Yarn Samples and a Book

August 16, 2008

A while ago I made a little resolution that I will always plan and wind the warp for my next project while my current project is still on the loom.  Once my warp is wound, it feels like the job of warping is half done–an illusion, I know.  I play a lot of little tricks like that on myself.  It’s surprising I haven’t gotten wise to them!

I may not be half done when I’ve wound the warp, but with the reeling and beaming problems I’ve had in the past, those are the parts of warping that intimidate me.  Like an omelet: that moment when you decide it’s time to turn it over or it will burn, and it all comes apart if you haven’t got the heat and the pan and the filling right (I tend to overfill).  Once you’ve turned it over, successfully or unsuccessfully, setting the table and serving it up is easy.  So far I actually like threading and sleying.  They take longer but there’s no stress involved.  Winding and beaming are easier to face if I don’t have to face them both at the same time.

That said, I only just finished the second scarf on my navy merino scarf warp, but I have been spending a lot of time planning my next project.  First a sample warp, for which I have the thread, but then I get to buy some!

So, I finally placed an order to Vävstuga, something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time.

There is something so neat and potential-filled about sample cards.  When I took them out of the package, these gave me the same feeling as the oil pastel sticks lined up in a box of Cray-Pas when I was a kid.  Unfortunately, when I tried to start using them to compare colors, I realized that they were not very functional.  In tight rows you can’t use the samples as swatches.  Not only to the colors confuse each other through juxtaposition, 3 square centimeters simply isn’t enough color for my eyes to make sense of.  They are okay for matching.  If I can find a piece of clothing or a book jacket with the color that interests me, I can hold it up to the cards and find the nearest color; but since the match isn’t exact, I can’t dependably take that piece of clothing and hold it against another thread sample to see if it goes.

I’m not quite at the point of cutting the cards into strips and making a cardboard window to separate the colors.

Vävstuga’s regular Bockens sample book had been backordered a long time with no guarantee as to when more would arrive, which is why I bought the separate sample cards.  Does anyone know if the proper Bockens sample book gives you more yarn in a more useful configuration?

The other thing in my package:

I had been thinking of buying The Praktisk Vävbok for a long time.  Seeing it advertised over and over again in my 80’s copies of Väv must have pushed me over.  It is a nicely made book, a clean facsimile (all in Swedish) of one published in 1899.  I enjoy the homey assumption that weavers want to use their cloth for everyday home sewing.  The drafts are named to purpose like “Children’s Clothing,” or “Upholstery,” or “English Hand-towel Material.”  Another good thing about the book is that most of the patterns are for 8 shafts, probably because it is an old book which assumes that you are using a counterbalance–there are smaller sections for fewer shafts, but none for more than 8.  This focus is uncommon in Scandinavian weaving books.  Usually more space is given over to either 4-shaft patterns or 10-and-upwards.

Which brings me to my problem.  Most of the patterns are traditional 8-shaft plain and fancy twills.  I already have the same or similar patterns scattered through my other Scandinavian weaving books or in Edward Worst.  They are are all very Swedish looking–small all-over patterns familiar from old table linens.  It’s nice seeing them in one place, laid out compactly with a spot black-and-white photograph of the cloth right next to the draft, but for a reference book I would really want something more exhaustive with better photos, like Helene Bress’ The Weaving Book, which I have been missing ever since I left it behind at the public library where we used to live (and which I probably shouldn’t even mention here, for fear of driving the price up even further!).

Still, I like the fact that The Praktisk Vävbook features the 8-shaft versions of these twills.  It’s not too big, pleasant to hold, and it has the further advantage of not making my nose stuff up and my my throat and eyes itch.  I got most of my old Scandinavian weaving books as a lot on ebay, from a weaver’s estate.  They had been sitting in a shed or something for a long time and grown musty.  Which is bad enough.  But the real problem was that the over-zealous ebay dealer though it would be a good idea to mask the mustiness by putting them in a sealed container with a chemical air freshener for several days (I know this because I asked her).  I aired them in the sun repeatedly, but the reek is tenacious.

And now a little cord update:  I looked into the smaller size of Texsolv tie-up cord Susan told me about after the Texsolv post, but according to the nice people at Woolhouse Tools, the smaller cord is a really, really small gauge, and not strong enough for lamm or treadle tie-up.  The buttonholes have the same 12 mm spacing as the regular cord, which won’t help with fine adjustments.  The Woolhouse people suggested I loop the cord back through itself to adjust in smaller increments.  I know what they’re talking about, but I don’t think it can help with a Bergman loom because of the way the cords go to cup hooks rather than through holes in the lamms.  I will fiddle with the cords and the pegs some more when I do my next tie-up.  There may be some configuration of Texsolv and peg I haven’t thought of.

This would be a lot easier with a trained monkey.  Smaller fingers.  Fits under the loom.


14 Responses to “Yarn Samples and a Book”

  1. Cally Says:

    Small fingers, fits under the loom – whatever happened to good old child labour, eh?

  2. Holly Says:

    I wanna self-warping loom (and the self part isn’t me!).

  3. I too usually make my next warp while I am still weaving on the current warp. It’s really nice to have something ready in the wings. And no naked loom! I also love all those swatches of yarn. I have yarn swatches from Halcyon Yarns and those are easier to deal with–more separation between them and long enough so I can juxtapose them a bit. But I love the yarns you are looking at. I have not used them, but would like to someday.

  4. Suzan Says:

    Sample cards make me really happy – and hopeful – somehow. Very much like that new box of Crayola at the beginning of the school year. I’d like to see the scarf you’ve finished.

  5. Louisa Says:

    You will be happy that I heard a rumour saying Helene Bress’s book might be coming back into print! Only a rumour though since I can’t find out any more details. Sorry, I’m not giving up my copy. LOL!!

  6. Somehow, I have six looms, plus a seventh on loan. (This is after 3 months of weaving…) The loaner is already warped, and I’ve been dreaming of warps for some of the others. More. Loons. That’s the solution for always having something available to weave!

  7. I meant “More. Looms.”

  8. trapunto Says:

    Show us! Show us!

  9. Jane Says:

    Heya Trapunto! Long time no read. Am still not at my loom — have been at my computer working on my Polish family database, and it’s just too much fun being immersed in the handwriting of the priests in the 1600s.

    Also — just had to get out our latest guild newsletter edition. Am now ready to weave!

    Hey — give Tracy Kaester a call at Lone Star Loom Room. She carries all the Bockens and is a real sweetie, and especially knowledgeable.


    Weave on!

  10. Jane Says:

    oops — that would be Kaestner — speedy fingers make for lousy typos. . .

  11. […] like to find a good book of eight shaft patterns.  Visit her with your recommendations.  Mine would be the Praktisk Vävbok.  The diagrams are so clear, the Swedish text isn’t really a barrier.  I […]

  12. Celeste Says:

    Hey there!
    Just stumbled across your blog – until last month, I was the apprentice at Vavstuga. The Bockens sample books are no better than the cards – and it is a constant source of irritation for me. I know the samples are much too small and it is a pain. But maybe you can take comfort in the fact that that is as good as it gets and you are not missing anything better by not having a sample book (which is actually the very same cards – just more variety of them and in a nice binder). Great choice with the Praktisk Vavbok BTW – just got it myself and LOVE it!

    • Trapunto Says:

      An apprentice weaver at the Vävstuga–how fantastic! Does that mean you are now a journeywoman? I appreciate the information on the sample book. It’s always interesting to get comments on older posts like this one. It makes me wish I still had time and energy left over from house repair debacles to sit down and write a blog post (much less weave!) because of all the fascinating folk who will drop by a weaving blog.

  13. Celeste Says:

    It was amazing being the apprentice – and they are now accepting applications for future apprentices! http://vavstuga.com/apprentice.shtml (just in case anyone feels like applying, lol!)
    I am now doing commission weaving and production weaving. In the summer I will be off to Sätergläntan folk school in Sweden for a year to study weaving more extensively before opening my own Swedish weaving school.

    Hope you can get back to blogging (and weaving!) soon so we have more wonderful posts to read.

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