Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Mending Fabric

I've learned not to waste time sobbing. Well, maybe I do sob for a moment or two.... I have finally gotten to that large swath of crackle fabric that came off the loom more than a month ago. I am now in the process of examining it and, where necessary, mending it.

Yes, there is mending to be done. It looked like there was none at all to be done when I looked at the top of the fabric, the fabric that I saw when I was weaving. But when I looked at the other side, the side that was pretty much invisible when I was sitting at the loom, there I saw some long overshots. Not a lot. My weaving technique with crackle has much improved over the past years. But few or not, they were there. And they needed to be tended to. Here is a closeup view of two of them.

Here you can see the two long pinkish threads that need to be corrected.These two are part of a whole row that I have to mend. Because this is not an isolated overshot but extends (here and there) over the entire row, I have used one correcting thread for the whole row. I start at the selvedge, weave in and out to the first overshot. This part is easy, for I simply follow the thre thread that is in there correctly.

When I get to the first overshot, I cut the offending thread. Then, following the pattern I have been using, and also using the pattern established in the rows above and below, I weave in the new thread. Then I pull out the original thread that begins at the selvedge.

Then I continue weaving along following the original weft thread until I get to the next offense. I then cut it, weave with the new yarn till it is right, cut off the original weft thread where I have just rewoven, and continue onward until the row is finished. The advantage of this is that I end up with no doubled threads anywhere. The disadvantage, of course, is the time involved.

When there is only an isolated error in a given row, then there is going to be some doubling of thread on either side. I don't much like that, but after washing and pressing it is not particularly noticeable.

To do this I use a small tapestry needle. The needle is blunt. That way I am very unlikely to pierce threads as I move the needle in and out of the fabric. I also use something called MagEyes. This is a magnification lens which is fitted on a headpiece so that my hands are free. For more information, go to their website here.

What I need to figure out now is how better to avoid the overshots that appear on the bottom side of the fabric. They occur when warp yarns do not rise as they should in the shed. My mirror system has really worked very well for picking up sheds that are not clear. What that system does not pick up, however, are threads that lie absolutely flat on the shuttle rest. The system picks up only threads that are neither up nor down or are at an angle.

Possibilities. First, after I weave a sample, I could remove it from the loom and check the underside. If there are overshots, are there any consistencies? For example, are they always on the same shaft or shafts? Do they always occur with the same warp threads?

Second possibility is to use a mirror to look at the underside of what I have woven. But I find that difficult if not impossible. This just doesn't work for me, at least with a small, handheld mirror.

A third possibility is to wind the woven part down over the front beam and to the space where it is starting to move towards the cloth beam. There the woven fabric actually is upside down and I might be able to see it better. I might actually be able to see it standing at the front of the loom because all that would be on the top would be warp ends. A flashlight might also help.

It is really important that I figure this out because weaving at 60 epi or finer creates a fabric that is next to impossible for me to mend. It is not that mending is a difficult task in and of itself. It is tedious. But not difficult. When I am working with really fine yarns, however, I simply have so much trouble seeing that I just sob.


Susan B. said...

This was very useful for me to read as I have already seen one such error on the material I am weaving now. I wasn't sure how to repair it when I got it off the loom - now I have something to try! It's a good thing to learn from each other so thank you! I hope your mending goes well!

Dorothy said...

I have found similar mistakes in some of my samples, and been very disappointed to think that mistakes like this could might mar a good piece of work. I am very happy to see this clear explanation of how to replace the bad thread, it makes me feel happier about the next stage... someday I will stop weaving samples and try to make something beautiful and useful.