May 15th, 2015 - Weaving
Those of you that know me, know I love clothes, shoes, jewelery...Most probably take for granted how the things they wear are made. I've always been fascinated with it. Though don't mistake that for having the patience to make it myself. My 8th grade sewing class was a miserable experience. The older I get though, I'm finding that my patience has expanded. I've still not mastered the sewing machine, but I'll get there.
Lately I've been fascinated by how fabric is made. Like a pinpoint oxford. Ever looked closely at it? The pattern of really small threads is pretty impressive. Machine made, and in that is my interest. How does that work? Then I move to really geeky and wonder how about the thread itself?... We'll save that for another time.
After doing a fair amount of research, and realizing my own limitations, I recently invested in a Kromski 24" rigid heedle loom. How did I come to this conclusion? Well, those huge looms (and I love automation!) are several thousand dollars. The scale for which one would need to recoup the investment on one of those is far beyond me. Plus, where to put it. So I settled for the idea of that I can make things that would be less than 24" wide. Tea towels, shawls, table runners, placements, cloth napkins... It's enough to satisfy my curiousity, I can make some useful things with it, and it will fit in my art room.
Did you know there is an entirely different language involved? Weft, warp, heedle...huh? Hence the book link on the right. I was so excited when it arrived! I wanted to take it out and play with it right away. But it needed assembly. Hum...I can follow directions, right? While Neil was traveling, I figured I'd give it a whirl. Funny thing, I ended up with extra pieces. Hum again...I've since figured that out!
Did you also know there is math to yarn? (This week has been a revisitation to some long gone grade of math. I had to use pi to figure out the label machine...) I went in search of some scrap yarn, and after reading the directions, I scrapped their plan and made my own with the help on an online plaid designer. Talk about fun! If you get some time with nothing to do (?@!#) check out http://www.plaidmaker.com It's free and fun to design your own plaid using your favorite colors.
Above is the simple plaid I designed using 3 colors of scrap yarn. Now to the math. I measured out pieces of yard that are 54" long, and enough to create something roughly 14" wide. Going up and down will be a repeat of 16 tan, 8 blue, and 8 white. Then going across there will be 16 tan and 8 blue. It took me a couple hours to get it all put together. From what I've read that is the longest part of the process.
Above is my progress. It kinda looks like the design, doesn't it? The actual weaving part goes pretty fast. The heedle (the part the thread is through, has a middle hole, and then next to it has a trench. The heedle gets moved up and down so that every other thread moves and creates an opening for which to weave through. I now completely get how fun automation would be! The warp is the long yarn and the weft is the yarn you weave horizontally. Ah...simple enough!
If you haven't, check out Craftsy.com if you're into crafts. There are an endless array of classes out there that you can watch at any time on just about any platform. The one I watched prior to doing it myself is "Rigid Heedle Weaving" by Angela Tong. She did a nice job of covering all the basics. By the time I got my loom and was ready to sit down and do it, I felt pretty confident I could figure it out. Gotta love technology!
I was looking through my closet after working on this and it makes me look at everything differently. I will appreciate a unique design, color and construction very differently. And the idea that this is only one step in the process from coming up with the clothing design, picking colors, picking the fabric type, and then actually sewing it into something to be worn. How on earth we can buy things for the prices we do is amazing to me considering so many pieces to the puzzle.
Stay tuned. I've been playing with leather too. Did I mention my passion for purses?...
Rigid Heddle Weaving - $39.99