Oxaback Lilla – Tailored

I’m not going to go into details about the comings and goings loom-wise. The Oxaback Lilla arrived last week. This loom functions like a sturdy full size Swedish countermarch but has compact footprint and folds to a 32 inch depth.

The loom is packaged in 4 manageable size packages. The instructions are fairly straight forward. The side frames and warp beam wheels are in one box, the beater and reed in another. The remainder are separated in 2 boxes.

Once assembled, I warped it with a hand-spun yarn for a scarf (more on that later). I also made some additions – latch hooks to hold the loom together when folded, a second warp beam and a warp stick catcher.

At the front of the loom, I added a cross piece to hold an LED light and some cork strips for pinning paper. I also added countermarch pulleys.

The second warp beam was made by drilling 2 holes on either side of the back support piece, 2 blocks were added with a hole in the side and a metal sleeve through which a threaded bolt is inserted into the beam ends. The blocks are mounted with wood dowel pins and are snug enough to hold the beam securely. One side of the beam has a ratchet and pawl, the other a tension drum brake (Both from an old Leclerc table loom). This enables me to do supplemental warps or a tensioned warp with a drum brake which can be advanced without getting up from the bench. The warp stick catcher is a little longer than those that can be purchased so the sticks from the second beam can be caught.

Control Freak

Yep, that’s me. Lots of changes lately but for now let’s talk yarn & making yarn. I am not a spinner, at least not an accomplished one. Last year during Covid I splurged on a Kromski Sonata wheel. I chose an unfinished wheel as I have a couple of Kromski items that are stained and lacquered and didn’t care for the feel of their finished product.

I spent several days applying clear walnut oil and love the result. The wood feels like “wood” and the oil brings out the grain. Also, I like being able to feed wood when the weather gets dry/humid etc and the wheel feels more dense. It is a versatile wheel with the option of a magnetic head with multiple whorls and the option of a Jumbo magnetic head for art yarn.

I have dabbled with spinning a couple of times and seem to be able to spin finer yarn more easily. I struggle spinning even yarns that are thicker than lace weight.

Resigning myself to failing and not controlling how perfect the yarn was, I finally made a more even plied yarn (woolen) and it feels lovely! Not enough to use for anything but an improvement.

Happy Tailbones

My Personal Trainer persona saved my butt (literally). I know the importance of good posture, especially when weaving. My SI joint is feeling better after a mini cutback on training. My coach has me doing some NKT (honing in on making sure all the small movements are good movements) and my body is responding.

I like to sit high when I weave despite only being 5ft 4″. The AVL bench can be adjusted to “tilt” for a good ergonomic position. The Glimakra bench does not tilt and I was constantly finding my sheepskin (for cushioning) was sliding off with the slightest movement. I purchased a yoga wedge and secured it to the bench with 2 large pony tail holders. The sheepskin goes over the top giving a perfect tilt to the pelvis which unloads the pressure on the back creating better posture. Because the yoga wedge has some grip, it also keeps the sheepskin in place. I shared this tip with some other weavers who responded how much more comfortable their static weaving benches are. FYI – I bought a GAIM yoga wedge (6×20) for $14 from Amazon.

Looking Back and Ahead

I was looking at some very old blog posts and realized I was looking at a high speed train of a Mom’s life. Several jobs, raising kids, trying to design and teach. Just a lot going on.

Here we are, mid Pandemic and how my life and work has changed. I still worry about my kids (especially the one still home and stuck because of the pandemic). But design wise, I have a totally different perspective. I am very fortunate to be able to stay home and be a runner, a Mom and a designer and able to shift and change those “portions” as needed. I don’t get as bent out of shape, mainly because I have the privilege of time and choice at my disposal.

Lately I have been embracing the draw loom. I have been running a lot and looking forward to when we can make plans again. I did do a number on my SI joint, moving 2 huge looms by myself and foolishly running a 21 mile run in the mountains with over 5000 feet of elevation gain. My back has been cranky for a few weeks and certain looms bother it more than others. It is easier to let things come and go, my weaving is slower, more thoughtful, meandering and I am sketching/painting again.

I love the lime/chartreuse portion of the dyed warp with the turquoise linen. The draw loom is slow, soft and quiet. I can draw/create on the fly, creating shapes and free patterns or regular repeats. It takes time but is delightful.

More Drawloom

The nice thing about the single unit with drawcord beam, is the ability to combine single unit designs and also save repeating patterns.

The reed is lowered to allow the pattern to be drawn. Then the pattern can be saved by tying scrap yarn around the groupings of drawcords while they are on the hookbar.

When all the pattern pulls are complete and lashes tied, the reed can be moved back up to the top of the drawcord beam. This allows the lashes to be pulled and moved across the drawcord warp. The pattern can be repeated and also woven in reverse.

Using the lashes makes the weaving go fairly quickly as compared to pulling single units for more freeform designs. Below you can see the larger design as it wraps around the cloth beam.

Glimakra Drawloom

The Drawloom is set up with a 6 shaft “satin” with 6 ends per unit. I used the countermarch vs drall pulleys as I wanted to get the loom set up correctly for future projects. The warp is 16/2 dyed cotton with 16/1 linen for the weft.

I added more hooks to the hook bar, raised the height of the back beam by approximately 2.5 inches and raised the hook bar to prevent excess stress on the pattern warp.

The first sample is not perfect but I was able to tweak the loom to get it working nicely. Occasionally, the shuttle would catch some of the floor of the shed. I tightened the warp and also moved the beater to the foremost position which resolved that issue.

At first I used shaft elastics to keep the neutral shafts in the right position (one shaft lifts, one lowers and the remainder stay the same). The system is supposed to use weights to maintain these shafts and it took a little figuring to get them working well.

Above you can see that a cord is attached to the upper jack at the center point and the end. The cords travel over the metal rod and through the hole (almost like a comber board). Each cord goes through the weight and attaches to itself. This is important! Now the weights will return the jacks to a neutral position during weaving as needed.

The last adjustment was to label the drawcords at the reed (1-48). I can note the drawcord section on the graph drawing and easily select the correct sequence of drawcords. Drawloom weaving is a slow process, when it works well it can create beautiful figurative designs.

Double Weave Welsh Blankets

I have wanted to do a double weave Welsh Blanket style piece for a while. After drawing some inspiration from my Jacob Angstead book, I came up with this design. The colors can be changed, but the idea is to take an overshot style pattern, convert it to double weave with multiple colors.

First I will sample, making a runner using 8/2 cotton. Then create a blanket design using cotton or wool.

Below you can see the Drawloom is up and running. I added more hooks to the hook bar to make it easier to hold the drawcords. You can just about see the design starting (the early morning light gives a lot of shadow). This Glimakra has older lams, the lower are still longer but not as generous as the newer style which makes tie ups and a good shed a breeze. Surprisingly, the shed is good and there was no need to tie an outer treadle to weight the lower lams, they work perfectly as is.

The two holiday scarves are almost finished and I have to hem a stack of towels for gifts. The holidays are coming like a freight train!

My birthday was fun with a 3600 ft elevation gain trail run in the mountains followed by a home cooked dinner dropped on my doorstep and wonderful garden sunflowers.

Autumn

It has been an odd few weeks, looks like many of us are heading back to stricter guidelines for Covid.

I warped the AVL with a wool/tencel blend with a simple 16 shaft straight draw. This allows me to adjust the design for multiple options. I wove a navy/black 3/1 block twill. Then a Celtic braid in black/purple. Both are Christmas gifts.

I was having an issue with the cloth storage drum not winding the cloth on, nor winding the cord when returning the weight to the top position. I was told the bearing had been replaced with a 2 way bearing which will not hold tension. The AVL manual states a 1 way bearing is used. I can usually repair parts myself, but this would require finding a specific size bearing and a nut that required a good weld. I ordered the part from AVL, sometimes you just have to bite the bullet.

I splurged and ordered some eye candy!

This is a magazine from the UK and the photography and content are incredible! I have previously ordered the digital magazine but it is so much better in print! This edition covers Nordic Textiles and has some fabulous articles and inspiration.

I have also been practicing my spinning. I ordered some Blue Faced Leicester (brown/cream) and decided to blend it with some Tussah silk for luster.

On the left is a rolag made on the blending board. This maintains more of the silk’s smoothness. The spun sample to the left is from the rolag and is very pleasant to spin. The roving on the right was made on a drum carder and more thoroughly blends the fibers. This was not as pleasant to spin and the yarn feels a little less silky. Both samples are spun on a Kromski Sonata in double drive. I will show how I make the rolags and the resulting yarn when the project is further along. I intend to use the yarn for a huck lace wrap.

2020 – A little light

Wow, that full moon/time change/Halloween seemed to kick the Universe a little more back on track. Health issue update – good prognosis but we have to prepare for a couple of procedures and it may take a couple of months before things are given a good clean slate.

Looks like the potential for a vaccine is imminent, with science, care and everyone doing their part, we may finally see a slow return to some of the things we love.

I FINALLY got the Drawloom up and running! It took a lot of hours of preparation. Drawcord was replaced, texsolv was replaced. I wasn’t happy with the countermarch weights which are supposed to return and keep the shafts in a neutral position. I ended up adding some eye hooks and used bungee cords and I am very pleased with the results.

Now I need to map out the designs on graph paper and then weave away.