Things are not always as easy as they seem!
The design for the cushion covers was a simple, basic design and I did not anticipate too many problems weaving it, but in fact it posed some of the same problems as my black and white sampler and the pinwheel design, with the constant changes of colour. For the semi-circular sun I found that I had to constantly change the direction of working each time I introduced another of the diagonal rays.
Then there was the diagonal lines themselves. Warp is vertical, weft is horizontal which makes angles and curves somewhat difficult to achieve. Diagonals are fine if they are more or less at 45 degrees but in this design some of the diagonals are much closer to the vertical. To create the angle, the weaving has to progress in steps. The steeper the diagonal the bigger the steps, the bigger the steps the more obvious they become! With steps of one or two rows they barely show but three or more rows and you begin to notice them. Another problem with bigger steps is that you then have larger vertical slits. These can be prevented by various techniques for interlocking the colour changes, but this again can often be noticeable and spoil the visual line. I opted to leave the slits with a view to sewing them up once the work was finished – also an acceptable technique.
However, as I said, the design was fairly basic and so work progressed quite quickly. Here is one of the completed cushion covers, as you can see the diagonals are a bit wonky here and there:
While I was weaving this project we were having a conservatory/room built on the side of the house. It is a light and airy room with several windows and a conservatory style roof and is quite big, being almost the depth of the house, front to back. It was decided to move the Big Beastie loom down into the new room where it would fit nicely at one end and still leave space for seating at the other end where French Windows open onto the garden. This would also free up our spare bedroom once more for visitors! Unfortunately I do not have a picture of the loom in its new space to share with you at the moment – maybe when I share another project.
We decided to leave the cushion covers on the loom while we moved it once more, again to avoid any problems with fitting the warp. I was surprised how quickly I managed to get it set up and the tension adjusted to my liking this time – practice makes perfect, or so they say.
There was still plenty more warp left to use so when I cut the cushion covers off the loom I pulled down the warp and tied it off on the bottom beam ready for the next project. I confess that for reasons to be revealed at another time I haven’t yet made up the cushions. Also, though I have the cushion pads ready, so far have not found any suitable fabric for the backs. There are not too many fabric shops in my area and I am going to have to look further afield when I can find the time – at least that’s my excuse!
The gallery pictures in Kirsten Glasbrook’s book “Tapestry Weaving” (available from Amazon and all good bookshops) and the picture of her large tapestry loom inspired me to dream up designs of my own for large tapestries, for which I would need a large loom. Without intending to buy one immediately (this was August 2012 and I had only just started weaving) I began a little research into such looms and how much they would cost. In the process I came across a website called The Loom Exchange which deals in second-hand looms and other equipment as well as books, so out of interest I took a look.
I found an advert for a large Glimakra Regina loom for sale not very far from where I live and arranged to go to see it. To cut a long story short, it was immaculate. I paid a deposit and we went home to arrange transportation. My husband offered to pay the rest for my birthday at the end of the month. We went back a few days later with eldest son and van to fetch it home.
The loom was warped up with some six inches or so of weaving on it and I decided that it would be good if we could transport it with the warp in tact so that I had something to practice on, the warp would not be wasted and, most of all I could study it properly before needing to warp it up myself. I must add here that the instruction leaflet with the loom was all in German, a language I do not speak! I tried to find a translation to download from the internet but failed miserably. (Later a friend did a rough translation for me).
We took loads of photos as hubby and son dismantled the loom to make sure we could put it back together properly, brought it home and immediately, while it was fresh in their minds, they reassembled it in a spare bedroom – it filled the room! It measures 73 ins wide by 42 ins deep by 76 ins high. We then realized what a large room it had been in when we saw it, size can be deceptive! As you can see I couldn’t get it all in the photgraph and it soon earned the nickname Big Beastie.
It is a two shaft loom, which means the alternate warps can be moved backwards and forwards for ease of weaving, but I had great difficulty in getting these set up properly and also getting the warp tension correct after reassembling the loom. I spent many hours fiddling with it and doing little bits of weaving practice. It was to be some time before I actually wove anything on it.
The gentleman who sold me the loom was disposing of his late wife’s weaving equipment and he kindly gave me a copy of Nancy Harvey’s book, also called “Tapestry Weaving” and subtitled “A Comprehensive Study Guide”. Nancy Harvey is an American tapestry weaver and this book is an ideal one to move onto after working through Kirsten Glasbrook’s book. The book is available from Amazon but seems to be priced rather highly (at least for the UK market) so maybe I was very lucky to be given it.
In this book Nancy talks you through two sampler projects as well as detailing many other techniques and providing ‘cartoons’ for further projects. I worked both samplers, although I had to slightly redesign the first one to fit my small weaving frame. Here is a picture of the one I didn’t alter. This was woven on a sett of 6 epi (those of you who have read my previous posts will know this means ‘ends per inch’) and again in a variety of knitting yarns from stock. Here it is framed and ready to hang on the wall.