Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Beaming the Baby Blanket Warp

The only shot I got of the baby blanket warp being beamed is this one:

I think the next time I use the warping valet it will be for a narrower warp of a yarn that is finer and smoother than unmercerized 8/2 cotton.  Maybe 20/2 Tencel?

As you may be able to tell from the photo, the raddle is upside down, with the cap strapped on with velcro. That worked quite well until I got to the last bit of the warp, when I had to hand-tension the warp rather than depend on the valet and weights. At that point, the velcro straps came unstuck, the cap fell to the floor, and the warp threads bunched together and tangled. $%^$#&%$!

So next time, the raddle and cap will go right way up, I'll use stronger (and more) velcro straps, and hope for a less stressful process. The first time is always a learning experience...

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Tips for Using the Warping Valet

In a comment on the previous post, Stephanie asked a couple of very sensible questions, "Do you plan to run the warp down from the valet through the raddle? Maybe using the raddle upside-down?"

Yes, I plan to route the warp from valet through raddle to heddles. The raddle has a couple of strong velcro straps to hold the cap in place. Using the raddle upside-down is a terrific idea anyway - I'm a big fan of the "just in case" strategy.  It's no fun when the cap comes loose mid-process, allowing the warp threads to meander away from their assigned positions, so a big "Thank You!" to Stephanie for her suggestion.

Beaming the warp begins tomorrow (today was fully occupied with other responsibilities). I will report on this inaugural use of the valet. Can't wait!

In the meantime, if anybody has tips for using the valet, I would love to hear them. This is a new tool for me, and help from experienced users is always welcome.

Monday, March 05, 2018

New Loom Accessory

Today DH installed a warping trapeze (Kati Meek's term for this warping method) or a warping valet (as Laura Fry calls it, pictured in the first photo in this post) on my AVL dobby loom.

My typical weaving warps are solid color yarns, but I have plans for a number of painted warps of various types and purposes, the first being the series of baby blankets for my neice Kelsey, which are ready to be wound onto the warp beam. My warping wheel is a great tool for solid color (or even variegated) yarns, but when the warp is wound ahead of time and painted, it needs to be beamed all at once, not in 1-inch sections. So I described what I wanted to my clever husband, he measured this and that and made a list of the parts that would be required, and went to Home Depot, the nearest big-box DIY store.

That was around lunch time, and well before dinner time, the valet was manufactured and installed on the loom. It will be ready to go to work tomorrow. All I need now are some plastic jugs to fill with sand to use for warp weights...

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Warp Layout

As promised, here is a photo of the warp chains as they will be beamed onto the loom:

The stripes from left to right are as follows:
grey-green solid
smaller painted
grey-green solid
wider painted
pale grey solid
wider painted
grey-green solid
smaller painted
grey-green solid

The weave draft is a snowflake-type pointed twill pattern:

In the draft, the grey stripes are the solid color stripes, and the green and purple are the painted stripes. The two (green) stripes will have the same painted dye order as one another, and the two wider stripes will be similar to one another. Not precisely exact, because this is warp painting (not an exact science, because it's Sandra's hands), not printing (an exact science that usually requires much more precise equipment).

More photos as the warp finds its way onto the loom.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Warp Painting Setup

The studio is difficult to keep at the temperature that is needed for painting on cotton with fiber-reactive dyes.  This is mostly because it has windows on all sides, and its heating system is not up to the task of keeping a room that is connected to the house only on a small part of one wall at the temperature required in February.

So I did all the prep work in the studio, and when all the dyes were mixed and all the other supplies at hand, I carried it all down to the kitchen. The center island in the kitchen is about 10.5 feet long, so I prepped it by laying down a matress pad and several towels, and covered the length of the counter with heavy-duty plastic sheeting. This was clamped to the counter and then covered with plastic wrap so I could roll up the painted warp bouts in the plastic wrap to cure. Then I covered the sheeting with a new layer of plastic wrap, ready to paint the next bout of warp yarn.

This is what it looked like with all the protective layers in place:

Then the fun began. Unfortunately, I became so engrossed in the task that I completely neglected to take any in-process photos. !@*(&^#$%)*&%!

Oh, well, once the dyes are set, the warp bouts are chained  to keep them from tangling, washed until no more unfixed dye is present, then dried, I promise to take a few pictures.

Friday, February 16, 2018

And More Progress...

The weather is still too cold for painting warps; the Procion MX dyes for cotton want to be in the 70-90-degree (F) range while the colors set, and the studio isn't usually kept at that temperature all the time. Also, it doesn't have an ideal setup for messy activities. Usually, I use a table outdoors, but near-freezing nights and 50-degree days make that less than ideal.

In any case, I've begun winding the bouts of warp. It has been a while since I used the warping mill, and it took a few  times around the winding path to remember the hand movements to get the threads in the right order at the crosses. There is a thread-by-thread cross at the "front" of the warp (at the top of the mill)), and a 2-by-2 cross at the "back" of the warp (the lower right in the photo below. I'm winding a bout for each pattern area of the design. The grey-green stripes went first, then undyed chains that will get painted later. There's still a pale grey to be dyed and wound into its own bout.

Here's the warping mill with a bout of yarn wound onto it:

...and a pile of chained bouts waiting for the next step in the process:

The yellow tags indicate the number of threads in each chain, according to the design.

Kelsey, the way the mill works is this: You measure a length of strong cord the length of the planned warp (7 yards, in this case, which includes the inevitable waste) with loops at each end to go around a peg, and then wind it onto the mill such that the cord is taut. The cross-pieces with the protruding pegs can be moved if necessary. I keep a basket of pre-measured cords: 8,  5, 3, and 1 yards, and one half-yard. By looping them end to end, I can make almost any length warp bout (in 18-inch increments) that is feasible with this warping mill, which can accommodate up to about 20 yards (if it's fine thread). Then, as you wind the warp bout, you follow the path of the guide cord. Presto, a group of threads the same length.

Thursday, February 08, 2018


In my last post, I didn't include any photos to show the difference between "natural" cotton yarn and oxy-whitened cotton yarn, so here goes:

Keep in mind that the skeined yarn in the pot is wet, which usually means it is darker than if it were dry. In any case, it is clearly a paler color than the light beige yarn on the cone.

This whitening made it possible to dye the lighter of the colors in the photo below. These skeins will be weft (Kelsey, the weft yarns are the cross-wise yarns, as opposed to the length-wise yarns called "warp" that are wound under tension onto the loom). The light green and the very pale silver-grey were dyed on whitened yarn; the darker colors were dyed before the oxyclean experiment. Those darker skeins had to get a more concentrated dye to combat the yellowing influence of the natural cotton.

The colors that I paint onto parts of the design will mainly include light grey-green, light blue, pale grey, darker charcoal grey, and a few areas of darker blue and fuchsia and blue-violet where those two meet and blend. I probably won't get to the warp painting for a few days; other obligations are taking priority.