Last time I promised there would be an interesting blog to come, well here goes !
You may remember that way back in early summer we had a visit from Ellen Turner and her husband Jan. Ellen and I shared our thoughts on weaving and discovered that we both enjoyed finer yarns and had worked on similar drafts and so we were well matched. Ellen is edt on Ravelry and Ellen on Weavolution. Since she returned home she has been tempting me to join her for some yarn buying and some weaving time together. Nothing unusual in that you might think ! Well, Ellen lives in Denmark so a visit required a bit of planning !
Dates were agreed and flights booked and so a week past Monday Tony dropped me off at Edinburgh airport for the lunchtime weekly flight to Copenhagen. The first excitement came when there was a technical difficulty with the aircraft before it left Copenhagen and some doubt as to whether we would actually make the trip that day. A few of us were presented with the idea of flying to Oslo in Norway, staying overnight there and then flying to Copenhagen the next morning. Seemed like a good alternative so I volunteered ! Didn't realise it would be 1.00am when I got to the hotel in Oslo and that Danish Kroner would be of no use in Norway ! Up again at 5.00am to get the flight to Copenhagen. So I arrived a little travel worn but was warmly welcomed by Ellen and Jan who had been patiently waiting for me.
Poor jan was sent off home on the train and Ellen and I set off on the 200 mile journey to their holiday house in Jutland. About halfway in this journey we had a stop at a yarn store in a place called Kolding BC Garn . I had been tempted by the idea of fine cottons and fine linens and I was not disappointed.
This first picture shows Ellen considering the selection of silks in all thicknesses and colours.
Then there was a whole section with linens in all weights.
After about an hour we had both gathered together a good pile of purchases. I have to admit mine was the biggest and had silk, 2/16 cotton, 2/8 cotton both plain and mercerised and several shades of linen. It looked like this.......
We arrived at the holiday house in late afternoon and Ellen got busy heating us up.....
We spent the evening deciding on a project we could weave together. Ellen had brought all her weaving books including several Scandinavian books. I am very fond of the designs, soft colours and structures to be found in Scandinavia and am particularly drawn to classic Drall patterns with a satin tie up. We settled on one and I didn't discover until we had finished our project that Ellen had already woven this draft into an heirloom quality tablecloth. You can see it here.......Tablecloth
I was pretty tired after my journey and so had an early night to recover.
The next morning we took a walk over the sand dunes behind the holiday house and we were greeted by this view............
That was it, I was quite at home, this was the North Sea and I love it ! So back to the house to make a start and introduce me to Ellen's loom. The studio is a large room upstairs in the house and the loom fills it !! It is a 60" wide Swedish Glimakra Countermarche Loom with 10 shafts so a very serious piece of furniture. I have never woven on a loom of this size before and felt a bit daunted by the prospect !
We needed 880 ends of 2/16 natural cotton for the project, more of that a bit later, but here is Ellen using her large warp winding wheel.
We added the raddle to the back of the loom and wound on the warp. My job was to tension from the front and I found it strange as I couldn't reach through and touch the back beam !
We took it in turns to thread up the repeats in the draft and you would expect that two weavers with a bit of experience could manage that without any errors, but not so ! We had ten ends left over at the end so it took a while to discover where they belonged ! That was when I learnt how to add texsolv heddles when you have made a mistake ! Would you believe that when we added those ten threads we made another mistake in the order we threaded them, yes I suppose you would believe that ! Next up was sleying, now I have said before that sleying is not my favourite part of threading up but I was about to learn a different way of doing it. Ellen placed the reed down flat and showed me how to use my fingers to gather up the four threads for each dent in my fingers and then turn my hand over and pull them through with the hook. I will certainly try this out on my Spring. Sorry about the moving hand in this picture !
So we were now tied up onto the front beam and I was feeling quite pleased I had managed to keep up with what was happening and even make a bit of a contribution ! Things were about to go badly downhill for me in the next part of the process. I think it might have been Thursday afternoon when Ellen said she would be spending the afternoon under her loom ! I didn't really believe her but then I discovered there was a complicated set of upper and lower lamms to be attached to ten harnesses using the texsolv cords and some very 'fiddly looking plastic thingys'. Now on my Spring my lamms stay put so I have never had to think about rising and sinking stuff, it just happens. After several cups of coffee and a lot of time she emerged only to tell me that now we had treadles to tie up !
All I could do to help was to read the tie up out to her from the draft while she did the fiddly plastic thingy bit !! My knitting grew quite a lot that afternoon but so did my respect for this very professional loom and an experienced weaver !
So, after all this we were ready to weave ! The weft was to be a pale green linen, it had three strands but was much the same grist as the 2/16 cotton used for the warp. I have never woven with linen so I had to learn about keeping the bobbin wrapped in a damp cloth until we needed it. Also, I learnt we had to beat the linen very hard to set it in place. No 'give' with linen, where you put it is where it stays so you have to get it right. Now you have a chance of a first glimpse of the design !
This was just the sample to let me get used to the weaving movements. I quite quickly adjusted to the overhead beater and to throwing a strange to me shuttle but the thing I never mastered was the treadling. My Spring treadles are fixed at the front and stay down when pressed, all very easy ! Ellen's treadles were fixed at the back and I found the action so very different. I couldn't keep them still and seemed to be always chasing a moving treadle.We decided I looked OK from the waist up but underneath anything could be happening. The action was so different it really went for my knees and I struggled with the stairs !! The other thing I discovered about myself is that Ellen holds the shuttle underhand and I hold it and catch it overhand !
Anyway, the project grew but there is another side to this story which must be shared ! In the yarn store they had large cones of natural 2/16 cotton on special offer, a very special offer ! It was labelled as being slightly over twisted. we studied it carefully and couldn't see any reason why it shouldn't weave perfectly well. We each bought some and of course the obvious thing to do was to use it for the warp on this joint project. All went well until we had the warp threaded through the heddles and tied in bundles ready for sleying. This picture is scary !
What a mess ! The warp was very elastic, however, once it was tied onto the front beam it didn't look too bad. At the end of the sample we decided that perhaps floating selvedges would be a good idea, maybe help to keep the 'elastic' under control. So we added double floaters using good quality non- elastic cotton ! Bad mistake but we didn't know that !
We happily took it in turns to weave the pattern repeats and completed two 90cm (I had been converted to metric by this time !) table runners in this fabulous pattern. When they came off the loom they didn't look too bad and we thought we had got away with the elastic yarn.
Hand hemming was the next step, not a favourite occupation for either of us........
Next thing was to wet finish them. They were left to soak and off we went for a walk in a very strong wind but lovely to get some fresh air and see the water. Returning about an hour later we washed and rinsed the runners and discovered they were a bit wavy at the edges. Undaunted we wrapped them in towels and put them to dry a bit beside the fire..........
After lunch it was time to have a look ! things were worse, the edges were a bit of a disaster. I thought about my lace knitting and suggested we might pin them out to shape and leave them to dry thinking that once the linen dried it would keep the edges in place. here we are pinning, a new experience for Ellen !
We kept stretching them every half an hour or so and then decided to leave them overnight and see what they looked like in the morning ! That was a bottle of wine evening !!
Well, the pins were slowly removed in the morning and a hot iron applied. We persuaded ourselves that they didn't look too bad and declared the whole thing a success.
On Sunday we drove back to Ellen's home near Copenhagen where I discovered she has a smaller version of the same loom !
On Monday morning Ellen's husband Jan took me on a whistle stop tour of Copenhagen before taking me to the airport. The city has many beautiful buildings and a very impressive Government building. It would be lovely to return and have more time to spend exploring.
Now you may be thinking that is the end of this story but no hang in there, more to come !
I arrived in Edinburgh without having to make a detour which was good. Tony picked me up and we drove home to Lochmaben. I proudly produced my table runner and said it would take its place on the coffee table. Its a bit wavy on the edges I think was the response ! You'd be a bit wavy if you'd been wrapped up in my yarn bag in the hold of the plane was my reply or words to that effect ! How could he, I had just spent a week making this masterpiece !
Anyway, two days later, I get this question, remember Tony is a non-weaver ! "Did you use a different thread to do the edges ?" Of course said I defensively, you often do that for floating selvedges. Well, said he, " that's your problem the edge threads are not elastic". Reluctant to admit that he might have a point, I e-mailed Ellen to see what she thought about it. The next thing I know she has taken out her selvedge threads and guess what the table runner lies flat ! Nothing for it but to do the same here, so, this afternoon I pulled the selvedge threads right out and no more wavy edges. I did concede that he might have been right and had probably been quite helpful ! I guess that's why his nickname is 'the oracle' !!
So at last I can show you the finished article.........
I really had a wonderful week and enjoyed Ellen's company very much and we shared a very special time setting up her beautiful loom and weaving a joint project. I learnt a huge amount from her about many aspects of planning projects, choosing yarns and much much more. I have returned home with a list of ideas for projects and several drafts from the Swedish books and also an interest in double weaving so watch this space !
So, my thanks to Ellen and Jan for a very enjoyable time, I am hoping they might come to Scotland again and spend time with us here. There is no doubt that a real weaving friendship has been confirmed.
Hope you have enjoyed the story. Many thanks for visiting and I will look forward to your comments !