After my last post, I wasn’t certain I’d actually see a four o’clock pattern emerge from this crazy project, but I started over with thinner thread, and lo and behold!
After spotting this delightful 1932 article on creating a four-harness design using a two-harness loom, I knew I had to give it a try, and, naturally, I chose the most intricate pattern in the article, Four O'Clock (page 13). The only problem was, I didn't know how to warp it, or what to use to warp it. I didn't know how to sley the pattern. I wasn't at all certain how to read the treadling pattern, or what a treadling pattern was.
So, of course, I closed my eyes and jumped right on in, chosing a black cotton warp of size 10 cotton (Aunt Lydia's). The article used a cotton rug warp, which I think is thicker, but when you're going back to 1932, who knows? I warped about 8" wide on the Kessenich two harness table loom, carefully following the pattern. Instead of a plain weave sleying, where you do a front heddle, a back heddle, a front, a back, etc., this pattern was kind of nutty. You sley about seven front heddles in a row, followed by a bunch of back heddles, and then some front, some back… it eventually repeats only with the back ones swapped to the front and vice versa. It looked mighty odd when I finished, but I was still game. I tied on and started weaving with some scrap acrylic.
It was at that point that I realized I truly didn't understand what it meant to read a draft. It states something like Treadle 1 l., Treadle 2 d., repeat 4 times. So, I wove thinking it meant use the light color once, the dark color twice, and this is what happened:
Interesting, but not quite right. I unwove, took another look at the instructions, and had a flash of insight. Treadle 1 meant the front harness. Treadle 2 meant the back harness. So, in fact, it reads that the l (l=light color) goes through when the front harness is up. The dark color follows when the back harness is up. After my little realization, the pattern started coming through, albeit in an exaggerated manner:
I need to unweave once again and start over with a smaller gauge of yarn. The point I stopped was only the middle of the first set of "squares," and it should be much more compact. I'll be back with some type of result, good or bad. If it's good, I hope to be able to come up with a way to do this with a rigid heddle loom.
Spending time in the archives of the handweaving world is an awful lot of fun if you're a bookish person like me or even if you realize you don't always have to remake the wheel. Here's the proof:
- My favorite find of the week: Weaving Four-Harness Patterns on a Two-Harness Loom, by Agnes K. Nielsen. Take a look at the "Four O'Clock" pattern on page 13 and be stunned. Woven with two harnesses!
- Something Different In Two Harness Weaving, by Emmy Sommer, offers a challenge with joining in new colors, but the results look worth all the trouble.
- The Rigid Heddle newsletter always has some great ideas, but the Leno Lace examples with the plain weave borders are really neat. I truly love the Mexican Lace variation, however. I haven't seen it before.
- And here's a modern article from WeaveZine, Honeycomb Spot Bronson on Two Shafts by Sigrid Piroch, meant to be used to create Bronson Lace with two shafts and an additional warp thread, but I imagine this would be a way to do other types of patterns, too, such as a "Jeans Twill." Scroll down to the bottom to see how the sheds open. I'm still wrapping my brain around this one.
Plarn = plastic bags cut into strips and used as yarn. Plarn is fun, and it's green!
I used the 10 dent heddle on the Kessenich two-harness loom, warping every other slot–70 ends total –with white crochet cotton for the warp, bought for a quarter at a thrift store. I probably used about ten cents worth. Then, I cut ten plastic sacks into strips, using a tutorial I viewed on Youtube. The red handle is some acrylic I spool knitted on a little crank knitter. So, all in all, my weaving cost me about fifty cents. Ritzy!
I wove 20 inches but now wish I would have taken the time for another five to ten, because although this little tote is cute, it's not really useful. It's probably just big enough for a few DVDs or one or two books. I don't plan on lining it, but I am planning on another plarn tote, this time bigger.
Last week, I was thinking that maybe, just maybe I'd get bored with a two-harness loom. I mean, using a rigid heddle + another heddle makes a three or four harness loom, which means patterns like twill are possible.
But with the Kessenich two-harness table loom, I'm kinda stuck with two harness. I had thought that meant plain weave, aka tabby.
So, I challenged myself to find some patterns and so I wandered over to Handweaving.net, clicked on the Draft Archives, clicked on search, and then asked for all the drafts with a minimum of two harnesses and a maximum of two harnesses. Guess how many results I had? 772.
Even if many of these are simply repeats of log cabin or stripes, I bet you anything I can find enough to keep myself busy with only two harnesses!
I've scanned thrift and antique stores for over a year searching for looms. I've found Weave-Its, a Wonder Weave (4" loom), and different types of knitting looms. I've spotted a few floor looms, mostly huge and needing a tremendous amount of work. What I haven't seen has been a tabletop loom. Until yesterday.
I found not one but two tabletop looms within a half an hour! And maybe I didn't get the most tremendous deals, but I was kind of like a kid in a candy store who has a credit card and a very strong desire to buy a lot of candy! Okay, bad comparison aside, I bought them both. And in my tremendous daze of Loom Craziness, I walked out of one of the stores without the reed. I called the antique shop owner when I got home (the store was hours away from where I live), and she said she'd mail it to me ASAP.
So, what kind of looms did I end up with? I can identify one of them so far: A 12" two harness Peacock Loom, by Handcrafters from Waupun, Wisconsin. These are no longer made, but they're very cute. Mine had a tag on it that said it was from a junior high school in Illinois, and it shows a lot of use. Nothing is broken or missing, but gee… I'll be teaching myself how to make string heddles within the next few days because every one of them has disintegrated. However, the reed is free of rust and everything else looks very nice. This was the first loom I spotted, and at that time the $75 seemed excessive but I rationalized it with a "But I never see these types of looms for sale and I'll probably not ever see one again." Bought it!
And about 20 minutes later, I walked into a second antique store to find this, another two harness tabletop loom. This is much bigger, with a weaving width of 14". It's oak, extremely well made and sturdy, and I'm starting to think it's a Kessenich loom because it resembles the pictures of four harness looms I've spotted. Compared to the little Peacock loom, this one really looks like it's ready to be used. The heddles are metal and free of rust. I remember the reed also being usable, but we'll see when it arrives. (Can you imagine the adrenaline rush I had when I got home and took it out of the car, only to search frantically for the reed? Ah well… I'll never leave a store again without double-checking the bits and pieces of a loom I've just purchased.) It also came with a second reed, I believe an 8 dent.
Speaking of purchase price, this one was listed at $125. Again, was it a deal? I hope so. It needs a little bit of cleaning, two tiny dowel replacements where the reed rests, and it's ready to warp. It does have an extra two dowels looped through a cord and fastened on either side near the top. I don't know what the purpose of this is.
Speaking of warping, I don't know how these looms will differ from my rigid heddle loom, how to use the string/metal heddles versus the rigid heddle, how much warp they can hold, etc. I have lots of questions, but the biggest question I have (and my husband, too) is where in the world will I put them?