Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Weaving ... or not

They say the way to get a lot of weaving done is to always keep a warp on the loom.

Well, for the last six months or so, that brown box full of warp (and weft) has been sitting on my loom and let me tell you, no weaving has occurred.

But I have been promising myself that if I finished two long, tedious projects (Roy's mittens & the chair cushion) I could weave the dishtowels that for whatever reason I really, really want to weave. So last week I opened the box, reworked all the calculations in my insanely cryptic notes, and went to wind my 10 yard warp.

Too bad the warping board that came with the loom only winds 6 yards.

Fortunately, a friend loaned me a bigger board. And even more fortunately, in the meantime I listened to an episode of WeaveCast that talked about full width sampling -- basically you just wind an extra yard and use that to sample. What a great idea! What timing!

So I wound an 11 yard warp. This took longer than I expected, partly because I had the warping board propped up on a chair and it kept slipping, partly because I've only wound warps out of fat yarns before and so hadn't quite realized that I would be winding 492 threads, and partly because I knew I couldn't do it with the kids around. But several days later I had my warp ready to go, and a clear evening to get it on the loom.

As I sat down to start, I thought, "I wonder how many heddles I have?" And I counted.

I have 457.

What's up with this? A Baby Wolf usually comes with 500. The previous owner must somehow have removed or broken 43 heddles -- a few from each harness. The only thing I can imagine is that she was weaving full width but not using all the heddles, they were crammed over to the side and causing problems with her selvedges, and she took them off. That sounds plausible -- so plausible, in fact, that I keep thinking maybe I did that, and going off to search the places I keep weaving stuff. I don't have much, so it doesn't take long, which is a good thing because I've done it three times now.

So here's the state of the warp -- sleyed, but not threaded -- and it's going to stay that way for a few days until I can get more heddles.

In the meantime I've rousted out another old project. It's a 3 x 10 locker-hooked runner, featuring two life-sized tiger shovelnose catfish (some Pseudoplatystoma or another). I started it in the winter of 2001-2002; it was supposed to cushion the drop from the hallway into the living room of our old house while George learned to walk.

Two things happened -- he gave up afternoon naps, leaving me much less time to work on it, and I learned that babies fall on their bottoms, not their heads. Then we moved to a house with no level changes at all, and the urgency receded.

But now we're putting a big tank in the living room, and I thought it would be nice to have the catfish rug hanging on the wall above it. And to add a little urgency I'd kind of like to put it in the art class at the TCA convention in April. I don't suppose it could win anything at a cichlid show, but I'd just like to show it off to people who would appreciate it, and there are a lot of catfish fans at cichlid events.

The good news is, the catfish themselves are about 2/3 finished. The bad news is, the fish are only about 20% of the entire rug. I'm sure the background will go more quickly -- but how quickly is that? And can I focus long enough to get this done? What about after the extra heddles come?

The truth is, the TCA has a convention every year. And I still love this project, which is not always the case when I pull something out after a few years' rest. So I'm sure I'll get it done sometime. But right now would be nice ....

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