Spinninglizzy's Weblog

Falling down the slippery fibre slope

Ashford Knitters Loom, Third Time’s The Charm

My triple-heddle project on my 12″, AKL had been untouched for close to a year. I tried to work on it a few times, but stalled each time because I couldn’t remember how to manipulate the heddles properly. Because I dreaded having to re-read the Xenakis text (”The Xenakis Technique For The Construction Of Four Harness Textiles”, by Athanasios David Xenakis) again, the AKL stayed untouched in its carry bag until I put DS into camp last month. Because DS insisted I not leave him “alone” on the premises (even though he never saw me!), I had to bring something to work on for the 3 hours every day he was in camp.

To prepare myself, well before camp week, I gritted my teeth and pulled out the Xenakis text to read. Several times over. Then, I looked closely at the cloth I had started. I was dismayed to find that it resembled, but didn’t reproduce the pattern I was after. Reading Xenakis again, I discovered that I had been manipulating the heddles incorrectly. I unwove the foot-plus-long cloth I had already woven, and started over again.

I would love to say that I learned the proper heddle manipulations and soon set myself weaving merrily along again. That did not happen. The problem was that the heddle lifts and sequences were not intuitive to me. Some lifts required moving the third heddle up or down, then bringing the other heddles toward the fell line to emphasize a separation in threads, then picking up one set of the threads behind the first heddle, etc. That was very complicated! I struggled a bit, then decided to order “Weaving with Three Rigid Heddles”, by Rev. David B. McKinney, from eBay, where it’s sold under his eBay name, Silananda. I have heard that his book is very easy to read.

The book came very quickly, and was indeed very easy to comprehend. Alas, McKinney does not thread his heddles the same way Xenakis does, and so was no help to me on this current project. Xenakis threads his heddles so each heddle eye lifts either one or two “shaft” threads; whereas McKinney threads his heddles so the first heddle lifts “shaft 1” threads, the second heddle lifts “shaft 2” threads, and the last heddle lifts “shaft 3” threads. His threading is simple and intuitive, and makes weaving four-shaft textiles on a RH similar to weaving with a direct tie-up loom. However, because of the difference in threading, with my particular pattern, the Xenakis threading produces a sett of 16.7 epi, while the same pattern with the McKinney threading would be 12.5 epi. The setts would vary depending on the patterns chosen, but in general, the Xenakis threading allows for a tighter sett. When I use three rigid heddles again, I would chose the method of threading based upon the lifts I need to use. Only a few of the Xenakis lifts are complex, but it just happened that my particular choice of patterns required two of them. I wouldn’t automatically rule out using the Xenakis technique again, especially if a closer sett were desirable, but I’d prefer to stay away from the complex lifts.

There was nothing to do except to hunker down and take my medicine stoically. I decided to make things easier for myself by retrieving the doupe heddles I had taken off and use them in place of my two complicated lifts. I threaded two doupe heddle sets and used two doupe sticks to make those two lifts easier. Now my weaving could pick up speed and I could enjoy it again.

On the first day of camp, I brought my AKL loom stand, in pieces, in a Whole Foods grocery bag. Being completely OCD, I had protected all the pieces in bubble wrap, but felt it took too much time to wrap and unwrap. So, that evening, I dug out some scrap polar fleece fabric to sew some protector sleeves:

Then, I re-purposed a folding camp stool bag for toting the stand parts:

Compare the OLD pattern:

to the NEW one:

Perhaps the difference is very subtle, but it’s there, and that makes all the difference to me.

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12 August 2010 - Posted by | Weaving | , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Where are you!!!! I have just bought a Louet Spring loom and feel excited and ready to weave again. Actually i have been weaving and spinning but not blogging. Just posted first time since last March. Hope all is well with you

    Comment by deborah hannam | 5 January 2011 | Reply


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