With new maniototo yarn and the 48″ AVL loom all ready to go, it was a warp of firsts. First time using the new yarn, and the first warp on the moved and reconditioned AVL that belonged to Mum. I decided that the first warp that would go on Mum’s loom was some knee rugs. Using Maniototo yarn which I had hand dyed and a weave structure of blanket tweel. Being the first warp on the loom a narrow short warp would have been sensible, but I couldn’t help myself – I wanted to do knee rugs so commonsense went out the window.
Luckily I didn’t have too many problems. I had to hunt round for the right reed which was 47 1/2 inches not 48in as I had planned for which meant a few extra threads hanging off the back! The next problem was the rod which had the start of the weaving on, caught on the underneath rollers under the shafts. But once I had stepped away from the loom to try and solve why it wasn’t working properly I noticed that the rod had caught and it was easily fixed with no damage done to the weaving. When the warp was off the loom Tony attached two wooden rails across the rollers to prevent this happening again.
The plan was to do a sample but was happy with how it was weaving so just carried on. This meant that I had enough warp on to do two knee rugs and one children’s blanket.
I had miscalculated the amount of yarn that I needed to dye. Thankfully I had plenty to wind the warp. I then dyed some more blue for the weft – I thought this colour would be easier to match. It did turn out a lighter shade which I think adds to the overall look of the blanket.
With the hand dyed yarn there is a very slight (sometimes not so slight) colour variation and I think it adds character to the weaving.
The Maniototo yarn wove and dyed well. The loom after a few initial hiccups also went very well. Overall I am happy with the outcome.
We were able to get Mum’s loom out of the Christchurch Arts Centre last year. It had been sitting there since the earthquakes and my brother was allowed to enter the building and retrieve it, then sent it up to our place. We managed to clear a space for it and Tony has been putting it together for the last couple of weeks.
It was very sad seeing it for the first time, as it was covered in black grime, quite emotional – thinking of Mum and imagining her working at the loom. Tony got to cleaning the surfaces with sugar soap. Aprons washed, heddles soaked, beater re-furnished. There are still things to be done on it but we have attached the computer (or black box) up and it seems to be working.
I have a warp wound and ready to go when the loom is completely finished. I feel Mum will be sitting right next to me when I weave on it.
I went to a workshop a few weeks back and part of it was about colour and microwave dyeing. I had heard about this process but I had never tried it. Always one for instant gratification I thought it would be a really good idea to give it a go. The workshop was given be Angela Meecham and it was thoroughly enjoyable.
I bought myself some Terri Dyes and have been having fun. I thought that I would try just the straight colours to start with and get my technique right before I start mixing the colours.
One of the disadvantages of microwave dyeing is that you can only dye in small amounts but I managed 100g skeins no problem at all and I will probably see if I can manage double that amount next time.
I have to confess my very first attempts came out pink but I have since been told when trying to get a red you need more dye.
My basic recipe is
water to cover
slosh of white vinegar (provides acid for dyes)
Drop of detergent (to help dye take up)
Microwave for 20 minutes, stirring every so often, to get an even colour. When the water is clear, then it is done.
It has all been very interesting and feel that I will be taking this further.