Sampling becomes a necessity


I’m not used to weaving with three-ply yarn. Most weaving yarn has two plies so that it lies flat in the shed, whereas more plies creates a rounder yarn. This yarn is an odd grist: 9/3 unmercerized cotton hand dyed in Latvia by MimaHandwovens. Weaving setts can be tricky if you’re not seeking a balanced weave. I want a *somewhat* warp-emphasis fabric to highlight the beautiful dye job.

Because I will be weaving 3:1/1:3 twills to produce large motifs, I need a closer sett than is typically used for balanced twills (2/2 on four shafts).

I asked the Etsy shop owner about suggested weaving setts. She replied, “I usually do 6-9 epcm (15-22 epi) for twill, crackle….” Her weaving tends to be more open and lacy than my clothing fabrics. An online sett suggestion for 10/3 cotton, slightly thinner than 9/3 yarn, is 24 epi for twill. A suggestion elsewhere for 8/4 cotton is 18 epi for twill; 8/4 carpet warp looks almost identical to my warp yarn in thickness.

After much dithering, I have chosen initially to thread the reed at 24 epi, which means sleying the 10-dent reed 2-2-3. I prefer to warp front-to-back. If I don’t like the initial results, I will re-sley the reed before continuing. I don’t want to waste any of the warp.

400 ends @ 24 epi = 16.67 inches wide on the loom, a good width for the two sides of a tunic blouse with center panels woven separately with a freeform overshot design.

Complicating matters, the threading repeat is 30 ends. The two warps are not from the same dye batch, so I’m going to interleave the 400 ends in the following pattern:

400 ends: 20 ends (color #1) – 60 ends (#2) – 60 ends (#1) – 60 ends (#2) — 60 ends (#1) — 60 ends (#2) — 60 ends (#1) – 20 ends of color #2.

The warp is a little over 3 m / 3.28 y long, or about 3 yards of usable warp on my Erica because the loom design minimizes waste yarn. With weaving uptake, wet finishing shrinkage, and hemming, there should be just enough fabric to fit me:
* 3 y ÷ 2 sides (right and left) = 1.5 y minus shrinkage.
* 1.5 y ÷ 2 sides (front and back) = 0.75 y or 27 inches.

I still have not decided on the weft for this fabric, either, commercial tencel or hand dyed slub tencel from Mary Gavan Yarns.

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It’s time to warp my new loom!

My new Louët Erica four shaft table loom. I’m quite happy with it’s small size. Everything is within easy reach, which exactly what I need physically.

The hand dyed slub rayon skeins from Mary Gavan Yarns is gorgeous. The loom is almost assembled. I expect to start warping the Luna Lilac tunic fabric next week. I will be providing more details in my weaving group.

I’m going to weave large scale motifs using the lilac/multicolored hand painted warp and one of the lilac tencels (not sure which one yet) using freeform twill, which has shorter floats than freeform overshot so it doesn’t need tabby shots to stabilize the fabric. It still requires pick up sticks.

My four shaft pattern is a complex advancing diamond twill with warp-emphasis and weft-emphasis sides designed to produce clear handwoven motifs. For rigid heddle weavers I will create a straight twill version for pick up.

I plan to publish my patterns in both shaft loom and rigid heddle forms so they can be woven on all basic loom types. I will be showing more detail in my weaving group, including videos.

Also, I’ve started a Lisa Rayner Handwovens – weaving group on Facebook that includes more details about projects. You can post your projects, too.

A new loom

I have bought a 50 cm (19.75”) Louet Erica table loom with four shafts. It has already shipped. It looks like my body can handle it with my osteoarthritis. I can make freeform overshot motifs, freeform overshot-like designs that are created by taking the shuttle in and out of the shed during a weft pick (I will demonstrate how in a new weaving group I just started on Facebook), and regular three and four shaft patterns. A pickup stick can provide an easy fifth shaft, too.

Equality matters


Thank you to the U.S. Supreme Court for protecting employment equality for LGBTQ people. The court said that the inclusion of sex as a protected characteristic in employment in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applies to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity also. Because this is a statutory interpretation of the meaning of “sex” in federal law it will likely apply to other federal laws and rules as well. Those of us affected by this decision can breathe a little easier now. I am non-binary and bisexual, and my wife is a transgender woman. We have experienced significant episodes of abusive behavior from other people, from discrimination at healthcare facilities to everyday microaggressions that are exhausting to process psychologically. The Equality Act is still vitally important for public accommodations protections for us; the public accommodations section of the 1964 Civil Rights Act does not include sex as a protected category.

Plum Magenta Shawl project now available

I have a new WIF file project listed in my Etsy shop: an eight shaft Plum Magenta Shawl that I wove out of worsted weight stash yarn for the warp, and heavy worsted weight plum/eggplant wool yarn that I unraveled from a thrift store merino wool sweater. The accompanying PDF includes my *brief* weaving notes (sett, etc.) to keep the ebooklet cost down, plus photographs of the finished project.

I’m weaving, and the pattern is visible!

It took me a while to work out the kinks: the warp-emphasis design makes the warp sticky, especially when weaving plain weave at the beginning to spread the warp. I had a few crossed threads and a missing thread with an empty heddle that I had to fill with one of my 24 extra warp ends. Plus, shafts 13, 14 and 15 have an annoying tendency to stick to one another.

The design is based on 3:1/1:3 diamond twills, which means most of the warp and weft floats are no more than three ends wide/long, but at the reversal points for the diamonds, there are floats five ends long. As seen in the third photo, I was having an issue with certain warp floats being too long, meaning that some warp ends were raised for too many picks. When I wove backwards and then forwards again, I discovered that the warp ends in question are, you guessed it, on shafts 13, 14 and 15. Because the pattern is irregular, I can’t tell just by looking if I accidentally miss a row or the shed isn’t clear when I throw the shuttle. I can only see the stuck shaft from the back (pictured), which is physically awkward.

Because of these issues. I have developed a complex pattern for weaving each pick to try to avoid warp and shaft stickiness:

  1. Move the reed/beater forward.
  2. Move a sticky note upward one weft pick row on the liftplan.
  3. Raise each lever that is needs to be raised one-by one.
  4. Move the beater back to the shafts.
  5. Comb the warp to separate sticky warp ends from one another.
  6. Visually check the cleanness of the shed.
  7. Throw the shuttle through the shed, going over the floating selvedge as I enter the shed, and going under the floating selvedge as I take the shuttle out of the shed.
  8. Use the beater to gently push the weft yarn into place.
  9. Do a visual check for warp floats that are too long, unweaving if necessary to fix a row.
  10. Unstick the back shafts from one another if necessary and re-throw the shuttle.
  11. Repeat.

My back is hurting. I have to rest and see how much weaving I can do in one day without experiencing serious arthritis pain. I think I’m going to warp my inkle loom with the 23 remaining warp ends (last photo) to weave trim for what ever I make from the 16-shaft fabric. That will also give me a small, simple project I can weave when I can’t work at the table loom any longer. I can also bring the inkle loom outside in my small backyard in nice weather.

I plan to stay at home, mostly indoors, for months due to the pandemic and my underlying health problems, so I will never lack for things to do. I’m doing more cooking than usual, too, because I’m making do with ingredients on hand, so I’m pretty busy right now.

A very long pattern repeat

So ……. here is my super long 16-shaft liftplan composed of roughly a couple hundred weft picks. I only printed out a narrow strip of the pattern to fit it on regular paper and give me an idea of where I am in the pattern. I will be lifting seven to nine levers by hand each time I throw the shuttle on average. I get bored by simple repeats. I plan to use a paper clip to keep my place in the pattern. It’s a little scary …….