Sunday, March 23, 2014

How I spent my Winter Vacation

Above is a view from our other house in Northern Michigan.  We go there to decompress.  The date is March 16th 2014.  The snow imprints are from a local snowmobile and local deer.  The flat building on the right of the photo is the garage.   

The house is on a hill and the view is to the North into the down town area.  

Below is a view out the kitchen door to the East.  The snow from the roof slid off and collected at the bottom of the porch steps.  Later in the week it was warm enough for the remaining snow to melt and it caused a canyon in the snow bank at the bottom of the steps.
 My personal project for this vacation time was to complete warping the loom I purchased last fall.  The reed is 45" 12 dent.  It was used for rugs, then sold to the woman I bought it from.  She was not able to use it because the size was beyond what her new knees would allow.  This is quite a jump from my table top loom and I have been working on this set up since it was brought up North in pieces in the back of Larry's Escape.

In November it was put together in the other basement room and then it had to be semi-dismantled because it would not fit through the door into this craft room. Before we left that weekend a coat of Danish rubbing oil was applied.

The December visit was all about family and Christmas.  There was no time for the block of time this instrument requires to bring it to life.

I found midpoint between the New Year and Memorial Day.  This was how the most perfect block of time was set up to get this loom up and running.
 My favored method to warp a loom is front to back.  It took 2 days to pull the warp through the reed.  Then I removed the back beam, straddled the edge of the chair, leaned over the towel padded warp reel pegs, pulled the yarns through their assigned heddles and then tied them in bundles of 12 to the bar of the warp wheel.  Eventually the back beam will be replace and the warp will wrap over the back beam to the reel. 

This is where that 7 am Saturday yoga class earned it's purpose in my schedule.
This goal of this project is to try out this loom and to use up the 4 ply re-purposed acrylic yarn from the hand crocheted valances this house came with.  To augment the yarn supply was yarn from resale shops. 

This provided a variety of white to eggshell in color and surprisingly, a range of thickness, even though all was/is 4 ply. 

My weaving room was once the workroom for the house  just off the laundry room.  It took a couple hours with a claw hammer and screwdriver to remove years of workbench pegs and holders, a fresh coat of white paint and a couple coats of marine varnish on the work bench to make it mine. This was done a year ago.

I needed a couple more shuttles and was able to make them up using small round curtain rods, a piece of corrugated cardboard and some designer duct tape.
This is the front of the loom with the warp ready to run through the reed and heddles with the help of a hair pic to loosen the yarn and any kinks that may become knots.


A tug on the warp and moving up of tensioner sticks.  Note the rust on the reed.  This became a problem.


I love the yarn lined up perfectly as above.

I also love the organized tumbling of the loosely chained warp falling from the front beam.


The next step was to tie up the ends to the front warp beam.  3 locations were used, much like attaching lug nuts to a car wheel. In this case, the two ends and a center point.   I added a few bundles to each area then rotated to the next area.  Duct tape was used to hold the end bundles onto the dowel.




The warp was tightened and the treadles were set up for a 4 harness 'u' weaving that will result in a tabby weave.  It will open to twice the size of the reed.  The result will be a woven blanket to fit a king sized bed.  45 + 45 = 90" - 10% for take up = 81" total.

I'm not completely sure this is the right treadle set up for the result I am trying to achieve.  One treadle is not being used and I ran out of bolts to keep it in line.  For now it is laying on the floor.

Back and front of loom ready to weave.


Now for the surprise.  The 4 ply yarn easily pulled through the reed.  Take '400+' 4 ply knitting yarn warps on a reed and add the tension of each.  It took multiple pulls to bring the reed to the front beam and multiple pulls to push the reed back to the heddles.

I called my girlfriend Clara for the phone number FiberWood Studio in Milwaukee [414-302-1849] to see if I could procure a larger dent reed.  This should allow the yarn to easily pull through the reed.  Larry was going to join me the next day and if she had the 45" # 10 dent he would be able to pick it up for me and bring it with him.  FiberWood Studio had a 12 dent, but the larger 10 dent would have to be ordered. 

Weaving will have to wait for another trip.

I rotated the loom and placed it against the wall until my return.

 
Extra yarn was purchased at local re-sale shops in 4 ply acrylic.  Some of it was re-purposed from an earlier project and over stretched when wound onto a ball.  Some of it was dusty from storage.  I rewound the yarn into hanks and washed it in HOT SOAPY water on delicate to remove dust and loosen the yarn.  It was hung to dry on the warping board.  Better go through this extra step now, than have it shrink with the first wash once it is woven.

I find it visually more appealing than 1970s paneling.