Broken Threads Disaster–My Solution

woven-cloth-finest-threads-2
I’m weaving 125 fine threads per inch so I can weave another ruffle (see my gallery) which I will shibori dye with indigo. Then the ruffle will disappear and appear in the dyed and un-dyed areas.   [click any photo to enlarge]
woven-cloth-finest-threads-3

I’m trying to weave with finer-than-ever silk threads. I should have starched them first but didn’t because I didn’t realize it would be necessary. That would have made the threads stronger.  There are 125 threads per inch and I made more threading errors than I’ve ever made in my life. I have spent hours correcting these almost invisible threads and have lost a few and a few have broken –there are 16 threads to date that are hanging off the back of my loom and I expect I’ll have more as I weave along. Here is a close up of the weaving and one broken thread pinned in. (I’ve been mending the threads with sewing thread so I can see them.)
rig-for-broken-threads-2
I used this stand which I’d used when I was weaving velvet to rig up a way to keep all the threads from tangling. Knowing that the only thread that can’t tangle is one under  tension this is what I did.
rig-for-broken-threads-with-cross-1-2
I took the threads as they came from the warp beam and made a cross to keep them in order. 
rig-cross-only-2

 Here is a close-up of the cross I made to keep the threads in order.
rig-for-broken-threads-with-cross-2-2
To further keep them in order they went through this grid.

spools-for-broken-threads-2
Here is how I tensioned the threads. These are fish net shuttles I used when weaving velvet.

Fine Threads, Oh, MY! A Video

Threading My Loom with Threads that are as Fine as Hairs


I’ve been threading the heddles now for a few weeks—about an hour at a time and when I can get into the studio. It’s such a meditative thing that I wanted to have a film made. I’ve never used so fine a thread before and I hope it can stand up to the tension and abrasion of weaving. This short segment is the beginning of the film I’m dreaming of. I hope we can put together the rest of setting up the loom and me weaving—and an end result. This time threading is both soothing and ‘hair’ raising—you’ll see why in the video. If you’re not a weaver and don’t want details, go to the video now.

The thread is so fine that I couldn’t get it wound off from the skein so I sent it to Japan for them to wind it off (my friend with the equipment in the US couldn’t do it). It came back on about 15 cones—each with a very small amount of thread on it. So even the experts had a hard time—so many cones means that the thread kept breaking and they had to find an end and start a new cone over and over.

I’m planning on 120 threads per inch—the threads in my other sheer warps have been only 96 ends per inch. That gives you an idea of how fine we are talking about—like hairs.

I thought I’d warp 10 cones at a time as I’ve done with the other thread. Well, things kept breaking and threads blew around in the air and I almost gave up. I did end up using 4 cones at a time. I could keep track of those and repair them every time one broke and find its own exact path to the heddles in the heck block on my warping reel.

I didn’t notice that the 4 cones weren’t in position to make a perfect cross so I ended up with a 2×2 cross. You’ll notice that in the video. Jim Ahrens taught us that 2 threads at a time can work but never more than that. (3 or more threads will braid up on one another.) I’m hoping that is true because every thread has a mate in the cross. The reason to use a paddle is so you can always make a thread-by-thread cross. In my case I have a heck block that does that job connected to my reel. I am lucky enough to have a warping reel that Jim Ahrens made.

Just Published!! My new website about Ahrens Looms!

Ahrens Plaque
My good friend Vera Totos and I have been working for months on creating a new website about Ahrens looms. Jim Ahrens built looms for efficient weaving, using his own engineering and centuries old European techniques. This site explains their use and operation. Check it out and let me know what you think using the “Contact” page or as a “comment” at the bottom of each page.
http://ahrenslooms.com/

The Doubling Stand – An Essential Tool

Doubling Stand for Weaving A

Doubling Stand for Weaving A

The doubling stand is a piece of equipment I can’t get along without. You can rig one yourself or you can buy one. I recommend buying one at Purrington Looms.

I wish I had included this in my book for beginners but you can see it in my book #3, “Weaving & Drafting Your Own Cloth“, page 67 and 68. How to make your own is at the end of this post.

Have you ever wanted to combine two or more yarns as one weft? Have you discovered it doesn’t work very well because, no matter what you’ve tried, one yarn always loops up so they don’t lie flat together in the shed? The answer is: use a doubling stand to double up weft yarns so they come out of the shuttle together and evenly.

Warning!! Do not double warp yarns because the upper and lower yarns will be of different tensions when they leave the doubling stand. It isn’t a problem with weft yarns.
Doubling stands can be homemade or purchased. Figure 112 shows a commercially
made stand. (Note the optional tension box for winding tight weft packages.)One or more yarns are put on vertical posts with the yarn guided exactly up from the centers of the posts, just like an ordinary vertical creel. Read more about creels on page 76.

Doubling Stand - DetailAbove these yarns is a single cone or spool of yarn supported by a vertical tube instead of a post. The yarns below are guided up through their respective thread guides and then up through the tube and the center of the extra cone. Then, the lower yarns plus the upper one are taken together up through a guide above the center of the top cone. You can see what happens: The yarn from the upper cone encircles the yarns coming up through its center. This encirclement keeps all the yarns together without any of them looping up during weaving (Figure 113).
To guide the bottom threads up through the cone on top, fashion a long hook from a coat hanger or use a long heddle.

The three keys to keep in mind when setting up a doubling “situation” or  making a homemade stand are:
1. The thread guides for the lower spools must be exactly over the center of the pins
or dowels that hold the spools or cones.
2. There must be enough space between the tops of all the packages and their thread
guides to allow the yarn to whip off the packages freely.
3. The top cone or spool must have a way for the lower yarns to pass up through its center.
A tube to hold the top cone is the hardest thing to find—try hobby shops. You could use a short length of copper tubing with the sharp ends sanded. However, there are many other ways to accomplish the job. I’ve seen one cone underneath an upside-down “milk crate” with another cone sitting on top and the thread from below coming up a hole in the crate and through the top cone. There are many ways you might make (or rig)a doubling “stand”.

Weaving Velvet Ourselves

Here is the school outside of Florence where we spent 3 days learning hoe to design and weave velvet and how to analyze old velvet textiles. It has been a wonderful experience and hard brain work. This photo shows the velvet we were weaving. I hope to send more pictures of us at the loom and our teacher working on top of the loom when things got a little out of whack. The red velvet is one we analyzed. The graph and card is the design of the velvet we wove.  [click first photo to start slideshow]

Peggy’s Weaving Studio Update

Peggy Osterkamp’s Weaving Studio

I got 15 small collapse pieces back from the framer in New York who makes may special plexi shadow boxes and had to do some rearranging in the studio to get them on the wall. If you like how they look, let me know and I can give you his contact information.

We decided they would look better with a black background so up went the felt pieces I had and I think they look really nice. They are the small pieces on the black background.

While I was at it, I thought I’d share pictures of the studio as it is just before I leave it for 3 weeks while I am in Japan.
[click first photo for slideshow]

Weaving with Weighted Selvedge Threads

I weight my selvedge threads separately almost always. I learned from Jim Ahrens that you could use stronger threads for the selvedges when you want to weave with fragile warp threads. I’ve shown the knot I use to hold the weights in many workshops and in two of my books, but it is wonderful to have a video so you can see the motions of my hands. You might still need the diagrams in the books, but I think this is a big help. The books are: Weaving for Beginners and Weaving & Drafting Your Own Cloth. Both have a whole chapter devoted just to selvedges.

A Weaver’s Tangle Update

the end tangle – click to enlarge

I spent my summer untangling 10 yards of fine silk thread. The first photo shows what I had to cut off—about 8” so that is good. The second photo shows the warp on tension and what I had to do. I could not untangle every single thread, but was able to separate the threads into the groups for the raddle. This small raddle has 5 dents per inch. There are 10 threads in each raddle space. So in essence the sett is 15 epi (size of my reed) instead of 96 as I intended! It is a bit narrower at 2 ¾” wide now. The next dilemma was to find large enough threads in my studio for the wefts. When I downsized my studio space and got rid of 500 pounds of yarn, I only saved the fine threads and my linens. The third photo shows my solution for the wefts. I have these old balls that someone made up of rags ready for hooking a rug. The rags are vintage cottons from the 30’s or 40’s and are just the right width and thinness for my warp situation. The colors on the outside of the balls are subtle and faded; it will be interesting to see what they are like inside. There are prints, stripes, solids. I can’t wait to see what comes up. I need to get the loom emptied ASAP so I am looking forward to weaving these strips in the soft colors and soft rags. I might put in some rose canes and horse hair, of course. The warp threads will collapse, so I made some samples and the squiggles look nice with the rags. Off to the studio for an adventure! (All the strips are sewn to each other with a few hand stitches. I feel some wonderful connection to the woman who collected her rags so carefully.)

the warp on tension

the warp on tension – click to enlarge

balls of rags

balls of rags – click to enlarge

Getting the Pegs Needed on Warping Reels

Warping Reel Pegs, Vertical

Warping Reel Pegs, Vertical

While thinking about using the paddle with a warping reel, it occurred to me to show how you can get the pegs you need for the crosses on warping reels. In my books I recommend using 4 pegs for the crosses and usually reels only have 3. This is what I have used to get the needed 4 pegs.

Horizontal Warping Reel Pegs, Detail

Horizontal Warping Reel Pegs, Detail

Warping Reel Pegs, Horizontal

Warping Reel Pegs, Horizontal

These illustrations are from my Book #1, Winding a Warp & Using a Paddle, on pages 33 and 34.

Using a Paddle with a Warping Reel

I received a comment asking about how to use a paddle with a vertical warping reel. In my Book #1, Winding a Warp and Using a Paddle I do discuss this. Here is a clip from the paddle chapter.

paddle and reel

paddle and reel

WHERE TO PLACE THE PADDLE
You want the paddle to be easy to reach, so when you get to the lease pegs, you can easily make the lease and put it onto the pegs.
Other than being clamped to something
approximately at the center of the warping
board as in Figure 118, below, the paddle can be clamped to the bottom of the warping board itself if the height of the board is convenient for you.
Clamping a paddle at a height close to the
pegs on a reel is shown in Figure 119a.

paddle and chair

paddle and chair

Clamping it to the back of a chair works well, too. See Figure 119b.

Also, see below where to place the paddle at a warping board.

Paddle and warping board

Paddle and warping board

Weaving Begun (photos)

Weighted Supplementary Warps

Here is the back of my loom–weights are holding the purple supplementary warp and also the selvedges. I’m sampling to see what the colors in the warp will be like and to see if I can get sheer again. The extra warp isn’t threaded in the heddles, but between every 8th warp thread. They are in the same position as floating selvedges–in the middle of the sheds. When I want the  supplementary threads on the top, I shoot the shuttle under them. When I don’t want them to show, I put the shuttle over them. I learned this technique as “split broche.”

Supplementary warps above heddle eyes

Weaving Class: Sheds Too Small

The other day a student complained that the boat shuttle I loaned her was too big for the sheds on her table loom. I suggested that she throw the shuttle closer to the heddles and advance the warp often. The reason is that the shed is bigger the closer it is to the heddles (shafts). It’s obvious that the shed is small when it is closer to the fell of the cloth (the place where the last weft is woven).

More About My New Warp

Two Kitesticks and Horse Hair (click to enlarge)

Close-up of Kitestick (click to enlarge)

I’m  using a supplementary warp (egg plant color) for the punch. The technique for the supplementary warp I’ll use is split broche. The threads will not be in the heddles as they are threaded amongst the warp threads which on are 4 shafts. More on this when I get started.  For now, you can see those threads on their own small kitestick.
I think I’ll put in some horse hair–I love the color of it.

 

My New Warp

Sewing Thread Warp (click to enlarge)

Here is my new warp–sewing thread–for some art pieces. More ruffles, probably. You can see the 10 spools that I used on my warping reel with a heck block. Otherwise, for 10 spools you would definitely need to use a paddle (which is a good idea). See my book, Winding a Warp & Using a Paddle). The warp is on its kitestick, ready to load the raddle.

Spools for Warp (click to enlarge)

I’m using sewing thread and hoping for sheer again. I increased the sett a bit from the yellow warp so I won’t have to beat so gently to get the wefts not to pack in too much.
I’m making separate selvedges out of white rayon and using a supplementary warp (egg plant color) for the punch. The technique for the supplementary warp I’ll use is split broche. The threads will not be in the heddles as they are threaded amongst the warp threads which on are 4 shafts. More on this when I get started.  For now, you can see those threads on their own small kitestick.
I think I’ll put in some horse hair–I love the color of it.

 

 

Wavy Wefts Bibliography

Wavy Wefts, detail (click to enlarge)

Here is a list of books I’ve found with information on wavy wefts. There are a number of ways to accomplish it.

Collingwood, Peter. “Two Weft Distortion Effects in Plain Weave”. The Journal for Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. Number 36, December 1960.

Collingwood, Peter, article above reprinted in: The Journal for Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, Peter Colllingwood Special Edition. Summer 2009.

Straub, Marianne. Hand Weaving and Cloth Design. New York: Viking Press, 1977. pages 86-87.

Sutton, Ann., The Structure of Weaving. London: 1982. pages 50-51.

Sutton, Ann, and Sheehan, Diane. Ideas in Weaving. Loveland, CO: Interweave Press, 1989. pages 104, and 97-101, special reeds.

That Special Tie Up: Only Use 4 Treadles!

One tie up for all 4 shaft looms

I received this comment about the tie up I posted. (Search for tying up your treadles.)

 

“Thanks for the tie-up, Peggy! What if you have a 6 treadle loom and want to add a tabby tie-up? Is it best to put it in the middle or on the outside treadles, in your opinion?”

Here’s my opinion:
No, no, no!! The extra treadles just get in the way and offer the chance for mistakes. To do tabby put your foot between the treadles and push 1&3 with one foot and 2&4 with the other. Then you can walk the treadles. Which two treadles to not hook up you can decide on depending on how your feet fit the treadles–and what’s comfortable. Getting comfortable helps avoid mistakes. See page 2 in my third book, Weaving & Drafting Your Own Cloth.

Bobbin Types for Boat Shuttles

Fit bobbins to cavities

Certain bobbins fit certain boat shuttles. Look at the cavities in your shuttles to determine which is the right type of bobbin to use. When I was learning to weave I heard about this but didn’t think it was important. Then when I was demonstrating fast weaving with the wrong bobbin I was embarrassed because the weft thread kept jerking. I learned my lesson that day. This is from Weaving for Beginners on page 94. I hope this saves other weavers from frustration!

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. Squared-off corners of the cavity are for bobbins with flanges at the ends—similar to those on the ends of spools of sewing thread. See Figure 223a. In a round-cornered cavity, use bobbins with extensions sticking out from the flanges. See Figure 223b. 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. See Figure 223c.

There is more about handling boat shuttles beginning on page 111. Learn to weave without the weft thread jerking and tangling.

Doubling Stand Mentioned in Handwoven Magazine

Doubling Stand

In the new Handwoven on page 60, there is a tip at the top of the page suggesting using a doubling stand. It is a piece of equipment I couldn’t get along without. You can buy one or rig one yourself.

This is taken from my book #3, “Weaving & Drafting Your Own Cloth“, page 67. More on doubling stands follows on page 67. How to make your own is at the end of this post.

Have you ever wanted to combine two or more yarns as one weft? Have you discovered it doesn’t work very well because, no matter what you’ve tried, one yarn always loops up so they don’t lie flat together in the shed? The answer is: use a doubling stand to double up weft yarns so they come out of the shuttle together and evenly.

Warning!! Do not double warp yarns because the upper and lower yarns will be of different tensions when they leave the doubling stand. It isn’t a problem with weft yarns.
Doubling stands can be homemade or purchased. Figure 112 shows a commercially
made stand. (Note the optional tension box for winding tight weft packages.)One or

more yarns are put on vertical posts with the yarn guided exactly up from the centers of the posts, just like an ordinary vertical creel. Read more about creels on page 76.

Above these yarns is a single cone or spool of yarn supported by a vertical tube instead of a post. The yarns below are guided up through their respective thread guides and then up through the tube and the center of the extra cone. Then, the lower yarns plus the upper one are taken together up through a guide above the center of the top cone. You can see what happens: The yarn from the upper cone encircles the yarns coming up through its center. This encirclement keeps all the yarns together without any of them looping up during weaving (Figure 113).
To guide the bottom threads up through the cone on top, fashion a long hook from a coat hanger or use a long heddle.

The three keys to keep in mind when setting up a doubling “situation” or  making a homemade stand are:
1. The thread guides for the lower spools must be exactly over the center of the pins
or dowels that hold the spools or cones.
2. There must be enough space between the tops of all the packages and their thread
guides to allow the yarn to whip off the packages freely.
3. The top cone or spool must have a way for the lower yarns to pass up through its center.
A tube to hold the top cone is the hardest thing to find—try hobby shops. You could use a short length of copper tubing with the sharp ends sanded. However, there are many other ways to accomplish the job. I’ve seen one cone underneath an upside-down “milk crate” with another cone sitting on top and the thread from below coming up a hole in the crate and through the top cone. There are many ways
you might make (or rig)a doubling “stand”.

Advice about a Loom for a Beginner

Here is the first part of a comment from Katie: “Peggy, I love your work, especially the more transparent pieces with silk threads. I am a Fibers student at Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, GA and was wondering if you have any advice for a poor student as far as what sort of beginner’s loom or handmade loom to use?”

My reply/advice:
About a beginner’s loom–anything very cheap is a good start. Then it’s easy to pass it on (sell it) when you know better what you really want. I used to tell my students a good price was $100–but that’s not enough these days–say $200-$300 is what you might have to pay. Check out eBay. So my advice is not to spend a lot of money at first–there are lots and lots of used looms around that people are eager to find good homes for. Almost anything will work–if you don’t like it you can always sell it and get something else. Good, good bargains are out there. Smaller looms are harder to find. If you have space for a bigger one, you might get a really good price.

When people ask me what to charge when selling a loom I give about the same advice–people expect used looms to be cheap. You’ll never get what a new one costs. Be glad to find a good home for it.

Use a Kitestick

Warp wound on a kitestick (click to enlarge)

I got a question from a weaving in Australia about where to get a kitestick.  She read about it in my new book, Weaving for Beginners, and saw me using it on my DVD, Warping the Loom Back to Front

.

A Kitestick

Kitestick: 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. See Figure 24d.

Use  a kitestick when you take the warp off the warping board.
From Page 25 in Weaving for Beginners:  Use your 1½”x ½” x 12″ stick, or a ruler or a yardstick. This is the way I prefer to hold the warp at this point. It isn’t necessary to wind the stick precisely. The instructions look harder to follow than they really are. Follow them any way you can at first, and master the technique another time. What’s important is that the warp is wound up onto a stick so the threads can’t tangle.
Another way to take the warp off the warping board is given on
page 34. (This refers to chaining the warp to take it off the warping board.)
Before you begin, look at the points below, and read about the trick
to winding the kitestick at the end of point 5.

Rigid Heddle Weaving in my New Book

Another comment–it makes me so happy.
“…You did a great job with it (Weaving for  Beginners) and I have referred to it a few times as a budding weaver.

I have a large floor loom that I have not “confronted” yet, and the rigid heddle helped me to understand clearly the basic process and also enlighten me that I knew more than I realized. I was excited to see this section in your great book.”