26 February 2012

Slow progress

This job is slower than I hoped. I have laced nearly 40% of the front shed to the shed rod.

I'm having raw material failures: the fine, high quality Irish line linen singles I'm using as a lashing thread has broken about a dozen times so far. I expected some of this, since it's a singles; I'm suspending something from it. which gives it a tendency to unspin itself here and there and get weaker. But the strength, fineness, and smoothness of it still makes it a good choice. (Anything with a larger diameter would make the shed rod too crowded at the sett I'm using, and I didn't have a plied linen yarn of that size in my stash; I'd need something like a 70/2.) I just have to be careful not to leave the bobbins hanging for long at a time.

I'm also having equipment problems. The method I devised for doing the lacing depends on two hanks of yarn working reciprocally. I knew that simply using butterfly hanks would be a nightmare due to the long lengths required. Also, I wanted to be able to leave the work hanging so I could walk away from it at intervals. So for a while I was using those shuttle bobbins I mentioned previously. But I got tired of working with them because they tangled so easily. I went to the local string Mecca and purchased two large tapestry bobbins which are proving much less fiddly to manipulate. They only present one problem: their larger size and weight provide so much momentum that they tend to get tangled in the warp threads whenever I leave them to hang. Frustration ensues.

But I've worked out a method of handling and sequencing the warp ends that is not altogether unlike the way I handle threading a reed on a horizontal loom. As I work I try to remember that the more care I take with a warp in the initial stages, the less trouble it usually gives me down the line.

One can hope.

Next time I'll include a photo; I just haven't taken a good one of this stage of the process yet.

One nice point, though: ὁ πάτρων (Il Patron) stopped by yesterday. He got all excited to see the expanse of front warp that had already been laced, thinking it had been weighted already. The loom weights were on the floor under the warp, so at first glance it really looked like the weights were attached to the stretched-out yarn. It is so wonderful to see how active an interest he is taking in the process of creating this garment. I get a lot of additional incentive when I know that what I'm doing is helping someone learn. He is coming by again on Tuesday, by which time I hope to have at least some of the warp weighted so he can finally see those weights at work.

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