Friday, April 17, 2009

Pretty pressies and Rigid Heddles [Guest Scarf 7]

I said from the beginning that I'd love to post very first scarves on Guest Scarf Fridays and Patsy Morris, bless her heart, took me at my word - Yay! Although I must confess, I'm not sure if this is Patsy's very first scarf or merely the first one she's woven on her new Ashford rigid heddle loom. Judging from her nice even selvages (which she took pains to keep straight, she tells me) this probably isn't her absolutely very first scarf. My selvages didn't look anything like that on my first scarf, at any rate!

A quick note about the following: Patsy and I exchanged emails much like I did with both Chris and Dave but then I also sent her a long list of questions I wrote up to try and squeeze as much info out of my guest scarfers as I can. Inquiring minds want to know, after all! I've woven those questions and her answers into our email conversation - hopefully it doesn't sound too choppy! At the very end are her answers to a few questions that I plan to ask each guest scarfer from here on out. I guess I'll have to go back and ask my former guests the same questions, too!

And now, without further ado, here is Patsy's scarf! (NB: there's a bit more ado after her scarf. I don't like to skimp on ado.)

PM: Here are some pictures of the very first scarf I have woven on my Ashford RH loom. I used variegated green mohair. This scarf was made as a birthday gift for my very dear friend in England. I hope my edges aren't too bumpy because I took great pains to keep them even!

JWD: Wow, that monogram! Such a neat idea! So, what's the scoop on this scarf, then? Whatdja use for warp? How long did you weave it? How'd you finish the ends - did you hemstitch or sew across with the machine?

PM: For the warp I used beige 100% cotton 3/2 ply I think. It is 48" long, 51/2" wide. The ends were finished by machine stitching. I then used my embroidery machine and monogrammed the initials.

JWD: Is that cute little bag made from the same fabric? Is the bag for SB, too? Lucky, lucky SB!

PM: The little bag is woven from copper wool/tencel yarn on a small cricket loom, which is the loom that got me hooked!!!

JWD: How did you come up with the idea for this scarf?

PM: My friend in England likes the color green, I like the mohair yarns, the beige warp went well with the mohair yarn and I have an embroidery machine so put her initials on it.

JWD: Were you happy with the project? Would you weave it again?

PM: Yes I was happy with it, no I like making one of a kind.

JWD: What was your favourite thing about weaving the scarf? About the finished scarf?

PM: How fast it went and I that I was able to embroider her initials on it.

JWD: What do you have on the loom right now, or what's your next planned project?

PM: Right now I have material strips on it in batiks making a bag.

JWD: How long have you been weaving?

PM: Only a few months.

JWD: How or where did you learn to weave?

PM: I taught myself.

JWD: What made you become a weaver?

PM: My Mom had a small lap loom and I saw some really, really awesome things a friend had made and just loved them!

JWD: Do you weave other kinds of things? What's your favourite thing to weave? Why?

PM: I haven't yet, but I want to weave the plastic bags cut into strips, and lots of material strips.

JWD: What's your day job and what impact does it have on your weaving?

PM: I am a longarm quilter working out of my home so I can do whatever. I usually do my weaving in the evening as my quiet time.

JWD: Do you pursue other fibre crafts such as spinning, knitting, crocheting, felting, quilting, etc etc etc?

PM: I am a quilter and longarm quilter. I also knit.

JWD: What a cute little loom... would you recommend the Ashford?

PM: I definitely would recommend the Ashford, I did a lot of research and read every internet pro/cons about it and the Kromski. The problem with the Kromski is the ratchets don't hold, it does fold in half but my Ashford isn't so large that I can't just shove it in the car and go... I love my ashford and I also got the stand for it. It is super simple to warp up using the peg method and it also comes with the largest range of heddles, another reason I chose it. I love it!!!! The wood is unfinished as opposed to the Kromski but I just oiled mine with furniture polish before I put it together. It comes with a great book for warping up and getting you weaving in no time. I have the 16" with two different sizes of heddles.

[These are (some of) the questions I'll be asking each guest scarfer - JWD]

1) Do you have a blog or other website I can link to?

2) What is/are your favourite colours?

Tea dyes/creams/beige

3) What's your favourite fibre to weave with?

So far any yarns and material strips I was given two boxes full of 100% wool yarn so will be using that.

4) What's your favourite dimension (length and width) to weave a scarf?

About 6" wide, length depends on who I'm making if for.

5) What are the dimensions of your favourite scarf? (the one you wear all the time, handwoven or otherwise)

I don't wear one - too warm here!

6) How did you find Scarf A Day?

On the internet.

Did you catch up there when Patsy said she's a long arm quilter? She's not kidding - go check out her blog and you'll see all manner of beautiful quilts. Most in the tans and beiges she loves so much but a couple of other colours pop up now and then. Her really nifty embroidery pops up as well, as do other sewing projects.

I have to take a bit of exception to Patsy's answer about her other crafts, though. Yeah, okay, so she quilts and she knits -- but she also does incredible stuff with... tin foil! And old book pages! And bubble wrap! Seriously, people, go check this stuff out. It's wild, and I'm utterly fascinated. If I had half the gumption I wish I had, I'd be trying all this stuff Right Now. As it is, I just boggle at the cool things she's up to. Wowza.

And now that other ado I was mentioning: Patsy's letter and pics got me thinking about getting a rigid heddle loom myself. I can honestly say I've never been that interested in or tempted by them in the past since they seem like So. Much. Work. but lately I find that several things have changed that make them more appealing. Firstly, I'm really trying to slow down and savour the time spent on things. Well, okay, at least a little bit - slowing down is a relative thing! Secondly, I've been heading out to Fibre Fridays at the library now and then and also to spinning gatherings on the weekends... usually I take my knitting or spinning to these but I'd really like to take weaving, it's just too awkward to lug a floor loom around. Thirdly, I've been working on these scarf kits and I think they'd work really well on a rigid heddle but I'd like to actually try it out for myself before I suggest that to a potential customer. Fourthly, I've been trying to think of a way to weave a scarf on days when my floor looms are occupied and I think Ron might balk at the introduction of yet another floor loom into our already cramped house.

So, ever since I got Patsy's letter, I've been pumping everyone I can think of for more info on rigid heddles and their opinions on the best looms on the market. I've asked on Twitter, I've started a forum on WeaveZine, I've asked on Weaving List and I've asked the Ultimate Authority for input.1 Obviously Patsy loves her Ashford; I've also heard good things about Ashford's Knitter's Loom, Schacht's Cricket, and Kromski's Harp. Just lately I've also heard about Glimakra's Emilia, which intrigues me since my big floor loom is a DIYmakra.

And so now I put my question to you, fair readers: which rigid heddle loom do you think I should get? Here are my criteria:

1) I don't want it to be too wide. Wide enough for scarves and maybe a placemat or runner or something but nothing more than 15" or so.

2) It doesn't need to be very expandable either - if I want to do something fancy, I'll use my floor looms. I do want to be able to use heddles with a variety of dpi, though. Probably 10 dpi to begin with, but maybe as few as 8 or as many as... 12? 15?

3) I want it to be small, light and ultra portable.

4) I want it to be cute. Sounds silly, perhaps, but if it's cute I'll be SO much more inclined to play with it. I like to pet cute things, like my kitties. :) And smooth - I like to pet smooth things, too.

5) I want it to work well, of course. Good tension, of course. Depth of shed in particular - I'd like to be able to use a boat shuttle because, frankly, stick shuttles give me wind.

6) I do not want to break the bank but I'm willing to spend what it takes to get a good loom.

I'd love to hear specifics about what you do or don't like about the rigid heddles you've used and especially how the various looms compare.

Incidentally, if others are having the same inner debate that I am, you might find Syne Mitchell's review of Schacht's Cricket useful, or her audio review of the Ashford Knitter's Loom from WeaveCast Episode 5.

Thanks for your help! And thanks especially to Patsy for sharing her first Ashford scarfa with us all. :)

1. I.e. Mom.


barbara said...

Wow, what a neat scarf woven by Patsy. Love her fabric art pieces also. Rigid Heddle loom would never be my thing, I think would just be to slow and frustrating to weave on, after using floor looms only (IMHO). I love the way Patsy put the initials on the scarf - what a wonderful one-of-a-kind personal gift. Keep up the great work.

Linda G said...

Hi Janet, I wove my scarves on my Schacht Flip rigid heddle (15"), it is a wonderful loom, Syne Mitchell likes them too -- they are very well made out of nice wood, not a bunch of plastic parts, have several heddle sizes, I have the 8 and 12, can be used with 2 heddles at once to weave with thinner yarns, and it's lightweight, portable, folds in half, and is so fun and simple to use. I see Barbara says a RH is slow -- not so, warps very fast with a peg. I can make a 65" scarf, from warping to finishing the fringe in 4 hours. Linda Gettmann

CL said...

Regarding your loom questions - I have a Kromski Harp, a Schacht Flip, an antique RH; my sister has an Ashford Knitters and a Beka.

My personal favorite is the Harp - I have NEVER had a problem with the ratchets holding, though I'm told some early models did have that problem which Kromski was super-fast to fix.

1. The Harp comes in a 16" model; the Flip 15", and I believe the Knitters comes in a 12".
2. You can do fancy or plain weaving with any of them. Heddles usually come in 8, 10, and 12; the less-expensive Ashford heddles fit both the Harps and the Flips. The 10 is what is often shipped with the loom, though with the Flip you can choose.
3. The 24" Harp feels like it is a bit lighter than the 15" Flip, so I imagine in equivalent sizes the Harp would probably be lighter. Both fold with warps on, though I rarely fold them.
4. The Harp is beautiful and well-finished; the Flip is well-finished and not so pretty IMO. The Knitters is cute. I much prefer the design of the Harp shuttles.
5. I get great tension on both. The sheds of the Harp & Flip are the same, or the difference is too small for me to measure.
6. The Harp is less expensive than the Flip or Knitters.

Someday I'm going to sell the Flip so I can replace it with a 16" Harp. The only reason the Flip gets used a little more is because it is a smaller loom, and I tend to do smaller projects. Here is a link to my blog with a comparison I did a couple of years ago between the Harp and the Flip:

There is another blog that has done several comparisons, but I can't remember the site right now.

If at all possible, try them out first - though that can be difficult as not many shops carry a selection of RHs. They are all good looms, so it really comes down to personal preference. Enjoy shopping!

Janet said...

Wow, CL - that's a great comparison post! Thanks so much for sharing. :D

Ellie also sent me email - she actually owns all the looms I'm considering and sent me her comparison of all the types. HUGE thanks for that, too!

I really appreciate everyone weighing in. Keep those comments and reviews coming!

(And Barbara, that's exactly what I've always thought about RH looms, too: so sloooowwww! I can't imagine getting into any kind of weaving zen on a RH but hey, maybe we're wrong. And hey, sometimes slow isn't bad. This would be for play, not for production. Might not do me any harm to be forced to slow down a bit.)

Janet said...

Just wanted to share a tweet I got re: Patsy's pretty pressie:

Lyssistrata @janetdawson Thanks for the link on your blog to your guest's blog - some great quilting stuff there!