From among the snowdrifts

(for my Swedish readers)

or, a more , er, "generalized" message:

Every year I think I should weave them - but they have such limited usage (ok, maybe not the second).
Generally I have less exact messages in my shawls.
Currently in stock are: FESTINA LENTE ("hurry slowly"), ARS LONGA ("art is long"), CURA TE IPSUM ("take care of yourself"), UTRAQUE UNUM ("two become one") and TWO INTO ONE and a few others. (Granted, it is a bit too late for x-mas delivery...)

Can't you read Morse code? - no problem, check here, and all will be clear.

The pictures also illustrate that you have to think about (and write out) the messages before you try to weave them, or the scarf can become very short (perhaps there is something that can be added, as en enquiry mark (..--..) or an exclamation mark (..--.)?). If the scarf will be too long - can it be worded differently? "Save the world" is considerably longer than "save the earth", for instance. Or, as above, could it be written "seasons" instead of "season's"?

Over time, I have accumulated a list of "suitable" messages in three versions, with different widths (and lengths) of the code marks. "Save the world" can be done on 14 ends/picks per ".", while "ars longa" does better on 20 ends/picks per ".", for instance.

To end - a snow picture from this morning:

She did have legs of normal length!

So... season's greetings!



Today I had problems with the auto-advance ("new style") of the AVL.
I had woven a little more than 50 cm, with (almost) no hint of a problem.
It looked like this (all pics get bigger if clicked):

As you can see, there is the occasional streak, but I'm sure that can be blamed on me. (I have found that it is important to keep the rythm, or slight irregularities easily happen.)

Anyway, I was weaving on, and on, and on... when suddenly, this happened:

I tried to remedy it the first times it happened, to no avail. Irregularities continued - the auto-advance really advanced, and advanced...

Something had to be done (and the scarf was ruined anyway). So I put a brown marking thread, and lowered the a-a arm some.
And then some more, and some more... Almost no change between adjustments to the arm.

What to do? Knowing it would be too much, but being almost desperate to "get a reaction", I put the arm at the very lowest point.
Wove on for almost 15 cm, when (again) suddenly I was getting almost double the pick count.
(I did not change anything at all between the two horizontal marks below)

Now I had to get the pick count lower, again... Again several tries:

After almost 50 cm fiddling around I had got the pick count back to where it was to begin with.

I started with approx 7 picks per cm, at the worst point I had about 3, came up to 12 and then back to nearly 7 (did not manage to get it below 7,3 - average over 10 cm).

What, why?!?

- I have never been able to understand why I can have the a-a give me (say) 10 picks per cm when weaving a cotton warp, put on another cotton warp (same grist, different colour) and have to adjust it to get 10 picks per cm.
I can accept (but not quite understand) that I will have to adjust it if I out on a wool warp - different materials have different properties - but, after all, the auto-advance device is purely mechanical?


Holiday special

So, now we have opened the doors of this little house:

As it has functioned as a summer-only tourist information for the last 15 years (or so), it isn't exactly full of lamps... "cosy", perhaps?
(And, to say the truth, the electric system has some... quirks, too)

Some of my things for sale are neckwarmers

and the ruffled scarves


The "leaves" are also there, and some fringe twisters, and...

A few more pictures at our joint website, which also has links to the other members.

As it happens, I would be happy to ship even these things all over the world ;-)


Done (for now)

Today winter arrived for real (well - maybe...) - it has snowed all day. I suppose it can be said that it will give a more x-massy feeling when we open our christmas shop on Saturday...

Meanwhile I got the third scarf done, but not without problems.
First, this thingy fell off:

It is the stopper for the flyshuttle cord, and is essential for weaving. See how snall space there is between its end and the wooden piece behind it? I did invent a few words while trying to get it back...

Then I had suddenly lost the knack of flicking the fly-cord out of the way of the shuttle, which resulted in many over-shot shuttles that then had to be retrieved from down-under-and-behind.

When half the scarf was woven, one shaft suddenly started to misbehave, which resulted in 11 faulty picks, that then had to be mended. (How do the rest of you determine when a piece should be scrapped rather than mended? Halfway done, I started to have doubts - but, by then I had done half of it... so I went on.)

After wet finishing and pressing, I decided that the fabric probably would benefit from mangling. (I have never mangled shawls, as I had doubts about the flattened fringes that would result from it.)
But - some time has to be the first time, and why not now?

I have a smaller electric mangle indoors (the Big Monster lives in an outhouse). What with knots and all, it could not be used "as usual" (letting the scarf get rolled up with the protector sheet). I managed to get the first fringe in between the rollers, and out it came in the back:

And boy, did it change the hand of the scarf!!! (and the fringes looked ok, too) So, up I went to get the second - and the electric mangle refused to cope! Sigh. Until - I remembered that I do have a manual  indoors mangle!
And even better: it was a lot easier to get the fringes trough in a controlled fashion!
(As the whole contruction is open, I could let the fringes get taken trough with the help of the protector sheet, stop cranking when the end of the sheet had cone trough, lift out the fringes and let the scarf lie flat again)

So, here they are, all three, showing a bit of all sides:

The colours... well, in the darkness of November...


First of the "leaves"

I was thinking raindrops, but changed my mind and settled for leaf shapes.

I don't know if it qualifies as a "networked" design, so perhaps I should instead describe it as an "irregular dräll"?

For the first one I chose a green (with some blue in it) weft, which I thought would have enough contrast - but...:


The result can be called "subtle", I suppose. It is hopeless to try to photograph things in (what feels to be) total darkness of November, but the leaf-shapes show up better on the striped side than on the green - interesting, or perhaps strange? After all, the colours are exactly the same om both sides...

Even though I was confident about sett (10 ends per cm, cotton 16/2), I decided to cut off and finish the first before I wove on.
Then, of course, I wasn't patient enough to wait for the washing machine - . 

When done and pressed it had a nice hand, so that was ok - especially as I had woven almost half of the next by then..
Blue weft:

...perhaps I should use the blindning orange weft for the third...


sometimes I wish...

...that the AVL was not quite as, er, "sturdy".
The Other Loom has perhaps 4 bolts, and they have to be taken out on only one occasion - when it is to be completely dissasembled.
I have woven on this loom for close to 30 years now, and have never had a problem with the reed falling out, for example. The breast and knee beams lift out easily, the beater lifts off... and no tools required. But it hasn't got a fly shuttle...

Today I shifted from the double fly shuttle box to the single - at least 6 bolts to take out, plus several other small screws and things that require tools. Then, of course, the bolts and screws have to go back in.
The beater top has two bolts, and to change the reed there are many more (9? 10?). To be able to thread at a reasonable rate, the breast beam had to come out - more bolts.

Don't get me wrong. Once "done", the AVL does nearly everything I ask of it - and with the fly shuttle and the auto-advance she is fast, too.

As I could not (easily) adapt this pattern to full inches, I spread the warp with empty sections between the stripes. By mistake, I started sleying "straight", which means the left side of the warp is about one inch wider on the beam. Had I started the sleying just half an inch to the left... but I decided it will not be a problem. Time will tell...

After having got the auto-advance set and the pattern/threading checked, I stopped for the day.

(no, I will use a somewhat less orange yarn tomorrow)

(I've better confess: it helps to have a club when taking out/putting in the wedges of The Other Loom. But a clog will do, in a pinch)


Making more of the fringe twisters

Yesternight (is that a word?) I assembled the first five of a new batch of fringe twisters.
As usual, they have cutlery for handles and chessmen for the turning knobs.

The next five are now drying, being ready to assemble tomorrow:

Of the ten, three have rather un-romantic stainless steel spoons, two have slighly smaller "silver" spoons.

Then, there are the specials - two have old steel knives, and three have rather fancy fish knives:

The steel knives are perfectly safe (dull-edged to the point of having been completely useless to eat something with...), but the fish knives have a slight point. But when I found them, I could not resist to use them!

They are all for sale - SEK 180 plus postage.   (This means a total of 225 inside Sweden.) A good x-mas present for a weaving friend?
Contact me at kerstin (at) bergdalaspinnhus (dot) com - I take PayPal, and ship to everywhere!

How to use them? Here is a description in English, here is the same in Swedish.  (Will be included in the shipment)


The rest of the ruffles

The double warp(s) are now done -

It never ceases to surprise me, the very very different results one gets just by using different wefts! The dark warp has 4 different blues (in 3 different grists), a brown wool stripe in two slightly different nuances, and the purple has 3 different nuances in 2 different grists.
The three different wefts I used:

The bobbin is silk noil, the other two are cotton 16/2 (the red looks browner when alone).
The red-brown gave, as can perhaps be seen (click for larger), even some iridescence in the blue part.

I have opened the sett successively over the years. When I went to weaving school the recommended sett for cotton 16/2 was 15-16 ends per cm for tabby - in these ruffled scarves I am down to 8, and get a stable fabric.   (Well - for scarves!)

On the other hand, reading old weaving books, they never wove cotton scarves... They wove things that had to be sturdy, like bedsheets, for example.
For suppler fabrics they instead went to finer yarns - cotton 30/2 is not uncommon for towels, tablecloths, drapes...
Reading for instance Engeström: Praktisk vävbok (first published 1896), we get recommended a cotton 20/2 at 16 ends per cm for twill - she says it will yield a good quality for kitchen towels, if woven with a "coarser linen or tow weft". For a finer weft, she says, one should go slightly closer.
She has a "dress fabric" (mostly tabby) in cotton 40/2, sett at 24 ends/cm.

If only there were such yarns to be had...

I have looked at our biggest yarn companies here in Sweden - one of them does not offer any cotton finer than 16/2, the next has 63 colours of 16/2, 14 colours of 24/2, all of to 25 colours 30/2, while the third offers 74 colours of 16/2, 56 colours of 20/2 but finer only unbleached.


the things you can learn from the 'net...

It started with my looking at the statistics for this blog. It went on with my testing some of the search words used.
Soon I had come to a very muddled (only IMO, of course ;-) article about Swedish weaving. There I could learn that "a young Swedish man, in 1832, created Sweden's first loom".
Hmmm - "first loom" in 1832??? What on earth??? So I followed the reference link, and found that J T Munktell (who was apparently much into steam as a power source) possibly constructed Sweden's first power loom (a fact that most sources don't mention), but also constructed the first locomotive, the first threshing machine and, and... and also is (almost) the Founding Father of Volvo.

So, what have I learned today?
1. do not believe everything you read on the Internet (we may live in the back-of-beyond, but we sure had "looms" before 1832. They may all have been "foot-powered", but...)
2. Toyota is not the only modern car company that started with a loom - here you can read about J T Munktell (right column, .pdf file)
3. I will look at my old Volvo BM tractor with new eyes from now on...
(the glamour shot is copied from here  - mine is a lot less, er, polished? It is from the same year (1956), possibly hasn't been washed since then... I'll spare you the "true" pic - but it looks more like the one here. Perhaps I should mention that they did renovate theirs.)

Variations on a theme

Bilder till Siv - ganska lika, men inte riktigt: den andra är trampad-som-solvad, den första har en kortare trampning av varje parti. (Klicka på bilderna så blir de större)

Almost ths same, but not quite: the bottom one is treadled exactly as drawn in, while the top one has a shorter treadling repeat.



I wanted to have the two shawls ready by Saturday, as there was a market in, er, "town".

As I did spend most of Thursday traipsing around Glimåkra for the "weave days" (where I bought this

- what on earth was I thinking... Will I ever even try to weave with a wire that size? It looked thicker when I didn't have a sewing thread to compare with...)

Well. After "wasting" a day on that little purchase, I had Friday to complete the first two shawls. I had woven one meter, but what with the shrinkage they have to be around 2,5 meters on loom. And... with two parallell warps this means 5 meters total.

So, here they are, in the almost-sunshine of the Saturday morning:

When fringed, wet finished, pressed and brought out into daylight, they were a lot more subdued that I had thought...

I also wet finished the weft samples:

I like the pink for the red-orange (bottom), and maybe the reddish brown (fourth from top) for the blue-purple.
But first, the next two: blue-purple crossed with a dark purple (slightly darker that the second-from-top), red-orange crossed with a (nearly) blinding orange (more intense than the second-from-top).

I had more visitors than I usually have on the "market days". Unfortunately no sales, but also not much weaving.


An efficiency experiment

As shawls are too narrow to use the fly-shuttle on, I thought I would try putting two warps side-by-side. Maybe it would prove to be as efficient as doing them one-after-the-other?

Not being sure if the two-warp idea was a good one, I only warped for 3 shawls per warp. As they are to be a "winter" version of these, which depend on shrinkage, this means about 9 meters of warp.

A bad photo, but an overview of the arrangement:

First, I sampled different wefts

One plus with the two-warp arrangement is that I could see all combinations at the same time - some wefts can work in both warps. Weaving the samples was ok, I did not feel very slowed down by the constant shuttle-changing. (Two picks in right warp, two in the left)

So I decided on some silk noil weft(s), and started weaving.
1500 picks later, I know that 1. my beat is acceptable (7,5 picks per cm instead of 8) and 2. it is slower (or, at least, more tiring - which comes down to the same thing).

Oh well - only six-and-a-half meter left!

- the colours look all wrong, it is so dark these days that I have to use all possible lighting, and use the flash... anyway, you might be able to guess that one set will be called "lighten up the winter dark" and the other something like "match the weather" :-)



As everybody but us Swedes from the back-of-beyond probably knows, there is a verb: to corduroy.

I have a couple of bottomless mudpits in my back yard. When the autumn rains arrive, you can sink deep enough to lose a wellie. We have tried to dump stones in them (to no avail). So, today I decided to "corduroy" them. I did not do it quite as described, but instead took a big bunch of dead branches, topped that with a nice tangle ("web", perhaps...) of freshly cut raspberry bushes (nice and tough) and several tangles of vines.
When done, we could walk across it without sinking, but if the (almost) corduroying will survive the winter, nobody knows. Yet.

Maybe I should label this post "off-loom weaving"...


Lost in translation - part II

As I wrote here, odd things can happen when applying automatic translation to specialized texts.

The other day I happened to come to one of my own pages in English, with Google translator turned on. Oooops...
The translator is stupid - it just does what it is told. So, if it is told to translate from Swedish to English, it tries to do that, regardless of which laguage the text was written in.

Like this, for instance (using the same examples as in the last post): 
The Swedish text:
"Såhär gick jag tillväga för att konstruera sjalen:
Båda lagren skulle vara tuskaft. För att väva två lager tuskaft behöver man fyra skaft. Eftersom sjalen har två partier går det åt totalt åtta skaft.
Jag väljer att solva de orangea trådarna på jämna skaft (2 och 4 för det ena partiet, 6 och 8 för det andra), och solvar alltså de lila trådarna på de udda skaften. För att lättare komma åt att solva väljer jag att ha partiet med de flesta trådarna på skaften närmast mig. Där båda lagren överlappar solvar jag varannan lila, varannan orange."
becomes, when asked to be translated from (supposed) English -> Swedish:
"Sahar Gick JAG tillväga för Själen ATT konstruera:
Bada lagren skulle Vara tuskaft. För ATT Vava Två lager tuskaft behöver man Fyra skaft. Eftersom Själen HAR Två Partier gar DET Åt Totalt Åtta skaft.
JAG väljer ATT solva de orangea trådarna In jämna skaft (2 and 4 för DET ENA partiet, 6 and 8 för DET Andra), and Solvår alltså de lila trådarna in de udda skaften. För ATT lättare Komma Åt ATT solva väljer JAG ATT ha Partiet Med de flesta trådarna In skaften närmast mig. Dar bada lagren överlappar Solvår JAG varannan lila, varannan orange."
(I wonder where all the CapItaL LettERs came from? And why some, but not all, "å" become "a"? And... I know what "själ" is (soul) - but why should a sjal (in supposed English) become a själ (in Swedish)?)

The English version: (translated/written by myself):
"This is how I did it:
Both layers were to be plain weave. To weave two layers of plain weave we need four shafts. As the shawl has two blocks we need a total of eight shafts.
I choose to thread the orange ends on odd shafts (1 and 3 for one block, 5 and 7 for the other). The purple ends get threaded on the even-numbered shafts. Where both
warps/layers coincide I place the colours one-by-one."
becomes, when translated from (supposed) Swedish -> English:
"This is how I did it:
Both layers were to ask plain weave. To weave two layers of plain weave We Need four shafts. As The Shawl hock two blocks we need a total of eight shafts.
I choose to thread the orange ends on odd shafts (1 and 3 for one block, 5 and 7 for the Other). The purple goat threaded ends on the even-numbered shafts. Somewhere
bothering warps / layers coincide in place the colors one-by-one."

- we have lost the warehouses and wires (from the other post), but have instead got both goats and hocks. And gained a different syntax.
Being a non-native speaker, I can't, of course, ever claim to write perfect (not even "good") English - but I'm not so very sure that Google can do it better...

Conclusion: make sure you have control over the "auto-translator" before giving up on a strange text, that the author claims to be in a specific language!

(A bonus example, from the bottom of the same article. Original text:
"A word of warning: do not make too long warps! The fact that the web has single layers at the sides, but double in the middle, will disturb the warp tension. I had problems already after about 150 cm woven - the sides got slacker than the middle."
"A word of warning: Do Not make too long warps! The fact thats the web speed single layer at the sides, But DoubleClick in the Middle, Will disturb the warp tension. I Had problems Already after about 150 cm woven - the sides slightly slacker than option-the-middle."
I know what warp speed is, but web speed? And *where* did the double-click come from??? And what is option-the-middle?)


The naming of names

"I am a draper mad with love. I love you more than all
the flannelette and calico, candlewick, dimity, crash
and merino, tussore, cretonne, crepon, muslin,
poplin, ticking and twill in the whole Cloth Hall of
the world [...] "
(from Under Milkwood, Dylan Thomas 1954)

I can add some myself, off the top of my head: duroy, stuff, fustian, genoa, thickset, roundtop, gabardine ... and tweed.

All of them "weave names", all of them... confusing (at least to me, the foreigner).

Janet wrote, à propos my jackets , that they were both classical tweeds.

Of late, again I have had occasion to get confused about cloth naming. Remember the corduroy ?
There is that very Swedish (or at least "swedishified", I thought) word korderoj. I've known it (as a word - unfortunately not as a cloth quality) all my life. When I met corduroy as a cloth quality (or structure), and knew it for what we (Swedes) nowadays call Manchester velvet, I assumed that korderoj was the older Swedish word for, well, corduroy.

It turns out I was wrong.

All available (old and new) Swedish reference books claim that korderoj is not "what the English call corduroy", but instead is a "simple" (or maybe "cheap"), coarse (often striped) fabric for men's suiting.

To make things worse, "corduroy" is not derived from French - instead it is believed it comes from "cord" + "duroy". Duroy is a fabric name - meaning either "A lightweight WORSTED, akin to SERGE and TAMMY, and not the same as CORDUROY" or "duroy: coarse woollen" . (which, incidentally, ties it with Korderoj... perhaps).

Well, back to tweed. Janet, I'm glad you call them tweed jackets - it's what I called them myself. Until...

This is how Wikipedia defines it:
"Tweed is a rough, unfinished woollen fabric, of a soft, open, flexible texture resembling cheviot or homespun, but more closely woven. It is made in either plain or twill weave and may have a check or herringbone  pattern. Subdued, interesting colour effects (heather mixtures) are obtained by twisting together differently coloured woolen strands into a two- or three-ply yarn."

Also, there used to be a yarn called "tweed yarn", a singles, fairly coarse, with nubs in contrasting colours. The yarn itself was dark, grey, dark blue, dark green etc.

And, I think I remember having read some old English literature - Woodehouse, perhaps? - about tweed being "thornproof" and not showing mud spots.

All of the above means the jackets are not tweed. (But it almost sounds like the korderoj above?)
The Donegal tweed (from Magee  - bought in Donegal Town) I have supports that. Except it is woven of singles. There are about 7 ends/cm in the warp, and 5 or 5,5 picks per cm. It shows some signs of tracking.

But... then, there is the Harris tweed (bought from a weaver, maybe in Harris, maybe in Lewis)

This looks a lot more like my older jacket - worsted, patterned... but woven with singles, with 12-13 ends and 19 picks per cm. The number of colours, and their sequence, is less complex than the Elgin, er, tweed.

The more you know, the more you know what you don't know - as usual... :-)