Sunday, May 31, 2015


  Seersucker is a type of cloth with wrinkled stripes. According to Wikipedia, "The word came into English from Persian, and originates from the words "Sheer" and "Shakar", literally  meaning "milk and sugar", probably from the resemblance of its smooth and rough stripes to the smooth texture of milk and the bumpy texture of sugar." Most people think of it as the material used in summer weight clothing for men's suits or garden party dresses. I don't know of many handweavers attempting it because to do it for longer lengths of cloth you should put the stripes on a second beam. For looms that have a conventional friction brake everytime the weaver needs to advance the warp each warp beam has to be released, the woven cloth rolled to the cloth beam, and the tension restablished on both beams. With my AVL looms each beam can be individually tensioned and once the tension is set at the beginning of the warp no further adjustment is necessary. I know this works because I have done it on my smaller AVL but for that project I did not want to have one beam tensioned higher than the other.
  My current project is on the big lom, 42" wide, the sectional beam is loaded with a combo of 10/2s tencel and cotton, end on end. The plain beam has 12/2s cotton. You wouldn't think the yarn size was significant but the 12/2s cotton is much finer. The loom is threaded in straight draw, shafts 1-12 are for the cotton/tencel and shafts 13-16 are for the 12/2s. My sett is 32 epi. My loom looks like a disorganized mess because I have the threading cross from each beam hanging on their individual lease sticks. Cross-checking my threading is super important because if I make a threading error I have to fix the problem for both beams.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Horse Blankets ???

  Not sure what happened here but I am not seeing many posts on my blog about the ongoing Civil War horse blanket project. I have been through many iterations of samples, yarns etc. and have not been happy. I was going into the 2nd year of this project. I absolutely cannot find an affordable repeatable domestic source of the proper yarn. I sent my potential client a "Dear John" email. The materials alone, wholesale, are more than $100.00 and that cost is there way before I throw a shuttle. Suffice to say I am a Civil War horse blanket expert. I bought some wool yarn off of Ebay, Brown Sheep for a last ditch prototype. The yarn I bought felts, it is not Superwash, but it is knitting yarn so the twist is too loose. I persisted. I set up my big loom to weave a blanket in two panels, with the stripes, with numerous calculations for shrinkage etc. It was not fun weaving. The knitting yarn shredded  on the selvedges. I then had to hand stitch the panels together. Having finished that, after I sent the "Dear John" email, I threw the whole thing in my washing machine, hot wash. Then I put the whole thing in a hot dryer. ¡Surprise! The thickness and the look is correct. These blankets were made to be folded four times and what I got would work. Also ... maybe more importantly ... is that my calculations came out, my stripe blocks are almost square, and the shrinkage percentage is very close. So what I have now, well felted but still soft and nice, begs to be a clothing item (without the yellow stripes!).

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Orange is the New ..... (Fill in the Blank)

  It has been a while. I only have some sampling warp left with Project Naranja. My warp is the beautiful high quality 26/2s wool from WEBS. It is a mill end or close out and I'll never see this yarn again. So I bought every color of orange and some pale pinks. I originally bought this yarn for the Civil War horse blanket project. That didn't work out for blanket weight (despite the original 1860's specification) but the same yarn, different colors, made a soft wonderful cloth when woven as a 2/2 twill. I set up my small loom to do doubleweave in blocks. I wove out a shawl length using various colors of the same wool as weft. What I got after wet finishing and lots of fabric softener and a vinegar rinse had the feel of a brillo pad. Not wearable next to the skin. I passed out my "shawl" to be examined by the seasoned handweavers at the Weaver's Barn and the consensus was that the weave structure was causing the unpleasant texture. As my loom was threaded for blocks I decided to improve the texture with what would work for the colors. I wove a second shawl length with a zippy coral noil silk singles. That made for a comfortable cloth. For all the problems I had with the hand of the cloth the yarn was very easy to weave. Doubleweave is an amazing weave structure. With how I was weaving it I got some wonderful puffy blocks and this got me thinking about what I want to do on my big loom.

  My big loom has two beams. Seersucker has been on my mind to do for a long time. I don't mean what people commonly think of it, crisp summerweight barbershop quartet suits in creamsickle colors, gaackkk !!! I want to make cloth for clothing that is already aesthetically wrinkled. So now the big loom has a combo of tencel and cotton on my sectional beam. I am part way with measuring the "stripes" for the plain beam which is a slightly thinner cotton. Many weavers never use their second beam even when they have one. I have routinely done two beam weaving on my smaller loom. Fortunately with the AVL you can set the tension differently on each beam and it will stay adjusted for the whole warp. This is not easy to do on looms with brakes and tension systems that require adjustment on both beams after the warp is advanced.