Sunday, September 30, 2012

Meet Chloe, my workshop loom

This Structo Artcraft is around 80 years old.
Bella has been asked to share her room.  Set up on a small table in the corner is Chloe, a solid walnut 14.5 inch weaving width 4 harness Structo Artcraft loom.  This girl is probably 80 or more years old and has been with me for the past 20. She's my first loom. I have her exact age on some paperwork that came with her which I ought to dig out. She's a noisy girl with metal sheds, but I've added texsolv heddles (really all I could find at the time in the correct size) and have placed a folded towel under them to muffle the sound. I've decided it was about time I got her out of storage and set up someplace permanent.  A bit of lithium grease on her solid mechanism has her working beautifully.

Little table looms like this are great for "sampling" which is weaver talk for trying out new patterns.  That's what I'm doing above, though I am making the samples washcloth size, figuring I might as well have something useful after all the work.  Despite being much older than me, this loom is still working beautifully.  And the walnut is quite lovely, though not fashionable these days.  I think it would be if people had walnut stain on real walnut, instead of oak.

These little looms are also good for workshops--though I've read on Ravelry that some teachers prefer you bring one of those little 70 pound folding floor looms.  Now these folding floor rooms cost around $2,000, so I don't think so.  And really, I don't care how "fast" I can go on a floor loom (from what I've read going "fast" is equated with learning more--which I find suspiciously stupid).  So, dear reader, if you are at a workshop with me, I'll  be the "slow" one in the back with my geeky little clanking (yet muffled) Structo-Art Craft loom that didn't cost me two grand and which I can unload from my car carry into the workshop on my own.

Lucky me, my garden has not been stingy when it comes to producing jalapeƱo peppers.  I also accidentally purchased two from Keller's Farm Stand, which doesn't help.  I will be chopping these up and freezing these.  Fortunately, I have a box of latex gloves I use when I dye and I will be wearing a pair of those!  The hot in the hot pepper is oily and sticks to your hands--rub and eye and oh boy! So I wear disposable gloves now.

That's all for this week!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Five meter shuttle toss

Chocolate Spice Towels in progress.
The shuttle toss is a sport I've been avoiding as I really couldn't do it well.  I'm pretty sure my loom had decided to pick me last for her shuttle toss team..  It wasn't until reading a discussion about it in Warped Weavers that something clicked.  Now, I'm sending my shuttle sliding through the shed to land on the shuttle race beyond.  It is enjoyable, and smooth and goes so well until I get cocky and send the shuttle shooting  across the full width of my loom to land on the floor beyond.  But that doesn't happen too often as I've learned to contain my enthusiasm or catch the shuttle as it flies by.
Perfect toss
The photo above shows a toss that allowed the shuttle to come to a halt just beyond the edge of the weaving--thrown with just enough force to reach it's destination without mishap.

These towels are made with 8/2 organic cotton 60/40 cottolin in the colors Burnt Orange and
Dark Brown from the Yarn Barn of Kansas.  I love the strength and sheen of this fiber as it is a delight to weave with.  I'm hoping for good thirsty towels too.  I'm on my fourth and last towel now and I'm really happy how they are turning out.

This is the same pattern I used for my niece's table runners in black and turquoise reworked to be in autumn colors, (Happy Autumnal Equinox, by the way!), but use a variation of the Goose Eye Block Idea in Marguerite Porter Davison's classic book on four shaft weaving patterns.  I'm really happy with how many interesting designs I can do with four shafts!

We celebrated the first day of autumn with a trip to the farmers market and a half bushel of locally grown broccoli to pack in the freezer.  I also brought a big batch of Roma tomatoes for more tomato sauce. Along with the sauce, I'll be making a couple of vegetable lasagnas. 

And my blog will soon reach 10,000 hits, a milestone I should think.  I'll have to figure out a way to celebrate it!  Any ideas?

Saturday, September 8, 2012


Loom for sale

From time to time, I like to pause and think about things and then regroup.  I will ponder the problem for months then make the decision and quickly move on it.  I'm at the "move on it" stage now, which is why I decided to sell my Schacht table loom soon after finishing the towel project I had on it.  I show it above looking good with the new snazzy tie up tape I tried on it when I realized how bad the duct tape looked in my earlier photos. Despite this tie up draw back--which other weavers have experienced on this model loom--it works well.

I do enjoy weaving on this loom and I've mastered the fine art of warping it--well in general I've figured out how to warp. You, dear reader, know warping doesn't always go well for me, regardless of the loom I'm using.  I've had fabulous warps on this loom, including the first time I wove with handspun and a disaster, which was the last one I put on. 

But I've decided to concentrate on 4 harness weaves after studying the book filled with Bertha Gray Hayes' overshot designs.  Between this and Marguerite Porter Davison's A Handweaver's Pattern Book, I have a lifetime of weaving designs to work with.  I need to set aside "shaft envy" and concentrate on the core of my interest.  Since I already have a little four-shaft Structo Artcraft loom to take to workshops, I really don't need a 20 inch 8 harness table loom.

So, it is time to release this lovely maple loom to another weaver.  I've advertised it in several places and haver recently reworked th pricing to make it more affordable.  The loom with a 12 dent stainless steel reed, warp sticks, homemade raddle that fits to the back beam and a 640 stainless steel heddles installed is $450, negotiable.  Optional accessories include a 6 and 10 dent stainless steel reed for $35 each and a cute little boat shuttle with 10 bobbins for $25.  These all reflect substantial savings from the new price.

 The 20 inch width is great for someone who wants check weaving out because you can make useful things on it like placemats, towels and scarves. I've made towels with it and cloth for a pillow, so it works really well.  Yes, the tie up thingies slip, which is why it has tape on it.  But this happens on other Schachts of this era and I learned the tape trick from another weaver who had one at a fiber show.  I want to give full disclosure of this drawback.  The friend I brought it from used a system of wooden beads and I once tried those little adjustable clips like you find on winter coats to hold the ties, but I've settled on the vinyl tape method. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Call of the looms

A recent project used the entire width of my Leclerc
Weaver's call it OLAD or Obsessive Loom Acquisition Disorder.  There is a woman in Denmark with 23 looms--though she uses them for teaching, and someone in Wisconsin who built a whole ranch house for her collection--though she has recently destashed quite a few.  Some weavers refer to their "herd" or "flock" of looms and I know I'm not the only woman checking Craigslist and the Spinners and Weavers Housecleaning pages to see what equipment is for sale.

But the truth is, how many looms does one woman need?  Or better, how many do I need?  I have my four shaft LeClerc in it's own bedroom and an 8 shaft Schacht taking up an entire table in my workshop.  My Structo Artcraft is in the garage as I don't have room for it.

Last week, I spent a lot of time weaving on the Schacht, completely forgetting the warp on my LeClerc.  This week, I'm on the LeClerc. I just figured out how to throw a shuttle and that's a step forward for a new weaver.  The problem is, my other loom is neglected.

Despite this, I still find myself trolling through the Warped Weaver's Marketplace and other websites looking at looms for sale.  Do I have OLAD?  Yes, I do.  A mild case, I suppose as I haven't purchased one yet.