Two weeks ago, I almost posted that the tartan was, at long last, tied onto the loom. I even took pictures.
I was ecstatic. I was going to start weaving.
I had made a couple of errors in the denting. What is a dent and why are you doing it?
That sort of gray thing that the threads look like they are coming through is called a reed. (I have no clue why it is called that.) The gray area is actually vertical wires. The spaces between the wires are called “dents”. (Again, I have no clue as to why!) What the dents do is to spread the threads of the warp and keep them in correct order and spacing. The spacing is important as it helps the item being woven stay in alignment during the weaving process itself.
Anyway, I miss a couple of dents which would cause “holes” in the fabric. The fix is to untie the threads that are affected and re-dent them in the proper “holes”.
Today, I finished do that. I retied everything to the take-up rod, took a deep breath, and started weaving.
There are still items to check so this is a “sample”. It allows me to test the beat that I use which determines the distance between threads. For a tartan this needs to be very even from thread to thread. It also allows me to check for threading and denting errors that I might have missed in the process of looming the warp.
The second thing about a sample is that the Scottish Register of Tartans wants one to put on file. It is part of the registration process. I want that one to be perfect. To do that I test out my process in my sample.
Once all the samples are made, I will cut them off, retie the warp to the bar and start on the actual scarves. I have 9 yards of material so I do have a ways to go.
The Scottish wool thread that I am using is “sticky”. Wool threads are rough. It is the nature of the fiber. That roughness causes the individual threads to stick together so the shafts (the things that raise and lower the threads) rise and fall rather slowly. To cure the problem, we use spray starch. It smooths out the surface of the thread without damaging it. The starch will wash out in the finishing process but, at this stage, the starch helps to make the threads behave on the loom.
The process up to now has been interesting. The counting and recounting of threads has driven my weaving friends to distraction. It certainly has gotten into my brain. I don’t count sheep to get to sleep anymore, I count threads!
In the weaving process, I still have to count as the number of threads in the warp (the vertical) must match the number of threads of the same color in the weft (the horizontal) For example, if I have 10 white threads in a row in the warp followed by two orange threads, I must have 10 white threads followed by two orange thread in the weft. And they must be identical in distance from each other.
For me, it is like a puzzle where I get to make the pieces fit. It requires a bit of patience and the willingness to take the time to fix errors. That is the nature of hand-weaving. For me, it is plain fun.
This project has been pure joy. I thank again, Jim Wilson and the Remembering Edward Bransfield Committee for allowing me to be part of their mission.
The tartan is on the loom!