Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Wonderful Wrench

One of the best things about this old loom is the suprisingly beautiful multi-wrench that came with it. I imagine many of these got separated from their looms, but not this one:

It is a super handy little tool, and cuts way down on the tools required in order to tinker & adjust things.

I haven't had time to work at the loom at all since my last post, and I expect to be booked well into October with other projects that were on hold while I got the loom going. One good thing about looms is that they will wait. And wait. And still be wonderful when we have time to get back to them.

Friday, September 17, 2010

First Rug on Loom

Here are the results of the first rug experiment:

It'll stay on the loom, since the warp is tensioned & working well. I will probably weave the entire warp and then remove the woven rugs & see how they look.

My 40" fabric tube made a rug that measures about 50" on the loom. With the 39" warp width (about 37" woven), that is a bit short. Especially since it will shrink once it isn't under tension on the loom, and probably further with washing. I would prefer something closer to 60" or even 64". But the length in this case was based on some cloth I had on hand.

You can see the thread repairs hanging down, these will have to be properly finished when the rug comes off the loom.

The structure is plain weave, so the log-cabin style threading pattern shows a little bit. But with these bright colors, it doesn't show much!

I have selected the fabrics for the next experiment, but not begun the process yet.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

More on Old Yarn

Lou pointed out to me that he is still using Maysville carpet warp from the 80's with no problems. He's right, it's a great product and I've never had trouble with it. It's fair to say the problems Ive had with broken threads on this warp could be user error or a storage problem or something like that. I would never hesitate to buy Maysville warp. It's good stuff.
Thanks, Lou for pointing this out, I would not want to be misunderstood on this.

 I have had some cotton yarns that became weak with (great) age, but those were fine yarns & not made by Maysville.

I do wonder if there's a limit on how old a yarn must be before it weakens, but factors like brand, storage, and color (dyes used) would affect the answer.

If anyone has more info on this, please do share it.

Old Yarn

I have had a lot of broken threads on this warp so far. Far more than I would expect. I think it might be the age of the yarn. I think this yarn might be quite old.

Here is a box of yarn that came with the loom:

And here is what the yarn inside looks like:

I haven't used any from this box, but I have used several partially-used spools that came with the loom. Which means the yarn I put on the loom is at least 40 years old. I'm not sure I want to use the stuff in the box, if this is any indication of what to expect. I often use old yarn, I have a lot from the 80's and even a few cones from the 70's, but this yarn is 60's or earlier. Maybe that's the limit for cotton? My older yarns are all wool or linen, and seem to have held up well.

Maysville carpet warp is still made today. The Maysville Guild doesn't exist anymore, as far as I know. They had a newsletter and encouraged members to send in pictures of themselves and their work. Membership was free. I'm not sure where to find the old newsletters, perhaps some are online somewhere.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Selvedge Rollers

Called "Tension Rollers" in the manual, these fit onto the long rod that goes across just under the front beam. They look like this in use:

The device holds the roller itself - like a super-prickly little pine cone - against the underside of the cloth. The teeth on each roller are aimed toward the edge of the cloth, so that it always wants to pull the cloth out to its full width. This prevents draw-in, which can cause edge threads to break from high friction as they pass through the reed in a non-straight line.

These are an alternative to using a temple. You can see a temple in use in this picture, across the cloth that's just been woven:

It's a bar with sharp teeth at each end, you set it to the width you need and it keeps the cloth that wide. But it must be moved up the cloth regularly as you weave.

This is where selvedge rollers have a distinct advantage. They do not need to be moved, they just stay in place as the cloth moves past. Very convenient. They are covered in very sharp little needles, though. I scraped my finger pretty good on one when reaching into a box where it was located, early on in the loom set-up. I have had zero incidents so far while weaving with them, though. And they do seem to work.

Monday, September 6, 2010

First Attempt at a Rag Rug

After trying some experiments, I settled on cutting up some 60" wide polyester fleece fabric bound for charity and seeing how it weaves up.

I used 2 colors, red and violet. I had about 40" of each. I trimmed off the selvedges from both, sewed the 2 fabrics up into a tube, and cut the tube into one long strip, using my Fraser rag cutter. I set the rag cutter blade 1/2" from the guide, but the actual strips came out closer to 5/8" or even 3/4".

At first cutting the rags was difficult, because I was trying to manage the tube. It had to be rolled along in tandem with the cutting, which was a PITA.

Then I got an idea: I arranged the tube like a big twirly skirt, with one end bunched up in the middle, and one end spread out flat all around the perimiter, in a circle. That way I could crank the cutter and keep the whirlpool of fabric turning pretty easily:

Then it was time to get out the cylinder filling machine, which I have heard others call the Pink Pony. Mine is red, and the detailing on my loom is red, but it has faded to pink in one area where it must have been in the sun for many years. So I think the Pink Ponies may all have been red once. Here's mine, along with the box of 12 cylinders and the baton that's used to pack the rags into the cans as you load them:

The strip of rag goes up through an eye bolt ahead of the front pair of wheels, between the 2 wheels, and down through the funnel into a cylinder. You sit on the tiny seat and crank the big wheel, and the rags go remarkably quickly into the cylinder. You have to pack constantly with the baton so the rags will feed well in the shuttle.

Here is a top view while filling the cylinders:

My 40" tube made enough rags to fill 6 1/2 cylinders.

Here is the shuttle with a cylinder (and a different weft rag):

Here is a tin cylinder, showing the seam and the closed bottom:

I wove the first couple of cylinders, and I get about 7" of weaving out of each. The warp is 39" wide. More pics soon.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Poetry in Motion, and Sampling

At last, the video I've been promising! Here is the Weaver's Delight in motion (972 K):

Ain't she a beaut!

I wonder if I'd seen a video like this before I bought the loom, would I have been more intrigued, or more intimidated?

In the end I'm glad I bought it, it's been a blast and it really seems like a versatile loom. After I try some rugs I will then try some fine wool cloth. That will be much later, I put 10 yards of rug warp on!
And here is a little bit of sampling I've been doing:

I wove quite a bit in the twill that the loom came set up to do. Mostly I used brown & blue carpet warp, but also a few rag strips. I know, this is way too dark to really see, more of an "art" shot. Then I changed to plain weave cams.

Here is what the change from the 2/2 twill cams to plain weave cams looks like:

You can see the "bricks" style pattern in the top & middle of the piece, and a more vague vertical stripe pattern, resulting from using the twill cams, below that. That top purple bit is some fuzzy fleece. The blue below it is 8/4 carpet warp, it's narrower than the rags so it results in more of a stripe pattern. The pink/cream stuff below that is some scrap fabric. I sewed 2 panels together to try to get a pick-and-pick alternating weft colors effect. The 2 fabrics are far too close in value for any contrast to show up.