The Knit Knack's Blog

Better living through fibre


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Stepping up to 8-shaft patterns

Very quickly because I am in prime weaving time… this is happening!

Weaving two block broken twill Elin kitchen towels by irieknit

All 8 shafts are in use!

A first Elin Towel in the two block broken twill was yesterday’s weaving.  After much care for warping and tying-up to the kit’s instructions, I chose to weave 6 repeats of the first block, and 2 repeats of the second.

The shine on my cloth beam was a happy surprise, and you can see why in this next threading image.

Threading for Elin Towels on Schacht Mighty Wolf loom by irieknit

Deep breathing for the threading part

The kit yarn is Bockens Nialin 22/2, which is 60% cotton, 40% flax.  At this point, I saw neither the shine nor the flipping of threads in this section of the warp coming.

Apart from needing to take extra care with threading back to symmetry, I enjoyed having all 8 shafts with these two straight threading blocks.  Having more room to see the pattern take shape on the shafts was very interesting.

Beaming on cottolin Elin Towels on Schacht Mighty Wolf loom by irieknit

Laced-on! Twist kept all behind the heddles.

The adjustments after this point were fairly minor.  No part of this has been speedy but the eight treadle weave has made sense quickly enough.

This kit by Joanne Hall was from my friend Margaret’s stash a couple of years ago.  Finding things like a 3-thread cross, and different warp ties perked me up.  After three months with my loom folded behind a big guest bed, I was itching to weave.  Following the kit let me do that, and then I decided why not go for this new step to using the back shafts of the loom.

In the past a lot of my weaving has gone to others; these may stay in a tighter circle.  The colours are so crisp, and I want at least a matching pair for our home.  Nesting does new things, and it’s good self-worth!

Snow day in March break Oh Canada

An Oh Canada March break helped this weaving happen

It’s cold out but I can hear birds singing & a rabbit crossed our path on the way to T’s school this morning.  For now, I’ll be at the loom!

 


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Weave on: First handwoven Towels in asymmetrical plaid

Handwoven cotton asymmetrical twill towels

First stack of kitchen towels!

Weaving is here to stay, friends.  The 3+ months as a student with MargaretJane Wallace & Joyce Newman have been wonderful.

The awe is a little less immediate a few weeks into having made useful somethings – now I can write about the process.  It’s time, and then I will pack Mom’s towel up with another special project, and mail all to Jamaica.

Sewing machine stitching handwoven cloth

Why yes, I do own a sewing machine.  It came down from the closet shelf for the occasion of sewing 3 lines of stitches to secure the cloth for later cutting.  I would not call any of these lines straight but no needles were broken that cold January day!

Handwoven kitchen towel unwashed

First woven end of the towels

The first weft was protected by my machine stitching here.  It’s the edge with my sampling for the towels.  Peggy Osterkamp says in Weaving for Beginners that the cloth at this stage is called “greige” or “gray goods” or in the loom state (p. 137) as it is still unwashed.

Handwoven towel warp unwashed

Unwashed, and uncut – this part is for Mom

Even at this stage, I could tell that Mom’s towel would come out well.  The sewing-in of the ends process took a good long while but it wasn’t too tedious.

As instructed by MargaretJane, it was fine for the washing machine (cold water) & dryer.

The Finished Goods

Little did I imagine that hemming would be its own learning process but it was!  Mine are hand-hemmed with a slipstitch.

Handwoven asymmetrical plaid cotton towel

Plaid to the left

When hemming went correctly as it did for Mom’s towel the plaid is on the left.

Handwoven asymmetrical plaid cotton towel

Plaid to the right

Same day, same person sewing.  All I can say is thank goodness for the balanced twill – it really does not matter which side the hems swung.  Except to yours truly who will always know.

Handwoven cotton plaid

I love the plaid

My twill lines (45° angle) show the merit in practice making perfect.  I used my protractor in the first towel, and it helped me pay attention to my beat as I wove.

Handwoven blue cotton broken twill towel

Last past the post

The last towel is a shorter 19½” x 15″, and is woven in broken twill.  It has the most mistakes because I was so anxious to finish weaving.  I really like the left-side stripe.  There is no plaid in this towel but I like it lots.

Hemming the second towel showed me the weave is slightly looser at the bottom edge.  When folded in half you see the exact spot where I adjusted my weaving beat – the selvedges are not even end-to-end.

It’s great to see the mindfulness in the cloth.  After using the protractor, I kept an even beat for the rest of the warp.  There are also some treadled mistakes in the twill sequence.  What does not show is the early struggle to even throw each shuttle 22″ across the race.

Cat climbing into Schacht Mighty Wolf weaving floor loom

Melvin the weaving keener

My class warp is for a gamp – 4 new twill threadings are now done and all 5 are almost sleyed.  The warp that Tuesday Melvin was admiring is a small sampler.

It’s still very much a learning curve but I am so happy with these towels, and proud to send one to someone who didn’t laugh but sent me a book and wrote, “Weave on!”


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Hello, Weftember!

The inaugural Weftember Weavers’ Open is about to begin!  Enallagma9 also known as Bug Girl threw down the thread in the Friends of Abby’s Yarns Ravelry group, and said:

Ladies and gentlemen, knitters and spinners, weavers and all those who fiddle with fiber, in just under four weeks the very first Weftember will begin! Weftember begins Saturday, September 7th (not on the 1st!), and goes through Sunday, September 29th, midnight to midnight, Rav time.

She said more but if you are a FOAY then you already knew that!  Since she posted this 22 days ago, so far FOAY has managed a good 32 pages of pre-Weftember in fine form.

We each get to pick something that stretches us as a weaver.  I picked taking a floor loom weaving Guild class that starts later this month.

Weaving sampler

Weftember has drawn weavers from every nook & cranny of the skill levels.  It’s been a rollicking first 32 pages.  The group inspired me to sit back down at the loom bench.  The end result may not be a looker but the weavers were having none of my shyness.  You can thank them for any pictures at all!

Janet Dawson’s Craftsy class is what really helped orient me, alone at home.  She talks you through & also weaves with a smaller Schacht Wolf loom.  Most of all, I love her ‘loom scavenger hunt’ for All the Ties.  With Janet’s back-to-front warping, and Peggy Osterkamp‘s sampler from Weaving for Beginners, I made out all right.

Sampler, fresh off the loom

The lines of skipped warp threads are no trick of the light.  I discovered rust to the back of the reed, and also my own sleying error.  Several deep breaths later, I advanced the warp and fetched the can of spray starch.

Weaving sampler, underbelly

Starting over with plain weave helped but not entirely.  See how the floats extend beyond that point?  I tackled this again by hanging 2 heavy stone necklaces off the back beam.  It worked!  The trouble in the reed was much more manageable after that.

FOAY is so utterly cool that they picked up on the key word “rust” immediately.  Chemists weighed in, and with discussion, I got the green flag for Plan 1 of 2.  It involved rubber gloves, a steel scrubbie, diluted CLR, and an apron.  The reed still has rust but Plan 2 of 2 is in place.  That reminds me, I need to get naval jelly & a small brass brush…

Jakima progress

Yesterday, as my brain strained under the idea of a new floor loom warp, I had an Aha! moment.  Soon the backstrap loom from String Thing was out of its basket hiding place.  I was afraid that all the learning had flown out of my head but I was able to pick up, pallashanin as it were, where I left off.

Backstrap weaving

Although I started with the loom on my bare foot, I switched over to use the back of my floor loom.  I love the mahogany swords or kaulla from Abby’s class.  The Tanka Ch’oro design is described by Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez in Textile Traditions of Chinchero: A Living Heritage as being:

… formed by three pairs of threads of two colors.  This is the first design that the weaver learns.

It is a series of shells side by side.

Here I was seeing some mistakes, and learning by doing.  Soon, I was thinking more in terms of creating the design:  “two red legs; yellow heart” and “sonqopa heart.”  I remembered to drop warps first, and I didn’t saw my yllawa or string heddles when changing sheds.

My loom manipulation improved, and so did my weaving.  Backstrap weaving is so simple, and yet so far from my true grasp.

Happy Weftember

 


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In with the new – a floor loom!

The idea that I could weave came about quite simply but over a long dash of time.  Exposure to all of you weavers helped but it came down to an awareness that in changing my life has room for more.

Hemp and two flaxes – handspun yarns

Spinning flax, hemp and cotton helped the scales fall from my never-going-to-weave eyes.  Each yarn evokes a memory of cloth I grew up with, know and love.  Woven all.

Spinning cotton for khadi

The Great Wall of Never finally broke down last year.  I quietly wrote & saved 1 line:  my goal is to learn to weave before I am 40.  In what has been essentially uncertain times, I needed that space & focus.

Commission knitting and backstrap weaving both dovetailed in the past year.  Not only could weaving enhance any business purpose but I love the rhythm.  This work challenges me in entirely new ways.

A loom bench as it arrived!

In the days before the Sarah Swett Workshop my slow search for a floor loom crystallized.  Beth very kindly let me know that her Schacht Mighty Wolf was for sale – all 8 shafts of it.  We discussed all the terms ahead of the trip, and I did my best due diligence on what the local market had to offer.  So many (including Beth) helped us come to a decision.  Margaret, Nancy, Cheryl & Sasha in particular listened to all the options, and gave such solid advice.

Weaving studios don’t have midnight blue walls

Melvin was very much involved in the long-overdue paint job for this room.  It had to happen & it had to happen quickly!  Hence my silence last week.

All the better to see the world!

As you might have heard me say on Twitter, I was worried that a primer coat would not be enough!  Man, did I hate that wall colour!  It’s finally gone.

Same view, different day

After researching on-line, I chose Benjamin Moore’s HC-173 called “edgecomb gray.”  This room gets full sun in the morning & barely any after noon.  Some colour cuts the glare, and with the deep blue living underneath, I may just have achieved a neutral gray.

Mighty Wolf loom closed

The main contender in my deliberations was an 8-shaft cherry Norwood listed on the Toronto Craigslist.  It came with 30″ weaving width.  The sellers were absolutely wonderful about answering my questions, and were very flexible for a potential viewing.

Schacht Mighty Wolf open in my room

Last Friday, N & I went to pick the loom up, spend the afternoon with Beth & have dinner with friends on the way home.  So, biggest piece of equipment ever & still feeling completely right!  She’s a 1988 loom, originally owned by Jillian Moreno.  I am the 3rd in her life of going from one friend’s home to another.  No storage time for this baby – she has been woven on & loved.  Thanks to the workshop, we were all together when I told Beth YES, please!

Loom & some stash containment at home

The major pluses as I saw them were its folding x-frame, that the loom is still in production, and the extra 6″ of weaving width.  I would be lying if I didn’t also tell you that the loom’s history, and patina played a big role.  Schachts are desirable but not that common in our area (LeClerc country as I like to call it).  It really was sitting at her bench that Saturday night that let me know this was the best loom that I could afford.

Reorganized for stash

This is my combination 11th anniversary & birthday present.  More than all of that it’s a milestone – I did something big for myself and have my work cut out for me.  Family, you all made it possible.  As I told the agent at the border, “Crazy that a Jamaican would be getting a loom today!”  It is, and so many of you readers are to thank for helping me get there.

My first boat shuttle

Thank you, Beth – for extra time, my first boat shuttle being so pretty, and extra everything.  I will work hard at learning how to weave on this great loom.

Homework

One Must be Generous with Fibre

Also at Beth’s were these 2 mason jars of walnut dye liquor.  A wonderful gift from She Who Cannot be Named – Thank you, M!

For my dyeing pleasure!

Other spinny elves have been equally generous to me as well.

Southern Cross sw Merino & Border Leicester x Corrie

Sasha averred on Twitter the other day that, “One must be generous with fiber.”  Both gifts are making me very happy.  On the one hand, I get to spin my first Southern Cross Fibres on Martha thanks to an elf.  On the other hand, I have 15 oz of the Border Leicester/ Corrie cross that is beautiful pin-drafted roving from Morrow Fleece Works thanks to another elf.  I started to spin it lightly with my Forrester Akha-style spindle.

Melvin’s former BFF – Cheviot roving

In exchange for the pin-drafted dream, I snuck out Melvin’s most favorite fibre ever – Cheviot roving that P. Hinton donated to our Guild.  A word on my sample findings for that Cheviot…

Cheviot on the CPW

… not only is it popular with the cat but it didn’t much like my high-twist hiding experiment on the CPW.  Just so you know, I forgot to mention that my dear!

(edit to fix picture)