Learning skills

I’m continuing to weave the bamboo sock-yarn stole.  I’m feeling like it’s taking forever at the moment, but I’ve just had a careful look at the back roller, and there are just two sheets of paper still on there, and I’ve taken three sheets out, so I’m more than half way there!  There’s little point in posting another picture of progress though – as it basically looks the same as the last one!

In the process of weaving over the last couple of days I’ve had to solve a couple of problems:

The first problem was a knot in my warp.  I hadn’t noticed it as I was warping up the loom, but as I worked this knot became visible.  I wasn’t sure what to do.  Should the knot be left in the work, should I attempt to fix it, or should I fix the end after completing the weaving?  In the end the weaving told me what to do: fix the end as it has now broken!

I fixed it using a temporary weighted warp end – as per the instructions in Anne Field’s book.  She suggested a table fork as a weight – I grabbed a dessert spoon and found that worked very well (and comes in a very convenient shape for tying to a length of yarn).

The second problem related to the winding on of the finished work onto the front beam.  I’ve found that the design of the loom (with plastic rods holding the front apron bar to the front beam) and the slight differences in the width of my weaving as I work; mean that I’m getting different tensions on the warp ends as I wind the work onto the front roller (with a noticeable difference in the ends at the salvage).  I’m not sure how much difference this really makes, but I found a simple solution.  I used the paper that had just come off the back roller and rolled it in with the work as I wound onto the front roller!  For my next project I’ll make sure I’ve got an extra sheet of paper to do this for the initial winding on.  At the moment it’s making the work look much neater so I’ll see what difference it makes as weaving progresses.

And all this problem solving?  It’s developing my weaving skills and moving me beyond being a beginner weaver!

Weaving

A very long time ago I put a lovely pink/purple/blue bamboo sock yarn onto my 16” rigid heddle loom.  I wove a header and tried other yarns as wefts.  I moved. Twice.  The loom was played with by my young daughter.  The ratchet for the top roller got knocked (more than once) and the warp got a bit messy.

I attempted to fix this, but the warp was still a bit uneven.

Last night I unwound the warp (a bit), winding it onto the front roller.  I found some more lining paper, cut it to size and re-wound the warp back onto the back roller.  I then unwove(!) all my attempts at weaving, just leaving the header.  I then wove a bit more header (discovering, in the process, that I liked the play of colour with that yarn doubled, and will be revisiting it for a future project).  I then started with some new yarn as the weft, and committed myself to this new weft by completing the hemstitching.

weaving

Today (after taking this picture) I added some bands of Leno to help show off the warp.  I’m not sure it was quite the look I had imagined.  However, it’ll be nice to get a (hopefully) usable stole, and to get this warp off the loom as I have lots of other projects I’d like to start!

Finishing yarn

Saturday was spent in good creative company, where I treadled and counted and plied up all of this:

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The orange is spindle spun and is noticeably finer than the pink and purple which was spun longdraw on my Ashford traditional.  These yarns were from Shetland tops dyed by me using food colour.

I love the transformation process from fibre to finished yarn.  My singles had been sitting for a long time before being plied, which meant that the twist had “set”.  This means that the singles were not too active (uncontrollably twisty) when plying.  However, if you want to test the freshly plied yarn is balanced, then it’ll kink back on itself even if it’s perfect!

The trick is to either make a sample at the time of spinning the singles, or take a length of the set singles, fold it back, tie a knot then soak the sample in water to reset the twist.  Usually, however, I’m afraid I just look at the plying and guess.  If I’ve guessed incorrectly, I can always put the yarn through the wheel again, either adding or subtracting twist as necessary.

After winding the yarn into skeins and adding ties, the skeins scrunched up into an uncontrollable mess!  Fear not.  A soak in cool water to thoroughly wet the yarn, remove from the water and squeeze out the excess, and there you have it – a beautifully balanced skein (or three)!

For my fellow crafters, who saw my innovative Lazy Kate from knitting needles, for the spindle cobs:  In future I will be adding a wrap of paper round the spindle before I start spinning.  This will aid the sliding of yarn from the spindle to the knitting needle and prevent the catching of yarn on the wrong side of the needle which does make unwinding the wraps near the centre more tricky!