Life at the moment seems to fall in to 2 categories, those with too much time to fill, and those with no enough time. It could be argued that those with too much time to fill need to find themselves an all absorbing hobby (I could gently suggest they try spinning!). At present I am firmly in the category not enough time to fill.
I am fortunate in that I can carry on with my business pretty much as normal, a few potential issues got side-stepped by some forward planning I did at the beginning of March when I could see the storm clouds building. The good weather has also dragged me out in to the garden more than usual, with the feeling that I should appreciate the sun on my back and soil that isn't like a quagmire.
But at the end of March I ordered myself a new loom. I've woven on a rigid heddle loom for years now, and have always been very content with what I could produce. But with the dyeing of warps came the discovering a whole new skill, and a thought of "I'll take a look at some 4-shaft table looms at Wonderwool" turned in to a clicking of a button, and a new Erica 50cm 4 shaft loom was now mine.
I put the first warp on last Friday, rading the stash for something I had in a sensible quantity, and that I had no fixed plan for. Despite winding the warps for the shop for a few months now I made a right mess of winding this one!
The usual case of "it's only for me, and it doesn't have to be perfect" combined with more haste, less speed. Yes, winding it from skein to ball would have been a very sensible idea, and maybe picking a bouncy merino wasn't my best plan either. By the end of the warp the inconsistencies in tension were causing real difficulties, and thank heavens it was only a 2m warp to mess around with.
This was fresh off the loom... and it is a very dodgy looking piece of cloth!
Thankfully fulling is a great leveller... though also revealed another newbie mistake as the sett was far too dense for this thickness of yarn, despite what it looked like on the loom under tension. However, it's still usable, and will be chopped up to make a project bag.
At the very end I let myself mess around with the thing that I'm really looking forward to exploring most on the new loom.... twill!
I didn't bother changing the sett (density of the warp threads) for this, so it's not very technically correct, but I just wanted to experiment with how the process works so that I can do it better when I tie on a warp for this technique properly. I used some hand-spun skeins of Shetland for the weft, which pulled in dramatically when fulled the cloth (it's also possibly overfulled because I still need to get to know our new washing machine), that really hid a lot of the twill pattern.
Inspired by the feeling that I was flailing around in the dark to a certain extent I bought myself a subscription to the Jane Stafford online guild, which I can't remcomned highly enough. I now have a lighted candle to at least let me see where the door is, even though I am definitely not capable of walking through it!
After much video watching I've put on a colour and weave warp in 2/8 cotton to weave some tea towels. My warp still went a bit squiffy towards the end (more haste, less speed, think before rushing to a fix for a problem...), but is so much better, andproved that counting isn't my strong point. The warps I wind to dye are all in one colour, and set up in a way that are quick to count and check ( 3 cones of yarn, 150 ends, I count in groups of 30!). This warp has lots of changing groups of colours, and each section contains a different number of ends. So no, it's not an optical illusion, the 2nd group from the right is bigger than the others. I was already doing some fudging maths because my reed doesn't quite allow me to get the 18epi sett called for in the pattern instructions, and is only just wide enough, so that extra number of ends sent things really awry as I was threading the reed. However, I improvised, and the middle stripe, and the one to the left is threaded at 20epi, and it's only for tea towels, so all will be fine!
I'm doing this first towel just using 1 colour because never having woven on cotton as well it seemed to be a bit ambitious to immediately launch in to a true colour and weave of getting the weft to match the warp pattern. However, that will come next!
All of this rambling is just to say, take pleasure in getting things wrong, the mistakes teach you what not to do the next time. And then the satisfaction of getting it right is all the sweeter.