Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I think I'm becoming a fiber geek

I think I'm becoming a fiber geek.

Today I was staring at a lady's purse. I was on the light rail train on the trip home from work. The purse was made with woven warp faced strips with horizontal stripe pattern. The strips were about 3-4 inches wide and the sides were sewn together to make a wider cloth that was the outer body of the purse.

I totally recognized the pattern and structure because I wove it on my backstrap loom! I learned how to do it on a site called and Laverne from Bolivia is posting examples of backstrap weaving and patterns you can use.

Now I know one more thing that can be done with backstrap woven strips!

I don't think the lady noticed me studying her purse. It would probably have made her nervous.

Have a good day!

Hot stripe towel part 1

Here's the beginning of my next project. I'm going to make some cotton yarn dishtowels/placemats. The real goal is to get some practice on making nice edges and to get some pictures I can use for a weavealong tutorial next month. I'm going to weave the towels 16 inch wide by 27 inch long with the fringe. With about 10 percent shrinkage during wet finish (washer/dryer cycle) I'll towels that are 14 inch x 24 inch.

The supplies: Erica rigid heddle loom, 8 dent heddle, two shuttle sticks, a pick up stick, white Peaches & Creme worsted cotton yarn, Sugar & Creme Hot Green, Hot Orange, Hot Blue colored yarn for the stripes. I used up a lot of green and orange on other projects, so I'll be trying to make minimal stripes on this project.

The project is 16 inch wide x 8 thread per inch for 128 ends. I'm going to have 4 ends each of each color for a small stripe x 2 stripes for 24 ends of color and 104 ends of white. I started Monday night by measuring out the warp on the warping chairs.

(sorry for the blurry picture) These are my warping chairs. I'm going to weave two towels on this warp, 27 inch long. That's 54 inch. Plus 17 inch loom waste. That's 71 inch per warp thread. The top chair posts are 18 inch apart. The tops of the chairs have been moved to 53 inches apart. Each time I go around the four posts, I have enough yarn for 2 warps. 12 times for the colors, 52 times for the white.

(sorry for the fuzzy pictures) Here I have cut the warp at the corner post and I have all my warps cut to the right size.

Then I hang the warps on a hook on the wall. The way I warp is probably more labor intensive than others, but it works for me.

I am working from the back of the loom toward the front. I take a warp off the wall, loop it over the back loom bar, dip the cut ends into the glass of water, make a point on the end of the yarn and thread through the hole and slot in the rigid heddle, working from the middle to the outside.

Here it is all threaded up. There is an 8 thread white border each side, 12 threads of color each side and all white inside. The weft will be all white. It takes about about three hours from beginning to this point. Save until tomorrow.

On Tuesday after work, I laid out the warped loom on the floor. I open up some brown paper grocery sacks and cut them up so I can use them to wrap around the warp as I roll the warp onto the loom. As the warp goes around the loom bar, having paper to separate each layer helps the warp stay on the same level, allowing for even tension on the warp. Without a separator, the warp can be high and low on the loom bar, allowing for uneven tension.

So I comb out the warps with my fingers to be sure there are no tangles before I roll the warp onto the loom bar.

In order to get some resistance, I tied the warps to a weight (the bar stool) so the warp has something to pull against while I roll the warp onto the loom bar. I am warping on the floor this time. I usually enlist the aid of a boy to assist me while warping on the kitchen table. I can usually find one of my sons in the kitchen or on the computer, but I'm trying to do this solo as to explore possible solutions to problems.

This worked okay. In the past I've tied soup cans to the warps bunches and hung the warps over the edge of table. That was okay, but not great. If I find a great way to get resistance on the warps by myself, I'll post it. Spent over an hour playing with the paper and rolling the warp on Tuesday. Call it a day.

Wednesday - Post pictures. More later this week.

Have a good day!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Weavezine: Hand woven loop pile cloths

Syne Mitchell comes up with the coolest stuff for Weavezine!

Check out the handwoven loop pile cloths.

I can totally see making spa sets like looped pile wash cloths with little soap holder bags for gifts.

Have a good day!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Backstrap beginner project - horizontal stripes

(click on pictures for bigger view, then "back" to return to blog)

There is a backstrap "weave-a-long" in process at where you can start weaving along with other members of the Backstrap Weaving group and forum. You can register as a member of Weavolution at no cost and you can join immediately.

I started weaving along with the backstrap beginners group on warp stripe pieces and variations of the basic warp stripe. Above I have warped a 30 inch warp using a yard stick and pencils lashed on for warping stakes. Using the directions from the weavealong I'm using cotton crochet thread. I have warped 8 threads of red for border, 16 pairs of red & white thread, and 8 threads for the other border. I'll be using red for weft so the borders will have solid color.

In this picture I have manipulated the red/white pairs so the red are on one shed and the white are on another shed. As I weave, the alternating sheds will create horizontal red and white stripes.

Here is my backstrap loom rigged to a nail under a counter top. I'm using a barstool to help keep the top loom bar from flipping sideways as I weave. From the top, I'm using two pencils rubber banded together to improve strength. One pencil carries the warp, the other is just helping support. Next is a pencil for shed stick. There is another pencil rubber banded to help keep the warp spread out and prevent the shed stick from slipping out.

I tried using just a string to keep the shed, but I found the shed tended to bunch together as I pulled up the on shed string, making it difficult to "pop" the warps apart to make the shed. So I put a pencil for shed stick and spread the warp, which is much easier.

Then you see my string heddle pencil. Since the band is narrow, many weavers will use a string heddle without a stick, but I prefer having the stick to help keep the warp spacing.

Then come the ruler turned into a shuttle/beater. I was using a credit card as a beater, but found that the ruler with its beveled sides worked fine as a beater. So I stopped using the card and had one less thing to keep track of. I tied the end of the weft thread through one of the holes of the ruler which was convenient.

Then is the bottom loom bar. I was using two pencils but as I started to roll the finished weaving, I found the bottom bar would rollup on the the strap rope when I put tension on the warp. I think it has to do with torque and the growing outer diameter of the strip.

I found that putting a 1/2 dowel helped, but I think I was supposed to move the finished strip roll to one side and keep only a single wrap of strip on the loom bar. At least that would be reason for all the pictures I've seen where the weaver has done that.

Sorry for the blurry picture, but here I am putting my fingers through the upper shed. Notice the red warp below the string heddle stick.

By spreading my two fingers apart, I make the shed "pop" below string heddle. See how the white threads are now showing down past the string heddle. I stick my thumb in the shed below the string heddle and hold it open for the shuttle stick. I think I will use a flat shed stick from a piece of ruler next time to improve speed.

Here is the finished strip, about 18 inch long with 6 more inch of unwoven warp. The width is very uneven, from 1 3/4 inch wide to 2 1/2 inch wide. I started out narrow, but it got wider as I went along. I didn't put as much tension on the warp when of the problem started with the bottom loom bar rolling back up on itself.

But I did accomplish horizontal bars, which was the goal. Now I have to work on keeping a consistent width. There is also a comb pattern I want to try. Some good looking strips can be woven using combinations of stripes, bars, and combs patterns.

Go to Weavolution if you want to join the backstrap weavealong. There is also a double weave project for more advanced backstrap weavers.

Have a good day!

Argentina weaving blog

I found this link on Ravelry

The blog is from Argentina, in spanish, use your web translator, Babelfish did a decent job

Lots of frame loom stuff, strips, straps, and some shawls.

A lot of wonderful style and patterns.

Have a good day!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Hot color towel on backstrap loom

Here is another finished towel on left measures about 12 inch x 16 inch. The washcloth on right is about 9 x 9 inch. Details about the towel are below. The colors are Sugar n Creme Hot Green, Hot Orange, with Peaches N Creme White. All cotton worsted yarn.

Here is the start of another backstrap towel. First the warp is wrapped around the upright sticks of a craft frame in a figure 8 pattern. I am using the craft frame as a warping board.

The loom bars and leash sticks are inserted, then the warp is slid off the craft frame/warping board.

I have setup my backstrap and I'm halfway done with the weaving in this picture. I turned the loom around and started again from the other side and finished up in the middle.

This project was started on a Tuesday and was finished by Saturday.

Have a good day!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Franco's Fiber Adventure goes on first demo

Sunday I went on my first demonstration as a fiber dude. The Sacramento Tracking & Wilderness Training group was in need of a speaker for their August meeting and I volunteered. I've done demos and talks on other subjects before, but this was the first time as a fiber dude.

Primitive skills training and practice is part of their mission as a group. Skills like spinning, knitting, crochet, and weaving to produce useful items is right down their alley. Primitive is right down my alley.

I decided to focus on spinning and weaving because that is what I know best. I'm not very good at crochet or knitting, although those skills are good to have.

Then I gathered a few things for show and tell.

Let's see, we have some drop spindles, CD spindle, my cardboard spinning wheel/charkha, a Harrisville Lap Loom, a couple of loom frames, an Erica rigid heddle, table, stool. Oh, yeah, there's cotton yarn, carded wool, some angora rabbit wool, some llama yarn, some mohair yarn. A folding table, a stool, some scissors, knife. That really oughta cover it all. And some weaving sticks.

I didn't get a lot of pictures myself because I was kind of busy. Someone else took pictures and as soon as I can get some of those I'll post them.

We started about 10:00 am and I talked for most of an hour, showing and demonstrating spindles, carding, chain plying. We talked about different fiber sources. Stuff like that.

Also showed some stick weaving, frame weaving, showed the rigid heddle loom.

I was hoping to get to some backstrap weaving, but we were running out of time and the day was heating up fast. So I had to keep it simple.

For the craft activity portion, we started some narrow bands on cardboard looms. I showed how to use a ruler for a shed stick. Notice the shuttle stick made from cardboard.

Here is a view of the string heddle we used for the band weaving. Something I should have mentioned at the beginning of the activity was to use a library card or a credit card as a beater.

And that's it for the pictures, hopefully we'll get some more shortly.

I learned a lot also. I need to tighten up presentation and I forgot to mention a couple of things, but overall I did okay. There is some other things I can bring to the next presentation.

The group was helpful to me as well. I learned that there is a plant called dogbane/indian hemp that has fiber that can be twisted/spun and plied for use as cordage.

They also showed me how to use the fire making bow drill kit that I have had in my garage for two years. I brought it along to the meeting. In under five minutes they had smoke and embers glowing with it. Now I can show my sons how to use it.

It was a good day!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Backstrap loom - Red Stripe Bookmark

(click pictures for larger view, then backspace to return to blog)

My attempt at a simple ribbon type project on the backstrap loom. Here are my supplies. The pencils, wooden rulers, scissors were bought at the dollar store. The white cotton yarn/string was bought at Wal Mart. The crochet thread was bought on clearance for $1 each. (sorry for the fuzzy pictures)

To warp my threads, I lashed two pencils at right angles on the ruler. Then I wound the warp in a figure eight pattern around the pencils. 16 threads of white, 16 of red, 16 of white.

Then I moved to the warp to more pencils for use as loom bars. I found that adding another pencil to the loom helped stabilize loom bars and also gave me a means to wind up the work a little bit. My "backstrap" is just a piece of rope that I threaded through my belt loops. The other end is tied a leg of my trusty bar stool. NOTE: Next time I will tie up the other end to two legs of the barstool to help prevent the loom from tipping sideways!

Here is the work in progress. I was able to wind up a few turns on the pencil/loom bars as I've seen in the diagrams of this loom. I did not get all the warps tight, so a couple of them were missed as I wove this ribbon. I did not stop and re-warp. I just pulled those missed warps after I was done.

I used the red thread as weft and a ruler that was cut to serve as a shuttle and beater bar.

Here is the completed ribbon. 1 1/2 inch wide by about 6 inch long. I can see the weft on the edges. I guess I need to pull the weft tighter as I weave to get more warp face showing.

Have a good day!

Washcloth and handtowel finished

(click on pictures to get larger view, then back to return to blog)

Above is the washcloth to go with the dishtowel/handtowel. I wove on my little frame loom to finish it more quickly. I warped with white cotton. I started a two inch stripe with the black/white cotton yarn. Then I turned the loom over, moved the string heddle to the lower shed and started with a two inch stripe, then filled in the middle with white yarn.

Here is the washcloth and handtowel together, after wet finishing. I finished the edges of the smaller washcloth with twining edge cords. The hand towel was woven on a backstrap loom.

Finished size of the handtowel is 12 x 17 inch. The washcloth is 8 1/2 by 9 inch.

Have a good day!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Navajo Rug on PBS Antiques Roadshow

Also check out this article on PBS Antiques Roadshow

You can view the picture and read the appraisal transcript

I found it with the search words "navajo weaving diagonal"

Have a good day!

Navajo Rug On PBS History Detectives

I thought you guys might be interested in this PBS story on Navajo rugs.

History Detectives

AIRING: Season 7, Episode 4
THE DETECTIVE: Eduardo Pagán
THE PLACE: Crownpoint, New Mexico


History Detectives investigates the mystery behind an unusual Navajo rug.

We meet with a Navajo medicine man and a traditional Navajo weaver. We travel to Crownpoint, New Mexico, long considered the center of Navajo weaving to discover if a weaver violated a taboo to create this rug.

Finally, History Detectives visits a textile historian to find out who may have been behind this controversial design.
Web page includes links to view the episode online (20 minute video), download a transcript, view an interview with a medicine man.

Have a good day!