Tuesday, March 29, 2011

29 March: Two very different woven bands

Filled with enthusiasm from the weekend workshop, I have  been weaving a couple of bands on my backstrap with rigid heddle.

First was a wide plain woven band, using some very textured early spinning, to see how wide a band the heddle would make. It came out 2.5 to 3 inches wide (variable tension control!), and 69 inches long.

Then one in finer yarns, crochet threads, in one of the patterns in Sue Foulkes' book about Sami band weaving; this is a pattern that looks good on both sides. This one is 47 inches long and 0.75 inches wide.

Here they are -

And Happy Birthday brother!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

27 March: Workshop

Yesterday I went to a Guild workshop taught by Sue Foulkes, one of our SDW Guild members. She is a highly skilled weaver who has researched bands woven by the Sami peoples of Scandinavia, and produced a little book. This workshop is based on her book.

It was an excellent workshop, even for those of us who had already made bands in this style. It was remarked at the end of the day how quiet we'd been (most unusual!), but that was because we were all concentrating and/or being challenged.

Sue also showed us some slides of a trip to Sweden, and was most generous with materials, expertise, and attention.

Here's some of what I brought home -

The blue and white band had 5 pattern threads and 3 designs, the red and blue one had 9 pattern threads, and only 1 and a half pattern repeats.

Now I'm off to the garage to look for some bits of wood to make a clamp for my backstrap like Sue's.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

23 March: More spring creatures

This morning I watched a wren in the back garden, busily checking for insects in most of the usual places, plus a few more unusual (the potted pine tree for one).

And the bumble bee I saw yesterday was again floating round the hellebores and the comfrey, which has just started to flower. The comfrey is a favourite of the wren too, as there are lots of little spiders on it.

Monday, March 21, 2011

21 March: Lambs

Out for one of our favourite local walks, we saw lots of lambs. This group included a couple of darker ones.

Back at home, the bathroom smells of sheep (Eau de Ewe?), as I've been spinning some BFL tops, and the skeins have been washed and are hanging up to dry.

Friday, March 11, 2011

11 March: It'll be all right when it's pressed

That's what my mother used to say when her dress-making looked a bit rough and ready.  And it works for inkles too.

The light-bulb moment the other day was to make a bag to carry my collection of backstrap stuff in - the bag itself being made of inkles. The inkle strips sewn together looked very lumpy and uneven, but a few minutes with the steam iron resulted in a thick and even fabric.

A quick walk to the shops for a zip and a bit of ribbon  (to cover the raw edges inside), and hours of sewing, and here's the finished item with some of the kit to go in it -

And here it is with all that stuff inside. It's 22' long and 10.5" deep. I used inkles I had already made, 4 altogether, which were cut into 11 strips.  The zigzag inkle is just about long enough to go all the way round and make handles, and the zip pull is made with part of the band made the other day on my double hole rigid heddle (the other bit has been made into a bowsling for my recurve bow).

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

9 March: Another rigid heddle

This rigid heddle is made from a heddle intended for an Ashford Knitter's Loom - a 40 cm heddle cut in half. This gives the facility to use up to 59 threads, and the large holes will allow thick or lumpy (sorry, textured) threads to pass through.

This time I measured the warp before weaving, then measured the finished band and the amount of waste at each end. The chosen pattern was a simple 5 pattern thread design, but this time with rather more fancy borders. 57 threads altogether, came out just over 2 inches wide.

The advantage of the rigid heddles over the inkle loom is that you can start warping in the middle, and then add borders afterwards, and it's much easier to change threads when warping than on the inkle loom.  Plus, of course, the length can be anything you want, as long as you can keep the warp tidy. On the down side, tension is more variable, and wastage is more.

There's quite a few pieces added to the backstrap kit now, and the original bag is not big enough for them all. The need for a larger bag could be tied in with the large number of woven bands hanging over the cupboard door. Perhaps another light-bulb moment?

Sunday, March 06, 2011

6 March: Tape loom

Back with the weaving again.  The semi-rigid heddle was a good experiment, but I wanted to explore more options with the rigid heddle and backstrap arrangement.

Here's the first band in progress on my hew double hole rigid heddle -

Rather rough to begin with, but I'm getting the hang of the tension and rhythm. I can tell myself the unevenness is partly down to the handspun wool yarn, and the varied colours of the yarn that makes up the pattern threads. 

(And of course, there are also some mistakes in the weaving.)