Recently I had the pleasure of showing off my fiber studio to a friend. She isn’t a weaver so we talked about the basics, how I get from yarn
to a finished scarf
and how much automation there could be in that process. For instance, I get the alpaca/silk from my dyer in 8 oz hanks. I load it onto the swift and wind it using the electric ball winder. I can set that going and let it run while I do other things, just watching to make sure it doesn’t get stuck. When I did this using my hand-cranked ball winder it would take me more than an hour to wind. The electric winder can do it in about 15 minutes.
As this will be warp, the next station is the warping reel
Then getting the warp onto the loom
After sleying the reed, each warp end gets threaded into a heddle, one thread per heddle and on the correct shaft so the weaving pattern will come out right. These steps are all manual, but with my electric bobbin winder I can speed up the last step I have before I can start weaving. I use an end-feed shuttle, so I’m winding my weft yarn onto pirns.
And finally — weaving
I love being able to speed up some steps that aren’t so interesting which gives me more time on the loom, happily treading, throwing the shuttle, beating in the weft threads and making something wonderful. I just rearranged the looms in my studio and the loom I use for my scarves now faces my wall of scarf yarns. As I weave I am happily pairing yarns in my mind and deciding which combinations I’ll use next.