured, organized, threaded, and properly tensioned on your loom so you can begin to weave. Warping isn't my favorite part of weaving. It's repetitive, involves math, requires your full concentration, and almost never comes out completely perfect the first time. All that being said, I love weaving, and warping is the price I pay to get to the fun part. I just finished getting 13 yards of orange, rust, maroon, and brown on the loom, so these pictures are from that process.

My first step in choosing my warp is to pull yarns out of my stash that are the right color and will work for my project. I should warn you that I'm a bit of a fast-and-loose yarn selector, and that gets me into trouble once in a while. I mix yarns specifically spun for weaving with knitting yarns and novelty yarns. Some weavers will tell you that this sort of blending will all end in tears, but that hasn't been my experience.

Next up, I wind all the yarn onto spools and put the spools on a spool rack. Then I pick which threads I want to put together, and thread them though a tension box. From there, the are wound directly onto the sectional back beam of the loom.

Each section is wound individually. I tie the ends of the yarn together, attach them to a leader, and then turn the warp beam a given number of times. My beam is roughly one yard in circumference, so if I want 13 yards, I turn the beam 13 times.

Once all the sections are filled, each yarn is threaded through a heddle.

Heddles have an eye (like a needle's eye) in the middle. They sit on shafts which are moved up and down by your feet.

The structure of your woven fabric is created by the interaction of the warp threads being raised and lowered by your feet and your weft threads being added with your hands.

If all this sounds a bit complicated, that's because it is...  but it's also really cool at the same time. I highly recommend taking any opportunity that comes your way to see a loom in action. In the U.S., many weaver's guild do demonstrations at state fairs. It's a great way to see the entire process of making cloth from fiber to yarn to finished fabric.