Summer camp with a detour

I sat down this morning to write about my new toy. I purchased a Schacht Zoom Loom to play with.

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I’ve got tons of yarn leftover from socks and thought it would be fun to use it with this loom.

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Getting the hang of it

I’ve got a little corner in my new studio with a view of the pond and the trees that surround it. I’ve been spending a bit of time there the last few mornings, weaving squares and listening to the birds call. I feel a bit like a kid at summer camp. Doing crafts and making something that may or may not be useful when I get it home.

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A finished square ready to pop off the loom
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Fun with color in a 4″ square 

I have no expectations of these squares. No project in mind that they’ll become. I’m just playing. Spending a little quiet time in the morning before I get started with my day.


I took all my photos before sitting down to write, launched my photo browser and nothing was there! 30 or more minutes later I’d checked settings on phone and laptop, consulted tech support forums and stomped around the kitchen muttering under my breath. [Note to self, the latter doesn’t really fix any problems.] Still, no photos.

So on the advice of my expert technical consultant I restarted the computer. A few minutes later the new photos (and a whole lot more I didn’t realize were missing) started trickling in. My blog post is saved. My sanity is saved. I can stop being mad at my devices. I love technology, except when I don’t. It’s pretty amazing what we can do with these powerful computers we carry around in our back pockets. And when it doesn’t work right I just feel helpless and dependent.

Now it is time to put the computer aside and do some work. I’m weaving scarves. On a loom made of wood and metal. Moving parts that I understand how to use and to fix when they get cranky. No computer assist, no wires. Just feet on the treadles, hands on the beater and my imagination to dream up something to make.

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Tencel scarf in luxurious shades of rust, yellow and maroon

When I’m not stomping around the house muttering at technology I make lovely scarves and socks. I play with color and let my imagination run wild. Looking for something low-tech to brighten your day? Check out my Etsy shop and see what speaks to you.

 

Studio visit

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

Hand dyed alpaca/silk yarn
Hand dyed alpaca/silk yarn

to a finished scarf

Alpaca/silk and tencel scarf
Alpaca/silk and tencel 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.

Swift and ball winder
Swift and ball winder

As this will be warp, the next station is the warping reel

Warping reel
Warping reel

Then getting the warp onto the loom

Threading heddles
Threading heddles

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.

Winding a pirn
Winding a pirn

And finally — weaving

Shuttle with pirn loaded for weaving
Shuttle with pirn loaded for 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.

wall of color
wall of color