Sprang at the Textile Center

I like taking classes and learning new techniques. I enjoy the process of learning, and I’ve tried various things over the years. This time, I tried sprang, a technique that has been used throughout much of the world and dates back to at least the Bronze Age.

The Weavers Guild of Minnesota offers a series of Try It! classes, and sprang was my second time learning a technique through this kind of survey class with them. The class was taught by Karen Searle, a local fiber artist particularly known for her figurative crochet, and with an excellent teaching reputation.

Sprang is an odd thing. You work in the middle, and the weaving (and any ensuing mistake) then happens at both ends. You can use your fingers, which is what I did, or an extra thin stick – which is what is needed at the middle when there isn’t enough room for fingers. Also, anything wider than your hand wouldn’t really work without a stick, I think.

What’s needed to weave sprang is an adjustable bar to hold tension at each end, and four smaller dowel-type things to hold the weaving in place. This is a frame for a canvas, with cotton twine to hold the end bars, and two pairs of knitting needles. The wooden ones are much better than metal or plastic, which can slide out. I broke a pair of plastic ones; this is under tension. As it looks now, it appears to be a warp-faced weave.

When you’re done, you take it off the loom and use some method to keep it all from unraveling. Chain stitching it works, or you could weave with some extra thread. This is linen.

Chained.

Folded at the center chain, and the sides laced together into a pouch, with the twine through the end loops created by the rods of the loom.

Spread open. The standard weave is the top part of the pouch, changing directions is the variation in the middle. The lower left? A mistake. At this point, I’ve taken it back a couple of times, and I don’t expect to use it, but keep it as a sample piece (along with the actual sample with variations that I made in class). I saw the mistake a couple rows past, and decided to leave it.

I’m going to continue to explore new techniques, just for fun. One in the Try It! series I hope to schedule sometime is spindle spinning. I have three spindles and some roving in my stash, waiting for me. I would definitely take another class from Karen, she was a great teacher.

SAORI Six

A gift for a friend – it has been opened and I can share. This is mostly cotton, some rayon, a little superwash wool. It could be a shawl, or it could be cut up and made into something. I’ve got some single strands of heavier weight yarn inlays, a little bit of clasped weft work, a wandering warp of gold, and some log cabin. Each warp and weft is two strands to make a denser fabric, except for the gold which is a heavier yarn.

Next on the loom might be something for me. Or it will be another planned gift, I haven’t yet decided.

SAORI Five

I realized I forgot to blog this, a gift I made in July.

It’s a mixture of mostly mohair and mohair blends, wool, and cotton. This was my first foray into mohair, and it was a bit of a challenge. I thought I was being smart by bracketing each mohair warp with a slick cotton warp (or at least not two mohair together), but that just wasn’t good enough to make it easy. When I crossed the warp, they stuck together with great familiarity.

Off the loom, pre-washing, you can see the variety in the warp – something like two cottons, three mohairs, and the gold wool. The weft was just two different mohairs, the lighter and darker grey.

I made this as a gift, finishing it at 1pm for an evening wedding. I hand washed it, and then draped it over an air conditioning vent with an additional fan.

A light open weave, it dried with hours to spare.

SAORI Six is on the loom. NO mohair. (But I have a mohair boucle with gigantic loops that emulates Persian lamb. When I feel like a challenge again, I’m going for it.)

SAORI Three

This is the warping board that my husband made for me. Side-to-side, the measurement between the pegs is a meter. I want a really short warp for this project because of the amount of yarn I have in these colors; it should be a wearable scarf. The warp cross between the two pegs in the center is the one that keeps the warps in my intended order. Nearby, I have scribbled onto a piece of paper: S L S L S S L S – and so forth. (Shiny, gLitter, Shiny, gLitter…) I’m trying for some irregular log cabin design, alternating between a shiny yarn, and one that looks like it has bits of tinsel. The portion of the warp that is log cabin is governed by the glitter yarn, as there’s just one skein, and I’m using it doubled everywhere as it’s very fine; I have more of the other three yarns. I’ve done calculations on the area that it will cover, and that math is governing the length and width of the warp.

Here’s the final warp, cut off the warping board and chained and braided. The shiny yarn is cotton and rayon, the green yarn is angora and wool and nylon, and the thick-and-thin dark purple yarn is wool and acrylic. The fine, fuzzy purple with the bits of tinsel is mohair and nylon and polyester.

On the loom!

The subtle log cabin; subtle in contrast but not color. I’ve alternated “shiny” and “glitter” in portions of the weft, with irregular widths. The warp of the two colors is subtle as well. Next time I do a log cabin, I will use more contrast.

Complete!

SAORI Two complete, the caterpillar edition

This yarn is AWESOME. I am having so much fun seeing what patterns emerge, just weaving back and forth. There’s no planning, and most of these pattern changes are not because of a new bobbin of warp.

Argyle!

Solid stripes with something that makes me think of corduroy.

More stripes, with an argyle interlude.

Look at how even and planned it appears, and then poof! It becomes another pattern.

This is just so much fun.

The end. I used one skein of this yarn, plus a little more from a second to be able to use all the warp. I have another full skein of this yarn as well. I highly recommend using yarn with a short color repeat like this, and just going along for the ride to see what happens when you weave.

This is 4″ wide and 56″ long, and thick fabric. This was really great fun to weave. I have no clue what I will do with it.

Next warp is wider and using mixed yarns, including fuzzy and thick-and-thin yarn, and a planned pattern. I get to try out my warping board…

Warping a SAORI loom

Here’s my process pictures for my first time fully warping my SAORI loom with the “chair warp” from my last loom-related post. First, I remove the beater and flip it over, resting the legs of the beater on the harness of the loom. I undo the braids from my prepared warp, and use the warp cross to keep the warps in order, and then cut the colored yarn I used to keep the cross intact (visible in the picture below). There is a tool that is a series of posts and grooves to hold this as well. I don’t have it. I’m wondering how I – or it! – can hold all the warp if I were to warp its full 23″ width. This is 56 warps. The loom holds 300.

This is sleying the reed. I use the reed hook to push the warp through the dents.

Progress.

I’ve tied bundles of warp threads together below the reed, and turned over and reinstalled the beater.

Now threading the heddles. I’m sitting at the back of the loom, holding a bunch of warp threads in my left hand, interlacing them between my fingers. I can’t keep it interlaced like this; it keeps sliding off my pinky, but I can keep it solidly between my first and middle finger. Inside my left hand is a bunch of heddles, from both the front and back harnesses. As I use up the warp in my left hand, I grab more warp and more heddles.

Here’s using the hook to grab the next warp to pull through the heddle. Standard warping is to alternate from the front and back harness (and one warp per dent in the reed), which is what I’m doing here. I can put more than one warp through the same dent and heddle. I can skip dents. I can do two front or two back heddles in a row. I wanted to try a plain warp first, so one warp per dent and heddle, and alternating front and back harnesses it is!

Done.

As I’m looking back at the instructions, I see I’m supposed to be tying bundles of warps together as I complete warping. Oh.

Pulling the warp through to the back of the loom, with the tying rod resting on top of the warp.

I have to use two hands for the rest of this (and a knee at one point), so no pictures. Here’s the frustration picture. I’ve tied the warp onto the tying rod (the diagonal dowel you can see at the upper left), and I’ve got to try to roll it onto the warp roller while holding onto the warp at the front of the beater. So I’m sitting cross legged on the floor to the left of the loom, my right hand is holding the warp at the front of the beater, I’m rolling the warp roller with my left hand, and pressing the warp control pedal with my left knee. Looking closely at the pictures in the book now, I see the warp control pedal is disengaged by the angle of the pedal – but it’s not written in the instructions to do so. I will have to try that next time. The warp roller fell off twice because I didn’t have the metal widgets correctly on it.

That’s done, now to attach the warp to the front clipping tying rod. I just have to put this strip of wood into the slot in the dowel, catching the warp.

Warped! Or at least I think so.

Weaving right along. Isn’t this yarn great/terrible? Microfiber chenille, from one of two Craiglist yarn lots I purchased for very little money. I keep thinking of caterpillars.

So, I try to advance the warp and it’s not working. I check the pedal and advance the warp, more than once. Also, why is the beater hitting what I’m weaving? It’s because I need the warp to go up and over the front beam. I correct this by removing the clipping tying rod and reinstalling it correctly. Now I’m making some sort of animal skin print with my caterpillar yarn!

Okay, off to finish this warp.