I’m Bending the Rules

Here is my current warp on my loom! Just what I taught my students to avoid–unevenly handspun singles yarns that are lumpy and sticky for warp threads. This is silk yarn I brought back from Bhutan–mainly to show the tour group what handspun yarn looked like. I did use plied threads for the 4 selvedge threads on the edges and weighted them separately. I used 5/2 cotton but a plied silk might have been a better idea.

From Linda Heinrich’s linen workshop at Convergence in 1994 and from her book on weaving linen I learned how easy it is to size a warp on the loom. Before now I’ve always been afraid to size anything. Her recipe is 1 tsp flax seed (any kind will do) to 1 cup of water. Simmer 15 minutes and strain. Refigerate and use within 2 weeks or freeze.I brush on the sizing then strum the threads and then open the shed to dry. Don’t apply too much–sort of like dry painting but pat the threads to get the sizing to go through to the bottom of the threads.

This is the yarn on the skein. I’ve shown it before to show the cross  made in the skein. The threads are horribly sticky but with the cross the threads are coming off perfectly. There are plenty of soft-spun lumps and thin areas where it is twisted tighter. I knew from winding the yarn off the skein that the threads were strong–that’s what convinced me to try them for a warp. The stickyness would have prevented the sheds from opening without sizing I realized.

Here is the cloth off the loom and wet finished. I got the cloth really wet in the sink then blotted with a towel. And ironed until dry I love ironing and ironing until dry and I love the sheen I got with the totally mat yarns.

Here is the cloth I just dyed with black walnuts I collected last week. What frun all this is. I can’t wait for the warp to dry and begin weaving again.

13 thoughts on “I’m Bending the Rules”

  1. Peggy – More beautiful work and so different.

    But your loving to iron means you have a kook gene. I can’t stand it but then I am not a rare artist like you are in your field.

    I better learn how to iron and see what happens!


  2. You always try difficult things. I know you like extremely fine yarns. Don’t know how fine these threads are but assume they are skinny.

  3. Thanks again for all your posts. They are fun and chalk full of info. Your teachings have helped me so much as I learn to weave. Your text book and website are invaluable. Thanks you so much Peggy. Cheers and Merry Christmas!

  4. Wonderful to read your story. And I love that you are bending the rules. Usually that means that the results are far more artistic and beautiful, like your sample.
    I am currently spinning flax and making it ready for weaving. 2 ply warp and single weft, even though I would love to do single weft but don’t dare. Your solution to use a paste was something I had not thought of. I may try that. Thank you for posting this.

  5. I love the walnut dyed cloth? thank you for the size recipe I must try it.

    Like you I also like to iron, love the look of the finished product, so rewarding!

  6. Peggy,
    I have a question. So when you sized the warp on the loom, it was the warp section that was stretched or exposed from back beam to the breast beam. Correct? Which means each time you advance the warp you need to apply more sizing, and wait for it to dry.? Or am I missing something? I was wondering if sizing a sticky warp works on synthetic yarns too?

    Thanks so much for your posts they are so incredibly valuable!

    • Dear Lyla,
      Yes I size and let it dry before weaving. The book says you can weave with the wet warp but if you do, weave it all that way. When I sampled weaving with it still wet with the sizing, the wefts didn’t beat in as close.
      Before I put on the sizing, I advance the warp to the front as much as I can and put on the sizing. When I’m ready to weave I roll the warp back into position. That allows me to size the area that will be in the heddles when I start weaving. Then all of the warp that was behind the heddles that was sized can be woven before stopping to size again. The area unsized that was in the heddle area during sizing didn’t seem to be a problem because the majority of the warp got sized.
      The book is writing about linen. I thought the principle would be ok for the sticky silk. I would think it would be a good idea for synthetics, too. Anything that can be washed after weaving to remove the sizing.
      Hope this helps. Thanks for your reply.

      Peggy Osterkamp

  7. I am always amazed at how you manage difficult weaving. I have watched you do extremely fine threads in your warps without any threads breaking. I am in awe of your beautiful mastery.


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