Monday, August 8, 2011

Today's work day...

Today my first task in the studio was to finish warping the loom. Although I had the warp threads all tied onto the top of the loom, through the heddles, and loosely tied onto the lower beam, I had to retie all the threads at the bottom to make sure they are evenly tensioned. I used to tie the warp on very tightly; so tightly that I would get blisters on my hands from pulling them so tightly. But I have learned to just make sure I have tied them at an even tension; and then to let the loom do the tightening of the tension. But this process still takes time, and seems to require me going across the warp each way several times, tying and re-tying to make sure each thread is just as tight as the ones next to it are.

After the loom was warped, I began to think about the weft threads. They all come to me in skeins, but to be usable, each skein has to be wound from a skein into a ball. So they go onto the skein winder (on the right above) and are wound onto a ball winder across the studio (on the left.) This is one of those time-consuming chores I wish I had an apprentice to assign to do - or perhaps a grandchild who was fascinated at least for a while with the winders. Of course, that fascination would probably just result in a few wound balls of weft yarn, but every little bit would help!

I wound a few balls today, but I try to spread the winding process out over time. It is one of those mindless time-consuming chores that I often do while watching a movie or listening to a good book on tape.

I then used some heavy scrap cotton yarn and wove an inch-and-a-half 'header,; which is just something that will not actually be part of the tapestry, but will spread out the warp threads more evenly and will give me something to weave the hem up against. The header will be removed after the tapestry is taken off the loom.

After the header, I used some of the weft yarn and wove an inch of hem. The hem will be part of the tapestry, but it will be turned under, and will not be visible. I use a color that will be in the tapestry next to the hem, so if any of it should show, it will look like part of the tapestry.

My final task for the day was to get the cartoon ready so I can begin the tapestry tomorrow. The cartoon is a line drawing of the design I will be weaving, enlarged to the actual size of the tapestry. I had done a painting of the design, and had photographed it digitally, so it is in my computer. I will start with the lower borders of the two tapestries, so, rather than enlarging the cartoon for the whole tapestries, I just enlarged the lower border portion today. Since that is not too large (each will be 20"wide x 9"high) I just turned the design into a line drawing in Photoshop, and printed it out to size in portions on heavy paper. Then I taped the pieces together to have a drawing the exact size of the tapestry borders I will be weaving.

The computer often gives me too little or too much information on these Photoshop generated line drawings, so I went over each cartoon with a marker to make sure I will know exactly what I will want to weave. The cartoons will be attached to the back of the tapestry, so I can see them as I weave. But that part will come tomorrow! Today's work was sufficient for this day.

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