Sunday, February 22, 2015

Weekend wrap up

One might think that with all the super cold weather, there'd be a surplus of time holed up indoors and therefore more time to spin or weave or knit or whatever.

Yeah, well, one might be mistaken.

If you've got outdoor critters in this weather, you end up outdoors -- in this super cold weather -- for even longer than usual. Cause everything takes twice as long, you know, when you're slogging through snow and breaking through ice. Frozen doors don't just free themselves after all. And don't even get me started on frozen clasps. You know, the ones down at ground level that hold the frozen buckets; the ones that you have to get down on your knees, to cup your hand around, so you can blow on them with your slightly warmer breath, long enough to get them to release so that you can lift out said frozen bucket, so that you can take it in the house to thaw. The house that is now 500 feet away through ridiculously deep snow. Those clasps.

But I digress.

I did weave some this week, just long enough to screw up, not one project, but two. Nothing fatal, I hope, but I can't help but shake my head.

First, after two missed weeks due to car troubles and bad weather, I finally made it to the weaving studio Thursday afternoon. Last time I was there, I had just finished measuring out an alpaca/silk warp for a couple of scarves, but I didn't get farther than that.

This week, I had to keep it short -- just 2 hours -- so that I could get home and start barn chores early.

I got right to work. It helped that none of my buddies were there, so I wasn't distracted. That's right, I was ON.TASK. Good for me. Worked straight through the winding up. This was only my 3rd or 4th warp on a floor loom and the first I managed alone. I didn't have to ask anybody, What do I do next? How do I attach this? Does this go this way or that way? Where does this piece go again? I was proud of myself. And the warp was so, so lovely.

I got it entirely wound on to the back of the loom just as my 2 hours ran out.  No tangling, no skewing, no miscounting. Yep, it was beautiful and I was on a roll. I even remembered to take some pictures.

It took me 24 hours to realize what I'd done wrong. Any weavers out there see it? I have to admit this is the third time I've made this particular mistake. I've got some kind of learning block for this detail.

I forgot to interleave layers of paper with the layers of thread as they wrapped onto the beam. This means, if left unfixed, that the threads will tangle, snag, and come off unevenly as I unwind during the actual weaving. I will be left with no recourse except to shoot myself.

Don't ask me how I know.

Fortunately, I caught this before I started threading the heddles.

So, next week, before I move on to the next step, I will back up and oh-so-carefully unwind the entire 6 yards of threads, slip some paper in, and rewind. Hopefully, I won't destroy the entire organization of the threads in the process. God help me.

The other project I worked on was my horse hair coin purse. This deserves its own post, truly. I feel like I'm reinventing the wheel here and I'd kind of like to write it all down -- if only for my own amusement somewhere down the line.

In the meantime, here are some pictures and some of the twists and turns of the progress.

The purse frame is about 4 inches across. The horse hair (from Licorice's tail) is tied on like a warp. The idea for this method came from a technique called twining. I tied on with an upholstery needle. Well, two actually and broke both of them. Oy. The beads are just to embellish the point of attachment.

Here's the first attempt to twine with a thread of black linen. It was obvious immediately that the hairs are not stiff enough to simply twine the linen through by hand. They fly about and go EVERY.WHICH.WAY.  Oy.

I needed tension.

I tried a couple of things to get tension on the hairs. Almost convinced myself to buy a bead loom to do it, when I remembered I already own a small rigid heddle loom that's got beams at both ends that can be cranked tight. If I could just figure out how to tie the hairs on I thought that might work. I still wasn't thinking weaving, so much as twining. 

After several false starts, I got it all tied on, when I decided that even then, the hairs were too fine and wispy to easily thread the linen through with just a needle.

It doesn't help that my lighting is terrible and my eyes are old and cranky.

So, finally I decided that as long as I was using the rigid heddle loom, I might as well use the rigid heddle. That way at least I could open up a shed (pick up alternating hairs) without needing to see them perfectly clearly. (The heddles are the things that lift the alternating warp threads in the loom so that you can pass the side-to-side weft thread through. You get different patterns in the fabric, by alternating different heddles. The fact that this particular loom is a rigid heddle loom doesn't matter, except to say that it's a very simple device, which I chose, because it's a very simple device. Oy.)

Anyway, I did eventually manage to untie and retie after threading the horse hair through the rigid heddle. It wasn't as hard as I'd expected. By this point, I was no longer thinking twining. I was thinking full on weaving. 

Yet, again, weavers out there notice anything wrong?

As I finished threading the heddle, I realized that I'd tied the purse frame onto the wrong beam if I wanted to actually use the heddle.


Tying it on the loom backwards, means, well, let's just say it's awkward. I'm now stuck with weaving behind the reed instead of in front of it.

Oy again.

I'm not even sure what the full consequences of that will be, but I'm still plowing full steam ahead. The rigid heddle can move relatively freely forwards and backwards (hmmm, it's not rigid in that sense), so my reasoning (apart from baldfaced denial and laziness) is that I really only have to weave about 3-4 inches of fabric and I've already invested HOURS of time getting to this point.

So, I'm going to run with it. At the very least, I'm bound to learn something else new about how these things work and what not to do when working with horse hair. :)

And that was how I spent my time indoors this very, very, cold and snowy week of February.

Oy. :)


  1. All that weaving stuff....your on your own there:). The clasps though....get it working then spray wd45 down into the mechanisim, it keeps them working in frigid temps.

    1. Oh, sweet. I think I can do that. ;) Thanks.

  2. Oy! (in a good, way over my head, but I am impressed sort of way)