Wednesday, June 1, 2016

I Surrender

One of many things on my weaving bucket list is was to do the overshot pattern "Lee's Surrender"/. Since I can't stand to have a naked loom sitting around and I had the thread I needed, I decided to tackle this milestone in my weaving journey. Overshot is an impressive looking weave structure, but not especially difficult. The issues arise because of the complex threading pattern, which involved lots of counting and re-counting, and the long treadling sequence. I should have realized that this was going to be a challenge when I wound off the incorrect number of warp threads and had to add 36 more to each side after the warp was already on the loom. Thankfully I noticed the error before threading or I probably would have just thrown in the towel before I ever got started. But being not one to back down from a challenge, I pulled the first warp out, added the new threads to each side, and re-wound it back on. This was reminiscent of the infamous Texas Bluebonnet Tartan warp which took over 40 hours to get on the loom. 10/2 mercerized cotton has a good amount of twist, which makes it really strong; but also makes it tend to wrap around itself like a rope when you have a long bunch of threads that are not under tension. Thankfully I was able to utilize the tips and pitfalls I learned during the Tartan Debacle to get this warp back on in just an afternoon. But it definitely required a certain amount of alcohol at the end.

I was really careful during the threading because the Baby Mac has stainless steel heddles, and shafts that are really close together because of it's compact size. A threading error could mean hours of work making the correction. So after much counting and re-counting I began weaving. I used 10/2 mercerized cotton for the warp and tabby weft, and 5/2 mercerized cotton for the pattern weft. After a slow start (it really took some concentration to throw pattern weft, tabby weft, pattern weft, tabby weft...) I was about halfway through when I noticed an odd blank area in Block B.

After posting to the 4-Shaft Facebook group and getting lots of input and advice, I determined that I needed to be more consistent in how I was beating it, and to leave more of an angle in the pattern weft. But in addition, I noticed the dreaded THREADING ERROR! If you look 1 block up and two blocks to the right of the red arrow, there is a tan thread running down the middle of the green bar. Arrrrggggghhhh! Since I was already halfway through the first table runner, I just cut it off to be able to fix the error. Since you can't just add in a metal heddle once everything is threaded, I made a string heddle, which was not an easy feat working in tight quarters on a threaded loom. I actually make two string heddles because the first one I accidently tied to the wrong shaft (again). Once everything was tied and re-tensioned, it was time to start weaving again. By this time, I'm working really hard on beating consistently. I get to Block B, and get the same wierd space again. And then I realize - I'm looking at the wrong side of the fabric!! The Baby Mac is a jack loom (the shafts lift when you press on the treadles), and the draft was written for a sinking shed loom (shafts go down when you press the heddles). So I pull out the sample I had cut off, turn it over, and voila - no error at all.

At this point, the body is looking pretty decent, but my selvedges are horrendously ugly. One of the benefits of belonging to a weaving guild with an extensive library is that you can check out books on just about any weaving topic you can imagine. Donna Sullivan's book "Weaving Overshot" provided lots of good information and also suggested using floating selvedges. I normally do this anyway, but had read somewhere else that they weren't necessary since you have a tabby weft anchoring the pattern weft in overshot. Well let me say this, "I will never do another overshot pattern without a floating selvedge." I added one in for the next table runner, and it helped immensely. I also tried out a wool pattern weft. The pattern is a little more subtle in the wool after wet finishing, and it doesn't need quite as hard a beat (since it's squishy) as the cotton. Although happy with how both of these came out, they both have errors where I pressed a pattern treadle instead of a tabby treadle a couple of times. That means they won't be going in the CHH sale, but staying with me. I'd like to do them again on the David loom, now that I know what I need to do differently. But that's probably not going to happen for a while. In the meantime, here are pictures of the finished runners.


Liz aka Fibergeek said...

So pretty. It's on my list of things to weave.

PrisKnits said...

I'm glad I got to see this in person. It is a lovely piece and appreciate your precision--I'm the same way. It was very inspiring to me as a relatively new weaver. Someday I just may try this.