Camp! A Great Place to Introduce Weaving

I’m taking 7 Structo looms and 2 others to a day camp. They are all ready to go.

Kids love the mechanics of a loom and these clanky Structos have really fascinated them in previous years.

Rusty but still workable make them even more interesting.

I have an old tape loom which I hope will interest some. The long, wooden levers are the “treadles”.

A closer front view.

A basket of yarns should entice the kids.

When Teaching is Wonderful!

Here is proud Gao Yu after he was on a 3-month internship with Slow Fiber Studios. He is a textile scholar from China and his personal knowledge of backstrap weaving and weavers paid off. He came several times to my studio to learn how a floor loom works. He asked great questions and understood so much what was happening. After one experiment where he had to lift many shafts, he said, “Now I understand why people weave the cloth wrong side up!” Here he is showing his sample with a supplementary warp he planned and set up on my 10-shaft loom. Then he wanted to know if he could also do supplementary weft. The white wefts show that: both supplementary warps and wefts as well as other treadlings he figured out.

Gao Yu made another warp on my 4-shaft loom. He had seen a textile with a space in the warp which was his inspiration.

Then he tried weaving each side separately. The orange warp thread had been in the center as a supplemantary warp to weave with the unwoven wefts. (I suggested he put in the thread between two heddles–working like a floating selvedge–when he wished for another shaft.)

The final challenge was to make the floor loom work like a back strap loom. I grapped a shirt I had with straps–and voila!

He wanted to use a large tube for the natural shed and only one shaft for the counter shed like in a plain weave backstrap loom. Not perfect but close. My loom was not deep or tall enough to get a good enough counter shed. But more thinking about it he can do when back home in China. (We all were lucky that he got here before the virus outbreak.)

My “Warping the Loom Back to Front” Video is Now Available for Streaming!

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, 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 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

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.

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.

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

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

Think About Using a Paddle – Free PDF

 Free Chapter Cover ClipSince 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.


Peggy Osterkamp – Working on my first eBook!

peggy editing book no. 2I do what I do because I love it. I wouldn’t have this blog if I didn’t think I would enjoy it and I love the fact that so many people learn and benefit from my post. This blog started because a few friends wanted some tips so it was just the easiest ways to get the information to them. Then more people found the blog and people started to ask me to cover certain topics or asked questions – some even showed me the work I had helped inspire them to do! After a while, people started mentioning how I could write a book to share my knowledge but I didn’t think enough people would be interested in it. Then more and more people asked and I decided I sit down and write the book. One thing lead to another and now I’m on my second book with ebook book publishing companies contacting me all the time!

As you can see, I’m up to my neck getting my Book #2, “Warping Your Loom & Tying On New Warps” ready for it’s 4th edition–this time as a pdf. There aren’t many hard copies left, so for only a little while, I’ll have both available. Both will be available on my website. It will be an e-book in pdf format. We will set up the website for ordering when we have it ready–maybe the end of February. It’s a job, checking every page and every item in the 13-page index.

For now, the posts I’ll be doing will be some of my favorite weaving tips.

Optical Mixing in a Woven Table Runner

ALO Runner - Close Up - Peggy Osterkamp
ALO Runner – Close Up
Peggy Osterkamp
click to enlarge

A few weeks ago our guild had a speaker who explained the theory of optical mixing. When I got home, I noticed I’d been doing that without knowing it for a long time. I kept finding pieces that were examples of taking two colors and mixing them to form a third color. I was excited to see several examples so decided to do a study group after our next meeting to discuss optical mixing and show some examples.

I’m also going to talk a bit about using complementary colors. The table runner is woven of oranges and blues.

ALO Runner - Corner Detail - Peggy Osterkamp
ALO Runner – Corner Detail
Peggy Osterkamp – click to enlarge

There is so much to learn about color theory that I get overwhelmed easily and not much sticks in my brain so I just want to talk about these two subjects.

This runner I wove for my mother-in-law but I knew she wouldn’t appreciate it so I never gave it to her. It’s one of my very favorite pieces. The linen fabric is thick because I put together the two warps from a previous double weave project into a single layer.

ALO Runner - Peggy Osterkamp
ALO Runner
Peggy Osterkamp
click to enlarge

I ironed it hard with a rolling pin on a bread board while it was damp. I love the weight, the sheen, and the subtle colors.

The idea of putting two warps together as a single layer happened when I was sampling for making some table runners. I ran out of color combinations to try, so just wove the warps together for a warp face structure where the warp was completely hidden. It still made a thick cloth which I wanted and I loved the way the two warp colors mixed.

A Wonderful Testimonial

Getting this email from Judy Wheeler really made my day!

I just wanted to say THANK YOU!! for writing the New Guide to Weaving books. I have all three, and literally could not weave without them. I learned to weave many years ago at a weaving shop that was only in business a short while…

I love weaving, but it was always a struggle. Warping was difficult, tension was never good, and my projects rarely turned out like I had hoped. Then I found your books. Weaving is now so much more enjoyable and rewarding, and your books are just amazing! I always refer to them when weaving, but often I pick one up and just read it, because I always learn something new.

Thank you again!

Weaving with Weighted Selvedge Threads

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

CNCH Was a Success

Peggy Osterkamp's Weaving Retrospective
Peggy Osterkamp's Weaving Retrospective

The conference was wonderful–I’m exhausted, but the keynote address went well, as did the exhibit and my 2 seminars. Lots of people came up to me and said the speech was fabulous! It’s so wonderful to receive all of the recognition. Most people have never seen my work but know my books and know me from teaching.

Peggy Osterkamp's Fiber Optics Surprise
Peggy Osterkamp's Fiber Optics Surprise

I surprised everyone while giving my keynote presentation when I turned on my fiber optics piece that I was wearing.

Weaving Keynote Speech

2012 CNCH  Weaving Convention
2012 CNCH Weaving Convention

I spent the month of March preparing my keynote speech for the northern California weaving conference, CNCH. It will be May 17-20 at the Oakland Convention Center. It was a lot of work but fun figuring out what I could say in 1/2 hour. Believe me, there was a lot I had to relegate to the cutting room floor. It was hard to give up so many ideas. Maybe we can make a video and put it on line!

April will be devoted to preparing for my two classes and a retrospective of my work. I’ve already made the list for the exhibit for the labels, but now I need to be sure every piece is prepared and ironed, etc. I’m honored to have this recognition.

The two classes are about collapse weaving and supplementary warp–two of my favorite things. (I’ve signed up for CNCH 2013 to teach them again–also about using the paddle.

I Have Many Projects Going On

I’ve mentioned my fiber optics weaving project and the work on the blog and web site. These are just two things on my mind besides trying to weave the sewing thread warp and the wavy wefts warp. Another major item is making ebooks. Yet another is making an art book or a portfolio in book form. The keynote speech and seminars in Collapse Weaving and Supplementary Warp for our conference (CNCH) in May are also on my mind. I feel pregnant with at least 9 babies!

Weaving Advice

Things to know before you throw a shuttle:
Important Information About How to throw the shuttle

Weft Diagonal (click to enlarge)

Beginning weavers learn about the diagonal of the weft but they think they should have the weft loose at the selvedges. In my book, Weaving for Beginners, I tell how to snug up the weft for good selvedges and no draw-in problems.

Throw the shuttle into the correct open shed. Take out the shuttle so the weft is in the shed on a diagonal as shown in Figure 245. Holding onto the shuttle, snug up the weft to the outside warp thread—the side where the shuttle entered the shed—just so it touches and barely moves that outside thread. Then, swing the beater and gently place the weft next to the previously woven weft. You do not want to actually beat it as the name implies. You are simply placing the weft against the one woven before it. Now, while the beater is toward you after placing the weft, change the shed. Then, swing the beater back toward the heddles and begin the process again. The steps
are: throw the shuttle, beat in the weft, and change the shed. I like the rhythm of saying:     “Throw, beat, change the shed.” That’s 4 counts, with “the shed” as one
beat. (On the fourth beat you’re pushing the beater back toward the shafts.)

Weaving Class: Sheds Too Small

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

Warning!! Don’t forget to tie these ties!

Ties at end peg (click to enlarge)

Many of my students didn’t think it was important to tie the ties at the ends of the warp as well as the ties for the cross. Then they ended up with a problem when they wanted to load the raddle.  The first illustration shows the ties (two ties) that need to be made at the end pegs of the warp on the warping board. Note that tie ties are made on either side of the end peg–the ties are essentially both in the same “hole”. This may be what confuses people. See page 23 in Weaving for Beginners. More about tying two ties at the pegs is on page 23 as well.

No ties were made at the end peg

The second and third illustrations are from page 34. They show the problem when the ties weren’t made and the solution.

Picking up the loops for the end stick

A Special Testimonial

“Peggy Osterkamp has done more for getting threads on looms than any other person on the planet.”

At Convergence in Albuquerque last summer, Linda Ligon from Interweave Press stopped by my booth and left this message. I was overwhelmed. She said I could pass it along.
What an honor. My book, Weaving for Beginners, had just come out. The previous three books have more reference material–beyond what the beginner needs to know. These are the ones Linda was familiar with.