Loom Unboxing and Assembly

Well, it has been four and a half months since I last posted to this blog. Since then I have left my nine to five job behind and am now devoting a significant portion of my time to weaving and making hand crafted fountain pens (more about the pens in a later post). In addition we have celebrated a significant birthday, and our 30th wedding anniversary.

 

In my “Finally Back to Weaving” post I left you with the comment that I had “ordered  a
Harrisville Designs 36 inch, 8 shaft floor loom that I have had my eye on for a long time. I  ordered the kit so there will be “some assembly required”! When it arrives and I have the time and space to put it together I will do an un-boxing and share my experience with the assembly for those that might be considering doing the same thing!”  

 

The kit arrived in two boxes which together weighed almost 100 pounds.
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One of my helpers, meet Quiggly, he helps with everything…
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When I opened the box I was momentarily a little overwhelmed. For a minute I wasn’t sure if I had ordered a loom or an addition to the house! There were a lot of pieces and your first task whenever you are unboxing and preparing for assembly is to insure you have ALL the parts. So I sorted through the entire contents of the packages and check each item off the list.

 

I found one part that had been damaged in shipping and immediately contacted Harrisville for instructions. The folks there could not have been more helpful (when you call a real person answers the phone). They shipped me a new part right away in a returnable box and with postage to return the damaged part. There is nothing better than working with cheerful, helpful people when pursuing your dreams! And to top it off, the part I returned was one that I didn’t need in assembly until near the end so I didn’t loose much time.

 

Following the instruction was, for the most part, fairly easy. There were a couple of places where I became a little confused by the “tab A in slot B” instructions where they were describing how to insure that the part was going in place correctly. Aside from that the assembly went without a hitch.
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Another helper, Finn. He is exhausted…

 

The one last difficult part was the assembly of the heddles in the frames. ONE WIRE HEDDLE AT A TIME. I really thought, at one point, that I would never run out of them. But I did and in the end had a wonderful new tool to create with and the satisfaction of having assembled it myself!
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As somewhat of a woodworker, my opinion is that this loom is extremely well made. It is hand crafted and finished to the point that there is very little of that left to do with assembly. The instructions said to go over it with finishing sandpaper to remove any burrs that might snag your yarn. I did that but found very few places where it was actually necessary. Well done Harrisville Designs.

 

Now that I had the loom in place and ready to go I needed a warping board in order to measure my warp. So, I started looking at what was available and decided that paying $150.00 or more for four pieces of wood with some dowel pegs seemed excessive. Why not continue the satisfaction of doing it myself and make my own. I bought some rough cut hard maple (beautiful wood) and dove in. I did a design based upon several that I have looked and cut, finished the wood and assembled the finished product. I have ended up with exactly what I need, something that I am proud of and a very functional tool to go with my loom. Eureka!
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So, next time, lets talk fountain pens…
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Posted in Fiber Arts, Hand Made, Hand Made Fountain Pen, Hand Woven, Harrisville Designs, Made in USA, Rigid Heddle, Weaving | 2 Comments

Finally Back to Weaving

I am finally getting back to weaving after a significant interruption with work and life in general. Three more months of work left before I can weave and make pens anytime I want.

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What I have started working on are the side panels for a bag that I have already posted the body of in an earlier post. It will still be a while before you see the finished bag. It is a calibration with my wife Kari so she will be making the lining and adding some embellishments!

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Today I am also ordering a new loom. The last one that I will need for a long time. It is a Harrisville Designs 36 inch, 8 shaft floor loom that I have had my eye on for a long time. I  ordered the kit so there will be “some assembly required”! When it arrives and I have the time and space to put it together I will do an un-boxing and share my experience with the assembly for those that might be considering doing the same thing!

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Something Practical

After having been to a couple of classes it was time for me to venture out on my own. Time to take what I had learned and see what I could do with it. I had become very enamored with weaving with a rag weft so that is where I went first. The beautiful batiks that are available, with all their bright colors, make weaving with them very exciting.
So, I picked up where I left off and used a very similar material to my first “rag” project in the class and It turned out GREAT! It is so much fun to get to the end of a project and have it turn out just like you planned it. Well, almost like you planned it. You never know what the final pattern of color is going to look like until you are a couple of inches into the weaving. It is always a surprise!
Purple is my favorite color and this project turned out to be predominately purple.
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This is another one of those items that is going to be part of another project and will show up again sometime down the road. Watch for it…
Next I decided that I needed to try something harder and make something practical, something I could use on  a regular basis and really needed. I would make a bag for carrying my laptop and miscellaneous stuff.
The main body of the bag on the loom…
Bag Material
 The Finished bag in use…
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A look at the really hard part, the insides…
Inside Computer Bag
The weaving was simple and fun, always my favorite part. The insides, on the other hand, took months to plan, do, re-plan and re-do. I certainly didn’t do all of this my self, although I did learn how to do some straight sewing using a 1947 Singer Feather Weight 221 sewing machine. The completion of this bag with the gear pockets, padded computer pocket, etc took the expert assistance of my bride Kari. When it was over we looked at each other and came to the simultaneous conclusion, NEVER AGAIN!
However, I absolutely love the bag. It is just what I wanted and it feels good to make something that I am proud to carry and I will be forever grateful for my Kari’s help and support in completing this project!
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Posted in Fiber Arts, Hand Made, Hand Woven, Made in USA, Rigid Heddle, Weaving | 2 Comments

Class Number 2

During my first class at Woven Art the teacher mentioned another class that she teaches on weaving with “rags” on a rigid heddle loom. This is something I had been told couldn’t be done. The over riding opinion on the subject seemed to be that you could only weave with rags on a sturdy floor loom because of the abuse the loom takes when beating the rag weft into the warp. Our teacher had found a method of weaving rags that worked well on a rigid heddle loom and she would be teaching a class later in the summer. She showed us a sample and I signed up immediately! After having woven the rug in Allegan this was something I really wanted to try. I had the rug bug.

Again, I waited the agonizing weeks until the class, got up at the crack of dawn and drove the hour to Lansing Michigan. However this time we were instructed to purchase our yarn ahead of time. The instructions recommended 3/2 mercerized cotton and told us to warp our looms before coming to class.  We were to pick a fabric and cut it into strips according to the directions provided. We were told that using a batik fabric would be best for getting consistent  color.

Now, while I was getting more and more comfortable warping my loom, cutting fabric strips was another ball game. That required lots of instruction and encouragement from my bride. I couldn’t talk her into cutting it for me of course. In the end, I survived the experience and arrived at class with everything I needed in tow!

Lansing class prep

The instructor started the class by checking all of our warps and fabric strips. We had all followed the directions well and we were ready to weave. This is a very simple technique so weaving wasn’t difficult. The trick, because we were using rigid heddle looms, was in how to beat the weft into place on this type of loom. Everything else we needed to know we had learned in the previous class so we were off. Once we learned the technique for beating the warp and had woven enough to be sure we knew what we were doing we could leave. By the time I left I had woven about a quarter of the final piece.

Lansing class on the loomThe completed piece is going to be the foundation for a project my bride and I are working on together. It is not quite ready for prime time so that will have to wait for a surprise on another day.

The bottom line here is, I found a technique that I really like, I can create some beautiful color and contrast with and that I have become fairly proficient at. I can keep the weft consistently tight and the edges straight. Creating something useful and beautiful is a great feeling! It is fabulous to watch the piece come to life and to experience of the final look of the material. You never quite know what the final color will be until you see the weft material compressed into the warp. it is alway a wonderful surprise! This has opened lots of possibilities from rugs, to table runners and bags and the opportunities for creating with color seem endless.

I am sure we will see more of this!

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and then…

My first loom was a Schacht Spindle Co. Cricket loom which my bride gave to me for my birthday following our trip to Allegan (See “In the Beginning”). She chose it because of its portability and quality. One of the things I would like to be able to do going forward is to take a project along when we travel.

The loom came with a sample scarf project. The yarn was not the color I would have chosen but it was a great way to start out and learn to warp and weave on my own. I watched a couple of Youtube videos on warping a rigid heddle loom. There are several good ones. The one I liked the best was created by Schacht. It turns out that with a little practice warping on a rigid heddle is fairly simple and quick.

So I was off and weaving on my own loom. Once I started it went pretty fast and for a first project the results were ok.

Cricket Project

So, I bought another loom. I thought at some point I would want to weave something a little wider than 10 inches so I purchased a 25 inch Schacht Flip rigid heddle loom. Both of my looms were purchased from The Spinning Loft (http://thespinningloft.com). At about the same time we were visiting one of our favorite places on earth, Black Mountain, NC. While in town we visited a new fiber arts gallery called Nice Threads (http://www.nicethreadsgallery.com) and got to talking to one of the owners about weaving. In the course of the conversation she recommended that I check out a store in Lansing Michigan called Woven Art (http://www.yarnandfiberart.com) for classes to accelerate my learning as a weaver.

As soon as I got home from North Carolina I contacted Woven Art, connected with a teacher for a rigid heddle class, confirmed that I should bring my own loom to class and waited the agonizing several weeks until the class.

When class day arrived I was up at the crack of dawn and on the road for my hour drive to Lansing Michigan to learn to weave. There were only four of us in the class so we all had the attention we needed to get our looms warped and start to weave.

Lansing Class project start

We spent the day weaving and getting pointers about tension, salvage, etc. and how to keep our work looking consistent. The teacher had infinite patience for all of our questions. We were all beginners and all working with different materials. Mine was wool which I picked out and purchased just before class. They have a large selection of yarn at Woven Art. I had very little time to look so I didn’t end up with something as brightly colored as I would have liked but purple is my favorite color so I was good to go.

When it came time to leave we all had weaving left to do. So we were going to have to fly solo and finish at home. Over the next couple of weeks I found time to sit down and weave and I finished the project and cut it off the loom. I got it washed and blocked and ended up with something I am quite proud of. It is a really good feeling to create something that is useful and attractive with your own hands! And winter was coming…

Lansing Class Wool ScarfIt was time for another class…

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In the Beginning…

I am seriously interested in the Fiber Arts, specifically weaving, something that I began learning about as a child in grade school. I was very fortunate to have attended Henry Ford’s Edison Institute and Greenfield Village Schools in Dearborn Michigan, my home town. Today it is called “The Henry Ford” and is open to the public. It is billed as America’s greatest history attraction. It was a fabulous place to learn, especially history, and we were surrounded with wonderful examples of ordinary people who had done extraordinary things which was Henry’s point.

One of the places we went for art class was the “weaving building” which was filled with big floor looms on which we wove our tiny little projects.

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I can still remember the feeling of awe, as a small, child seeing, feeling and hearing the incredible steam shuttle loom in action  and the amazing Jacquard loom. What an incredible machine!

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Steam Shuttle Loom

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Jacquard Loom

It has been a dream of mine to continue learning to weave ever since. It is something I have shared with my wife many times during our nearly 30 years of marriage usually saying something like, I should get a loom and learn to weave!

A year ago in March, for my birthday, my wife surprised me with a trip to Allegan, Michigan to visit the Baker Allegan Studios.

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This is a place where the sell art of many kinds, weaving supplies, looms, weaving classes and rent time on looms.

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Kari had reserved time on a large floor loom for me to weave a rag rug. It was an absolutely wonderful experience and the rug has been in and honored place in our living room ever since. As you can see it is a favorite spot for our cats to take a break!

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I was hooked! Kari gave me a Schacht  Spindle Co. Cricket Loom for my birthday that year. Later in the year I purchased a Schacht Spindle Co. Flip rigid heddle loom so that I could weave some larger projects. So, this trip was all I needed to fire up my life long desire to learn to weave. I was on my way!

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