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 solution: 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.
“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.“
Conversations with Cloth
A four-part presentation on SHIBORI hosted by Yoshiko Iwamoto Wada with Ana Lisa Hedstrom
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.
Host: Yoshiko Iwamoto Wada
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.
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.
Introduction 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.
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.
Introduction 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.” “Classic scam.”
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.
Introduction 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).
Introduction 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.
Introduction This is the first time in months that I missed a post every other day. When I had the post ready on the regular night, Monday, my tech guy said the photos could be much better. Today, Wednesday, he gave me a good lesson in “post processing” the photos. Here are the much-improved photos.
A big surprise was to see the fog coming in! Hooray for cool, clean air.
The fog coming in begins to hide the City. I got lucky catching the gull, fisherman casting, and people in the shot as well.
The theme of the post is how beautiful it can be when the fog comes in at the Golden Gate Bridge and over the Marin hills. And seeing it through sailboat masts.
Caught sight of a sea lion poking its nose up then diving down again.
Since I think I’ll be locked in for a long time ahead, I’m beginning to think about the white silks I brought back from India. Again, like the linens, I expect the different fabrics to take a variety of shades and tones when they come out of a dye pot together. I have 21 different ones.
The silks look nice bunched together even before dyeing. I think they will look better bunched up somehow, rather than flat like the linen scrolls.
These are the samples I dyed with red onion skins and the 3 tannins I’ve been using. They are on a cloth I wove just before the pandemic. Maybe my scroll project is finished and I need to think of another way to present the silks.
These were dyed with red onion skins. I don’t think I used a mordant. I like the mottled colors I got from bunching up the fabrics in the dye pot and not stirring them much.
Here the colors are more even. I like them, too.
Now I have a good supply of red onion skins and yellow, too. So, maybe I’ll just plunge in—next week??
Here I a photo of all the background fabrics I dyed. This was in a post at the end of June—seems long ago. I loved the results, seeing them lined up, and felt they would look good together.
All the were white when I began about 3 months ago. All (but 1) were linen which is a fabric I love. The second from the lightest end turned out to be silk. The reason I wanted so many different whites is that I knew they would vary slightly when put into a dye pot together. I think the salesmen at Linen Club in Chennai, India were perplexed why I got “a meter of this, 2 meters of that” etc. and when I asked only to see the white ones.
On the scrolls, I made the “art” the dyed fabrics that were in one dye pot together to show the subtle variations.
More of the fabrics in a single dye pot. I only used 2 natural dyes: onion skins and black walnuts to make the 14 scrolls.
Another set of fabrics. I used 3 tannins (quebacho, myrobalans, brugeriera), alum mordant, and iron and copper with the onion skins and black walnuts.
The linen scrolls are finally finished! And all 14 of them will be hung in our gallery space in the common areas in the retirement place where I live. Here are some of them hanging ready to be rolled into a room to be quarantined for a week. I began with white linen fabrics that I brought back from India in February—just before the pandemic hit. Way back in March I began dyeing with onion skins from our kitchen’s chef and black walnut dye I made a year ago.
Here is the rest of the 14 in the collection. I began with 9 different fabrics with the idea they would be subtle variations in color when they came out of the dye pots together. One fabric turned out to be silk so in all the different dye baths it was always the lightest one. Usually silk dyes the best and linen the lightest but I used techniques for dyeing linen and the silk wasn’t happy. The Ellis and Boutrup book came to me just at the right time. It’s hard to believe that everything started out white sometimes.
Here is one of the scrolls. I almost always arranged the pieces in the center from light to the dark. Often I basted the swatches to a backing pad I made out of cotton. Then I attached that to the background fabric. To make the small pieces lie flat I used French knots to tack them down.
Since I have been in lockdown all this time, I could not get to my studio to find matching threads for the French knots and stitching. I used what I had, matching the value of the thread to the fabric. Colors of the same value blended in so well they were barely noticeable—just like the threads had matched. I had a lot of spools of thread of different values to work with.
This knot You Need to Learn. It will save time and frustration.
Introduction: There is a wonderful knot to tie the weights to the threads. It’s easy to undo, which is necessary every time you need to let down the weights for more thread. This is the same knot I tie for weighting supplementary warps, described in my second book, Warping Your Loom & Tying On New Warps, on page 156. Here it is again along with the steps to tie it. The steps sound more complicated than they are, but if you learn it well, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and aggravation in your future weaving life because the knot comes undone quickly.
Step 1 Hold the selvedge supply taut by gripping the warp with the finger of the left hand. In this manner, the warp will be taut throughout the procedure.
Step 2 With the right hand, pull a big loop of warp through the loop of the weight using your finger and thumb. The left hand continues holding the warp taut, but now just uses the 2 fingers shown in the illustration.
Step 3 With your left hand, adjust your thumb and first two fingers to pinch the warp to the loop of the weight—the right hand still holds the loop of warp.
Step 4 With the right hand, take the loop in front of the left hand’s pinch and then behind the selvedge threads.
Step 5 Readjust your left thumb and index finger so that they will be able to receive some thread (Step 6). (You are letting go of the weight now, but the fingers of the left hand still hold the threads taut.)
Step 6 Open the pinch in the left hand slightly and accept a small amount from the big loop in the right hand.
Step 7 Pull on the small loop and enlarge it somewhat. Be sure to hold the loop in the right hand, and do not let it be pulled through by the left hand.
Step 8 With both hands pull down (towards the floor) and cinch the knot tight.
Step 9 To undo the knot, simply pull on the loop that was held in the right hand, drop the weight down, and retie.
Regular selvedge threads often get tight. The problem is solved by winding separate selvedge threads. More than anything, you want to keep the selvedge warp threads from tightening up. By weighting them separately from the main warp they can weave and take up without getting tight. It isn’t hard to do, and it ensures good-looking selvedges that weave without problems. It is more efficient to start with them as separate warps, rather than to find out mid-warp that your selvedge threads are breaking because they are too tight, or that they are becoming so close together that the shed can’t open, or that the wefts at edges are beating down too much as seen in the photo. When to weight selvedge threads separately I use separate selvedges for warps that are over 3-5 yards long. I also use them when I begin to weave if I find that the normal warp’s selvedge threads aren’t supporting the wefts as they turn at the edges.
For separate selvedges, I make 2 tiny warps—one for each selvedge—often, with 4 threads for each. I determine the number of threads to use by the number of shafts in use. That is, if there are 4 shafts, I use 4 threads, if there are 8 shafts, I use 8 threads. For more shafts, see my book Weaving & Drafting Your Own Cloth in the chapter on selvedges. They will not be beamed onto the warp beam with the main warp but will hang over the back beam behind the loom with weights providing the tension on them. These threads are made separately from the warp threads, may be different from the warp threads, and are sleyed closer in the reed. (More follows.) How to measure the threads Because they will take up more than the main warp, measure out the selvedge threads longer, say, 10% longer than the regular warp threads. Measure out 4 threads making only one cross—a thread-by-thread cross at one end. Be sure you separatelymake two of these tiny warps. Tie the crosses as usual and make ties at the beginning and end of the warps and at several places in the middle. It will be hard to make real choke ties because the warps are so tiny. You can wind your little selvedge threads like a little kitestick, on a pencil, bobbin, or small tube, or make a chain. Or use a little piece of cardboard as in the previous post. Put each little selvedge warp in a plastic bag to keep it from twisting and tangling during weaving. What threads to use I double the sett (epi) for the 4 selvedge threads in the outside dents of the reed. However, if the warp threads are too thick to double up, use thinner threads for the selvedge threads. With thinner threads, you can get them closer, and the selvedges look almost machine made. Be sure your threads are plied, smooth, and strong. Threading the selvedges Thread the selvedge threads one per heddle, one on each shaft: 4,3,2,1. Putting the selvedges in the reed You will put in more threads per dent for the selvedge threads. Since the warp will naturally draw in a bit, it is a good idea not to fight it, and to sley the selvedge threads more densely than the body of the warp to keep the threads from breaking. I double the sett (epi) for the 4 selvedge thread in the outside dents of the reed.
If the selvedges build up faster than the rest of the fabric, the threads may be too close together. Threads sleyed too closely may keep the weft from packing in. Also, the selvedges may build up faster than the rest of the cloth if they aren’t weighted enough.
How to weight the threads I have found the “plastic bag and pencil” way to be satisfactory, and the cardboard, too. I use clothes pins to hold the bag and the warp at the knot together, which helps to prevent twisting. The weights I like to use nuts, washers or fishing weights for my selvedges. These “weights” are small enough that I can add or subtract them in small increments to adjust the tension. You can also use plastic bottles filled with the amount of water needed for the weight. As the selvedge threads get woven, the weights and their supply of thread rise up. When they reach the back beam, they need to be let down to just above the floor. A small bag of weights is more convenient than a bottle because it doesn’t have to be let down so often during weaving since it is smaller. How much weight? Six to fourteen ounces of weight are needed. I start with 6 ounces and add or subtract, as necessary. The way to know if you need more or less weight is simple. The fell of the cloth will be straight if the weight is correct as in the photo.
If the fell of the cloth curves up at the edges towards the shafts (making a “smile”,) it means there isn’t enough weight. Sometimes, one selvedge takes more weight than the other does. Do whatever is needed so the fell is straight. It’s better to have the selvedge threads a little too loose than too tight. If too tight, the body of the fabric may pucker into the selvedges. It might not be noticeable until the cloth is washed.
If the fell of the cloth curves down at the edges towards the breast beam (making a “frown”.), it means there is too much weight as shown. When to attach the weights Weights need a loop of some kind so you can attach the selvedge threads. It can be a loop of string or a metal shower curtain hook. How to attach the weights See the next post.
Adjusting the height – If the floating selvedge isn’t high enough in the shed for the shuttle to go under it easily, raise the threads by tying loops of string around them and attaching the loops to the castle of your loom. Raise the loops so the floating selvedge threads float in the middle of the open sheds as in the photo.
Adjusting the tension – Since they don’t interlace with the wefts like the main weave, they are likely to get looser as you weave along. You can hook a weight on each one and let it slide along as the warp is advanced as in the photo. Because they don’t get tighter as a rule, they can be beamed on with the regular warp ends.
If you used separate threads for the floating selvedges, they must be anchored at the back of the loom in some way so there is tension on them for weaving. The next post will talk about how to know how much weight to add.
I love this idea for winding a selvedge thread. I learned it from the participants in a workshop I taught years ago.
Introduction: Every new weaver learns about floating selvedges. In case of any doubts, here’s where the shuttle goes and why it works. Upcoming posts will have more in-depth selvedge “talk”.
What: There will be one extra thread on each side of the warp for the floating selvedges. I sometimes add these two extra threads, and other times I just use the outside threads on the existing warp. (I make new threads if using the two already in the warp will spoil the design at the edge.) Floating selvedges are commonly used when the outside warp thread doesn’t weave into the cloth, or when it isn’t caught often enough because of the structure of the weave. Why: These floating selvedges give a warp thread for the weft to go around on every shed, so there is never a thread left dangling out of the cloth at the edge.
Where: These floating threads move neither up nor down when the sheds are made but stay in the middle of the sheds. If you are using threads from your existing warp and the warp has already been threaded, remove the two outside warp threads from their heddles and replace them in the reed. If you are using separately made threads, take them through the castle but not through any heddles and put them in the outside dents of the reed as shown in the previous photo. Tie them on to the cloth apron rod as usual. (How to tension threads made separately follows in the next post.) When: I never use floating selvedges unless they are needed because it slows down the weaving a bit. Twills that only weave in one direction do not need them. Only twills that change directions need them, such as herringbone. Use a floating selvedge when two shuttles are used so you don’t have to worry about the rotation of the shuttles to catch the outside thread.
How to enter the shed: There is a certain way for the shuttle to enter and exit the sheds to make the wefts always catch the outside warp threads. Here is what I do. Enter the shuttle into the shed over the floating thread and exit the shuttle under it. It’s easy to push the warp end down with the nose of the shuttle when entering the shed.
How to exit the shed: The shuttle naturally leaves the shed at the opposite side going under the floating selvedge. There are many ways you can enter and exit the sheds to make the floaters do their job; you just need to do it the same way all the time. I prefer the method here because it’s easy and works naturally with the way the shuttle enters and exits the sheds. Next: Adjusting and tensioning floating selvedges.
I love getting comments from my Post readers. And I love learning new things. A comment from Jon gave this threading to catch the outside warp thread. With it you don’t have to think and you don’t need a floating selvedge. I might not use it if I thought I would weave other structures besides twills in a piece, but it beats a floating selvedge if you plan a big twill project. Try to figure out how it works just from the threading.
Here is the regular 4-shaft twill tie-up. Can you see how a thread is always caught on each edge with every weft shot? Notice the circles in the tie-up. That’s because it’s showing shafts lifted. Remember that bubbles rise.
Now add the treadling. Can you figure out what the edges will look like from this information?
Here is the complete draft. The edges make a sort of plain weave. Perhaps you could thread more threads for the edges and make a border. Maybe an idea to ponder and worth trying? This is how my mind works—I’d want to do a sample first to see how the two weaves work. Now I’m thinking again…you could thread the edges: 22, 44 and 11, 33 to get a real basket weave on the edges and I think that should surely work with the twill. When I want bands of both twill and plain weave in a cloth, I often use basket weave instead of real plain weave because they both draw in the same. (If you use plain weave bands, they will turn out to be wider than the twill areas.)
Here is the warping reel. The woman sits in the middle and reaches out to the pegs on either side. In the middle are the pegs for the cross. Children grow up with these processes so it’s in their bones.
Two threads are taken as one on the warping reel. You can barely see them against the man’s blue shirt.
The threads come from the “pancakes” that came from the bowls from the knot-tying people.
Two pancakes sit in the box. What looks like kitty litter is sprinkled on top to weight down the pancakes so the threads can be drawn off without tangling. This idea could be used by other weavers, I think.
Here is a photo of me wearing a gorgeous pina cloth dyed in indigo. This is the photo we used the photo for my blog—a rare good picture. I can’t remember who the other woman was but I remember the lovely evening vividly.
Here is what I did with the cloth when I got home. I have bars on my bedroom walls for hanging textiles. I love looking at that piece.
Pineapple fibers are too short to be threads for weaving. They are joined with a specific knot to make the long threads needed.
This group of people are knotting the fibers to make long threads.
This woman has been tying for a long time.
This young girl is showing the joined fibers she has knotted together.
The threads fall into a bowl as they are tied. Later they are draw out of the bowls for warp threads in this studio—without any snarls!
This “pancake” came from one of the bowls. The threads will be drawn from it for warping. I brought one home just because it was beautiful and fascinated me. The end of the top thread was marked so one knows where to start.