Beth Smith

And More Weaving

I have been spinning too. I promise. But I wanted to tell you about this thing that I did.

Last week Sara Lamb came over – from California. It’s all because I am/was not a confident weaver. I have giant plans for some testing of handspun yarns but it would require many woven and knitted samples. I need confidence to pull it off.

In my limited experience (6-8 projects over 5 years) it took a long time to wind warps and thread heddles and wind the thing on and then weave it off. Discouraging. Then the people would say I needed to sample. I see the point in sampling. I think it is hugely important. My thought, however, about the sampling on a loom was that if I had to sample for a project before beginning then my one project a year would take even longer.

All of these thoughts and feeling were expressed to my friend and weaving boss, Sara Lamb. Sara is straight forward and blunt. I don’t have a direct quote from her but I can read between the lines and the basic message of what she told me was don’t be a baby. So I bought her a plane ticket and prepared myself for 5 days of hard work.

Sara had plans for me.

We also invited Lynn who wanted to get some of Sara’s dyeing tips along with weaving advice. If you check out Sara’s blog you can see that the color is everywhere and she dyes a lot of it herself. Lynn dyed a LOT of yarn. Silk, wool, cotton. Deep colors. It was a lovely sight. Alas, I didn’t take any pictures. I was very busy with my assignments.

Before she arrived Sara mentioned 5 warps in 5 days. I was scared. How could I do that when it had taken me weeks and weeks to thread heddles in the past?

We began with an 18 inch warp sett at 20 ends per inch. That’s only 360 ends to thread. More than half the warps had already been made into warp chains and dyed in advance. There was some color designing in the reed. I began with measuring and counting and record keeping at 8AM and had the whole thing done by 4PM. It was kind of exciting. the warp was about 3 yards long and took only about one hour to weave so it took a good 6 hours to thread and wind on the warp before any shuttle throwing began. Notice I didn’t say before any weaving began because the set up is just as important in weaving as the throwing of the shuttle.

The next day was supposed to be 24 ends per inch but I wound too many threads so day 2 was 30 ends per inch. The set up took about an hour longer…it was also because the warp was 3 inches wider than the 18 inches it was supposed to be. I was having some thread counting issues. But by 5PM it was done and cut off the loom.

Day 3 i was back to 24 epi. This went very smoothly and byt the end of the day I had 3 different fabrics made from the same yarns, just different setts. I am going to hem these and make kitchen towels out of them to see which fabric I like best for that use.

this photo is from left to right 20 epi, 24 epi and 30 epi:

Day 4 was a little more challenging. The other projects had been 8/2 cotton. This one was using 10/2 cotton, so a little finer, a little wider for a shawl with a few cotton boucle threads thrown in once in a while for a textural interest and a test for the next project. I sett this one at 30 epi and 22 inches wide. The four yard warps were wound that morning and the threading began. I was finished before 6 PM. My speed and efficiency was improving. Even though it was taking about the same length of time, the number of threads were increasing each time.

this photo is of Sara looking proud of her student. Before the twisted fringe and washing of the fabric:


All of these warps were set up for a 2/2 twill which is just basic twill on 4 shafts. Much of the weaving was just tabby weave which is also called plain weave.

In addition to the speed improvements, my weaving was better, more even, more consistent selvedges.

In the midst of all of this, I had wound an 8 yard warp of silk. The silk would be 18 inches wide and sett at 40 ends per inch with a silk boucle thread thrown in at uneven intervals. The purpose for this would be a lovely kimono for me. I took half the warps and painted them with pale shades of tangerine and pink. The color is extremely subtle but adds just enough. It is just what I wanted to do but didn’t know how. Sara to the rescue again.

This warp took six hours for one person to thread and two hours for 3 people to wind on. The winding took that long for two reasons. One is that I didn’t keep the warp chains intact as well as I should have and so there was some tangling. In addition, the silk is a bit less twisted than it could be which means it is a bit fuzzy and the threads get attached to each other and need to be worked apart little by little. But by 8PM it was done!

This is the beginning of the silk where I was doing a bit of sampling to see if twill would work. I loved the twill in the smooth silk but it covered the boucle texture so plain weave it is:

Sara and Lynn went home the next day and I began to weave. The fabric is lovely. I have become comfortable with fixing broken threads that happened during the winding on. There are about 6 of them throughout the warp and so far 3 have been repaired as well as a boucle thread that broke during weaving. I had never fixed a broken thread correctly before and now I’m not afraid anymore.

Bring on the big projects! (As if 8 yards of silk isn’t big.)

If you’ve been wanting to weave, Schacht is having a great promotion right now. Here’s what Jane Patrick has to say:

We’d like to extend our special Convergence offers to all of our dealers, whether you’re vending at Convergence or not. All offers are valid on orders placed between today and July 31st.


Standard Floor Loom Convergence Special:

Free Loom Bench and up to $150 shipping allowance.


Cranbrook Loom Special:

$250 shipping allowance on all Cranbrook Looms.


Baby Wolf and Mighty Wolf Special Drawing:

For all Baby Wolf and Mighty Wolf Looms ordered between today and July 31st, you can enter your customer in a special drawing. The winner will receive a free weaving starter kit. Included are: 14 yard warping board, BW/MW stroller, Wolf Trap, a single ended hand winder, regular 11” boat shuttle, and 1 bag of 4” bobbins.  We will need the name of your customers for the drawing by August 1st so that we can include them in the drawing.

Let me know if you are interested in hearing more.

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