Saturday, September 27, 2014

Size the day

When I bought the loom, they proudly told me that they (RAC) had just replaced the harness springs.

I thought, "Good" (a set of springs is not cheap)

However, the replacement springs that they bought are much stronger than the springs that AVL designed for weaving garment weight fabrics.

Less spring tension seems to have much reduced my warp abrasion problem. (And makes weaving much easier.)  Research on sizing has been put aside.

A Victorian was taking a survey of what kind of sizing the various weaving factories were using.  At one factory he was told, "We don't use it.  We know how to weave."  That set me thinking that perhaps I needed to read the manual. And there it is; large or heavy warps require more spring tension.  One reason that I had bought this loom is that I heard stories about the original owner using it to weave very fine  fabrics.  The original springs had been intended for much finer warps than the students at the RAC wanted to use.  No, if they were going to weave rugs on this loom, they needed much stronger springs.

Anyway, I am to the point where I am sampling garment weight cloth from hand spun, and am working out how to live in the realm of 24 to 30 epi.

When you see the loom that you want: Carpe Diem.  However, carp always have bones so having seized the day, and gone fishing, "Caveat Emptor".   


Einar Svensson said...

No pictures of the weaving yet?

If it is 24-30 epi that is not more than 110/10 cm, which in Swedish terms is not at all an unusually fine fabric. I know that if your warp is breaking you should use a reed with wider slots and fit two or more threads through each slot instead of one thread through each slot. Tension is only one problem that causes broken warp threads.

Aaron said...

Many Swedish weavers work with mill spun rather than hand spun.
How many wool warps at 110/10 cm (or finer) have you spun?

I have 10 and 12 dent reeds, so right now, I have 3 warp threads in each reed slot (30 epi). Switching reeds will get me to 36 epi. I may have to revisit the sizing issue as I get to 4 warp threads in each reed slot (48 epi).

At this time, I am not without hope that I with much finer warp, I can put a big bunch of warp in each reed slot. Playing with the singles that I was spinning yesterday, even 8 strands seem to slide freely past each other.

The mill spun warp I was working with was spun from a fine wool. Long wool seems more resistant to abrasion and more slippery in the heddles and reed. This has also made me think that the warps should be spun from the coarsest wool that will produce the warp of the required spin count. That is if I need a 40 count warp, I should spun it from 40 count wool, rather than finer 56 count wool. This is because the 40 count wool warp will be more abrasion resistant during the weaving. This is a stumble because I have been spinning warp from finer wools.

Einar Svensson said...

Why do you take the defensive? I am just talking about the weaving, not the spinning, and pointing out that 110/10 is a very normal density, not very fine.
If you have too many threads in each slot your fabric will have ugly lines in it. And you also may put more stress on your warp if your warp because threads cross in the same slot.
If you want to weave fine fabric you also need to have the right tools.

Aaron said...

Yes, one needs the right tools. That has always been one of my themes. And one needs skills. I think 110/10 is a reasonable fineness for learning skills. That is where I am, "a beginner". Yes, 110/10 is fine enough to weave wonderful cloth. And, it is certainly coarse enough to be easily produced by the tools that I have. However, it may not be fine enough to teach all the lessons that a competent weaver needs to know.

Yes, If one has too many warp threads in the same slot of the reed, nothing good will be produced. The questions are:" How many, is too many? And, "What skills allow one to achieve finer fabrics from coarser reeds?

So when hand weaving hand spun, how fine a reed does one need?

That depends on the fibers in the yarns, the structure of the yarns, the desired weave (tabby, twill, etc), the tension of the warp, the number of heddles, and stuff like that. It would be nice to have a teacher that was familiar with all of these issues.

However, in the last century few hand spinners have produced weavable quantities of fine weaving yarns, and thus there are few weavers with such experience. Many of the hand weavers producing fine fabrics today either work with cotton, silk, or mill spun wool. Such experience supplies answers to many, but not all of the issues in weaving fine hand spun woolens.

Einar Svensson said...

But why do you not find a teacher? You don't need a teacher who knows all about the spinning process, you need a teacher who knows about the weaving process. Any good weaving teacher will be knowledgeable about all of those things, including yarn structure, even if she has not spun the yarn herself. If you understand your own yarn, you should be able to apply the principles to what you are working with.

The things that you're talking about, yarn and structure and tension, and heddles, are all things that even I, who have only listened carefully when my mother and sister talk, know are not great mysteries of weaving.

If you want a guru, you need someone who can teach you all of those things from the perspective of spinning her own yarn. But only poor students look for gurus. A good student can synthesixe the material without being spoon-fed the answers.

Aaron said...

One can buy a modern commercially made spinning wheel and there seems to be no mystery to any part of the system. When, I bought my Ashford Traditional, it inserted twist at just under 1,000 rpm. “Everyone” told me that is as fast as a spinning wheel needs to go – and that is as fast as a spinning wheel can go.

Today, my Ashford Traditional (with some tiny modifications) runs 3 or 4 or 5 times faster. Mostly, it was just a matter of understanding the importance of a “silly millimeter”. It means that I can get more done, and can take on larger projects. It lets me reach for the moon.

(I do not see other hand spinners producing lace singles at 8 or 10 meters per minute. Thus, there are not a lot of fine, hand spun yarns for weaving around.)

I am just a beginning weaver, but I can assure you that “silly millimeters” are just as important to looms a they are to spinning wheels. Certainly, looms also seem not to have great mysteries, but when all the silly millimeters are correct, the loom is 3 or 4 or 5 times (better). (There is a network of weavers that understand AVL Looms. )

Yarn structure is critical to weaving. Some of the hand spun I work with is as fine as the silk used by the silk weaver across the Bay, but silk beds and fulls differently so the resulting fabric is very different. On the loom, wool behaves differently than silk. Single ply yarns behave differently than 2-ply. Singles from long wool behave differently than singles from fine wool or singles from downy wool. And, yarn spun at the wool's spin count behaves very differently than the same grist spun from finer wool. From spinning, I know how to make the yarns, but I do not know what fabrics the yarns will make when all the silly millimeters on the loom are correct. Hand spun produces different fabrics than mill spun. The only way to understand how hand spun behaves in fabrics is to work with hand spun. And, working with hand spun requires loom adjustments of silly millimeters. And, while there are many AVL weavers, they have not worked with hand spun and may not understand just what silly millimeters are required for hand spun.

A teacher that has only worked with mill spun 2-ply can only tell me about how single ply yarns “bed” from hear say – and I can get that from a book. The silk weaver across the Bay works with very fine singles, but she does not think about bedding (e. g., twist) and fulling. A teacher that has never worked with warp spun at the fiber's spin count can only tell me about it from hear say -- and I can get that from a book.

Today, the way to learn about hand spun, hand woven, fine woolen fabrics is to make them. You want to tell me that it is easy, without ever having done it yourself. Do you see why I do not trust your history of weaving?

Einar Svensson said...

Is bedding about making the choice whether to use z twist and s twist yarn in the warp and weft? I have read that in many places, both technical and historical.

Maybe you are using the wrong loom. Many weavers here use handspun yarns, both their own and yarn that other people make. My sister spins her own yarn sometimes and makes blankets out of it - probably not as thin as your yarn you have ambitions of using, but it is done.

I never said it was easy. To the contrary, I said that there are many factors to consider, not just tension, and that you should find a teacher. If you think I did, you have trouble synthesizing the written word, and that explains why you don't seem to be able to understand history.

Aaron said...

I need to learn to use the loom that I have, with the yarn that I make, to produce the fabric that I want.

When I started spinning, I had a bunch of spinners tell me I was using the wrong wheel. Nobody, said, "You just need to adjust your wheel by a silly millimeter!" However, when adjusted by a silly millimeter, my wheel worked just fine. I am tired of getting advice from people who simply pass along conventional wisdom rather than understanding the details of the current situation.

I am not very good with people. I am exceptionally good at interpretations of very technical written material.

You mistake the thoughtful and reasoned rejection of concepts with a failure to understand those concepts. And, I accept as plausible and consistent with other knowledge frameworks, ideas that you would reject as having insufficient evidence. The evidence is insufficient for you because you have different frameworks of knowledge. Moreover, your rejection of concepts because of a lack of consistency with your extant knowledge frameworks is NOT a thoughtful and reasoned rejection. Rather it is a emotional response (not befitting a professional academic.)