Sunday, March 31, 2013

Tying on a new warp

I thought I'd show a photo journal of tying a new warp on to an old one.  Many times I hear weavers say they tried and its too slow.  It will be slow the first few times but like anything you get faster with practice.  Another cry is how awful to pull your threads through all those heddles.  Well I've done it with merino, mohair, even singles cashmere and put white paper underneath the heddles to catch any fibre fall - none.  What I have noticed is the strain on the threads in the heddles when a shed is opened whilst weaving.  Every time you open a shed the threads are strained even if only slightly.  Today I realised how often the shuttle passes over the threads on the shuttle race.  My brain couldn't work out the average number of passes but its lots, especially without an automatic advance.

This is my way of tying on a new warp, it works for me.
So before I cut off my woven cloth I put two rows of tabby of contrasting colour in the warp near the reed, that is, a cross.
 I do the same with the new warp, I secure the cross with contrasting thread.  I find this easier to work with than leash sticks.
 Then I take one thread from the old warp and one thread from the new and tie an overhand knot, in this case 542 times passing the knotted threads to the side out of the way.
 One can see when the wrong thread has been picked up as the cross threads twist over themselves.  If they aren't sliding smoothly along the cross some thing's wrong.
 And in the end we have an organised bird nest.  Organised because every thread is in order on top of the last and still under control because the crosses are still in.
 I then find the choke tie nearest the cross threads, usually 1.5 to 2 metres from the ends now knotted.  Starting with the last chain tied I gently pull and flap from the choke tie until the threads straighten.  I never comb the warp with comb or fingers.
 And here we are ready to ease the knots through the reed and heddles.
 As I started to pull the threads on to the back beam I remembered reading this from Cally Booker and went looking for my dress stand and tripped over the warp reel on the way!  Bingo, the extra tension of moving over the rail and under the beam (which is pretty mobile) was enough to get the warp on without squeezing myself from back to front of loom and pulling.
 Can't resist the row of straight knots.  If the last cloth was cut off straight and all the knots are about the same size then they pretty much have to be straight.  This is the fourth warp I've tied on to this particular threading.
 And weaving has begun.
This is a wrap for a bride; my daughter's friend is marrying at the end of April so she may or may not need extra warmth.  The warp is bamboo and the weft is silk.
This pic is for Agnes who helped me get my selvedges straight.

Saturday, March 9, 2013


This has been a week of form filling and I'm not good at it.  What I want to say never fits with what "they" think I should say.

First it was a nationwide census which usually happens every 4 years but it was delayed due to the Christchurch earth quakes so its been 6 years.  They always ask about smoking.  I admit I'm an ex-smoker.  Had my last puff, well take the age of my daughter plus 9 months, you figure it.  I could never have stopped on my own volition; it was the baby did it I tell you.  Even now if standing near someone smoking I find myself breathing deeply.  Its hard to stop smoking.  But do they ask questions like how many fat laden take away meals did you have this week or when was the last time you moved further than the couch to the fridge.
And the one that really gets me is nationality.  I'm fifth generation New Zealander but my choices are New Zealand European or Other!  Are Canadians or Australians given this European tag or Other in their own country?

Then there were forms for the Creative Fibre fashion parade due in Wellington on Monday.  Size (in cm) got me lost.  Which part do I measure - bust - its dolman sleeve or the body it should fit!  And we won't mention No. of items.  I think I stuffed that up too.

Then I had to file financial statements with the government.  Do you think I could get them attached from a spread sheet to a file to their site, I fiddled for more than an hour.  I was determined.  In the end it took 2 minutes to print them and fill out the form by hand and they can store half a tree for the next seven years.

I guess that's why I can never fill out a planning sheet for weaving projects; I'll just keep doing it my way.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Professional Weavers Network Seminar

Whew five days of fibre heaven.  Five days when people didn't roll their eyes at the mention of twill or epi or 'look at this fabric'.  Five days of fibre conversation, learning, exploring.

I've often been green, envious green, of fibre get togethers like Convergence, Complex Weavers, Stitches, Vogue Knitting but this would have been a close tie.  We stayed at Raincliff Youth Camp and Conference Centre about 20 minutes inland from Geraldine.  The food was superb, too much even, but too tastie to turn down.  Now the waist bands are a bit tight!

This time, rather than getting speakers in, we had discussion groups among ourselves like "exploring weave structures" and "what threads are available on the NZ market".  One evening Brian Molyneaux a NZ fashion designer originally from Britain, spoke to us on, what else, designing fashion.  He brought a rack of garments which were wonderful to see from original sketched idea to completion.  If he had one thing to offer it was - study fashion books.  We spend so much time in the preparation of our product; spinning yarn, dyeing, weaving it then miss the gift of the last process and create "an old grey woollie".  Well some do.  Brian has selected at several Creative Fibre events so he would have seen the end result.

We spent one day in Geraldine visiting
 Maggie Sewell's alpaca farm.  These girls are so cute, pretending not to give a bother that twenty women are watching through the fence at them but aware of every movement.  Then they starting spitting at each other, just a bit, then ...
and I can't remember if it was this one or not but one turned around back on, lifted its tail and passed wind.  I'll swear it was deliberate.  Don't you like the white whiskers on the black one.  A bit of damage to the plastic here, alpaca/silk, hmmm can't resist.  After lunch a visit to a lace museum was fascinating.

One day we had a session on using our camera and photographing fabric.  Who would have known, you can take it out of AUTO.  Just kidding, I knew but never did!  Here we are Tony ...
into landscape and I changed the exposure though probably not enough.  Taken through a dirty plane window the hills between Wellington and Manawatu.  Anyway the shadows remind me of shibori.  I didn't get to see the spectacular mountains of the central plateau, they must have been on the other side of the plane.

Having spent a lot of time at Seminar on book work attending my duties as secretary/treasurer (re-elected), I couldn't face more books when I got home so wove a blanket before settling in and getting things sorted.  Nearly up to date so took a few hours off after going to town for the banking to visit a friend at Whiritoa beach and look what she'd been up to before I arrived.
I'll have to go back to see what she does with these glorious colours.

I can't let this day pass without saying its the first day of autumn, 30 degrees C and I had my fourth swim of the season and that's double the usual average.