Thursday, August 27, 2015

Bowerbird Weaves

I could choose to start off with an apology about how long it's been since I've updated, but as I can't even bring myself to check and see when that last post was published, let's just skip that part.

I decided to start blogging again, or at least give it attempt, because I have something new and exciting in my crafting life, and I thought it would be a fun and interesting exercise to document my learning process.  The new and exciting thing is a loom:

A little while ago the little voice in the back of my head that was no doubt planted there close to a decade ago by Syne Mitchell, and her weaverly wisdom and enthusiasm, started getting louder.  At first I thought to myself that there isn't space in this house to put a "real" loom.  Then I started thinking about table looms.  Then I created some search notifications on Craiglist, just in case anyone local to me was selling a loom for a price I could afford.  A couple of weeks ago I saw an ad for the loom that now sits in my basement.  It was tempting, but I didn't think I was ready, didn't think I had the space, and didn't think I could justify the expense.  Then I made a list of languishing crafting tools I could sell.  Then I measured our basement.  Then I hemmed and hawed a whole lot.  Then I bought the loom.  A beautiful Harrisville Designs 36" 4 shaft, 6 treadle floor loom, delivered by a lovely local couple who had been hauling it around for demonstrations before they decided they didn't need a 36" loom for demonstrations. 

I was a little hesitant to buy "only" a 4 shaft loom, because I feared that I would have shaft envy if I didn't buy an 8 shaft loom.  You know me (or maybe not), and how I love to delve into the technical details of my hobbies.  But the lovely people in the Warped Weavers group on Ravelry helped me realize that I can do so much with a 4 shaft loom, and if I ever feel I need to upgrade, I can do that.  I am very excited about the 36" width, because it gives me so many options of things to make. 

I asked lots and lots of questions in the Warped Weavers group, and then started reading Deborah Chandler's Learning to Weave, which is extremely detailed and clear, and gives me a lot of confidence that I can do this.  The unknown can be scarier than the complicated known.  This book is from the local library, and was signed by Ms. Chandler, herself!

How cool is that!

I am not very far in, but am pacing myself so as to not get too overwhelmed.  I have read as far as front-to-back warping, which is the method I plan to try for now.  The instructions are 30 pages.  

THIRTY pages.  But these are the kinds of instructions you just wish you had for every complicated thing you've ever had to do.  The length does not obfuscate, but is exactly what's needed to make every detail as clear as possible.  I'm so excited to try this out, after my warping board and yarn arrive. 

I do have some prep to do in the meantime.  I need to put on a new brake cord, which I think should be easy enough, though I'm not sure exactly how long it should be, or how much the exact length matters.  I have the old, frayed one for reference, anyway. 

One thing I've learned about weavers from the research I've been doing is that they love hardware stores and homemade tools and solutions.  Of course, getting a length of rope from the hardware store to make a brake cord (or a lifetime supply of brake cords, as seems to be the case here) does not seem that revolutionary.  That's where you go for rope, right?  But I really liked the idea to get cheap Venetian blinds to cut apart and use for warp separators.  Especially after I saw the price.  While I know that one day I might want real wooden sticks for this purpose, those seem to cost $1.50 - $2 per slat, and you need a lot of them.  These blinds from Home Depot cost $2.97.  That is not a typo.  They cost lest than the nylon rope I bought for the brake.  I just need to cut them off and I'm ready to go!

I think that's all on weaving for now.  I hope that I'll be able to warp next week, and will try to get some photos for another blog post about that.  I am starting off by doing the beginner exercises in Deborah Chandler's book, but have already bought a draft (that's the weaving version of a pattern) for some beautiful cotton dishtowels.  This is going to be so much fun.

Oh, and I still knit and spin.  Here's (a pretty terrible, pre-finishing) photo of some yarn I just made!  It's merino blended with mohair, and I think it would make a great weaving weft. 

Yes, I am starting to look at all my yarn with renewed interest.  I don't know that all of it is suitable for weaving, and I don't have an enormous yarn collection.  But there are some things here and there that may make it onto that loom. 



Anonymous Jessimuhka said...

I think those blinds are the same ones we have in our apartment. They should be easy to take apart, since raising/lowering them 5-7 times seems to do it. ;)

Glad to see you posting again, this looks super cool.

8/27/2015 9:33 PM  
Blogger Misty said...

Congrats on your purchase! I did not know you could set up Craigslist to notify you of listings like that!

I have a rigid heddle loom and also feel like it made me look at my yarn, and all yarn, with new eyes. The weaving groups on Ravelry are extremely awesome and helpful.

There is a floor loom class on Craftsy that might be worth considering. Best of luck to you!

8/28/2015 1:28 PM  
Anonymous Michael Isabell said...

Good evening. Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog about my temple "fix" on my Oxaback Lilla. I, too, started out with a 36" Harrisville! My daughter in law has it now. After buying my Lilla, I later purchased a 24" Ashford Table Loom with stand. I find I have been working more on it the past few years than the Lilla, mainly because we moved and I didn't realize just how large of a yarn stash I had until I began gathering it all together! I have been using what I had and have been weaving many scarves.
About my make shift temple......I like having the metal bar further from the weaving, which I feel gives a more horizontal pull being further away rather than a somewhat angled pull. Perhaps it is all in my head though. ;)
Thanks again for the comment! Happy weaving!

11/19/2015 7:33 PM  

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