UndyedYarnpire’s Fiber Opera

January 18, 2011

let the weaving begin. second project and the new tools

Filed under: equipment, weaving — Tags: , , — UndyedYarnpire @ 12:50 am

Tools I have built yesterday and today in order to facilitate the weaving:
On the left is a terrible picture of the new rubber feet on the bottom of my Emilia. They do keep the ratchets from hitting the table when the loom rests flat instead of with the front end hanging off the table.  The second picture is of a hand-beaded sleying hook made from a paper clip. Sleying hooks are what weavers use to thread the heddles. This is a vast improvement over the plastic guitar pick that came with the loom since it actually fits in both the slots and the holes.

loom with feet sleying hook

My new weaving project is warped. I am making a plaid from black and silver and white.

warped loom

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January 15, 2011

Swift= warping board: yarn flow diagram.

Filed under: equipment, weaving — Tags: , , , , — UndyedYarnpire @ 2:05 pm

I came up with a method to create warp pieces of yarn that will allow them to be individually tied on in any order. This is extremely common, and the only way to warp a regular (non-rigid heddle) loom. My method involves using my swift with two layers of pegs and a yarn path that owes something to string art. But from a swift with arms about 2 feet long, I was able to come up with a path 100 inches long using only 9 pegs.

swift warping board with diagram

This will allow me to cut all the warp colors in advance and string them through the heddle in any order. In my first warping attempt there was slack between colors because one was tied on and the other merely wrapped around the bar. Not to mention that the physical demands of direct warping required a lot of up and down and alternated close up detail work with big motions. I found it painful to do for an hour. Using the warping board, and in my case it rotates, only requires me to sit while wrapping. Later when I am sleying the heddle, there will be a lot of detail work in a row, but hopefully the lack of alternation will allow me to find a more comfortable position for my back.

The other benefit is that this does not stretch all the way across my living room and disturb my husband with me walking in front of the television.

Longer warps would require more pegs (for diminishing additional lengths while increasing the awkwardness of loading) or longer swift arms.

(The swift is the walnut version of the Mama Bear from Oregon Woodworker. It took me 2 years to talk myself into buying one and I had a great shopping experience buying at Stitches West 2010. The man who makes them included the extra set of taller pegs. There is a competing swift with sliders, but that would have prevented my using it as a warping board.)

January 14, 2011

personal user’s loom review: Emilia 13.5 rigid heddle

Filed under: equipment, weaving — Tags: , , — UndyedYarnpire @ 8:04 pm

Having put my loom away for almost 2 weeks, I am almost ready to try again. My experience was so horrible the first time, but I think a lot of that has to do with being a beginner and mis-understanding the instructions. I hope that is the case.

I will not need to assemble the loom again, which should prevent the heinous disaster I experienced. People at knitting group laughed when I told the story (since I meant for it to be funny, that is fine) about how I was supposed to melt the ends of the texsolv cord to prevent fraying and thought since I was only doing 4 cords, I might just use a match instead of lighting a candle. I burned my thumb, dropped the match, and set some papers on fire. Luckily I was able to blow the papers out and did not need a fire extinguisher, but you might guess that my opinion of the loom instantly dropped to a bitter negative one.

Next came the actual using of the texsolv cord. In the assembly instructions, the word “loop” is used at least three different ways. You wrap the cord around the beam to make a “loop” and stick the end through one of the “loops” in the other end of the cord. Next you make a “loop” with the cord to attach the tie-up bar. But that one really meant, “Pinch a fold of the cord in the middle and put this through the hole at the loose end of the cord.” So, not only was the explanation vague to the point of incomprehensibility, it says nothing about the extremely tight nature of the texsolv cord. It was so tight that in my imagination I kept hearing the cord scream like an abducted  virgin heroine in an historical romance. Accomplishing that maneuver with a burned thumb was painful.

Anyway, having warped once and a half times, I should avoid the obvious pitfalls that resulted from instructions that were written “Do A B D E repeat across, oh, by the way, make sure to do C every time too.” Anyone who had warped a loom before would know C, wrap around tie-up bar, but I had no idea and had to unwarp a lot of very finicky yarn.

I had problems with the warping, but the second time it mostly worked. However, layers of warp intermingled during the winding on, so my tension was wonky when I started weaving. (I did not notice during the process and it was only by reading the Ravelry group where someone else had a similar issue with wonky tension that I found the explanation. The instructions actually say that no warp wrapping is needed.) The warping is ridiculously tedious and a complete pain in the entire body. It is honestly horrible. And this is the “direct warping” that makes rigid heddle looms “so much easier” than multi-shaft looms. I warped about 9″ and cannot imagine owning a 32″ wide loom. Some of the warping and sleying (putting the yarn through the holes of the heddle) problems were because the tools provided with my loom are inefficient and completely pathetic. The “sleying hook” does not fit into the slots of the 10-dent heddle without forcing it. And the sleying hook is under 2 inches long and plastic. It is, actually, a strangely shaped guitar pick. There is no reason why what comes in the box as an “everything you need to get started” should not work together seamlessly. They probably should ship the looms with the 8-dent heddle unless they find another sleying hook that fits better. They actually recommend using dental floss threaders for the 12-dent heddle in the instructions.

The other problem with the winding on is that was when the ratchets started grinding the under-surface because the instructions do not say to set the loom with the front edge hanging off of the table. These instructions give a diagram of a slip knot, but never mention anything about where the clamp that holds the loom stable is supposed to go. The clamp is not even in any of the pictures. I was mostly able to figure out what I should do based on the pictures and the fact that there is only one place to put the clamp (on the underside of the loom’s front stabilizer brace.) But if the instructions had mentioned this, there would have been a lot less destruction of the pad I had placed under the loom. I am mostly thankful that I had taken extra precautions.

So I was extremely angry the whole time I was weaving the first project. Some of that was because the stick shuttle gave me splinters. How difficult would it be to actually sand a flat piece of wood? That is inexcusably bad quality control.

Now I have little rubber feet from the hardware store to raise the loom up and protect the table from the ratchets if the clamp slips (which it does frequently unless you are willing to damage your table tightening the clamp) and I have come up with a way to indirect warp (where one measures and cuts the warp threads and sleys them afterward instead of during) which will save me from having to lean in to do detail work then immediately stand and walk around the room before hunching back down again. Plus I know better now. I know how to position the loom to use the clamp and avoid table damage. I know how a correctly warped loom should look. I bought some warp separating bamboo mats to help reduce intermingling the warp layers during winding on.

I hated my loom because I did not have what I really needed to make it work. I lacked in experience. I lacked in understanding the directions. I hurt myself and damaged property during the assembly because of the instructions.

In my opinion, corners were cut in the design choices and those choices affect the versatility of the loom (it is extremely difficult to use this loom on your lap because of the ratchets). If the lumber on the ratchet mounting sides had been wider, then the loom could be folded and stored flat on a tabletop when not in use, but that cannot happen since the ratchet teeth stand proud of the surface in every orientation. The loom does not fold up well at all, the knobs are strained when the loom is folded. The pegs holding the loom in the open configuration (it can be folded while warped) splintered the wood in their holes. The wood feels unfinished, though it might have some sort of clearcoat. It certainly is not professionally varnished for durability and long-lasting service. I feel like what came in the box is insufficient to make the product work correctly.

Many of these problems have been addressed by fixing the user and aftermarket solutions. But I must heartily recommend against this loom due to the instructions, the ratchet teeth, the poor quality finish, and the lousy included tools. If this loom was $80-100 and marketed as an unfinished loom for experienced weavers, I think it would be fine. Since it is assembled, I will feel no guilt selling the loom should the second project go anything but silkenly smooth, provided I explain to the buyer how the loom should be mounted. I am still considering weaving as a potential hobby, but this is definitely why everyone keeps recommending try-before-you-buy because everyone-is-different. I will see if I can try out other rigid heddle looms in person before buying the next one.

December 30, 2010

loom arrived

Filed under: equipment — Tags: , — UndyedYarnpire @ 11:59 pm

My Emilia arrived today. It is much bigger than I expected. I sincerely doubt I would want something larger than this without a dedicated stand.

The final assembly is a real pain to do. The instructions made very little sense. Luckily they were accompanied by pictures so I found a way to make it look like that. I heartily dislike tex-solv cord. If this is the miraculous wonder material that has saved weavers from a lifetime of struggle and toil, the previous stuff must have been, “Harvest your own varicose veins and use them to tie….”

Anyway, one must attach the tie-up bars to the beams with tex-solv. Cutting “14-inch” lengths of tex-solv, burning the ends in an open flame (which it does not tell you that you need, I guess this is not a dorm-room friendly assembly!) for each hole in the back and front beams. One wraps the beam with the cord, one pulls an end through the first hole in the other end of the tex-solv cord, one feeds that resulting tail through the hole in the beam. Then one pinches the middle of the loose half of the cord and shoves that loop into a hole at the end of the cord. One quickly inserts the tie-up bar into that loop and snugs the loop up tight. The cord-loop does not go through the hole in the tie-up bar and just sort of hangs out. Repeat for all beam holes. However, tex-solv cord does not like to have things stuffed through or into its virgin holes. Since the beams and tie-up bars are standard, I am really unclear on why I had to do this. It did not save them any room in the carton.

The entire point of having me attach the tie-up bar seems to be, “Frustrate her as much as possible right up front. Make getting started extremely difficult so she gives up. She has already bought the loom and it is not returnable.”

Warping the loom was not fun. I have already failed at it once. The first step is to mark the center of the heddle. Why is this a manual step? It could easily be done at the factory. Then one is supposed to center the size of the warp across the heddle and mark those points with threads. Fine. I do this. I follow the instructions about tying the warp yarn onto the tie-up bar, I follow the instructions about fishing the yarn through with the sleying hook. I pull the warp loop around the warping peg. I “keep doing this”. Then I read, “… making sure to wrap the yarn around the tie-up bar after each slot.” That is like a recipe that goes through 45 minutes of prep, 30 minutes of waiting, and after final assembly when the cake cannot wait or it won’t rise, saying, “Bake in an oven preheated to 350F.” Without having mentioned heating the oven up earlier when there was time. So I had to laboriously unwind the warp I had painstakingly fished through a dozen slots.

Later I changed warp yarns and began again. I did it correctly. I followed the steps to the halfway point and I am now ready to fish from slot to hole.

loom picture

This has been incredibly irritating and I am convinced there must be a better way than this, because this is ridiculous. I cannot quite imagine a better way, but there are books which should arrive at some point and they might help. There are probably YouTube videos as well.

December 29, 2010

if you say something untrue, that is a lie.

Filed under: equipment — UndyedYarnpire @ 8:48 pm

I have a complaint about how words were used. If you can mentally hear the guy in The Princess Bride saying, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” That might help.

If you have a website and you say something is “in stock”, especially if you give a count of the number of that item which are “in stock”, I do not think that should mean, “We will call the manufacturer and have it drop shipped to you at some point in the nebulous future.” If something is being drop-shipped at a date uncontrollable by your store, then it is not “in stock”. If you have to call the manufacturer to check whether the item that was ordered and expected to arrive this week is actually available at all, then you completely misunderstood what “in stock” means to the customer. You are also in violation of my expectations of privacy because you are disclosing my personal data to a fourth party (store, shipper, now manufacturer).

Although I am resigned at this point to getting the loom I settled for, I am extremely angry at the purchasing experience. If I had known they were going to lie about the availability, I would not have bought the 13″ Emilia, despite the deal.

December 25, 2010

LOOM!

Filed under: equipment, loom — Tags: , , , — UndyedYarnpire @ 10:39 pm

I bought a loom.

I had 3 choices I really liked.

  • floor loom, Glimakra Julia. But honestly I’ve never woven and $1K is a lot to try something out. Plus the space, the space
  • rigid heddle loom, LeClerc Bergere, but it doesn’t have a stand available, it doesn’t fold up and it’s kind of big.
  • rigid heddle loom, Glimakra Emilia. I loved the 19″ version but couldn’t find anywhere that actually had them. They were the vaporware of looms.

Most people said that RH looms are better with a stand unless you get a really tiny one like a 15″ Schacht Flip.

So when Paradise Fibers sent a Year End Clearance coupon code good for 10% off almost everything (except LeClerc looms and some spinning wheels) I went and looked. They had the 13″ Emilia. So I bought one on the spot. I figure it will not need a stand because it is small enough and if I need to do big things, I probably want a floor loom anyway.

It has been more than a year of looking and and handwringing trying to find the right choice. I hope this was it, but certainly with the sale price, I can resell it for closer to my cost.

I started looking for a loom because someone, somewhere said weaving uses up gobs of yarn. I have a lot more yarn than I can possibly knit in my lifetime. (I am a very slow knitter and easily distracted when something is not for me.) But I love yarn and want to keep spinning, so I needed to find something that would help.

I expect to be rather happy with my purchase, and there will be pictures.

(This post cross posted at http://undyedyarnpire.dreamwidth.org/1091.html )

January 2, 2010

New Year, new projects. Old successes.

Filed under: discussion, equipment, fiber, patterns, project lists, spin, yarn — Tags: , , , — UndyedYarnpire @ 11:46 pm

Recently spun yarns:

From Fiber Club
purple yarn (one ply angora+merino, one ply Falkland for the main yarn, n-plied and wrapped for the two smaller side skeins– 4oz total)

_______

From CMF
turquoise yarn (“Avalon” CMF Corriedale pencil roving, 8oz 2ply in 2 skeins.)

__________

From yarn school fiber
calico yarn (3 ply alpaca: tri-color roving from Alpacas in Wildcat Hollow)

__________

From Fiber Club From fiber dye
Robin Hood (2ply overdye SW BFL)

New Year’s Eve, I cleared my yarn area. I pulled things I was never going to finish off the needles and put everything away in the tubs. There was some squishing required, but everything still fits. (That is the limit. 4 small tubs for yarn, 2 big tubs for roving, 1 under-bed storage for overflow… anything else has to be turned into a finished object.)

I found the sock I started last March. It is feasible to finish it soon because I had already finished the heel turn. The mate will need to be made, but that was worth rescuing.

The pillow front is still on the needles, despite needing 2 more rounds tinked.

___

New Year’s Day I started a new project, leg warmers for me. The yarn is 2-ply bulky from 8oz of “12th Planet” CMF BFL. Its a nice sort of brown purple colorway.  I think I am going to base these on the “Tree Trunk” pattern which is a straight tube with cables on a knit field. I want mine shaped though.

I measured my leg. 11 inches from ankle to knee. I then put tick marks every inch. Then measured around with a measuring tape. So I cast on and my number is 48. I figure I should have 8 repeats of 3×3 cable around. Then  after the increase, there will be 4×3 cable, then 4×4, and so on. At the biggest circumference, I will have 6×6 cables.

I added an inch of horizontal ease so it can go over jeans. And I plan to pretend my row gauge is more like 8.5 instead of the 7 I really get. That way these should have a little bagginess. Cuffs at the ankle and knee, possibly with a lace edging to be added afterward.

Today I also started a replacement cabled cowl. It is kkpp 3×3 pkkp 3×3 ppkk. Same cable idea. Using Knitpicks Gloss Heavyweight yarn, which is about Aran weight. 4sts/inch 6rows/inch using #9 needles.

____

I need another row on my abacus. I want one where there is a fat bead every fourth row. Maybe I just need an abacus where the beads can be interchanged and a big box of beads.

If I can find a new abacus frame, I will most certainly buy bird-shaped beads for this cable pattern (and feather-and-fan) so it goes, “Duck, duck, duck, GOOSE!”

My current abacus frame is a rectangle of wood with beaded wires just wrapped around the edges to hold them in place. The wires cannot be bent and unbent without self-destructing. There is a crossways wire to be the Rubicon. It is a tight horizontal wire threaded under the bead wires and beads have to be lifted over it.  That means if I drop the abacus, I do not lose my place. It is entirely functional with 3 bead wires. I have one wire with alternating big/little beads which I use to keep track of which kind of fancy row I am on. Then I have digits counters (10 medium beads on one, 10 little beads on the other: tens and ones digits). Sliding the beads is fun and does not require both hands unlike those little twisty row counters. Row counters are not useful if you resent having to use them.  I need one more row to count the frequency of fancy rows, but that changes from pattern to pattern.

Speaking of which, when you have chosen a cable, how do you tell how often to execute it? Like my 3×3 cable, is that every fourth row as shown in Knitting In The Old Way or was some of the chart omitted? Most of the examples were 2×2 cables and were every fourth row. I asked a friend who said a good rule of thumb was spacing equal to the number of stitches in the cable. (Which is going to make those legwarmers even more complicated!)

Back to the abacus. I think I could make a travel one with seed beads and coil-less safety pins. That would be a fun project right there.

Now I am going to stop and actually go find the pictures to add. 2010 really needs to be the year of the much more streamlined photo blogging procedure.

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