Thursday, April 8, 2010

Weaving notes

This is a photo-less post, meant for folks who were at (or really wanted to be at) the weaving part of the retreat with Judith Mackenzie McCuin last month. These are my written notes from class. You've already see my other, woven "notes" of gamps and scarves! Included are a few direct quotes I simply couldn't resist. I am certain some experienced weavers will disagree or want to elaborate on specific points. Please feel free to do so by commenting on the blog - we'll all learn a lot from the discussion! I am not saying JMM is right or wrong here, but goodness knows she has more experience than I ever will, so she's at least worth listening to and thinking about her information. Have fun!

What makes a good warp
  • needs to be strong (but that doesn't mean you can't still use interesting yarns!)
  • Go with short warps to start with to get familiar with the process of threading a loom, and with using different yarns in your warp
  • color and texture should happen in the warp, not the weft (unless you have a good reason not to)
  • testing a yarn to see if it's a good warp yarn: hold a length of yarn between your hands and pull apart, "bouncing" the yarn like you would for a fleece staple test. Do this three times, and if it doesn't break, it'll do
  • fiber will always try to go back to its original shape, so an elastic warp woven under tension will pucker once off the loom
  • generally aim for 2-ply yarns for warp; a cabled yarn will work like a 2-ply but give a more textured surface; if you use a cabled yarn in both warp AND weft you will have aa smooth damask-like fabric
Note on loopy, boucle warp threads:
  • the width of the yarn, for the sake of figuring out e.p.i, should be the width of the loop, not just the width of the core part of the yarn
Simple warp calculation for making a scarf:
  • project width = 10"
  • e.p.i. = 8
  • project length = 3 yards
  • finished project = 72"
  • waste = 18"
  • take-up = 10" (~10%)
Misc. weaving notes:
  • chenille neds very close sett (20 e.p.i.)
  • for fringe, weave in some thick non-felting yarn or cord that will hold the fringe stable through fulling
  • when doing a double (2 ends per dent) put a cord in between the top and bottom, starting with the first thread out of the cross and letting it set which threads are on the top, which are on the bottom; this copies the cross to the other side of the read, making it easier to thread (obviously for F2B threading)
  • warping methodology is like religion to some folks; JMM suggests F2B for short (3-4 yard) warps, B2F for longer, finer warps. Direct quote: "If you get your warp on while naked and sacrificing vegetables, I don't care."
  • as warp sticks fall out from the back beam, put them in the front beam

Patterns and drafts:
  • "A Handweavers Pattern Book" is best/tested; always bring it to a JMM weaving class
  • "shaft" and "harness" are NOT interchangeable terms; a harness is a set of 4 shafts
  • countermarche looms: tie up is a bitch (designed to be done just once) but best for delicate warps; warp goes both up and down
  • counterbalance looms: simple linens; can weave faster and with less wear and tear on the weaver; will spend more time under the loom doing the tie ups than on other looms; balance is hugely important
  • jack looms: never buy a jack loom more than 40" wide and 8 shafts; it will be too heavy to treadle; jack looms created for ease of tie-up; great for textured, more artsy yarns
  • weaving books almost always written for counterbalance looms
  • tie up = chaining draft
  • read drafts from bottom up
  • for a jack loom, read the white boxes as your tie-ups, leave the black boxes for counter balance
  • "Never, ever, not once, dead in a ditch never, not one time."
  • Always doubled check magazine patterns for errors; they're not always fully vetted
  • take a threading pattern and learn it inside and out, with all the possible tie-ups, and you can come up with an enormous variety of fabrics and get very efficient at warping your loom; practice with gamps
Finishing and Ends:
  • To fix a knot in a warp, find the warp end for the broken knotted string and tie a flat knot to the end, then draw the new warp string all the way through to the opposite end; this is better than trying to do a spot repair;
  • you only do a spot repair if you think this technique would not work (due to material being too dense, for instance). It should work even for very fine/delicate warps
  • experiment with different knots; sometimes you'll want a coarse, stable knot, sometimes you'll want a fine knot
  • if the fringe or loom waste is long enough, just use/sacrifice some of that to pull the knot out and shorten that particular warp end
Sample book:
  • No, really, create a sample book
  • look at Allen Fannin's weaving book for great sample sheets
  • you will have notes not only for yourself but to help weavers after you
  • sample should include one washed, one unwashed, else you cannot see how it was sett
Mother MacKenzie's Miracle Warp:
  • To use up all your bits and stuff left on bobbins, either collect all of one fiber type (and so easily dyed) or all one color family
  • you will want a cross in both bottom and top as you measure out the warp; keep winding in random patterns and textures
  • for 5 yars of fabrice tie on a 10 yard warp because you will take the cross at the bottom, lift it next to the cross at the top, and now you have a mirrored warp (for 3 yards, measure out a 6 yard warp on your warping board)
  • you don't have to use this for a whole cloth in and of itself; it makes a great accent in a bigger cloth
  • be mindful of the appropriate e.p.i. for each yarn in the warp; this will go in the reed at different intervals appropriate to the yarn
Directions for a pony/crepe scarf:
  • wind a mix of pony & crepe yarns on a note card until you get a color pattern you like
  • will set the pony at 24 e.p.i., crepe at intervals of 24 epi, 12 epi, and 6 epi (2 ends at 24, 2-4 ends at 12, 2-4 ends at 6, then leave a .5" gap in the reed)
  • weft: you can alternate a light with a heavy beat; can also do an even beat; can also try 2 shots then beat
Other homework for HF:
  • study Swedish Lace Weaves chapter in the Handweaver's Pattern Book
  • be playful with Finnish Lace design
  • don't forget twill tape, especially on Netting; try different warp materials