Sampling for a golden snake

My next sewing commission will have golden snakes along the facings.
"Golden snake" - easy to draw, easy to say... but easy to sew? Embroidery is out - I don't do embroidery. Appliqué? Possibly, if there is a suitable golden fabric to be had. Is there time to find such a fabric? Or appliqué, with a fancy ribbon? At least, finding fancy ribbons is possible where I live.

Glitter and glamour?

Or a more sombre variant?

Halfway through, the old reliable needle threader broke. Nowadays, I seldom can thread my favourite thin needles without the help of one, so I had to get a new one - immediately. No problem, the local sewing shop had them in stock. Same old model - or? Perhaps the little metal thingie was a bit bigger? And... wasn't the lady's head a bit blurry? Anyway, I splurged and bought 4.
Came home. Yes, it was bigger, and blurrier. And - SHOCK - did not go through the needle!!! The new threaders had thicker wire... so I had to use a thicker needle. Doable, but - .
Phoned the other haberdashery shops nearby. All of them stocked ONLY the same type I just had bought. One of them also has another type: "it's so thin it goes through the finest needle possible". Good - so I packed my best needles and drove there (50 km single way). And... apart from being harder to use, it did not go through the needle...
Fortunately, I still have the threader that came with the old serger. But what do I do if (when?) that one breaks, too?

Friends, out there in the wide world - if you know where I can find a needle threader that fits size 9 and 10 needles, please tell me! (What is a "size 9 needle"? Well, I don't know... it is the size printed on the package - from England, if that matters. How are sewing needles numbered? And, FWIW, the old broken threader is made in Japan, the too thick 4 are from Germany.)


Cultural differences and looms

It is interesting how many ways there are to think about weaving on a shaft loom.
I am from Sweden, where we have woven on floor looms since... a loong time. Those looms were of the counterbalance type. In the late 1700s countermarche looms begun to appear. There is also the "middle" type - counterbalanced multishaft looms. The ordinary CB loom could easily be converted, one just added a multi-level pulley (drälltrissor, in Swedish) and some shaft bars.
Drawlooms existed, but were for "experts".
Above is a picture of my first loom. It is by now probably 100 years old. It is unusually deep, but otherwise typical. When I bought it, I got three generations (incarnations?) in one: there was one set of pulleys for 8 shafts and some horses, one set of dräll pulleys for 10 shafts and a countermarche.
Some sticks and things had been lost over the years, but I could set up a 20-treadle, 13-shaft CM loom without problems. It has got yet another incarnation from me - I replaced the tatty countermarche, and also got a double back beam. It now has 16 shafts and (the original) 20 treadles.

Above is a collage of pictures harvested today from one Swedish second-hand 'net site. All of these looms are old, some very old - and all are typical. (Click on the picture to enlarge)
In the peasant community spinning and weaving was concentrated to the winter season, so warping mills and looms were constructed to be easily dis/assembled.

Modern Swedish looms are still built in this pattern:

Above left is a Glimåkra standard, above right is an Öxabäck Cyrus.

From what I have read, all warping was done "back-to-front" - ie one wound a warp on a vertical warping mill, chained it off, and by the help of a reed or a raddle (and a friend/child/husband) wound the warp chain on to the warp beam. Then the warp loops were cut, the heddles threaded, the reed sleyed, the warp was tied to the front rod. The warp rods were attached to the beams with cords.

When the warp was in place, and under tension, the "upper tie-up" was done: the shafts were attached to the superstructure by the help of pulleys and horses, or the dräll pulleys, or the countermarche mechanism. After that, it was time for the "lower tie-up", or treadle tie-up. Both tie-ups were done every time, for every warp. When I went to weaving school we had to strip the loom(s) down to the bare frame when a warp was cut off - no shafts, lamms, treadles left in place. Why? - because this warp required 6 shafts/treadles, and the next might require a different number...

If the loom did not have lamms, there were several ways to facilitate tying several shafts to each treadle. The easies way was to put the treadle cords trough a ring of some sort (often, I have read, a piece of a cow's horn - but it could also be just a "ring" of yarn). Another way was to attach "shaft horses" under the bottom shaft bar. (This "shaft horse" is just an extra stick, giving better room to attach several cords to the bottom shaft bar. It also helps the geometry, some, by distributing the downward pull over a longer length.) I have never heard a Swedish weaver use an expression like "direct tie-up loom", even though I have known weavers who preferred to use both feet.
(For lots of interesting reading on traditional Swedish looms and weaving practices, see: Grenander-Nyberg: Lanthemmens vävstolar, ISBN 91-7108-076-7, printed 1974. The book has a summary in English.)

The first time I came to the US was for Convergence 1990. I saw so many ...things I could not properly relate to. I mean - I was a weaver of more than 10 years, I should know a loom when I saw one, right? And yet, here were all these small things: narrow, short (shallow?) and about knee high - surely they must be meant for children? Or do all Americans have extremely short legs?

The wolf above is just an example of what I mean with "knee high" - Swedish looms tend to have the breast beam sitting 20-30 cm - 8-12" - taller... and of course they also have a "castle" some 170-180 cm - 6' - tall.

In 1996 I started to hang out on internet lists. There were so many discussion threads that I just could not understand. I understood the words, but they had some strange meaning: why would one need/want a "manual" for a loom, for example? By then, I had woven on, oh, I don't know, a dozen or so, looms. I could dis/assemble any one of them in less than an hour. They were all constructed to the same principle, even if some had the ratchet-and-pawl mechanism to the right, others to the left. Some had both warp and back beams, some had no back beam. Some had the treadles hinged at the front, most had not.
But a "manual"?
(Little did I know... some years later, I was thankful of the manual that came with the AVL, a loom that takes more than an hour to assemble - maybe even for a veteran.)

Another thing I could not understand was the idea of a "universal tie-up". It must be so much more efficient to do a tie-up that suited the project and its treadling order? And why on earth would one try to tie the treadles without a warp on the loom? Surely, it would have to be re-done, or at least adjusted, when the warp was in place, anyway?

Then there were the always reappearing discussions on warping - B2F, F2B. Huh? At long last I found out what F2B meant. To me, it sounded like a recipe for disaster: to cut and tie the loops before the warp was safely on the loom... surely that was asking for trouble? (I still haven't dared try that method, even though I have an idea that would depend on it... because I am not confident that I could tie the knots at the exact place.)

And the winding of a warp... Imagine - there are weavers out there that, apparently, never use more than one end at a time? And who are nervous about how to keep the warp order, if not using a one-by-one cross? When winding on a warping mill, I usually have 4 ends at a time - but it would not even occur to me to pick a thread-by-thread cross... and I have never had any problems. True, I have never made a warp longer than 26 meters this way.

Over time, I have learned to disregard some discussions, but now and again I can't help marveling at the fact that the seemingly "same" tools and procedures can be so different... and yet produce the same results.


Outside the window...

This morning, when I looked out the widow, I saw this:

As it happens, my favourite sewing needles are bent...

(and new ones take this shape after a very short time, just by the way I'm using them)


the backpack

or: because I could

When the guild decided on "bags" as a theme, I was not very interested.

Some time later I found a box of un-interesting cotton that had been sitting around for a long time. I thought I could try another exercise in 3D weaving - a backpack woven in one piece.

Remembering the scarf with fins, I thought I would try to construct a backpack "with volume". Like this:

So the first thing to figure out was how to accomplish that. This is how:
(as usual, I use different colours for different layers, to make it easier to read the drawdown)

Counting from the top, this does:
1. pick in the bottom layer
2. bottom layer in left pleat
3. top layer of left pleat
4. top (outer) layer
5. top layer in right pleat
6. bottom layer of right pleat
which makes one pick in the whole bag. So the next six passes make the second plain-weave pick in the whole bag.

As I could not figure out a way to attach a flat bottom without sewing, I decided to start with a single layer, which included all warp ends. At the sides, there were to be four layers, so for the beginning of the bag I devised some kind of basket weave(s):

I warped with purple for the "whole" layers, and a lighter lilac in the pleats.
Started weaving - and it worked!
But... it was not very interesting. I did not like the yarn, I did not want a backpack... just wanted to see "if I could". As it would fit with the guild theme, I wove on.

Finally the bag part was "big enough".
I cut the "bag" warps of the outer layer, left the purple "pleat" warps. I also cut the lilac warps, and the bottom purple "pleat" warps.
This meant I could weave the flap as a continuation of the bottom layer, and the straps as a continuation of the outer (upper) layer. It would have been a good idea to use two more shafts, so that the straps had been on four separate shafts... which is why the flap-and-straps diagram below has 4 strap picks to 2 flap picks. (Yes, I tried to open the strap shed, using right shuttle, then left shuttle, beat and so on, but I liked that even less.)

And I wove. And wove. Until, when the straps were about half of what they should be, I cut off.
Threw the whole thing in a corner, tried to forget about it.
After all, I had accomplished what I wanted: to see if I could.

Half a year later, it is time for the guild exhibition, and I figured I could try to tidy it up... This is what it looks like:

There are three knots in the "closing fringe", to accomodate for different amount of contents.

From the side:

The guild exhibition opened on Saturday - pictures here (in Swedish) and here (in English)


More bags

What is a "bag"?
Does it depend on size? Or does it depend on function?

The BAG bag has both size and functionality to carry several books and a lunch. These are smaller - but, if they were evening bags, for instance, they would be too big. (And they would have been made in a more glamorous material.)

So - are they pouches, perhaps? The terahedron one has a base of about 20 cm, the other one is about 25 cm long.

They are made of handwoven scraps, lined with "cabbage" from old commissions. The zips are previously used.

The fabric is from one of the first warps I wove on the AVL. I wove several short warps to get to know how to do the sectional warping, how to handle the fly shuttle, how to design for a dobby loom. And, last but not least, how to convert from metrics to yards... which is why there was not enough fabric for all of the chairs:

Half of the warp is black, half white. The weft is in rainbow colours, in rainbow progression. I did not take paricular care to make the stripes to the same width. I did take care to match the stripes at the seam, however :-).