Posts tagged ‘loom’

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.

Everything is working fine with the loom, I’ve decided to weave one long strip of fabric and cut it apart for the coasters. The sari silk yarn is very textured, which tends to make the selvedges a little messy. In general, it’s weaving ok although once in a while I have to stop and untwist a snarl. It’s still a single. I’m using a stick shuttle (the only thing I have that will hold enough thick yarn) and doing a very narrow fabric, so I end up fiddling with the weft every pick anyway. I think for a wider fabric, I’d skein and set the twist again under high tension before weaving with it to reduce the tendency to snarl.

So with my first project on the loom, I can tell you one thing I’m not doing again is using all twelve harnesses for plain weave. I did it just to make sure everything was working correctly and get a feel for threading. But every shed is lifting six harnesses, along with all those extra heddles. That’s pretty heavy for no good reason.

The heddles are back on, I decided to only put 150 per harness because I had them already counted out in groups of 50. If I need more than 1800 heddles for something, I think I can go back and put them on. I think it will be a while before I get to that.

Of course, as soon as I got everything together, I had to warp something. That’s what I’ve been doing instead of updating the website. I had just enough on a tube of carpet warp to match some sari silk yarn. I’m planning to do some coasters, if it turns out well I’ll give a set to the guy I got the yarn from. He’s a local, and I’ve helped him out at a few shows.

And, now that the camera is better behaved, I have a picture!

It’s huge. After working with this, I know I’ve been correct all these years in turning down offers of 60 inch looms. This one is quite enough, thank you. Even trying to reach through twelve harnesses to thread the thing is entertaining. And to think I was looking for a 36 inch, 4 harness.

There are a few things to work out in the warping procedure, the first is to find some way to lock the beater in place for sleying. Trying to wrestle with yarn and sley hook while the reed keeps moving is no fun. My other Leclerc had this problem as well, I don’t know why there isn’t some standard way of dealing with it. And there is also the same old problem of getting wire heddles to move around when you want them. I can see I’m going to have to undo the clips that hold the heddle bars in place every time I thread this thing. Otherwise the heddles won’t move. Even after I tied on to the back, I was still trying to get the heddles in place so the warp lies straight. Fortunately, undoing the top clip is enough. I’d never get the bottom ones back on after threading.

So I have 2088 heddles. That’s enough to do the full width of the loom at about 18 ends per cm or 46 per inch. I think that will keep me busy for a while. Now I just have to get them all back on.

This afternoon I started back on getting the loom ready and got quite a lot done. All the major pieces are assembled and the next thing is to deal with the heddles. So I’m counting to determine how many I have and how to distribute them on the harnesses. So far, I’ve found that I’m missing one wing nut (for the treadle assembly) and I could use a couple more tie-up cords (to attach the treadles to harnesses and create patterns.) Nothing major. I decided to not put a rug under the loom so I can get the dust mop in there for cleaning. There are rubber pads on the bottom to protect the floor and I’ll likely pull out a small rug or two while warping to catch dropped items. I still have to think about how to protect the wall and floor from over-zealous shuttle throws. At least it’s not right next to a window this time (and the wall directly to one side is bead board, not plaster.)

This loom is about as large as I think I am capable of handling, as I can barely reach across the full weaving width. As it is, I have to fold the back beam in two stages because I can’t reach both ends of the adjustable braces at once. If I ever attach the second back beam, that is going to be a real problem. Related to that is that this thing is very heavy. I had to adjust the position a few times and it’s a big pain to move once it’s all together. Before I got the front beam assembly attached, it was threatening to fall over whenever I unfolded the back beam.

One thing I’m going to have to get used to is the loose front and back beams. My previous loom was securely attached and on this one they are loosely fitted on pegs. It’s nice for working around the loom, but it also means if you grab the beam it’s going to come away in your hand. This very nearly sent the whole back crashing down on several occasions. When it’s fully open and there is a warp on it, it’s not going anywhere of course. But if it’s folded, that could create a major disaster.

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