Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Stringing the loom part 2

So last time I left off I had just strung the yarn through the reed, which is a part of the beating apparatus!

Next is to string it through all the heddles!  This part is by far the most difficult for me.  On my loom, it does not fold up in any way so there's no way for me to sit on either side and string the yarn through them, it's simply too far.  Neither the front or back beam is removable, and since it's a 40" loom the castle is too far inside for me to sit on either side.

My last option is to get somewhere inside of the loom to string it.  I tried standing in front, between the castle and the fabric beam, but it was a tight fit and I had to lean down every time to string a heddle and it was really hurting my back.  Next I tried kneeling in the same spot, but after I rather embarrassingly got stuck (thank god I got out on my own, that would have been awful to call for help) it was clear that was not working either.

What I've been doing now is standing inside the back of the loom, between the warp beam and the castle.  It's not ideal, since the beam has lots of wooden pegs poking out of it on all sides, so it's constantly poking me while I'm trying to do it, but at least it works!

Since there were only 52 ends this time it was super fast and easy, only took me about a half an hour to do.  It gets difficult to do when there's more than 100, I have to take breaks. 

After they're all strung through I tie them onto a beam in the back and tie that onto the warp beam.  At this point I don't have to worry about the tension being even at all.

I'm never quite clear on how it happens since everything seems so even when I put everything on the warping board.  But then it all gets so messy!  I just comb it out with my fingers to try and keep it from getting tangled.

This is the warp once it's all wrapped onto the beam!  The pegs make it so that I don't have to (can't?) put anything to keep the layers separate, but I don't have to worry too much about the tension anyways since I never make a warp too terribly long.

I do this on my own and don't have any help.  Usually this is a two person job, but I got a book from the library and have been using the technique from that to wind the warp on.  I don't put any pressure on the threads, and wrap it around once.  Ever wrap I go around to the back and grab handfuls of yarn and pull as hard as I can on them.  This doesn't do much the first turn, but after that it helps pull all of the yarns taut and even, and they usually stay fairly even.  It's not perfectly ideal, but again I said my warps aren't usually very long anyways, not usually more than 200", and even then I can even everything out between projects.

This is the yarns tied to a beam in the front!  This is the part where it's important for me to tie them all on with the same tension.  My loom has a really nice length of fabric that reaches up and over the breast beam, so I don't have to worry about tying anything on!

Now it's ready for weaving!  Unfortunately I am dumb.  I love yarn so much, but I don't always choose it based on what would be good for weaving.  My usual yarn selection process is "oh that's a pretty color, yeah I'm buying that!" followed by "Is it on sale (y/n)?".  This yarn that I'm using is a single ply, which is very much not ideal for weaving.

Do not be fooled, it will cause me great distress to weave with, but I did it anyways.  It will work, but not well.  You can also see how fuzzy it is, which as you can imagine can cause even more problems when I have to repeatedly push and pull the beater back and forth over it, many, many times while weaving.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Stringing my loom, part 1

I don't think I'm good enough at this to do any kind of tutorial about it, but I thought it might be nice to show some progress shots of how it usually goes!

I finished the throw blanket project that I had been working on, so I started on this new one!  I had already made the warp, and it's long enough for three scarves.  I usually string my loom front to back, since I don't usually have anyone around to help me, and I can usually manage on my own that way.  If you string it from the back you need someone to hold the yarns while you wind them on.

You usually only use lease sticks when stringing from the back, but I use them since they make me feel less worried about losing the cross.

The cross, as ever, important!

This is how I set the yarn up, with the lease sticks hanging off of the beam, and the lump of chained yarn sitting on the pedals.

I tie the beater to the castle so that it will hang just in the right place for me to reach over it and pull the strings through!  So, I also know how crappy those clamps look on the beater... I bought a 6 dent reed since I was pretty sure sizes were quite standard.  Unfortunately the measurement was off by about half an inch!  So it kept wanting to pop out of the beater, I actually pinched my hand pretty bad trying to get it to work, it was bleeding x(

My solution was to take the screws out, let the top bar slip down a little and clamp it in place since obviously there's no screw hole there.  It works just fine, even if it sure doesn't look right!

Here's the yarn all strung through the reed!  There were so few ends this time, it was practically a pleasure!  There were only 52 ends, and I strung it so that it's 5epi, so every five gaps I would skip one, since it's a 6 dent reed.

Anyways, I'll show you the rest tomorrow!

Monday, February 27, 2012


So I didn't post yesterday, and I have no excuse besides the fact that I forgot, doh!

I have this huge bag of alpaca fur that I bought off of Etsy from a rescue farm, and it was significantly larger than I was anticipating!  The listing didn't have a full photo, and all it said was that it would be more than two pounds of fiber.  In my mind I said oh, two pounds of fiber, that's reasonable, yes?

I've never bought more than half a pound of fiber before, so I guess I just wasn't prepared.  I haven't weighed it, but it might be more than two pounds.  I was just shocked when I opened it up and bam!  A whole garbage bag full of fiber!

It's super soft, and it'll make some awesome yarn I think!  It's light enough that I think it'll take some dye too.  I'll have to go through and sort it, but from what I've looked at of it, it's really quite clean.  It certainly doesn't have an overpowering smell like the leicester wool that I bought.

I keep putting off spinning it though, telling myself that I should wait until I have a spinning wheel, since spinning this much fiber by drop spindle is intimidating, to say the least.  I still have other spinning projects to finish fist anyways!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

All white

Here's some of the hand spun angora that showed up a little bit in my post about drop spindles!  It took kind of a long time, but I have about 400 yards of it.  It's so fluffy and soft, I love it!  I think angora might be my favorite fiber, I just love the halo it gives.

I think instead of dyeing all the white yarn that I have, I want to try making an all white scarf, I'm not sure how well I think the colors will go, since they're not all exactly the same?  I'm not sure how much it will matter when they're all woven together though.

I still have a whole other warp to get through before I can work on this one though!

Friday, February 24, 2012

More yarn

Here's some yarn that I spun from leicester wool that I got off of ebay.  It was $20 for 1/2 lb of raw fur, so it ended up a little bit lighter after all the washing.  It wasn't a terrible amount of work to wash either, just a little patience is needed, and a big tub!

I dyed it blue, since for some reason I'm incredibly attracted to blue yarns?  I spun it straight from the locks to give it the chunky wavy thick look too!

This is what I got from a little less than half of the 1/2lb, and it's actually 65 yards, since it's so thick!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Hand Spun Yarns!

Since I posted about my spindles last time, here's some of the yarn I've made with them!

This one was my first go at it!  I made it just out of some merino, I had 1oz each of a white and a chocolate brown, so I spun them both, and plied them!

Sadly it only made around 100 yards, which isn't enough to weave much of anything.  I'll hold onto it anyways, since I still like it, maybe I'll find some use for it!

Next I had a lot more bright colors in merino, so I mixed a few of them to make this yarn.  I just kept it as a single though, so again it's not all that useful to me for weaving!

I'll share more yarn that I've made tomorrow, of different materials besides wool!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


A while ago I decided I was going to try spinning on a whim.  Since I am very much a person that constantly says "If I can make it I'm not going to buy it", I looked up on making a drop spindle and found a tutorial on instructables for making a top whorl spindle.

It was easy and I had all the supplies so I went to town.  Instead of using a chopstick like the tutorial I used a paintbrush handle.  I actually prefer it, since it was a bit larger, and was nicely curved and rounded already.  I just removed the brush part and the metal with some pliers first.  You can paint over top of it too, if you don't like the way the brush looks.

Not going to win any awards for craftsmanship on this one, but it was also before I even knew if I liked spinning.  Turns out that I do though!  Learning was exceptionally easy, after an hour or so I felt pretty confident spinning.

After spending a few days spinning on this one and ordering myself some spiffy new fibers, I started to stare longingly at some of the artfully made drop spindles on Etsy.  I knew that I had a perfectly functional spindle, and there was no reason for me to drop $40 on a new one.  But I just kept going back and looking at them.

Finally I came to the conclusion that I could make a nicer spindle too!  So I went off searching on the net for stone donuts as they call them, to use for the whorl.  I ordered some cheaper ones for about $3 each, from 21CN Beads.  They have a lot of sizes, but I got one 50mm Lacy Agate, and one 45mm Flower Turquoise, I think it was around $11 with shipping?

So I got to work and made myself some nicer spindles, they're also lighter than the one I made first, but still good for making thinner yarns.  I also used some silver wire I had for the hooks, I think it looks nicer, but really isn't as sturdy.

With some spun angora.

I'm still looking into getting a spinning wheel, but they're just so expensive.  It seems like it's difficult to get a respectable one for less than $200.  I'm keeping an eye on Craigslist though!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

New warp!

Well, since I'm waiting for the new reed to come in I thought I would plan out my next project!  I had some more awesome sale yarn from that I bought.  It reminds me of watermelons.

So I've had to get back to using a lot of math to figure things out.  I bought six skeins of this yarn, three coral, three green.  Each skein has 132 yards on it, so I had approximately 400 yards of each color.  From there I had to calculate how much yarn I need to use for the warp!  I used half of it on the warp, so I'm hoping I'll have plenty for the weft too!

This is how much I decided to do:
5 ends per inch x 10" wide x 280" long = 140,000 inches

Divide 140,000" by 36" (the number of inches in a yard) to get the yardage that you need!
140,000 / 36 = 389~ yards

Perfect!  That should be enough for me to make three 80" scarves!  The loom unfortunately takes up a lot of waste, I can usually get away with about a foot of loom waste per item, maybe a little less if I take the time to carefully tie on.

I can't wait to start working on this one though!  I'm thinking a basket weave might be nice, but the yarn is pretty thick so it might be too much, I don't know!  Maybe I'll just do one of them basket, and switch up the other two, hm.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Hello World!

This is about to be my designated craft blog!  For the next week or two I'm going to do my best to update every day, just to get everything going :)

Currently the things I've been working on:

Painting Ceramics.  I've got a whole bunch of pre-made bisque that I bought, but it's really not my favorite to work with.  It's not bad, but just not quite the quality I would prefer.  I think I can do better.  I currently have blanks of: 5 teacups and saucers, 11 round teacups, 2 mugs, 1 cup and pot stacker and 5 teapots.  I'm trying to do one every day, but I'm running out of ideas!  I feel like it would be bad to paint them all with leopard print.

Weaving.  I got a loom for Christmas and have been using it a lot since then!  I'm on my sixth project on it right now, but am waiting on a new reed.  I thought I could get away with using the 12 dent one it came with, but I broke down and had to buy a 6 dent one.  I can't even start working on my newest weaving until I have it, boo!

I need to get back into sculpting things too!  I'm going to try once all the bisque is gone I think.

Here's some photos of my loom!  I'm trying to decide if naming it would land me in the looney bin.  What if I put horns on it and made it the homestuck loom.

Too much stuff in the background, ack!

Original delivery information.

All strung up.

You can see some of the shiny new bolts I put in.

The warping beam, with all the pegs.

It has a warp of some alpaca synthetic mix that I got on sale, but I'll need to take it all out of the reed and redo it on a thinner one when it comes in the mail.

I got the loom for a good deal on ebay.  You can sometimes get really great deals on there if you're willing to wait (or drive a long distance).  I got this one for $400 and went and picked it up.  Unfortunately when I picked it up it was a little worse for the wear.  The photos that the seller had posted in the auction were clearly very out of date.  She had taken it apart to store it in her outdoor garage, but neglected to mention that in the auction, so I went into it thinking it would be as pictured.  It looked okay when we got it in the car, and thankfully it fit (I was worried about having to rent a truck), but when we got a good look at it later at home we realized how much work was needed.  The entire castle had been taken down and twisted around, many of the pegs were broken on the warp beam, it was missing several bolts to put it together with, the reed was terribly rusty as well is the rest of the hardware.

I was a little upset, but I had already taken it home, and really $400 was a good price so I didn't complain.  The seller had bought it for herself years and years ago thinking she was going to teach herself to use it, and never did.  When she didn't use it she eventually disassembled it and left it in her garage for years, which led to an awful lot of rust unfortunately.  The hardest part was just trying to get it together!  All I had were a few low resolution auction photos to go by, and one time putting the castle on backwards, but it finally all came together in one piece.  Unfortunately that was only half of the battle, since there were repairs to be made. 

Several of the rusted bolts had to be cut off before they could be replaced, and replacements had to be made since they were not standard lengths.  We drilled the broken pegs out (about a quarter of them were snapped off) and glued new ones in.  I managed to get almost all of the rust off of the reed with naval jelly, sandpaper and despair, so although it doesn't look pretty it definitely works now.  Last I gave the whole thing a good scrub and it was absolutely covered in black nasty filth, I was pretty appalled.  But now after all that work it's presentable, and functional!

It's a four harness six pedal counterbalance floor loom by Newcomb Loom company, which is no longer in business.  I think it wasn't originally made for smaller weaving, according to the type of warp beam it has, but I've had no trouble making it work for my own purposes.  It's still a little wobbly, and clearly has been around for a while, but works just fine!  I think we will have a long history together.

I'll be back tomorrow with YARN!