Friday, January 9, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

The warp is on the loom for the handspun shawl sampling. For probably Sample Weaving Starats the first time, I threaded the loom without any tools. Why? None of my tools satisfactorily grabbed onto this heaviesh yarn. Being right-handed, that was the first way I tried it. Didn’t work because everything seemed to get in the way. Working left-handed, however, did work quite nicely. I tend to be slightly ambidextrous. I cannot write well with my left hand, but I do use it for other tasks. Fingers, however, will not be my tool of choice for threading 60/2 silk!

The photo shows that I have made a start. But I am not happy. Not at all.

First, the warp consists of two panels of blue on the outside and a slightly larger panel of light gray on the inside. When I weave with blue weft, the gray warp in the center is barely visible. When i weave with the gray weft, the blue warps are barely visible.

What is more, the feel of the fabric is just awful: thick and rough. Coarse. I immediately thought about trying a new threading—something like huck lace or Bronson lace. Then I remembered my tendency to beat wool to death. And the way the colors have occurred in the weaving, I am clearly beating a weft-dominant fabric. I don’t want a weft-dominant fabric.

It is so very hard for me to beat wool softly, loosely, so that it truly looks like window screening while it is on the loom. So that, in short, it looks like something the cat dragged in and I’d just as soon she get out promptly. Beating like that just always seems counter-intuitive to me.

When I am weaving plain weave or twill with wool it is easy to check the beat. I can measure or, in the case of twill, I can check the angle. When I weave with wool, I have to do this almost constantly. Perhaps this is a reflection of how little I weave with wool.

But this is canvas weave. Here is the threading.

4shaft canvas weave

In this case, the weaving does not provide me with an easy visual guide. At least not at the moment. So I have woven a few rows of bright red (visible at the top of the photo) to separate this off from the next sampling where I WILL weave window screening. Then I plan to remove this weaving from the loom, separate the two and wash them, full them, whatever, to see if they soften, bloom, to see if I really want to use this structure after all.

Meanwhile, a vigorous walk in the welcome (relatively) cold weather that has finally returned to South Carolina, is definitely in order. Sometimes, but only sometimes, I do long for the snow and freezing temperatures of Wisconsin………..

Related Post: Next Project: Handspun Shawl

"Discouraged But Not Totally" was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on January 09, 2009. © 2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina


Amelia, belle of The Bellwether said...

I feel your pain ... I wanted to do a twill scarf and the math on my fingering weight handspun came out to 8 ends per inch (thanks to Leigh!!). Can't be right, I thought. And it was *so loose* on the loom. I can't tell you how often I sighed! I barely beat at all, just a little nudge into place. That was harder on me than it was on the wool!

But, in the wash, out came a gorgeous scarf! It's "MIL's scarf" on my flickr, if you're curious :) :

So, I look forward to seeing your shawl. And when it comes to beating, remember, "less is more, less is more" that's my new Mantra!

Sue said...

The last set of dishtowels I did had a similar problem with the beat. It was crepe weave sett at 20 epi. When I started the first towel, I was beating it at 32ppi. It took me a good 10 inches of weaving before I could lighten up enough!

Lo and behold, in the middle of the third towel, I was all stressed out and started beating way too hard again. Had to unweave that section to rescue that towel.

But my "window-screen" towels did turn into something fluffy and interesting in the wash....hopefully your shawl will too!

Alison said...

I, too, have a heck of a time beating wool properly. It definitely takes some discipline. I love the blue you're using and am a big fan of canvas weave. I'm looking forward to seeing how the shaw progresses!

Anonymous said...

Don't think "beat". Lightly press the weft, or gently squeeze it in. I find thinking about it that way actually helps. And for the first few inches I measure every inch. If I do it this way it doesn't take too long to get used to being gentler with it.
It will be interesting what this wool tells you it wants to be when it grows up.

Peg in South Carolina said...

Amelia, thank you for your encouragement. It is also nice to know that I am not the only one that has trouble with beating wool.
Sue, my you must really have been stressed! Thank you for your good wishes on this sampling.
Alison, thank you for your comment. You will probably see more sampling. I'm not sure that any "item" will come out of this, though I had hoped for it. Its real value is for helping me with the handspun I am going to warp up next.
Anonymous, thank you for suggesting new words. Pressing and squeezing are really good descriptive words. This wool was originally a blanket, and a very warm, nice, and heavy one. I'm not so sure that it would become a scarf...........(grin!) I'll have to check the sett I wove the blanket at.

Jane said...

Good morning, Miss Peg.

I do see how each color becomes lost in the other depending upon the weft. It will be interesting to see if your beat changes that at all.

Sampling is just such a valuable practice, and you're setting (no pun intended) a splendid example for us all!

I bet the blanket was/is beautiful. One can see where this would have woven up nice and snuggly for that. Is there enough for a warm vest rather than a scarf?

Onward! :)

bspinner said...

So nice to know I'm not the only weaver with "beating" problems. I get so darn mad when I finish a project and found I've either beat it to hard or not hard enough. Guess that's why we should sample.

Peg in South Carolina said...

Jane, yes, the blanket is delightfully warm. As for the current sampling, I have some other ideas now that I want to try so I'm not sure that there will be enough left to weave an actual useful object!
bspinner, you can always allow some extra to give you a chance to try your beating, remove, wash and check.