Archive for August, 2006

Dear eBay Weaving Equipment Seller:

If you do not know enough about your product to identify it correctly, please do not try to impress me with it’s fine condition and original vintage detail. While I agree the wood does appear to be in an excellent state, not only is your industrial fly shuttle not an “Antique Weaving Loom,” it is not even functional, having lost all its metal hardware.

I suggest you study the numerous industrial fly shuttles posted by many of your eBay compatriots and compare them with the item you have on offer. I further encourage to take note of how many modern weavers actually buy ancient mill shuttles with no pirns available and consider re-listing yours in a more appropriate category such as Antiques.


A Weaver

No spinning this week, because I’ve been weaving. I started a project of several bags woven as a tube, so as something of a swatch I’ve used the same yarn to weave the narrow shoulder strap. It’s way firmer than the finished fabric should be, but will give me an idea of how reasonable my guess at the sett is.

One thing about weaving narrow fabric on a big floor loom is it’s very easy to beat it too firmly. You have all that weight against almost no resistance. In this case, it’s what I want. I’ve set the warp for the strap very closely, the recommend sett for 5/2 cotton is 12-18 ends per inch and I’ve got it at 24. That means I have to beat the hell out of it to get enough weft in so it’s close to the same wefts per inch as the warp. With the mass of a 45 inch reed against 4 cm of fabric, this is no problem. I tried a sample at 16 epi just to see what happened and I could barely see the warp. I’ll probably try the wider piece at 18 and see how it goes. I can always fix it if it’s really horrible. Re-sleying the reed to change the sett after you’ve finished warping is tedious, but not all that complicated.

The bigger problem of a narrow band on the big loom is managing the warp tension. I used a knitting needle instead of the big steel apron rod to tie on, and with it only attached to the cloth apron in three places it tends to shift around. This is not good, as every time it moves it changes my warp tension. The warp is only tied to the rod in two places, so if one bundle slides one way the other half goes the other. It was ok as long as the rod was buried in the roll of warp, but once all the protective paper came off I just had it sitting there. Every time I advanced the warp, I had to fiddle with it. I finished a shuttle of weft with about 40 cm to go and decided it wasn’t worth winding another.

Today we went off to the fair, to have a look around and get a picture of my yarn in the display case. Fortunately there is more than one digital camera in the household.

Skein of yarn and ribbon: First Place San Mateo County Fair

My friend predicted I’d get a blue ribbon and I did. I’m not personally all that motivated by winning, so I had to be convinced to enter. It is another way to explore further what judging yarn means, so I can learn something there. (I won’t get the comments, if any, until after the fair ends.) Perhaps somebody will be inspired to explore traditional yarns as a result, and that is a good thing.

There was a group of spinners demonstrating in front of the yarn and weaving display, one turned out to be a yarn judge. I asked her about how they evaluated the entries and the judges were looking specifically for technical skill. I’ve talked to many people about entering their yarns in competition and have heard several stories of seemingly random results, so this is encouraging. It isn’t that I don’t care at all about creative visual design (let’s just say it isn’t high on my list) but I do think that some people don’t look past it to consider structure. It is the structure that interests me, and that is best seen by starting with even and consistent yarn. Such that apparently there was some discussion about whether on not my skein was actually spun by hand.

I get this comment once in a while, it’s still always weird when I do. (People ask me all the time where I buy my clothes, you would think I’d get used to it.) Some spinners believe one shouldn’t worry too much about making fine and even yarn because irregularities give it “character.” If they wanted even spinning, they would buy it already made. I actually don’t consider if yarn is machine or hand spun when evaluating it’s qualities, only that it has certain characteristics. Handspun yarn tends to have particular ones and machine spun others. It’s all still yarn. It’s the whole subject of what is “good” yarn where I get bogged down in the sea of opinions and personal preferences.

I just spent the week at a conference where talk about threads and fiber had nothing to do with textiles. Aside from getting a bit of knitting done while waiting for things, nothing of note happened this week to talk about here. But there is some to catch up with, as I had to drop everything to get ready.

I pulled the sari silk fabric off the loom and it immediately twisted up. (Not shown in the non-image, above.) High-twist singles will do that, enough that sometimes a fabric just refuses to lie flat no matter what you do. (Narrow stuff is worse: less mass, less inertia, nothing to keep it in place. Wide fabrics may only curl at the corners.) I was able to mostly get this one under control by ironing, but it took a bit. I’m reconsidering my previous idea of cutting it apart for coasters, when it gets wet it will just curl up again. I suppose I could mount the pieces on sheets of cork, but covering up the back side makes it less of a weaving sample. So off it goes to the Textile Aging Vault while I contemplate.

While I was busy, my package of mystery weaving yarn arrived. I wasn’t able to pick it up from the mailbox until today. I bought 25 pounds of 8/2 mill end cotton, stuff that is generally used in industry for lightweight sweater knits. Some of the yarns are even waxed, a dead giveaway that it’s for machine knitting. I was able to include general color suggestions, so I’m fairly happy with the results but some is a bit odd. I asked for natural, white or pastels and specifically requested no orange. I hate orange, it makes me have nightmares about bad Halloween parties. I got a good amount of bleached white, several pastels and a dusty medium blue. There were other darker neutrals I’m not too thrilled about, like a really strange brown-green, but still colors that can be overdyed darker.

And then there was the large cone of that wonderfully subtle shade generally known as OSHA Orange. We’re talking serious highway safety here, my personal nightmare yarn color. The kind that makes people ask if they can use your deer cooler. I have absolutely no idea what I could do with this, the only things that immediately come to mind are hunting gag gifts and that’s a lot of work for a joke. The only dye that would cover up this monstrosity would be black. Maybe.

While we are on the subject of pictures, there were some other things on the camera once I got everything off. Here is the yarn I sent off to the San Mateo County Fair:

I didn’t even measure it, it’s somewhere around 100 g I’d guess. I think it’s a nice medium-ish sock yarn size and it’s good and solid. One thing I don’t like about the yarn I bought is I keep splitting it with the needle. Here’s the swatch:

Yes, that’s a roll of coins there. I say it was a teeny tiny hat, remember? I did it on 2.25 mm (US 1) needles. I like how that worked, so I expect I’ll do the actual projects on that size also. I even got a second matching circular needle for the occasion.

With all the excitement going on with the loom, I haven’t done any spinning the past few days. I have to prep more fiber first, which I’m not so excited about at the moment. I’m also doing some computer stuff, which is why these past few entries didn’t get posted right away.

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