Update to the Replacement Dish Towel Project

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After a long time, almost a year. I finally had the time to get to this project. As I did, I discovered that I had set up my loom incorrectly and was not able to weave until I fixed the installation of the friction brake, and the clutch for the cloth advance. Thank you to wonderful people on the Weaver’s Tech list.

Interweave Store

During this process I did decide on an initial draft of the first towels. It is based on two different Jacob Angstadt designs, both are 12 shaft pointed twills blocks. I wanted to get a checkerboard effect without needing to use two shuttles. This was made possible by reversing the tie-up blocks.  Now to the real work, weaving!

The Replacement Dish Towel Project

The replacement dish towel project began when I discovered that my old towels had become stained, and a bit dingy as the result of a man being around the house. He seemed to forget they were handwoven and used them to mop stains on the floor, clean up snow mixed with granite gravel and asphalt, and of course, wiping the stove top off after cooking a spaghetti dinner. Like all men, he just wants to be forgiven, and like all women I just want my pretty dish towels back.

My first steps were to look around the kitchen and discover the colors I wanted to use. I happened to have purchased some beautiful denim blue 16/2 cotton, and have some yellow and white cones of thread. My first thoughts were to make the towels mostly blue in an effort to hide future dirt. I  began wrapping thread on to cardboard strips to see what stripes I was most interested in. I found the wrapping task to be a bit tedious. Of course, I made the mistake of letting someone else in on the project, only to discover that they are not so interested in the blue background. They really like the yellow which matches the kitchen walls.

I then scurry around on the internet and search for blue and yellow striped towels to get some ideas. In the process I discovered a few great design tools. A Stripe Generator, a Tartan Designer and a Color Picker. All are awesome diversions – yet none of them output to weaving software and thus none directly suited my needs. Back to the old fashioned way of doing things for now.

I then made some sketches of the stripes that I found  on the Internet for my purposes, I found my stripes by Googling for blue and yellow striped towels and selected the entry that displayed images, it looks a lot like Pinterest and I could just flip through the pictures looking for my favorites. I eventually decided that there were so many I wanted to try to make, that I should make my design using an all white warp so that I can change stripes whenever I like.

Me being me, I can not weave in a plain weave when I have a loom that has 24 shafts! So I selected to use a 16 shaft point twill as a base structure. I learned during my stay in Italy, that I am happiest with twill and damask weaving and it seems to come naturally to me. I will use as my inspiration for the structure, Angstadt 16 shaft twill profiles.

So far I have determined that I will be using white 10/2 perle cotton in the warp, 8/2 unmercerized cotton in the weft, and various colors and widths for the colored stripes.

I have selected a beginning sett of 20 epi based on my previous experiences with this structure. I have chosen to weave this on my AVL loom using the compu-dobby to help me pick the pattern and I will have to concentrate on the weft color changes manually.

I have decided that I will be weaving 18 towels in all and therefore will be winding a warp 15 yards long on the sectional beam.

Update to the Ribbon Loom Project

It has a been a few days, and I can finally take a breather from weaving  and file a report on my progress. My current  configuration is successful. I can handle up to 100 threads, I wove a test length of 5 1/2 yards with no tension difficulties. No broken threads, no frustration and no errors. IMG_3369IMG_3356

I modified my loom design to include a creel arrangement rather than use the bobbins to create a “sectional” beam. The sectional beam  idea had developed tension problems the longer that Ribbon LoomI wove on the loom. Using the creel option, I accomplished a few important things. The length the the material to be woven is controlled by the amount of thread on the bobbin – bobbins can be changed out as needed. The creel tensioning arrangement I designed permits fast assembly and easy rearrangement without tools. I used one creel box for unheddled threads and another for the heddled threads.  Each creel box has a capacity of 30 threads. I also had the ability to adjust tension of each thread individually if necessary.  The creel design simplified the loom design considerably.

The loom is now principally a structure on which the creel threads are dressed for weaving there are no warp beams needed.  I used the same coroplast structure as before and left the wooden dowels and the existing “cloth beam” in place.IMG_3359

The blue tape, was  used to cover the slots I had made in the loom in order to insert and remove the sectional beams during my earlier design tests. I used painter’s tape to ensure that the fine threads would not stray into the open slots while threading.

I also picked up a couple of tricks that made using this loom design even more inviting. Simplicity has a product called the SideWinder – a portable bobbin winder.  I made use of this tool to wind my bobbins for this project.  I also picked up a inexpensive yardage counter by Boye that made it convenient  for me to measure the thread as it wound on to the bobbins.  I placed the spools of thread on a spindle in the creel, threaded the thread through the yardage counter that was held to the work surface by suction cups, and continued the thread through the bobbin winder as specified in its instructions. Thirty nine bobbins with just the right amount of thread in less than 15 minutes. Awesome.

Threading the loom was a breeze. I lined up the bobbins matching the inkle draft, drew the thread through the holes on the sides of the creel next to the bobbin.  I then threaded the top creel through the heddles and alternated it with a thread from the bottom creel. I was ready to weave in less than an hour.

The creel was made using a package of foam hair rollers cut into “washers” , 12″ pieces of all thread, and sewing machine bobbins. The case for the creel was picked up at a local dollar store. Its primary feature is that its perforations held the all thread rods and the length would support 15 bobbins.    Please use the comment box  and let me know if you are interested in obtaining plans for this loom.

 

Designing an Inkle style ribbon loom

I have been preoccupied with loom design in the past couple of days. There are things about a traditional inkle loom that just bug me. Remember, I am fine thread weaver by nature! To me regular tapestry looks like burlap.  My problem has been that inkle looms are so much overkill  (too much wood, too bulky) if you want to weave pretty little hair ribbons. I also hated the fact that you had to thread everything on the loom before you got started (one thread out of place and you had to start all over) and the fact that so much of the design was warp dependent (too much commitment.)

I have been playing what if: I want to weave lengths of ribbon that could be longer than a traditional inkle loom permits (enough to trim a dress), what if I wanted to change colors midstream? Can I handle supplemental warp(s) in such a way that I do not have tension problems over time. What if I wanted to handle 100 threads not 36? What are the cheapest materials I can find that do not require the services of a woodworker. (I don’t have my own private carpenter).IMG_3310 Can I use recycled materials? Will this loom be portable? Can the loom be taken apart for shipping or storage?

I have found that I can create a creditable ribbon loom that meets my needs out of some pretty humble stuff I found at my local HOME DEPOT.

  • A Blank Coroplast Sign
  • #8-32 Threaded Rod 12″
  • #8-32 Wing nuts
  • #8-32 Nuts
  • #8-32 Washers
  • 3/16″ Wooden Dowels – 12″ long
  • drawer knobs – that fit the #8-32 threaded rod.

Other things I had at home:

  • sewing machine bobbins – old straight ones are fine I used some of the metal ones.
  • Empty sewing thread spools.

Tools usedTools I used:

  • Scissors (the little Fiskars type) to enlarge holes in coroplast
  • Exacto knife and blade (to cut coroplast)
  • An inexpensive small hacksaw (to cut threaded rod and dowel) I picked up the $8 one in the store. It had a handle and a blade  – no fancy stuff.
  • A sharpie – to mark cutting lines
  • A 3″ wood screw — used as an awl to start the holes in the coroplast. Requires little hand pressure. Finished heavy work with the scissor.
  • A French Curve to get pleasing curves on the sides of the loom.

IMG_3313IMG_3306   IMG_3317IMG_3287  I’m still tinkering with the design so I am not quite ready for print out final measurements. It is my intention to share this from this post when I am sure that it will work for most people.
The yardage counter was used when I wound thread from spools to bobbins. It does work nicely. My bobbins also fit on this dowel nicely for transfer to the “sectional” bobbin on the loom. It would be great to have a baby tension box someday for winding these packages.

IMG_3304So far, I am pleased  with the weight, size, and the fact I can adjust the tension individually on each bobbin. The weaving area is about 8″ long. I have a great shed. It took only a few minutes to thread and get started.

I am modifying the design to make it easier to change the bobbins on the fly. I have found you can use existing inkle patterns or make use of standard weaving drafts. I will be exploring more pick-up work and additional shaft control options shortly. My goal is to be able to make beautiful silk ribbon by hand.