Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Look out! It's a bat!!!

OK, relax. He just wants to wish everyone a wickedly Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Honeysuckle's Last Blooms

Just as summer was giving way to autumn, I took the last pieces of Honeysuckle Twill variations off my studio loom. I had written about this project in a post early last month. The warp was a lustrous 10/2 Tencel yarn in natural. The neutral base allowed me to play with any color I wanted, but I decided to work with "flowery" colors for the most part.

Three of these pieces were breadcloths, using 5/2 perle cotton as the weft and a pretty straightforward twill treadling. Here are two of them.

One of my favorite weft pairings for Tencel is 8/2 unmercerized cotton. The resulting fabric is a nice blend of the two yarns. The Tencel gives a bit of sheen and a drapey (but not slithery) hand to the cloth. The cotton contributes cushy softness and adds absorbency. This blue towel is woven with the 8/2 unmercerized cotton using a satin tie-up.

For the final piece of this warp, I used a balanced twill tie-up. A balanced tie-up is one in which the number of warp threads rising is equal to the number of warp threads remaining down, so that neither the warp or weft is dominating on the face of the cloth. Again the wefts were 8/2 unmercerized cotton. I used a delicate salmon and light apricot - a final nod to the lighter palette of early summer.

I haven't quite settled on my next project for this loom but weaving these last few Honeysuckle fabrics was a fitting way to bring my summer weaving to a close.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Raddled, Beamed, Knotted, Weaving!

This post is a follow-up to the previous one. During the past week I made some headway in getting all those miles of warp threads onto my loom. On Wednesday I spread the warp in the raddle at the top of my loom, being careful to keep the colors in their correct order.

My Louet Megado loom has an excellent built-in raddle on its castle, as do all of the Louet looms. A raddle is a device which keeps the warp threads in their proper places and helps distribute them evenly on the warp beam.

Once the warp was arranged in the raddle, I attached it to a dowel rod which I then lashed to the warp beam and carefully wound the 15 yard warp onto the warp beam. (I know, I know, these terms sound like something out of Star Trek, but, hey, weavers have been warping, beaming and throwing shuttles long before Gene Roddenberry was even born!) The photo below shows the warp coming down from the raddle, over the back beam, and finally wound nice and snug on the warp beam below. Spreading the warp in the raddle and then beaming it on took two hours.

The next step was to tie each warp thread to the corresponding thread of the old warp which was still on the loom. I plan to use the same threading as I used in my Owls towels, so tying the new warp onto the old saved the step of threading the heddles (the vertical white nylon items in the next photo.) I used square knots to tie each of the 520 new threads to the 520 old threads. I estimated I could tie about 100 knots in a half an hour, so that's another two and one half hours of prep time - and a lot of square knots!

It was late Friday afternoon when all the knots were tied and the old warp was pulled forward to the front of the loom. It in turn pulled the new warp through the heddles, through the reed, and all the way to the front of the loom. At that point I was able to cut off the old warp and tie the new warp ends on to a rod attached to the cloth beam. (The woven fabric is rolled onto the cloth beam where it remains until the weaver unrolls it and cuts it off.) This step took another hour. I didn't take photos of this process because the anticipation was too great! After all that preparation, I just had to get the warp tied up and begin weaving. So... that's exactly what I did.

As luck would have it, Saturday was a grey old day, perfect for staying inside and tossing my shuttle back and forth at my loom. Here's a look at the cloth so far. The weft for the first piece is 8/2 gold tencel. My inspiration for this fabric was an autumn sunset in our woods.

Now that the loom is dressed again, I can look forward to many happy weaving hours. I haven't yet added up the time spent in preparation. I'm sure it will sound like a lot of time and trouble to non-weavers, but for weavers, it's all part of the process. And as the saying goes ... You have to be warped to weave!