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Sample Exchange: EWBM & JHW

Sally Orgren's picture
Hanging water weights at the bottom, to keep consistent tension on the warp
Back of the loom: Raddle clamped in place, warp feeding evenly onto warp beam
Threading under tension, and using a child's chair to sit at a proper height to reach the heddles.
Weaving. A temple helps establish the width and pic count when using a spongy fiber like wool.
The method used for measuring, securing, and then cutting 60+ samples
Project Status: 
Project Date: 
Sat, 04/08/2017 - Tue, 04/11/2017
Loom Used: 
Tools of the Trade
Number of Shafts: 
Number of Treadles: 
12.00 EPI
Length on Loom: 
4.50 yd
Width on Loom: 
45.00 in

The sample was first glimpsed in a late 1800's/early 1900's mill book shared by Marjie Thompson at the Weaving History Conference in the spring of 2016. The hand-inked tie up was cryptic and accompanied by a black and white fabric swatch. I wanted to weave a sample for both the Early Weaving Books and Manuscripts study group of Complex Weavers (due in May), and for the Jockey Hollow Weavers Guild sample exchange on color 'n weave, due in June. Additional parameters: I wanted to use up stash yarn, and as I don't typically work with wool, I thought I would enjoy the challenge. I liked this fabric sample because of the larger size of the motif and the fact that the boxes seemed to fall on a diagonal. I also liked that the boxes were created by the interlacement of many threads within a single color, not just long floats on the surface. Thinking that the hand-inked tie up would be simple to translate with the software, I ran into a big snag. No matter what I tried, I could not get the color 'n weave effect to show up in the draw down, no matter what variations I tried. I knew that the color order may be out of sync with the threading, but I was misled by the color notation on the hand-inked drawing. After numerous attempts in the software and exasperation building over a two to three week period, I finally contacted CW librarian Jane Hosford for help. One simple sentence from her put me on the right track and I was able to start my project planning! Measuring my materials (one cone which was from Maryland Sheep & Wool 1997!) I estimated I had enough for the generous 68 5 X 5" samples, with enough leftover to make a couch throw. I was worried I might fall shy of the "vintage" brown wool, but several of my guild mates stepped up with yarn that matched from their stashes. At most, I estimate I'll possibly need about 600 yards additional. - 540 warp ends + FS - Pattern repeat = 40 ends (or picks) - 12 epi at 45" wide - The stash wool is very similar to Harrisville's Shetland 2 ply unwashed, (Halcyon's Item #9) - Loom waste estimate is 24-28"


Almost finished weaving! The loaner cone of yarn from a guild mate was a perfect color match, but I had to double it. Below, the original piece of fabric and the tie up. (Cryptic, yes. Think Oelsner.)

One pattern repeat (40 pics) consistently came in at 3.25". I was measuring carefully as I wove. I have just enough to complete the samples and the project... I *think*.


And now the finishing....Agh.

I took on-loom (under tension) and off-loom measurements (to determine take up) and then will measure again after washing (for shrinkage). So far, take up was 6% in both directions. I hope that bodes well, indicating my sett and beat were consistent.

The blanket is going to be fringed, but the sample chunk of fabric hemstitched before wet-finishing. I did the final edge that way, but forgot to start the hunk of fabric with hemstitching, so now I have to do it off loom, which is harder, slower, and more tedious than when under tension on the loom. I hate to sew the cut edge for wet-finishing because it will keep this particular wool fabric from shrinking at the same rate as the rest of the fabric. (Cotton dishtowels aren't a problem.)

Sigh. It isn't finished until it is wet-finished. So hemstitching and twisting fringe are all that stand in the way of seeing the final product. Oh, and deciding how to wet-finish it. Machine, or hand-agitate...?


I ended up hand agitating the blanket in the tub and it worked out great!

For the samples, I added a photo to show the process. I pinned the sample fabric to a cutting grid normally used for garment sewing. I used a mixure of glue & water to paint on the cutting lines, let it dry, then cut the samples apart. The glue & water mixture keeps the cut edges from fraying too much, and it doesn't feel as "crunchy" as using FrayCheck. It also rarely changes the appearence of the cloth by darkening it, a problem I have had at times with Fraycheck.


I had a few more follow up questions about the glue and water:

Mix the glue and water to the consistency of tempra paint. (A milky consistency is too thin.)

I paint it on with a flat, 1/4" wide watercolor brush.

I cut the lines when dry, using a sharp scissors or a rotary cutter. In this case, the fabric was lofty and somewhat shifty, so I used my scissors.

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