As I mentioned in the previous post, yesterday was a snow day. And as I mentioned, half the fun of a snow day for me is thinking of all the things I could choose to do with an extra day off. While my thoughts did head in the direction of clean out the freezer, do laundry, deep clean the kitchen, etc, they also headed in the direction of crafting. I knew I didn’t feel like knitting a sock all day and my hands were sore and cramping. I am no longer willing to put up with “the claw” that Month O’Socks has given me in the past. I considered working on a few outstanding projects on the knitting machine, seriously considered doing some color blending on the drum carder, but in the end decided what I’d really like to do is try my hand at weaving.
A couple years back my aunt gave me a 4 harness table loom. My parents found a way to bring it to me out here on the plane and it has, since then, sat underneath my bed because I just didn’t make purchasing the associated equipment a priority. However, this past Christmas, I asked for those things then proceeded to purchase anything else I had yet to pick up. All I had been waiting for was a good block of time. Time is sometimes very hard to come by. Knowing that the warp would be a learning curve, and knowing that I wanted to finish it in one day, I was waiting for inspiration as well as a day off. And yesterday I had both.
When I finally had decided to learn to use my loom, I found on youtube a serious of videos by an Elizabeth Wagner. They are clear, concise, and broken into small enough pieces that they are easy for me to understand. She even spells out the math involved in a way that doesn’t make my brain hurt. I am sure at some point all of these things will become second nature, but for now I decided to just move through the series of videos with her, watching as I performed each task.
I started with my warping board, adding a cotton/tencel blend I had in my stash. I purchased this from Dyeabolical awhile back but never actually used it. It is a lovely shade of pink, a rich pastel, which is really how I prefer a pastel.
My warping board can take 4 yards but I only needed a bit more than 3 so I planned accordingly.
At this point I got out my loom, dusted it off, and realized it was a little worse for wear after a plane ride and then being stuck under my bed for a couple years. This was actually a good thing. Why? Because I was forced to figure out why it wasn’t working properly, which helped me investigate the mechanics of it, which ultimately is very valuable for me. I tend to be a person who expects things to just work. And when they don’t, I give up and get frustrated, even though just a bit of time spent investigating the problem would make it so I could figure out the fix. I also have a tendency to assume I am not mechanically minded enough to figure out the problem in the first place. This is really not true, it just takes a little bit of patience on my part. Patience I often don’t think I have.
Once I’d got the loom in working order again, I worked through the video on sleying the reed. Which actually went well despite the fact that with my left hand full of the warp and trying to keep it in order, I got a call about potential fraudulent charges on my card and had to work all that out while never putting down the warp. (Thanks again Knitpicks, that’s card #2 you managed to have compromised!)
As an aside, if you have not been made aware yet, knitpicks, and crafts americana group had a huge security breech and if you’ve purchased from them your card could be compromised. Do keep an eye out or get a new card just to be safe. I won’t get into my anger and annoyance with a company who has been anything but forthcoming with their information, but suffice it to say I am very sad that I can no longer give my business to a company that I absolutely loved in the past.
Ok, back to it, sleying the reed. I did it.
The series of videos that I worked with has you work front to back with the warp, so that is how I’ve learned.
She then goes on to explain that since I am working from the back of the loom I needed to thread my heddles backward. Since I didn’t want to bother with anything but a plain weave, I just worked 4-3-2-1 and was done.
For my weft I chose an alpaca handspun single that has been in my stash since the very beginning of my spinning career. I always loved the colors but it didn’t knit into anything particularly wonderful so I just kept frogging it. It does, however, match the pink of the warp perfectly. When I decided I wanted to learn to weave, it was in part because of the desire to know what handspun looked like in a woven item. And while I don’t trust myself to use handspun for a warp yet, I couldn’t see any reason not to use it as the weft.
However, I used some scrap bulkier handspun samples at the very beginning as waste, and I must say, those looked gorgeous too! I am already eager to figure out all the wonderful combinations I could try.
I had a few false starts. I accidentally cut a warp on the end while trying to cut out some weft I wasn’t happy with. I then had to cut another one to make up for the one on the end I cut. I hated my edges at first, and I think it has something to do with not having the tension on the ends as good as tight as they should be. I will work on that for my next project. However, I do think I am starting to get the hang of it now. I’ve got one side where I like the edges and another side where I don’t. But, I am going to continue and chalk it all up to a learning experience. I can’t expect perfection my first go around. (OK, I do expect perfection, but I have to remind myself I am being unreasonable.)
It’s pretty, and I am going to be proud of it no matter how much I hate the right edge.