Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Unvented Hungarian Loom (Part 1)

Well credit where it is due.
       First, the term "unvented" is from Elizabeth   Zimmermann who originally used it to describe 'coming up with a way to do something that is new to you, but you are sure has been done before.' It has also been used to descibe 'recovering lost technology or techniques,' which is how I'm using it now.
       Second, the book "Weaving is for Anyone" that I purchased at a thrift store. This book had an illustration  and listing for a Hungarian  Loom. It was descibed as portable, and able to make long bands. And "...The loom is a simple one, just a board with a bar at the end making a T shape, and nails on three sides. The directions for it's use are easy to follow, but lengthy, and space does not permit including them."

       This intrigued me, and the design looked easy to build, so...

...I began building. I took a short length of Alaskan Birch, and re-attached the cut end at the ninety degree angle to make the T shape. This is then re-inforced  with four small angle brackets. 
   But, somewhere  along the way, I misplaced  the  book. So, working  from a mis-remembered version of the illustration, I came up with this variant.

    The hooks hold up to three heddle bars, warp streached from the pin ends into the holes through the tee, and then tie back across the warp bar. The weaving can be advanced to the pins as they are bent back to hold the  new working warp area.  But this is nothing like the original illustration.
    So, now I have another 'new' loom, but not one in the Hungarian  design. Nor am I sure even how that design is supposed to work.
     A friend and I puzzled over the idea of the design, and came up with a few variations. However, they are variations on warp tension and advanacment, not the actual  weaving  technique. 
      So, as this project continues I will be building and weaving on at least a couple more 'unvented' looms. But for now, I have a test weaving to do on this one...

    So, a day later, and after testing.... a couple of notes. First, there is no need for the multiple small holes in the tee... a single large or two large holes would be fine.  Second,  weaving needles, not heddles, works just fine. Third, the hooks hold a bar to keep the working area above the backboard. 
     The weaving is weft faced, and does move (advance) as expected. So, this is kind of an anti-inkle loom. Overall, not as expected, but a successful  experiment.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Introducing 'Whit Worth' a recycled material loom.

I was inspired by an article (okay two articles, really) in Handwoven  Magazine   [March/April 2015] about Sakiori Weaving. What inspired me wasn't the suggested projects (although the silk scarf does look fun) but rather the historical background.

The thing that really stuck in my imagination, was the size of the average household loom. The idea that an eight to twelve inch wide warp, and weaving small pieces that are patchworked together made me question myself. Specifically, "Why not try it?"

Now, I should add in that recycling is fairly big up here, so much so that our local 'transfer sites' ( landfill drop off points) have a reusable item station - a platform for people to trade / recycle / reuse items with life left to them.  There are always T-Shirts there, so I figured that it could be a starting project for either my Tapestry pin loom, or my Cheater's Loom (the Salish's name... yep, we name lots of our stuff.)

But I didn't just find T-Shirts. I found some dowels from a shelf decoration, and a child's wooden puzzle, and even some cup hooks. In my mind, it was an unassembled Tapestry Style Lap Loom, just waiting to be discovered. I immediately thought "Well, I'm using recycled  materials, why not a recycled loom as well?"

So after a bit of trimming on the cup hooks, curing out the puzzle backing, and assembly/sanding... it was ready to try.

It worked, but it also felt a bit too lightweight. It flexed a bit much, especially when advancing the warp. After a couple of pieces  I was beginning to worry that I might break the loom while using it.

I decided that I should either reinforced the frame somehow, or find a way to make advancing the warp easier. I also wanted to stay with using all recycled materials.

A couple days later I found a discarded small piece of PVC piping. It was long enough to trim two pieces, one for each end of the loom. Then, by cutting open the side of each piece, I was able to pry it open and slide it on to the wood frame in such a way as it pinches the frame with the cut end. This make either end of the frame have a rounded smooth edge that advances the warp easily, and divides the pressure across the frame more evenly.

So now the loom works beautifully, and makes small strips that can be assembled into larger items. So, as I mentioned, lots of our items areally named... (sometimes puns, or obscure refrences) and this loom is no exception. Thus, it is named 'Whit Worth' as in a whit- the smallest part, and thus it is Worth every penny I didn't spend (recycled) to get this loom that makes the smallest parts of projects.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Building Looms, Beating an old Path.

      A few years  ago  my wonderful  wife  bought me anow Ashford rigid heddle  loom  for Christmas. At the time, I  made one scarf, and wasn'the very happy  with  the  resuly. I followed  the suggested length and width, and felt like the resulting scarf was just a bit small. (And that was before it got accidentally  run through the laundry  and felted.)
     I decided to give it another go, and decided that I should 'fix' some of  the bits I could. Like doubling the width to near the max for that 12" loom. And trying  a pattern, rather than just seeing how a verrigated  yarn would pool. And as to  length... well Tom Baker was my first Doctor, so I put as much yarn into the warp as this loom could hold.
    As the loom is portable  I took it all over town, to coffee shops, the library, and  anywhere else that I  planned to waitvarround. The result was a lovely 11' 2" houndstooth  scarf, and a nickname for the loom of "Traveller." It also resulted  in  my realization that I really enjoyed weaving.
      So,  I decided to try a different style of weaving... and bought a secondhand tapestry loom.  I found that it is a bit easier to warp, as it is a much simpler loom-basically a 4 (or 6) foot pin style loom. But it was also a bit fiddly keeping the tension uniform and I did not like the rug  yarn that came with it. So, it had just sat idle since I abandoned and removed the first attempted rug.
      I went back to Traveller for a few more projects, then it occurred to me that while most commercial looms are out of my price range, I do have some woodworking  skills.  And several widely different looms are relatively  simple in design... so why not try building a few? After all, I build and use and sell spindles, so this is a logical progression, right?
   The jump start to this was finding a crib that was on it's way to the landfill, that had massive rounded to rails in the short sides. It took me only a moment's flash of inspiration to remember the look of a Salish style  loom... and an evening's  work while watching a DVD (I am so far behind in Game of Thrones) to disassemble  and rebuild the crib into a loom. It is roughly a cross between a Navajo and a Salish loom,  and built for indoor use, so a bit smaller and with legs that will soon have feet. With an old ash broom handle  for the crossbar.

By putting the rounded ends outward top and bottom, the warp can be rolled around the loom giving a working area of almost 8 feet long. With the working width of almost 4 feet, this should be plenty of warp to make either rugs, small blankets, or even core fabric for garments.
      And again, it was fun to build. So it has started me on a path of building some looms. I expect most will be of the more 'primative' designs, as my engineering skills are more geared to design than manufacture.  I'm not sure where this will lead, or how many I will build, but 'twill be an adventure.
      Since this one is built from a crib, and to 'crib' something  is to cheat by copying my wife  came up with this one's name. It is now known  in our household  as the 'Cheater's  Loom.'