Sunday, February 21, 2021

Weaving and learning

I first took weaving classes with Liz Gipson at the 2019 Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival (which, now that I think about it, was the last time it was held in person... and 2021 will also be virtual). I've considered myself to be her student ever since. She has an excellent online school for rigid heddle weaving, the Yarnworker School of Weaving. And she hosts quarterly Weave-Alongs those who want to expand their skills. 

The Winter 2021 Weave-Along just kicked into gear, and it's a big one. The project is a Ruana (kind of like a poncho with a split front) and the skills are doubleweave and colorwork. I ordered the yarn in late December to make sure it would arrive in time - this is Brown Sheep Prairie Spun DK, and American yarn from Nebraska.

Liz recommended choosing 3 neutrals with good value contrast (mine are Half and Half, Parchment, and Owl Grey) and 2 accent colors (mine are Lost Lake and Misty Mountain). I wound my yarn, printed my pattern, and patiently awaited the video support for warping week!
Doubleweave is two layers of fabric, so it's a lot of warp threads. I weighed down my loom with these trusty old textbooks from college.
You might notice some pieces of blue tape on the floor. These were extra insurance so that I would notice if the loom moved. I didn't want the length of my warp threads to change during the process. HOWEVER, the surface I had my pegs clamped to on the other end of the warp moved, so my warp was "foreshortened" on one side despite the influence of Shakespeare and Chaucer. This general diagonal slant on the ends should not be there!
Also, I missed up on one warp thread and passed it across the back of the heddle rather than the back apron rod. I re-threaded it and hung it with a weight (an S-hook), which you can see dangling down the back. I threaded all my slots and holes according to the pattern, and then I was ready to tie onto the front apron rod. So many ends! I worked really hard to keep my tension even as I worked across the warp. Little did I realize that I was pulling the yarns quite tightly, and they were rubbing against my pinkie fingers in a bad way. It seems unbelievable that I didn't feel this while it was happening, but I really didn't. This is what I did to myself - a true weaving injury:

Here's the loom all tied up and ready to weave:

Friends, I do not recommend scraping the skin off the inside of a knuckle joint. The healing process is very slow, because bending the finger reopens the scabs many times a day. Drying one's hands after washing them is agony, which is why I had damp hands for a while... and that just leads to extremely dry skin in this weather. Luckily I only needed to use hand sanitizer a few times this past week; it was (predictably) very painful. Here is how my fingers look one full week after the injury - definitely better but most definitely not completely healed. I'm sure this is partly due to constant hand use, but also partly due to age (I know skin takes longer to heal as we get older).

But yet, I am weaving. Here you can see the beginning of the striped section that will form the front of the Ruana.

The fold of the doubled cloth is on the left side of the loom:
And the two layers are separate on the right side of the loom:

This is definitely a skill-builder for me. I've only done doubleweave once before (in this bag), but the project was so small I hardly had time to lock in the concepts. This one is a lot bigger. I'm here for the learning.

1 comment:

  1. Your weaving injury does look painful! It's healing now, but what works for me with things like that is A&D ointment covered with a band aid. The colors of your ruana are lovely and I look forward to seeing more progress!