Camp Season Almost Here

Table Looms for Camp
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.

My First Guest Post! Calm Obsession by Regina Potts

Claw for post
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

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/

Peggy’s Weaving Tour – Philippines Day 12

Every day on my weaving tour of Japan and the Philippines I will repost all of my InstaGram posts here on my blog. I hope you enjoy my adventures.
loom 33
My blog, Facebook, Instagram and email notices are not behaving well together so if you are viewing this in FACEBOOK just click the post text to see the full post (with photos) on my blog. 
If you are viewing this in an EMAIL just click the post title to see the full post on my blog.

Day 12. Iloilo City. The only looms today!

A photo posted by Peggy Osterkamp (@peggyoster) on

Typical of the floor boards I. The old houses

A photo posted by Peggy Osterkamp (@peggyoster) on

Peggy’s Weaving Tour – Philippines Day 4

Every day on my weaving tour of Japan and the Philippines I will repost all of my InstaGram posts here on my blog. I hope you enjoy my adventures.
Fields
My blog, Facebook, Instagram and email notices are not behaving well together so if you are viewing this in FACEBOOK just click the post text to see the full post (with photos) on my blog. 
If you are viewing this in an EMAIL just click the post title to see the full post on my blog.

Day 4. We drove through jungle and this kind of landscape to another weaving village. T'bong Village. More later

A photo posted by Peggy Osterkamp (@peggyoster) on

Here is the weaver whose cloth I bought. She is rolling it up in the photo. I liked the red border.

A photo posted by Peggy Osterkamp (@peggyoster) on

Peggy’s Weaving Tour – Philippines Day 2

Every day on my weaving tour of Japan and the Philippines I will repost all of my InstaGram posts here on my blog. I hope you enjoy my adventures.
P-Weaver

My blog, Facebook, Instagram and email notices are not behaving well together so if you are viewing this in FACEBOOK just click the post text to see the full post (with photos) on my blog. If you are viewing this in an EMAIL just click the post title to see the full post on my blog.

A loom for weaving pineapple fiber. I can't wait to see it being woven and I hope I can buy some yo dye.

A photo posted by Peggy Osterkamp (@peggyoster) on

Weaving abaca fiber cloth on s blackstrap loom.

A photo posted by Peggy Osterkamp (@peggyoster) on

Making a warp demo.

A photo posted by Peggy Osterkamp (@peggyoster) on

I noticed this spaghetti of wires then noticed the name on the building.!

A photo posted by Peggy Osterkamp (@peggyoster) on

An interesting description for the next photo.

A photo posted by Peggy Osterkamp (@peggyoster) on

These are large pieces. Even used for ship sails. I loved the explanation

A photo posted by Peggy Osterkamp (@peggyoster) on

From our hotel window in Manilla. Off at 4:30 in the morning for a flight to the south.

A photo posted by Peggy Osterkamp (@peggyoster) on

Fine-Threads Saga Part Two: Threading the Heddles!

Peggy post 7-24-15-2
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). WrenchI 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]
Peggy Osterkamp-2
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.Peggy post 7-24-15-3
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.

 

Peggy post 7-24-15-4 This photo shows the threads in the lease sticks. Peggy post 7-24-15
This photo shows the threads behind the heddles as they go into the heddles.
Peggy post 7-24-15-5Peggy post 7-24-15-6

These photos show the
threads coming out of the heddles.

Peggy post 7-24-15-6
This last photo shows where I am so far—threads that are in the heddles and held to the side out of the way by a tiny ball of UHU removable putty.

These fantastic photos are by Bob Hemstock, my miraculous web guy.

Preparing for Weaving at Camp

Kids Warping Board

Kids Weaving 4

The counsellors and a few of the campers and a parent came to my studio to set up the looms before the camp started. The day of these photos a counsellor made a warp and she and I threaded one of the 7 Structo looms together. Her little brother and his friend came, too, and had fun weaving while we were having fun ourselves setting up the loom. It was a lovely afternoon. [click photos to enlarge]
Kids Weaving 1
Kids Weaving 2Kids Weaving 3

A Fine-Silk-Thread Saga: Part One

Drum - Beamimg Raddle
I have been fascinated with stiff silk—raw silk—undegummed silk for a few years. These threads and fabrics are not silky but crisp. Silk organza is an example. On a trip to Japan with Yoshiko Wada we found a few skeins of it and I grabbed them. They were lovely in the skeins and I didn’t notice how very, very fine the individual threads were! When I tried to wind the threads from a skein onto a spool it was a nightmare: threads broke, I couldn’t find an end etc., etc. I asked Takako Ueki, owner of Habu Textiles in New York, how to wind off fine threads and she said she would do it in her store, when I got a skein back it was on about 10 cones—I guess she kept starting over and over when threads broke. (It was expensive.)

Now I want to weave with that silk thread. The previous fine silk threads (enormous in comparison) were on spools (much easier) and collapsed when wetted or dyed. Now I want to weave and dye the cloth with indigo—hence the undegummed silk was needed.

I wound my previous warps with 10 spools at a time so I thought I would with this fine stuff, too. Snags, broken threads, cones messed up—all kinds of problems. So I tried 6 and finally ended up with 4 good cones and made a 10-yard warp. I have a wonderful warping reel with a heck block and leaser so winding with multiple threads is efficient. I tied many, many choke ties before I took the warp off the reel—turned out unnecessary for these threads but critical for the previous warps with the threads that collapsed. I decided I had to recalculate the sett because the threads were so fragile and fine so I went from 96 threads per inch to 120.
Rattle Loading
This first photo shows me loading my 5-dent raddle with 24 ends per dent. I skipped a space after every 2 dents to widen the warp and with more threads in a dent they worked together so that they did not break. For the 24 threads I used 2 raddle groups, each with 12 ends. [be sure to click the photos to see the fine details]
Drum - Raddle on Loom
Drum with Choke Ties

 

I use a warping drum to hold the warp on tension while I beam. I clamped the raddle onto the loom and left the lease sticks in to keep the threads organized and in order in their groups of 24 threads.

 

 

Drum - Errant Threads One photo shows a few errant threads but all in all the threads did fine under the tension of the warping drum while winding it onto the warp beam on the loom. The first group of threads was the one where I tried 10 and then 6 cones and had the breakage, etc. I will discard that group I’m thinking—that snarled errant thread shows you why.
Drum - Beamimg Raddle
The drum is across the room in my studio—maybe 15 feet away from the loom. I have to push a lot of stuff out of the way in the studio to make room for the beaming process. I stand at the loom and turn the warp beam roller and that pulls the warp off the drum under a lot of tension. The warp looks really great on the beam—tight and orderly.

The final step in this part of my saga is at the end of the warp as it came off the drum.
Drum - End of Warp
This illustration is from Page 148 in the chapter: The Warping Drum in my Book #2, Warping Your Loom & Tying On New Warps which is now available again in PDF format. The rope to the drum is attached to the end stick which I put in the end of the warp and the lease sticks are in place—for the tread-by-thread cross. This I did today. Now the remaining part of the warp can be beamed and ready for threading the heddles. I think it will take a couple of weeks for that step—there are around 600 threads and sometimes I can’t even see them—just feel them. Wish me luck.

Young Weavers on the Way

Camp Weavers 6
Camp Weavers 5When people come to my studio, they usually comment on the seven Structo looms sitting on a high shelf. I always thought I was collecting them to teach classes in my studio—to the adults I am comfortable with. Instead I took them to an outdoor day camp a week ago. I was completely smitten by the little boys and girls and they were smitten with weaving. Setting up the looms was done ahead of time in my studio by campers and young counsellors. It was amazing to me how the little ones could follow directions and do what I showed them how to do. They measured out the warps (3 yards), threaded the reed and heddles (You won’t believe it but we warped Front-to Back), beamed the warps, even tied on. Some of the small hands couldn’t push the levers for 1&3, 2&4, so did 1&2 and 3&4 which worked out just fine. One or two began thinking of other combinations.
They took their weaving home in CD cases I had on hand. [click photos to enlarge]
Camp Weavers 9
Camp Weavers 3

To set up the looms Front-to-Back, I had to have a couple of my books open to certain pages placed around the room. Patricia Townsend who teaches that method to high school students wrote the chapter and planned the illustrations. I have to say all my questions were clearly answered and the steps clearly accessible and understandable. I can now see why it is easier to teach. For these little looms and short warps, it was the right way to go. Her chapter is in my book, Weaving for Beginners where there are also a chapters on rigid heddle looms and hand manipulated structures—all written by experts because I only know Back-to-Front thoroughly. The computer chapter was written by Nancy Alegria and Debra Holcomb.There is another camp coming up this week. You can think of me under the trees with these great kids.
Camp Weavers 7
Camp Weavers 2Camp Weavers 8
Camp Weavers 4

This 4-Shaft Tie-up is My Gift to You

Tie-up for 4 Shafts

© Peggy Osterkamp – click to enlarge

This tie-up works for all 4-shaft looms except countermarch looms. I have made two posts about it already and here it is a third time. That is because it is so useful and I think, wonderful.

This way to tie up your treadles is a fantastic gift that Jim Ahrens taught us. You’ll never have to tie up the treadles again on your 4-shaft looms. My looms were built by Jim;  this tie-up is the only choice–because it’s so flexible. I love it and pass it along to you as my gift.

One tie up for four shaft looms is described in my book Weaving for Beginners on page 96, figure 226. I describe a tie-up that never needs to be changed, for four shaft jack and counterbalance looms. You can get all the combinations possible with four shafts with this system. Your feet can dance over the treadles for many weaves, and if they aren’t dancing, they can work very efficiently. See Figure 6. Another advantage of this system is that you can change to any weave structure you want in a project without changing the ties to the treadles.

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 also page 2 in my third book, Weaving & Drafting Your Own Cloth.

Threading Without Mistakes – Tip No. 3 – Heddles on Shafts

Heddles on Shafts
How to know which shaft a heddle is on
It’s easier to see what shaft a heddle is on if you look at the
bottoms of the shafts. See the closeup in Figure 176a.


This comes from the same book that will very soon be ready as a PDF digital book, Warping Your Loom & Tying On New Warps. We are now very, very close. There is lots of threading information. This will be the last threading tip for now, however. I can’t wait to be able to tell you that it is finally ready!

Mexico Day 10 – Tlaxiaco, Oaxaca, Mexico

> click to enlarge

> click to enlarge


>> EMAIL VIEWERS: To see all of the photos in this post – click post title <<

The Saturday market in town was outside the doorstep of our hotel. Unlike so many I’ve seen this one was not jam packed and many of the people dressed in indigenous clothes. We saw lots of unfamiliar foods. Prickly pear pads were being scraped of thorns. Packages of vegetables were prepared for soups. If you wanted to make mole all you needed to do was to ask the woman at the booth to prepare all the ingredients for you. Limestone needs to be boiled with corn to make tortillas. There were a lot of things I didn’t recognize. It was fun to mingle with the people.

Then we drove to a remote mountain village, Laguna Guadalupe, where Trique people live and where there the local women wear long huiples. We visited a home where many weavers gathered and set up their backstrap looms. It was fascinating to see different techniques. I watched one woman get her loom set up which had always mystified me. When you watch it being done it makes so much more sense. We were out in a yard mingling among 5 or 6 weavers. It was a heavenly experience.
We were fed lunch in a log cabin. We had tamales and some other soup with shredded beef and hot tortillas, of course.

Tomorrow we go out to a remote village, too. Today we drove in the mountains on more twisty roads.

>> Click first photo to view full sized photos <<

Mexico Trip Day 8 – Silk: From Cocoons to Weaving It

Girl in yellow weaving - Click to enlarge

Girl in yellow weaving – Click to enlarge

>> EMAIL VIEWERS: To see all of the photos in this post – click post title <<
Today we drove two hours on very winding mountain roads to a village in the Eastern Sierra Madre to the Zapotec village of San Pedro Cajonos where they raise silk worms, spin silk thread, dye it and weave it on backstrap looms. We walked down steps on the side of the mountain and came into this room where generations of people were weaving and spinning silk. The pictures of the village don’t quite convey how steep the mountain side is. The girl in the yellow shirt is 10 years old. She was one of the featured children in an exhibit the Oaxaca Textile museum put on two years ago when she was eight. Kids, mothers, grandmothers and grandfathers were all part of the production. What used to be only women’s work is done by everyone now that it brings in money.

The silk worms are raised and the cocoons made and then they are collected after the adult moths emerge from the cocoons. That means there is a significant hole in each cocoon so the thread cannot be unwound in a long thread. Instead the cocoons are boiled then spun. The picture shows masses of cocoons dried after boiling.
Then the spinner takes a cocoon and separates it from the mass and teases it or pulls it apart until it is a mass of silk fiber. Then the spinner spins it using a spindle that is supported in a small bowl. The grandfather and grandmother sat and spun the whole time we were there. The pictures show how both of them went about the teasing and pulling apart and lining up the fibers before twisting them with the spindle making a thread.
After the scarves were off the looms the fringe was knotted in what we call macrame.
We went outside to the dye area where some of the woven scarves were dyed with natural dyes.
They used two types of cocoons. The yellow was a wild silk and the white made by commercially raised silk worms provided my the Mexican government. You can see there are some tiny hatched eggs on the yellow cocoon.
>> Click first photo to view full sized photos <<

Mexico Day 7 – A Day in Teotitlan

Dyers booth, samples - click to enlarge

Dyers booth, samples – click to enlarge

>> EMAIL VIEWERS: To see all of the photos in this post – click post title <<
We drove from Mitla in the morning in time to eat breakfast at the local market. This was the nicest market I’ve ever seen because it was not crowded or dirty. Every morning for a few hours the town people go to the market and socialize and fill their baskets. We ate tamales made by the woman in the picture. She served them on pieces of paper towel and they were delicious. I had an orange juice drink from a plastic bag knotted at the top with a straw coming out the top. A dyer had a booth with his samples and jars of dye stuff. All the women carried nice baskets and I hunted for a booth to find a small one I think I can fit in my carry on luggage. The seller crossed herself and kissed my money. I was told that it was because it was her first sale of the day.

Then we went to a weaving workshop in a large home. They do commissions from artists as well as their own designs for tapestry- woven rugs. The looms were huge as you can see. The wife is the dyer and we went up to the roof where the dye pots were cooking and skeins of yarns were drying. They used chemical dyes and do a big wholesale business in the US.

Then we went to see a husband and wife who do natural dyes on the wool yarn they use for their woven rugs. Dyeing with plants had not been done in Teotitlan for some years so they had to teach themselves. They now are world class dyers but he brags he never tries to match colors. I bought a runner that is like a sampler of many many natural dye colors. I hope I can get it home and I hope it will fir in my hallway! They dyed with cochineal today, not measuring a thing. The pictures show the before and after dyeing of the yarn.

Cochineal is like a scale or bug that grows on cactus. The dye is made from the dry bugs ground very fine. I smashed one on my hand and spit on it and got some red color. I had never seen the bugs growing on cactus leaves before. The dye had a huge impact on the economy in history. Maybe it was valued as much or more than the gold the Spaniards shipped back to Spain. I’m not entirely sure about the historical facts here.

The wife of the dyer had a wonderful expressive face. She was disagreeing mildly with her husband when I caught her lovely scowl. I loved her laughing face, too. They were young when they got married and couldn’t afford commercial dyes so began using local plants. It was a rags to riches story. Now they are quoted in books.

Our leader said there are 5000 people in the small town involved with weaving in some way. Our last stop was to the home of a candle maker who also had a big loom going. All around the loom were cactus leaves ready to be infused with cochineal bugs which will grow and multiply on them.

A young girl poured the melted wax on the candles to build up layers and layers. These long candles were made this way instead of dipping. The main candle maker is the older woman. Her specialty was fancy candles for festivals.
>> Click first photo to view full sized photos <<

 

Day 5 – Next Stop Mitla

Repeated sticks required to weave the pattern

Repeated sticks required to weave the pattern – click to enlarge


We drove 5 hours on winding mountain roads backtracking our path from Oaxaca to stop at a town called Mitla.

There was time to squeeze in a visit to very different backstrap weavers, Antonino Sosa and his brother who weave shawls called rebozos. These men gave up weaving on conventional floor and pedal looms to weave only on blackstrap looms. Usually only the women weave on backstrap looms. I think the men said they were faster because they stood to weave whereas the woman sit on the ground. Because their arms are longer, they could weave wider cloth.
What was terribly interesting was the pattern they wove. Usually that type of pattern cloth us woven on floor looms. They figured out how to do it on blackstrap looms.
They said they felt closer to their cloth with the more simple looms. I saw two old floor looms junked in far off corners of their large work space/courtyard.

Usually there are just two sheds or openings for the weft thread to pass through, but they rigged up three to achieve the pattern. Two shed were made with thread loops on sticks and the third shed was on a flat stick which we call a sword. Our guide translated sword as machete!

At the warping board when measuring out the threads for the loom they crossed the threads between pegs like I’ve never ever heard of before. That astonished me greatly. There were four pegs making two unusual crosses. It was these special crosses that kept the threads in the order needed to weave the pattern. Isn’t it fun to learn something new!!

We were shown every step of the way and every one of our questions (I had many) were answered. I always wondered how they got the threads from the warping board to be spread out and on tension. It was a piece if cake. He did tie all the crosses, then lifted the threads up off the pegs then put dowels in the loops at each end. Then he tied one dowel to a post and the other dowel to his belt (the backstrap)!

The next steps were putting sticks in where the crosses were and then trying the string loops according to what threads were on the tops of the various sticks. So simple when you see it done.

During weaving he leaned forward to release the tension on the threads so there was a big opening to pass the shuttle through. Then he straightened up to put tension on the threads while beating in the thread from the shuttle. That’s how backstrap looms work…leaning forward and back to create and loosen the tension.

 

Day 3 – Embroiderers in the Village of San Blas

Embroiderer

Click to enlarge

***Email subscribers – be sure to click the post title to view this in my blog to see all of my photos***
Saturday we went to see two embroiderers in the village of San Blas. You would never have known such lovely work was behind the unmarked door to our first stopping place. Lucia LopezSarabia worked on a treadle sewing machine working on the wrong side of the cloth. It was velvet backed with polka dotted cotton fabric. The style for the village women was to have the hole for the neck be as small as possible and also the armholes I don’t know how they could stand those heavy tight garments. The second embroider worked all by hand. There is a photo of a finished piece which is one half of a skirt.

The last stop was to see weavers. We walked up a sandy path and found a delightfully shady area and a woman at her loom.  Notice the strap around her hips. That is what makes it a blackstrap loom. She picks up threads with a stick to make the patterns. Yesterday the weaver used a needle for that. Another weaver sat under the tree and unrolled her loom to show what she had woven. There were things from the local weavers to buy. The main weaver’s house has a thatched roof. We saw several in the area.  
The warping board seemed primitive but would do the job to measure out the threads for the looms. – Click 1st photo to see album.

From Oaxaca to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec

Post 2 packing bus to go
We packed up the bus, went to the Textil de Oaxaca then drove all day to the Isthmus, stopping to see a famous weaver in the mountain village of San Bartolommeo named Nicolasa Pascual.

In museumThe textile museum was fabulous with gorgeous old pieces and cultures represented. First,  the important triangular piece we all know as a quechquemitl  worn over the shoulders. The warp was turned into weft for the narrow band within the red. The warp was red as well as white. I stood on my head but could not figure it out…back strap loom, of course. It was interesting to know that garments were mostly white with small bits of red until synthetic dyes came. No cochineal has been used for red.  If ever it becomes used, it would be a new thing. The ruffle piece was ceromonial like Frieda Calo wore with ruffles surrounding the face. Another piece was woven with checks to copy a floor loom woven skirt.

The visit to NicolacPasceal came after 1/2 hour driving on a dirt road under construction.  It was deep in the mountains. She weaves very fine and only does work commissioned. Notice her using a needle to pick up threads for the small patterns and fine threads. The loom was set up when we arrived, then taken down in a pile. Then tensioned up again to weave. The skein of fiber is from a bromiliad plat…string and fine.  She plans to use it for both warp and weft. 

A full and thrilling day at both places.  >> click any photo to enlarge <<


[route height=”400″ width=”584″]
 

There were looms in Ancient Greece!

Greek Loom Drawing.gif

Greek loom with weights – click to enlarge

Greek Loom Weight

Greek loom weight – click to enlarge

There were looms in Ancient Greece. At the archaeological  site, Akrotiri,  we visited in the Island of Santorini we read there were hundreds of loom weights were found . At a museum we saw some weights–thrilling to see them. The picture shows a loom with the weights. This is a well known image. Exiting to see such elaborate costumes–all made of cloth from those primitive looms.

Peggy Osterkamp’s Warping Method

Back-to-Front Fig 327a
After I posted the testimonial from Ken Berg raving about my warping method a few people have asked me what my system for setting up the loom is.

My way is the European method of warping Back-to-front. It is what I taught hundreds of beginning weavers. Basically the steps are:

  1. Make two crosses when you make the warp. One for threading the heddles and one for loading the raddle (a group cross).Raddle Cross
  2. Instead of making a warp chain, wind the warp on a kitestick.
  3. Load a raddle–not too coarse.Raddle
  4. Wind the warp onto the warp beam under a lot of tension.
  5. Thread the heddles
  6. Sley the reed.
  7. Tie on the warp to the cloth apron rod.

Why back-to-front

I think back-to-front is the ideal method for beginning weavers to learn because
it is a method you can always depend on. I’ve also found that the first method
you learn is usually the one you know best. Therefore, I think that a method that
works for all kinds of projects is the best one for a beginner to learn first. When
you want to weave fabric for a wedding dress, or a ceremonial cloth, or some
very large project, probably using rather thin threads, you can do it because
you know a method that can handle these complex projects efficiently without
tangled and broken threads. Front-to-back is not suited for such projects.

The entire process is given in my book, Weaving for Beginners and is also on my DVD.

My previous books are more like references with much more detail and reason why. Book #1 tells about making the warp (plus sett, planning). Book #2 tells about putting the warp on the loom. Book #3 tells about weaving.

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]

Looms, Oh My!

Looms Oh My 1Today we visited the Rubelli weaving mill in Como. The modern mill was awesome beyond words. This picture shows one aisle of huge looms weaving fast and loud. The cords going up to the ceiling are the cords that lift the individual warp threads at lightening (?) speed. One woman “manned” all these at once, watching to see that all were going all right. Occasionally a loom would be stopped and needed tending. The looms in the aisles were faced inwards where the women could tend them. I can’t remember how many looms there were–maybe 30 or 40.

They still use an old technique used early on in power looms to stop the loom by cutting off the power if a thread breaks. This is done by having every warp thread go through a metal thing. If a thread breaks, it goes slack and the thing falls down which breaks the current. It was interesting that the old technique is still in use. An order takes 6 weeks from start to finish with the actual warping and weaving taking 4-5 days.

Looms Oh My 2

 

This picture is of an old hand woven velvet loom. Rubelli mill had 3 or 4 but only one weaver who wove for us. These are wonderful looms and make beautiful velvet cloth.

[click photos to enlarge]

 

pLooms Oh My 4

Then we went to the Museo Studio Tesuto to the Ratti Foundation to see their huge collection of fabrics. Mr. Ratti collected fabrics and samples from dealers and by buying old mills themselves and their archives. He was interested in them to use for inspiration for designing textiles. At the foundation we were taken back behind the scenes inside to the storage rooms and shown fine examples of old velvet fabrics.

Looms Oh My 3The Foundation is right on Lake Como. The picture here is from their building. There is another Ratti center at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Both very well funded. It was dark with a bit of a moon over the lake when we left in a small bus to take us to our hotel in Milan.Looms Oh My 5

 

 

It was a busy day with 3 trains to catch to get to Genoa, Milan, then Como. Another good day.

To Zoagli (the Italian Riviera, I think)

Zoagli 1Today we traveled north along the coast up to south of Genoa to the tiny town of Zoagli where we will see some velvet weaving tomorrow. This first picture is of the town and entrance to the Zoagli Hotel where we are staying, over looking the water. Our train passed the lovely little villages of the Cinque Terre (5 villages) where I will come at the end Zoagli 2of the trip.

 [click photos to enlarge]

Here is the patio off my room and the view of the Mediterranean.

The next two pictures are from Lisio, the school where we visited the other day. Here is a draft we studied in a

Zoagli 3heavy-duty drafting lesson for velvets which took a lot of brain power. I loved the little old loom in the last picture because of all the heavy weights dangling off of the back of the loom. Click to get a close up of those Zoagli 4weights.