Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Just for fun, two more weaves...

I spent more time at the loom. I did the same pattern as before and got a far better result. There aren't as many mistakes and the band has a very consistent width.

Here's a closeup.

Then I made another band using a different technique. Quite disastrous, heh. Here's a decent section. It's about 5/8" wide.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Further Adventures in Tablet Weaving

My first tablet weaving experiment was entertaining and successful. However, the setup I was using - 2 c-clamps and some stretchy acrylic yarn - left much to be desired. I wouldn't be able to do a more serious piece that way.

I scurried to the shop and made a little Inkle loom. At least, I think this qualifies as one. It's 16" long, has 4 pegs, and can accept about 52" of thread. I made it out of the finest quality salvage plywood. You know the smell of olde world craftsmanship? This tastes almost exactly like that.

Anyway, here it is:

In all seriousness, it is made of salvage plywood, but it's good stuff - no voids and a melamine face. I bored the holes for the pegs with a Forstner bit - highly recommended. The pegs are 5/8". Perhaps not large enough but it's what I had. I got lucky in that the pegs fit snugly in the holes. I completed the loom by screwing on a base made from 1/2 plywood. The nail is a hanger for my tensioning mechanism.

Here are the tablets I used. They're just normal thin cardboard, perhaps as thick as a cereal box. I cut them into 2.5" squares and punched a hole in each corner. Hmmm maybe these aren't good enough to be tablets. Maybe they're just cardboard squares :-D

Now here's the loom strung up and ready to go.

The tablets are rotated in a specific pattern which lifts different threads up and lowers others, forming a shed, just like a normal loom. The weaver rotates the cards and runs a shuttle of thread through the shed. This is done many times ;-)

After a while, you get something like this.


Note the completed banding between the lower pegs. When the weaving gets too long the tablets get crowded. The band of thread, which has been tied into a loop, is rotated around the loom creating more working space.

Finally, you end up with something like this. Actually, I end up with something like this. Hopefully you'll end up with something nicer!

This is my 2nd time weaving. Note the lack of consistency in the width of the band - I was experimenting with weft tension. That's the thread that gets shuttled through the shed.

Here's a closeup of the nicer section:

I learned the following while making this band:

1. Make sure your threads are long enough. Mine were just barely workable. The loom was under too much tension - the tablets were hard to turn. Thread is cheap - cut a little extra if you're not sure. Go look at the images of the threaded loom above, and you'll see there's no tensioner - I had to stretch the bajezus out of the threads to get them to fit over the pegs! I didn't take into account that knots use up thread!

2. I should have read up on how to tie the threads to the loom. I made something up. As an added bonus I got to have Adventures in Uneven Tension which plagued me the whole time I was weaving.

3. Don't stop weaving unless you are at a well defined point in the pattern. Write down where you are. Trust me on this.

4. Yer wife will steal the band when you're done so don't give up. Keep weaving!

That's all, it's bedtime!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Tablet weaving experiment

I learned about tablet weaving a few days ago. This is an old style of weaving decorative and strong bands. The bad news is that it's rather labor intensive. The good news is that you can make intricate designs and it requires few materials.

For my experiment I cut twelve 2.5" cardboard squares then punched a hole in each corner. Each of these cardboard beauties is called a tablet. And that's pretty much all you need in the way of equipment. You have to anchor each end of the band. I used c-clamps which is fairly standard. If I do this again, I'll find a better way :-)

We have yarn galore, but I wasn't about to play with Kim's good yarn. I found some acrylic in the basement at the bottom of the sump well. Under some shoes. I decided to use that.

Other sites, like this one, explain the mechanics better than I can, so go there to learn more.

Here's a picture of my first attempt.

It looks ok, maybe. But I knew I didn't manage the tension well so I undid it (took forever) and did it again.

Much better. I tried to keep the tension the same all the time. You can see the pattern getting smaller as I ran out of room - the tension was increasing. This would be less an issue on a band that's a little longer - this fiber is HUGE compared to what is normally used for tablet weaving.

Here's another pic, this time showing the entire setup.

You probably know roughly how a loom works - the machine pulls some threads high and the weaver passes a shuttle of thread through the shed - the space between the low threads and high threads. Then based upon the pattern, different threads are lifted and the shuttle is passed through the shed the other way. Repeat ad nauseum. Tablet weaving works off a similar principle. The holes in the tablets form the high and low threads. Then, the tablets are rotated causing some threads to be move downward and others to move upward. This is functionally identical to the loom raising threads. You can see the shed in the previous photo - the V shape just to the right of the tablets.

The design I wove is drop-dead simple and involves 4 rotations of the tablets one way, then 4 the other way, repeat. So the mauve pattern widens 4 times, then narrows 4 times forming the diamond. I have 4 complete diamonds so I turned the tablets 32 times. The symmetry is common - and fairly necessary - because as you rotate the tablets the thread acquires a twist. Going the other way removes the twist.