I wonder if I have a “thing” about needle books. The first one I had I made in 4-H when I was 10. I never saw the use of it and never used it. Then I saw one my friend Mary Rowe had when I was in New York. I think it was her mother’s in New Zealand. It was the cutest thing I ever saw so I made one for my best friend’s 40th birthday years ago. She still uses it a lot of years later. [ click photos to enlarge ]
Last month or so a weaver/friend died and I took care of finding homes for her loom and stash. I found the most wonderful needle “cushion” in with her things. (The colorful one full of her needles.) It now lives on my new dobby loom. I had to weave some of my own! I’ve been dyeing with black walnuts so I thought I would dye the cloth and the pattern threads–what whimsy and fun that was. I made a lot for gifts when I travel. On the rest of the warp I had fun designing 4 new fabrics without changing the threading.
These are needle books I have lying around–in my sewing box at home and near my looms in the studio. In 4-H I learned that one needed protein fiber for pins and needles so they won’t rust. So all the pages are wool fabrics. (The new needle cushions are made with silk).
The round yellow crocheted needle book is like the one I saw in New York and made for my friend. The inner “pages” are made from scraps of wool overshot fabic I wove when I was an apprentice with Jim Ahrens. The tiny heart shaped one I found in a sewing box at a thrift store–lovingly crocheted. The round, fat pin cushion with sashiko stitching I got in Japan and couldn’t resist it.
The last is a pin cushion I made and use now. We wove yards of this wool fabric in a production weaving class with Jim Ahrens at Pacific Basin School of Textile Arts in the 70’s. My inspiration was a pin cushion I got in Whales at a weaving mill made from their scraps. The red book came from there, too.
I learned that many people don’t buy DVD’s anymore—in fact computers often don’t have a drawer (or slot?) for them—and people don’t even own a DVD player. This reminds me of the VHS videos I used to sell that are now useless.
Now you can either purchase my “Warping the Loom Back to Front” as a real DVD or download it or stream it on demand from the Vimeo website. I am thrilled that I can offer all of these methods to my customers. To kick off this event, I have reduced the physical DVD price from $34.95 to $19.95. The Vimeo options are to buy it for $9.95 (stream or download anytime) or rent it for 48 hours for $4.99. See my Vimeo page HERE. I’m proud to say that after 14 years in production, people are still ordering the DVD.
For anyone who bought a DVD in the last year at the higher price, you can contact me HERE and we’ll make a settlement together—say a free book, another DVD or credit for a download or Weaving for Beginners.
I hope you’ll want this on all your devices. Always have it nearby–handy at the warping board, when beaming, or threading the heddles. Learn how to make great warps with perfect tension and to thread the heddles without mistakes. My mentor, Jim Ahrens said, warping is 50% of weaving and if done well, the weaving will be hassle free without tangles or broken threads.
We even made a real “trailer”. It feels almost like I’m in the movie business.
Remember: The only thread that can’t tangle is one under tension! Happy weaving!—-Peggy
Lease sticks are important in my weaving at so many stages. Shown here they are holding the crosses in both a new warp and the old one in preparation for tying on a new warp. The illustration is from my book, Warping Your Loom & Tying On New Warps” which is no longer in print. (However it can be downloaded as a PDF.) This is the subject of my next eBook which will be coming soon. Then you can have the process on your devices right at the loom as you proceed. I found it more convienient when I was hemstitching to have my iPhone at the loom, rather than the whole book.
People mostly know of lease sticks used in threading the heddles. Do you know why they are called lease sticks? Because what we now call the “cross” is officially called the “lease”. So these are the sticks that hold the lease.This image is from my book Weaving for Beginners. I like THIN lease sticks–the thick ones are cumbersom and take up too much space in my opinion. Jim Ahrens (the “A” part of AVL) made lovely thin, narrow ones. They are now available at AVL Looms.
We just made the cover today. Remember it’s not available yet–but coming soon! This is always an exciting time of the process–seeing the cover!
Now my studio really looks like a weaving studio. My newest loom is in the center. All my looms except this new sweetie were built by Jim Ahrens. Now the new one was made by AVL looms—the “A” stands for Ahrens, so all the engineering is related. The ‘V’ stands for Jon Violette, who began the company with Jim and the ‘L’ stands for looms.
Are you wondering what the other looms are that circle the new one in the center? Starting with the loom on the left and going around clockwise: 10-shaft, side tie-up, 4-shaft loom, 40-shaft dobby built by Jim Ahrens in the 1940’s, and my love, the 4-shaft loom made of bird’s eye maple wood which I have used exclusively for years and years. Going to 12 is a giant and exciting step for me!
Here she is—a real sweetie. I’ve been trying to reduce and give away things but this loom from Jan Langdon I fell in love with years ago. When she decided to down size, she said I was the only person who had longed for it. It is a 12-shaft dobby about 36” wide. Note that in the photo, my 10-shaft loom with a side tie-up is back behind the new loom. Small in a way but the dobby will increase my capacity for new structures greatly. I’ve been wanting to weave a structure for years and finally decided to do it until I realized I would run out of treadles. The dobby solves that problem. Two treadles work the mechanism to raise the shafts. Notice it is on wheels—that has been very handy already. I just need a pillow on my bench.
Here’s the back of the loom. The dobby mechanism is on the left side in the photo.
This is the dobby mechanism. Each bar represents one shed or row of weaving.
A close-up shows the pegs in the bars. A special tool makes it easy to ‘peg’ each shed. The holes without pegs are the shafts that will go up. Since there are 12 shafts, there are 12 holes in each bar. When the right treadle is pressed, the mechanism raises the shafts for one bar—one shed. When the left treadle is pressed, the shed closes and the mechanism readies itself for the next shed. When all the holes are filled nothing will go up. It’s a way to mark the end of a repeat.
Here is the first thing I’ve woven! I wanted to shade the 12-shaft satin weave to go from only the warp showing graded to only the weft showing. The white warps are shiny spun silk (2 different yarns) and the weft is handspun silk from Bhutan that is not shiny.Then I dyed the piece lightly in black walnut dye. I was hoping the shades of the color would contrast more, to go in shades from light to dark–but that is what I’ll work on next. I thought the two yarns—one shiny and one mat would contrast more when in the dye. Lately I’ve been weaving cloth for the dye pot—really fun to weave and get my creative juices flowing.
When I saw this applique wall hanging in a show last fall, I fell in love with the sewing cabinet. It was made by Hiroko Watanabe.
On the second day in Okinawa I found “my” sewing cabinet in a tiny, crowded antique shop. I figured I’d have to carry it all around for three weeks but discovered it fit into my suitcase. (Taking up space I needed for other things.)
I knew it needed some kind of clip because of the way it was shown in the hanging. It took some searching, but I found it in the sewing notions area in a department store. Sewing shops didn’t carry them because “no one uses them or sews anymore.” All the kimonos I’ve seen are hand sewn using the clip to tension the cloth while sewing. It really works and I love it. I made the pin cushion as soon as I got home.
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]
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.)
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.
I took the threads as they came from the warp beam and made a cross to keep them in order.
Here are my Structo table looms all ready for the campers later in June. Last year we had great creativity from the 6-11 year-olds. Finally a use for my looms that have been gathering dust n my studio. Last year was a great success so we are going to do it again this year. I always wonder before hand how it will go over. The kids last year were so eager. I made the warps–2 1/2″ wide and then cut cut them off when they are all done and glue the cut ends.
I started guest posting with Regina Potts. It all began when she emailed me with a better way to stretch out the cloth on the loom. I suggested using croc clips in my book, Weaving for Beginners. We’ll be collaborating in future posts. I like her idea, her stories, and the way she thinks.
Here it is in PDF format. Just click the post title below
Weighted Claw Temple by Regina Potts
Well, this job will take a good while, but I think it will work out. In my books I show a trick for threading that isn’t really a trick; it’s a technique I always use. Jim Ahrens taught it to us in our Production Weaving classes. What you do is put tension on the threads so they are taut when they are in the lease sticks making it easier to see which is the next thread. I usually use a 3 ½-ounce wrench for a weight (it lives in my apron pocket). I separate out a bundle of cut warp threads about the thickness of a medium-sized carrot to tension. When you select a strand to thread next you pull it out of the weighted bundle using the threading hook. This is described on page 71 in Weaving for Beginners and on page 51 in Book #2, Warping Your Loom & Tying On New Warps available now in PDF format. [click any photo to enlarge]
For these tiny threads I used very small fishing weights and tied many ties along the lengths of small bundles just so none of the threads flew around.
You can see them hanging down at the back of the loom if you look closely. ( My loom is folded up for threading.) The fishing weights were from weaving velvet one time.
These photos show the
threads coming out of the heddles.
These fantastic photos are by Bob Hemstock, my miraculous web guy.
Since I sent out over 60 copies of my Book #1: Winding a Warp & using a Paddle for my Holiday Gifts, I thought I would point readers to the wealth of information that I wrote about using a paddle. This post (Weaving Tip) includes the complete Chapter 10 which has important information for using any type of paddle. Following that in the book are separate chapters for the two types of paddle. There are descriptions of different types of paddles, too.
If you didn’t get a free book over the holidays, here is your chance to get your own copy 50% off the regular price. This offer will go until February 1. I’ve taught many weavers how to use paddles and everyone feels so empowered afterwards. I hope you will want to try it. I tell you the limitations as well as the reasons why you would want to use one. [if viewing this post in an email and the links below do not work just click here]
©2005 • 3rd printing, revised edition; 138 pages; 195 illustrations. Lie-flat wire-0 binding •
$39.95 > January Special 50% Off = $20.00
CLICK HERE to download for free introductory chapter: “Using a Paddle” or click the PayPal button below to order the book.
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]
I found my selvedges splayed out and were ugly until I tried the solution in the video. I hope it is helpful. Also, I use special threads for the selvedges.
> view at full screen in HD <
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.
These illustrations are from my Book #1, Winding a Warp & Using a Paddle, on pages 33 and 34.
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.
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.
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.
The photos show tight and loose tension on the warps. this is what makes the wavy wefts. I show the mechanism we put on my 4-shaft loom in a previous post. Search for wavy wefts to see the loom and other posts on wavy wefts. It’s been fun experimenting!
“Red Square” was woven on 10 shafts–2 for the foundation warp and 8 for the red warp.
The sewing thread warp I’m weaving on now has a supplementary warp, too. In this case these warps aren’t threaded in heddles, but between them. See more in previous posts.
I weight my supplementary warps with washers that are hanging from shower curtain hooks.
The knot to use (because it is easy to undo and redo as needed) is described in 3 of my books because I think it is so useful. “Weaving for Beginners”, Book #2: “Warping Your Loom & Tying On New Warps”, and Book #3: “Weaving and Drafting Your Own Cloth”. See the chapter, Two or More Warps in Book #2 for details.
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.
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.
The exit hole of the boat shuttle should face you, the weaver, as you weave along. This illustration is from page 111 in Weaving for Beginners.
Figure 263 shows how the weft exits the shuttle when it is in the shed.
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”.
Kitestick: Approximately 1 ½” x ½” x 12″ or
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.
One more thing about temples and croc clips!
Devices that deal with too much draw-in
If everything about your cloth is just as you want it, but the draw-in is causing the selvedges to break. You can stretch out the warp near the reed so the reed can’t abrade the threads while weaving.
A temple is a stretcher that holds the cloth out at the selvedges.
See Figure 529. It allows you to snug the wefts up to the selvedges without breaking the threads during weaving. It may be made of wood or metal. Any temple needs to be
strong. They are available in many widths for weaving wide rugs or narrow placemats.
Cord and clip stretchers
This stretcher is a variation of a temple that you can make yourself. See Figure 530. The clips are “Crocodile clips” (also called “croc clips”) and are available at hardware stores. They are made to clip tarps and are very inexpensive.