This rag rag was always intended to be a test. It was the first time I used warp from my big cone of 8/4 cotton rug warp, a first time using a temple (stretcher), a first time finishing a rug with a turned edge and a first time weaving with a rose path threading.
The hemmed ends are a first
- Don’t keep threading after you start feeling tired. You will regret it when you find yourself rethreading the following day.
- Measure twice, cut once. I was two warp threads short. The problem was easily solved with a new length of warp and some washers for weights, but I had to think about how to solve it.
- Using a temple is well worthwhile. No draw in visible this time.
- It’s worth the time sewing strips together for the weft but this only worked well for me with the main pattern 1 1/2 inch strips. The sewn joins on the narrower 1cm strips that I used for the hemmed edges pulled apart under tension.
- Worn out sheets make excellent weft strips. This rug has a combination of worn fabrics (old sheets and shirts) and new fabrics (the dark blue is a remnant and the brown is a never used bed skirt from the op shop.) The worn fabrics packed in better and were less rigid in the finished mat.
- Don’t be frightened to make up your own design. Magazines and books are great but so are your pencil, your calculator and your mind. One of the reasons I bought the huge mill end spool of cotton rug warp was so I could experiment freely without worrying about wasting expensive rug warp.
The rose path threading yielded sections with patterns that remind me of the beach. It’s a lot less formal a look than I had in mind but I like the unstructured look. Having said that, the rose path border patterns I tried to achieve were a total bust. I don’t know what went wrong and I’m keen to try again.
I plan to have a crack at dying the warp next. I like the yellow, but I also like variety.
Once again, Summer School at the Handweavers and Spinners Guild of Victoria was a great learning experience and a highlight of my summer.
Don’t you love the colours? Yarn from Velieris
This year’s theme was Summer and Winter. I got going early with dressing my loom, using a supplied warp that had three (?) crosses in it. The early start was a good thing as I found that (more) rust had developed on the metal bars that hold the heddles. I’m sure those bars have a name. Don’t know what the name is, though. If you do, leave a comment.
The rust looked unattractive and stopped me moving the heddles easily. Tinkerer gave some furniture wax to treat the bars with and that helped. Now all I need is some way to clean up the reed, which is also a bit rusty.
The rug yarn was a beautiful colour and quality, tightly plied and perfect for the task. It came to me via a beautiful act, a random act of kindness from my fellow blogger over at Reduce reuse recycle who was given the rug yarn samples by Velieris. She didn’t have a use for rug yarn and offered it to me, even bringing it around to my home on a hot day when there were crazy roadworks in my area. Thank you cheliamoose.
Before class I wove a heading and had a play with a pattern. It wasn’t looking right and it took me embarrassingly long to work out I should be weaving with two shuttles. This picture from Nutfield Weaver helped.
I’ll post pictures of my class samples when I’ve cut them off the loom. I might also show you my loom transport solution and the fold up loom table that Tinkerer made for me.
This post was edited on 12 September 2015 to remove references to payment methods after Petlins got in touch and requested an amendment. I have also removed references to the context in which I made the visit, which was in the beginning of 2014. This post represents my impressions and opinions on that one visit. You will see from the comments that Petlins is a highly regarded supplier, one I understand is valued by many Australian weavers.
A trip to Sydney gave me the opportunity to visit Petlins, one of a handful of suppliers of weaving yarns and looms in Australia. They are located in the Sydney suburb of Rhodes, near the former Olympic village, easily reached by train.
If you visit the Petlins web site you may make the observation that it’s not super easy to use and that it’s a little dated in terms of page design. They have a wide product range and I can testify that the ordering process works well and your goods arrive quickly. Delivery costs are reasonable, fixed at $10 per order, with delivery within Australia only.
The owners (Peter and Linda, I believe) were polite though busy. Linda was happy to help me select a suitable warp for my rug-making while Peter busied himself with preparing some orders for despatch.
The store was little more than a storage area and the displays were …. hmm….let’s say functional. The cottolin was displayed on shelves comprised of polystyrene boxes – quite a contrast to the mouth-watering display of the same product at a specialist yarn supply in a regional town in Sweden. Demand for weaving products would be much higher in Sweden and the Swedish shop I’m thinking of was in the main shopping area in town, so the comparison is unfair.
Both Peter and Linda are weavers and there was a lovely krokbragt rug on the floor. Linda told me she had once done a course with Peter Collingwood, the famous maker who literally wrote the book on rug weaving.
A visit to Petlins is worth it if you want some advice or want to see their products in real life, otherwise, their mail order service is an excellent alternative.
I came away with a couple of reels of Canadian linen rug warp (the Swedish was too expensive for my budget) and another 500g of 8/2 cotton. Linda was quick to point me in the direction of a more reasonably priced warp yarn after I gasped at the price of the Swedish yarn and she was generous with encouragement and suggestions on how to use it. I also accomplished what I set out to – I visited the bricks and mortar store and can report back. The photos were taken with permission.
We have just returned from a vacation in Bangkok, designed as a break from the pressures of work and the cold of winter.
We arrived on the national holiday to celebrate the birthday of HM Queen Sirikit, a strong supporter of textile crafts. Her Majesty is regarded as the mother of the nation, so conveniently her birthday is also treated as Mothers’ Day. It makes the holiday seem so much less commercial.
Sales of textiles from the provinces were held in major shopping centres to celebrate the event and to allow the Thai people (and tourists) to support the craft-based initiatives that HM the Queen supports herself. I came away with a haul of handwoven towels and a handwoven scarf.
We also went to a display of silk waving using the Isaan technique, known also by its Indonesian name, Ikat.We had spotted the display as a coming event in the weekend section of the English language Bangkok Post newspaper which gave the location as the Thailand Cultural Centre, MTR underground station exits 2 and 3. So we went to that station, exited at exit 2 and went looking for the Thailand Cultural Centre building. After much searching up and down the road we failed to find that building and returned into the station to try the other exits. It turns out the display was being held within the station itself.
There was only one loom working, but we got to see the precision of the weft tying, which was done on a wooden frame.
Tying the Weft in Preparation for Dying
I need to research this some more but I assume the cloth must be a standard width and the tying frame designed to exactly align to that width, or the pattern would be all over the place. It really is quite miraculous and no doubt reflects hundreds of years of trial and error. After tying and dying the weft, the pattern makes itself. Here’s some of the cloth on the loom.
Isaan cloth on the loom
This picture shows the weaving in progress.
Here you can see the coloured weft
The loom itself was quite simple, with just two shafts, but what more do you need when you have a technique that creates such a beautiful fabric with plain weave.
I borrowed Learn to Weave by Anne Field from a Melbourne library and I am impressed. I wish I had had this book when I did my first learn to weave class because it is particularly specific and useful. It covered a few basic items I wondered about at the time such as how to join weft threads. It also described different shuttles and what uses each is best for, something I don’t recall seeing in other beginners’ books. The projects step you through the weaving a plain weave scarf, adding patterns in a set of place mats, and some lovely dish towels, plus some wearable projects. I’m personally less enthusiastic about the garments, though I’m impressed at how quickly the concept of double weave is introduced, as part of a wrap project. The projects are very well described and give you the specifics of the materials, to the level of how many grams of each yarn you require. There’s a lot to learn from those details as a new weaver. Sadly, Anne Field passed away a few years ago. She had a fine reputation as a spinner, weaver, teacher and author and was greatly admired. I plan to buy this book.
Jean Williams, who blogs as Jean Weaves was kind enough to leave a comment on my blog post about inkle weaving. It’s great to have guidance from a more experienced weaver. Thank you Jean, for suggesting I try working with some smooth cotton instead of sticky linen.
The photo to the left shows the progress I’ve made since my first experiment.
I heeded Jean’s advice and took myself off to my least favourite yarn store, Spotlight, to buy some cotton yarn. Spotlight being Spotlight the best I could find was 50% cotton 50% acrylic, but they had a 30% off promotion running, bringing the cost of my next experiment down to single digits.
The other thing I did was check in with the inkle lady at the Handweavers and Spinners Guild weaving open day a couple of weeks ago. The event was a huge success, drawing all manner of people off the street to come in and have a go at weaving on the range of looms they had set up. Good on the organisers for having the passion and drive to try an open day. I hope they felt the planning effort was justified.
Here are the results of my latest efforts. The blue toned one is the Spotlight yarn, the pink one is made using crochet cotton.
Crochet cotton, top garment weight cotton and acrylic blend, bottom.
Next step, pick up.
Posted in inkle loom
I bought an inkle loom at the Handweavers and Spinners Guild Textile Bazaar a year or so back and at some later stage I got my hands on a copy of Inkle Weaving by Lavinia Bradley. It’s not a bad book but it could be improved by taking a detailed step by step approach to key elements such as warping the loom.
I decided that this morning would be a good time to have a play. The power was out at home so it was a perfect time to sit down by the window and try an off-grid experiment.
First I made my leashes – single loop string heddles, made by making a circle between two of the pins on the inkle loom and tying them off with a knot. I used surgeon’s knot rather than a reef knot and an ashamed to report that my knot work was so poor that one of my leashes came apart in the first 15 minutes.
For the warp I used a linen that was uneven in thickness. It wasn’t a great choice and for my next attempt I’ll probably grab some cotton or wool, something that’s a bit thicker than the linen. I found that the sheds were hard to open as the linen was a bit slubby. The knots on my leashes didn’t help either and I should have placed them out of the way.
Next time try a thicker warp
I tried three wefts, a very fine one cotton one, a slightly thicker cotton one and then a thicker woolen one. This was the only weft that gave an even remotely satisfactory result.
It was a good start and I learned a lot. With a different warp and weft selection I’m hoping the result of my next experiment will be at least be usable.
The inkle loom is simple technology, and easy to learn, but mastery clearly takes more than a couple of hours. That’s a lesson I have to re-learn frequently.