Welcome to My Website
Share my passion > Explore, Browse and Learn
My obsession with needle books is here again. This time with more details about what’s inside.
I crocheted this needlebook having copied it from a friend. It had been her mother’s I think, in New Zealand. My first one was a 40th birthday present some 30 or so years ago. The outside is 5/2 pearl cotton. Since it doesn’t touch the needles, cotton is OK to use. The diameter is 3 ¾”.
The inside layers were scraps from a wool overshot project I did in my apprenticeship with Jim Ahrens in the 70’s. Yes, I keep left over pieces for a long time! I always think I’ll make collages or something.
This one is also cotton on the outside. It came from a famous fabric shop in London, Liberty of London. I just liked the fabric so bought a tenth of a meter. I made them as favors for a lunch party for my weaving friends I gave on my 70th birthday. That was also when I moved into my retirement place—10 years ago. I’m so glad I made that decision.
The inside pages are pieces of wool fabric. It measures about 4” square. This I use all the time. The turquoise twill also came from Liberty’s.
These came from Wales. The block weave is a common double weave pattern woven there. It is wool. The striped one is smaller (2 ½” x 3 ½”). It’s handy to hang on the loom, etc.
The insides are simple but functional.
This is a tiny one—only as wide as the needles. I found it in a little chest in a secondhand store.
Here is the back! You can see how much the top faded over years of use.
This was my first 4-H project. Made of wool felt. I’ve never used it. I never knew what it was made for. At 10 (and beyond) I never questioned much about things.
The inside. The measurements are 5 ¼” x 7” or so. I learned about using animal fibers for needles and pins with this project.
This is the 10th anniversary of our blog. My tech guy (he likes to be called my tech dude) made the website and got me started on things I had no idea how to do in 2010. I remember telling him when he first began proposing a website that I wanted to weave and I didn’t want to spend all my time at the computer. Also, whenever I have said no to an idea, I soon come around to say yes! During the pandemic we’ve put up posts on the blog every other night except for 2 nights. I do the photos and text and he makes them look great in the posts. It’s a good working relationship and I’m so lucky to be able to get computer help when I need/want it. Thanks, Bob! The pin cushions were his idea.
This little sewing cabinet I brought back in my suitcase from Okinawa. Of course, I bought it on the first day of our trip and it barely fit diagonally in my suitcase. I was determined and prepared to lug it in a shopping bag all around if I had to. It was in a tiny, dusty antique shop.
This pin cushion I made to fit in the little box with the lid on the top of the sewing cabinet. I knew from my 4-H days in Ohio that only animal fibers should be used for pins and needles. That was to keep the pins from rusting. I had a piece of wool fabric we made in a class for the outside and cut up wool into tiny pieces for the stuffing. It couldn’t be any thicker than would fit into the little box and close the lid. That means that the pins need to go in at angles or they would poke out the bottom.
This one was my inspiration for the one above. I like the fringe showing the warp and weft threads. This one my mother brought back for me from Dearborn, Michigan, from Greenfield Village. It’s been my right-hand pin cushion for a long time. I like the thickness so the pins can go in straight or not. I have a few needles that I put in on one corner. I think the handwoven fabric had a cotton warp and wool wefts. Anyhow, I never had any rusty pins. Bob suggested that it might be a great grandmother-grandchild gift to make for the holidays.
This one I dearly loved when I saw it in a shop in Japan owned by a Sashiko artist. It was $40 so I chose a smaller version but kept my dyes on it anyhow. After I bought a few more things and probably gave her one of my handmade gifts, I asked if I could trade the small one for the big one. She hesitated but said OK. I love thinking of her when I see it. Notice I didn’t say I use it. My pins rusted in it! I know the outside is cotton, but no idea what is inside—not an animal fiber for sure. What I love is that it’s almost hard because it is stuffed so tightly and I like the ball shape. (With a flat bottom, however).
All these sure beat a pin box. However, that’s where my finer pins are only because I haven’t gotten around to making another cushion…yet.
This placemat came from the boutique in Shanghai where I found the square mats in the previous post. This is another way the designer, He Haiyan, used scraps of fabrics. It uses scraps cut into strips for wefts. The weave structure is a variation of rep weave. It alternates with every other weft being thick and the alternate wefts are thin. This is explained in my book Weaving for Beginners, in the Future Assignments chapter. I can imagine lots of projects: mug rugs, floor rug, vests, bags, totes, pot holders perhaps…on and on. The back of the mat is nice, too. I just remembered that I also got a shawl from the shop—that will be for another post.
Here is a close-up of the weave. If you look closely you can see both the thick and the thin wefts. I’ve eaten many meals during the pandemic on this mat—sometimes one side is up and sometimes the other.
This is a placemat I brought back from Japan MANY years ago—on my first trip, I think. That would have been around 1969! Since the pandemic, our meals are brought to our apartments, and I’ve been using this one and enjoying looking at the weave for a while now. Something must have been sitting on it for a long time because one can see how gracefully it has faded over the years.
A closer look at the weave and the subtle little floats.
I bought these 3 pieces at a boutique in Shanghai. (Doesn’t that sound exotic these days!) I treasure them and consider them art pieces. They are around 5 ½” square. The shop sells women’s designer clothes. The owner also makes one-of-a kind and bespoke fashions. She keeps her sewers busy and uses the scraps to reduce waste.
You can see that the stitches are random which I love. The many layers are fringed on the edges which makes wonderful borders.
This one is even thicker than the white one and the fringed borders are really dense. The back is shown in the next photo.
This is the back. There are many layers. Some of the inner pieces seem to be of different dye lots. This starts me thinking about possibilities!
I couldn’t resist the third one while in the shop. These were lying on a table and I nabbed them while everyone else was looking at the clothes (which I thought wouldn’t be for me). While the others were looking at everything, I found a top that I adore. I think I was the only one in our small group who bought clothes.
Here is the back of the sweetest one. The blanket stitches on the edges make good borders. It’s only 2 or 3 layers thick. It feels like a pad but not nearly as thick as the others.
This post may help explain how my needle pillow cloth was woven. These pieces were made on the same warp. I had made a dozen or so pillow fronts and backs (in plain weave or tabby). Then I got creative and played with ideas of what else could be woven on the same warp. This is a scroll I made. I used the fabric I wove on the needle pillow warp for the background. It measures 7 ¾” x 26” including fringe.
I wove some samples and decided to make this for my scroll. The warp was handspun singles from Bouton. I wanted to see if I could use this fragile cotton for a warp. I used a sizing for the first time in my weaving life. The pattern weft is silk and shows up nicely against the matt cotton.
Here is a piece with two samples. The I used silk chenille that I’ve been hording dyed with black walnuts. In one part I used the chenille as the pattern weft. It looks similar to the needle pillows except I used only 1 block. The tabby was black sewing thread, I believe. For the flat sample, I used the reverse: the chenille for the tabby weft and the sewing thread for the pattern weft. Again I only used one of the blocks.
For this sample I used all sewing thread (easier with only one shuttle.) Again I used only one block and the pattern and tabby wefts were sewing thread. I do love to try things.
Notice at the bottom where the warp floats are is where the two-stick heading was.
Sometimes the floating wefts don’t seem to meld together. See how the floats snug up to each other in the needle pillows and in the Chenille sample above? Read below.
This illustration and quote are in The Weaving Book by Helen Bress and is the only place I’ve seen this addressed. “Inadvertently, the tabby does another thing. It makes some pattern threads pair together and separates others. On the draw-down [draft], all pattern threads look equidistant from each other. Actually, within any block, the floats will often look more like this: [see illustration]. With some yarns and setts, this pairing is hardly noticeable. If you don’t like the way the floats are pairing, try changing the order of the tabby shots. …and be consistent when treadling mirror-imaged blocks.”
Here is a needle pillow I made which I use quite often. (I made quite a few to give as gifts when traveling.) The technique can be called Monk’s Belt, Overshot, or Overshot on Opposites. I think the definitive book about all of this is The Weaving Book by Helene Bress. I call it Overshot on Opposites. It’s similar to what we normally think overshot is but the blocks are clear with no half-tones. I was asked for the draft. A weaving draft has 4 parts. This photo represents the drawdown draft. I’ll address each of the separate drafts below. I hope beginners can make needle pillows and learn a little about drafting as well.
Here is a close-up of the weave. The threading draft is next.
Here is the threading draft. The alternate blocks are threaded on shafts 1 & 2 and 3 & 4. How many threads in each block depends upon how many warp threads are in an inch (epi). In my case I think I had 16 ends per inch and the blocks had 4 warps in each block to measure about ¼” wide.
The treadling draft for overshot is always special in that every other weft is plain weave (also called tabby). In between the tabby rows are the pattern rows which have the floats that make up the blocks. To make the floats in the pattern, you have to raise the shafts for the block you don’t want to show. So, when you want the wefts to show where shafts 3 & 4 are threaded, you lift shafts 1 & 2. When you want the floats in the 1 & 2 threaded blocks, you treadle to lift the threads in the 3 & 4 shaft areas.
Treadling drafts only show the pattern wefts and use the words “Use Tabby” to indicate that you treadle tabby rows in between the pattern rows.
For the tie-up draft, this is a great way to tie up the treadles on 4-shaft looms. Once the treadles are arranged this way, you’ll never have to change the tie-up again. For most overshot patterns, the two tabby wefts are: lift 1 & 3 and 2 & 4. See how you can “walk” the treadles to accomplish that by pressing both the 1 & 3 treadles with the left foot and then the right foot treadles the other tabby: 2 & 4? I always like to walk the treadles whenever I weave if it is at all possible for more efficiency and ease.
Look at the treadle tie-up and the finished pillow. Can you see what treadles to press to lift shafts 3 & 4 (for floats in 1 & 2 areas)? And what treadles to lift 1 & 2 to make the weft float over the 3 & 4 areas? Then remember to “Use Tabby” between these pattern rows. A trick to remember which tabby to use is to have the shuttle be on the side of the cloth that your tabby foot will be used next. Weave drafts are explained in my book, Weaving for Beginners in the chapter on weaving a sampler. It is available on my website: peggyosterkamp.com
I inherited this needle case pillow from a weaver who died. I love it and have made many to give away and to have at home with my sewing things. I’m amazed at how often I need a tapestry needle. And having different sizes has come in handy many times.
This beautiful pin cushion was with Ethel’s things when she died. It so represents her aesthetic.
This is my first attempt at making something to hang from my castle. I probably made it when I first got my loom from Jim Ahrens. I’m sure the idea came from him: I must have seen one on his own loom. Mine isn’t pretty but I can jam in pins, scissors, and notes. I should make something better as a gift to myself…sometime.
Jim Ahrens built looms and on his own he had a holder like this. Jim is the “A” part of AVL and was my mentor. What I learned from him is the basis of my books. He was a production weaver, a mechanical engineer, and an inventor. This is on my 12-shaft early AVL dobby loom. I wonder if they still are on the new looms today. I love it.
When I’m weaving I can’t have notes poked into the reed. I have this make-do pincushion-scissors holder that I can pin a note to. It is tied onto the castle and is practically in my face.
When I left this loom at the beginning of the pandemic, I pinned my “Warp-Use” record sheet onto the 2-stick heading. Glad I did because now I want to know how much warp is left because I have a million ideas for it. That record sheet I use for every warp. It works like a check book register. I put in the far right column the balance left after I enter the measurements of what I’m weaving. I have printed up above what the loom allowance is likely to be. Then I’m sure to deduct it so the balance is pretty accurate.
I learned to hemstitch very late in my weaving life and almost always forget to do it when I come to the end of a project and almost certainly when I begin one. Then I ask myself, “Why didn’t you hemstitch the ends?” I remembered for this project at the end of the first piece (a scarf) but at both the beginning AND end of the last piece (for a scroll). I got out my iPhone and put it on the warp as I followed the directions on my Kindle eBook: Hemstitching. It’s available on my website and Amazon. The price is right: $2.95. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have gotten up and looked in my beginner book. The iPhone sits on the warp so much easier than the big book does.
I have a needle case handy on my apron filled with a couple tapestry needles. Also, a latch hook which can come in handy is there, and a very useful pincushion that was a favor at a weaver’s conference years ago.
Here is the tapestry needle doing what it’s supposed to do. I’m hemstitching the end of a piece. At the beginning it’s a little different.
Here is how the tools look in my apron. Someone at a workshop asked what I used the emery board for. My answer was to file my nails.
This is my second apron and criss-crossing in the back is a good idea. Then the weight of apron isn’t on the back of my neck.
Students used to ask for a pattern. Here are the basic dimensions. Complete directions are in the Appendix in my book, Weaving for Beginners.
I mostly used the splice method of repairing my fragile warp threads.
The lease sticks and comb were lifesavers.
I needed lots of weights. Shower curtain hooks really work well. The large washers I got from a man cleaning out his garage. I got a big jarful. The lovely wooden ones my mentor, Jim Ahrens made. A close- up is at the end of the post.
At one point this is was what was hanging off the back of my loom. The outside ones were the selvedges. In the middle were two extra threads that I didn’t need while threading so I kept them taught so they wouldn’t tangle.
At one point I could bring through all that were hanging off the back to in front of the reed. That meant that the knot joining the splice and the regular warp advanced forward enough to anchor out of the way of the reed. I wrapped the threads like a cleat on pins.
These threads were at the end of the warp and I just used the replacement method to repair them. That means I used a new piece of warp and weighted it, not attaching it to the original.
Here is a close-up of Jim’s lovely weights. There might be some wood workers around who would like to make holiday presents. They worked wonderfully well.
There are two ways to make repairs: by replacing the warp thread completely (quicker) or by making a splice (the right way I say in my beginner book). Not sure I agree with that exactly. Locate the end of the broken warp thread that comes from the warp beam. If you can’t find it, use the replacement method. It’s usually easy to find the thread and its exact location in the heddles if you have the lease sticks behind the heddles. The “lease” (cross) is an enormous help in tracing where the thread goes in the heddles and then the reed.
The splice method:
Take a new piece of warp thread (several inches or more longer than necessary). Attach it to the broken end, take it through the heddles and reed. Then wrap it around a pin like a cleat onto the cloth. The break can be anywhere. If it is in front of the reed or in the heddle area, I would take the broken thread to behind the heddles and tie. It can hang up in the reed if it is in front of the heddles. In my Weaving for Beginners I show a more proper way. That is, to tie the new thread to the broken one as far back as possible with a bow. When the bow appears behind the heddles, undo the bow and there should be enough thread to go through the heddles and attach with the cleat to the cloth. USE A WEAVER’S KLNOT because it is a thin knot.
The replacement method:
Measure out a new warp thread a bit longer than the original warp. Attach one end onto the cloth with a pin like a cleat as in the illustration. Take the thread through the reed and heddles, exactly where the broken thread was, and hang it over the back beam with a weight.
Remember the hair comb trick from a previous post!
When you tie on warps, whether you lace on like I did here, or tie on with surgeon’s knots, you can begin weaving right away without rags, toilet paper, and such. See the solution, below.
This way the warp weaves the width it’s supposed to be and doesn’t splay out. Also it’s not lumpy. Sometimes I begin with the 2-stick heading so I can cut off the knots for a smooth roll-up on the cloth beam. Often, I begin the way I did here, just to see how the sett is and what things will look like. That becomes my sample. Then I make the 2-stick heading when I cut off my sample and other pieces as I go along.
Throw 3 wefts without beating. Then beat in all 3 at once. You are really not beating hard—more like gently putting the wefts in place. You will feel a bit of resistance as you beat in these 3 wefts. This is how the warps are spread out from their groups in the bundles. The wefts should now be close to or against the knots on the apron rod. If there are still separations in the warp between the warp bundles, repeat the process by weaving in 3 more wefts and then beating them in all at once. Note in the illustration that the wefts extend out beyond the width of the warp. This prevents the warp threads from narrowing in when 3 wefts are to be beaten at once. I weave these wefts as tabby or close to it if tabby can’t be made with a weave structure.
The apron rod bends.
It’s important that the apron rod stays straight. Slip off excess lashing on the rod as shown. You only want lashing on the apron rod to be as wide as the warp that will be tied on. I’ve seen huge dowels to try to prevent bending. That doesn’t work. It will be easy to slip the lashing onto the rod again for wider warps, so don’t worry about that.
Check the warp tension:
Close your eyes (that’s important; it helps you to concentrate), and use the flat part of your fingers to pat gently across the warp. All the threads should feel the same. If they’re too tight or too loose, they should be re-tensioned.
Don’t agonize. That’s important, too. Unless a bundle of warps feels definitely softer or definitely tighter compared to the others, it is probably just right.
I like to tie on with surgeon’s knots. If you need to adjust bundles, just tug one of the tails of the knot to open or loosen it. There is no need to untie, then retie the knot. To tighten a warp bundle, brace the heels of both hands on the apron rod and pull the tails of the knot to cinch the warps tighter.
Complete the surgeon’s knot:
When you’re satisfied that the tension is even, take the tails of the knots and tie them together to complete the final part of the knot. In other words, each knot will consist of the beginning parts of a surgeon’s knot with the final part of the knot on top of it. See my eBook on knots and of course, Weaving for Beginners for how to tie this and other knots for weavers.
I always recommend having the lease sticks in behind the heddles when weaving. That is because it makes it easy to find where a thread belongs if it breaks. This make repairing go MUCH easier. In cases where the warp threads are fragile or sticky and it’s hard to move them when they are tied together like they usually are, I tie them separately.
Here is a closer view of how I tied the lease sticks separately for my fragile warp threads. Now, they are much easier to move one at a time.
Here are the cones of the yarns I’m using. It’s always interesting to see how differently the yarns look on and off the cones.
A close-up of the plied yarn. It varies widely. You can see how vulnerable it is sometimes. It can either break or simply pull apart. However, I love it so am patient.
The black boucle. Perhaps you see why I love it.
“I have absolutely loved every one of the many workshops I’ve taken with Slow Fibers Studios. Check out the video and you’ll see why. The workshops are deep in many ways: culturally, artistically, and creatively. I’ve taken classes with both Yoshiko Wada (and taken trips with her) and Ana Lisa Hedstrom and they always give a wealth of information as well as the tools to understand how to make things. I find each one has inspired me and Yoshiko has praised me for being “uniquely creative”. Whether you want to make your own creations, become more knowledgeable, or love seeing wonderful textiles, this is the place for you. Yoshiko and Ana Lisa’s depth can’t be surpassed. Yoshiko wrote the big book on shibori—in fact, she re-introduced shibori to the Japanese themselves. Ana Lisa’s fashions sell at Bergdorf’s in New York and are wearable with great pride and pleasure in the Bay Area as well—timeless, unique, stunning. Her creations are truly conversations with cloth. I own two stunning, unique pieces that I wear to the fanciest places as well as on just nice occasions.“
STREAMING SERIES ON ZOOM
10/28, 11/18, 12/9, 1/6
Conversations are streamed talks with esteemed textile artists and artisans, specialists, scholars in the field of textile art including in shibori, natural dyes, sashiko and quilt, weaving, fashion and costumes, delivered through Zoom webinar.
The program will be interactive with Q&A after each presentation/conversation. We welcome participants to forward questions in advance using the online form.
You may sign-up for the full streaming series at a discount or pick and choose episodes to attend. If you miss a specific episode you registered and still wish to see it later, we will send recordings for you to watch, for two weeks after the event date.
Ana Lisa is known for her signature textiles based on contemporary adaptations of shibori. Her textiles are included in the collections of museums such as the Cooper Hewitt, the Museum of Art and Design, the De Young and her work has been exhibited internationally. She has taught and lectured at numerous international Shibori conferences and schools, her awards include two NEA grants, and she is a fellow of the ACC.
Yoshiko I. Wada is an artist, curator, and textile scholar, president of World Shibori Network, founder of SFS, producer of the Natural Dye Workshop series, and co-chair of the 1st – 11th International Shibori Symposia. She is the author of pioneering publications on kasuri and shibori. Today she continues to lead a wide range of workshops, lectures, tours, and symposia internationally, emphasizing sustainability & tradition.
1. A Fast Way to Re-sley errors in the Reed
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.
2. Another Use for the Reed
Often when I leave a weaving session, I want to make a note where to begin. The reed is my favorite place for notes to myself.
I’m finally allowed to go to my studio as of a week or so ago. My friends were talking about a weave structure that looked interesting and they said it was easy to treadle so I wanted to try it. It called for dark and light thread for the warp and weft yarns. I found two cones of yarns I’ve loved and horded for many (I mean many) years. Both wool. A black rather thin loop boucle is for the dark yarn. The light is a two-ply black and white with the white being barely spun and thick and thin so vulnerable to breaking or even pulling apart. I figure they are about the size of 5/2 cotton. The sett is 20 ends per inch (epi).
The widest place in a reed is in the middle as seen in the photo. This keeps fragile threads from abrading where the space is less at the bottom of the reed itself.
To repeat, to give as much space as possible for fragile yarns to pass through the dents, enter your hook in the middle as shown.
It’s ideal to select a reed that allows for 2 ends per dent. Rather than 1 end per dent, this wider spacing allows the threads to pass through with less abrasion from the wires of the reed. Also, these boucle yarns need space to pass by one another in the dents. This is my rule of thumb for ordinary warp yarns, too.
Too check for mistakes, look at the bottom of the reed. It’s easier to see exactly what has been threaded and where at this place in the reed.
Another reason for 2 per dent is that if a knot is in a warp thread, it is likely it can pass through and not get hung up in the reed. In my case, with this plied yarn I’ve found that a knot can’t pass. I can expect repairs. And the thinnest knot is a weaver’s knot which I know well. See my eBook on knots and of course, my book Weaving for Beginners.
This is the lovely lining inside the kimono with the circles. I plan to hang the panels as a group when I take them apart. They will be next to the circle panels of the outer fabric panels.
This is a closer look at the lining silk.
A closer-yet look. If I can hang them perpendicular to the wall, I think they will float in the breeze and look nice.
I bought this in a favorite small shop in Kyoto and have loved it. I wore it once—last Halloween! It’s been hanging out now for a year and I’m ready to do something new to me. It’s done a lot in Japan and I thought of it when I bought it. I’m going to take it apart. The seams are all hand sewn. In Japan, I see fragments of kimonos that have been taken apart for sale. I have bought many over time at flea markets and high end shops. I plan to hang the panels separately. I’m thinking of hanging them close-ish and perpendicular to the wall. I’ll have to see about that.
Here is a closer look at the beautiful ikat job. And an appreciation of the cloth.
This is a section of the back. The center back seam is here as well as the tuck taken where an obi would cover it. The care taken to match everything is amazing.
An even closer look at the fabric. Gorgeous silk threads unevenly spun for the weft. A delight to see from near and far.
I am amazed at the responses to the scam post. And I was surprised to find out how common the stories were. I want to share them so others won’t fall into the trap. Now, with so many people selling things on the web and on Instagram, it’s especially important to pass on these stories. Here are the quotes along with photos of “Shiny”.
Again, this is the original piece before finished.
“This is a typical scam surprise gift order for his wife! The check sent is usually fake, and they want you to send money to other people, too. Be aware!”
I decided to improve the arrangement a bit to make the rows of squares straight after unsuccessfully trying to splay the outside rows out.
“Sounds fishy when he had all these excuses about how to pay.”
After flattening the curled squares with archival double stick tape, the dents where the pins were showed up so I had to put the pins back.
“This is a common scam. They want you to cash a check, send the item, the check bounces. Red flags are that they are 1) in a hurry, 2) it’s a gift, 3) it is secret, 4) they send a :shipper” to package and send overseas and extra money is required to do so. There is also a version where they send you a check to buy gift cards—you buy the cards and the check bounces.”
Pins were replaced. I always did like them.
“Scam—I received one sometime ago. I asked a for answers and never heard anything else.”
“Twice in the last two years I received a similar message from someone who responded to my website to purchase a piece also for a gift for his wife… might be same scammer.”
“I got four letters like that from different men. Didn’t answer any of them.”
This one silk looked nice un-ironed and added another shiny dimension.
“You may want to keep an eye on the account you deposited the check to for the next couple of months, just in case. I got hit once by identity theft and it was awful.”
Here’s a close-up of the wrinkled silk squares.
“I hope he didn’t get your bank account number to do something with later. Also the text9ng thing worries me for security because you never know what they can do with your number…Make yourself a rule as I have which is if someone wants to purchase with a check it has to be certified by a bank and must clear my account before I release or ship merchandise.”
This fabric stayed flat.
“This is becoming very common ploy on many sites. We had it happen when trying to sell a Burberry topcoat. Pretty much the same story, buying it as a surprise for a cousin…The premise smelled stinky so we did not respond after a few communications. We try to sell local as much as possible and check out the buyers as much as we can.”
Here is a piece I thought I sold. I got an email saying that this person wanted to buy a piece of my art to surprise his wife on their anniversary. AND would I accept a check. I emailed back that I proposed this piece, the price plus crating and shipping, and that a bank check or payment by PayPal would be required. I was a bit suspicious, so didn’t want to spend much energy on it.
Meanwhile, I began to get the piece ready: meaning finished. I dyed all the shiny silk fabrics and pinned them to the background for the finished piece, complete with hundreds of pins. He texted back that he needed to send his personal check because his wife dealt with the family finances and he wanted it to be a surprise.
A close-up of the piece I call “Shiny”. Another text said that he was transferring to the Philippines and that a shipper would contact me about sending the work. And he would accept that I required that a check needed to be cashed by the bank.
I realized that squares of on of the fabrics were curling at the corners. Oh, my! I thought that wasn’t too bad but wouldn’t look like the photograph I’d sent. So, I set about flattening each and every one with archival double stick tape. The next text said the check would be coming and that it would include extra money that was to go to the shipper.
All of the pieces were laid so that the grain of the fabric switched 90 degrees to create the checkerboard effect. I also liked that often the silks weren’t ironed flat and added another shine to the fabrics. After awhile I got a text that the check had been delivered by Fed Ex. Soon it came to my door—empty except for a check written for an extra $1,000 written by a bank. I immediately mobile deposited it on my iPhone and a notice came that it would be held for 13 days. When I texted him that news, he said to take it to a teller or ATM because he couldn’t wait because that it would spoil the surprise for his wife. I called my bank and was told something was fishy if it was to be held that long. So he said to go ahead and deposit the check which I did. When the confirmation was emailed to me it said the reason for the hold on the check was: “Paying bank states check may not be paid.” I texted that back to him and have refused to respond to a couple of his further “testing me” texts. THE END.
When to change the shed
When to change the shed is immensely important. Change the shed immediately after the beater has hit the fell of the cloth with the beater still against it. The fell locks in the weft as wide as the warp is in the reed—preventing the narrowing in of the cloth. If the cloth becomes too narrow, the outside warp threads will begin to break.
To change the sheds efficiently, try to tie up the treadles so you can “walk the treadles.” That means you alternate your feet as you make the sheds—left, right, left, right, etc. This will be the case if you chose the configuration in the photo. (To make plain weave (tabby) you will press down both left treadles at once with your left foot. Do the same with your right foot for the next shed.) Visualize how much fun it will be to treadle a twill: 1&2, 2&3, 3&4, 4&1.
If your treadles are in numerical order you can still “walk” them. To lift shafts 1 & 3, first put one foot on the treadle for shaft 1 and then, put your opposite foot on the treadle for shaft 3—you will be using both feet and two treadles, but you’ll be putting your left and right foot on the treadles one at a time. (It is not good for your back to move both feet at once.) For the next shed, put your first foot on the treadle for shaft 2 and then, your opposite foot on the treadle for shaft 4. Now, begin the process again by throwing the shuttle.
Keep track of which shed to use
Enter your shuttle on the side of the warp where your treadle is down for a particular shed. In other words, if your shuttle is on the right, then you’ll know that the shed to open is the one using the right foot. The photo shows an example of this arrangement with the shuttle being on the right side of the warp and the right treadle being pressed.
I have 5 pages of text and illustrations in my book, Weaving & Drafting Your Own Cloth on the Beat. This post is taken mostly from Weaving for Beginners. However, I couldn’t resist including how to beat lightly from the Weaving & Drafting book. There’s, a lot more to it if one is interested. Also, I am talking about weaving fabric here, not rugs and textiles that take a much harder or lighter beat.
Swing the beater with one arm; don’t pull it. Tap the weft into place, do not press it in. All my teachers (me, too) say that “beat” is a misnomer. What you want to do, generally, is to place the weft with the beater, not beat it in.
When to beat
This is especially important. Beat immediately after you’ve thrown the shuttle and adjusted the weft diagonal and snugged it up to the outside warp thread. The shed should still be open when you beat.
Your hands on the beater don’t need to be in the middle of the beater, provided the beater is rigid. In fact, when you are throwing the shuttle, the hand on the beater can change from side to side. However, if the beater on your loom is wobbly or flimsy you’ll need to swing the beater with your hand in the center of it.
The photos show the hand positions on the center of the beater and on the shuttle when beating and when the shuttle enters and exits the shed. (If your beater is not flimsy, your hands can be to the sides of the center—wherever it is comfortable as you reach your hands forward to beat.)
Beat evenly with the same gentle swinging of the beater and with the edge of the cloth (the fell) always about the same distance from the shafts. You can picture it—if the fell is up close to the heddles, you can’t get the same amount of “swing” with the beater as when it is near the breast beam.
Advance the warp often
If you try to weave too close to the breast beam, the wefts might not beat in straight across—they may curve up at the selvedges with unwoven V-shaped areas appearing at the edges.
To keep the fell of the cloth about mid-way between the breast beam and the heddles, you will need to roll the cloth forward often. This is called “advancing the warp.” You need to advance the warp after weaving about every 2”.
Five ways to beat lighter
In order of my preference:
1. Lessen the tension on the warp.
2. Weave with the fell a bit closer to the shafts.
3. Beat on a closed shed.
4. Beat after changing to the new shed, and even so, forget “beat” and think “nudge”.
5. Increase the density of the warp (sett, epi).
The way you weave greatly affects the look of your selvedges as well as the woven cloth itself. The 3 stages are: throw, beat, change the shed. This post is about the first step: throw. Parts two and three will address beat and change the shed.
This is a good way to hold the shuttle for both entering the shed and catching the shuttle.
The shuttle should glide along the shuttle race (ledge on the beater at the base of the reed) of the beater. If your loom doesn’t have this ledge, throw the shuttle close to the reed.
If the warp threads on the bottom of your shed aren’t resting on the shuttle race, check the tension on the warp. If the tension is too high, the warps will float above the shuttle race. If adjusting the warp tension doesn’t put the threads on the shuttle race, adjust the height of the beater, if possible. Many looms have this adjustment on the legs of the beater. Sometimes, people put the beater on the loom backwards so the ledge faces the shafts and isn’t available for weaving. If this is the case, don’t change it now—you can still weave. However, do change it before you sley the reed for your next project. The shuttle race should face the weaver as shown. Remember, too, that some looms do not have a shuttle race.
You want to place the weft in the shed on a diagonal. A diagonal should form naturally from the edge of the woven cloth to the shuttle race. (The edge of the cloth where the last weft was woven is called the fell of the cloth.) Be sure to maintain the diagonal and, keep the shuttle on the shuttle race (or close to the reed). However, there are some special circumstances where you don’t want to place the shuttle on the race.
Snug up the weft against the outside warp thread, (the selvedge thread)—neither pulling that thread in, nor leaving a loop on the outside of it. I like to snug the weft up until it barely moves that outside thread—just grazes it. This is how good-looking selvedges are made.
Don’t touch the selvedges. You can control the weft at the selvedges with your shuttle. As your shuttle comes out of the shed, press the weft thread onto the shuttle or bobbin and pull on the shuttle to snug the weft into place at the selvedge. For boat shuttles, if your shuttle cavity is open on the bottom of the shuttle you can use your ring finger to stop the bobbin to pull on the weft to snug it in place. (See previous photo.) For shuttles that are closed on the bottom, use your thumb on the bobbin as shown here.
Here are the first of 14 scrolls. The final photo shows them all together. It’s my first chance to see them all in a row as I imagined months ago. The fabrics are linen (one silk) and all began as white yardage I bought in India in January.
Here is the next batch, working from the left to right. All of the pieces in the center of one scroll were dyed in the same dye pot. That is, I put a small piece of each white fabric into the dye pot. They came out all a bit different simply because they were different fabrics to begin with. The backgrounds I dyed each separately.
The third batch, working toward 14 pieces total. I used yellow onion skins and black walnuts for dyes plus three tannins I brought home from Japan: Myrobalans, Quebacho, and Brugeriera. Then some I put in an iron bath at the end and a few in a copper bath. All were mordanted with alum.
Dyeing linen was much more of a process than silk, wool, or cotton. The big difference was a two-hour scouring process in the beginning.
The end of the row. The idea of scrolls has been with me for a year or two. And for years, I’ve been buying any white fabrics I could find with the idea that a variety of fabrics will give me a variety of tones and shades when dyed.
Here’s a gallery view. It’s been a long process. All during the pandemic.