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Visit us in the quaint hamlet of Myrtle Station, ON at: 9585 Baldwin St. N. (905)655-4858
(17.8km north of 401 exit 410. Look for the green house with the red roof a few doors north of the Myrtle Station railroad tracks)

Monday, January 30, 2017

A taste of hand weaving part 6

Part 6 already, time to weave!
Pick a colour from the curated yarn card. There are 4 yards each of 5 colours per card to choose. I encourage you to make such a card with your own stuff, it is a traditional and helpful way to preview colour choice.
Mixed colour, texture and thickness. Choose one you find especially appealing. The horizontal yarn or weft is to be threaded/woven over and under the warp threads with the aid of a weaving needle, or simply your fingers.
Cut a length of the chosen yarn 3 or 4 times the width of the warp, say 20 inches.
Put one end of the yarn through the eye of the weaving needle.
Row 1: Poke the weaving needle (and weft) over one warp thread and under the next, repeat across the warp. This action is called a throw, in weaving. In knitting it would be called a row.
For example; under a light thread, over a dark thread.
Arc the weft yarn as you cross to allow for take up in the fabric 
Push (beat)the line of yarn into place with a table fork.
Pull the weft through the warp to the opposite side, leaving a 2 inch tail.
Row 2: Poke the weaving needle  (and weft) under one warp thread and over the next, that is; the alternate warp threads, repeat across the warp.
For example; over a light thread and under a dark one.
Push (beat)the 2nd line of yarn into place with a table fork,

You can tuck the end tail into this row now or leave it or tuck the ends away after the work is complete. Really though, at this point, don't worry about it, rather focus on the colour and keeping the side (selvage) edges from pulling in.

Repeat row 1 and 2, as much as you like, 
or until the 20 inch length of yarn is used up.
Choose a new length of yarn, repeat the above steps, 
adding more weft lines of colour.
A shed stick can be used to create a larger space for the weft yarn to pass through. Weave such a stick through the warp, just as you did with the needle, then turn it on edge to create a wider opening for the weft.
Navajo weavers use a combination shed stick for and string heddles to help in making the space for the weft to cross through the warp.
and a sturdy wooden comb for beating the weft into place.
Technical Notes:
The warp is between 24 and 30 ends (12 and 15 ends per colour), approximately 8 ends per inch 9 (epi). The active middle part of the warp on the 9 inch card is about 6 inches long , allowing an inch and a half, top and bottom for fringe, and not counting the 9 inch lengths of warp on the back of the card. This also means you can put another warp on the loom using about 7 to 9 yards of warp yarn. I highly recommend a medium weight cotton.

The completed work, off the loom will be about 6 inches in length, about 4 inches wide. Coaster size or keep the work on the loom as an art display.

Lots about finishing in part 7.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

A taste of hand weaving part 5

Time to make the warp for (and on) the loom!
My first weaving teacher, Mrs Bannister of South Landing Craft Centre at that time located in an old hotel on the banks of the Niagara river in Queenston, Ontario, started us young ones out just weaving. Weaving in pattern on a counter balance loom. We made runners for the dresser, I remember following a pattern she called sumac. Then a pattern creating a line of little people, in various dress, made with rug wool in a variation of rosepath. called boundweave. I was enchanted. My hope is that this taste of hand weaving imparts a little of that enchantment to you. My granddaughters sure enjoyed it.
Mrs. Bannister's iron rule for making a warp is:
  • make the warp 
  • all in the one day (or hour)
  • in the same mood 
  • by only one person 
I found through not following the rule once, she was absolutely right. Your hand holds the yarn at a different tension depending on your emotional state, happy or sad, and can cause a slight but troublesome difference in both the weaving 
and the finished product.
Using 2 colours of cotton yarn, light and dark, blue and purple for example, makes understanding the structure of simple weaving easier.
Tie the two colours together with a simple overhand knot and pull them into the top slot of the loom, lump on the back side of the card.
Put each ball of yarn in a box or bowl, allowing the yarn,
 as much as possible to flow freely. 
If you sew by machine you will know how important it is for the sewing thread to flow, the same principle applies here.
Holding the warp threads, keeping one colour to the left and one to the right, continue wrapping, as evenly spaced as possible, with a firm and friendly hand around the loom, until you have 12 to 15 vertical lines of yarn on the loom.
On the last wrap, with the right side of the loom facing, pull the yarn into the bottom slot. Clip the yarn about 2 inches long and tie close to the slit on the back side of the card with a square knot.
If the wraps look too unevenly spaced, skootch the warp threads along the top and bottom so they more to your liking, but no need to fuss too much. As you weave there will be a bit of shifting plus the fabric you are creating 
and the lease sticks will add stability to the warp.
The edges of the mat board are toothy enough to hold the warp in place without making snips in the card all along the top 
as we tried in the former version of the sample loom.
Using one of the 7 inch skewer sticks, weave over one thread and
 under the next all across the warp.
Using the other stick weave under one thread and over the next. 
Push the pair of sticks to the top of the loom. 

The lease sticks that help keep the warp in order. Feel free to slide them down to the last woven row (fell) if you want to check your weaving.

now we are ready to weave, on to part 6!



Friday, January 27, 2017

A taste of hand weaving part 4

Kim uses top quality, sturdy card in her framing practice, and she cut the looms to the 6 inch by 9 inch size using this awesome material. Most of her scrap is double layered. My understanding is that custom framing has a lot of art involved. The needlework that Kim specializes in framing, requires careful and very thoughtful matching with particular layers of colour and texture in order to enhance the needlework. Mats are layered using a special acid free double sided tape.
I used contact cement to double layer mine, and happily avoided the card distortion completely. The small size of the cards made joining the layers really a pleasure. The nature of contact cement usage can make the moment of attachment very exciting as you have one chance to get it right.
The risers were cut from foam and cardboard sandwiches into 1by 6 inch strips.
The borders or margins of the cards are marked in pencil, 3/4 of and inch on the long side, 1/2 inch on the top and bottom. 
Ordinary scissors or wire snips are no match for the mat board. Byron kindly notched the top and bottom (kitty corner) with a fine hack saw.
Due to the thickness of the cotton warp  I changed the sett to 6 epi, marking the inches on the back of the card for clarity when warping/threading.  Another coffee/weaving meeting with Kim and Meagan confirmed the design changes as a great improvement.
I clipped 2 bamboo skewers for each loom into 7 inch lengths and wove them alternately through the warp  to help keep order while weaving. 
On a floor loom these are called lease sticks. The sticks sit at the top of the loom, remaining in the warp during weaving.
Byron fashioned colourful "weaving needles". He drilled a stack of 6 at a time, discarding the top and bottom of the pile because the entry and exit of the drill bit caused them to be rough. I understand this is common practice when drilling a stack. The top and bottom sticks were pretty ragged after drilling so it makes perfect sense to protect the inner sticks.
White glue worked well to complete the looms. Both the mat board and the foam sandwiches are made of very high quality paper, and over such a small surface area resisted distortion. However it is important to bond the risers slowly, over about a 20 minute time period.
Specifically:

  • put  a ribbon of glue on the back of the riser
  • wait 10 minutes
  • place the strips on the mat board just covering the quarter inch mark
  • wait another 10 minutes 
  • clamp the risers in place. I used plastic ruler and binder clip to broaden the pressure
  • lay on a flat surface to dry for 24 hours
  • I was able to do 3 at a time. (because I have 6 rulers and 6 clips)
on to the next batch...
Loom complete and ready to weave. More detail on actually warping coming in part 5

Sunday, January 22, 2017

A taste of hand weaving part 3

What comes first, the chicken or the egg? hmmm.
The first version of our sample loom was made out of the corrugated cardboard
 from nice clean boxes, courtesy of my friend Wendy.
Kim, Meagan and I tested them one frosty Sunday afternoon, each of us accomplished a reasonable sample. We discussed and developed improvements over coffee. Kim is the owner of Kimat Designs, she not only specializing in framing needlework, but is a highly skilled craftsperson in many areas of the art. Her daughter Meagan has taken hand weaving in university.
The loom dimension was good at 6 inches by 9 inches. 
I added a couple of 1 inch strips glued half an inch below the top and bottom edge
 so the vertical strings would be raised up off the base.
Snips were cut 4 per inch across the top and bottom of the cards to help keep the vertical strings in order. I used the classic method of figuring this out by wrapping a 1 inch by 6 inch piece of card for about 3 inches, measuring the number of wraps in the middle part and dividing the result by 2. 
Using DK yarn, the spacing worked out to 8 (doubled) vertical strings to the inch,
 a pair in each notch. We used 2 colours of vertical string to help make
 the over and under structure of simple weaving clearer visually.
Well, white glue softened and distorted the base card, the notches became annoying very quickly and further, the darn card gradually buckled more and more as the weaving progressed. It was lucky for us we were all the persevering type when it comes to craft.
We designed a better version after this experience for you. The next post will feature the new improved loom. We are very pleased with how version 2.1 worked.

In the meantime here are some weaving words for you.

The language of weaving for knitters

Warp: vertical threads
Weft: horizontal threads

Sett: similar to gauge in knitting, number of warp threads to the inch for example 8 ends to the inch is a sett and abbreviated as 8 epi
Shed: the horizontal space where you thread the weft yarn.
Pick: one line of weft yarn,
Picks per inch: The number of weft rows in an inch. Abbreviated as ppi

Tabby: name of the fundamental weave structure - over and under one thread at a time.
Row 1: using the weft thread, go over the (first) warp thread, under the next one - repeat to last warp thread.
Row 2: using the weft thread, go under the edge warp thread and over the next one - repeat to the last warp thread.

Balanced Weave: uniform share of warp and weft  in the fabric - to estimate a balanced weave epi, wind the chosen warp yarn around the shaft of pencil or dowel for a few inches, then measure how many wraps are in only one of the inches and divide that number by half

Weft Faced: Only the weft yarn is visible on the fabric surface.
Warp Faced: Only the warp yarn is visible on the fabric surface.

DK Yarn:22 stitches to 4 inches on a 4 mm needle could have 16 wraps to the inch on the pencil so a sett to try would be 8 epi.
Worsted Weight Yarn: 20 stitches to the inch on a 4.5 mm needle could have 12 wraps to the inch so a sett to try would be 6 epi

Twill: a more complex weave with many variations. Your blue jeans are typically a woven twill because it is a fabric with built in stretch.

Shuttle: carries (throws) an amount of weft yarn through the shed of the warp
Shed stick: a long smooth flat stick that helps create a clear shed for the shuttle
Reed or comb: separates and places the weft after a throw.

Extra tips:
Be sure to keep an eye on the vertical edges of your fabric as you weave, they should be nice and straight.

When you add a row of weft, arc the yarn to allow for take up, and then push (beat)it into place above the previous row (shot).

Some people add an extra thread to either edge (or a floating selvage) for added stability.