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.


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