Thursday, July 23, 2009

Indian Gauze Scarves

We were walking around the mall when we saw these scarves for sale. Made in India, they are a very open gauze kind of weave. They also have different kinds of warp threads running through and come in a variety of colors.

In this picture you can see the warp ribbon yarn, some metallic, and some yarn that looks like novelty slubby handspun cotton maybe?

Over all the effect is very festive. The down side was the gauzy structure was very fragile, all of the scarves had a run in the weave or a hole in it. Or we would have bought a couple.

I was disappointed because I would have like to have one or two as examples to study. I had to settle for these pictures taken with a cell phone.

Has anybody every woven something like this and have some suggestions on how to make such a scarf?

Have a good day!

Monday, July 20, 2009

First backstrap towel finished

(click picture for larger view)
Here is the finished towel. Woven dimensions were 16 inch wide, 24 inch long.

Off the loom without tension, it only measures 13 wide, 21 long. I haven't even wet finished it yet. That would reduce it another 10 percent.

The ends were made with twined edge cords so the piece comes off the loom finished on 4 sides. I put tassels on the corners because of the edgecords. When switching warp color, I change at the end where I tie a square knot and weave the ends into the piece. The edgecord also helps hide the knot.

For weft color change, I change over in the middle, overlapping the thread. I am thinking I should change color at the edge rather than the middle. I think it would look better, but not sure how to hide the knot.

If someone has a neater way to switch colors, please let me know.

Peaches & Creme cotton worsted yarn warp/weft white
Sugar & Creme cotton worsted yarn variegated black/white for borders

Sett 8 threads per inch.

I had some missed picks, but I wasn't expecting perfect on the first try anyway.

Have a good day!
Franco Rios

Sunday, July 19, 2009

More Backstrap weaving

The next morning: After weaving to the middle of the piece, I turned the loom around and started weaving from the far end. I will end my weaving in the middle of the piece and have all four sides with finished selvedge. With about 3 inches of weaving to go, I remove the flat shed sticks and use 3/8 dowels to hold the sheds.

In the picture above, the upper most stick is a shed stick, with safety string, holding the upper shed. The lower shed is controlled with a string heddle stick, which is flopped down so you can see the upper shed stick.

In the next picture, we see the string heddle moved up over the upper shed stick so you can see the lower shed. which I have opened with a 3/8 dowel. This dowel has a flat wedge on one end put there by using sandpaper. This helps me to push the stick through the warp to open the shed.

When the shed is open, I push the weft through with a needle made from a chopstick, which is in the picture. If I try to pull the weft through without that shed stick holding open a space for the needle, the weft drags through the closed warp (shed) and pulls the warp out of line. It also becomes difficult to keep the right amount of slack in the weave. My chopstick is not long enough to go across on one throw. So I used the blunt end of a plastic crochet hook to push it the extr 4 or 5 inches out of the shed (see the small yellow plastic rod in the lower right of the picture).

To beat the weft, I am using a pet grooming comb with metal pins for teeth that happens to have 1/4 inch spacing, which is just right for my project. I can also use a dinner fork if I need to.

More later!
Have a good day!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Backstrap weaving in progress

Okay, I had a false start a couple of days ago. I warped up the loom, for a 16 inch wide by 24 inch long towel using Peaches & Creme white for most of the warp/weft and Sugar & Creme variegated black/white for borders. I adjusted my craft frame and tied the loom bars 24 inch apart. I continuous warped the loom bars. My camera ate the pictures of what happened next.

I tied edge cords onto both ends of the warp so I could get a nice finished edge (selvedge) to the piece. Then I moved the loom bars so I could lash the edge cords to the loom bar, I set a couple of dowels into the warp to hold the crossing of the warp threads (cross). This held up for while and I was able to get myself ready to weave by sitting on the couch with the other end of the loom tied to a bolt attached under a counter top.

As I tried to arrange my sticks, I learned that I had crossed a few warps. Bummer. And my edge cord had missed a few warps also. Bummer.

Then I tipped the loom sideways and the cross sticks fell out. Bummer. I tried to use a pickup stick to recover the warp cross. Very slow going and not very successful. I was extremely grumpy about this turn of events. If I lived in a more primitive setting, I would have gone out and punched a buffalo.

I untied the whole thing and started over. Ahhhh! Much better. I found that double checking every warp and cross doesn't take time, it saves time. Rubber bands are a fast way to tie up the ends of leash sticks to hold a cross. Tying a safety string across heddle and shed sticks also saves time.

Here I am on the second try. I saw pictures of people sitting on the floor with their backstrap looms and so I though I would try it. It's not bad. I need more cushion for sitting. Also need a cushion under my knees to put a little bit of flex in my knees to keep from hyper extending the knee joint. Otherwise it's not bad. I had joked about my legs being too short for my feet to hold the far end of the loom, 30 inch long trouser leg, and it turns out it is not a problem when weaving a 24 inch towel!

Here is my view of the weaving. The loom bar at the bottom is tied to my belt strap. Then it is tied to the lashed edge cord dowel. Then we have about 2 inches of black/white border to go with the two inches of black/white warp border. There is a pickup stick that is used to hold open the shed for the stick shuttle to go through. There is the string heddle on a stick, with a safety string. Behind that is another flat stick for making a shed. Then a round shed stick, with a safety string. Then the far edge cord dowel lashed to the far loom bar. And finally, a loop of rope to go over my shoes.

Did I mention that safety strings save time?

Here is a picture of the string heddle in action, holding up a set of warp for the shed stick to go under.

Here is the really cool part. You can put your shuttle stick on top of your work in progress, start rolling from the loom bar until you get to the far loom bar and you now ready for transport! Most of the loom parts are 18 inch long, the heddle stick is 24 inch long, but still easy to pack and move. I can cut down that heddle stick.

I'm halfway done with the towel and I'll probably be done tomorrow. More pictures then.

Have a good day!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Easy Backstrap Idea for backstrap weaving

Here is an easy way to rig a backstrap. Take a belt that fits around your waist. Put two loops of rope through it that extend about 12 inches from the belt.

Place the belt around your back with the buckle facing away from your back and the loops extended.

Hook the loops onto your loom bar. You will have to experiment a little bit to get the right loom length. It's not fancy but should hold up until you weave a fancier backstrap.

Other ideas for making the backstrap include some that have been mentioned on this thread already.

- Cut off legs from a pair of jeans for improvised backstrap. I thought about that one because I save old jeans for the purpose of rag strips for making rag rugs. You can also convert the "shorts" into a shoulder bag by sewing the bottoms/legs closed and using some fabric of the legs for sewing the shoulder strap.

- Take a dishtowel, tie a knot in opposite corners so you can attach a rope. You can also take an old terry cloth bath towel and do the same thing. You might have to rip it in half to reduce the bulk.

- A pillow case can be used with knots in the corners.

- In the Curious Weaver Journal #2 article they suggest using a length of rope around your body as a strap while you weave yourself a strap as a first project. You may want to pad that rope with a towel or something.

- Old sheets can be ripped down to a wide sash sized strip, a knot in the ends, attach a rope.

I hope that helps.

Have a good day!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Turning a ruler into a shuttle

After seeing Norene's beautiful shuttles made from a yardstick on her blog here, I remembered I need some more shuttles. But not having much time, I knocked out some quick and easy shuttles with wooden rulers bought from the dollar store.

Using a small hacksaw, I cut a Vee shaped notch in each end of the ruler.

Then I sanded and smoothed all the edges using sandpaper wrapped around another ruler.

That was it, it was easy, it was quick. But not as pretty as Norene's.

Have a good day!


Did not get much work done on the backstrap loom today. I have already rounded up enough dowels for the loom. Most of the tutorials online suggest putting a groove in the loom bars to help hold the ropes in position. One site says to cut a groove with a saw one inch from the end and use a chisel to cut a groove.

Since my goal is always to go with tools found inside the house, I decided not to use the chisel, which is outside in the garage. I could have done it with a sharp knife. But I used some rough sandpaper (60 grit) wrapped around a ruler to make a row of grooves around the dowels. And yes we keep sandpaper in the kitchen because we always seem to need it for one thing or another.

It was fairly easy to do, I did grooves on 4 dowels in under an hour while watching television. I marked a line one inch from the end, then sanded groove in sort of a V shape, but with more angle to the vee side near the end of the dowel. As you can see, our trusty wooden bar stool was the work bench for this job.

UPDATE: 9/25/09 I was reminded that a rasp or wood file would also do this little task.

Have a good day!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Progress report on making my own backstrap loom:

Am on the hunt for a wooden broomstick. Most brooms sold in my area have plastic or metal tube for broomstick. The little "swiffer" brooms have very small, thin tubes for handles. I did find some cheap garden tools (china) with wooden handles for US $4, but for that money I think I can buy two hardwood dowels that would work.

I'm trying to source my material for as little money as I can, free if at all possible. I did spend $2 at the thrift store on a 100 ft rope(china) because I forgot to grab some rope from the company warehouse before we shut down for the weekend. I don't want to waste any time trying to "find" some rope. I also found a new small ball, 1.7 ounce cotton worsted yarn Peaches & Cream (Canada) variegated black & white color for 49 cents at the thrift store!!!

I have chopsticks and some shed sticks from my other looms I can use as well. I also have a pack of wooden rulers (12 inch - china) that I bought for a $1 at the dollar store with the intent of making shed sticks and shuttles.

I'll keep you all posted on the backstrap loom scavenger hunt.

Weavolution has a discussion thread on this topic of backstrap loom

CuriousWeaver has made available for download previous issues of their magazine

Look for issue #2 Curious Weaver Issue #2 for a great article on making a backstrap loom.

Have a good day!

Turning a yardstick into a shuttle

Norene Crone-Findlay has a little blog called Hankering for Yarn

Yesterday she posted a neat little tutorial showing how to use
a pattern to turn a wooden yardstick or rule into a shuttle for weaving.

It's a great little blog and a great idea.

Go check it out!
Have a good day!