Thursday, February 27, 2014

Going to a New Home

        The baby wrap is washed, dried, hemmed, and shipped off to mom and babe who have no clue it will be there on the 1st of March. I learned a few things, but just like many weaving experiments with variables, the type of left over mill end yarn that I used in the warp, are just that, "variables".  So my experiment only informs my weaving to a certain degree especially if I choose to weave another one. The finished wrap with a 1" hem on each end is 21" by 5 yards. The anticipated shrinkage in the weft direction was about what I thought, 20%, but curiously the warp direction did not shrink very much at all. It could be because the cotton was very different.  The weave pattern was not obvious. If I had used a highly contrasting weft you might be able to see it. I liked using a twill. It gives the wrap a nice stretch. Overall I don't think it is too stretchy. Handwoven cloth can have a lot of loft or a spongy quality I love. This is what this baby wrap is like.  I am looking forward to some feedback from mom.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Baby Wrap Update

The warp for the baby wrap is weaving very well. It is a pleasure to weave well-behaved yarn. The unidentified stretchy cotton has a few slubs and irregular textures but they are nice. I am almost done with the weaving and so far I have only had to take out and repair one warp thread that had a knot. I have been looking at various ways to finish this wrap. Some wraps are made as parallelograms so mom has some tails to tie. I am not thrilled with online instructions of how to do this especially with handwoven cloth that can fray. I imagine this warp will get washed and maybe a lot. So the hems need to be durable and not shrink in. My plan is to wash it and dry it more than once in hot water and a hot dryer then hem it somehow.  I may have enough left for a matching "beeky", baby blanket.

Meanwhile my concurrent project on my big loom is the Civil War horse blanket same with a 2/8's wool. This is weaving very well but the sample is already showing me that the selvedges will have to be tensioned separately because of various reasons. I am glad this isn't the Jaggerspun wool. Well the cone is old and maybe the wool has dryed out, not sure, but the texture is pretty harsh. Would the horse notice?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


I have been weaving a long time, at least it seems to me to be a long time. Weaving trends come and go and the neat thing is that new weavers enter this world of endless design and creativity. I have been reading about weavers doing various "collapse" projects with over-twisted yarns, warps or wefts woven to be pulled and then the cloth fulled or shrunk, weave structures that are condusive to be changed by felting, and mixing material that shrink and take up at a different rate. All interesting experiments and like most experiments some are more sucessful than others.

I made this sample in the late 80's. It is a mix of metallic yarns and a fine wool that was meant for machine knitting. The wool was well behaved as warp and I pretty much ignore advice as to whether a particular yarn is not suited for warp or not. Yep, I can be wrong. The weft is the same wool but then every honeycomb cell, the weave structure I using, has a shot of fine clear elastic at the top and bottom of the cell. The sample was washed. It didn't need to be pressed. That would ruin the cool texture and probably melt and break the elastic. BTW, the elastic was very easy to wind on a pirn and never gave me any problems with the shuttle.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Baby Wrap?

A friend of my daughters just had a baby. So I have decided to weave a baby wrap. I am sort of amazed by the baby wrap craze. After so many years of weaving, weaving for myself, and for others I have seen and woven cloth for all kinds of uses, towels, clothing yardage, upholstery material, etc. etc. Being a handweaver and supporting yourself with this occupation is hard. It is difficult to weave and have enough inventory and at the same time market yourself. So it is with some amusement that I see the proliferation of handwoven baby wraps. They seem to sell for a lot of money and I see a kind of weird "greed" that goes on with Facebook "auctions", limited editions etc.

We do not come from a culture of "babywearers" which is something women have done with their babies for thousands of years. It makes a lot of sense. I can see that if you could comfortably wrap and walk with your baby it would be better than pushing a stroller. However I am a bit cynical of the popularity of baby wraps because, sadly with babies and baby paraphenalia,  you know a lawyer and a lawsuit are just around the corner. We live in a litiguous society.  No cloth is perfect and accidents do happen but an accident can happen just as well with a commercial baby wrap. Just some thoughts.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

And the Sample Reveals ....

Well horse blanket I have not. The 2/26's wool would make a great shirt or scarf but nowhere close for a horse blanket. The fulled sample is on the right, the "grey goods" are on the left
These Civil War horse blankets aren't like the Southwest designs made of a very heavy wool  weft on a thinner warp. The CW horse blanket is more like a good Pendleton blanket in weight and loft.  It was folded and placed under the saddle. Looking at CW saddles it seems to me to be horribly uncomfortable for both the horse and rider. At night the horse blanket became THE blanket to sleep under or on. With my handloom and how I can finish and full the cloth I make there is no way that I can full up, basically shrink the cloth enough, to get close to original specification. A handloom just can't pack the weft in high enough, more picks per inch. A power loom is smacking and quickly advancing the woven cloth. So the warp, even though it is under considerable tension, is not being damaged.  So what to do? After many calculations the ideal yarn for this project would be a 2/16s. I cannot find that yarn. So maybe something thicker that I can order repeatable quantities of. It all comes down to doing more sampling before attempting a prototype.

I found a photo of a Canadian vintage horse blanket on Ebay that was made on a handloom. It is made in two panels and crudely seamed but I think it would be what a soldier would have to do if he could not get army issue,

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Uncooperative Tension Arm on my AVL

AVL's tension is nice when it works but I can't seem to get this right. I've tried less weight, tightening cords, etc. etc., and the arm just drops on top of the tension disk. It seems to weave OK but I don't think it is good for that weight to ride on the disk,

*Update 2/6 .... Uhh, kind of embarrassing ... uhh ... this warp is rolled on the beam backwards! I am surprised it weaves at all. Thanks for all the help fellow AVL weavers. I don't need to fix it now but it certainly explains why the tension arm was dragging.


Samples can tell you some things but small samples are not very useful for a production item. It is probably a good idea to do a "sample" and then a full-sized "prototype" before you commit time and yarn to a project. So for my Civil War horse blanket project I began with a 12" wide sample of 2/26s wool, sett at 32 epi and picked out at 34 ppi in a 2/2 twill. What's that you say? All weaver's lingo but it really doesn't matter except to me or anyone who wants to attempt the same thing.

I have about another yard to go on my sample. Then I will measure it, weigh it, wet finish it, full it, sew pieces of it together, measure and weigh it again dry. What am I hoping to learn? I need to know how much this wool will shrink and if my sett and pick out are in the ballpark so I can the  attempt the prototype. The blanket has stripes. It will have to be woven in two sections, one section flipped, seamed, washed and fulled. I like challenges. This is a challenge.

Already there are snafus. The 2/26s wool is a mill end so no more of it once it is gone. Each blanket will take 3.5 lbs of wool. I located a mill that has the wool but it is slightly thicker , a 2/20s . The mill has the right colors and you can  reorder. I will need to do another sample with what I can get, then the prototype. The 2/26s sample is not a waste of time. I am learning how my 60" loom weaves. It really is a beautiful yarn to work with.  And yes there is a flaw, 5 threads in one dent, 3 in another, not worth fixing.