Monday, November 01, 2010

On Weaving

I bought a beautiful used floor loom this spring, with lots of extras, most of which are still foreign objects to me. We loaded it on the back of the truck and moved it 5 hours south to Georgia, where it has resided comfortably in my crap, er, craft room. It made a beautiful spot to hang my half-finished quilts on, and the bench served to hold the many items I would drop off to the room while cleaning. After spending a few days with my Ohio cousin, Gee (hard G) who happens to be a prolific rug weaver, I decided it was timeto get busy and find a new spot for my quilts. And maybe learn to warp the loom. For all of youwho think weaving is a peaceful, almost spiritual past time, please stop reading now.
For the rest of you, let's dive in. Okay, so I know next to nothing about weaving. I do own a rigid heddle loom, on which I made exactly one scarf before loaning it to my friend, Lisa, who has been busy making all sorts of items on it. She's an overachiever. Given my lack of weaving knowledge, I dug through my books to find Deb Chandler's Learn to Weave. I didn't want to rush things, so I spent about a week reading the first two lessons in bed at night. Once I decided I could understand what she was talking about, I waited about a week to make sure it sank in. The first thing was to check out the loom. Luckily, in Ms. Chandler's book, she demonstrates on my exact loom - a Schacht 4 harness, 6 treadle floor loom (and yes, I had to learn what those things meant!) I wondered why my loom was so compact, until I figured out that the guys had folded it up to travel. Doh. Needless to say, it took me quite a while to get everything looking like the book.
Next step: warping.
Good name for it, trust me. With the loom I received this warping board, so named because you wind your fiber around and around and around it before you take it off to put it on the loom, and your brain is seriously warped by this time. If I had been smart, I would have stopped right there. It just doesn't seem right to have to take a lot of time to wind yarn on this behemouth and then just have to take it off, veerrryyy carefully. It also involves careful counting, or not so careful counting. Next time I'll turn the tv off so I don't have to recount 65 times. I worked my way through the lesson, but I really didn't take the time to count ends per inch (epi for those in the know) or to make sure I was really ready. She says to use contrasting fiber in a certain weight to warp for the first time. Well, I didn't have any black or white, so I used what I had on hand. Orange and Purple. Clemson colors. And as it turns out, I spaced my fiber too far apart, but of course I wouldn't know that 'til later. And naturally it wasn't the correct weight. Weaving guilds all over the world are blacklisting me as you read this.
My back was broken by the time I finished sleying the reed and threading heddles (technical jargon, doncha know). It took me way too long to figure out how to work the back beam and get everything tied up. In fact, it took me more than 2 tries to get the apron set up correctly to roll the right way on the back beam. sigh. The cloth beam was no easier. sigh again. I finally got
everything set up and lo and behold, I threaded wrong. Weavers, you know what I mean. It's like finally being able to fit into that little slinky black dress to your class reunion and then finding out you're pregnant with twins. I was not about to take it all out, so I snipped two heddles with tin snips and put them on the right shaft and re-threaded. Voila! Crafty, huh?
I let the dang thing sit for a week, until yesterday, because I had had enough, and it needed to learn a lesson in patience. Well, one of us did - better it than me.
I started weaving a plain weave yesterday, and quickly became aware that although it looked neat and orderly, I couldn't see any of the warp. Who cares, right? I was weaving!! After a few inches, I decided to advance the warp. Uh-oh, Houson, we have a problem. Yep, I had the cloth beam tied so that by advancing it, I was actually loosening it. Oh. My. Goodness. I was Pissed, with a capital P. But I fixed it (there might have been gin and Sprite involved at this point), retied the lark's head knots and continued. I started a twill pattern, and STILL I couldn't see my warp. Reading, reading, reading, page turning, picture looking . . . turns out that by leaving a heddle undone every two spaces and using the same (thin) sized weft as warp, you aren't going to get the same results as the book. Stupid book. Stupid, stupid book. After all this all I wanted to do was knit something, fast, and leave the weaving to the experts. So I've got to use up this warp before I can start something else. Then again, why waste my time? I think I'll just cut it off and start all over.
Because I'm not proud, I'm going to show you what I've done so far. And Gee, you can stop laughing now.


Beverly said...

Not all is lost. You learned something in the process. Hope things go smoother next time around.

Marie said...

Well, I'M impressed. Really.

Anonymous said...

That's waaay better looking than anything I could weave! I look forward to convincing you to make me a rug or something.