How to Wind a Pirn: Final End-Delivery Post

Introduction:
I have a lot of tips and information on end-delivery shuttles and 2 ½ pages with illustrations on winding pirns alone. Here is a brief description with out important details.

The shape you are making is a cylinder with a cone-shaped tip. To secure the weft yarn to the pirn at the beginning, start by wrapping the yarn a few times on itself around the flat part of the pirn, not where you will form the base of the cone shape. Do it before putting it on the winder. The yarn won’t “hold” if you start it on the cone-shaped part.

There are two motions going on at once while winding pirns. One motion is the overall movement from the base of the pirn toward its tip. The second movement is a swinging of the yarn, back and forth for a distance of about an inch to an inch and a half.

Your hand will only guide the thread—it should not put tension on it, because that would burn your fingers. To put tension on the thread while winding the pirns, use a tension box of some kind. By running the weft yarn through the tension box over and under the pegs, sufficient tension can be placed on the weft yarn to pack the pirn firm and tight.

Begin winding at the base—where there is a built-in-cone-shape. Wind on some weft to make a small hump, which immediately begins to establish a cone shape. This initial hump should fill only an inch or so on the shaft of the pirn. Even though the base of your pirn is already shaped like a cone, you’ll want to retain this shape and build it up a bit higher right at the beginning.

Remember to swing the yarn back and forth right from the start. At its base, the diameter of your starting cone of yarn should be just a s big as the diameter of the finished filled pirn. This diameter is determined by the size of the shuttle’s cavity.

Continue winding and swinging the yarn as you guide it, maintaining the cone shape. This cone shape advances along the pirn as it is being wound with the base of the cone always the same size. As you swing the yarn, do not swing it over the high part of the cone as it advances, but keep working the cone shape down the pirn toward the tip.

Don’t wind these pirns in sections as the manuals often suggest. Rather, keep gradually progressing toward the tip. It’s like a stack of dunce caps, or highway cones, on their side.

Here is a finished pirn. The completely filled pirn should be quite firm and end in a cone shape about ½” from the tip. It is OK to fill many pirns at one sitting.

How to Add or Subtract Twist from a Yarn: Look at the Top of the Spool End Delivery Post #4

Introduction:
Almost every yarn has twist (among the few that don’t are flat yarns like ribbon, reed, and metallics). Twist is what makes natural fibers hold together as yarn. It’s what makes the plies of thread hug together in a strong yarn. Even man-made fibers benefit from the twist. This post talks about slightly adding or subtracting twist by which end of a spool you take the yarn off of. These situations aren’t common, but may occur with over-twisted, unbalanced, or single ply yarns.

Three major truths about twist to keep in mind:
1. In general, adding twist makes a harder, stronger yarn.
2. In general, subtracting twist makes a softer, more easily abraded yarn.
3. Twist has two directions: S twist and Z twist.

You can add S or Z twist when you unwind yarn from the end of a spool.
When the yarn, as seen from the end of the spool, moves in a counter-clockwise direction as it unwinds from the spool, S twist is added.

By turning the spool end-for-end, the yarn will move in a clockwise direction as it unwinds, adding Z twist to it.

Repeating the principle: which end of the yarn package the yarn comes off from dictates the direction of the twist put into the yarn—because the yarn is coming off the end.

You can add or subtract twist not only by how you wind a pirn, but also by which end of the spool of yarn you take the yarn off of. Now, every time you wind or unwind yarn, you can slightly add twist, subtract it, or have no effect on it.

How you unwind a ball of yarn determines the amount of twist as well as the direction of twist. If the ball rolls around and the yarn comes off the side, you know that no twist is being added.

If the yarn comes out from the center and off the top of a ball a small amount of twist is added or subtracted depending upon which end of the ball is on top as usual.

If you unwind the ball starting at the outside of the ball, the amount of twist being added (or subtracted) increases as the circumference of the ball gets smaller and smaller. However, if you begin to unwind a ball from the center of the ball where the circumference is small, you’ll be putting in the most twist at the beginning. It will gradually get less and less as the circumference of the inside of the ball gets bigger as it is unwound, because one twist is added for each time the yarn traverses the circumference of the ball, making more twists per inch where the circumference is small—in the center.  If this is a problem (kinks in the yarn) let the balls roll around on the floor as you wind. Then any twist will work itself out before it gets to the winder.

You can always check yourself with a roll of toilet paper so you don’t need to worry if you forget all of this!

How This Weaver Learned to Tell S & Z: End-delivery Shuttle Post #3

Introduction:
For years, I resisted identifying yarns by whether they were S or Z twist. “How could you possibly know whether you’re holding the yarn right-or-wrong-side up, I said to myself. (And I’ve heard others say it, too.) Often, I learn things when I have to teach something and this time it was for collapse weaving with overtwisted yarns. My toilet paper demo was a big help. I can’t remember how I thought it up.

What is S & Z?
Yarns have two directions of twist: S and Z. To see the direction of twist of a yarn, look for diagonal lines.

How to tell the direction.
Hold a length of the yarn taut. Look at it closely. You’ll see that the surface of the yarn spirals (note the diagonal lines). If the diagonal slants the same way as the line forming the middle of the letter S, then we say it has S twist. If it slants the same way as the line forming the middle of the letter Z, then we say it has Z twist.  That is why the twists are named as they are. The seine twine in the photo shows S twist.

You can see how the diagonal lines are formed when you look at the toilet paper demonstration again. Which one shows S twist? Which one is the Z? Read on.

What to look for.
Look for the bars in the two letters: S & Z. See that the bar in the S goes on a diagonal like the back slash on the computer keyboard: \. Also see that the bar in the letter Z goes in the same direction as the forward slash: /.

Does it matter if the yarn is upside down?
Here is a gorgeous black cord I brought back from Bhutan (I think). Note where the tassel is in the photo. I see that the diagonal lines are going in the Z direction here. What will happen when I turn it upside down? See the next photo.

Now the tassel shows that I’ve turned the cord upside down, so-to-speak. It’s still Z twist! No change in direction! No matter which way you turn a yarn or look at it, the twist will always look the same!!

Here’s a quick way to check S & Z that always works. (The way I do it.)
Knowing that most yarns are twisted in the S direction, and that the right hand is the dominant hand for most people, swing your right hand across your body. Start the swing with your hand at your side and swing it towards your left shoulder. That is the same diagonal of S twisted yarn! So, if the yarn in question has the same diagonal as you do when you swing your right hand, it’s an S-twist yarn. Swinging your left hand across your body gives you the diagonal for Z twisted yarns. When I’m in a yarn shop, I don’t actually swing my arm—I just swing my hand across my chest—right for S direction and left hand for the Z direction.

End-Delivery Shuttles: Part Two


Why use end-delivery shuttles?

First, speed: the weft yarn never tangles or jerks, so you can throw the shuttle as hard and as fast as you want, and you don’t have to stop weaving to unsnarl a backlashed bobbin.
Second, the selvedges: they are even, not loopy and not indented from wefts being jerked or snagged.
They are more complicated to make, so they are more expensive than boat shuttles, but can be well worth the investment. Short ones are needed for narrow warps and longer ones for wider ones. (The warp width should be more than the length of the shuttle).

What makes them work?
First of all, only the weft thread moves—not the pirn (That’s important because it’s the momentum of the revolving bobbin in a boat shuttle that created problems.)
Second, end-delivery shuttles have a tensioning device that regulates the tension on the thread, so the weft can snug itself up to the selvedge thread perfectly on each shot. The weaver never has to touch the selvedges.

What kinds of yarns don’t work?
Wefts that are flat strips such as ribbon or metallics do not work in end-delivery shuttles because the yarn twist as it comes off the pirns. A boat shuttle must be used or the ribbon will twist and twist. (Just like toilet paper if taken off on an end.) Monofilament also will kink (over twist).
Also, really thick wefts, such as rags and heavy rug yarns, can’t pass through the tensioning device.

As the yarn is unwound from an end-delivery pirn, its twist is changed by a small amount, usually about 1/5th of a turn per inch of yarn because the yarn comes off the end of the pirn. With most yarns the extra twist is not noticeable. This twist change occurs when yarn is taken off the end of any yarn package, even cones. However, cones are wound with the intention of being unwound off the top so there usually is no problem. (The toilet paper demonstration again.) See below to know if there is too much twist.

I always like to take yarns off the ends of spools and cones because they can be taken off fast. Taking the yarn off the side must be done slowly or the yarn will overspin and tangle on the spindle holding the spool. Here is the stand I use to hold my spools and cones when warping or winding bobbins or pirns. It’s important that the thread guides for the spool must be exactly over the center if the dowels that hold the spools or cones. It is meant to be used to double up weft threads when you want to weave with more than one thread together as a single weft. With this doubling technique, the multiple threads will stay together and not separate with some making loops while others remain straight as you weave along. More information and how you can make a similar arrangement at home is in my book, Weaving & Drafting Your Own Cloth on page 67.

How can you tell if a yarn twists too much? 
You’ll know if you’re adding too much twist if the weft kinks on itself. Conversely, if your weft becomes untwisted and pulls apart, you’ve taken out too much twist. If the yarn is somewhat overtwisted to begin with, adding even that much twist can make it more difficult to handle because of the kinks. You can always add or remove twist by turning the spool or pirn end for end. More on this coming soon.

A Fairy Tale


Introduction:

I’ve been getting spam on Ahrenslooms.com lately. It’s a website I made with my apprentice, Vera Totos to explain how Ahrens looms work. Jim Ahrens was a mentor and his information is the basis for all my teaching and books. I have several looms, all of which he built. He is the “A” in AVL Looms. There is a little history on the website if interested. My tech guy decided that a new look would be good for the site while he was seeing what to do about the spam. He removed the Forum and Comments since no real person ever used it. In fact, one of the recent spams came from Russia he discovered! While he was fiddling with the site he came across the fairy tale and asked me what on earth was that. I replied it’s a story that explains the tension system on all the Ahrens looms and the AVLs as well. I could never understand how the brake worked so he told me this story and now I understand how the springs and ropes work. Now everyone can understand how the system works with confidence.


Once upon a time long, long ago before there were ratchets for looms, ways to tension the warp were very primitive. One day a weaver found a new way to put tension on the warp beam. He put a sturdy stick, like a peg, vertically in his warp
beam, hooked a rope on it, wound it around and around the beam, and hung a big rock on it. With the weight off the floor, he had full warp tension, and he was very pleased with himself.

Fig 176A_149 A
As he wove along and advanced the warp, the rope wound up on the beam and the rock rose higher and higher off
the ground. Pretty soon he had to stop because the rock was up on the warp beam, and he had to unwind the rope
to let it down. Then he wove along until the rock got too high, stopped to unwind some rope and let it down again. This worked fine and he was very, very pleased with himself.
One time when he was unwinding the rope, he pulled out the peg and the rope slipped off the stick into his hand. He was surprised when he held the end of the rope, that he didn’t have to pull hard on it at all to keep the rope from slipping around the beam. In fact, he could hold the loop in the end of the rope with one finger, and the rope around the beam
didn’t slip. The big rock still hung in place putting full tension on the warp!
He had been winding the rope say, 1/2 dozen times around the beam, so he decided to see if he could wind fewer times.
He found with only 3 turns on the beam there was still not much weight needed on the end of the rope. So he hung asmall rock on the end of the rope and began weaving.

Fig 176B_149 B
As he wove along, the big rock rose and the little rock fell until it hit the floor. Then the most amazing surprise came. When the warp threads were lifted to open the shed, the beam rolled forward slightly, raising the big rock and lowering the small rock to the floor. The little rock touching the floor took the tension off that end of the rope for an instant. As soon as it did, the rope slipped a bit on the beam. As soon as the beam slipped, the big rock put tension back on the rope pulling the small rock up off the floor again. The slippage let the warp move forward a few thousandths of an inch—just enough to compensate for the take-up of the warp for the weft! The big rock was off the floor, obviously, while the small rock dangled just above the floor, where it bounced and dangled on and off the floor as he wove along. Now he didn’t have to get up and unwind the rope to let the big rock down! He could weave along continuously, and the big rock would hold the full warp tension. The little rock would let the warp beam slip a bit with each weft and also would let it slip when he advanced the warp. The two rocks remained in these positions all during his weaving. This pleased him very, very, very much. When the shed closed, our weaver realized that the beam rolled backwards to its starting place. The tension on the warp threads never changed even when the warp threads were lifted to open the sheds, because the weight (the big rock) was always the same. This was perfect for fine silk warp threads that couldn’t stand the stress of stretching with the old locked beam systems. He was enormously pleased with himself! Rocks (with one rock ten times heavier than the other) and the weaver’s invention are still used today!

When Jim Ahrens Began Using the Weight-Counter Weight System


He tried the two weights and noticed the two weights jerked when the rope slipped. Then he got the idea to use a small spring in place of the counterweight The spring let the rope slip slowly so there was no jerk or sudden change, just smooth weaving.

Fig 176C_149 C

He came up with the idea on his own, but never claims to have invented it; her said, “I always found someone else had done the things I worked out on my own.” When he needed to make smaller looms, there wasn’t enough room for the big weight so he substituted a heavy spring for the weight “It was no big advance, there was no place for the weight.” he said. It works the same way as the weight and small spring.

Fig 176D_149 D

The heavy spring puts the tension on the warp; the small spring is the counterweight. When the shed opens, the warp beam rolls forward a bit loosening the tension on the other end of the rope at the small spring. The rope slips a little. The heavy spring takes over again, putting the rope back under tension. when the shed closes the warp beam rolls back to its starting point. The slippage is a few thousandths of an inch and the warp stays under constant tension.

As you crank the warp forward you exert more force on the warp than the force of the heavy spring causing the cord to slip. this allows the beam to turn and the warp to unwind.

Jim preferred using the combination of a heavy weight and the small spring because he can beat harder than with just the two springs. But the double springs are a good enough substitute if you don’t beat too hard.

Pirns and Twist: End Delivery Shuttle No. 1


Here is an illustration of an end-delivery shuttle. I’m having a hard time deciding how to present information about end feed shuttles in short posts. Look for more information coming soon. For now, consider twist which is a big part of knowing about these wonderful shuttles.

Instead of bobbins, pirns are used in the shuttles to hold the weft yarn.
Pirns and Twist: As the yarn is unwound from an end-delivery pirn, its twist is changed by a small amount, because the yarn comes off the end of the pirn. Actually, this twist change occurs when yarn is taken off the end of any pirn, bobbin, spool, or cone. When yarn is taken off the side of a pirn, bobbin, spool, or (not likely), a cone, the twist is unchanged.

I demonstrated this effect to students with a roll of toilet paper. If I pull the paper off the top end of it, everyone could see that the paper comes off twisted. It is easy to see the diagonal lines in the paper to determine the direction of the twist. Then, I turned the roll of toilet paper upside down and pulled off some paper. Of course, it is twisted again, but in the opposite direction from the first example. The last part of the demonstration was to pull the paper off the side of the roll. Voila! No twist!!

You can change the twist by how you put the pirn onto the bobbin winder’s spindle—that is, with the base facing the motor, or away from it. Try both ways and examine which way your winder adds and which way it subtracts twist for a given yarn. Check the twist as you take the yarn off the pirn. Differently wound pirns can create a noticeable difference in the woven cloth. (More about the directions of twist to come.)

I’m So Proud of Myself!


This is the most I’ve ever dyed all by myself! And I love looking at the pieces all together on the shower rod. (Couldn’t bear to take them down this morning to take a shower.) These are the dyes and the linens I chose from my samples; the first time I ever made anything from sampling. I’m thinking of using them for the backgrounds of scrolls.

I love to see the fabrics after they’ve been ironed. I was up until 2:15 last night ironing them all. I just hung each one up after I finished and I like the arrangement a lot.

The black and grey textured ones I just ironed with a hot iron. The black came from putting the cloth in an after bath of iron.

For the smooth ones I used the wrinkle releaser spray I mentioned in a previous post. I am in love with the cloths and colors I got.

Look what my safety pins did! I guess I will have to sew tags on if I need to keep track. The label is cut from a US Mail plastic mailer or a plastic Amazon mailer.

Is wasn’t bad enough that just where the pins were made marks but where other fabrics’ safety pins hit the good fabrics, they left a few marks here and there. I learned a good lesson. Not sure how I’ll deal with the smudges. Maybe add some of my own? Anyhow, I won’t use safety pins again.

Two Quick Tips

Introduction:
For once I’m up to my neck with things to do so it’s a “quick post” this time. I’ve been wanting to post these for a long time.

There’s an easier way to re-sley the reed than unthreading all the threads that need to be moved at once. Instead, before un-threading anything, insert your sley hook into the new reed position for the incorrectly sleyed thread. Hook the thread to be moved behind the reed and draw it and the sley hook through the dent. In effect, you are “de-sleying” and “re-sleying” in one movement. Once I was making a gift and noticed a skipped dent. I thought it wouldn’t show after washed—well it did and I gave it with apologies. Then I fixed the error and it was a piece of cake and kicked myself for not taking care of it in the first place.

 I call this my wobbly peg illustration. I think it speaks for itself.

3 Tannins and 21 Silks, Oh My!

Introduction:
When there are 21 samples for each dye bath, it takes a lot of organization to figure out what is needed and to make small bundles of the 21 different silk fabrics. Then sort which pots to put them in. Afterwards, I found it important to organize the swatches so I would know what I got. The next step is to choose which ones I want to repeat for large pieces and for small ones. I love the colors and seeing them bundled up. They are much nicer to look at than the swatches.

I like these large samples and am thinking they might become a scroll. I safety-pinned them to a piece I wove not too long ago. These are the same tannins as in the previous post but on silks, rather than linen. From top to bottom: Myrobalan, Brugueira, and Quebracho. All were in an iron bath after dyeing. The first one took all the iron out of my iron bath but I didn’t realize it so the other two didn’t get enough to show much but I liked them the way they were so didn’t redo them in another stranger iron bath.

A closer look at the silks dyed with myrobalan with an iron bath after wards. The swatches show out of the original bath and then afterbaths of iron and copper and a folder dyed with onion skins after the tannin and then with iron and copper after baths. What a job to organize all of this. Each line is one dye bath. Some have fewer because some swatches got loose in the dye pots.

Brugueira is the tannin for this selection. Same processes afterwards as above.

Quebracho is the tannin. Same processes.

Here’s what I was working with. 21 different silk fabrics.

Three Tannins: Myrobalan, Bruguiera, and Quebracho

Introduction:
There is a wonderful dye shop in Kyoto that I visit every time I’m in the city. I always brought home dyes and white fabrics for dyeing. These three dyes I’d heard of in a dye class I took at Slow Fiber Studios that was all about tannins in dyeing a summer or two ago with Michel Garcia. But I had no idea more than that. Then last fall “Exploring Tannins for Mordanting and Dyeing” with Catharine Ellis came to Slow Fiber Studios and I knew I needed to take that workshop. We made lovely samples, I took great notes, and Catharine is a wonderful teacher. That was the end of that until now I decided to see about those dyes I brought back from Kyoto since my apartment was in dye mode already with the onion skins from our kitchen. And I had all that fabric I brought home from India. This time I wanted to dye the 9 different linens I got at a shop in Chennai: Linen Club.

Here are the samples of the three tannins as dyes on linen. Boy was dying cellulose a lot more complicated than silk! The Art and Science of Natural Dyes by Catharine Ellis was invaluable. And I’m thrilled with the results. It took 2 hours to scour, 2 hours in the tannin bath, 2 hours in alum mordant bath before the dye bath itself. That was all day Saturday. Each group is from one dye pot with the 9 linen samples. (Sometimes a sample got loose in the pot so there may not be exactly 9 different fabrics.) From the left are the Myrobalan samples, then Bruguiera and Quebracho with alum mordant. The variations are all due to the 9 differences in linen fabrics. That’s what I love to play with.

The book showed lovely grays using an after bath of iron and I love the ones I got. They were in the iron water only a matter of seconds or a minute—I don’t know, I just watched until they got dark. So, these gray fabrics were dyed with the alum mordanted tannins then put into the iron bath which I made long ago.

These fabrics were dyed in yellow onion skins after they were dyed with a tannin and mordanted with alum. Again, from the left it’s Myrobalan, Bruguiera, and Quebracho.

These were dyed in black walnut dye I had from a year ago (the dye that leaked on my fake-wood floor in my kitchen a while ago).

Here’s what the undyed fabrics looked like. (I’ll have to check, one might be silk, but it got the cellulose “business” along with the others.)

Organizing them took some thinking so I could make comparisons and make choices on what dyes/fabrics to repeat. I am determined to use up what I brought home! I stitched them onto file folders and that way I can close the folders and the swatches are safe. I had to get them organized right away before my labels got separated from the swatches. I was up until 2:30 Sunday night, but I had to see what I got! I’m beginning to make plans for a set of scrolls, I think. I’m so excited with the linens!

Mordanting? Do I Need To?

Introduction:
Over a month ago was when I got my first batch of onion skins from Danny, our Chef and I said maybe I’d start “next week”. Now I’ve been at it for 2 ½ weeks. The apartment is more of a mess than ever with fabrics everywhere, dye samples, and bundles of dyes. I was excited with my results until one day when Yoshiko Wada called and said I must use a mordant with onion skins as a dye. We mordanted in dye classes I took, but I’d never done it at home, only choosing dyes that don’t need mordants (which I thought was the case with onion skins). I did have alum but never used it, so I guessed I’d better try it.  A mordant is a metal salt that is used to fix a dye in a fiber. The word comes from the French word mordre, which means “to bite”. Usually it is done before the fiber is dyed, but not always.

Here are two bundles of silks; the stiff ones (undegummed) are on the left and the silky silks on the right. Boy, does silk dye deeply and easily. There were all mordanted in alum. It wasn’t such a bother as I thought.

I put a small batch of unmordanted silk in with the mordanted into my pot of onion skin dye.

This book became my bible. It is so user friendly. It does refer you to another page often, but the organization makes it easy to use. And I took notes for what I needed. I took a class with the author; Catharine Ellis last fall and it was wonderful. I just hadn’t looked into the book until now. I knew that my linens would be the next challenge and really appreciated everything she wrote about dyeing (and mordanting) cellulose fibers as well as silks.

Because I’ve promised myself that I am going to dye the fabrics I brought back from India, I knew I needed samples first to determine which fabrics would do what. It was fun organizing this swatch chart and it took a good bit of time. The 11 degummed silks are in the left 2 columns and the 10 stiff silks (undegummed) in the right two, for a total of 21 different silk fabrics. The unmordanted ones are the left ones in the pairs. Looks like there is very little difference in the colors with the mordanted ones. However, Yoshiko said mordanting made them more color fast. Since mordanting wasn’t so onerous, I guess I can entertain the idea of mordanting a lot more (or not??).

When You Want More Bobbins, Make Quills

Introduction:
A quill is simply a tube. It can be made of paper, cardboard, or wood. First, I’ll tell you how to make a paper quill, and then I’ll explain the important things to know about winding them to reduce backlash and prevent the weft from spilling over the ends and tangling. This post is taken from my book, Weaving & Drafting Your Own Cloth where there is extensive information on shuttles.

I use ordinary binder paper and start by folding it into quarters. The folding lets me cut the paper for 4 quills at once for some small shuttles I have. The length of the quills is important. They should never be so long that they almost fill the shuttle cavity. Make them no more than 2/3 of the length of the cavity, so they will unreel smoothly and not get hung up on the ends of the cavity and jerk the thread. The size of the paper oval at its mid-section is the length the quill will be. Your paper ovals don’t have to be perfectly shaped.

Starting with one of the short ends, begin winding it up on the winder’s spindle, as tight as you can, to start the tube.

Just before the paper is completely wound into a tube, take the end of the weft thread and tuck it into the paper as the last few rounds are made then, continue winding tightly so the yarn holds the quill’s tube shape. For good selvedges and to reduce backlash, the way you shape the weft yarn on the quill is crucial. Read on.

First, don’t make lumps on either end as you may have seen recommended. The lumps cause the quill to spin too fast, and we know sudden changes in speed of the bobbin causes backlash.

Instead, wind the layers flat. Make each layer shorter than the previous one. The first or bottom layer should only extend to within ½” of the ends of the quill to keep the yarn from falling off at the edges.

The final layers will be short and, in the middle, making a cigar or football shape. While winding the layers, crisscross diagonally each successive layer by moving the hand holding the yarn back and forth across the quill. Keep the spirals compact—like a slinky that is very slightly stretched. The secret: wind under very firm tension. Tight quills and bobbins unreel smoothly when they are as full as possible. The criss-crossing helps, too.

Remember never to wind yarn closer to the ends of the quill than ½”. If you do, you can be assured the yarn will slip off the ends and make huge tangles.

How You THROW the Shuttle Effects the Selvedges: Three Rules

Rule 1. Throw the shuttle gently.
Rule 2. Put tension on the weft as you throw the shuttle.
Rule 3. The lighter weight the shuttle is, the better.

Introduction:
Here is more about shuttles and bobbins from Jim Ahrens which can be found in one of my books, Weaving & Drifting Your Own Cloth. As I typed this post from the book, I could hear Jim saying these exact words.

Rule 1. You must throw the shuttle gently so that it is not moving at a good clip when it reaches the other side with the bobbin spinning rapidly. When you use a shuttle with a revolving bobbin, the speed with which you throw the shuttle is very important. Too much speed means the shuttle hits your receiving hand with the bobbin still spinning at a good rate, extra yarn flies off, and you have a mess to untangle. Even if extra yarn doesn’t jump off the bobbin, it may spin back onto the bobbin in the opposite direction—which causes a jerk on the next throw when the bobbin suddenly changes direction back again (backlash). It takes force or energy to get the shuttle and bobbin moving, and they will tend to continue to move and spin (inertia) unless stopped or slowed down in some way.
Too little speed means the shuttle slows to a stop in the middle of the shed. Not an efficient way to weave!
Perfect speed means the shuttle and its bobbin are both slowing to a stop as they exit the shed. To overcome the inertia problem with boat shuttles you must throw the shuttle gently so that it is not moving at a good clip when it reaches the other side with the bobbin spinning rapidly. If you don’t, backlash and overspiinng of the bobbin will occur. Your weaving will be slower than with an end-delivery shuttle, but you can achieve the rhythm you need.

Rule 2. Put tension on the weft thread as you throw the shuttle.
Shuttles that are mostly open on the bottom allow you to stop the bobbin with your finger underneath the shuttle to control the weft tension as you receive the shuttle from the shed. If the shuttle is closed on the bottom, read the next paragraph.

If the shuttle is closed on the bottom, your only choice is to tension the weft by touching the bobbin on the top of the shuttle.

The spindle rod should be thin, to keep down friction. However, sometimes you need to slow the bobbin down and increase friction by putting a fuzzy yarn on the spindle inside the bobbin.

Rule 3. The lighter weight the shuttle is, the better.
The larger and heavier the shuttle is, the more trouble it will give you: the bobbin jerks more to start and unwinds more when stopping. The heavier the shuttle, the more momentum it has. It takes more force to throw it and more force to top it. Use this principle about lightness wisely. If you have a heavy yarn it will naturally take a larger (and heavier) shuttle.
I’ll always remember this rule because when I was a beginning student at Pacific Basin School of Textile Arts, I remember an advanced student was weaving an impressive, large overshot coverlet. Stephanie was weaving that wide warp with the tiniest shuttle I’d ever seen! She said it was the only one that “worked well”. That was because it was so light and she hadn’t been exposed to any of Jim Ahrens’ teaching at that time.

How You CHOOSE Your Bobbins Makes for Good Edges

Introduction:
More of what Jim Ahrens taught and more can be found in two of my books: Weaving for Beginners and Weaving & Drafting Your Own Cloth.

Matching the bobbin to the shuttle is important. The cavity in the shuttle where the spindle is mounted has either squared-off corners or oval, rounded corners. You need to fit the bobbin to the cavity in your shuttle or the thread will jerk or jam as you are weaving when the bobbin hits the corners. Squared-off corners of the cavity are for bobbins with flanges at the ends—similar to those on the ends of spools sewing thread. This photo shows a shuttle with a squared-off cavity and the bobbin suited for it.

In a round-cornered cavity, use bobbins with extensions sticking out from the flanges. This prevents the bobbin from jamming when it hits the rounded corner during weaving. Bobbins with extensions are readily available and can be used in either type of shuttle.

You can put a small bead or a sewing machine bobbin on the spindle at each end of the bobbin if your bobbins don’t have extensions, and your shuttle has rounded corners in the cavity.

How You Wind Bobbins Prevents Tangles and Makes Good Selvedges:  Three Rules

Introduction:
My weaving mentor, Jim Ahrens, taught us a lot about efficient weaving. We called it “production weaving” when we took his first class. After that I was an apprentice for a year and learned a lot more which is what I’ve written in my books (as well as what I learned from my students!). He had a lot to say about shuttles and bobbins. This is the first post on the subject.

Rule 1. Put some tension on the thread as you wind so the bobbin feels firm (but not so much tension that you burn your fingers.) This prevents the outer layer from biting down into lower layers and ruining the whole bobbin making it unusable. Start winding bobbins by winding a turn or two by hand before you begin the main winding. Put the cone of yarn directly below the bobbin on the winder. You could put it in a container such as a kitchen pot or wastebasket to keep it from rolling around.

Rule 2. Wind the weft onto the bobbin back and forth in FLAT LAYERS. This is important and relates to tangles. Some people wind with lumps at the ends of the bobbins but that can be the cause of tangles. That’s because the speed that the bobbin unwinds needs to be consistent—not slow and then fast. When the bobbin is wound in flat layers the speed that it unwinds is even. If there are lumps at the ends of the bobbin those lumps will make the bobbin spin faster at those areas and cause backlash. With backlash extra yarn is unwound creating a snarl on the bobbin.  And then the weft jerks and cuts into the selvedge and you have to stop and deal with the tangle as well. More about backlash is in my book Weaving & Drafting Your Own Cloth and will be in a future post (along with how to throw the shuttle).

Rule 3. Put the bobbin into the cavity of the shuttle with the thread coming off the bottom of the bobbin. Having the thread come off in this way is extremely important so that the weft comes off the bobbin smoothly during weaving.

Wrinkle Releaser: A Miracle

Introduction:
When I visited my sisters in Ohio a year ago, I helped finish a couple of quilts. I did the ironing; none of the precise stuff. At the very end of the process I was given the job of ironing out any hard wrinkles found on the fabrics from when they were originally on the bolt. It was easy with the special spray they had just for that purpose. Now, a year later, I called to find out what that magic spray was.

This is one of my “scrolls”. Linen background with a felted piece I made in a workshop at Slow Fiber Studios.

This is what the linen looked like when I began working on the piece. I knew I could iron it flat if I dampened it thoroughly and ironed and ironed it dry. And then was careful not to wrinkle it while handling it to put on the felt piece.

Remember this lovely gazar silk in a previous post that took days to iron flat? After that post a friend who among other things has a dry cleaner license emailed me. And she said that dry cleaners use a “wrinkle releaser”. That made sense to me when I thought of them preserving wedding gowns after the wedding when the gown would come in terribly wrinkled.

I looked for wrinkle releasers on the web and found there were so many I really was confused. Besides none of them said they worked on silk particularly. I got the brilliant idea of calling my sister and finding out what her magic potion was. This is what she uses—and has for a long time, even ironing her husband’s shirts. It’s a spray starch. It works wonders by making ironing easy and fast. Use a fine spray and test it on the fabric before ironing the whole piece to see how it works. If you get too much on, it will wash out. My sister suggested using it on the wrong side but I found with a fine spray I could work on the right side. You spray and smooth it into the cloth, then iron and quickly it irons flat. It did wonders on that gazar silk—removing all the wrinkles and making it easy to handle without wrinkling it more.

Here’s how smooth and lovely the grey linen became. I bought a gallon of it!

Out of the Dyepot: Silks and a few Linens and Cottons

Introduction:
What was I thinking?? That is how I felt when I opened the big bag with the fabrics I bought in India for dyeing. The silks are gorgeous—each one more luscious than the previous one. But I got “a meter of this, a meter of that, 2 meters of this”. That’s a lot of fabric. But they are so-o-o wonderful.  And I’m deciding that they are more and more wonderful dyed in red or yellow onion skins I got from our kitchen. My first samples were about 2” square because I only have a little bit of red skins. I made much larger pieces in my first yellow onion skin dyepot. I’m not sure what will come next, but I’m thinking about it. I know I don’t want to make something to wear because I have too much already from trips and I don’t sew well enough. Besides, I don’t make anything useful.

Just off the drying rack—how exciting. These are from the second red onion skin batch. And I know they will look much better than this when ironed. You can see that the silks dye easier than the linens. All of these were in the same dye bath.

Here is a bundle of the undegummed silks. I like them undyed, too.

Here are the silk fabrics I have to work with stacked on a chair with a yardstick for scale.

Here are some of the small samples on the drying rack.

These are the “silky” ones—in a previous post I only showed the undegummed ones. I dyed those stiff ones first because I has such a little amount of red skins, I knew I’d get the most color with them. I’m glad there was enough color for the silky ones. Interesting to get a yellow one.

Here are the linens and cottons. They aren’t so dramatic. I think I’ll save them for my black walnut dye. I haven’t done any mordanting. That seems more than I want to get into. I’m too impatient.

Here are the fabrics that came out of the yellow onion skin dye. No mordant.

An Afghan Weaver Revisited: Helen Pope

Introduction:
I was lucky to have three mentors in my weaving/art life: Dominic DiMare, Jim Ahrens, and Helen Pope. You remember her afghan in a previous post. This post is to show how she inspired me and so many others. Besides the afghans, she experimented with many textile techniques. She founded the Special Sample Service which was a popular booth at our weaving conferences. She didn’t want little dinky samples; she wanted them 5” x 7” or so—large enough to really get a feeling for the textile. Attached to each sample were the directions and notes from the weaver. At first, she asked famous weavers to submit; but for years it was she herself who contributed the most and local weavers (including me) contributed as well. Oh yes, the highest price for a sample was $2.50. She was adamant about that.

Helen wove these bookmarks well into her 90’s. She got great pleasure from seeing how many designs she could invent with one threading on the loom. All 7 of these pieces were on the same warp. Here is what she wrote in the notes for ribbons she wove with the same idea on 8 shafts when she was 90: “There is no end to the fun you can have. Weaving has always been something I do for pleasure. It does not have to be practical or a great work of art.” (See how she inspired me?)

She mounted the bookmarks in a plexi frame as an art piece.

Here is a lovely art piece she made. It’s about 12” wide.

This is a piece knitted with linen thread.

Color was important to her, even with the samples she submitted every year.

There are purple and green threads in this piece. She had a good color sense.

This is a joke—a sample for a dish cloth woven with steel wool!

“Pink Drip” Every year she had one of her “drips” at the conferences. And pink was her favorite color. She challenged herself to see what 3-dimensional pieces she could get by folding one piece of cloth.

She avoided having her picture taken for years. She sat for this portrait by Ranghild Lanlet when she knew an article about her would be in Handwoven Magazine. Orchids were a passion. There always were some blooming in her house. Her family gave her orchids away at her memorial and I still have mine after 20 years. It blooms just after Christmas.

A Good Reason to Warp Front-to-Back: An Afghan Woven by Helen Pope

Introduction:
One of my mentors, Helen Pope, wove gorgeous afghans while warping “front-to-back”. My students know that I prefer the other way, “back-to-front” but in this case, she is using the better technique. I realized that I would never have thought of designing such a project with my back-to-front mentality. It would be nearly impossible to wind the warp with all the yarn changes going back-to-front. Her afghans proved that even something that isn’t very efficient, can be done and can be lovely—and the effect is worth the effort. (Read at the end for the pattern for knitting her fringes.)

Helen made two very different afghans on each warp and gave them to family members and special friends for over thirty years. (She made mine to go with my sofa at the time.) She had one loom devoted to them. Mohair was always in the warp (and weft, I think.) and she brushed one side to raise the nap.

The weave structure was double weave in three blocks so threading was complicated.

Helen carefully chose and dyed her textured yarns. She often combined more than one thread to make up a warp yarn.

There were many warp threads per dent. She tied each new warp onto the end of old ones so she never had to thread the heddles again.

I saw her beam on a warp one day—there must have been 6 or 8 warp chains! It was a tedious business untangling the yarns while beaming—but was worth the work. Threads in each dye bath were in separate chains. She had baby bathtubs as dye pots.

Helen was very particular about her fringes. In this afghan, she kept the warp threads from each layer separate. Often the fringe color was so changed by the wefts she used that the fringe no longer worked with the woven part. In those cases, she knitted the fringes in appropriate colors and sewed them on to hide the original threads.

From Mary Thomas’s Knitting Book:
“Knitted Fringe: Any yarn can be used. This can be used doubled, trebled, or quadrupled, according to the yarn used and the weight of fringe desired. A cotton fringe is better quadrupled, which necessitates the simultaneous use of four balls of cotton, the four stands being held together and knitted as one.

“Cast -on a number of stitches divisible by three. (Helen cast-on 9 stitches for a 5” fringe with 1” braid. I think her notes on the page meant that she knitted 2 1/6 yards for 5” fringe with 1” braid.)

“With 6 stitches on the needle, cast-off three only, and finish. Unravel the remaining three stitches, unravelling the entire length of the knitted strip, until one side presents a fringe of even loops, while the opposite side has the appearance of a knitted braid. This is then attached to the fabric with an overcast stitch. To straighten the fringe, dampen it, and allow it to hang straight, and dry.” From Mary Thomas’s Knitting Book, page 128. 1938. Printed in Great Britain for Hoddder and Stoughton Limited, St. Paul’s House, Warwick Lane, London, E.C.4 by Cox & Wyman Ltd., London, Reading and Fakenbam.

Red Onion Skin Dye: Post #690 (My post # 1 was published on November 19, 2010)

Introduction:
Today I got up excited to face the day! I am going to send out some photos of my recent scrolls to friends, make more red onion skin dye, check the scales (-8#!) and it’s a POST DAY! I am loving reaching out and hearing back.

How could this not bring joy: peonies, coffee ready, and more red onion skins to dye!

This is what got me so excited yesterday. These are the first samples in red onion skin dye! All of the fabrics are silks that I got in India. They are all stiff like organza. That means they are not silky because they are undegummed (the sericin hasn’t been removed). I have noticed that this type of silk dyes way stronger than the silky kind so that’s what I especially looked for in the large shop in Chennai. I got 10 different types of the raw silk (undegummed)!

I love the range I got. Since so far, I only have a small amount of red skins my samples are small—about 1 ½” on a side and only silks. Ida Grae in her book Nature’s Colors, wrote: “Depth of color depends upon a large concentration of onion skins in proportion to a small amount of textile”. I’m taking that to heart. I saved the dye and hope to get more out of it. Our chef has brought me the onion skins and I’m now begging for more red ones. I’ve got a lot of the yellow ones.

I love the moire in the sheer fabrics.

One more arrangement while playing around. I am so happy!

Kaketsugi Mending Revisited: More Information

Introduction:
An hour or two after I put up the last post on mending, I got a phone call from New York. My friend Alice is a retired textile conservator. We were good friends when I lived in the West Village, and I would often hear stories of her anguish over a project she was working on. So I know she’s a perfectionist. She had strong objections. We had several long conversations about particulars I missed.  All I knew was what I’d seen in the YouTube video, “The Magic of Kaketsugi Renovation”. Here is the Video:

Both my previous post and this one refer to this video.  Look at the video to see the technique of kaketsugi closely and what is done on the wrong side. I am only showing what takes place on the face of the fabric.

This post is about Alice’s comments and advice. She made a point of saying how important it is that ideally, the repair cloth be from the same fabric that is being mended. The threads need to match thread-for-thread. She sometimes had to take small bits of threads from a hem or seam in her work. When none were available, she sometimes dyed threads. Good light is essential and magnification. Alice has several pairs of prescription glasses for her work. Other than regular and tapestry needles, one might use a tiny latch hook, or some other tiny hook. Her comments about thread loops were that the thread loop needs to be fairly long, smooth, strong, and fine enough to go through the cloth.

I found many techniques for mending on YouTube. This post is about one method of mending using a patch. A patch shows on the wrong side and needs to be in a situation where there is enough cloth to sacrifice for the patch itself. It can be for larger mends. Re-weaving is often used for small holes. Threads are actually woven in, and the mend doesn’t show on the wrong side. Remember, the end use of the fabric will be a consideration. For example, whether a shawl, or a tablecloth that will be laundered, or an elbow in a sleeve that is being repaired. In other words, consider each individual circumstance when choosing the best method. Here is the video that clearly shows re-weaving:


This photo is of my own practice patch showing the small amount done on the left when I first posted. Notice that the threads in the patch were distorted. That happened when I pulled the repair threads through the cloth too hard. On the right side of the patch you see what I did in an entire Sunday afternoon after my first talk with Alice. And I still didn’t have the technique right.

She pointed out that in the video, when the needle was wiggled, the needle never came to the surface of the cloth. This was a significant observation.  Only fibers on the back of the cloth were caught with the sharp needle. (I had used a blunt tapestry needle.) And, the needle always came out of the cloth at about at the same distance from the patch. Look at the narrow side of my patch to see this. Also, this time my needle went down to the wrong side exactly at the edge of the patch. This looks like a clear improvement from my two previous attempts where I tried to weave the needle in and out of the cloth itself.

There needs to be some slack in the repair thread so it can travel its path. In this photo the thread loop is near the tip of the repair thread.  If the repair thread slips out when pulled into the fabric, then make the loop closer to the patch. Also, notice that your thumb will need to add some tension as you pull the thread loop along its path into the cloth to keep the repair thread from slipping out of its “lasso”. How much slack and how much tension depends on any given situation. It will need a bit of a tug to get the repair thread pulled through the cloth. Check each time that the repair thread came out of the cloth and didn’t slip out of the loop. I checked the video again and I had done just exactly what the video said to do without allowing any slack! Alice explained that each fabric is different and either way would be best for a certain fabric or situation. Again, practice first to see what works for each repair job.

In this photo, the tails of the thread loop go into the cloth first and the loop with the repair thread behind.  (In the video and my previous post, the loop of the thread loop went into the cloth first. And the tails of the loop thread came out last.) The method in the photo here is perhaps a gentler method for delicate fabrics, that is, the tails of the loop thread exit the cloth first, with the loop last. It’s a matter of when the thread loop “lassos” (encircles) the repair thread. You must practice a bit on each project to see which of these techniques works better.

Which way is better— the tails coming out of the cloth first or the loop? With the tails coming out of the fabric before the loop, there are only 4 threads to be pulled through the cloth: 2 from the loop thread plus 2 from the repair thread. With a fine or delicate fabric this might be the better way. (And with your own practice, you might find the other way works better.)  Compare with the next photo.

This photo shows the thread loop exiting the fabric before the tails. Notice that 6 threads must go through the fabric: 4 for the loop thread plus 2 for the repair thread.  For hours I practiced: tails first, loop first until I could see and feel the difference. For the technique in this photo (loop first), it took more of a tug to pull the thread loop and repair thread through the cloth because what had to go through the cloth was thicker.

The reason to use the thread loop is that the repair threads are usually too short to thread through the eye of a needle the normal way. In many mending situations the mending threads can be quite short.

Threading Without Mistakes: Three Tricks to Try

Introduction:
Jim Ahrens is the “A” in AVL Looms. He taught production weaving at Pacific Basin Textiles in Berkeley when I had finished a year there learning to weave. We were shocked by the things he taught us and they are the bones of all my books. I apprenticed with him and two others for a year at the new production studio there. Early on, once I offered to thread a loom and he said, “You don’t make mistakes do you?”  (I thought everyone made mistakes.) Then he proceeded to teach some of his tricks for threading without mistakes. He liked to thread his looms at 125 epi, etc. He got comfortable, turned on the radio, and happily went to work. After being comfortable, here are his three tricks. You can try them or not, they are not required for threading.

Here is how he arranged the lease sticks for threading so it was easy to see the cross that keeps the threads in order. This was new to us students. But it’s how I taught my students and use myself. 125 epi is nothing to me—it’s easy to see the cross and you just go along.

Trick #1: Put some tension on the warp threads so they are taut when they are in the lease sticks making it easier to see which is the next thread. I use a wrench that lives in my apron pocket at all times. Anything of similar weight would work. My wrench weighs 3 ½ ounces. I almost never use it for any other purpose, but I did need it to escape a locked bathroom stall, once, at a workshop where I was teaching.
Put a loop of string on the weight and add a rubber band onto the loop with a lark’s head knot. Then, separate a bundle of cut warp threads about the thickness of a medium-sized carrot and with another lark’s head, tie the rubber band onto the bundle near the end of the warp. The weight hangs straight down from the lease sticks, behind the shafts. When you select a strand to thread next, you pull It out of the weighted bundle.

Trick #2: Get out the next 4 heddles, place them in the order to be threaded, and reach through the shafts with your hand curved like a claw. Grasp the 4 threads needed between your fingers as shown, and then, inserting your hook into the heddles one-by-one, hook the correct thread and pull it through. I think it helps me thread accurately when I use this technique. First, I concentrate on the heddles and get them out. Then, I concentrate on the cross and put the threads between my fingers. Then, I concentrate just on putting the threads through the heddle eyes.

Trick #3: Watch for consistencies (and inconsistencies). For example, you might notice that when you thread the heddles on shaft four, the warp thread is always on the top of the lower lease stick. If that suddenly isn’t the case, look to see if you made a mistake—either in selecting the correct warp thread or the correct heddle.  In the illustration here, the threads on shaft 4 are always over the top lease stick.

Jim always recommended using straight threading hooks.

Using a Kitestick Instead of a Chain

Introduction:
Generally, the chain keeps most warp threads organized enough so that they don’t tangle. However, some yarns (for example, linen) can be quite “jumpy” or springy and tangle easily as can a large number of fine, silky threads. I recommend winding the warp on a kitestick instead of making it into a chain so that the threads are always on tension and thus, can’t tangle. In case of a large warp made in sections, you would have each section on its own kitestick rather than in several chains.

I’ve used the illustrations and text from my book, Weaving for Beginnerss. The trick is to hold the stick with your left hand, in the middle, where the warps are accumulating.  See Fig. 85. Your left hand should rotate the stick so you can easily wind above and below the lark’s head knot with your right hand. (Fig. 89) The motions are a lot like using a nitty noddy to make a skein.

The warp will be wound on a stick in the same way a kitestick is wound. Use a stick approximately 1 ½” X ½” X 12” or longer. This is not a precise measurement. In a pinch, a ruler or a yard stick will do. It isn’t necessary to wind the stick precisely. The instructions look harder to follow than they really are. Winding on the stick is a lot like using a niddy noddy to wind a skein. Follow the instructions any way you can at first, and master the technique another time. What is important is that the warp is wound up onto a stick so the threads can’t tangle.

Getting started. With the loop at the end of the warp, form a lark’s head knot over the tick. Be sure to include the loops of the first and last warp threads when you begin to form the lark’s head knot. Look carefully where my forefinger and thumb are in Figure 82 To form the lark’s head knot, reach with your finger and thumb through the loop and grasp a portion of the warp coming from the warping board. Make a new loop out of the warp itself by pulling some of the warp through the loop and put the newly formed loop onto the stick. Pull up as big a loop as you need to go on the stick. It’s a little like crocheting. Immediately pull the warp against the lark’s head knot to make it firm.

Begin to wind the kitestick with the warp going off to the left, and the loop of the knot behind the warps as in Figure 84. If the loop of the knot is in front of the warps, turn the stick so that it’s away from you and behind the warps. You’ll be slowly and firmly winding the warp in the direction that tightens the lark’s head knot against the stick. This ensures that the warp won’t come loose on the stick.

Take the warp with your right hand around behind the stick, as in Figure 85.

Then, take the yarn below the knot, and bring it up diagonally in front of the stick. See Figure 86.

Now, take the warp to the front, diagonally downward, toward the bottom of the knot, making the other half of an X. See Figure 87.

With your left hand, rotate the stick a quarter turn to the left, to the next facet of the stick. This direction keeps the warps tight. You’ll be turning your left hand until the palm faces you, as in Figure 88. Remember the trick: Hold the stick in the middle, where the warps are accumulating.

Make and X on the new facet of the stick as in Figures 88 and 89.

After you have completed the X on that facet of the stick, take the warp behind the stick in preparation for turning the stick a quarter turn and beginning a new X on the third facet of the stick. See Figure 90.

Continue this process (Figures 85-90) of making an X on a facet of the stick, turning the stick a quarter turn to the next fact, making an X, and so on. When the entire warp is wound, you can just lay the end of the warp on to of the bundle on the stick or tie it to the bundle if that seems more secure.

Two Crosses?? Speed up your warping process – For those who warp the loom back-to-front

Introduction:
Many of my weaving friends never learned to make 2 crosses on the warping board. Instead, I think that they stopped to make ties and tied off each and every group of threads for the raddle. I taught my beginners to make a cross with groups of threads for the raddle as well as the familiar thread-by-thread cross I think every weaver makes to keep the warp threads in order. It’s easy to do without stopping while winding the warp on the pegs. At one end of the warp you make the thread-by thread cross and at the other end you make a second cross with groups of threads on each side of the pegs. Then loading the raddle is quick and easy and accurate as well. The illustrations are from my book, Weaving for Beginners. And there is more text, of course in the book, as well as many more illustrations of the warping process. Note that there is a comprehensive chapter on warping front-to-back in the book as well. But this post is for the “back-to-fronters” because a raddle is used.

Here is what the cross for the raddle will look like on the pegs on the warping board (or warping reel). The number of threads in each group depends upon the sett (epi) and the size of the spaces in the raddle. For example if the sett is 20 epi and the spaces in the raddle are ½” , then there should be 10 threads in each group.

Here is how it might look like on a warping board. Notice that there are 4 pegs allotted to each cross: the regular thread-by-thread cross and the raddle cross. Then, the true cross is on it’s own 2 pegs and not involved with the ends of the warp or a peg where the warp configuration changes direction.

It’s interesting that a false cross develops beside the raddle cross. It is NOT a cross and disappears later so you cannot use it at all. I told my students happens naturally when groups of threads are put into a cross. In the illustration you can see the false cross between pegs 5 and 6 and that it looks similar to the real cross, except the X is encircled with threads.

I always taught my students to color code the ties for the crosses. This is shown in the illustration for the thread-by-thread cross. Notice that the end peg is tied on each side of the peg just like on the pegs holding the cross. When I checked their work, I always counted the ties at each cross: “1,2,3,4,5,6.” Color coding makes it easy to avoid twists in the warp when putting the lease sticks in. Tying on each side of the pegs makes it very easy to open the warp where the lease sticks go in.  It’s very important to make ties at the end pegs, especially at the raddle cross end.

Here is what the warp would look like when all the ties for the 2 crosses are made. (The extra ties in the illustration represent choke ties.)

Lease sticks are placed in the raddle cross when it is taken off the warping board.

Here’s the set up for loading the raddle easily and efficiently. There is a folded piece of paper on the nails so they don’t snag the warp. Notice the big book on the warp. That is so you can pull against it slightly to make tension on the threads so it is easy to see the groups of threads in the cross. Then you can load the raddle without mistakes.

Notice in the previous photo that the cross on the lease sticks is very close to the stick in the end of the warp. To move the lease sticks you need to move the cross. Here’s how to move the cross: Separate the threads behind the lease stick that is further away from you—since you’ll be moving the cross toward you, away from the raddle. Open a space between the threads as if you were opening the long handles of a pair of hedge clippers: the threads will pivot at the point where they cross. If you gently widen the gap, as if opening the clipper handles wider, you see that the cross moves. Move the cross gently, don’t force it to move. Move it to the position shown in the previous photo.