The exit hole of the boat shuttle should face you, the weaver, as you weave along. This illustration is from page 111 in Weaving for Beginners.
Figure 263 shows how the weft exits the shuttle when it is in the shed.
The exit hole of the boat shuttle should face you, the weaver, as you weave along. This illustration is from page 111 in Weaving for Beginners.
Figure 263 shows how the weft exits the shuttle when it is in the shed.
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.
The second and third illustrations are from page 34. They show the problem when the ties weren’t made and the solution.
In the new Handwoven on page 60, there is a tip at the top of the page suggesting using a doubling stand. It is a piece of equipment I couldn’t get along without. You can buy one or rig one yourself.
This is taken from my book #3, “Weaving & Drafting Your Own Cloth“, page 67. More on doubling stands follows on page 67. How to make your own is at the end of this post.
Have you ever wanted to combine two or more yarns as one weft? Have you discovered it doesn’t work very well because, no matter what you’ve tried, one yarn always loops up so they don’t lie flat together in the shed? The answer is: use a doubling stand to double up weft yarns so they come out of the shuttle together and evenly.
Warning!! Do not double warp yarns because the upper and lower yarns will be of different tensions when they leave the doubling stand. It isn’t a problem with weft yarns.
Doubling stands can be homemade or purchased. Figure 112 shows a commercially
made stand. (Note the optional tension box for winding tight weft packages.)One or
more yarns are put on vertical posts with the yarn guided exactly up from the centers of the posts, just like an ordinary vertical creel. Read more about creels on page 76.
Above these yarns is a single cone or spool of yarn supported by a vertical tube instead of a post. The yarns below are guided up through their respective thread guides and then up through the tube and the center of the extra cone. Then, the lower yarns plus the upper one are taken together up through a guide above the center of the top cone. You can see what happens: The yarn from the upper cone encircles the yarns coming up through its center. This encirclement keeps all the yarns together without any of them looping up during weaving (Figure 113).
To guide the bottom threads up through the cone on top, fashion a long hook from a coat hanger or use a long heddle.
The three keys to keep in mind when setting up a doubling “situation” or making a homemade stand are:
1. The thread guides for the lower spools must be exactly over the center of the pins
or dowels that hold the spools or cones.
2. There must be enough space between the tops of all the packages and their thread
guides to allow the yarn to whip off the packages freely.
3. The top cone or spool must have a way for the lower yarns to pass up through its center.
A tube to hold the top cone is the hardest thing to find—try hobby shops. You could use a short length of copper tubing with the sharp ends sanded. However, there are many other ways to accomplish the job. I’ve seen one cone underneath an upside-down “milk crate” with another cone sitting on top and the thread from below coming up a hole in the crate and through the top cone. There are many ways
you might make (or rig)a doubling “stand”.
This comes from Weaving for Beginners on 115. It’s quick and does the job nicely.
How to change wefts
I like to tuck in the old weft about ½” into the next shed, snugging it up against the selvedge and pulling the tail out of the shed to let it
lie on top of the cloth. The shed stays open, ready for the new weft. I leave the new weft’s tail, which is about 1″ long, dangling outside the selvedge and cut it off later. See Figure 272. Other ways to change wefts for other yarns are given on page 131.
Kitestick: Approximately 1 ½” x ½” x 12″ or
This is not a precise measurement. In a pinch,
a ruler or a yard stick will do. See Figure 24d.
Use a kitestick when you take the warp off the warping board.
From Page 25 in Weaving for Beginners: Use your 1½”x ½” x 12″ stick, or a ruler or a yardstick. This is the way I prefer to hold the warp at this point. It isn’t necessary to wind the stick precisely. The instructions look harder to follow than they really are. Follow them any way you can at first, and master the technique another time. What’s important is that the warp is wound up onto a stick so the threads can’t tangle.
Another way to take the warp off the warping board is given on
page 34. (This refers to chaining the warp to take it off the warping board.)
Before you begin, look at the points below, and read about the trick
to winding the kitestick at the end of point 5.
I’ll be giving a seminar on Supplementary Warp Techniques at the Northern California Conference of Handweavers (CNCH) May 18-20, 2012, at the Oakland Museum. Here are two pieces–both made on the same warp.
I found my fine and not so fine over-twisted yarns for collapse from this shop in London. It was easy to order. I contacted them and they have several types and S & Z twist yarns as well. Contact: the handweavers studio & gallery: firstname.lastname@example.org or try email@example.com. they have a web site, too.
Here’s a question I received yesterday. “I want to tie on a new warp for some scarves. However, I want to change the sett from 18 epi to 16 epi. Is it possible to do this?If so, how? I also would like to make it an inch narrower. Do I just not tie on the threads from the original warp and let them hang?”
Ideally when tying on a new warp the new warp should be exactly the same as the old one, hence the question. Yes, I think it would be ok to make the new warp with the number of ends needed and just tie those onto the old warp. The old warp ends not used can just hang. (Would you center the new threads, or just begin tying at one edge and have all the extra ends on one side?) You would then pull the warp ends through the heddles–the old ones will just go along for the ride. Then you’ll have to cut the ends to sley the reed to the new sett. You can cut so the thrums (ends of the old warp) are used when you sley the reed so you will have less loom waste for the new warp. Of course, if you want the keep the thrums for fringe, then cut off at the knots and re-sley.
These procedures are for when you tie on new warps behind the heddles as I recommend. For an over view of the process, go to the tab, “Weaving Tips” on the home page and look for “Try Tying on New Warps This Way”. It is so much better than tying on in front of the reed and dragging the new warp through the heddles. In my Book #2, Warping Your Loom & Tying On New Warps, I explain this thoroughly–especially how to tie the knots so the new warp is on tension immediately.
You can use the Search button on the upper right corner of the home page, too. Search for “tying on” there are several entries.
Here is the Pink Creature I mentioned in my previous post. I thought it would come up with a search, but it didn’t. This is one of my very favorite pieces.
I’ll be teaching 2 seminars at the Northern California Handweavers Conference next spring (May 18-20, 2012) at the Oakland Convention Center. One subject is collapse weave–a technique I love and have experimented with a lot. Here are a couple of pieces mounted in plexi shadow boxes.
Pink Creature has been in a previous blog. Do a Search for it on the home page.
Ashenhurt and other sett charts tell you the setts for balanced weaves–where both the warp and the weft show equally. Weavers often don’t want both to show equally, they may want the warp to predominate in some cases, or the weft. Then you adjust the sett from the charts accordingly–more warps per inch (epi) for a warp predominate fabric or fewer epi for a weft predominate cloth. Read more in my new book, Weaving for Beginners, in the chapter on sett. These photos are found on page 277.
I’m still experimenting with sheer this time with a warp of sewing thread instead of the fine silk.
The weft is the lovely gold silk that took me a month to spool off from the skein. It is stiff because it is undegummed. That helps keep the beat open and there are variations in the thickness of the thread which make the cloth look nice.
I was very nervous about the sett–wasn’t sure if it was too open, but wanted the cloth to be sheer for sure. It probably is too open, but of course, I made do. What I had to do was beat gently (which I hate to do) and beat on a closed shed (also don’t like to do). So, it’s going slowly but I’ve got the cloth I’m after. (The next risk: will I be able to make out of it what I have in mind?)
I have reed marks which are just fine–in fact they are a gift. The threads in the reed groups move around randomly which gives a bit of color variation. Nice, so it doesn’t look like commercial cloth. So, the next time, I think I’ll stick to this sett and just go slowly so I can get the color variations. (I made the warp with 10 different spools of thread–so 10 different shades in the warp. Instead of a paddle, I have a wonderful heck block on my reel that I inherited from Jim Ahrens. This allows me to get a thread-by-thread cross.)
The principles of how warps and wefts bend are valuable to understanding a lot about weaving–especially why cloth draws in and causes selvedge threads to break.
The principles apply for so many aspects–for example, for weaving balanced or near balanced fabric, the warp tension must not be too tight. That would prevent the warps from bending. If the tension is too tight, the warps will be straight and that will force the wefts to do all the bending. Besides draw-in problems, the cloth will be more weft face with the wefts beaten down more than for a balanced look.
The warp tension should be just enough to get a shed for fabric that has a balanced look. So many students I see have the tension much too tight. Tight tension is only desirable for weft faced textiles. (Then you must bubble the weft or the draw-in will be too much.)
Here’s how the bending works in different sett (epi) situations,
and how it affects your cloth’s draw-in.
Balanced plain weave is shown in Figure 518a.
“Balanced” means there are the same number of warps per inch (epi) as wefts per inch. You can see that both the warps and the wefts bend or curve. The diagonal of the wefts in the sheds
provides the slack needed to allow for the wefts to bend. The warps bend after the cloth is taken off the loom when there is no longer any tension on them. Remember, you allowed for this occurrence in planning the length of the warp by adding in an allowance for “take-up.” See page 290.
In weft-faced weaving, the warps are straight and the wefts do all the bending. See Figure 518b. Notice that the warps are farther apart than for balanced plain weave. Fewer ends per inch (epi) force the wefts to bend so much that there needs to be much more weft in the shed than for balanced weaves. To allow for the yarn to bend over and under the warp threads, more diagonal, or
even bubbling of the weft is needed. Read about bubbling on page 128.
In Figure 518c, the warps are very close together (more ends per inch), and they are bending, but the wefts are straight. This is warp-faced plain weave. Warps that close force the wefts to be straight. These warps take up much more than those in balanced weaving do, because they have to curve so much over and under the wefts. Less slack or weft diagonal is needed because the wefts are straight and do not bend.
This comes from my new book, Weaving for Beginners. It is what I started all my beginning weaving students on and gives a very good foundation for future weaving. After the sampler was completed, the students planned their own original projects based on what they learned.
Why make a sampler?
This is the way many weavers try out new things. A sampler is a cloth with several ideas woven into it. Some ideas to try out are using different colors, threads, weaves, or your own designs. (See Figure 221.) You can try out more than one idea at a time by dividing the warp into sections.
For example, if you were sampling different colors, you might
make your warp have portions two to three inches wide, each with a different color you are considering. Notice that the sampler described in this chapter has two sections in the warp—each one a different color.
When weaving a sampler, you would try out those warp colors using the same ones as wefts, or perhaps, using other colors.
It is a good idea to try out different weaves as well. Say, you have four colors in the warp, and you try each color in the weft in plain weave–that would give you 16 different squares woven, or samples—useful information for designing a project. Weaving the colors again in twill weave would give you 16 more samples. Weaving the colors in herringbone, another 16 samples, and in a broken twill, 16 more.
You are weaving a plaid, so to speak, with the colors and threadings in the
warp repeated in the weft. You also can see how colors look when crossed
with other colors and how expected structures look when they are woven
with other threadings.
Sampling is fun because you aren’t under pressure to make a masterpiece.
This is the place to try out lots of ideas. Then you can put the best ideas into
a project, knowing that it is likely to please you.
Use this when you want to make a sample on a warp before weaving the entire project.
The two-stick heading (from Weaving for Beginners, beginning on page 134.)
This is a very useful heading. I have used it countless times. One reason is to eliminate the knots on the apron rod so that the cloth rolls up without lumps on the cloth beam. Another reason is so that you can cut off some of the cloth before the whole warp has been completely woven.
You need a pair of sticks that fit on your cloth beam and won’t interfere with
They can be lease sticks, dowels, or metal rods. I prefer thin and lightweight
sticks rather than thick ones because they take up less warp and aren’t so bulky.
Read the step-by-step directions beginning on page 134 in Weaving for Beginners.
One reader suggested I talk a bit about sampling. How much to make, wasting “good” yarn, when and why, etc. etc.You can save yourself a lot of heart ache if you make a sample before weaving something and find out that it shrinks too much, or “doesn’t turn out.” You might make a sampler or weave samples. Read below how the two are different.
A sampler is generally a warp designed to sample a variety of weaves and ideas. I’m making one in the studio right now. I feel like it’s a big gamble because I don’t know how it will turn out. But because it’s “only a sample”, there is no pressure to make it wonderful (although I hope it will be) and I can be free to try anything. I am not sure about the sett for what I’m visualizing so I need to weave with the sett I decided on and see if it works for me. I am worried that my sett is too open–but I know I can try different techniques (eg.fatter wefts, or beat lighter) if I don’t like the initial look. I can re-sley the reed if necessary. My warp is only 4″ wide so I’m not wasting much yarn–and 3 yards long. I planned the length to try to get a good piece or two after my sampling.
The sampler I have all my beginning weavers make is shown in the illustration and is found beginning on page 93 in Weaving for Beginners.
Sampling: I had a student this week who wanted to make a baby blanket. Since it is a fairly wide project I suggested that she make the warp a little longer and weave a sample at the beginning and cut it off and wash it and be sure it suits her. If it shrinks too much or doesn’t look right. She can then make changes before weaving the entire project without wasting all the yarn and time. Use the two-stick heading from my new book, Weaving for Beginners, to reconnect the warp without wasting yarn to tie the threads back onto the front apron rod. You cannot make a narrow sample and expect the information to directly translate to a wide warp. Since there will be more friction in the reed, the wefts in a wide warp won’t pack down in the same way as for a narrow warp. I suggest allowing 6-8 inches, minimum for the sample. I really like to add an extra yard for sampling. That allows plenty to sample at the beginning and usually there is warp left for me to try out more ideas at the end. (This is when I am the most creative.)
A student came today with an exquisitely gorgeous fabric which frustrated her so much while weaving that she cut it off the loom and threw away the remainder of the warp! When I showed her this illustration from my new book, Weaving for Beginners, she could see that the selvedge threads were being abraded by the reed. The following is found on page 302 in the chapter on selvedges. Beautiful selvedges aren’t the end in itself, but the result of techniques that solve ugly selvedge problems and broken threads. I’ll be posting more on selvedges, I’ll bet.
A common selvedge problem: Too much draw-in In my teaching experience, the problem that showed up almost as soon as the weaving began was that the cloth narrowed in too much. If the problem wasn’t noticed and dealt with soon, the selvedge threads would begin to break by the abrasion of the reed. Look at the edges of the warp at the fell. Is the reed stretching out the warps way beyond the width of the cloth? If so, can you see why the reed is abrading and breaking the selvedges? Too much draw-in at the selvedges is shown in Figure 517.
If you have a big draw-in problem, you can use a temple or stretcher cords such as croc clips. See page 312. To understand more why the cloth draws in and how to control it so the selvedge threads don’t break, read the sidebar, “How warps and wefts bend,” on the next page.
Three common causes of this problem (in order of commonness)
1. The warp tension is too tight.
2. There is not enough slack in the weft. (No diagonal of the weft is put into
the shed.) See above.
3. The wefts are pulled too tightly at the selvedges.
Rules to follow to avoid too much draw-in
1. The warp tension should not be tight, certainly not tight like a violin string.
Basically, it just needs to be tight enough to get the sheds to open. It should
feel firm when you pat it to test the amount of tension, maybe even fairly
firm, but definitely not tight. If your selvedges are narrowing in, check the
warp tension first.
2. There must be enough slack in the weft that it can bend as it goes over and
under the warps. Figure 513 shows the diagonal needed to allow for this
slack. You will know you have too much diagonal when loops appear in the
weft in the cloth. If the warp only draws in a tiny amount, say ¼” or so on
each side, you have put in enough slack. Read about the diagonal, above.
3. Do not pull the weft tight as you put it into the shed. If you do, two things
will happen—first, you won’t get in the slack you need (see above) and
second, the selvedges will draw in too much.
Beginners sometimes try to solve this problem with another
problem—putting loops of wefts at the selvedges. This effort
does not do anything to widen the warp at the edges. It just
leaves unsightly loopy selvedges. The slack in the weft is
needed clear across the warp—not just at the edges. Read how the weft
should turn at the selvedges, above. Read more about good selvedges on
One more thing about temples and croc clips!
Devices that deal with too much draw-in
If everything about your cloth is just as you want it, but the draw-in is causing the selvedges to break. You can stretch out the warp near the reed so the reed can’t abrade the threads while weaving.
A temple is a stretcher that holds the cloth out at the selvedges.
See Figure 529. It allows you to snug the wefts up to the selvedges without breaking the threads during weaving. It may be made of wood or metal. Any temple needs to be
strong. They are available in many widths for weaving wide rugs or narrow placemats.
Cord and clip stretchers
This stretcher is a variation of a temple that you can make yourself. See Figure 530. The clips are “Crocodile clips” (also called “croc clips”) and are available at hardware stores. They are made to clip tarps and are very inexpensive.
This box and lid were woven with two layers with the supplementary warp threads (for the triangles) in between the layers. I used 8 shafts–4 for the two layers and 4 for the supplementary warp threads. They are woven with linen threads with embroidery floss for the triangles. There were an awfully lot of warp threads to work back into the cloth. I maybe spent a week doing that finishing job (happily, I might add).
Another piece in my show. There are two layers. To make the pleats, I wove the top layer quite a bit longer that the bottom layer for awhile. Then I joined to two layers together so the top layer made a “pleat” –rather, a soft pleat. Probably this was done on 4 shafts.
Another comment–it makes me so happy.
“…You did a great job with it (Weaving for Beginners) and I have referred to it a few times as a budding weaver.
I have a large floor loom that I have not “confronted” yet, and the rigid heddle helped me to understand clearly the basic process and also enlighten me that I knew more than I realized. I was excited to see this section in your great book.”
I’m weaving a lovely warp I bought as a kit at Convergence in Albuquerque last summer. It was made by Neal Howard. She dyed three warps and told how to thread them in the heddles to integrate them. Each one is different, so it is great fun to weave along and see the color changes–in one or all of the stripes.
I’m not following her idea–so I’ll report later if my idea for the cloth works out. Dyeing is Neal’s speciality– I bought one of her jackets at the previous Convergence. She offers yarns and woven pieces.
This is one of the pieces in my show. It is linen ikat dyed with indigo. The warps were tied and dyed (called warp ikat) in the borders. The center is weft ikat. The patterns in the weft ikat are were simply made by one or two ties on the skeins of weft thread. In other words, the length of each weft was determined by a few inches of weaving. Then small skeins of weft yarn were made to be the same length as the wefts. A few ties were made on the skeins that resisted the dye when the skeins were immersed in the dye. Where the ties were remained white while the rest of the yarn became blue. Each section was woven with a skein tied in a different way to create the different patterns.
Check out this video–I am thrilled with it.
http://www.knittingdaily.com/blogs/daily/archive/2011/03/04/what-is-energized-yarn.aspx Click on “What is energized yarn?” and scroll down to the You Tube video.
I loved working with Kathryn Alexander and in this video she tells about working with me. The thread she spun for me that she talks about was really fine and fragile. She was sure that I couldn’t weave with it and that I would be mad at her. But I did–warping “back-to-front”, of course. I wanted to test my warping process with the most fragile thread I could find, so that’s why I asked her to spin some for me.
She calls the yarns “energized” I call them overtwisted. These yarns are what I’ve used for collapse weaving where the cloth puckers. Search for “Pink Creature” to read my post about it. This is one of my favorite collapse pieces. There is also a picture in the post of the cloth after woven but before washing.
One 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). A made this into the weaving tip: Sheds Too Small.