Well, I've gone and done it. A saori loom has entered the house!
As I mentioned, I fell out of love with weaving. Mainly because all the looms I have had bar one have been a pain, in one way or another. Now you may say a bad workman blames his tools, but I think one size does not fit all. I got fed of making warps; I got fed up of expensive looms not performing and as a result I no longer enjoyed what I was doing. I sold my octado and eventually kept just Ken (see previous post) and one rigid heddle. Now - I do love floor looms, if I am going to weave at all. The rigid heddle loom is great, but has limitations and Ken - well he has needs that was part of the boring bit of weaving. So, a search later and enter the world of Saori. Firstly, let me introduce you to Jennifer:
Basically she is a 2 shaft floor loom. Her maximum weaving width is 60cm and get this - you can buy ready made warps up to 30m long!!
Now I do intend to make my own some time as well, but to be able to getvones already made is perfect. They are available in black, white, cotton, wool and colour combinations. The one you see on the loom, is the original 6m warp, which not only came with the loom, but was already threaded through the shafts and reed! My idea of heaven. I have purchased 2 other ready made warps, one black wool (this one is cotton, but I am a wool girl) and raspberry something or other - basically 6m of raspberry coloured different warps. Lish!
I've had it a week, and nearly finished the first 6 m warp - mostly because it is 38 degree heat outside, and quite frankly there is very little you can do!
With this warp I have been playing. The philosophy with Saori is that there is no such thing as a mistake, only a design creative. Mmmm - I'm liking this, although it is hard to think like this when all your weaving life has been aimed at creating perfection. But Misao Jo, the Japanese lady who created this form of weaving over 40 years ago, wanted weaving to be an art form made using creativity that a machine would be unable to do. You are not taught saori weaving, only the basics of how to do it, then use your own creativity to make cloth.
It is so simple, with a wonderful big shed and lots of lovely little details that show how well thought out the loom is. I am in love! You can get a 4 shaft version, and I may invest in updating Jennifer at some time, but for now, she is perfect just the way she is, and I am happy making cloth again!! And , I have a couple of books on creating clothes with simple designs. This could be where the wheels come off, because I may look awful in them, but for now this is a great deal of fun.
So, weaving is back on the agenda and I'm loving it. I will keep you posted on cloth made, garments made and more adventures in weaving. This doesn't mean spinning has stopped. Far from it. I am beavering away during the evenings making white yarn for dyeing, because next on the creative path is an indigo dye vat. All ingredients are in the house I just need to get on with it. The loom has kind of taken all my spare time after working in the permaculture garden and renovating the house. But I can't wait to do indigo, and as the natural dye garden is starting to develop, I really do need to get back to some dyeing as well. Now where did I put those extra hours in the day I ordered............
I have been asked to give a bit more detail of how I make batts. There are lots of videos on youtube that I think are very helpful, but everyone has their own method, so although I don't do youtube vids, here is a visual break down of how I make a batt.
First of all I get colour inspiration. Sometimes I use a colour app and play around until I have a combination I am happy with. This is the one used this time
Then I go to the colour store (where the fleece is kept) and choose as close to the colours as I can find.
This is what I came up with. They are all merino. (The colours in real life are a bit different - I never cease to be amazed at how different they look when photographed. These were in natural light as well!)
So next job is to weigh equal amounts of my colours. Sometimes I want a dominance of one colour or two over the others, in which case I just do a percentage calculation. With the colours above, it was equal, so I weighed 25g of each. I usually make 2 batts with the same ingredients, with a total weight of 100g.
Then I start making the batt. I lay out a layer of one colour and then a layer of another. In the combo above I chose to put the red and blue together in layers and the green and yellow in layers.
Then I take the next two colours and do the same. Sometimes I stripe them, but this time I layered. The reason I put a couple of layers on, is so that there is a base of wool to hold in the next funky stuff to be added.
Then I add whatever I fancy to make it a bit more interesting. I go to my goodies box. My daughter made this up for me originally. It contains cashmere nepps, sparkles by way of angelina, gold yarn and lurex, silk caps, odd bits of fibre, and my absolute favourite, sari silk fibre.
When using different fibres to add, especially sari silk fibre, the threads are short, so I always layer it between some fleece, so that it catches on properly.
I also add sparkles in a sandwich, as above, but add the silk directly to the big drum. The reason for this is that the silk threads are long and could tangle, so I wind the drum and as I am doing so, pull the silk cap fibres onto the drum. This is difficult to show in a picture, because you can barely see the silk.
And finally, the batt off the drum. As a lot of the interest is sandwiched, it is a bit hard to see what is going on, but if you could see all the colours and sparkles - well, it is lovely, even if I do say so myself.
So there you have it. A batt from first thoughts to finished. I love creating them. And then I adore spinning them.
Happy New Year by the way. May 2016 be an absolute cracker!