Spinninglizzy's Weblog

Falling down the slippery fibre slope

Baby Bergman

On a cold and rainy night two winters ago, I responded to a Craigslist ad for some miscellaneous weaving supplies. The gentleman there told me he would give me a good price on an old loom if I took the accompanying bobbin winder.
“What kind of loom is it?” I asked.
“Same as the bobbin winder – HD,” was the reply.
It was late in the evening (the only time that would suit us both), and we were in his dark garage, but when I peered at the outlines of the loom, I didn’t haggle over the price; I didn’t want him to change his mind.
“I’ll take it!”

It wasn’t until I arrived home that I dared to look to look more closely. Yes! I found the mark hidden in the castle box confirming this to be a true Bergman loom made in Poulsbo, Washington; a four-harness, six-treadle, counterbalance loom.

I’m sorry to say that this loom sat outside my front door until only a few months ago, before I finally brought it inside to use. But, now that it’s inside, I’m sorry I waited so long! With its smaller footprint, it is so easy to manipulate and dress.

While the frame of the loom at its widest measures 34″, the actual weaving width is only 21.5″, because of the way the the heddles have been suspended from the harnesses. There’s a mysterious Stucto Tools part attached to the castle. I have no idea what it’s for, and would love to hear from you if you know!

The heddles had been dyed four different colours and used to differentiate the different harnesses.

The same four colours were used to keep track of the toggles used for the tie-up. Note the pony beads used to anchor the cording!

Fortunately, most of the treadles were still tied up, so I was able to examine them and learn that the tie-up for this loom is extremely simple. I did find that my treadles were of different heights from the ground, but I haven’t spent any time to determine how to make any adjustments. A future project.

The previous weaver had left a warp attached in an ingenious way; hot glue had been used to preserve the integrity of the threading through heddles and reed. All I had to do was lash the warp onto the front apron rod, and I was ready to weave!

I wrote out the threading sequence in the heddles, and some research through my books of drafts revealed a Summer and Winter pattern — something I’ve been meaning to try. The warp is that ubiquitous 8/4 cotton carpet warp; for the weft, I found more carpet warp in a co-ordinating light blue, and the heavier cotton weft is some variegated beige Lily Sugar ‘n Cream.

For a temple, I used some cording to attach plastic spring clips to both sides.

That setup pulled the edges of the cloth down from the height of the fell line, so I rigged some more cording from the front to the castle to raise the clips to the proper height.

I didn’t want to unwind the warp to measure it, as I’ve gotten myself into tensioning woes when re-winding to the back beam. I just wove until I came to the end, and found it measured close to five yards! I shall have four towels and several sample pieces from it when finished.

My second project on the Baby Bergman was started within a week of taking a weaving class on Shadow Weave taught by Syne Mitchell. The warp and weft are two skeins of 8/3 Finnish cotton. I was in a hurry to start weaving, so I didn’t stop to take pictures of any part of the setup. I chose what looked to me like a Shadow Weave pattern from “The Handweaver’s Pattern Directory” by Anne Dixon: p. 217, bottom pattern; Syncopated Rosepath Threading.

The camera picks up on any weaving mistakes immediately! The strange thing is, when I looked at the same spot on the cloth without the camera, I still couldn’t see the mistake.

It has been cut off the loom, and the resulting cloth (after a vigourous washing, drying, and ironing) measures 13.75 inches by 1.45 yards. I plan to sew it into a small vest for my son.

My third project for the Baby Bergman is in the works. I’m planning a warp using four colours of 5/2 Astra in Magenta, Ruby Glint, and Deep Turquoise, and Yale Blue. The weft will also be 5/2 Astra, in Black.

Because I recently de-cluttered my kitchen, and could see most of the floor for the first time in over a year, I was able to pull out my Bergman warping reel to wind a 7-yard warp.

I had read about using the Fibonacci sequence in an old Handwoven magazine (sorry, I don’t remember the issue number; I had gotten it long ago from the library), and used the sequence: 3, 5, 8, 13, 21. That adds up to 50, so using 4 colours repeated 5 times, I wound 4 Fibonacci repeats of (3, 5, 8, 13, 21), or 200 ends.

200 ends made up 1 bout; I wound two of them, or 400 ends. With two identical bouts, I have to decide whether to repeat the first design and colour sequence, or mirror it. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

It took me eight hours to wind my first bout, as I was terrified of making a mistake in counting. After that, I made detailed lists with each colour and which ends to wind explicitly marked out, so the second bout went much faster — less than an hour. However, I can tell that the first bout (above, to the left) is wound more neatly than the second.

The pattern I plan to use is also from Anne Dixon’s book, the top pattern on p. 198: Undulating Twill: Straight Draft; 2/2 Twill.

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9 August 2010 Posted by | Weaving | , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Off To The Races!

The Leclerc Dorothy loom taught me how wonderful it is to have a shuttle race.  The other looms I have worked with do not have one.  A shuttle race really helps weaving get up to speed, by creating a path and support for the shuttle to fly through.  The support is necessary if your shuttle would otherwise fall through the threads, if threads are sett too far apart, if the threads are too fine to support your shuttle, or if your shuttle is too heavy.  If you’re only passing a shuttle (or a stick shuttle) from one side of the shed to the other, you don’t need a shuttle race.  But, if you want to throw or shoot the shuttle through the sheds, a race is essential to help the shuttle pass through consistently.

The lack of a shuttle race on my Bergman loom was bothersome.  I kept playing mind games with my shuttles, thinking “If I throw it just so, with my wrist thus, the shuttle will clear the shed…”; but I kept picking up or dropping extra threads from my shed, evidenced as warp floats:

  6483noracewarpfloats

Half an hour later, enough was enough.  A race was needed.  No problem; it’s easy to put one on.

It was late at night (stores were closed) when I decided to attach a shuttle race, so I put together a temporary one using a padded lease stick and two spring clamps.

6479raceleasestick

6482raceclamped

Your warp threads should just skim the top of the race:

6480raceunderwarps

For a permanent race, I found some curved moulding from the hardware store.  I found it next to the flat screen moulding that I cut into sticks for packing the warp beam.  It’s not easy to see from my picture, but the cross section is a quarter oval, not a quarter circle.  Amazingly, it was cheaper than the plain flat moulding!

6513racecurvedmoulding

I added some self-stick felt bumpers to bottom of the curve.

6521feltbumpersfeltbumpers

It fits into the curve of my beater better than the flat lease stick did.

6530raceclampedcu

This moulding is very lightweight, and is slightly flexible, but it’s enough to support a shuttle.  The moulding and two small clamps did not change the weight or feel of the beater assembly appreciably. 

6529race

Don’t weave home without it!  🙂

6484cleanerwavingwrace

4 March 2009 Posted by | Weaving | , , , , | 7 Comments

Vanquishing Bergman Tie-Ups

Beauty, my 45″ Bergman loom, has been calling me to weave.   Everything, anything else I was doing, but I could not escape the angst I felt about not using the Bergman.

I was bothered by a couple points; I had sorted out 800-plus string heddles (the wrong way — see “To Meddle With Treddles And Heddles“, and I did not have any tie-up cord.  I did not want to use texsolv, as I wanted to preserve the original look of the Bergman, which was cotton clothesline cording.  I checked at the major hardware stores in my area, Lowes and Home Depot, to no avail.  Nothing dense, non-stretchy, and made of natural fibres to be had.  I planned to spin flax, but finally chose ramie as a slightly easier material to work with.  After spinning a fair amount, I found it difficult to ply enough to make the necessary thickness (I would have to spin, ply, and cable ply something like ten of the singles I was producing).  However, the resulting samples were tooooo stretchy.  I turned my efforts to braiding a cord, either by lucet or kumihimo.  I never got as far as kumihimo, as I found my most tightly-braided lucet cord even more stretchy than my cabled plies, and took forever to produce even a foot.  Why muster any enthusiasm to re-sort the heddles when there was not cording to be had?  I was flummoxed.

Last Wednesday, I began a correspondence with Kati Reeder Meek, a long-time Bergman weaver and weaving instructor.  Her inspirational words to me were: “I get my cord from Ace Hardware”.  I was saved!  She told me of the Ace-branded 3/16″ sash cord.  It was after 10 pm (stores were closed) before I had that information, so I put my time to good use by clearing out the boxes where my loom wings needed to unfold and my bench needed to sit.

6342beautyopenedup

With the loom folded, there is just enough pathway to access the other side.  Some day, I might post on something to the effect of “I Started Weaving And Cleaned Up My Act.”  (DH says, “Oh yeah, except for the four looms stacked outside.”)

6344beautycleanedroom

After breakfast the next morning, I looked neither left nor right,  neither dithered nor dallied; but hied myself away to the small Ace Hardware store three minutes away to get some sash cord.  (The joke is that both Lowes and Home Depot are at least fifteen minutes farther…)  Look what I found instead!!!

6324ropebraided

Wonder of wonders, the braided rope is an even better size match to the original cord on my loom, and even comes bound with a velcro strap, handy for a myriad of purposes!  At 9/64″, it’s slightly thinner than the sash cord:

6325sashcord

And, it’s cheap!  I purchased six bundles for less than $27.00; that was enough cording for all 160 holes in the upper and lower lamms.  By nighttime, I had cut all the cords and dipped three inches of the ends (one end per cord) in beeswax.  Kati uses dilute white glue to harden the ends; I decided on beeswax because it dries faster, and I love the smell.  Immediately when dipping the ends in wax, I used disposable chopsticks to squeese any excess liquid down; it is important to keep the ends as thin as possible.

6359tieupcordswaxed160

Using information from Trapunto, I cut the eighty, 17″ lower lamm cords, and eighty, 23″ upper lamm cords.  Her site is a treasure trove of Bergman lore!  For other Bergman delights, check out Deborah’s site; she “found” her loom after I found Beauty, but has been weaving merrily away for months already.

Prior to coming to my home, my Bergman had been sitting, unused, in someone’s garage for thirty years.  Except for  cording, she is amazingly complete.  This was fortunate for me, as I only needed to duplicate the lengths of the cord present, and mimic the manner of stringing.  I missed only one loop from the treddles; a bit of copper wire served very well as a threading needle:

6326treddleloopwire

By midnight, I had cords in the holes of every lamm.  As there were only six original cords, I replaced them for uniformity (new cords would stretch more than the old).

6367tieupcordsonlamms1

Only five of the cords were difficult to thread, “but when she was bad, she was very bad indeed”.  I was very glad for the extra slimness of this rope over sash cord.  Pulling hard on the cords while rolling on the beeswax end helped to stretch it thin enough to thread.  You couldn’t do that with glue-tipped ends!  (Well, you may not need to…)  When two of the holes did not thread even with the thinnest cord ends, it turned out that they were blocked by dust from thirty years’ storage.  Keep something like an awl or thin dowel on hand for this!  Trapunto recommended starting with 40 cords each for the upper and lower lamms.  I cut all 160, with a hope that I could leave them all on the lamms and never bother with threading the holes again.  I don’t know if that would work or not; when I began the tie-up, it was too messy and confusing to deal with, so I removed the extras at that time.  For the next project on this loom, I’ll do my tie-up first, beam on the warp, then do any adjustments to the tie-up afterwards.

I re-sorted some of my heddles; for older countremarche looms, it’s best to keep the shafts as light as possible by putting on only the heddles needed.  I did not have a pattern in mind at the time, so I counted out five hundred heddles, figuring on fifty heddles per shaft plus some extras for repeats.

It took an afternoon for this mess:

6332heddlesmessy

To become this:

6335heddlessorted

I used plastic binder rings and safety pins to separate and organise:

6377heddlepinnedcu

6384heddlesonloompincloseups

I chose a pattern that required only thirteen or fourteen heddles on six of the shafts, and thirty-nine on the remaining two.  I decided to leave the extra heddles on the shafts, with the clips still intact.  If I ever get around to sorting the remaining heddles, I might put them on and check the resulting performance.

Metal pin rods come with the Bergman to lock the cloth beam into place:

6369lockingpinslhs

Are these absolutely necessary?  I’m a bit worried that if I take up the breast beam and forget about these, I’ll bend or snap them when folding in the front wings.

6371lockingpinrhspawl

At this point, the jacks must be locked in place in the castle with locking pins (that look just like the pins locking the cloth beam above).  Only after the tie-up is complete, and ready to weave are the locking pins in the jacks removed.

The shafts are suspended from the jacks on two sides, and need to be adjusted to an even height by adding or subtracting loops from the side hooks:

6404adjshaftheight

After the shafts are even, adjust the cord from the (middle of the) bottom shaft bar to the upper lamms until the lamms are at the same height.

6376shafts2lammsupper

Metal wire runs from the jacks down to the lower lamms.  Please note that the wire for each lower lamm needs to fall behind the corresponding upper lamm.  The wires are suspended between the two sets of jacks by seine cording.  After the wires are connected to the lower lamms, adjust them (lower lamms) for height by adding or subtracting loops of the seine to the hooks :

6409adjlwrlammheight

As Beauty’s inaugural warp, I decided to set myself up to succeed by winding 166 ends of thick Lily Sugar ‘n Cream cotton for dish towels, to be sett at 10 epi.  I do have the Bergman warping reel, but I recently purchased an old Gilmore warping board to create more even warps.  The silverware drawers under the fish tank was the only place I could prop the board to wind at a comfortable height.

6388beauty1stwarp

I suspended the two selvedges from wood pirns; I hope to create selvedge spools eventually.

6395warpselvedgespoolsbkbeam

The warp unwinds from under the warp beam, over the back beam (through raddle, back-to-front), then under the back beam forward towards the heddles.  I thought I had cut plenty of wood sticks to pack the warp beam, but I ran out quickly, and had to finish with paper.

My warp (on original lease sticks) brought to the front of the loom:

6396warpbrought2frtovershafts

I cut slits into plastic foam (computer) packing to hold the lease sticks apart.  I still tie the ends with yarn just in case!

Bergman looms abound in thoughtful touches.  There are hooks under the castle to suspend lease sticks for ease of heddle threading.  First, I tried the front set of hooks (I had to use the velcro straps from the rope!):

6397hooks4suspendingleasesticks

I preferred the second set of hooks closer to the warp beam:

6400leasestickssuspended

I sat on a low (8″) stool, and the the warp threads were at the perfect height for threading the heddles:

6401threadingheddles

I lost the metal screw (the previous owner only had the one) that held the beater cap in place on the beater, so I found some very thick copper wire and made new locking pins:

6414lockingpinsbeatertop

6419lockingpinonbeater

With the beater lashed into place, it’s time to sley the reed!

6421beaterlashed4sleying

6425warped

Unfortunately, my warp threads just skim the the lower part of my heddle eyes; it’s recommended that they run through the eye centres.

6431heddleeyethread2low

The remedy for this is to adjust the seine cording on both sides of the shafts to lower them; unfortunately for me, most of my shafts are already at their lowest possibility (you can see this in my earlier photo above).  This means I need to replace the seine with some of longer length.  I decided to leave these as they are for now, and play “wait and see”.

I tried to work on the treddle tie-up from the front of the loom.  I lifted up the front beam (with the warp and apron) and set it back on its pegs on the castle, for easier access to the treddles:

6435moveclothbeam4treddletieup

6437treddlesready2tie

I even took the treddles off the front wings and laid them flat on the floor so I could sit on them while making a preliminary tie-up.

6439positiontreddles4temptieup1

With the cramped space I had behind me, it just wasn’t comfortable.  As this loom is not too heavy, it was just easier for me to move the loom forward temporarily, and work from the back.  The first thing I did was remove any unneeded cording; it was too messy to sort all the cords, and I had no idea whether they would hamper the weaving if I left them on.

Before this, I have only tied up my Rasmussen table loom to floor treddles in a direct tie-up.  I had heard many reports of countremarche tie-ups to be difficult and confusing.  I feel they are neither!  Not even more complicated, just more cords to tie.  Again: Tying up a countremarche is NOT mysterious or difficult!

My loom has eight shafts and ten treddles.  For each of the eight shafts, there is a set of corresponding upper and lower lamms.  Each lamm has ten holes, each corresponding to a treddle.

Because there are only four loops on each of my treddles; I dedicate the first loop to attaching any cords from (lamms corresponding to) shafts one and two, the second loop for cords from shafts three and four, the third for shafts five and six, and the fourth for seven and eight.

Important points to remember for countremarche  looms: 1) Lower lamms raise a shaft up, while upper lamms bring a shaft down, and 2) Any time a portion of the shafts are raised, the rest of the shafts need to be lowered.

If, for example, we decide to tie treddle one to raise shafts 1, 3, and 5; then it must also lower shafts 2, 4, 6, 7, and 8.  Since treddle one is to be tied up, only the cords from the first hole (directly over the treddle) of all the lamms will be used.  To raise shafts 1, 3, and 5; remove cords (from the first hole of each lower lamm) corresponding to shafts 2, 4, 6, 7, and 8.  To lower shafts 2, 4, 6, 7, and 8;  remove the cords (again, the first hole on the upper lamms) corresponding to shafts 1, 3, and 5.  I would tie up as follows:
Treddle one, loop one: Tie up cords corresponding to shaft 1 on the lower lamm and shaft 2 on the upper lamm
Treddle one, loop two: Tie up cords corresponding to shaft 3 on the lower lamm and shaft 4 on the upper lamm
Treddle one, loop three: Tie up cords corresponding to shaft 5 on the lower lamm and shaft 6 on the upper lamm
Treddle one, loop four: Tie up cords corresponding to shafts 7 and 8 on the upper lamm (nothing from the lower lamm!)

Believe me, it’s a lot more complicated to write up than to tie-up!

I had chosen Doramay Keasbey’s plaited twill pattern #366 from Carol Strickler’s book of eight-shaft patterns.  Treddling sequence was simple: from eight down to one in order.  For my tie-up, I decided to dedicate treddles one and six for plain weave.  (One raises shafts 1, 3, 5, and 7.)   See the first “column” of holes on the far left:

6441lowerlamms1357

These are the lower lamms; you can see the metal wires connecting to the lamms on the upper right-hand side.

I also decided to alter the treddle sequence (from 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1) to: 2, 7, 3, 8, 4, 9, 5, and 10.  (1 and 6 reserved for plain weave.)  In retrospect, the next time I do this tie-up, I would reserve treddles 1 and 10 for plain weave, then alter to treddle as 2, 9, 3, 8, 4, 7, 5, and 6.  I think this would be easier for my feet to find the correct treddles without my looking.

Bergman documentation recommends that, for a height guide,  to place the beater cap above the treddles, but below the front wings just under the hinges.  I lashed mine into place:

6443beatercap4tieupguide

Looking from the front at the lower lamms, you can see that the cords from the upper lamms are placed directly in front of the lower lamm it corresponds to (hole is empty on the lower lamm):

6446upperlowerlammtieupcu

Tie-up finally complete!

6445treddlestiedup

I looped the ends loosely around the cords; as my first tie-up on Beauty, I wanted it to look especially spiffy.  In the future, I won’t bother.  (Time to remove the pins locking the jacks in place in the castle!)  I was able to throw the first pick in the wee hours of Monday morning.

Nothing like the sight of a clean shed to gladden the heart after many hours of work!

6455happinessisaclearshed

(The warp running midway between the top and bottom threads is a selvedge.)

My treddle (6-1/2″) and lamm heights all differed from the recommended.  I have no shuttle race, only the slightest of ledges on my beater.  However, I’d like the bottom of my shed lowered slightly to be closer to that ledge; it’s a bit higher than I’d like now.  I wonder: Deborah has mentioned that one end of her beater was slightly raised — was the beater raised so the shed bottom could skim the ledge?  These things, plus the shaft adjustments (to lower the heddle eyes), I hope to rememdy before a second warping.

Weaving on Beauty is a dream; like simutaneously running and dancing on air!  The treddles are so easy to depress (compared to my jack table loom),  I was able to use my larger and higher Leclerc boat shuttles with ease, everything swishes with such lovely sounds, and the occasional whiff of beeswax so charming!  The busy-ness of my yarn made the pattern indistinguishable; after all my work with a full tie-up, I’ll stick to the much more pleasing plain weave to finish this project.  I’m looking forward to using these cheerful towels!

6452weavesampling

19 February 2009 Posted by | Weaving | , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

To Meddle With Treddles And Heddles

I recently snagged some table loom legs (with treddles!) for Gil, my 25″ Rasmussen table loom.  How? I purchased a second 25″ Rasmussen that came with a floor stand, took it apart, then re-sold the loom (the second, second-hand loom!), reserving the loom legs for Gil.  Somewhere in the midst of that, Gil and stand received a coat of tung oil.  Whew!  I kept Gil (even though he was older and had cotton rather than nylon tie-ups as did the newer one) because I had already installed new metal heddles on him and was not about to do any more fiddling with them.

I used a permanent marker to mark the heddles in groups of ten:

Before removing the second Rasmussen from its stand, I took careful notes on how the shafts were tied to the treddles.  “Reverse engineering” taught me how to tie a lark’s head knot with only one available end.  A lark’s head knot is basically two half-hitches tied in different directions.  I’ve seen it called a snitch knot as well.

When it came time to attach Gil to the stand, tying up the first shaft and treddle took the longest time. I improved with the second, and even more in succession through the fourth, so I had to go back through to the fine-tune the first three.  It was so much fun!  I learned so much about adjusting the cord lengths to balance the cords over length of the shafts so they were properly horizontal at the right height (high enough so the connecting springs did not dangle) while also being connected tightly to a treddle.

I know it’s nowhere as difficult or intricate as a contremarche tie-up, but it was a fantastic stepping stone and warm-up exercise to it.

I’m completely psyched to start on Beauty.  However, two things are in the way: string heddles, and loom cording.

I’ve barely started with spinnng the loom cording.  I’m not ready to surrender to buying texsolv yet.  I have nothing against texsolv; well, perhaps my pocketbook does.  All my Bergman loom parts are original (pre-texsolv days), so I want to try to complete as much of it as possible in the same spirit.  I’m looking forward to the spinning; I just have to curb my excitement about starting the tie-up until that is finished.

Then there are the heddles.

After all the fuss about moving Beauty indoors, I had to cajole my DH into helping me take her back out — to polish and fix up her old wood parts.  I couldn’t do it during the three long months she sat outside while I fretted about her not being inside and not being able to clear a space for her.  I was too busy worrying myself into un-productivity.

Amazingly, after DH helpd me move Beauty inside, I’ve been fantastically productive.  Exactly like flowing chi as put by LittleFaith in her recent comment (“Beauty Is In The House”).  Floodgates have been opened, and obstacles are magically swept away. Not only have I applied tung oil to Gil and treddle stand, but I oiled and rubbed every single surface of old wood in my weaving and spinning collection as well.  (This includes sticks, shuttles, tapestry swords and beaters, another table loom, an inkle floor loom, and an antique click reel.)

 Original condition,

  and Polished!

Finally, on one lovely day of summer reprieve last week, we moved Beauty outside, DH fixed some loose parts of Beauty’s bench, and I polished every exposed part of her wood.  (I would have liked to coat the bottoms of her feet where they touch the ground as well, but it may have been asking a bit much of DH to have him do the lifting.)  Both chi and tung oil have indeed been flowing in lavish abundance.

Back to the string heddles.  I removed (something like six hundred of) them from Beauty to attend to her shafts.  On another productive day, I sat down to count and sort them.  

When I recently added more metal heddles to Gil, I noticed that the eyes were slightly twisted so the warp could pass through them in a back to front direction.  Working with string heddles, I noticed that adding one twist to them would make their eyes more open to the front.

Doesn’t the top heddle (with twist added) look like the eye would abrade the warp less than the straight one below?

It was only after arranging and tying up close to three hundred heddles with the twist that I finally thought to e-mail Trapunto (see my blogroll) with some questions.   Her words of wisdom are shown italicised  below:

Yes it’s a lot of work herding heddles!…In one weaving class, the teacher asked a student why she chose a particular structure for her project, and she said, “Because if I used this pattern I wouldn’t have to move any of my heddles from different shafts” Everyone laughed, and the teacher said that was a perfectly good reason.

You do know you can tie them up into bunches (say, of 10, or whatever you like) when they’re on the loom, and move them together? Joanne Hall of the Elkhorn Mountain weaving site shows how. It’s a figure eight that goes through both upper and lower loops of the heddles. They’ll spread out just fine when you untie the groups, and it’s a good way to store them, so you know at a glance how many you have on hand.

1. Is it OK to give the heddles one twist instead of putting them back on “squarely”? I feel this way, the eye of the heddle faces more towards the front, rather than to the sides. (And the path of the warp would be more going through the shafts rather than from side to side.)

Oh, so glad you asked! The answer is no, there should not be a twist. I put in a twist for my early string-heddle projects, because it does seem intuitive, doesn’t it? It’s kind of complicated and spatial to explain why not, but one of the reasons is that it will put more wear on your warp, even though it seems like the opposite would be true.

2. I don’t know my final count of heddles yet, but I’m thinking it’s about 800. Would you recommend loading them on evenly over the 8 shafts, or do you think I may need more on some than others?

Putting the heddles on is such a pain, I would say don’t even bother loading them back on the shafts until you know how many threads wide your sample warp will be, then put exactly as many heddles on each shaft as the pattern calls for. It’s not common practice to leave extra heddles on the shafts when you’re weaving with a countermarche. (I do sometimes because I’m lazy, but they can make the shafts heavier and get in the way.) It’s a good idea to choose a pattern that requires roughly as many heddles on each shaft for your first warp. This is one of the things people mean by a “balanced” weave. Even countermarches can have balance problems, if one or two shafts are much heavier than the others (I speak from humbling experience.) There are tricks to help, but you don’t want to have to cope with that on your first warp!

3. The heddles are all hand-tied string. I would say that most of them are very similar, but I’ve come across more than a few where the bottom part of the eye of the heddles fall 1/8″ lower (or even more) than the others. Is this significant enough to create problems in the sheds?

1/8″ probably isn’t too bad. More could be a problem. Perhaps you could sort out all the “good” heddles with 1/8″ tolerance, and put aside the baddies as extras. It’s more important that the top knot of the eye of each level with the others on the loom, more than the bottom knot, provided the heddles themselves are the same length. The top knot of the eye determines the height of the warp threads that get pulled down–the ones that your shuttle runs on top of.

So, I guess I need to muster some enthusiasm to re-sort and untwist the three hundred heddles already counted.  (And to re-tie each group separately rather looping together with a single thread.)

Thank You so much, Trapunto, for the generous help and advice!  You are the Angel of the Bergmans!

3 October 2008 Posted by | Weaving | , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Beauty Is In The House

Out of the blue, DH announced this morning he would help me bring my Bergman loom indoors, even if he had to hold my hand every step of he way.  Was I appropriately grateful and adoring?  Sorry, I was not. I think I snarled at him (the first time, anyway).  I have been overwhelmed with helplessness in the matter of clearing out a space, because this is what I had to face:

This room is so frightening that I could never bring myself to do anything about it, and so it has been in a spiraling nosedive beyond control.

But, my husband is a saint, and an expert donkey handler to boot. So, I spent the day cleaning, throwing away, and looking for new hiding places for things.  DH miraculously whisked away some large items I couldn’t figure where to put, and miraculously found some other places for them.  Once I knew I wasn’t alone, it became easy, and the cleaning was very liberating.  I still have lots of things to sort through, and a huge mountain of spinning fodder to stash (it’s piled in the living room at present), but I feel so enabled to take on the next steps.  Here is the “after” picture:

When everything is opened up, the bench abuts a landslide of boxes and stuff, but it will be something I’ll have to get to another time.  Not the model home yet, but at least I can start playing around with the treddle tie-ups and start spinning the cording needed for it.  (Yes, I know that if I were very good, I would do more cleaning up first rather than playing, but remember who is the saint in the family.)

With all the looms I have (I’ll share in another post), Beauty is my favourite, and the one I’m most anxious to start weaving on. I have to find some wood restoring oil (any suggestions would be appreciated!) and touch up some worn spots, but at least that no longer feels like a difficulty.  I feel so delightfully unburdened; I’m so happy I could fly.

8 September 2008 Posted by | General, Weaving | , | 6 Comments

Bergman Treasures And A Reprieve

For all you Bergman lovers out there, this one’s for you.

I’ve been looking for a portable table loom.  Today, I happened on an ad placed by a woman who is selling… drumroll please… a Bergman table loom and floor stand with treddles.  I had to go and see it, if only to find out if this was the mythical Bergman suitcase loom.

Moments after I see the table loom, I turn around and see… drumroll please… yet another Bergman loom.  A 36″ floor loom!  I almost pass out from shock.

Both the floor and table looms were purchased new from Margaret Bergman’s son more than thirty years ago, when they still had a store in Poulsbo, Washington.

I didn’t get a picture of the table loom before it was taken off the floor stand.  My brain was completely addled with all the excitement, so even though I had my tape measure out and actually took a measurement of the width, I’ve completely no recall of the reading.  If I had to pretend to remember, I would say it had a 25″ weaving width.

Following are closeups of the springs connected to the harnesses:

Here is a closeup of the levers centred atop the castle:

This is the floor stand with treddles:

The floor stand is interesting; it’s not a Bergman stand, but a universal floor stand.  The treddles were not tied up, but I was told to use texsolv with a lark’s head knot through the metal loop on the treddles, then run up and over the roller directly above (seen on the horizontal crossbar near where the hand is pictured), then under and up from the rollers to the left side, and finally to the metal loop on each of the levers (previous picture).

Here is the floor stand folded up:

The floor loom is in beautiful condition!  I was so excited, I only vaguely remember the lovely woven items around the room, and am kicking myself for not taking more pictures of them (especially of an incredible doublewoven wall hanging produced on the floor loom).  I was too busy hyperventilating, and already felt rude clicking away so much.

Even the bench is original.  The weaving on the loom uses some yarn she dyed by herself.  She said she used dyes which are no longer available due to toxicity, so she doesn’t have plans for any more dyeing in the future.  When she warps her loom, she puts on twenty-five yards at a time.  I took a look at her warping reel (sorry, no pictures) — and saw a smaller version of my own!  It’s good to know my warping reel (Bad Boy, Humungo-Warper 2000) is an original Bergman.

In the end, I decided not to purchase the table loom.  Mostly because the castle is nailed into the loom frame, and does not collapse or even come apart for portability.  So, I don’t think this is the suitcase loom, as it definitely wouldn’t fit in a suitcase smaller than a steamer trunk, if that.  But I hated leaving behind the treddled floor stand.

Which brings me to the reprieve part.  Thank You, Trapunto, for prodding me with the virtual pitchfork.  You were right, as well as being a voice of sense.  I haven’t actually woven on the Dutch Master Box Loom, yet (another story there), but lifting up the harnesses by hand does seem like it might be extra work.  So I took a closer look at the table loom I brought home (see earlier post “Hi And Goodbye”).  I searched online, but it doesn’t look like either a Kessenich or a Mountain Loom.  There are no markings to indicate the manufacturer.  Here is a closeup of some of the knob and the levers (side-, not castle-top-mounted):

On even closer examination, I discovered that it can collapse with the weaving in place:

I don’t know why, but I find this charming.  (Still no name though.)  So I’m giving this loom a probationary stay of execution eviction.  DH commented: “Of course you’re getting another loom; last time was Father’s Day, this time it’s my birthday!”

9 August 2008 Posted by | Weaving | , , , , | 9 Comments

How It All Began

I was never interested in knitting.  I have done the scarf thing long ago in junior high, but that was it.  I’m not sure the scarf was ever finished.

One day at a playgroup (my son was about 18 months old, circa 2005), another mother was knitting a raglan sweater on circulars.  I was so intrigued: the pattern was top down, with no piecework required, and by using circulars, there was no back and forth with the whole heavy sweater on one needle or the other; but most of all, the elegance, the symmetry of the design!  I ran out to Michael’s and purchased exactly the same yarn and needles, and started the same pattern that very afternoon.  I wish I could say the rest was history, but unfortunately, the next two years were tough going.  I was so busy with baby that I couldn’t get any time away for a knitting group, let alone a class.  Plus, in general I’m against spending money on classes, since that takes away from my limited fibre or equipment budget, and I like figuring things out on my own.  I had so much problem with that pattern!  There was a trick of starting the neck by leaving the loop open until later, when you add more stitches for a dropped front so the opening can be pulled over the head, but the directions were so difficult to understand.  In fact, I didn’t understand them until nearly two years later, when a friend saw me struggling and gave me a copy of the same pattern, written up by someone else.  Light bulb on!  Before my revised pattern, I had started the sweater at least five separate times, finishing one that could fit only a teddy bear.  (After the new pattern, it still took two tries to get it right, because I changed the yarn and was too impatient to gauge swatch the new yarn.)

Things progressed very quickly after that.  I saw another mother at a different playgroup knitting little animals on tiny, tiny needles.  I was charmed.  And because of her, I purchased both Knitpicks options and harmony needle sets.  Then I e-mailed my saga to a good friend of mine who had moved away to Montana.  When I saw her start knitting many years ago, I inwardly laughed, thinking the knitting bug would never catch me.  Well, she had the last laugh.  And she told me that because she missed her knitting group so much, she didn’t knit as much as before, so I would be the beneficiary of many, many boxes of her knitting stash (all natural fibres) and needles.  Thousands of dollars worth.  Before that, I did not have any yarn besides what I had purchased for that still not completed raglan sweater, although I had already decided that would be the last time I knit acrylic.   I went from several skeins of acrylic to an instant serious stash mountain.  But the nicest thing about receiving so many boxes of yarn from my friend is that I could get away with surreptitiously adding to it.  (To my husband: “That?  It’s one of the hundreds that R- sent me!”)

Oh, yes, the stash has grown.  Even on my non-existent budget, although I cannot afford to buy anything full price.  Fifty dollars for a new “educational” toy for my son?   No problem!  Five dollars for one skein yarn for myself?  Unthinkable!  I don’t frequent garage sales, but I happened on one where amazing yarns (all wools, mohair, cashmere) were being sold at ten cents on the dollar!  Not only that, it was a serious stash, with every yarn being sold in lots of 10 skeins or more of the same dye lot.  I spent eighty dollars, but the woman gave me more, and I left with more than a thousand dollars’ worth of yarn.

My son (he will be four in a week!) has told me: “Mama, when I grow up, I will buy yarn for you.”

So, I finally finished the raglan sweater, then knit a pair a socks over the 2007 Christmas holiday.  (The sweater is too big for my son, but luckily, he likes it, and pretends that it is Obi-Wan Kenobi’s costume.  He’ll grow into it.)  That’s all I’ve knitted to date.  Because as much as I love knitting, it’s nothing compared to what I feel about spinning.

Every October, the Seattle Weavers’ Guild holds a sale of items produced by members.  I found out about it well over 10 years ago, and having not gone for more than 5 years, decided to last October (2007).  I’ve always known that I would one day take up spinning, although I knew nothing of the craft.  (This is a recurrent theme in my life!)  When I saw one lonely drop spindle left on a table, I knew it was time.  That drop spindle came home with me, much to my husband’s future financial woes.

This time, I found a local spinning guild, and with much guilt (at first, anyway), began attending the weekly spin-ins.  My drop spindle was a bottom-whorl, and I had soon created my own top-whorl  spindle out of a CD.  I was so happy with it, I thought I would never need a spinning wheel, so I told the others in my group.  I learned to Navajo 3-ply on the drop spindle, doing a Navajo 4-ply (from an article from the Bellwether’s blog) on the drop spindle was beyond me.  I knew I had to have a wheel.

2008 February, I purchased my first wheel, an Ashford Traditional.  (Raise your hands, all of you who had that as your first wheel!)  Prior to that, I had no experience spinning on a wheel.  I got it because of good karma.  I was being very good: when my husband offered to take Valentines Day off to drive me to the Madrona Fibre Festival being held, I turned him down because I “needed to save money for a spinning wheel”.  The following Monday was Presidents’ Day, and I snagged the Traditional deal from CraigsList.  It was a brand-new, still in the box wheel (they come unfinished and un-assembled) — that had been stored in the garage for something like twenty years.  I brought it home and started the finishing that evening.  A few days later, my wheel was assembled, and I was spinning.

Ashford Traditional, my first wheel

I loved that wheel!  But because of posture, I felt I needed to find a double-treadle wheel.  Also, I wanted a wheel that wasn’t so bulky when I took it along to spinning meets.  Then my current fell into my lap in 2008 March.  It is a Lendrum DT folding wheel, in the lovely walnut anniversary edition.  The woman I purchased it from bought it new in 2001, took a spinning class with it, then never used it again.  It had been used for less than 10 hours.  The wheel was always stored indoors, on display, so it was in new, perfect condition.  Some of the bobbins on the lazy kate were still contained in original wrappers, and the wheel had never even been folded down (the woman didn’t know how).  My Lendrum fits perfectly in the tiny nook between my sewing table and the dining table, whereas I was always having to move the Traditional in or out of place.  I had thought I would keep both wheels, especially since the Traditional had such a nice wheel weight and momentum, but after a month of no use, I decided that it was time to let the it go to someone who would.  Good thing I never named it.  (Hmmm, my Lendrum also has no name.  I wonder what that means?)

Lendrum DT, my second wheel

Recently, I began thinking of a loom.  I don’t know why.  It wasn’t on my “always thought I would” list.  Also, I should point out that I have no room for a loom.  I barely have room for my portable spinning wheel.  However, I try not to let that sort of thinking stop me.

Anyway, I didn’t do much (any) research.  I made several half-hearted attempts to acquire a loom.  None made it past the inquiry stage, because none of them felt right.  A week ago, I began to think I should get a floor loom, with at least 10 treddles and 8 shafts.  And then my loom found me.

I went to see the loom this past Friday (Friday the 13th, 2008 June!), and at first all I saw was a pile of dusty, spider-web encrusted old (and in some places splintering) wood. I helped the seller clean off most of the spider-webs, and the loom began emerging. I don’t know what the magic was, but after spending an hour with it piecing it together, (the seller meant to, but never used it herself so she didn’t know how it worked; it had been stored over 30 years in her garage), I got the sense of a very solid and beautifully engineered loom which (by it’s worn appearance) had woven many things and is waiting to weave again. It seemed to me that everything was there, and knowing nothing about looms, my gut instinct was that everything would become intact and functioning, even though it was in pieces.  I could feel this was a special loom with character.  I had heard about Bergman looms for the first time just earlier this week, since becoming aware of the Nordic Heritage Museum in Ballard and making plans to visit it soon.   As I unfolded the loom, I got a sense of a connection to Margaret Bergman — and I believe this may have been a loom she used to teach on.  I would be proud to have a share in that long history.  I told the seller I didn’t know why I loved it, but I would be back to pick it up the next day.

Friday night, I e-mailed a spinning friend, who asked me what type of loom it was (jack, counterbalance, or countermarche).  Some research found a blog by someone else who recently purchased a Bergman loom, and it was a countermarche. What a relief!  If I had a choice, based on what was learning, I would choose countermarche.  Am I lucky or what!

I had to worry about how to bring the the loom home.  Our truck is so old, it no longer needs emission tests, and it had not been used in more than four years, since before my son was born.  (We used it for trucking yard waste to the transfer station, but we’re not very fond of gardening.)  When I told my husband we would be picking up a loom, he had doubts, and tried to tell me we might have to rent one instead.  Happily, everything has worked out.  (It ended up taking the truck AND my car to bring everything home.)

So, my loom, the first loom I’ve looked at, is home.  I spent a few hours cleaning it off yesterday, and she told me her name is Beauty.  I have to clean up my house and make room for it, so she is waiting patiently to come inside and start weaving.

Beauty, my Bergman Loom

So for any uninitiated out there, let me tell what Judith MacKenzie, teacher extraordinaire, told me last week: “After you start knitting, it’s a slippery slope downhill from there.”  For the others of you already in the know, I’m very happy to be joining your ranks.

16 June 2008 Posted by | General, Weaving | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments