I’m afraid that the posts are likely to be few and far between for the next few weeks. We’re trying to move my defense date up by 2 months so that I can be done before my advisor moves across the country in early June (instead of late August as he originally planned). This means that my thesis must be finished in the next month, and I have a postdoc fellowship application due on April 1 as well. Between that and planning for next quarter’s teaching, there hasn’t been a lot of time for crafting lately. I’m hoping that there will be more balance in this next week, but it’s hard to find these days.

I’ve decided that I have a simple choice: post frequently about how I have no time and nothing is coming off the needles, or post less frequently and tell you something that’s actually interesting. I think I’d want to read the latter, and so that’s also what I’m going to post.

Fortunately, I have at least one project in back-log to post about. I have a few other things to talk about, too, but I have a couple more steps to take before showing them to you. Next week (or sooner), I hope.

The best way to learn to knit is to just sit down and try it, so I assumed that the same goes for weaving. It’s amazing what one simple practice piece can teach you. Branden helped me warp the loom a few weeks ago, and I’ve spent a few hours since then playing with some leftover yarn from the stash to figure out what I am supposed to be doing. Did I mention that weaving goes fast? I can easily make a foot of material in an hour, once the warping is done. Very good for the instant gratification side of crafting.

I started out with a few simple twills, just playing with different orders for moving through my shaft sequence:

The pattern is very satisfying for something so simple, though the edges (selvedge) left something to be desired. So, I focused on making the selvedge a little neater, by working on my tension:

Better, but the increased tension made the fabric pull in a little. You can see how the fabric width varies (by up to an 1 1/8 inches!) here:

I also discovered why you’re supposed to warp a few selvedge threads in basic weave; that way there are no long warp threads carried along the sides of your piece, and it makes a more stable edge. Here, I have “floats” carried along the edge, and so my selvedge is uneven.

I also discovered what they mean by a “stable” fabric: I didn’t beat the individual threads into place firmly enough while weaving, and so this twill pattern is easily disrupted by passing your hand over it. The threads aren’t packed in quite firmly enough, so they can shift around and leave gaps in the material. You can see a tiny bit of the gapping in the bottom of this picture:

(It can be much worse than that, too, but I didn’t take a picture of it.)

I think this is also partly because I didn’t use the right sett for my warp; I didn’t put enough threads per inch of width, and so the warp threads aren’t very good at holding the weaving threads (the weft) in place.

Even if they are too loose, the twills have a great, embossed look:

A (more tightly packed) plain weave texture is more stable, and has much better selvedges, since there are no long floats along the sides:

I ran out of yarn at this point, but I had some warp left over, so I picked up a new skein of yarn and made a “real” piece yesterday afternoon. As I said, there are a couple more things that I want to do with that project, so I will save that post for another day.

Until then, here’s a dose of springtime that’s just popped up this week:

Have you noticed that the sun is also back? I’m so glad it’s (almost) spring!