Thursday, April 16, 2009

Scarf FAIL [Scarf 34]

Woooph. Where to begin? At the beginning, I guess.

I started out with pretty high hopes for this scarf. Was going to use my tried and true light green weft which almost always turns out well and which also happens to be in the warp so I knew it would work. No problems there. I also decided to use a 2/8 weft for the first time, like my dear ol' mum suggested a while back,1 which also should have worked. And it was awfully pretty, ifIdosaysomyself, so that wasn't the problem.

The wobbly selvages weren't the problem either, although I admit they do look pretty bad. They are merely a symptom of the problem.

So what was the problem, you ask? When you come right down to it, the problem was me. I am basically lazy at heart, and this leads me into all manner of difficulty when I try to cut corners. ;)

Remember yesterday when I said that those narrow stripes of 2/8 crammed into a single dent in the reed were taking up at a different rate so I was going to have to cut and tie? Well, when I trundled downstairs today to start weaving, I didn't really feel like it. For some reason I thought that perhaps the 2/8 weft wouldn't create the same issues... what's more, I also had a momentary lapse of reason and decided the 2/8 would not only not make the tension worse, it would somehow miraculously fix the uneven tension I already had. And so I decided not to cut and tie but just to carry on and see how things went. This was my first mistake.

It rapidly became apparent that the 2/8 was not effecting any miracle cures for my tension so I was either going to have to take out what I had, start over and waste several inches of warp, or pull a tension fix out of thin air. Being basically lazy and also pretty cheap, I went with option #3. So I pulled out my handy-dandy tension fixer upper and bunged it under the loose threads again. However, since I was feeling particularly lazy today and didn't want to have to keep pushing it back every time I advanced, I pulled it all the way down to the warp beam and hung weights off of it so that it would stay. This essentially turned the whole shebang into a warp weighted loom, with the rod and the weights putting tension on most of the threads and the back beam tensioning those skinny stripes. Or so I thought. This was my second mistake.

What I hadn't considered was that, if the only thing putting tension on my threads was the weights, they had to be Pretty Darn Heavy in order to put more tension on than the loom itself could do. The little water bottles I usually use for heavy weights which work so well on a few ends at a time had no hope of putting enough tension on a full 7" of warp. So I exchanged them for 2L pop bottles instead.2 My third mistake.

Spotted those loose yellow threads, did you? I'll get to those in a moment.

This arrangement worked a treat for several inches... true, the warp was still quite a bit looser than I'd have liked, hence the wobbly selvages, but it was working. Then, the third or fourth time I advanced the warp, disaster struck. I guess I normally just ease enough tension off the brake that I can pull the warp forward to advance but this time I gave the brake release a good ol' stomp and woooooooosh, those 2L bottles went crashing to the floor, taking a fair amount of my warp with them. But not taking those skinny threads, of course, since they weren't weighted. Those skinny threads weren't quite sure what to do with themselves as the warp beam unreeled itself, so they just kinda gathered up, looking a bit lost - rather like sheep waiting for a dog to herd them back into line.

"Huh," thought I. "Well, okay then." And, like a good little sheep dog, I wound the warp back up onto the beam. No harm done... and yet, for some reason, this made those skinny threads waaaay tighter than they had been to begin with. I still haven't quite figured that out... maybe because enough of the warp unreeled itself that the next roll of paper dividing the layers fell out? Maybe when I wound it back up, sans paper, those threads got futzed up somehow. Dunno.

Anyhoo, I eased off the tension on those threads (ugh, loose warp again!) and sat back down and kept weaving... everything seemed to be mostly okay and I figured any unevenness at the fell would probably just work itself out in the wash. Right? Sure. No problem.

And then it happened again. A couple of times. Yargh. By this point I had only two choices: give up, or go out to Tim Horton's with Ron and have a cuppa tea and a comforting chocolate chip muffin. Two guesses which I did.

When we got back, I was all set to just call this a ScarfFAIL day but I figured I at least needed some pictures to go with it, so I went downstairs to take some. And, you know, after a relaxing cup of tea and a nice chat at Tim's, I decided the scarf didn't look that bad, really:

Maybe a little wonky at the selvage, yes, but mostly all right. Good enough that I could wear it anyway, if I just got it done... and so I sat back down to keep weaving. That right there, that was mistake #4.

I managed to get another 12" or so woven, with it wooshing to the floor every time I advanced. I noticed that after each time it did, the tension was just a little bit more lopsided than before. Turns out the rod was sliding back and forth and, as every good physics student knows, the further a weight is from the fulcrum, the more pressure it exerts.3 So I had to shift the rod back and forth each time to try and find the balance point so that the fell was mostly straight. Big pain.

And then this happened:

Yep, that'd be the apple pop sitting on the floor and the lemonade dangling up in the air. Not good.

Nope, not good at all.

This time, no matter how I jiggled and balanced and futzed about, I couldn't get the tension even at the fell:

So there you have it: my first official Scarf FAIL. Maybe I can use the fabric for something else.

And now... now I'm gonna go play some WoW. :P

See you tomorrow with a fun little guest scarf woven by Patsy Morris for a very lucky friend!

1. Somewhere, in a comment I can't seem to locate, Mom suggested setting the warp closely and then using a very fine weft, a la Anita Luvera Mayer. Really, I should have resleyed the warp and beat the weft in less but what can I say? It was a lazy weaving day!

2. Yes, they are still full of pop. Somehow we just have never gotten around to drinking that apple flavoured pop, nor that last bottle of lemonade pop. Who makes apple flavoured pop, anyway? Who BUYS apple flavoured pop?? Apparently we do, but we don't drink it.

3. Geeze oh geeze, I hope that's right. It's been an awfully long time since I was a good physics student. In fact, that's a lesson I remember from... what, third or fourth grade?


Sue said...

Well! You surely did provide some tear-squirting belly laughs, even if you didn't produce a usable scarf. I still think it's pretty. Can you cut it off and finish off the warp with another re-tensioned scarf?

Now -- I'll go wipe my eyes and (ugh!) clean the refrigerator. Company's coming.


barbara said...

It is amazing how weaving can keep us humble .... Janet, I give you credit for trying lots of things to "fix" a warp - even taking a break from it. Oh well, some warps are just not to happen. Some say (not me), that is why you sample when trying different setts, etc. Good luck with the next warp.

Beth said...

I've had more than one failure at the loom. At least you kept on and didn't cut off the scarf half-way through. I agree with Sue about the laughter. How about bottling your humor and selling it??? A Summer bag would be loverly made out of the "failed scarf."

Janet said...

Mom: Yep, that's my plan. Cut and tie, like I should have done in the first place. :)

Barbara: I did try lots of things, but not the one that would have worked! (i.e. cutting and tying in the first place.) And I figure I am sampling - my samples are all about 6" wide and... oh, 70" long? Except, you know, this one....

Beth: You know, that's a great idea. Not just sewing the fabric into a bag but actually marketing that bag as a ScarfFAIL project. ;) People love to read about others' craft bungles - at least I do. Maybe they'd like to buy them too? It's a sort of recycling... failcycling?

I meant to put a link to CraftFAIL, one of my favourite new blogs, in the post but I totally forgot. PostFAIL?

Peg in South Carolina said...

You have made a wonderful story out of an awful experience! I think you may sometime have a book of stories worthy publishing!
I too suffer from laziness. And suffer as well when I give in to it. Which is less and less often (I'm a very slow learner here). But it still does happen. Jeezzzz..

Patrice said...

Oh, this is one of the funniest things I have read in a long time. I'm fairly new at weaving and had one of those projects not too long ago. I had every contraption imaginable tied up behind my loom. I wondered which was stronger in me, stubbornness or laziness. I guess the combo is lethal. While reading this, my family was giving me strange looks as I was ROFL and wiping my eyes! Thanks so much for sharing that. Something I learned...elastic eyelash doesn't work too well in the warp ;0)