December 30th, 2016

A year of weaving

A year ago, I ordered my Saori loom and decided to try and learn to weave properly. I decided it was about time I had a look back at what I’ve played with over the last year.

These first two scarves were done on the Ashford knitter’s loom while waiting for the Saori loom to arrive. Two skeins of Wollmeise and a little handspun. One sett at 10 epi, the other at 12.5

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Then the Saori loom arrived, woohoo! I immediately threaded the pre-wound warp that came with it, and wove and sewed this:

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As soon as that was off the loom, I put the 4 harness kit on, and immediately put another warp on for a twill gamp and some tea towels, and started weaving. I did a little on it in March and April, and then it sat. And sat. I don’t really know why I didn’t work on it, I was busy with other things and of course dealing with health stuff, but that’s not really the reason, I guess I just didn’t feel motivated. Whatever the reason, I didn’t touch the loom again until November, when I took off the twill gamp:

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And a couple of teatowels:

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Once that was finished with, my motivation returned, and I tried out waffle weave on a set of facecloths:

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Then tried some twill with a fine warp and heavy weft to make these teatowels and an apron. I really like the fabric this makes, and it weaves up so fast. (oh, and there’s a waffle weave cloth there that was the end of the warp, it uses the same threading as for the twill, just a different tie up)

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Then I decided to try something a little harder. A scarf in a fine yarn with a more complicated draft, which I made a little harder by adding borders and short top and bottom sections. While at the time it seemed to be slow going, it was still hundreds of times faster than knitting a scarf in fine yarn:

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Next up was another more complicated draft, my first attempt at overshot. I did enough to make a couple of project bags:

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I then went for something simpler and faster, a scarf from sock yarn scraps

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Working with sock yarn made me want to use some of my lovely Wollmeise stash, so I then wove this very simple wrap using WM as the warp, and a laceweight wool as the weft:

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Finally, I decided I wanted to make a towel for my hair. Having hip-length hair means I need to use a bath sheet sized towel to dry it, but regular terrycloth towels are so bulky and heavy they fall off at the slightest movement, and hurt my neck. So I decided to weave something much thinner. However the loom is only 60cm wide, so I needed to learn how to do doubleweave. It wasn’t actually that hard to figure out, and I made a towel that works perfectly. The fabric at the fold line is a little dense, but you can’t really tell from a distance:

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Oh, and it seemed a shame to waste the end of that warp, so I wove a warp faced teatowel:

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Phew! that is 2016 in weaving. For 2017 I already have planned a couple of long yardage projects for making clothing, and I want to try crackle and some more overshot.

February 25th, 2016

First Saori piece

My WX60 arrived! I ordered it from The Saori Shed in Diss, which fortunately for me is only 20 minutes down the road. It’s in a really nice building and is a fun place to visit and try out Saori weaving for a couple of hours…which is what I did the summer before last, and why I decided to get one of these looms! Unfortunately I wasn’t feeling well when it arrived, but my mum is awesome and went to pick it up for me.

Out of the box it looked like this:

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Putting the other bits on wasn’t hard, the instructions were pretty clear. I can’t actually remember everything I did, but I think it was just putting in the back warp roller, the harnesses and reed, the shelf, and the bobbin winder. I just needed a screwdriver for the shelf, and a hammer for the bobbin winder. Nice and simple. And because it came ready warped, it wasn’t long at all before it was ready to go!

And yes, my helpful helper also likes helping with weaving:

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The warp that came with it was 6 metres x 150 threads of black cotton. This is 30cm wide on the loom. I figured with that much fabric I should be able to make a garment, so I picked a bunch of coordinating colours and got to weaving.

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The initial plan was the grey non superwash coned yarn, and some teal leftover sock yarn. Then I decided it needed a bit of magenta, so found some sock yarn in that shade, and also shoved in some bits of merino fibre I had in teals blues and purple. There’s also a teeny bit of leftover handspun in grey and teal in there.

The final fabric off the loom was 5.15 metres long. And very hard to photograph on a windy day.

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After wet finishing, the fabric was about 26 x 475cm. I say ‘about’ because my selvedges weren’t especially neat, so the width varied a little, and the length was very hard to measure cos it was so long!

After a lot of sketching and calculating, I figured out the easiest way to make it into a top. Unfortunately there wasn’t enough fabric for a hood, but I still love it.

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And because someone asked how I made the pattern, here’s the basic info:

Each piece was zig zagged on both sides of the cut line before being cut, all sewn seams were somewhere between the width of my sewing machine foot and the 10mm guide, depending on how neat my selvedges were. Seams were ironed open between each stage of sewing.

I cut 4 pieces 40cm long, which I then sewed together into a tube for the body.

The remaining length was folded almost in half, with one side a couple of cm longer than the other, and cut. This gave me 2 pieces approximately the same as my arm span.

The longer piece was again cut in half.

The raw edges of this last cut were folded under and stitched to finish the front neck opening.

These two pieces were then joined to the body tube making sure the V was centered. The back strip was joined in the same way, making sure it was all lined up. The top sleeve seam was sewed, leaving a gap 5” either side of the centre for the neck hole. Finally the underarm seams were sewn.

Then I went round and folded under and sewed all remaining raw edges…the collar, the sleeves, and the bottom hem, and folded in and sewed the corners of the top front slit to give the neckline a shape I liked.

It took me about 3 weeks to weave the fabric, and less than 3 hours to sew it. I’m not 100% sure I like the big baggy sleeves, I may well taper them if I find the extra fabric gets in the way, but that’s an easy change to make.

And pretty much as soon as that was off the loom, I was planning the next thing. I did this!

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Yup, my loom now has 4 harnesses. Adding the extra 2 harnesses was a lot simpler than I expected, but I needed help, partly because there was a screw that was too tight that I couldn’t undo, and partly because it’s a lot easier to hammer a cap onto the end of a rod with someone else holding the far end of the rod to stop it shifting rather than having to do it all myself. Still, it didn’t take long to do.

Then I figured out the easiest way to wind a warp while sitting down:

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368 ends, and while I did need to take breaks cos my arm got tired, it’s way less tiring than direct warping the rigid heddle on top of the table. Although of course, now I have to actually thread all that onto the loom.

January 20th, 2016

Preparing for loom arrival!

So provided nothing horrible happens between here and Japan, my loom should be here within the next couple of weeks. I sorted all my ravelry stash and added the colour tags so I can easily sort by colour to remember what yarns I have in various colour families. While doing so, I realised that I don’t have very much cotton at all, pretty much only a load of dishcloth cotton, which is wonderful and makes awesome squishy teatowels, but is fairly limiting as it’s rather fat. So I hunted around the internet for some cheaper cottons for practicing 4 shaft patterns with. I ended up buying this surprise mixed box from yeoman yarns. 4 kilos of cotton for £30 including delivery!

They allow you to have some input in what you get, so I said it was for weaving so I’d prefer mostly finer weights, and that I like natural colours and bright jewel colours, please no pastels.

This is what the postman brought me!

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It is all unlabelled, so I have no idea what it is, and many of the items are mill ends or otherwise unrepeatable, so it’s not a great thing to buy if you want to know exactly what you’re getting and be able to order more, but for learning purposes without spending a lot of money, it’s perfect, and I’m really impressed with the great value for money.

In closer detail:
random small cones given as freebie
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bright red. very fine. 2 ply, approx 44 wpi, 2 cones, 282g each including cone
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raspberry, purple, green, and beige. 2 ply yarn cabled (2 x 2ply) approx 515g including cone, 30wpi
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natural, about fingering weight, 22 wpi, 3 ply, 595g including cone
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turquoise, 4 ply, 18 wpi 553 g including cone
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natural, singles, thin with thicker slubs, 515g including cone, 30wpi
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I also got bored of reading and thinking about weaving, so decided to actually DO some. I got my rigid heddle out with a couple of skeins of wollmeise (campari orange and herzblut), a ball of my very first handspun in coordinating colours for texture, and made these two scarves:

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Fingers crossed the saori loom gets here soon, and that it’s not too hard to assemble, then I’ll be doing all sorts of twills and other fun things soon!

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