Another Life Saver: The Snitch Knot

Introduction:
This knot absolutely saved me the other day when working on a student’s loom. I had to untie all the ties to the treadles and the knots were OLD, frayed, and dusty. Because the previous owner had tied proper snitch knots, I could undo the knots without breaking a fingernail or swearing.

A snitch knot is very handy and is especially good for tying heavy cords that can be adjusted. A common use is to tie treadles to lams—the snitch knot saves fingernails and frustration when adjusting is needed. The knot has a simple concept: it’s made in two parts. A loop is made into a lark’s head knot, and another cord’s two tails are put into the lark’s head knot and tied like the first part of a shoelace knot. The shoelace knot can’t pull out of the lark’s head’s grasp when tension is put on the cords. But when tension is slack, the shoelace knot’s cords can slide inside the lark’s head’s grip to adjust the overall length of the cord. It takes time to prepare the cords, but they can be used over and over again. A loop is needed for each knot and two tails of another cord.

To make a snitch knot when tying up treadles:
Make sure that the cords’ anchoring knots in the lams or treadles are big enough so they never pull through the holes in the wood. I prefer to put the tails on the lams and the loops on the treadles. That’s because if the loops are attached to the lams above, they can cause trouble by “looping” themselves onto unwanted treadles. However, if the tails dangle from the lams, they can’t hook onto anything.


Step 1
Make a lark’s head in the loop by folding it back on itself.


The beginning of a Shoelace Knot
Step 2
Pass the tails through the lark’s head loop and tie the first part of a shoelace knot with the tails. Don’t add the second part of square or granny knot—it’s strong enough if you’ve tied it with both ends taking the stress of the knot equally.

Step 3
To adjust it, pull on one of the tails of the shoelace knot and the knot is easily undone even if it has been under tension for years. Then slide the tails in the lark’s head loop to shorten or lengthen the cords. Then tighten the shoelace knot. It’s faster to shorten so start with the cords too long and shorten as needed.

To untie a snitch knot: Pull on one tail to loosen the shoelace knot. Then undo that knot and slide the tails out of the lark’s head.


Oh no! I Cut a Mono Filament Thread: Mending my piece for China with Jim’s Fisherman’s Knot

When I was getting my piece ready to send to China, I cut one of the threads holding a string of swatches! On top of that, the thread was made of monofilament or slippery fish line. I had to reconnect the thread without extra thread for a knot and besides, it couldn’t show. It was one of the purple strings beside the black one.


I don’t think I’ve ever used this knot before but I’m sure glad that I remembered it when I needed it. The knot is Jim’s Fisherman’s knot which I learned from my mentor, Jim Ahrens. It’s for tying very slippery threads together. I put it in my book, Warping Your Loom & Tying On New Warps, available now in print after being only available as a PD for many years.


How to tie this life-saving-knot-for-me is the subject of a post from quite a while ago. The post gives full directions and hints. The link to the post is HERE.


Double Weaver’s Knot

Introduction:
This is used when smooth yarns won’t hold with a regular weaver’s knot. Remember though, even this knot won’t hold very slippery yarns. Jim’s fisherman’s knot is for them. See “Warping Your Loom & Tying On New Warps” for the chapter on knots.

Note: The double can also be undone like the regular weaver’s knot.
Another Note: See my eBook, Weaver’s Knots on the website to order from Amazon.

The double weaver’s knot is a regular weaver’s knot with an additional step. One way to make it is to begin like the “ears” method.


As soon as you have the thread between the ears, go to the next illustration.


As soon as you have the thread between the ears, take it once around the right-hand ear as well.


Then do the same last steps: take the right-hand ear down under the thumb and…


Tighten by pulling on the right end.


How to Undo Any Weaver’s Knot: and know if you’ve tied it correctly.

The key to knowing you’ve tied the weaver’s knot correctly is to be able to release or undo it.


To undo it, you want to straighten out the thread that makes the “U” in the completed knot. No matter which way you tie it, there is one thread in a U-shape and the other thread winding itself around the first.


Pull on both ends of that “U” thread—in opposite directions—to unbend it and straighten it out.


The squiggly portion can be slipped right off, and even the squiggles relax so you have two fresh threads when you’re through.


One Way to Tie a Weaver’s Knot: with “ears”

Introduction:
The weaver’s knot’s characteristics—non-slip and a quick release—are valued not only by weavers but by climbers and sailors, too. The knot can be used whenever two cords are tied together or to fasten one cord to a loom part. Because it can’t be tied under tension, it is a good knot when measuring the warp when you have a slack thread to work with. It can be tied with short ends, but not with very slippery threads, such as silk. It’s slower to work than a square knot, but more secure and smaller. So, if a square knot doesn’t hold, try a weaver’s or double weaver’s. Even so, some threads aren’t compatible enough with each other or are too slippery to tie either a square or a weaver’s knot.

There are several names associated with the weaver’s knot, such as bowline and sheet bend. I found five different methods for tying it, not including the double weaver’s knot. The method here I call the weaver’s knot with “ears”.

Check future posts for how to undo the knot and for the Double Weaver’s Knot!

This is the way Jim Ahrens taught and is in many books. The worker thread should be the longer of the two. If you are using this knot to tie on new warps, the worker thread is the new warp. In repairing a broken warp, the new thread (being longer) would be the worker and the existing end would be the non-worker.
Step 1. Cross the two tails, left over right, and hold the crossing part between the thumb and first finger of the left hand. The “ears” are the ends of the tails that should stand up straight. Make the ears long enough but not so long as they bend over.


Step 2. The right end is the worker thread. Take it around over the thumb and pass it behind the left-hand ear—just the left one—and bring it to the front between the two ears.


Drop the worker. Take the right-hand ear, bend it down into the circle, and place it under the thumb so it is pinched by the thumb along with the thread already under the thumb. The bent thread is actually bending on itself and held to itself in the pinch.


To tighten, continue holding the thread bent on itself in the pinch between the thumb and index finger of the left hand WHILE pulling on the remaining end with the right hand.


Tying a Weaver’s Knot when One End is Very Short

With warp threads likely to break at any place, you might need to tie a weaver’s knot with one end very short. Another time might be when tying on new warps if the old warp behind the heddles is very, very short. Here are the steps and a word of caution.


1. Make a slip knot in the long thread—that will be the worker thread.
2. Slip the loop over at least 3/8” of the short warp thread.


3. Pull the tail and the standing end of the worker thread away from each other (in opposite directions from each other). This capsizes or flips the knot inside out.
4. Tighten by holding the tail and standing end of the short thread between the thumb and forefinger of one hand; pull on the remaining standing end with the other hand.

One word of caution from Vince Webers of Wilmington, Delaware: If you make the slip knot too tight to start with, this weaver’s knot won’t “upset” (capsize) in Step 3. He says you soon learn how much you should pull on the two threads. If you want to test this, try it with two ropes.


Comments and Connections: Beyond the Two-Stick Heading Post

Introduction: I have been enjoying immensely preparing and sending out the frequent posts during the COVID 19 times. But I enjoy even more the comments and being connected to weavers who have responded.  The pandemic has connected us all—not only in the US but all over the world. That’s a lovely thing. The two comments below followed my previous post “Cutting off Some of the Cloth Before the Warp is Finished (the Two-Stick Heading)”.


“Dear Peggy,
The timing of this post is perfect! I’m a fairly new weaver and just finishing the first of a pair of bedside rugs. I so wanted to take it off the loom but wary of wasting the linen warp. I now have a solution. Many thanks and Happy Easter from isolation on the other side of the pond.”Ruth Morrell, South Devon, England


This comment from Linda Doggett from Dayton, Ohio, caught my attention. I know her name from her frequent posts on Facebook in the Four Shaft Weaving group:
“This wonderful tip has been printed and kept near my loom because I use it so often! I also have a printout of one of the knots from your book taped to the table next to the loom. You are pretty much indispensable, Peggy. 🙂”

Reminding Myself How to Hemstitch with My Kindle Book

I needed to hemstitch the other day and had to get out my big book, Weaving for Beginners, which was so big that it made it impossible to do the stitching. So I got out my Mini iPad and opened up my Kindle book on hemstitching. Perfect–then I taught myself again how to make the stitches. I was all thumbs at first but when I got it, it was quick and easy.

Then I got out my iPhone and it worked better than ever. What fun! I learned to hemstitch way late in my weaving life so on one piece I even forgot to use it.

So, I got it! Since this will be on the hem on the back of the piece, I didn’t need to be careful about having every group of threads the same size. The reason here is to keep the last wefts from unravelling. You should leave at least an inch of warp on the piece before cutting it off the loom.

You can get a copy of my Kindle Hemstitching booklet for just $2.99 HERE.
Next month I’ll publish my third booklet. This one will be about a unique way of “Tying On New Warps”. FYI: the second booklet is “Weaver’s Knots“.

A Knot to Make When One End is Very Short

Weaver's Knot When One End is Short
Weaver’s Knot When One End is Short

You might use this method when tying on new warps if the old warp behind the heddles is very, very short.

  1. Make a slip knot in the long thread–the worker thread.
  2. Slip the loop over at least 3/8″ of the short warp thread.
  3. Pull the tail and the standing end of the worker thread away from each other (in opposite directions from each other). This capsizes or flips the knot inside out.
  4. Tighten by holding the tail and standing end of the short thread between the thumb and forefinger of one hand; pull on the remaining standing end with the other hand.

Release, or undo the knot the same as with any weaver’s knot.

One word of caution from Vince Webers of Wilmington, Delaware: If you make the slip knot too tight to start with, this weaver’s knot won’t “upset”(capsize) in Step 3. He says you soon learn how much you should pull on the two threads. If you want to test this, try it with two ropes.