Hi fellow weavers! I have a beautiful Ahrens loom I would love to donate to an enthusiastic intermediate or above weaver who is mechanically minded and familiar with Ahrens or AVL looms. I live in San Francisco, and you would need to move the loom. There are 25 cement steps to get to the loom. And the loom is heavy.
Send me an email if you are interested. Be sure to tell me why you are the person for this loom. And thanks for helping find a home for my very neglected Ahrens loom.
When I was writing the book, I wanted to explain the tension system on the Ahrens looms I had and on AVL looms. Since Jim Ahrens is the “A” part of AVL and I was consulting with him when writing my book, I had to make sure I made it clear. I could never explain right. Finally, Jim said, “You still don’t understand it, I’ll tell you a story that I think can explain it. The system was used centuries ago; in fact, all the looms in Diderot’s Encyclopedie (1751-17172) show it. It might have been discovered like this story.” Hence “A Fairy Tale” on pages 140, 141 repeated here.
Once upon a time long, long ago before there were ratchets for looms, ways to tension the warp were very primitive. One day a weaver found a new way to put tension on the warp beam. He put a sturdy stick, like a peg, vertically in his warp beam, hooked a rope on it, wound it around and around the beam, and hung a big rock on it. With the weight off the floor, he had full warp tension, and he was very pleased with himself. As he wove along and advanced the warp, the rope wound up on the beam and the rock rose higher and higher off the ground. Prety soon he had to stop because the rock was up on the warp beam, and he had to unwind the rope to let it down. Then he wove along until the rock got too high, stopped to unwind some rope and let it down again. This worked fine and he was very, very pleased with himself.
One time when he was unwinding the rope, he pulled out the peg and the rope slipped off the stick into his hand. He was surprised when he held the end of the rope, that he didn’t have to pull hard on it at all to keep the rope from slipping around the beam. In fact, he could hold the loop in the end of the rope with one finger and the rope around the beam didn’t slip. The big rock still hung in place putting full tension on the warp!
He had been winding the rope, say, ½ dozen times around the beam, so he decided to see if he could wind fewer times. He found with only 3 turns on the beam there was still not much weight needed on the end of the rope. So he hung a small rock on the end of the rope and began weaving.
As he wove along, the big rock rose and the little rock fell until it hit the floor. Then the most amazing surprise came.
When the warp threads were lifted to open the shed, the beam rolled forward slightly, raising the big rock and lowering the small rock to the floor. The little rock touching the floor took the tension off that end of the rope for an instant. As soon as it did, the rope slipped a bit on the beam. As soon as the beam slipped, the big rock put tension back on the rope pulling the small rock up off the floor again. The slippage let the warp move forward a few thousandths of an inch—just enough to compensate for the take-up of the warp for the weft!
The big rock was off the floor, obviously, while the small rock dangled just above the floor, where it bounced and dangled on and off the floor as he wove along.
Not he didn’t have to get up and unwind the rope to let the big rock down! He could weave along continuously, and the big rock would hold the full warp tension. The little rock would let the warp beam slip a bit with each weft and also would let it slip when he advanced the warp. The two rocks remained in these positions all during his weaving. This pleased him very, very, very much.
When the shed closed, our weaver realized that the beam rolled backwards to its starting place. The tension on the warp threads never changed even when the warp threads were lifted to open the sheds, because the wight (the big rock) was always the same. This was perfect for fine silk warp threads that couldn’t stand the stress of stretching with old locked beam systems. He was enormously pleased with himself!
Rocks (with on rock ten time heavier than the other) and the weaver’s invention are still used today! (Peggy’s note: I’ve seen this over and over in my travels.)
When Jim Ahrens began using the wight-counter weight system he tried the two weights and noticed the two weights jerked when the rope slipped. Then he got the idea to use a small spring in place of the counterweight. The spring let the rope slip slowly so there was no jerk or sudden change, just smooth weaving. He came up with the idea on his own, but never claims to have invented it; he said, “I always found someone else had done the things I worked out on my own.”
When he needed to make smaller looms, there wasn’t enough room for the big weight so he substituted a heavy spring for the weight. “It was no big advance, there was no place for the weight,” he said. It works the same way as the weight and small spring. Today some AVL looms use the two-spring system, and some use an arm with a weight and the small spring.
The heavy spring (or weighted arm) puts the tension on the warp; the small spring is the counterweight. When the shed opens, the warp beam rolls forward a bit loosening the tension on the other end of the rope at the small spring. The rope slips a little. The heavy spring takes over again, putting the rope back under tension. When the shed closes the warp beam rolls back to its starting point. The slippage is a few thousandths of an inch, and the warp stays under constant tension.
As you crank the warp forward you exert more force on the warp than the force of the weight or heavy spring, causing the cord to slip. This allows the beam to turn and the warp to unwind.
Jim prefers using the combination of a heavy weight and the small spring because he can beat harder than with just the two springs. But the double springs are a good enough substitute if you don’t beat too hard.
Order your copy of “Warping Your Loom & Tying on New Warps” HERE
Introduction: In this post I share the beginning of the chapter about shed geometry which applies to all types of looms. In future posts, I’ll briefly explain how different looms work. The complete chapter in the book has comprehensive directions on how to adjust jack, counterbalance, and countermarch looms.
Part I: Why to put the most threads on the first shafts.
Before the loom is ready for weaving, it may be necessary to adjust it so the warp, treadles, and lams are in the best position to make good sheds, to make the best quality cloth, and to make your weaving comfortable. If the bottom of the shed isn’t flat, the shuttle will skip threads as it passes through. If the warp isn’t the correct starting position, ridges can appear in the cloth.
Many weavers know counterbalance and countermarch looms need special adjusting, but they don’t know that jack looms can need some adjusting, too. Before you can adjust anything though, you need to understand how things ought to be and why. A little bit of loom geometry also helps in many situations.
Weavers know that when the shed is open to receive the shuttle, some warp threads are up and some down. But it’s also important where the bottom and top of the shed are located, and where the shed itself is open the most. If you visualize the open shed, you know that it is open the widest at the heddle eyes, where the individual warp threads are being held up and down. The size of the shed gets smaller and smaller going away from that point, until it barely opens at all at the fell of the cloth (the last weft woven) and at the back beam. In the illustration you see a shed but there is also an extra cord with a weight at each end going through the center of the shed. I call that a temporary diagnostic string. It can help clarify where the top and bottom of a shed are. For a clearer view see the final illustration in this post.
To help to understand lams, treadles, and sheds, think of a railroad crossing gate. Compare the size of a gate crossing a country lane to the size of a gate crossing a wide boulevard. When the longer gate swings up and down, its far end must travel a great deal more distance than when the short gate swings up. But the gates are alike where they’re attached at the pivot—neither moves much distance at all. When either gate swings up or down, its far end moves a much greater distance than the pivot end. Another way to help visualize the different distances travelled whether you’re close or far from the pivot point is to think of ice skaters making a pinwheel. The ones nearest the center of the circle move very little, while those at the outside have to skate like mad and skate much further to keep up.
I use these images in teaching whenever there is an angle or a pivot on the loom: sheds make angles; treadles, lams, and jacks have pivots. These principles can guide you through setting up and adjusting any kind of loom.
The application of the gate idea explains why in some looms (especially those with many shafts), the shaft that is the farthest away from the fell (the “last” shaft) is designed to raise or lower the threads more than the front shaft that is closest to the fell. See the illustration. This means that all the warps threaded on the back shaft travel more than the other warp threads—taking more effort from you to lift or lower them. For this reason, if some shafts in a weave draft have many more threads than others, put those threads on shafts near the front of the loom, e.g. shafts 1 and 2. This creates less strain on you and the threads. You won’t have to lift the threads so high, and the threads won’t have to move so far.
Some looms raise and/or lower all the shafts the same distance, and the threads lifted by the back shaft aren’t raised higher than the front ones. See the illustration. Notice that the threads on the last shaft are getting lower and lower as they approach the fell of the cloth, and at the position of the beater where you throw the shuttle, the threads on shaft one are lifted higher than those on the back shaft. This is another reason to put the most threads on the first shafts. Notice also that the height of the shed is reduced by the threads from the back shafts. This also might be a feature to keep in mind when buying a multi-shaft loom.
The depth of the loom from the shafts to the back beam allows the shed geometry to work or not. Remember, the pivot or stationary place at the back of the loom is the back beam and the moving end of the railroad gate is at the heddle eyes, where the warp threads go up and down. If there are many shafts, there needs to be enough room for the threads to move the distance required. If the loom is too shallow, it puts too much strain on the warp threads and tends to prevent the shafts from moving.
My point is that some looms simply don’t work very well because their designer didn’t understand loom geometry. For this reason, I don’t recommend building a homemade loom. A lot of effort could be put into a loom that won’t work well.
As promised: an illustration of just the temporary diagnostic string. It is used when adjusting looms.
This loom is available and looking for a good home. For someone who likes good engineering and production with pleasure. It was built by my mentor, Jim Ahrens in the 50’s. Ahrens is the “A” in AVL. My looms are either built by him or by AVL. It’s like my own loom: 10 shafts and 10 treadles. The side tie-up means you don’t have to get down on the floor to tie up the treadles. The height is 46,” Width 52,” Depth 27″
There’s a great warping mill—large and strong and stands on the floor. That could be separate. Other equipment like shuttles, etc. goes with it.
Go to this website which my apprentice and I made to see more features and how to use them. Ahrenslooms.com
Besides, it is made of beautiful birdseye maple and has been in a home so is in great condition. Probably all the cords and strings will need to be replaced. I used Texsolv cords and you can get Texsolv heddles, too.
It is located in Rossmore, in the San Francisco Bay area. Call the grandchildren at 858-335-3524. Asking $200 or best offer.
Sometimes there are just too many tie-ups in a multi-shaft project that a table loom is the best solution. (Of course, you can weave a 4-shaft project with the universal tie up in previous posts.)
Weaving this Christmas stocking took 8 shafts and Carolyn Burwell did not want to crawl under her floor loom for all these tie-ups. Using the levers on a table loom for all the sheds was easier by far than making all those tie-ups on a floor loom.
Here is what the back looked like. Weaving wrong-side-up would not be any help.
Red velvet will cover the wrong side beautifully. See the next post for the finished stocking.
I inherited this needle case pillow from a weaver who died. I love it and have made many to give away and to have at home with my sewing things. I’m amazed at how often I need a tapestry needle. And having different sizes has come in handy many times.
This beautiful pin cushion was with Ethel’s things when she died. It so represents her aesthetic.
This is my first attempt at making something to hang from my castle. I probably made it when I first got my loom from Jim Ahrens. I’m sure the idea came from him: I must have seen one on his own loom. Mine isn’t pretty but I can jam in pins, scissors, and notes. I should make something better as a gift to myself…sometime.
Jim Ahrens built looms and on his own he had a holder like this. Jim is the “A” part of AVL and was my mentor. What I learned from him is the basis of my books. He was a production weaver, a mechanical engineer, and an inventor. This is on my 12-shaft early AVL dobby loom. I wonder if they still are on the new looms today. I love it.
Introduction: Some weavers prefer to use packing sticks rather than paper. I prefer paper because the warp beam builds up so much more if sticks are used.
Sectional warp beam If your loom has a sectional warp beam like in the photo, you do not need to use packing paper. It is meant to wind the warp in sections. However, you can use a sectional beam like a plain beam. Read on.
If the sectional beam doesn’t have an apron rod, you’ll have to make one. After that, follow the procedures you do with a plain beam except don’t use packing paper. Attach a smooth narrow stick or dowel (about ½” diameter) to the cords on the sectional beam with lark’s head knots. If there are no cords, make some with strong string, not thick or bulky rope. Cut the cords twice the distance from around the beam to where the shafts are like in the photo. Fold each cord in half and knot the ends. Then, attach them to pegs at about 3-4” intervals to the sectional beam with lark’s head knots. Attach the cords to the apron rod with lark’s head knots. See the end of the post for how to make a lark’s head knot.
Very large warp beam If your warp beam’s circumference is very big, say, around 11” or more as in the photo, you don’t need to use packing paper.
The lark’s head knot This is another of my favorites that I find I use a lot.
I’ve been getting spam on Ahrenslooms.com lately. It’s a website I made with my apprentice, Vera Totos to explain how Ahrens looms work. Jim Ahrens was a mentor and his information is the basis for all my teaching and books. I have several looms, all of which he built. He is the “A” in AVL Looms. There is a little history on the website if interested. My tech guy decided that a new look would be good for the site while he was seeing what to do about the spam. He removed the Forum and Comments since no real person ever used it. In fact, one of the recent spams came from Russia he discovered! While he was fiddling with the site he came across the fairy tale and asked me what on earth was that. I replied it’s a story that explains the tension system on all the Ahrens looms and the AVLs as well. I could never understand how the brake worked so he told me this story and now I understand how the springs and ropes work. Now everyone can understand how the system works with confidence.
Once upon a time long, long ago before there were ratchets for looms, ways to tension the warp were very primitive. One day a weaver found a new way to put tension on the warp beam. He put a sturdy stick, like a peg, vertically in his warp
beam, hooked a rope on it, wound it around and around the beam, and hung a big rock on it. With the weight off the floor, he had full warp tension, and he was very pleased with himself.
As he wove along and advanced the warp, the rope wound up on the beam and the rock rose higher and higher off
the ground. Pretty soon he had to stop because the rock was up on the warp beam, and he had to unwind the rope
to let it down. Then he wove along until the rock got too high, stopped to unwind some rope and let it down again. This worked fine and he was very, very pleased with himself
One time when he was unwinding the rope, he pulled out the peg and the rope slipped off the stick into his hand. He was surprised when he held the end of the rope, that he didn’t have to pull hard on it at all to keep the rope from slipping around the beam. In fact, he could hold the loop in the end of the rope with one finger, and the rope around the beam
didn’t slip. The big rock still hung in place putting full tension on the warp!
He had been winding the rope say, 1/2 dozen times around the beam, so he decided to see if he could wind fewer times.
He found with only 3 turns on the beam there was still not much weight needed on the end of the rope. So he hung asmall rock on the end of the rope and began weaving.
As he wove along, the big rock rose and the little rock fell until it hit the floor. Then the most amazing surprise came. When the warp threads were lifted to open the shed, the beam rolled forward slightly, raising the big rock and lowering the small rock to the floor. The little rock touching the floor took the tension off that end of the rope for an instant. As soon as it did, the rope slipped a bit on the beam. As soon as the beam slipped, the big rock put tension back on the rope pulling the small rock up off the floor again. The slippage let the warp move forward a few thousandths of an inch—just enough to compensate for the take-up of the warp for the weft! The big rock was off the floor, obviously, while the small rock dangled just above the floor, where it bounced and dangled on and off the floor as he wove along. Now he didn’t have to get up and unwind the rope to let the big rock down! He could weave along continuously, and the big rock would hold the full warp tension. The little rock would let the warp beam slip a bit with each weft and also would let it slip when he advanced the warp. The two rocks remained in these positions all during his weaving. This pleased him very, very, very much. When the shed closed, our weaver realized that the beam rolled backwards to its starting place. The tension on the warp threads never changed even when the warp threads were lifted to open the sheds, because the weight (the big rock) was always the same. This was perfect for fine silk warp threads that couldn’t stand the stress of stretching with the old locked beam systems. He was enormously pleased with himself! Rocks (with one rock ten times heavier than the other) and the weaver’s invention are still used today!
When Jim Ahrens Began Using the Weight-Counter Weight System
He tried the two weights and noticed the two weights jerked when the rope slipped. Then he got the idea to use a small spring in place of the counterweight The spring let the rope slip slowly so there was no jerk or sudden change, just smooth weaving.
He came up with the idea on his own, but never claims to have invented it; her said, “I always found someone else had done the things I worked out on my own.” When he needed to make smaller looms, there wasn’t enough room for the big weight so he substituted a heavy spring for the weight “It was no big advance, there was no place for the weight.” he said. It works the same way as the weight and small spring.
The heavy spring puts the tension on the warp; the small spring is the counterweight. When the shed opens, the warp beam rolls forward a bit loosening the tension on the other end of the rope at the small spring. The rope slips a little. The heavy spring takes over again, putting the rope back under tension. when the shed closes the warp beam rolls back to its starting point. The slippage is a few thousandths of an inch and the warp stays under constant tension.
As you crank the warp forward you exert more force on the warp than the force of the heavy spring causing the cord to slip. this allows the beam to turn and the warp to unwind.
Jim preferred using the combination of a heavy weight and the small spring because he can beat harder than with just the two springs. But the double springs are a good enough substitute if you don’t beat too hard.
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. 🙂”
I’m amazed at how people are checking on and helping each other as we deal with the Covid-19 virus and stay in our homes.
I spent the day cutting fabrics for making 200 masks for our staff. Thank goodness for a rotary cutter! I can’t tell you how good it felt to be doing something. We have a whole team. It’s amazing how people have all we needed—except for the elastic and filter. We needed to search deeply for elastic—everyone seemed out of stock. I had a spool of wire and good cutters, others had fabric—lots of quilting material. Tonight those with sewing machines are busily sewing them up. Our team leader made miniature samples to go along with the directions.
I’d like to help in another way by offering a free book with the purchase of a book. It’s the same sale I have offered during the holidays.
If you can weave or not now, perhaps reading about it will make for some pleasant time—maybe even inspire you to get to the loom.
Many of you know my book, Weaving for Beginners (as a pdf or in print). However, the other books offer more depth and are like reference books. They have all the illustrations you expect. Order your free books on my website: www.peggyosterkamp.com
Here’s what you might be interested in knowing more in depth about in Winding a Warp & Using aPaddle: how to use a paddle, plan projects, understand sett for different projects as well as different yarns, and make perfect warps.
Warping Your Loom & Tying On New Warps is only available as a pdf but has lots of information that isn’t readily available to weavers—especially in one place. How to beam perfectly tensioned warps by yourself, use sectional warping, adjust looms, tie on new warps, learn how different types of looms work, and how to adjust them.
Weaving & Drafting Your Own Cloth has in-depth information on drafting, analyzing fabric, creating your own designs, burn tests, multi shaft weaving, besides efficient weaving motions, information about different types of shuttles, making perfect selvedges and weighting them separately. There is a big chapter on troubleshooting as well.
My DVD is available on Vimeo as well as on a DVD. How to warp the loom from back-to-front is what it shows. It’s just like what’s in all the books.
In the town of Thanjavur in southest India we visited Sri Sagunthalai Silks factory. One of their specialities is weaving special borders on the fabric. They developed a technique so the join between the body and the borders was barely detectable by feel. [click photos to enlarge]
There were 5 or 6 Jacquard looms. Here is how the (two) Jacquard mechanisms were set up: one mechanism for the borders (with yellow cords) and the other for the body of the cloth with white cords. Each and every pattern warp thread was weighted separately so each thread could be lifted to make the complicated brocade pattern seen above. Each heddle was attached to its own cord going up to the mechanisms (yellow and white cords). One punch card was made for each row of weaving which the mechanisms operated to make the sheds. This inspired the develpment of computers; you can see why.
This shows the two warps for the body and a border. I think the shafts lifted the ground threads and the Jacquard lifted the separate pattern threads.
Here the woman weaving (wearing a sari) lifted the border threads with its own treadle. I think the Jacuard worked automatically when a shed was made. (You can see some of the weights below the border).
Another treadle worked the shed for the body of the fabic.
Here she was VERY grumpy when the Jacquard mechanism overhead malfunctioned!
Here are a few photos about another loom built by Jim Ahrens: his 40-shaft dobby loom which he built during the second world war in the 40’s. These are just to whet your appetite for the information you’ll find on ahrenslooms.com. My apprentice, Vera Totos and I made the site because it was important to show how Jim’s looms worked.
This is part of a chain I used to weave the music notes for Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star several years ago. Over time some pegs have been removed.
Here is the backside of the dobby chain and some of the dobby mechanism. You can see it took a lot of bars for the first phrase of the tune.
Part of the mechanism has a cord with a knot for each of the 40 shafts. When a peg hits the mechanism it pushes the corresponding cord so it can’t go throought the hole, thus moving that shaft.
Here is a photo near the beginning of our restoration of the loom. Lots and lots of cords and knots!!
Getting the 40-shaft mechanical dobby going. Jim Ahrens built this loom in the 40’s. Beside the dobby shafts are 4 more made for a ground weave. You can see a small practice warp ready to see that the dobby mechanism works after replacing all the cords. A big project.
Here are the dobby bars I pegged for a design some years ago next to the mechanism. There is a single wide treadle to activate the dobby which is what makes the sheds. Next week we should see if all the adjustments and knots work like they should.
Here is a close up of the bars and pegs. Each bar represents one shed or row of weaving. The pegs tell the dooby which shafts to lift and lower to make the sheds.
The big pedal operates the dobby. The 4 regular pedals are meant to operate a ground weave which we aren’t using for our trial. Each press of the big pedal changes the shed (dobby bar with pegs).
For the trial only 4 shafts will be used.
Here are the completed 4 shafts with their individual weights at the bottom of each shaft. The cords for the remainder of the shafts are bunched up out of the way.
The tech world swirls around me again. Now my DVD “Warping the Loom Back to Front” is available for downloading and streaming on demand as well as a real DVD.
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. People are now streaming movies and downloading them to watch from their computers or their phones. In order to do this, people must have a good internet connection though to make sure they don’t have to wait for buffering. Internet service providers, like infinitydish.com, have high-speed internet options to make it easier to download and stream movies quickly. That’s what a lot of people are doing.
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 HEREand 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!
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“.
When Pat Keily sent me his question, I gave him my thoughts but non suited his problem with floating shafts with multiple tie-ups. Here is what he wrote for this guest post to explain the problem and his happy solution. Thanks for contributing this tip, Pat! “I have a 67-year-old LeClerc Nilus 36-inch, 10 treadle loom that has given me fits. The problem has been floating frames on multiple tie-ups. For some reason still unbeknownst to me, depressing a treadle would cause one or more frames to “float” an inch or so off the bottom. I was finally able to determine the cause and solution by googling the right key words. The problem is caused by the weight of the treadles (but why depressing a treadle would cause this is beyond me) lifting the jack. The solution is to install springs that keep the treadles from weighing down the frames. After searching for the right size springs and seeing they would cost over $50, my wife came up with a much better idea. We went to the Dollar Store and bought clasp-free hair bands for 10 cents each (pack of ten for a dollar). I bought 20 eye screws, installed ten in the end of the treadles and ten on a hardwood strip that I attached to the loom (Pat told me that he opened the “eyes” with two pairs of pliers). I slipped the hair band (fancy rubber bands) onto the eye screws and my floating frames floated right out of my life!”
Day 20. Asakusa gate was where we began our day in Tokyo–to say it was crowded is a huge understatement. We headed for the Amuse Museum near the big temple to see the new Boro Exhibit.
Here is an example of Boro–patching with scraps of fabric done in the cold-winter area of Hokkaido. There were quotes I liked from the labels. “The beauty of practically”. “Lovingly mended with diverse cotton fabrics”. “Only property owners had a control over even small fabric scraps. Possession of those scraps proved one’s social status and wealth”. There were cloths used when giving birth that had been around for generations. They were boiled before the birth to kill any lice!
Next we went to the big Mitsukoshi department store and spent the entire afternoon there. First we encountered a flower arranging exhibit as we were heading to the kimono department. There were many arrangements to be seen but tickets were required to see the masters’ arrangements.
It was a mob scene around the flower exhibition and a long line of women waiting to pay for accessories that were for sale.
Finally we got through the crowd to the kimono department where spent probably well over an hour at the special exhibit and demonstrations.
There was this fascinating smallish table loom set up to make fancy brocade fabric for small purses.
The warp was made of paper strip!
Here was the intricate pattern being woven. All done by picking up threads row by row.
Here was a small bag on display and for sake using the paper warp brocade fabric. Beautiful.
Day 13 – Ikat weft thread in a shuttle in Ishigaki. The weft thread has the dark and white areas that an ikat thread would have after dyeing and removing the ties. The special thing here is how the weft is in the shuttle. The weft “bundle” is made similar to winding a kite stick. The tool it is wound on looks a bit like a mechanical pencil or pen but there is a split at one end so you can anchor and start to wind the beginning of the weft thread around that end. (The weft thread will come out of the center of the bundle when inside the shuttle). The thread is just wound around the pencil-like tool a few times then it is wound like a kite stick around the tool. In my books you can see that I wind my warps on a stick that I call a kite stick in the way a kite stick is wound instead of chaining the warp. A bamboo stick holds the weft bundle in place and the thread comes off like any bobbin.
She was winding the weft thread on the tool too fast for me to get a good photo of the end where the weft was anchored and started. Here the weaver is winding the thread around a few times before beginning the “kite stick” technique. (Winding a kite stick is very much like winding on a nitty noddy.)
To keep the pattern exact the cloth is stretched to the width in the reed with the bamboo stick here. Also notice that the edge of the cloth isn’t perfectly straight. That’s because when the ikat weft thread is being woven it has to be slid either to the left or right so it lines up perfectly. The weft loops at the edge shows where the thread had been moved so it will line up. I bought a hanging with just a small amount of weft ikat and I love seeing the straight edges except where there are small weft loops sticking out where the weft ikat pattern is woven.
This shows where the ikat warp threads are joined with the white foundation warp behind the heddles on the loom shown in yesterday’s post.
Day 12 Ishigaki Island, Okinawa. We took a taxi to the Minsa Textile Institute & Minsa Craft Center and were met with lovely yarns drying outside the entrance. It is a large shop with a little museum upstairs. We spent quite a long time there. The weavers were winding huge warps onto beams to be put into looms when an order was placed for that color and design. There were tens of warp beams on the shelves to be woven as needed. We weren’t allowed to show photos of the process or the things in the shop. The shop was very attractive with contemporary colors and designs using traditional techniques woven on this island. Too bad I can’t show photos. Minsa technique means narrow weaving for obi for men and women. This shop used the warp faced technique with wider warps for lovely products to sell. Some examples were placemats, pillow covers, small coasters and lots of bags of all sizes. Everything was beautifully made.
Skeins drying after being dyed. The ones with the white plastic sticking out were ones that had been tied before dying. The area with the ties resisted the dye and will remain undyed. The cloth woven with these specially dyed threads in patterns is what is called “ikat”. Ikat is pronounced “e-cot”. See the next photo for a closer look.
A close look at the threads tied for ikat cloth. When they are put on the loom the tied will be removed and the yarns will be beige and white.
In the afternoon we visited a small weaving studio where the patterned “ikat” cloth was woven on looms with the pattern warp on a reel device that fit onto the back of the loom. This I had never seen before. Instead of tying the pattern threads they were painted on the warp threads while the warp was on tension on this reel device. This meant that the patterns lined up perfectly and didn’t need adjusting like we had been seeing before on the other islands. The next photos will show closer looks.
Here is the warp with the pattern painted on it.
There are two warps on the loom. The patterned one and a white one which is the main part of the cloth. The two are integrated in the heddles and woven together.
This is what the woven cloth looks like. Besides the warp threads being patterned the weft threads are patterned as well by tying the ikat threads and then dyeing them. We call it double ikat when both warps and wefts are dyed in these ways. The warps are the vertical threads and the wefts are the horizontal threads.
This is the tool used to “paint” the pattern on the warps.
Day 11. Ishigaki Island, Okinawa. The tradition in this area is of weaving narrow cloth called Mensa. The warps are very dense so the cloth is totally warp face. There is a stripe with two warp ikat patterns. The traditional textile has a”four-square” and a “5-square” pattern that stand for eternal love. This photo shows the 4-square design. The 5-square design is in the cloth,too, but not shown in this part of the cloth. This is s woman’s obi. A sash for the men is about 4″ wide; the women’s is bout 6″ wide. I love this piece because all the rest of the patterning comes from the arrangements of dark and light colors in the warp. They are woven on two shaft looms in plain weave; over one and under one.
Traditional Mensa narrow obi. I saw a picture with both men and women wearing this narrow “belt”. This is the traditional color but now many colors are available.
Traditionally the wefts were beaten in with a sword. Now the looms use a beater to do the job. With warp face cloth getting a clear shed and beating in the wefts are issues to consider.
At the end of a hot and humid day we tried the traditional Okinawan sweet treat: zenzai. It is made of red kidney beans sweetened with raw sugar and covered with shaved ice. We almost ordered one for each of the four of us but thankfully we were advised that one would be enough for all–and it definitely was. It was refreshing but I like soft ice cream better and that is found all over.
Day 10. Tiny Patterns Woven at Miyako Traditional Crafts Research Center. It was impossible to imagine these patterns were tied and dyed (ikat) until we saw how it was done.
Imagine whole kimonos woven with such fine patterns! It was thrilling to see how it was done.
This is what I hoped to see and it was hanging to dry after being dyed with indigo. This woven thick piece is how the tiny white patterns are made. In the photo all the places where there is weaving resisted the indigo blue dye and remain white when this thick mat is unwoven. The unwoven threads with the tiny white areas are then put on the loom and the real cloth is woven.
marmarweaves commented: This is pretty unbelievable, if you had not seen it and shown it, it would be more than one could imagine. Astonishing. Thanks Peggy for taking us along.
Here you can see the mat being unwoven and the threads have white areas where they were originally woven to resist the blue dye.
Here the threads are on the loom about to be woven into cloth for a kimono.
Here is a pattern piece ready for the dye pot. You can see the pattern that will eventually be woven into cloth.
On the loom if a thread isn’t exactly lined up it has to be tightened or loosen to be in the right place. The weaver watches carefully with every row.
Here is a close up of the edge of the piece woven and ready to dye. Bundles of threads are woven. Where the threads float is where the dye will sink in. Where they are woven will be too tight and won’t allow the dye to penetrate causing the small white patterns.
Day 8. Chibana Village Okinawa. At the Chibana Hanaori Cooperative they also wove cloth with extra warp threads to create patterns with threads floating on the surface. This complicated but beautiful cloth also had some ikat designs where the tied and dyed threads are woven in the cloth along with areas where the threads ride on the surface of the cloth.
This is the back side if the previous cloth. The threads not on the “right side” float on the back of the cloth.
In this area the shafts on the loom are lifted to create the patterns on the top of the cloth with this hook. In the previous studio they pulled down the shafts with their toe or foot to make the patterns.
For this pattern extra threads were laid in as the weaving progressed. We call this inlay technique. The left side if the photo is the right dide of the cloth and the right side shows the back side. See the next photo.
Here the yellow thread is the starting point of an inlay design.
The warp beams on the looms were square.
A photo of Part of the weaving studio.
The warp beams are square but they are round with the warp wound on them. There is a square “sleeve” made of wood that goes on the beam before the warp is wound on. I don’t know why. The photo shows that one warp is the foundation thread and the other for the pattern.
Day 5 Naha Okinawa. This is glorious cloth woven by Michiko Uehara an artist/weaver who has exhibited in New York as well as in Japan. She reels the silk threads off the cocoons herself and weaves the most sheer cloth I’ve ever seen. This piece is double woven as a tube.
Another silk woven by Michiko Uehara. She dropped it from the sir and it simply floated down. She showed us maybe 20 large pieces–each one more thrilling than the last.
One piece was woven both warp and weft with threads that came from single cocoons. Always several if not 10 or so are reeled off at once to form fine threads. I held the cloth and was amazed that is was light as a feather. What you see here are the warp threads. If you look closely you can glimpse the cloth.
One of Michiko’s daughters is a potter and made these tiny containers for the tea in the tea ceremony. These are what I’ve been so interested in. Michiko herself wove her fine silks for the bags for the containers made by a contemporary potter in a joint exhibition.
We also went to Haebaru Village to see kasuri cloth being tied, dyed, and woven. Here a man is painting the lines on the threads instead of tying and then dyeing them.
Here two sets of fine warp threads are being put into the reed.
These are warp threads that have been starched before weaving. The warp looked like straw.