Cranbrook Loom

I finally got around to putting the Cranbrook loom to work.

I had started off this past fall with a simple scarf, or at least what I thought was simple.  I figured I would use the loom’s full ability and set it up for an 8-shaft pattern.  First off, I would have to finally figure out the tie ups for the treadles.  How hard could it be?

Well, it turns out to be a rather complicated process of finessing just how much to adjust each treadle.  And each treadle has to both pull up the shafts in use while simultaneously pulling down the shafts not in use.  That is not technically the right description, but it is something I’ve not done before, so was a little strange for me. Then, to make it more complicated, each time you adjust a treadle, it changes the other treadles that you just got done adjusting.  Several times I lost track of all the adjustments, and just started over again.

One popular thing that owners of the older Cranbrooks do is to replace the chains that control the loom with “easier” to manage nylon ties.  My Cranbrook is one of those older ones that a previous owner had updated.  After hours of work, I could not get the newer ties to work properly as the pins that are supposed to secure the ties kept falling out.  Fortunately, the loom came with a box of the original chains and I decided to try them out.  They were a huge improvement, both in my ability to make adjustments, and the extra weight they put on the treadles and keeping the shafts properly aligned.  I eventually got the loom ready to use.

I started my scarf using some of Mom’s old alpaca yarn.  It turned out to be rather brittle and possibly moth-eaten, so that the yarn was continually breaking.  Also, in writing out the weaving instructions, I inadvertently missed some treadles in my treadling guide.  All the threads in a certain group were getting tighter and tighter.  Suffice it to say, I used some sort of treadling pattern that eventually made the continued weaving of the scarf impossible.  So, between the uneven tension, the yarn breakage, and frustration, I ended up just cutting the rest of the yarn from the loom.  On all counts, it was a complete failure.

Other work distracted me for a couple of months, and I think I was avoiding the loom altogether, and pretending not to see it, even though it is the largest item in the studio.  When the frenzy of Holiday sales venues were done, I relented and decided to do a couple of test rugs.

The first was a simple plain weave rug, and what started as a sample turned out a very nice little rug.  Also, I’m a sucker for red and black.

For the the second rug, I used a 3 color twill pattern.  Unfortunately, I didn’t wind enough on the loom and had to cut the sample short.  And it really was too bad, since it would have made a very fine little rug.  So now it’s just a sample or maybe a dresser top lamp rug or something.

It was another one of those instances where I decided to use colors I wouldn’t normally use.  But it turned out so well that I’ll have to keep these in mind for a future rug.

Then a local artist approached me and wanted to commission a rug made.  I thought I would use the Cranbrook, and have the Gilmore still available for other production rugs.

The client wanted green, blue, grey and red.  And she wanted a particular weave pattern I had done on a rug a couple years ago.  It is meant to hang on a wall next to a collection of swords.  I think it turned out pretty sword-worthy.

Even with the color scheme, the idea of the same pattern for the entire rug seemed a little boring to me.  Plus, I didn’t have a good way to incorporate the red.  So I did a tapestry weave section in the middle where I could do a rug within a rug.  The different yarns gave it a little wavy effect, which, even though it suggests some technical problems, gives it an organic look.  Of course the circle was nothing but trouble, but after a couple of do-overs, one of which involved cutting the several hours of work off with scissors, it actually resembles a circle. 

The background weave pattern was a skip twill, which in this case was a normal twill threading, but skipping every 5th thread.  The skipped threads give the weave pattern those ridges running the length of the rug.

The Cranbrook loom has a nice action without having to press too hard on the treadle with my feet, or having to hold down the harnesses with my hand just to get a good shed to fit the shuttle in.  There are a couple of modifications I would like in the future.  The first in a sectional beam.  For you non-weavers, the sectional beam allows me to wind the warp threads on the loom a small section at a time, getting a more consistent and even tension.  The other modification is not so much for the loom, but some way to keep it from scooting forward as I weave.  For the Gilmore loom I attached blocks to the floor, so maybe something like that.

It will take a while to get as comfortable with the Cranbrook as I am with the Gilmore, but despite its fussiness, overall the new loom worked better than I thought.

Next up:  Rio Grande yarns.

 

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More Twill

Work is moving along and Burning Daylight Studios is keeping me plenty busy, and is proving to be a suitable home to Daylight Weaving. I know it sounds confusing, but I really like both names, so I kept them both, on for the physical studio, and one for the business. My goal here is to try to post at least a couple times a month, so stay tuned.

Last we met, I was finishing a series twill rugs.  This is just a short post as an excuse to share photos of the last in that series.

Twill weave rugI used some random grey yarn that I had lots of, but it turned out to be rather a pain to weave with.  It didn’t behave well – kept getting tangled and didn’t pack down consistently – but it did create an interesting ropy effect.  And I have to admit, it took me a while to warm up to this rug. I had it hanging in the studio unfinished for months because it had so annoyed me while weaving.  I have come to think of this rug as being inspired by the sea. The pattern in the previous rug had a wheat shaft look to it, whereas this rug’s pattern reminds me of seaweed.

Twill weave rug detail

I finished it with a folded hem.

Twill weave rug end detail

Twill weave rug detail

In all, it ended up as a nice sturdy rug that will make the right person happy to walk on in its new home.

Up next: Production work

 

Crazy Twill

Wow, has it really been that long?  It’s been a busy Summer and Fall, full of visitors, weaving experiments, the County Fair, apple harvesting, and generally preparing for the winter months.  Also – Hey, I’m a business!  Daylight Weaving, I call myself, complete with business cards, my first cell phone (!), and a new website.  I even had a booth at the Summer Art Festival.  That was pretty exciting, since it was the first time for me selling my work.

I started my summer thinking I would try something new.  I saw a picture of a rug and, as I often do, thought how on earth did they do that.  After several days of playing around with designs and different loom setups, I had something I wanted to try out.  Of course it was nothing like the thing that got me on the path to this experiment, but I was ready to try this new idea I had come up with.  I won’t bother trying to explain what I did, since I’ve tried to explain it to other weavers without success.  Suffice it to say that it is a 2/2 twill weave pattern using a block design.

dsc_1612_sm

Closeup of the pattern details:

dsc_1615_smdsc_1610_smIt’s one of those designs that I could have done all kinds of crazy things, but just because you can, doesn’t mean you should – each looked more eye-crossing that the last.  I eventually narrowed it down to three different designs, but in the end, just used one. The second one, was the same, but with blue instead of red, resulting in a very different look.

dsc_1618_smdsc_1621_smFor the third rug, I used a repeat of some of the simpler elements or the original pattern.  I thought I’d try three colors this time, which gave it a 3-D effect.

dsc_1642_smAnd no fringe this time.

dsc_1650_smApparently, the judge at the County Fair liked it enough to award it Best in Show!  They have scribes write down the judges comments.  She actually used the word “inhuman” in describing the selvedges.  Considering some of the other entries in the Fiber Arts exhibit, I have to say I am quite humbled.

img_5429Those three rugs took all summer.  As I had more warp left on the loom, I made two more simpler twill rugs.  Here’s the unfinished first of the two. They are based on a traditional pattern I found in The Weaving, Spinning and Dyeing Book, by Rachel Brown – out of print, I think, but well worth finding at a good used book store.  Mrs. Daylight calls it the wheat shaft pattern.  The gold and reds I dyed myself.

rug-50 The second is similar and still waiting to be hemmed. Photos maybe next time.

Now that I’ve committed to being a professional, I have to get busy and make more product.  And in the mean time, I’ll make an effort to keep my faithful readers updated on what goes on here in the studio.