Friday, September 29, 2006

The main concept of an AVL is this centerline idea. The shed should open symmetrically above and below an imaginary line that runs from the breast beam to the back beam. Mine was 2" and 4" and after adjustments it should be 3" for both. To get there I have to reset the entire beater and shuttle box configuration--actually it'll be closer to the way that I had it before the "fixes."

Lots of frustration, but there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel.

I'm taking my samples down to the lake and if the leaves have changed enough, I think this would be an ideal time to take some shots of them in nature, as it were.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Okay, I spent 3 hours on the phone with the guy at AVL who built my loom... actually he hasn't worked there in a year, which might tell you something...

Anyway, it seems that everything that we've been doing has been misguided, he explained how the loom "should" work and then the right thing to do is to fix things around that principle. The principle being of the centerline. The shed should be symmetrical above and below a line that runs from the separator beam to the front beam.

This required my cutting off all of my current warp, testing this, adjusting, possibly ordering more pieces and then rethreading. I hate threading. I hate, hate, hate it. I'd pay someone to do it. grrrr....

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

some picture:
Magic Six
Well, I'm going to change my battle tactics, and frankly probably for the better. I've normally used what handweavers consider a "natural" selvedge--the selvedge just happens, the pattern just "ends" at the edges. If there are lots of floats in the pattern, then the selvedge is a little wavier. Lots of people use a floating selvedge yarn to catch the floats.

So, I'm changing all of my 8 shaft patterns to 6, so that I have two free shafts for creating a basketweave selvedge. It'll give the blankets a nice firm edge, so that I have less draw-in and should make the blanket look more finished. Right now some of the samples look like they need that detail.

Basically, the adversity will have a good result. I'm just not looking forward to rethreading all of that warp.
Too tall?
Some of the feedback I've gotten now is that my height (I'm 6'1") is what makes me have to lean over to reach the beater handle on my loom. Which made me think about the fact that the majority of looms are built with someone in the 5'5" to 5'7" range probably. Most weavers are women--at least in the handweaving world. I had heard that Robert LeClerc design his looms to fit his mother's very petite 4"11 height. I do find that I have to sort of angle my knees out when I'm treadling my LeClerc Nilus.

I guess as people get taller and of course, as I get older and shrink, it'll be less of a problem...

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Well, the sample for the recessed squares (at least that's what I call the weave) turned out really nice. It fulled to just about the right amount and except for the issue with the plainweave hems, I'm fairly well pleased with it. I'll cut it up into sections and send them out as samples.

I'm really considering buying a serger--against my better judgment. I've never liked sergers, maybe because they reminded me of all of those fleece and quick sew projects. However, I think they do have their place and the fact that they can simulataneously finish my ends and cut off the fringe is a bonus. I'm spending way too much time doing that part. I promise to only use it to finish the ends and will promptly tuck them under and hide them with *real* stiching... really, I promise, I really, really do...honest.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Ugly yarn
I had a bag of "mystery fiber" that came, well, I don't know exactly where it came from, but I've had it forever. It's sort of a taupe long staple English wool with 1 to 2 inch strands of colored viscose in it in burgundy and yellow and maybe some other colors. Anyway, I've been busy spinning this up on my new Kromski and I've come to the conclusion that it is the ugliest yarn in the world. We swept a pile of dog hair off the steps and coincidentally it appears to be the same exact color and texture.

I'm going to have to enter this into an ugliest yarn contest... really, it's gross... but I keep spinning it.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Sample woes
Although my samples washed up pretty nicely and hid a multitude of weaving errors, the hems have really screwed it up. The plain weave makes an hourglass wedge on all of them, which I kinda expected. The other odd thing is that the fabrics still seem very thin. Thinner than my first batch on the LeClerc. I even went back and recalculated my yarns... they weighed in at 1600 ypp after washing, and using Ashenhurst method, the set should have been about 14, which having them set at 12 should be totally normal. Other yarn specs I have put similar weight yarns at 12 epi, so I'm not sure what's going on here. Weave looks like its square. I guess I can do a pick count to see if I'm getting a balanced weave--that'll be tedious.

Haven't heard back from AV-Hell yet, which is making me pissy. They tend to do that, go hot and heavy for a while and then I don't hear from them for a few weeks... is this a dysfunctional relationship? Should I read Weavers who Love Too Much?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Creating a counterbalance harness system
Well, last night I bought four closet poles (12 feet long each), a U-shaped pole clame, a clip and pulleys and rope... seems that I forgot that I needed the two pieces to run perpendicular at the top. If I'd been smart, I would have bought two of the poles long enough to cut off an additional 4'. As it is, I have to cut off 2' from each of them, which basically gets wasted... think, dammit, think...

Alas, the whole Home Depot experience just overcame me and I didn't think that part through. Guess I'll take my receipt and head back tonight.

I also bought some spring clamps to use as side-weighted temple stretchers. I don't think they'll hold, so I'm going to search for either some rug hangers or maybe two small canvas stretchers would work. Then I'll need to go to Cabela's or someplace for fishing weights of various sizes. A good thing to have as well for hanging repair threads off the back.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Confession--I've been really bad about my bills lately. I think when I freak out about stuff, I tend to horde money in my bank account. Inevitably, something major comes up and wipes me, then as the bills pile up, I just go into avoidance mode. Once I stop and break things down it's usually all okay, it's when I see it as his hugh insurmountable amount, that I freak out.
Oh, so tonight I'm going to actually do it. Despite my bitchiness about the loom, I have to get this thing working, so tonight, I'm heading to Home Depot to build my counterbalance selvedge system in the back and whatever other gimmicks I can pull together. What I really need to be doing is sewing up my sample pieces, photographing them and getting them out the door to my rep. But, as with all things in life, being mad about it doesn't necessarily get it done.

Oh, and I haven't gotten a reply back from AVL yet... sometimes they are all over it, sometimes, I wait, and wait and wait...

Friday, September 08, 2006

AV-Hell Loom

I'm on yet another tirade about AVL today. They are indeed the nicest people and maybe I just got a bad loom, but it still isn't working properly and the "fixes" I discussed with them last night are pretty bizarre. I'm really not interested in a loom that has jerryrigging and duct tape and lashed on parts. The loom is just badly designed, that's just the reality. And frankly, I'm shocked and dismayed. My expectations for the Mercedes Benz of looms was pretty high. Instead, I've spent the past year, yes YEAR, trying to get it up and running. Some day, I'll recount all of the problems, but for now, the request is that I do some pretty odd things, like make a fabric sleeve to go over the breast beam so the yarns don't slip and cause more draw-in. (Okay, granted this was my own idea, but still the fact that I have to come up with something at all is ridiculous.)

They also want me to rig up a counterbalance harness in the back for my selvedges and make it out of pulleys and closet rods and string heddles... I don't have time for this. I really, really, really was hoping last nights call would solve all of these problems. Even if the end result was that I was an idiot and just didn't know how to do it, or put it together wrong. Unfortunately, it's the design of it.

I'm under big pressure right now to get my samples finished and some full-sized pieces made so that my rep can start selling... oh, and then I guess I have to actually produce product to fill the orders, huh... argh.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Take up and shrinkage

Really struggling with the finishing on my blankets--the header and the bottom hem. My blankets are mostly textural (waffle weave, Brighton honeycomb, etc.) so there's lots of shrinkage in the wet finishing--it's the nature of those weave structures. The trick is that those weave structures make for lousy material to hem. Way too bulky, so the solution it would seem, is to make the hems a small section of plain weave. As I discovered in my little test samples, the plain weave doesn't shrink nearly enough and leaves an odd wedge/flair kinda thing in the transition area. Hope still lies in using a 2/2 basketweave, but I may have to go to a 3/3 or 3/1 or some other type of basketweave, particularly with the waffle weave.

I'll post some photos of the samples when I get them all done and detail the issue and (hopefully) the solution.
'bout time I start blogging about my weaving.

I have a textile production company Fortner Hall Artisan Textiles, Inc. and have been weaving for a good decade or so. I started this company as my alternative to the corporate job. Given the volatile state of corporate life these days I believe in having a backup. If I'm lucky, I can just switch over to this as my full time shortly.

I weave full sized wool blankets made of naturally-colored Merino wool. Hopefully, this will help documents some of the woes and joys of being a production weaver for the many folks out there who have this as a dream... hopefully, it won't be my personal nightmare, but I can already tell you, it's work, lots and lots of work.

More than the biz, I also want to document and explore the other fiber arts interests I have that are not commercial. They range from machine knitting, spinning, reeling and throwing, and couture sewing.