Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Breaking in the Baby Mac

Last November I ran across a small portable 8-shaft loom for sale on Ravelry. The price was right, and it was located in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Never one to shy away from a road trip, I decided that it was just the thing to keep me busy until we could get my studio space done and the David could come out of storage. Not to mention the fact that I had to pass on a workshop that I really wanted to take because it required an 8-shaft loom. So off I went. In retrospect, it wasn't quite as good a deal as it seemed after factoring in gas and hotel, but you know how it is when you get caught up in the heat of the moment. Once home, I brought her in and started setting up for a practice project to work out the kinks. It's amazing to me that anyone was actually weaving on it at all considering how many things were assembled wrong, screws in backwards, etc. Must have been a nightmare! But she's all cleaned up now, added more heddles and texolv cords for tie-up.

My first project was a scarf using some 5/2 rayon slub that I found in the clearance section of a weaving shop in Comfort. I figured that if things didn't go well, I at least would be out much if I had to cut it off! Turned out pretty nice, even if I do say so myself. So nice, that I put it in my Etsy shop (in case anyone is interested in a gift.)

Now for the loom review. Pros: It's portable. I can get it in and out of the car by myself. And it will fold up with the warp on and the treadles tied (if you're using Texsolv). Cons: This loom is made for someone of average to below average height. It's not too bad to weave on, but getting the warp on and threading heddles and reed are a pain. Literally! I really like warping back to front, but I'm afraid that I'm going to have to give that up and go front to back just to save my back. Even with the loom up on blocks and sitting on a low stool, it's too low to thread comfortably. Then tying up the treadles required laying flat on my back in the floor to be able to see the bottom of the harnesses and hook up the treadles. But the little cushion I bought for yoga works great as a pillow! There is no way I could use this loom for a workshop that required changing the tie-up during class. But once you get all that done, it weaves nicely (even though it's pretty tight getting my legs to fit).

Now that it had been 9 months since we moved, I found the deadline for "swatch swap" fast approacing. And the David was still in storage. The topic for this year was 10/2, so I had decided I wanted to do doubleweave using 10/2 cotton. If I'm going to do samples, I may as well be learning something too, and I had never quite been able to wrap my head around how to weave two layers at once. The nice thing is that you have a nice pattern on the front and back, and the fabric is really sturdy (would make great upholstery fabric). The bad thing is that you have double the number of threads that you would normally be using for the same width cloth, which takes a long time to thread (oh, my aching back). But it was worth the effort, as I was really pleased with how they came out. In fact, once David is out of storage I may do some fabric for pillows or a jacket or a bag. The pictures below are the front and back of my swatches.

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