This post may help explain how my needle pillow cloth was woven. These pieces were made on the same warp. I had made a dozen or so pillow fronts and backs (in plain weave or tabby). Then I got creative and played with ideas of what else could be woven on the same warp. This is a scroll I made. I used the fabric I wove on the needle pillow warp for the background. It measures 7 ¾” x 26” including fringe.
I wove some samples and decided to make this for my scroll. The warp was handspun singles from Bouton. I wanted to see if I could use this fragile cotton for a warp. I used a sizing for the first time in my weaving life. The pattern weft is silk and shows up nicely against the matt cotton.
Here is a piece with two samples. The I used silk chenille that I’ve been hording dyed with black walnuts. In one part I used the chenille as the pattern weft. It looks similar to the needle pillows except I used only 1 block. The tabby was black sewing thread, I believe. For the flat sample, I used the reverse: the chenille for the tabby weft and the sewing thread for the pattern weft. Again I only used one of the blocks.
For this sample I used all sewing thread (easier with only one shuttle.) Again I used only one block and the pattern and tabby wefts were sewing thread. I do love to try things. Notice at the bottom where the warp floats are is where the two-stick heading was.
Warning! Sometimes the floating wefts don’t seem to meld together. See how the floats snug up to each other in the needle pillows and in the Chenille sample above? Read below.
This illustration and quote are in The Weaving Book by Helen Bress and is the only place I’ve seen this addressed. “Inadvertently, the tabby does another thing. It makes some pattern threads pair together and separates others. On the draw-down [draft], all pattern threads look equidistant from each other. Actually, within any block, the floats will often look more like this: [see illustration]. With some yarns and setts, this pairing is hardly noticeable. If you don’t like the way the floats are pairing, try changing the order of the tabby shots. …and be consistent when treadling mirror-imaged blocks.”
Here is a needle pillow I made which I use quite often. (I made quite a few to give as gifts when traveling.) The technique can be called Monk’s Belt, Overshot, or Overshot on Opposites. I think the definitive book about all of this is The Weaving Book by Helene Bress. I call it Overshot on Opposites. It’s similar to what we normally think overshot is but the blocks are clear with no half-tones. I was asked for the draft. A weaving draft has 4 parts. This photo represents the drawdown draft. I’ll address each of the separate drafts below. I hope beginners can make needle pillows and learn a little about drafting as well.
Here is a close-up of the weave. The threading draft is next.
Here is the threading draft. The alternate blocks are threaded on shafts 1 & 2 and 3 & 4. How many threads in each block depends upon how many warp threads are in an inch (epi). In my case I think I had 16 ends per inch and the blocks had 4 warps in each block to measure about ¼” wide.
The treadling draft for overshot is always special in that every other weft is plain weave (also called tabby). In between the tabby rows are the pattern rows which have the floats that make up the blocks. To make the floats in the pattern, you have to raise the shafts for the block you don’t want to show. So, when you want the wefts to show where shafts 3 & 4 are threaded, you lift shafts 1 & 2. When you want the floats in the 1 & 2 threaded blocks, you treadle to lift the threads in the 3 & 4 shaft areas.
Treadling drafts only show the pattern wefts and use the words “Use Tabby” to indicate that you treadle tabby rows in between the pattern rows.
For the tie-up draft, this is a great way to tie up the treadles on 4-shaft looms. Once the treadles are arranged this way, you’ll never have to change the tie-up again. For most overshot patterns, the two tabby wefts are: lift 1 & 3 and 2 & 4. See how you can “walk” the treadles to accomplish that by pressing both the 1 & 3 treadles with the left foot and then the right foot treadles the other tabby: 2 & 4? I always like to walk the treadles whenever I weave if it is at all possible for more efficiency and ease.
Look at the treadle tie-up and the finished pillow. Can you see what treadles to press to lift shafts 3 & 4 (for floats in 1 & 2 areas)? And what treadles to lift 1 & 2 to make the weft float over the 3 & 4 areas? Then remember to “Use Tabby” between these pattern rows. A trick to remember which tabby to use is to have the shuttle be on the side of the cloth that your tabby foot will be used next. Weave drafts are explained in my book, Weaving for Beginners in the chapter on weaving a sampler. It is available on my website: peggyosterkamp.com
When I’m weaving I can’t have notes poked into the reed. I have this make-do pincushion-scissors holder that I can pin a note to. It is tied onto the castle and is practically in my face.
When I left this loom at the beginning of the pandemic, I pinned my “Warp-Use” record sheet onto the 2-stick heading. Glad I did because now I want to know how much warp is left because I have a million ideas for it. That record sheet I use for every warp. It works like a check book register. I put in the far right column the balance left after I enter the measurements of what I’m weaving. I have printed up above what the loom allowance is likely to be. Then I’m sure to deduct it so the balance is pretty accurate.
Introduction: I learned to hemstitch very late in my weaving life and almost always forget to do it when I come to the end of a project and almost certainly when I begin one. Then I ask myself, “Why didn’t you hemstitch the ends?” I remembered for this project at the end of the first piece (a scarf) but at both the beginning AND end of the last piece (for a scroll). I got out my iPhone and put it on the warp as I followed the directions on my Kindle eBook: Hemstitching. It’s available on my website and Amazon. The price is right: $2.95. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have gotten up and looked in my beginner book. The iPhone sits on the warp so much easier than the big book does.
I have a needle case handy on my apron filled with a couple tapestry needles. Also, a latch hook which can come in handy is there, and a very useful pincushion that was a favor at a weaver’s conference years ago.
Here is the tapestry needle doing what it’s supposed to do. I’m hemstitching the end of a piece. At the beginning it’s a little different.
Here is how the tools look in my apron. Someone at a workshop asked what I used the emery board for. My answer was to file my nails.
This is my second apron and criss-crossing in the back is a good idea. Then the weight of apron isn’t on the back of my neck.
Students used to ask for a pattern. Here are the basic dimensions. Complete directions are in the Appendix in my book, Weaving for Beginners.
I mostly used the splice method of repairing my fragile warp threads.
The lease sticks and comb were lifesavers.
I needed lots of weights. Shower curtain hooks really work well. The large washers I got from a man cleaning out his garage. I got a big jarful. The lovely wooden ones my mentor, Jim Ahrens made. A close- up is at the end of the post.
At one point this is was what was hanging off the back of my loom. The outside ones were the selvedges. In the middle were two extra threads that I didn’t need while threading so I kept them taught so they wouldn’t tangle.
At one point I could bring through all that were hanging off the back to in front of the reed. That meant that the knot joining the splice and the regular warp advanced forward enough to anchor out of the way of the reed. I wrapped the threads like a cleat on pins.
These threads were at the end of the warp and I just used the replacement method to repair them. That means I used a new piece of warp and weighted it, not attaching it to the original.
Here is a close-up of Jim’s lovely weights. There might be some wood workers around who would like to make holiday presents. They worked wonderfully well.
There are two ways to make repairs: by replacing the warp thread completely (quicker) or by making a splice (the right way I say in my beginner book). Not sure I agree with that exactly. Locate the end of the broken warp thread that comes from the warp beam. If you can’t find it, use the replacement method. It’s usually easy to find the thread and its exact location in the heddles if you have the lease sticks behind the heddles. The “lease” (cross) is an enormous help in tracing where the thread goes in the heddles and then the reed.
The splice method: Take a new piece of warp thread (several inches or more longer than necessary). Attach it to the broken end, take it through the heddles and reed. Then wrap it around a pin like a cleat onto the cloth. The break can be anywhere. If it is in front of the reed or in the heddle area, I would take the broken thread to behind the heddles and tie. It can hang up in the reed if it is in front of the heddles. In my Weaving for Beginners I show a more proper way. That is, to tie the new thread to the broken one as far back as possible with a bow. When the bow appears behind the heddles, undo the bow and there should be enough thread to go through the heddles and attach with the cleat to the cloth. USE A WEAVER’S KLNOT because it is a thin knot.
The replacement method: Measure out a new warp thread a bit longer than the original warp. Attach one end onto the cloth with a pin like a cleat as in the illustration. Take the thread through the reed and heddles, exactly where the broken thread was, and hang it over the back beam with a weight.
Remember the hair comb trick from a previous post!
When you tie on warps, whether you lace on like I did here, or tie on with surgeon’s knots, you can begin weaving right away without rags, toilet paper, and such. See the solution, below.
This way the warp weaves the width it’s supposed to be and doesn’t splay out. Also it’s not lumpy. Sometimes I begin with the 2-stick heading so I can cut off the knots for a smooth roll-up on the cloth beam. Often, I begin the way I did here, just to see how the sett is and what things will look like. That becomes my sample. Then I make the 2-stick heading when I cut off my sample and other pieces as I go along.
Throw 3 wefts without beating. Then beat in all 3 at once. You are really not beating hard—more like gently putting the wefts in place. You will feel a bit of resistance as you beat in these 3 wefts. This is how the warps are spread out from their groups in the bundles. The wefts should now be close to or against the knots on the apron rod. If there are still separations in the warp between the warp bundles, repeat the process by weaving in 3 more wefts and then beating them in all at once. Note in the illustration that the wefts extend out beyond the width of the warp. This prevents the warp threads from narrowing in when 3 wefts are to be beaten at once. I weave these wefts as tabby or close to it if tabby can’t be made with a weave structure.
The solution: It’s important that the apron rod stays straight. Slip off excess lashing on the rod as shown. You only want lashing on the apron rod to be as wide as the warp that will be tied on. I’ve seen huge dowels to try to prevent bending. That doesn’t work. It will be easy to slip the lashing onto the rod again for wider warps, so don’t worry about that.
Check the warp tension: Close your eyes (that’s important; it helps you to concentrate), and use the flat part of your fingers to pat gently across the warp. All the threads should feel the same. If they’re too tight or too loose, they should be re-tensioned. Don’t agonize. That’s important, too. Unless a bundle of warps feels definitely softer or definitely tighter compared to the others, it is probably just right.
I like to tie on with surgeon’s knots. If you need to adjust bundles, just tug one of the tails of the knot to open or loosen it. There is no need to untie, then retie the knot. To tighten a warp bundle, brace the heels of both hands on the apron rod and pull the tails of the knot to cinch the warps tighter. Complete the surgeon’s knot: When you’re satisfied that the tension is even, take the tails of the knots and tie them together to complete the final part of the knot. In other words, each knot will consist of the beginning parts of a surgeon’s knot with the final part of the knot on top of it. See my eBook on knots and of course, Weaving for Beginners for how to tie this and other knots for weavers.
I always recommend having the lease sticks in behind the heddles when weaving. That is because it makes it easy to find where a thread belongs if it breaks. This make repairing go MUCH easier. In cases where the warp threads are fragile or sticky and it’s hard to move them when they are tied together like they usually are, I tie them separately.
Here is a closer view of how I tied the lease sticks separately for my fragile warp threads. Now, they are much easier to move one at a time.
Here are the cones of the yarns I’m using. It’s always interesting to see how differently the yarns look on and off the cones.
A close-up of the plied yarn. It varies widely. You can see how vulnerable it is sometimes. It can either break or simply pull apart. However, I love it so am patient.
Introduction I’m finally allowed to go to my studio as of a week or so ago. My friends were talking about a weave structure that looked interesting and they said it was easy to treadle so I wanted to try it. It called for dark and light thread for the warp and weft yarns. I found two cones of yarns I’ve loved and horded for many (I mean many) years. Both wool. A black rather thin loop boucle is for the dark yarn. The light is a two-ply black and white with the white being barely spun and thick and thin so vulnerable to breaking or even pulling apart. I figure they are about the size of 5/2 cotton. The sett is 20 ends per inch (epi).
The widest place in a reed is in the middle as seen in the photo. This keeps fragile threads from abrading where the space is less at the bottom of the reed itself.
To repeat, to give as much space as possible for fragile yarns to pass through the dents, enter your hook in the middle as shown.
It’s ideal to select a reed that allows for 2 ends per dent. Rather than 1 end per dent, this wider spacing allows the threads to pass through with less abrasion from the wires of the reed. Also, these boucle yarns need space to pass by one another in the dents. This is my rule of thumb for ordinary warp yarns, too.
Too check for mistakes, look at the bottom of the reed. It’s easier to see exactly what has been threaded and where at this place in the reed.
Another reason for 2 per dent is that if a knot is in a warp thread, it is likely it can pass through and not get hung up in the reed. In my case, with this plied yarn I’ve found that a knot can’t pass. I can expect repairs. And the thinnest knot is a weaver’s knot which I know well. See my eBook on knots and of course, my book Weaving for Beginners.
When to change the shed When to change the shed is immensely important. Change the shed immediately after the beater has hit the fell of the cloth with the beater still against it. The fell locks in the weft as wide as the warp is in the reed—preventing the narrowing in of the cloth. If the cloth becomes too narrow, the outside warp threads will begin to break.
To change the sheds efficiently, try to tie up the treadles so you can “walk the treadles.” That means you alternate your feet as you make the sheds—left, right, left, right, etc. This will be the case if you chose the configuration in the photo. (To make plain weave (tabby) you will press down both left treadles at once with your left foot. Do the same with your right foot for the next shed.) Visualize how much fun it will be to treadle a twill: 1&2, 2&3, 3&4, 4&1.
If your treadles are in numerical order you can still “walk” them. To lift shafts 1 & 3, first put one foot on the treadle for shaft 1 and then, put your opposite foot on the treadle for shaft 3—you will be using both feet and two treadles, but you’ll be putting your left and right foot on the treadles one at a time. (It is not good for your back to move both feet at once.) For the next shed, put your first foot on the treadle for shaft 2 and then, your opposite foot on the treadle for shaft 4. Now, begin the process again by throwing the shuttle.
Keep track of which shed to use Enter your shuttle on the side of the warp where your treadle is down for a particular shed. In other words, if your shuttle is on the right, then you’ll know that the shed to open is the one using the right foot. The photo shows an example of this arrangement with the shuttle being on the right side of the warp and the right treadle being pressed.
Introduction I have 5 pages of text and illustrations in my book, Weaving & Drafting Your Own Cloth on the Beat. This post is taken mostly from Weaving for Beginners. However, I couldn’t resist including how to beat lightly from the Weaving & Drafting book. There’s, a lot more to it if one is interested. Also, I am talking about weaving fabric here, not rugs and textiles that take a much harder or lighter beat.
Swing the beater with one arm; don’t pull it. Tap the weft into place, do not press it in. All my teachers (me, too) say that “beat” is a misnomer. What you want to do, generally, is to place the weft with the beater, not beat it in. When to beat This is especially important. Beat immediately after you’ve thrown the shuttle and adjusted the weft diagonal and snugged it up to the outside warp thread. The shed should still be open when you beat. Your hands on the beater don’t need to be in the middle of the beater, provided the beater is rigid. In fact, when you are throwing the shuttle, the hand on the beater can change from side to side. However, if the beater on your loom is wobbly or flimsy you’ll need to swing the beater with your hand in the center of it.
The photos show the hand positions on the center of the beater and on the shuttle when beating and when the shuttle enters and exits the shed. (If your beater is not flimsy, your hands can be to the sides of the center—wherever it is comfortable as you reach your hands forward to beat.) Beat evenly with the same gentle swinging of the beater and with the edge of the cloth (the fell) always about the same distance from the shafts. You can picture it—if the fell is up close to the heddles, you can’t get the same amount of “swing” with the beater as when it is near the breast beam.
Advance the warp often If you try to weave too close to the breast beam, the wefts might not beat in straight across—they may curve up at the selvedges with unwoven V-shaped areas appearing at the edges. To keep the fell of the cloth about mid-way between the breast beam and the heddles, you will need to roll the cloth forward often. This is called “advancing the warp.” You need to advance the warp after weaving about every 2”.
Five ways to beat lighter In order of my preference: 1. Lessen the tension on the warp. 2. Weave with the fell a bit closer to the shafts. 3. Beat on a closed shed. 4. Beat after changing to the new shed, and even so, forget “beat” and think “nudge”. 5. Increase the density of the warp (sett, epi).
Introduction The way you weave greatly affects the look of your selvedges as well as the woven cloth itself. The 3 stages are: throw, beat, change the shed. This post is about the first step: throw. Parts two and three will address beat and change the shed.
This is a good way to hold the shuttle for both entering the shed and catching the shuttle.
The shuttle should glide along the shuttle race (ledge on the beater at the base of the reed) of the beater. If your loom doesn’t have this ledge, throw the shuttle close to the reed. If the warp threads on the bottom of your shed aren’t resting on the shuttle race, check the tension on the warp. If the tension is too high, the warps will float above the shuttle race. If adjusting the warp tension doesn’t put the threads on the shuttle race, adjust the height of the beater, if possible. Many looms have this adjustment on the legs of the beater. Sometimes, people put the beater on the loom backwards so the ledge faces the shafts and isn’t available for weaving. If this is the case, don’t change it now—you can still weave. However, do change it before you sley the reed for your next project. The shuttle race should face the weaver as shown. Remember, too, that some looms do not have a shuttle race.
You want to place the weft in the shed on a diagonal. A diagonal should form naturally from the edge of the woven cloth to the shuttle race. (The edge of the cloth where the last weft was woven is called the fell of the cloth.) Be sure to maintain the diagonal and, keep the shuttle on the shuttle race (or close to the reed). However, there are some special circumstances where you don’t want to place the shuttle on the race.
Snug up the weft against the outside warp thread, (the selvedge thread)—neither pulling that thread in, nor leaving a loop on the outside of it. I like to snug the weft up until it barely moves that outside thread—just grazes it. This is how good-looking selvedges are made.
Don’t touch the selvedges. You can control the weft at the selvedges with your shuttle. As your shuttle comes out of the shed, press the weft thread onto the shuttle or bobbin and pull on the shuttle to snug the weft into place at the selvedge. For boat shuttles, if your shuttle cavity is open on the bottom of the shuttle you can use your ring finger to stop the bobbin to pull on the weft to snug it in place. (See previous photo.) For shuttles that are closed on the bottom, use your thumb on the bobbin as shown here.
This knot You Need to Learn. It will save time and frustration.
Introduction: There is a wonderful knot to tie the weights to the threads. It’s easy to undo, which is necessary every time you need to let down the weights for more thread. This is the same knot I tie for weighting supplementary warps, described in my second book, Warping Your Loom & Tying On New Warps, on page 156. Here it is again along with the steps to tie it. The steps sound more complicated than they are, but if you learn it well, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and aggravation in your future weaving life because the knot comes undone quickly.
Step 1 Hold the selvedge supply taut by gripping the warp with the finger of the left hand. In this manner, the warp will be taut throughout the procedure.
Step 2 With the right hand, pull a big loop of warp through the loop of the weight using your finger and thumb. The left hand continues holding the warp taut, but now just uses the 2 fingers shown in the illustration.
Step 3 With your left hand, adjust your thumb and first two fingers to pinch the warp to the loop of the weight—the right hand still holds the loop of warp.
Step 4 With the right hand, take the loop in front of the left hand’s pinch and then behind the selvedge threads.
Step 5 Readjust your left thumb and index finger so that they will be able to receive some thread (Step 6). (You are letting go of the weight now, but the fingers of the left hand still hold the threads taut.)
Step 6 Open the pinch in the left hand slightly and accept a small amount from the big loop in the right hand.
Step 7 Pull on the small loop and enlarge it somewhat. Be sure to hold the loop in the right hand, and do not let it be pulled through by the left hand.
Step 8 With both hands pull down (towards the floor) and cinch the knot tight.
Step 9 To undo the knot, simply pull on the loop that was held in the right hand, drop the weight down, and retie.
Regular selvedge threads often get tight. The problem is solved by winding separate selvedge threads. More than anything, you want to keep the selvedge warp threads from tightening up. By weighting them separately from the main warp they can weave and take up without getting tight. It isn’t hard to do, and it ensures good-looking selvedges that weave without problems. It is more efficient to start with them as separate warps, rather than to find out mid-warp that your selvedge threads are breaking because they are too tight, or that they are becoming so close together that the shed can’t open, or that the wefts at edges are beating down too much as seen in the photo. When to weight selvedge threads separately I use separate selvedges for warps that are over 3-5 yards long. I also use them when I begin to weave if I find that the normal warp’s selvedge threads aren’t supporting the wefts as they turn at the edges.
For separate selvedges, I make 2 tiny warps—one for each selvedge—often, with 4 threads for each. I determine the number of threads to use by the number of shafts in use. That is, if there are 4 shafts, I use 4 threads, if there are 8 shafts, I use 8 threads. For more shafts, see my book Weaving & Drafting Your Own Cloth in the chapter on selvedges. They will not be beamed onto the warp beam with the main warp but will hang over the back beam behind the loom with weights providing the tension on them. These threads are made separately from the warp threads, may be different from the warp threads, and are sleyed closer in the reed. (More follows.) How to measure the threads Because they will take up more than the main warp, measure out the selvedge threads longer, say, 10% longer than the regular warp threads. Measure out 4 threads making only one cross—a thread-by-thread cross at one end. Be sure you separatelymake two of these tiny warps. Tie the crosses as usual and make ties at the beginning and end of the warps and at several places in the middle. It will be hard to make real choke ties because the warps are so tiny. You can wind your little selvedge threads like a little kitestick, on a pencil, bobbin, or small tube, or make a chain. Or use a little piece of cardboard as in the previous post. Put each little selvedge warp in a plastic bag to keep it from twisting and tangling during weaving. What threads to use I double the sett (epi) for the 4 selvedge threads in the outside dents of the reed. However, if the warp threads are too thick to double up, use thinner threads for the selvedge threads. With thinner threads, you can get them closer, and the selvedges look almost machine made. Be sure your threads are plied, smooth, and strong. Threading the selvedges Thread the selvedge threads one per heddle, one on each shaft: 4,3,2,1. Putting the selvedges in the reed You will put in more threads per dent for the selvedge threads. Since the warp will naturally draw in a bit, it is a good idea not to fight it, and to sley the selvedge threads more densely than the body of the warp to keep the threads from breaking. I double the sett (epi) for the 4 selvedge thread in the outside dents of the reed.
If the selvedges build up faster than the rest of the fabric, the threads may be too close together. Threads sleyed too closely may keep the weft from packing in. Also, the selvedges may build up faster than the rest of the cloth if they aren’t weighted enough.
How to weight the threads I have found the “plastic bag and pencil” way to be satisfactory, and the cardboard, too. I use clothes pins to hold the bag and the warp at the knot together, which helps to prevent twisting. The weights I like to use nuts, washers or fishing weights for my selvedges. These “weights” are small enough that I can add or subtract them in small increments to adjust the tension. You can also use plastic bottles filled with the amount of water needed for the weight. As the selvedge threads get woven, the weights and their supply of thread rise up. When they reach the back beam, they need to be let down to just above the floor. A small bag of weights is more convenient than a bottle because it doesn’t have to be let down so often during weaving since it is smaller. How much weight? Six to fourteen ounces of weight are needed. I start with 6 ounces and add or subtract, as necessary. The way to know if you need more or less weight is simple. The fell of the cloth will be straight if the weight is correct as in the photo.
If the fell of the cloth curves up at the edges towards the shafts (making a “smile”,) it means there isn’t enough weight. Sometimes, one selvedge takes more weight than the other does. Do whatever is needed so the fell is straight. It’s better to have the selvedge threads a little too loose than too tight. If too tight, the body of the fabric may pucker into the selvedges. It might not be noticeable until the cloth is washed.
If the fell of the cloth curves down at the edges towards the breast beam (making a “frown”.), it means there is too much weight as shown. When to attach the weights Weights need a loop of some kind so you can attach the selvedge threads. It can be a loop of string or a metal shower curtain hook. How to attach the weights See the next post.
Adjusting the height – If the floating selvedge isn’t high enough in the shed for the shuttle to go under it easily, raise the threads by tying loops of string around them and attaching the loops to the castle of your loom. Raise the loops so the floating selvedge threads float in the middle of the open sheds as in the photo.
Adjusting the tension – Since they don’t interlace with the wefts like the main weave, they are likely to get looser as you weave along. You can hook a weight on each one and let it slide along as the warp is advanced as in the photo. Because they don’t get tighter as a rule, they can be beamed on with the regular warp ends.
If you used separate threads for the floating selvedges, they must be anchored at the back of the loom in some way so there is tension on them for weaving. The next post will talk about how to know how much weight to add.
I love this idea for winding a selvedge thread. I learned it from the participants in a workshop I taught years ago.
Introduction: Every new weaver learns about floating selvedges. In case of any doubts, here’s where the shuttle goes and why it works. Upcoming posts will have more in-depth selvedge “talk”.
What: There will be one extra thread on each side of the warp for the floating selvedges. I sometimes add these two extra threads, and other times I just use the outside threads on the existing warp. (I make new threads if using the two already in the warp will spoil the design at the edge.) Floating selvedges are commonly used when the outside warp thread doesn’t weave into the cloth, or when it isn’t caught often enough because of the structure of the weave. Why: These floating selvedges give a warp thread for the weft to go around on every shed, so there is never a thread left dangling out of the cloth at the edge.
Where: These floating threads move neither up nor down when the sheds are made but stay in the middle of the sheds. If you are using threads from your existing warp and the warp has already been threaded, remove the two outside warp threads from their heddles and replace them in the reed. If you are using separately made threads, take them through the castle but not through any heddles and put them in the outside dents of the reed as shown in the previous photo. Tie them on to the cloth apron rod as usual. (How to tension threads made separately follows in the next post.) When: I never use floating selvedges unless they are needed because it slows down the weaving a bit. Twills that only weave in one direction do not need them. Only twills that change directions need them, such as herringbone. Use a floating selvedge when two shuttles are used so you don’t have to worry about the rotation of the shuttles to catch the outside thread.
How to enter the shed: There is a certain way for the shuttle to enter and exit the sheds to make the wefts always catch the outside warp threads. Here is what I do. Enter the shuttle into the shed over the floating thread and exit the shuttle under it. It’s easy to push the warp end down with the nose of the shuttle when entering the shed.
How to exit the shed: The shuttle naturally leaves the shed at the opposite side going under the floating selvedge. There are many ways you can enter and exit the sheds to make the floaters do their job; you just need to do it the same way all the time. I prefer the method here because it’s easy and works naturally with the way the shuttle enters and exits the sheds. Next: Adjusting and tensioning floating selvedges.
I love getting comments from my Post readers. And I love learning new things. A comment from Jon gave this threading to catch the outside warp thread. With it you don’t have to think and you don’t need a floating selvedge. I might not use it if I thought I would weave other structures besides twills in a piece, but it beats a floating selvedge if you plan a big twill project. Try to figure out how it works just from the threading.
Here is the regular 4-shaft twill tie-up. Can you see how a thread is always caught on each edge with every weft shot? Notice the circles in the tie-up. That’s because it’s showing shafts lifted. Remember that bubbles rise.
Now add the treadling. Can you figure out what the edges will look like from this information?
Here is the complete draft. The edges make a sort of plain weave. Perhaps you could thread more threads for the edges and make a border. Maybe an idea to ponder and worth trying? This is how my mind works—I’d want to do a sample first to see how the two weaves work. Now I’m thinking again…you could thread the edges: 22, 44 and 11, 33 to get a real basket weave on the edges and I think that should surely work with the twill. When I want bands of both twill and plain weave in a cloth, I often use basket weave instead of real plain weave because they both draw in the same. (If you use plain weave bands, they will turn out to be wider than the twill areas.)
If the trick is not observed: This photo shows how the outside thread is skipped if the trick is not observed when weaving twill.
Here is the trick: Always start the twill weaving sequence by entering the shuttle on the even side of the warp. The “even side” refers to the side where the outside thread is threaded in a heddle on an even shaft. For a 4-shaft twill, that would be shaft #4 or shaft #2.
If you didn’t follow the trick: If you are weaving along, and you notice the problem, you won’t want to interrupt the sequence of the twill weave. In this situation, you can cut the weft thread and enter the shuttle on the other side of the warp. In other words, if the shuttle was on the right edge of the warp and normally would be entered from that side, cut the weft and enter it from the left side. This procedure might need to be done a couple of times to get the right sequence and side of the warp to work out.
Of course, you can take the shuttle around the outside warp by hand as you enter the shed. To do this, you’ll take the shuttle around the outside warp thread and place it into the new shed. You can do it every few wefts—just to keep the outside thread woven into the cloth. Another option is to use a floating selvedge. This is the solution I would recommend if the twill changes direction (zig zags).
If your outside selvedge threads begin to splay out as shown, there is too much angle in the diagonal of the weft. You must stop this or the warps will just continue to splay out more and more.
To correct this problem, throw the next weft, and while it is still loose in the shed, tug the previous weft at the selvedge, pulling out the tiny bit of excess weft.
Then, Take up that extra weft in the new shed and beat it in as usual. The tiny bit of slack that is taken out will straighten the warps. When the selvedges are back in place, decrease the angle of the diagonal in your wefts. You should need to make this adjustment only a few times to get the selvedges back in place. If you are throwing the shuttle on the shuttle race as I recommend, the way to decrease the angle is to move the fell of the cloth a little closer to the reed.
One common selvedge flaw is a characteristic ridge or ripple caused by a combination of too much weft in one shot, and too little weft in the following shot. The ridge is produced by changing the shed before the weft is beaten into place. With each shot the problem becomes worse.
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.
Introduction: When I was teaching I used to say the teacher learned the most. I learned something when I got this comment after a post. “I thought it might be useful to add here that paper also has a grain (I think of it as a warp/weft) and will curl and fold parallel with its ‘warp’ more smoothly. So, folding the sides of the warping paper, if it is held sideways, will crinkle the paper.” I use short pieces of packing paper and I wonder if this person uses continuous packing paper. I’ve not noticed any problems when I have folded my papers for years, but it’s only because I never ran into paper that had such strong grain.
Preparing the Packing Paper The principle is this: cut the paper 4” wider than your warp is intended to be and about 2” longer than the circumference of the loom’s warp beam. For longer warps, you will need several sheets prepared—say, about one for every yard of warp length. The edges should be folded so they are double strength at the edges—these doubled areas will extend beyond the warp.
Use heavy paper such as a grocery bag. Cut off the bottom, cut off any handles, and cut along the seam so it lies flat. Fold each of the edges in 1”.
When winding in the packing paper, be careful that warp threads never travel over the paper folded double at the edges. The warp itself only goes over the single-thickness paper with the folded extensions sticking out to strengthen the paper at the edges. You may put in the paper with the folded part on top or underneath—either way of inserting the paper is all right. Make sure no warp falls on the doubled edges. Remember the comment I mentioned in the introduction. “…that paper also has a grain (I think of it as a warp/weft) and will curl and fold parallel with its ‘warp’ more smoothly.”
A Trick so the paper won’t wrinkle Also watch for paper that is crinkling or rolling in at an angle. A simple trick prevents this: Insert the paper so that it can be wound with the warp, then turn the beam a bit until the end of the paper catches in. With your thumb and forefinger, take hold at the center of the opposite end of the paper, as in the photo, right in the middle. Hold it taut there as you wind the paper in with the warp so the paper can’t wrinkle.
When to put in the paper. My teacher said about every yard. I usually put it in more often. I watch the edges of the warp building up. Just before the edge seems not to be sharp like a cliff or rolling in, is when I put in a new piece of paper. In Japan I noticed that they use small pieces of paper, too, but use them continuously.
I don’t recommend continuous packing paper because it is very difficult to get it wound on without wrinkling, and it builds up the warp beam circumference faster than short pieces put in every yard or so. Winding the warp tightly prevents the layers from biting down into one another so continuous packing paper isn’t necessary.
The “Davison” book, is a bible to many weavers. However, when I was teaching I never showed it to my students. That was because I was teaching them how to make their own drafts. And the “Davison book” taught recipes. Tonight I looked at the Table of Contents and saw there are 3 whole chapters devoted to twills. The entire book is for 4 shafts (harnesses).
Here is my own copy, the cover worn out and tucked inside. That tells you how much I, myself, have looked at that book. There are times when I’ve wanted a recipe—and to know something was going to probably turn out. And following a recipe can be fun. There are hundreds of ideas in this book all the drafts are included!
However, all the drafts are meant to be read differently from the way most weavers these days and for a long time learned to read them. It tells you so on page XII, but who reads those pages usually? Her tie-up drafts tell what shafts are to be LOWERED. Even when I was learning in the 70’s we learned to read drafts that in the tie-ups, the little o’s told what shafts were to be LIFTED. The mantra was “bubbles rise”! But in this book, there are little x’s in the tie-up drafts and that those x’s represent shafts lowered. That’s because in the olden days almost all looms were counterbalance looms and you treadled to pull the shafts DOWN. (and that made the other shafts rise!) This photo shows you what to do when a draft has x’s and the instructions are that they are for lowered shafts. You treadle all the shafts that are not indicated. So if the book wants 1 and 2 and down, then you raise 3 and 4 to accomplish the same thing. In the photo I show bubbles wherever there are no x’s. That means you raise those shafts.
This is how I learned to read drafts in the 70’s and taught my students for many years. It’s the same as the Davison book except for the tie-up drafts as I explained above. Each section is read starting at the dark solid lines dividing the quadrants. It means that sometimes, you read right-to-left and sometimes, vice versa. Sometimes, you read from the top down and other times from the bottom up. You can follow the arrows and see that they work outward from the dividing lines. An example is that I read threading drafts and thread right-to-left.
The Strickler book seems to have come out in 1991 and my copy is the 17th printing. That was when I was busy teaching theory so never discovered the book. It relates to the Davison book but all the patterns are for 8 shafts. There are hundreds of wildly interesting patterns. And the drafts are all included. I counted that there are 7 chapters on twills!
I was embarrassed recently when I was teaching some not-beginner weavers some drafting. Someone finally showed me the book and that explained why they were so confused with what I was showing. I love how she says it on page 8: “…the left end of the threading [draft] is the left side of the repeat in the photos, and the bottom of the treadling is the bottom of the repeat. So to weave as shown, read the threading in the same direction as you thread (looking at the front of the loom) and follow the treadling from bottom to top. If you thread in the opposite direction, follow the treadling from top to bottom.” (my underlines) This makes a lot of sense in today’s world. I was ashamed that I didn’t realize this “new” way.
Warning! This is what I wrote at the beginning of my drafting chapter in “Weaving for Beginners”: “Knowing how to read weave drafts and write your own is enormously satisfying and is a tremendously important part of weaving and designing, but it is not the only part to know. What drafts don’t tell is anything about the yarns, colors, ends per inch (epi), the beat or the wefts per inch (ppi), for instance. When you read directions for a project in a book or magazine, you must read every word that is written about the project. All that information is crucial to reproducing what the directions are for…. Also, pay close attention to any photographs or graphics.”
I finished this scroll today but I started it weeks ago. It hung in my hallway all this time with its art pinned to it and draped over a rod and hung with clothes pins. Yesterday I got the urge to finish it and solutions presented themselves. More about the process in the next post.
When I hung it originally I saw a wonderful thing: moire! I knew I needed 2 layers to accomplish it so I decided to hang it doubled with the hems at the bottom. Then the layers could hang freely. Moire pronounced mo-ray occurs when 2 layers of plain weave are seen together. Perhaps you’ve seen it when 2 screens are together and in other situations. See the wavy pattern showing up in the hanging? It is ever changing when you move it around with light behind it.
This shows the two layers and some moire can be seen.
The background fabric is a loosely woven linen I bought in Tokyo at a BIG fabric store. I bought it for another idea but the moire pleases me greatly. I wove it once with a fine silk in a tube. I tried it a second time with no luck. Now I think it’s more a function of the amount of space between the layers.
The art is a silk ikat fabric from Oshima, Japan. I probably made a post about it before, It’s where the resist is woven on a loom. Then taken off the loom, dyed, and then woven on another loom. It’s very expensive but we found a shop that sold pieces of the bolts. I like the whimsy here.
A close up of the weave. See how finely detailed the design is and how exactly the warp and weft patterns cross precisely? I love it.