Starting the New Year Off With Old Lessons

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So, I started the year repeating my mantra that I cajole my students with: sample, sample, sample! It’s always at the time when one is most pressed, that the temptation to skip this important step is most alluring. But let me tell you it just isn’t a time saver to not sample.

In this case, I was intent on getting a publishable-quality piece ready for my Knitting Daily taping I was going to be doing at TNNA last week. I had used the yarns before in a different application and I thought they would readily full, or bloom.

I wanted to set them for this project in a single heddle. I also wanted to warp up the loom for two scarves, one to weave off as a finished piece and the other to leave on the loom as a work in progress.

I started with a 10 e.p.i. sett and I could tell right away that the weave looked way too loose. I decided to cut off 4” of woven fabric and wash it to see if my hunch was correct. Sure enough, it barely held together, even with vigorous washing. It’s easy enough, if a little awkward to re-thread the loom. But this was quickly done in a 12-dent reed inserted in my second slot on the Flip Loom, removing threads one at a time from the 10-dent heddle and inserting them in the 12-dent. Again, the weave just didn’t look tight enough and the float structure didn’t curve in the way I had envisioned it. Again, there was still sufficient length to cut off a piece and wash it.

(By the way, all of the above was being done for me by our returning intern, Angela Johnson—who gained quite a bit experience with rigid heddle reed threading.) We washed this sample a little too vigorously and ended up with a matted mess—at least I learned that this yarn could not only bloom more fully than I thought it would on my first sample but that it could also be taken to the extreme of felting. This sample told me I did need to thread the yarn in two 8-dent heddles. Now, my weaving was too narrow—and we had to add additional yarn to the edges to bring it back into scarf-width range.

In a way you could say, all the iterations were sampling, and I did end up with a piece that I’m pleased as punch about, but I did loose the second scarf I had planned to leave on the loom. Instead my demonstration scarf barely fit beam to beam.

I show you my tests as well as the finished piece. Look for the finished scarf with instructions this summer as a free project on Knitting Daily TV, probably in July, when my taping about using a pick-up stick appears. Also on this program we mention my new book “The Weavers Idea Book: Creative Cloth from the Rigid Heddle Loom” (Interweave Press), to be released some time late summer or early fall.

Schacht Spindle

Schacht Spindle Company, Inc. was founded during the back-to-earth movement of the late 1960's and its accompanying craft resurgence. Their first loom was a simple tapestry loom, a version which they still make today. Over nearly 50 years, Schacht has developed a broad range of high quality hand weaving and hand spinning tools, including their popular Cricket Loom and Ladybug Spinning wheel. Schacht’s mission is to create beautiful and well-designed products that enhance customers’ weaving and spinning experience through innovative problem solving, creative ideas, skilled woodworking and craftsmanship, and friendly, knowledgeable customer service. Schacht’s family owned business is located in Boulder, Colorado.