Thursday, August 16, 2012

Work in progress.

I have been having tension problems in the last few warps that I've put on. So, in an effort to mitigate this, I am trying something new. I met Laura Fry years ago (Fibervisions, Cool, CA), and we had a wonderful time talking about life, the universe and everything, including weaving. She was so gracious and kind, and listened to me ramble on, I'm sure!

I follow her blog (Weaving a Life), and many times, she's mentioned her warping "valet." It sounded like what I needed. I finally watched the video of her beaming a 9m (10 yards +/-) warp. The video was 9 minutes long and at the end of it, it was on. WOW!

So, since I live in an old mobile home, and I'm renting, I really can't attach anything to the ceiling. Being the queen of PVC, and having a number of 2" pvc lengths and fittings, I set out to make one. The nice thing (if it works - haven't actually tried it yet) is that it can be disassembled and put away when I'm not using it. This is huge, because my loom room is 14 x 14, and space is at a premium. If you watch Laura's video (linked above), you will see, however, that she has less space than I do...

My valet:
When I actually tie weights onto the warp, I'll have 50# sacks of feed on the feet to hold it in place.

This warp is knotty naughty. The 8/2 cotton wants to twist all over itself. I've managed to straighten out the warp up over the top and about midway to the floor. It will be interesting to see how difficult it is to continue straightening...

There are differences between Laura's method and what I'm trying here: a) I have a sectional beam, and I need to build a raddle to clamp onto the back beam to space the warp enough that I don't have to run back and forth a lot; b) she sleys through the reed only (doesn't thread the heddles until after the warp is on) - I have threaded the heddles already. If I had looked at the video first, I probably wouldn't have.

She uses flat lease sticks, taped together with masking tape. I have 5/8" dowels, which have been sanded with 400 grit sandpaper to make them very smooth. I made these cool holders (they bungie onto the breast beam when I'm sleying/threading). I figured I could MacGyver something to use them here as well:
She slides the lease sticks up to the top of the valet and as she winds on, they follow the warp down. This helps, as I understand, to keep any inconsistencies in the warp tension on the valet side of them (away from the loom). Mine slide very well, but they might be a little too heavy with the holders to passively follow the warp. Time will tell.

And here's a picture of what the whole set up looks like.
My loom is a Murphy Loom, built by Charlie Murphy of Seattle, WA. It's No. 428. I know of only 5 others. It's made of rock maple and takes 2 men and a boy, or 2 farm girls to move it. It's a 4-shaft counterbalance, and the mechanism is bike sprockets on ball bearing races and bike chain. It's very smooth. At some point in its life (before I got it), the metal heddles that I've seen on others were replaced with Texsolv. This makes it very quiet. It is truly a joy to weave on this loom.

Hiding in the right side of the picture above is my other loom, a 4-shaft Dorset. It's similar in size and structure to a Baby Wolf, but is direct tie-up. I mucked about with it and screwed up the apron rod and back beam rod - they're not parallel to the beams. Before I can weave on it again, I have to fix that.

Anyway, I have a week to finish this 9 yard warp, including sewing. I need to make a raddle (not hard, just need to do it). Then I'll wind this on.

I'll keep you posted. Wish me luck that it works!


  1. I'd suggest moving the valet set up much closer to the loom. The farther away from the loom the more the device will want to tip over. If the device can actually straddle the loom you may not need the sacks - or much smaller ones. Cool, CA, eh? Now that's a little while ago! :D

  2. Oh, love the loom! My Dad has a similar set up...there is some book out there and I can't remember what she calls it, but just about like yours. Of course it all looks different because you are warping frt. to back and I've always warped back to frt. Pretty warp!!!