Friday, March 9, 2018

More Chenille Shawls

   I haven't posted to my blog in a long time but now it is time. I've moved. Before I moved I put a 26 yard cotton warp on my smaller loom. I wove off one chenille shawl and then, wasn't expecting it, I moved. I only partially disassembled my smaller loom and took my 60" loom down to the boards. I took tabby on my existing warp and marked it with a lease cord and carefully rolled it back on the beam. That beam was packed into a box and both looms disappeared into the moving van. A few months later my smaller loom was back in action and the warp survived and I was weaving shawls again. In total I have now eight shawls including the first one I wove, now gifted, and an interesting 40" piece that is sort of a cowel. I have four more to go with the fringe twisting that I do. I am very pleased with the result.

Sunday, February 21, 2016


  I have some handtowels that I wove 30 years ago. They are finally disintegrating. They have been washed dozens and dozens of times. I chose a color pattern that came from a Handwoven magazine dedicated to using music to make designs. The pattern in the warp followed "the ringing of the changes" or how church bells are rung. Each warp color was assigned a "bell" and 1" stripes  followed a bell ringing sequence. The towels were then woven with 1" stripes following the same pattern. Even though these towels were not a regular plaid pattern per se they had a curious continuity. The pattern just looks right.
  Now my towels were shot and I had to weave new ones.  I decided to try a weave structure unfamiliar to me, Bumberet. It is very simple structure that can be done on four shafts and consists of units of 3 in the warp. The curious name of the weave is like so many handweave structure names that have long disappeared, like dimnity, serge, goose eye, ottoman and so on. The draft I followed was from a 17th century weaver's notebook. Since I have 16 shafts I spread the draft on twelve shafts and used the last four to run a thin basketweave selvedge. These were done in 8/2s unmercerized cotton with a warp color sequence generated by moi même, totally random.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Kundalini Turban Cloth

    I have a good friend who is a Kundalini yoga teacher. Part of doing Kundalini yoga is the belief that wearing a turban or some kind of head covering, preferably white, can improve one's practice. At the Kundalini workshops I've attended both men and women dress in white and most wear a head covering. There are various ways to wrap a turban and some of the more elaborate women's turban styles are many layered beehive-shaped affairs. Some are complimented with a center jewel and a vail.  For my friend I measured her smaller turban to get a general idea of the width and length. I then set up my loom to weave a gauzy doubleweave with a tabby border of various fine cottons (warp) and wove it out with a spun silk weft. The first attempt was "shortened" due to technical problems with the loom. The first length was barely 2 yards long, an insufficient length for a turban. It makes a wonderful warm scarf. The 2nd attempt is now weaving very well on the loom. If I have enough silk for weft I may get 5 yards or more.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Seersucker is Weaving!

  I got my warp going, all threaded and sleyed. I was a bit concerned that the finer warp on the 2nd beam would not be tensioned properly. I had not used this beam on this loom. The difference in the amount of warp on the beam and the difference in how fine the cotton is makes is so as to not require additional tensioning. I am using 1/3 lb machine knitters cast on weights, two on the top beam, one on the bottom. The standard AVL counterweight disks one normally uses would be too much. I have made numerous math errors in calculating the sett and how each inch of the warp should be sleyed. I have some "left over" on the 2nd beam which is weighted off the raddle in the back to get it out of the way. These are the kind of problems that just happen. So I make notes about my projects and hopefully won't repeat my mistakes. I decided to use a wonderful cone of silk for weft and it look very handsome. As soon as I get another meter woven then I can transfer the woven cloth to the cloth roller on the back of my loom and I think it'll weave even better. I am also looking forward to changing the design with the Compudobby just to see what happens. Right now shafts 1~12 are weaving a twill and 13~16 are weaving tabby.

Sunday, May 31, 2015


  Seersucker is a type of cloth with wrinkled stripes. According to Wikipedia, "The word came into English from Persian, and originates from the words "Sheer" and "Shakar", literally  meaning "milk and sugar", probably from the resemblance of its smooth and rough stripes to the smooth texture of milk and the bumpy texture of sugar." Most people think of it as the material used in summer weight clothing for men's suits or garden party dresses. I don't know of many handweavers attempting it because to do it for longer lengths of cloth you should put the stripes on a second beam. For looms that have a conventional friction brake everytime the weaver needs to advance the warp each warp beam has to be released, the woven cloth rolled to the cloth beam, and the tension restablished on both beams. With my AVL looms each beam can be individually tensioned and once the tension is set at the beginning of the warp no further adjustment is necessary. I know this works because I have done it on my smaller AVL but for that project I did not want to have one beam tensioned higher than the other.
  My current project is on the big lom, 42" wide, the sectional beam is loaded with a combo of 10/2s tencel and cotton, end on end. The plain beam has 12/2s cotton. You wouldn't think the yarn size was significant but the 12/2s cotton is much finer. The loom is threaded in straight draw, shafts 1-12 are for the cotton/tencel and shafts 13-16 are for the 12/2s. My sett is 32 epi. My loom looks like a disorganized mess because I have the threading cross from each beam hanging on their individual lease sticks. Cross-checking my threading is super important because if I make a threading error I have to fix the problem for both beams.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Horse Blankets ???

  Not sure what happened here but I am not seeing many posts on my blog about the ongoing Civil War horse blanket project. I have been through many iterations of samples, yarns etc. and have not been happy. I was going into the 2nd year of this project. I absolutely cannot find an affordable repeatable domestic source of the proper yarn. I sent my potential client a "Dear John" email. The materials alone, wholesale, are more than $100.00 and that cost is there way before I throw a shuttle. Suffice to say I am a Civil War horse blanket expert. I bought some wool yarn off of Ebay, Brown Sheep for a last ditch prototype. The yarn I bought felts, it is not Superwash, but it is knitting yarn so the twist is too loose. I persisted. I set up my big loom to weave a blanket in two panels, with the stripes, with numerous calculations for shrinkage etc. It was not fun weaving. The knitting yarn shredded  on the selvedges. I then had to hand stitch the panels together. Having finished that, after I sent the "Dear John" email, I threw the whole thing in my washing machine, hot wash. Then I put the whole thing in a hot dryer. ¡Surprise! The thickness and the look is correct. These blankets were made to be folded four times and what I got would work. Also ... maybe more importantly ... is that my calculations came out, my stripe blocks are almost square, and the shrinkage percentage is very close. So what I have now, well felted but still soft and nice, begs to be a clothing item (without the yellow stripes!).

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Orange is the New ..... (Fill in the Blank)

  It has been a while. I only have some sampling warp left with Project Naranja. My warp is the beautiful high quality 26/2s wool from WEBS. It is a mill end or close out and I'll never see this yarn again. So I bought every color of orange and some pale pinks. I originally bought this yarn for the Civil War horse blanket project. That didn't work out for blanket weight (despite the original 1860's specification) but the same yarn, different colors, made a soft wonderful cloth when woven as a 2/2 twill. I set up my small loom to do doubleweave in blocks. I wove out a shawl length using various colors of the same wool as weft. What I got after wet finishing and lots of fabric softener and a vinegar rinse had the feel of a brillo pad. Not wearable next to the skin. I passed out my "shawl" to be examined by the seasoned handweavers at the Weaver's Barn and the consensus was that the weave structure was causing the unpleasant texture. As my loom was threaded for blocks I decided to improve the texture with what would work for the colors. I wove a second shawl length with a zippy coral noil silk singles. That made for a comfortable cloth. For all the problems I had with the hand of the cloth the yarn was very easy to weave. Doubleweave is an amazing weave structure. With how I was weaving it I got some wonderful puffy blocks and this got me thinking about what I want to do on my big loom.

  My big loom has two beams. Seersucker has been on my mind to do for a long time. I don't mean what people commonly think of it, crisp summerweight barbershop quartet suits in creamsickle colors, gaackkk !!! I want to make cloth for clothing that is already aesthetically wrinkled. So now the big loom has a combo of tencel and cotton on my sectional beam. I am part way with measuring the "stripes" for the plain beam which is a slightly thinner cotton. Many weavers never use their second beam even when they have one. I have routinely done two beam weaving on my smaller loom. Fortunately with the AVL you can set the tension differently on each beam and it will stay adjusted for the whole warp. This is not easy to do on looms with brakes and tension systems that require adjustment on both beams after the warp is advanced.