ah ha moments and the mystery of the never-ending warp

July 22, 2012 2:19 pm | by

I’ve been working on a weaving project for a little while now, quite a while actually.  I loved it the beginning, and while I still love it, I’ve become quite bored with it.  In the beginning, I thought I’d be smart, and warp for 6 great towels so that I could weave uninterrupted.  In theory, this was a wonderful idea, more weaving time, more finished items, less warping. In reality, it’s resulted in less weaving, fewer finished items, but still less warping.  Always a positive in there!  The reason for fewer finished items and less weaving time goes back to my “fickle” personality traits… I’m BORED!  I want something new!  Especially right at this moment!

This past week, I was very fortunate to travel to Harrisville Designs in New Hampshire and especially lucky to have the opportunity to study weaving with Deb Chandler.   WOW.  WOW WOW WOW!!!!   In the words of one of my Tampa travel mates, that’s like studying cooking with Julia Child!   Deb was fabulous.  Her style of teaching was perfect.  I loved every moment of it.  I’m soooooooo inspired.

I am direction challenged.  That means that I have to do stupid things like holding a compass until it faces “N”, then bring out my map and as I stand facing “N” with the compass, I can begin to figure out where I need to go.  It’s an issue, but it’s one I’ve learned to work with.  …and so begins my week with Deb and Double Weave.  After a short double weave discussion, we were set loose to warp our looms.  Harrisville provided a generous selection of yarns in every color of the rainbow for us to use in our projects.  I chose “melon” and “pink”.  Fun, shockingly bright colors.

Everything was going well.  I measured out my warp, sleyed the reed, threaded the heddles, and tied up the treadles according to the directions provided.  Then it was on to the actual weaving.  Double weaving.  Pink on top with melon on the bottom.  Two shuttles.  4 treadles.  Progress at last.  Deb’s style was to provide as much or as little assistance as each student required.  My style of learning is to fuss with a puzzle until finally it becomes clear…. it can take a while.  I’m not much of a note taker.  I just have to keep doing something until it clicks.   Perhaps it was the whole direction thing, but this time, I needed to take notes to keep track of what was happening.

I spent the afternoon crawling around under the loom, messing with the tie ups, pressing the pedals to see if pink or melon was rising, and how I might be able to get pink out of the way in order to get to melon.  I changed the tie ups to include 8 of the 10 treadles so that I didn’t have to push down more than one at a time.   This is sure to sound silly to someone who has woven double weave, or to someone who isn’t direction impaired.  It was like a strobe light under the loom… one minute I got it, the next it was gone.  The lightbulbs in my head were blazing!

I made this cool little weaving aide with a folded piece of paper to help me understand how I was moving the shuttle over one set of threads and around to the bottom.  I was mumbling a mantra of “top A, bottom A, bottom B, top B” as I watched the colors rise and fall in succession to create a flat fabric that would open up to double width.  I made little sketches as I changed my top fabric from pink to melon.  I was really pleased with myself.  …and then the ah ha moment came clattering through my brain.  Makes me laugh to think about it.  I puzzled with that stupid folded paper trying to understand each step of the process… pink on top, melon on top, open from the left, open from the right… I was weaving with those two shuttles, pink at the right, melon at the left.  It was probably an hour that I was messing with that silly paper trying to figure out how I could open the “top” melon fabric on the right instead of on the left.  …and then it hit me – start the shuttle on the right.  In the words of Homer Simpson… “DOH”.  It took that brain process though for me to tackle  the next lesson – double weave pickup.  LOVE IT!  Deb made it easy and fun.

We learned so many things this week.  Deb helped us tackle fabric analysis, helped us understand block drafts, and helped us with easier ways to warp the loom.  My brain is still spinning.  I’m so inspired to put my new learning into practice…

…but the Wolf is holding on to a never-ending warp.  Way back in the “olden days”, I measured out a beautiful Navy and Champagne tan warp.  It was planned to support 6 kitchen towels.  The weekend before my scheduled trip to Harrisville, Jim and I loaded the Wolf into the trailer and brought it home so that I could get the last towel finished.  I wove all day and yes, I finished number 6.  Hmm, there was still a lot of paper on the warp beam.   … so I began number 7.  It became clear that there were going to be more than 7 towels on this warp.  Not wanting to face it, I left for my class.

I arrived home last night, filled with ideas on what to do next.  Unfortunately, my excitement was thwarted by that never ending warp sitting on the loom.  I couldn’t figure out what had gone wrong.  How could my calculations have been so far off?  Today, with Jim and his Nook in tow, we headed down to the shop for about an hour of weaving time.  I finished number 7, and as I sat there hem stitching and contemplating number 8, it suddenly hit me.  My calculations were right.  My measuring was wrong.  I’ve been measuring my towels with a little white string.  The string is exactly the length of my finished towels.  …my finished, washed and dried towels, not the length of the towels on the loom.  Just shows how I think.  This puzzle took quite a while.  The mystery of the never-ending warp has been solved.

My kitchen explorations towels are filled with learning.  I learned that I don’t like long warps.  I’d rather work up something quickly and then warp again so that I don’t get bored.  Deb helped me understand that the warp process could be easy and painless.  I learned that when you dutifully work up your calculations to include shrink, you should not forget to include that shrink factor in your “measure string”.  I learned to combine color and texture on the same warp to end up with a very different end product.  I tried different hem stitches, I worked on my selvedges.  I’m excited to see the end of this project.

Tomorrow I’ll weave number 8.  …and then something new!

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