Thursday, October 31, 2013

Sample Warp Fini!

Last night I couldn't sleep so I got back to my loom at 11:00 and finished the 60" Compu-Dobby warp at about 1:00. That included overlocking the hem. Today I finished the hem and then wet-finished, dried, and ironed my "sample". What did I learn? The Compu-Dobby performs very well. I think the loom treadles too hard and I need to see what is going on there. The harnesses are significantly wider compared to the 40" loom but still .....? I cannot figure out how to raise the harnesses and keep them up (to check the shed behind the heddles) for the life of me with the Compu-Dobby. The pin that keeps the dobby arm depressed doesn't exist anymore on the 60". Such an easy thing to do on my 40".

I used three different weaves on the 2nd and last scarf, tabby, my psychobutdoable crepe-like random weave of my own design, and a cut down version of an "Ikat-inspired" diversified network twill. Thank you Eva Stossel for sending me the draft! When I pressed the scarf the pattern popped out.

2nd Scarf 60" Test Warp

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

What a Sample Reveals

I am a believer in full-sized "samples" for lots of reasons. I already know there is quite a difference with the tension and the beater weight between the bigger and the smaller loom. A skinny sample can fool the weaver into thinking that the sett and the pick out are correct or for that matter the yarn is behaving as planned. And of course there are the color interactions between warp and weft. What might have looked good in a skinny sample could look nasty full-sized. Rather I choose to create a "prototype", a fully completed version of what I want to produce in greater quantity - on the LOOM it  will be produced on. Although the purpose of this warp was to experiment with the Compu-Dobby, I did end up with a functional "prototype". What I like: the lighter colors and my random lift plan (in what order the harnesses are raised) and the plain weave, tabby, stripes. What I don't like: the darker colors with the random lift plan, too much of a difference in values between warp and weft.

The prototype is fringeless. I feel this is nicer on a scarf, easier to tuck under a coat. How do I do my hems? I overlock the fisrt weave picks while cutting off the waste yarn. I then slighty pull up on the overlock thread tails on each end and needle weave them back into the overlock. I turn this over, over again and use a straight stitch. I press to lock the stitching into the cloth. Makes a nice secure neat hem.

Saturday, October 26, 2013


Got the 10" sample going on the big loom. Compu-Dobby working correctly. The chenille obscures the pattern but I am hoping for "collapse" after wet-finishing. All an experiment. I am still getting used to the tension system on this loom. It is quite different at least compared to the smaller loom. I have the tension set very low. It advances with the sandpaper beam very easily, almost too easily, but yet the warp is plently tight enough. Oh well, if ain't broke don't fix it! The cloth is rolling up on the sandpaper beam. I am not attaching this to the apron. To get the warp threads sticking to the sandpaper beam rolling them around manually is hard to do, scratchy.  I just use a sheet of that rubberized shelf liner by feeding it between the sandpaper beam and the cloth. You you let it roll on. I use this stuff when I leave unwoven yarn for fringes. It keeps the tension consistent until I start another one. In that case I let the shelf liner "roll out". I think AVL people will get that.

Sample on the 60" AVL loom

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Progress and Loom Ergonomics

I got the Compu-Dobby talking to my netbook so now I can take the desktop computer, monitor and keyboard to electronic recycling. It is a little sad but I don't need another computer. The 60" loom has a lot more weight to lift with the harnesses, at least compared to my 40" loom. I remember going to see Jim Ahrens, to see some of the looms he designed.  One of his dobby looms had a rocker or cam close to the two treadles that every dobby has.  The treadles alternated between lifting the harnesses and advancing the dobby chain. Each leg got an equal workout. The purpose of the rocker was to make each treadle equal. It was also faster to weave on. On the AVL loom the left leg does the advancement of the dobby chain and the right does the lifting. On a Compu-Dobby-assisted loom the left leg still has to depress the treadle but it is the right leg the that lifts and swishes the dobby arm across the electric eye, advancing the pattern. After a few hours of the AVL design, especially with a fully loaded loom, your right leg can get really sore. I know because on my smaller loom I got sciatica from weaving 6 hours a day. Now I pay attention and do two important things: I beam my loom properly and I get off the bench every 45 minutes to walk around and to stretch. Bench height, the angle of the bench , and the angle of the foot to the treadles make a big difference. Unfortunately they may not be adjustable. This is why more than one weaver has abandoned the bench and gotten the right sized office chair.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Click Click Click

I plugged in the desktop computer that came with Thing 2. It came with an early version of the Weavepoint software that is sold by AVL the loom manufacturer. Since the Compu-Dobby box would be very expensive to replace I am motivated to keep it happy. The thin foam filter that protects the fan was replaced with a cut-to-size piece of air-conditioning filter. Weaving throws off lots of lint, probably not good for a Compu-Dobby. Oh yes, it needs a decent serge protector. She boots and the solenoids in the box click through their self-check. I fired up the weaving program and loaded a random design I found. At first one of the harnesses was being bad and would raise on a tilt. I checked the springs below, jumping heddle frame wires, and possible loose heddles. No luck until I look up (metaphor for life?) and see I have crossed two cables that run across the castle (top support of the loom). Uncrossed and all is well, peddle, harnesses raise, dobby arm sweeps the electric eye, click, the solenoids tap the dobby keys, and so on, click click click. Yes!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Weigh! Heigh! and Up She Rises

Not sure a sea shanty is required but the big loom is almost ready. I don't name my looms. They aren't pets but I need to distinguish. How about Thing 1 and Thing 2?  There are no more parts left under my bed or in the spare bedroom with the exception of the very large sectional beam. I can lift it but I can't manuever it into position within the loom frame. Maybe I can get a friend to help me. Next step is to test the Compu-Dobby and see how it responds to the weaving program on the desktop computer that came with the loom. It is running under Windows 95. It is frozen in time. At one time I published an international newsletter called the "Computer Textile Exchange". I remember reviewing lots of weaving programs. It is interesting to me that many of the same programs are still out there. Computer-aided weaving design can never take the place of seeing a real weft cross a real warp. The Compu-Dobby will allow me to do more real time sampling on the loom that would otherwise require pegging up a different dobby chain.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Weaving Up to the Heddle Eye: That's All She Wrote.

This is sort of a handweaver's challenge, to weave out every last bit of warp. It actually makes no sense, unless your warp is made of gold (¡ some are ! ), to coax a warp to the screaming end. The tension starts to get flakey as the leader that attaches the warp bundles to the warp beam come up over the rollers. I put in lease sticks. The last few inches are slooooow to weave. In this case it was necessary to finish this shawl, my last one of this 35 yard warp. I wanted to have some warp to do samples. I had nothing left to sample with. Not too much loom waste but it could have been better. This was due to a shorter bout of warp. I remember I taught sectional beaming at Convergence 90'. You'd think I knew what I was doing. For all the weaving I've done certain processes are not done that often.

The last shawl
Up to the heddle eye. No further can I go.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Bringing It All Back Home

All in my car. Dobby box rides shotgun.
What is left of the 60" AVL loom to disassemble.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Not Much Left on This Warp

I am getting done, maybe three more. I will see if my calculations are right.
These need to be fringed and wet-finished. These are not all off them BTW.
Lighter colors, very nice.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Experimenting and the New-to-Me Loom

I still have about twelve yards to weave off my 40" AVL and I have been playing with some color combinations and stripes. For the most part I like what I have done.

And...  the other news is that I have purchased a new-to-me 60" AVL production dobby. It comes with a lot of extras including a 1st generation Compudobby and thankfully the old desktop computer that runs the software. I can use it on my 40" loom or leave it on the monster. The new-to-me loom weighs 450 lbs and has to be almost totally disassembled to get it into my home.
The "small stuff" in the back of my car.
A side view with the Compudobby.