There’s an easier way to re-sley the reed than unthreading all the threads that need to be moved at once. Instead before un-threading anything, insert your sley hook into the new reed position for the incorrectly sleyed thread. Hook the thread to be moved behind the reed and draw it and the sley hook through the dent. In effect, you are “de-sleying” and “re-sleying” in one movement.
2. Another Use for the Reed
Often when I leave a weaving session, I want to make a note where to begin. The reed is my favorite place for notes to myself.
I started weaving on this 8-yard warp on March 5 my records show. For the last year I’ve been making silk warps with yarns and threads I inherited from a wonderful weaver, Ethel Aotoni from Hawaii who moved into my building a few years ago. They are mostly white because I think she was planning to dye them. That is just fine because I have wanted to do the same. Before the lock down, I wove as many samples as I could to bring home for dyeing. Besides the silks as wefts, I have used the odd yarns that I pulled out now and then that interested me. Out of the 8 yards, I have only 40” left. I’ve liked so many of the weaves I got, that it will be hard to choose just one to repeat. This is an old problem, hence many samples. It’s really what I like to do best—make something out of nothing and make as many different things as I can on one warp. As I look at the samples, I am getting ideas for more things to try!
I was trying for this pattern but it turned out to show up on the wrong side of the cloth. I didn’t see it until I checked the wrong side because I wasn’t seeing what I was expecting on the top when I was weaving. How did that happen, I wondered. I checked the introduction at the beginning of the book (8-Shaft Patterns by Carol Strickler) to see if I was reading the tie-up drafts wrong. No, I was reading them as I expected as “bubbles rise” meaning the circles indicated lifted shafts. Then I realized I’d transferred the tie up incorrectly to the peg plan. Oh my! Turns out each VERTICAL column in a normal tie up is written as a HORIZONTAL line in a peg plan. Very sobering. I hadn’t used the dobby in awhile and didn’t look again at the instructions because I thought I knew what to do. What a good lesson.
Here is what I saw while I was weaving. Turns out I love the black part woven with a thin black wool boucle yarn. I’ve had the cone for a long time, loving it but not finding a way to use it. I love the mysterious texture. I definitely plan to weave more of this—a lot more! Again, my good fortune with a big mistake!
I made this post just after we were told to stay at home—over a month ago. I can hardly believe that much time has passed. Actually I have treasured the time locked in at home. I live in a life care place and feel very safe and protected. Meals and mail are delivered to our doors. I go out of my apartment to do my laundry down the hall, mail out books, exercise while reading and walking in my hall, and going for daily walks with my camera outside around our building in our gardens. Inside my apartment, I have been working creatively putting together fabrics to make my scrolls and processing the photographs from my garden strolls. My teaching brain has been activated so I make posts on my blog almost every other night. Culturally, I have been playing many operas streamed daily by the Metropolitan Opera on my laptop. Socially, besides keeping in touch with other residents, Zoom has kept me in good contact with friends outside and with my tech guy.
I love this 8-shaft braided twill (or plaited twill) pattern. I’m embarrassed to admit that I wove a treadling from a pattern when I didn’t realize that I hadn’t threaded the loom for that treadling! I was mystified why my cloth had an obscure texture on the back and not the definite braided twill I thought I was weaving on top.
The pattern for the braided twill I love is #380 in Carol Strickler’s book. I have woven it several times but completely forgot it needed a very special threading. As well as treadling.
Here is the 24-pick treadling draft. Using my dobby loom is a life saver for such a complicated treadling.
Here’s what I got when weaving this 24-shed pattern on an 8-shaft straight threading.
I like the white textured side a lot and am thinking strongly of weaving more of it. I especially like how it takes advantage of the shiny plied silk warp threads—especially after wet finishing with hard pressing (ironing).
DO NOT TRY THIS! Besides the above huge mistake, I pegged the draft wrong as well! I’m glad I made only a sample and looked at it carefully. And finally realized both of my great big mistakes. (And glad I like the result enough to weave more.)
While I still could be at my studio, I wove as much as I could so I could dye it while sequestered at home. Since I wasn’t able to finish weaving the entire warp and I wanted to cut off what was woven, I used the technique in this post. I’ve written about this “2-stick heading” so much that I wonder if people are getting tired of seeing it. It is such a useful technique I want everyone who weaves to know about it. I learned it from my mentor, Jim Ahrens, who used industry techniques for his production weaving business. What I learned from him is the basis of all my books and the reason I wrote them. His techniques from industry needed to be passed on to future generations of handweavers.
I almost always use this because I often want to cut off samples before weaving my “projects”. With this method you don’t lose as much of the warp as when you make knots to tie on again to the apron rod. And you retain perfect tension when you start weaving again. Before cutting off some cloth, weave this heading first.
1. What you do is first weave an inch or so of plain weave (or close to plain weave as possible).
2. Weave in two sticks (thinner the better or use rods or dowels).
3. Weave another inch. In the photo I wove a little more than one inch because plain weave wasn’t possible with this weave structure and my warp was slippery.
This close-up shows clearly how the two sticks are woven in.
This shows where you cut off your cloth, LEAVING THE HEADING ON THE LOOM.
The complete heading remains on the loom. Your cloth has been cut off.
Fold the sticks together and tie them to the apron rod. Now you can start weaving again with the perfect tension you had all along!
Here is a close-up of the knots tying the apron rod to the two sticks which have been folded together.
The record sheet for this post looks homemade, and it is. And since I can’t get out to my studio these days, I have only my working one to show which is rather messy. (as they usually get). I wish now I’d had a professional one made to go with the many work sheets my book designer made for my beginning weaving book.
I know how much warp is left because I keep track of what I’ve woven as I go along. I use a record sheet I made long ago. I use it for every single warp I make. It works like an old-fashioned check book register in that the last column shows the “balance” of what is left.
As soon as I’ve entered the length of the section I’ve measured on the record sheet, I put a marker thread at one selvedge to show where the measurement ended. Then later if I need to check for sure, I have all the markers on the selvedge as well as all the entries on the record sheet. I make sure that I ender all headings, or separators and the back loom waste. Also, I usually enter what I have allowed for “take-up”. Usually I use 10% for ordinary cloth weaving, just to be sure.
I made this post while I was at my loom last week. I was weaving as much as I could in case I got locked up in my retirement place. Since that has happened I’ve been working on other unfinished weavings. And getting ideas for more posts. More on that progress to come. In the meantime I hope this tip is helpful. I love sending out these posts–it makes me feel connected to the outside world. [click photos to enlarge]
PUT THE MARKER THREAD IN THE SAME SHED AS YOU WEAVE ALONG. This allows you to pull out the thread without destroying the weft sequence if you change your mind about cutting your cloth later. DO NOT USE RED, BLACK, NAVY if you think the color might run.
See that the marker thread is in the same shed as the regular weft. Then you can pull it out later if you change your mind.
A contrasting marker thread is very helpful especially if the pattern isn’t easy to follow a weft for cutting. With some textures, even the change of color of the weft isn’t enough for an accurate cutting line. Remember not to use a color thread that might run if it gets wet in the finishing process.
Before I give you my “Measuring Your Progress” tips I’d like to follow up on my last post about the Warping Trapeze:
I recommend the wood be 2″ x 2″ rather than 2″ x 4″ as seen in this YouTube video. And I didn’t cut the ends of the boards as seen in the video. However it shows how it works.
Also I didn’t drill holes but used brackets from the plumbing department at my hardware store and my rod is smaller at 1/2″ diameter. And I used ½” brackets like in the photo below. That way I can easily take the trapeze apart for storage.
Be sure to measure the width of you loom before you buy your rod. A curtain rod might work if the length is okay.
I like to use adding machine tape to measure my progress. Using 3 pins keeps the tape from slipping and sliding so you can be accurate. When you need to move the pin closest to you, “leapfrog” it over the other pins and place it near the edge (fell) of the cloth.
Mark with a fine enough pen so you can see your measurement exactly.
Here is a page from my book Weaving for Beginners showing the tape. Notice it does not get woven in with the cloth. I mark where the hems are to be and any changes as well as where I want the beginning and the end to be.
I needed to hemstitch the other day and had to get out my big book, Weaving for Beginners, which was so big that it made it impossible to do the stitching. So I got out my Mini iPad and opened up my Kindle book on hemstitching. Perfect–then I taught myself again how to make the stitches. I was all thumbs at first but when I got it, it was quick and easy.
Then I got out my iPhone and it worked better than ever. What fun! I learned to hemstitch way late in my weaving life so on one piece I even forgot to use it.
So, I got it! Since this will be on the hem on the back of the piece, I didn’t need to be careful about having every group of threads the same size. The reason here is to keep the last wefts from unravelling. You should leave at least an inch of warp on the piece before cutting it off the loom.
You can get a copy of my Kindle Hemstitching booklet for just $2.99 HERE. Next month I’ll publish my third booklet. This one will be about a unique way of “Tying On New Warps”. FYI: the second booklet is “Weaver’s Knots“.
Here I show the iron I used on this singles linen piece I made. I love the sheen on the linen.
Here is the iron stipped in its cradel to show the bottom with the holes for steaming. It has great steam and spray and holds its heat. I place it in the cradle when I shift the cloth. The cord to the cradle is plenty long and retracts easily. It can even steam or spray with the iron held vertically.
The carrying case is surprisingly handy. Sometimes I even carry it to my kitchen counter and iron a small piece on a towel.
I am reminded fondly of the special squeak my mother’s ironing board made.
Below you can see the link to the iron on Amazon.
Here is my current warp on my loom! Just what I taught my students to avoid–unevenly handspun singles yarns that are lumpy and sticky for warp threads. This is silk yarn I brought back from Bhutan–mainly to show the tour group what handspun yarn looked like. I did use plied threads for the 4 selvedge threads on the edges and weighted them separately. I used 5/2 cotton but a plied silk might have been a better idea.
From Linda Heinrich’s linen workshop at Convergence in 1994 and from her book on weaving linen I learned how easy it is to size a warp on the loom. Before now I’ve always been afraid to size anything. Her recipe is 1 tsp flax seed (any kind will do) to 1 cup of water. Simmer 15 minutes and strain. Refigerate and use within 2 weeks or freeze.I brush on the sizing then strum the threads and then open the shed to dry. Don’t apply too much–sort of like dry painting but pat the threads to get the sizing to go through to the bottom of the threads.
This is the yarn on the skein. I’ve shown it before to show the cross made in the skein. The threads are horribly sticky but with the cross the threads are coming off perfectly. There are plenty of soft-spun lumps and thin areas where it is twisted tighter. I knew from winding the yarn off the skein that the threads were strong–that’s what convinced me to try them for a warp. The stickyness would have prevented the sheds from opening without sizing I realized.
Here is the cloth off the loom and wet finished. I got the cloth really wet in the sink then blotted with a towel. And ironed until dry I love ironing and ironing until dry and I love the sheen I got with the totally mat yarns.
Here is the cloth I just dyed with black walnuts I collected last week. What frun all this is. I can’t wait for the warp to dry and begin weaving again.
I’m so happy that my beginners book is available in print as usual BUT now, starting today, it’s also available as a downloadable PDF. I’ve been wanting this for months but travel and life got in the way.
We updated the Books/DVD page on my website TODAY. I, myself, found that sometimes when I wanted to find something instead of leafing through the pages and searching, I turned to my own PDF version and used the search function. I could find it really fast that way.
Please spread the word about the availability of my book in both formats: PDF as well as Print.
Also, check the Books/DVD page on my website on Black Friday for some Holiday specials.
When Pat Keily sent me his question, I gave him my thoughts but non suited his problem with floating shafts with multiple tie-ups. Here is what he wrote for this guest post to explain the problem and his happy solution. Thanks for contributing this tip, Pat! “I have a 67-year-old LeClerc Nilus 36-inch, 10 treadle loom that has given me fits. The problem has been floating frames on multiple tie-ups. For some reason still unbeknownst to me, depressing a treadle would cause one or more frames to “float” an inch or so off the bottom. I was finally able to determine the cause and solution by googling the right key words. The problem is caused by the weight of the treadles (but why depressing a treadle would cause this is beyond me) lifting the jack. The solution is to install springs that keep the treadles from weighing down the frames. After searching for the right size springs and seeing they would cost over $50, my wife came up with a much better idea. We went to the Dollar Store and bought clasp-free hair bands for 10 cents each (pack of ten for a dollar). I bought 20 eye screws, installed ten in the end of the treadles and ten on a hardwood strip that I attached to the loom (Pat told me that he opened the “eyes” with two pairs of pliers). I slipped the hair band (fancy rubber bands) onto the eye screws and my floating frames floated right out of my life!”
I’m excited to announce that my first Kindle book (booklet) is now available on Amazon. It is in response to My Top Ten List of the most popular of my weaving tips. The most viewed tip was for Hemstitching! Almost 34,000 people have viewed this tip in the 5 years that my new website has been up. That amazes me and thrills me.
Hemstitching is a way to begin and end weaving on the loom without having to sew hems or knot fringes later, after the cloth has been taken off. For years I thought I couldn’t do it but when I was taught it I’ve loved the technique.
I’ve updated the material in the Kindle book and added a gallery of variations from old embroidery books. What makes my instructions special is that there are 9 step-by-step illustrations and text whereas most weaving sources only show one illustration and no text. There are directions for hemstitching at the beginning of your weaving and also at the end.
It is available for download on Amazon for $2.99. Of course it can be viewed on all Kindle readers and on most smart phones, tablets, and computers if you install the free Kindle reading app on your device.
You can buy the book from Amazon here: Peggy’s Weaving Tips: Hemstitching. I’d love it if you would give it a good review. If this is successful I’ll publish more Kindle booklets of weaving tip collections.
It’s been five years since I published my new website including over 100 weaving tips and I’m counting down the top ten. Here is number 2. This one has had 9254 views as of today!! The top one has more than 31,000 views to date!! Can you guess what the subject of that tip is? In my book, “Weaving for Beginners“, I describe back-to-front warping as I usually do. However, I’ve asked Patricia Townsend to write directions for front-to-back and the reasons she has taught it for many years to high school students. Look for her detailed directions in the book. Meanwhile, here’s my take on the subject.I advocate and write about warping your loom from back to front. Many American weavers were taught to warp from front to back, and that method works fine for them and has been described in many books. I feel that warping back-to-front (beginning at the back of the loom) has important advantages and I invite you to try this technique. It will come in handy someday when you or someone you know is faced with a challenging warp. And since it works for all warps, especially those challenging ones, I think it is the ideal method for beginning weavers to learn. The first method you learn is usually the one you know best and back-to-front is a method you can always rely on. I admit, I learned front-to-back first. Soon I learned back-to-front, and later Jim Ahrens taught the European back-to-front techniques which were even better. It is these back-to-front techniques that I describe in this book. Just to say back-to-front is or isn’t better than front-to-back isn’t enough. Jim’s way, the European way, has important advantages over both another back-to-front method and a skilled front-to-back method for warping your loom, mainly because it has no limitations on the type of warp yarn or project.Even my front-to-back warping friends have found that for fragile yarns, high twist yarns, fine yarns at dense setts, and using two or more warps, it is easier to warp back-to-front.
An experienced teacher looked at some of my samples woven out of sewing thread and when I asked her how she could possibly have done them warping from front-to-back, she immediately responded, “Why, I’d never want to do such a thing!” My response helped me clear my mind about how important Jim’s methods are. I said, “Yes, but your students might.” Then she agreed-maybe she was teaching her beginning students a method with a handicap. I continued, “My teachers never dreamed of the warps I’ve made. Two examples are fine silk damask at 114 ends per inch using 5 strands as 1 thread, and sewing thread at 200 epi so I could weave 5 layers that unfolded.” (Now I am working with fine silk at 120 ends per inch.)
Sometimes I weave dense warps. My front-to-back friends wonder how I could possibly see to thread. My answer is that the threads are quite spread out in the heddles during threading, and it isn’t until they get to the reed that they are pushed so close together. I still wonder how one could put 200 epi into a reed and thread the heddles with the warps so tightly packed together-the front-to-back method.
Sometimes I weave with fragile warp threads-my front-to-back warpers wonder how I can weave them without threads breaking all the time. I tell them that beaming on the threads in groups gives them the strength to go on the warp beam under tension. When they are woven, they pass through the heddles and reed for the first and only time. They are not subjected to abrasion, static, or to tension during beaming like front-to-back warps.
In back-to-front warping, the warp is beamed immediately so almost all of the warp is under tension during the threading process. In front-to-back, the warps are not under tension until after threading. I’ve seen classrooms full of tangled warps hanging from the breast beams and splayed out in the reeds. Just untangling the threads while beaming them through the reed and heddles is a struggle for the weaver, let alone a hardship on the threads. Jim’s principle applies here: “The only thread that can’t tangle is one under tension.”
Some yarns, like singles wool and high twist yarns, kink up on themselves or twist into groups of yarns. Again, it would be a great frustration to the weaver and the threads to try to force them through the reed and the heddles during beaming. And again, putting them on in groups using a raddle and getting them under tension on the warp beam eliminates the struggle.
Many front-to-back warpers feel strongly that designing random colors and/or textures in the reed is a major reason for using their method. Mixtures of textures and sticky yarns and dense warps can be a struggle to beam through the reed and heddles. And since the warp threads are not under tension while sleying the reed and threading the heddles, they can get terribly tangled. I suggest in the stripes chapter that the same designing can be done in the raddle and the mixture of warp threads can be beamed on the warp beam better back-to-front.
Some weavers feel that putting 2 warps on a single warp beam requires front-to- back. I refer them to chapter on two or more warps. They can be put on efficiently back-to-front.
Front-to-back makes good sense if your loom is uncomfortable for you to thread working the European way, or if the back of the loom is not accessible. After all, I do want weaving to be pleasurable.
As for speed, some of my front-to-back friends say their way is faster. That might be true given a sturdy warp that isn’t really long, wide, and dense.
I’ve been told that back-to-front has more steps. Here are the tasks, in order, for both methods.
Front-to-back Steps 1.Wind the warp 2.Sley the reed 3.Thread the heddles 4.Knot the warp on the back beam 5.Beam on the warp using sticks 6.Tie on the front apron rod
Back-to-front Steps 1.Wind the warp 2.Load the raddle 3.Beam on the warp, no tangles 4.Thread the heddles 5. Sley the reed to accommodate the knots and untangling the threads as you go 6.Tie on the front apron rod
I think it makes sense for you to learn first a method that can be used for every single warp you might dream up. Then, later, learn front-to-back when you’re more experienced. By that time, you know what kinds of warps you are likely to make and the loom you’re likely to have. Then you can decide which method is for you, or both, depending on the situation.
Here is a chart to convert yards per pound to meters per kilograms. I got a request a while ago for this information so my European subscribers could understand US labels better. In my book , Weaving for Beginners, there are sett charts with both yd per lb and m/kg. I thought it would be handy to just have the equivalents in a separate chart here. My next post will be 2 sett charts that include both metric and US measurements.
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
It’s been five years since I published my new website including over 100 weaving tips and I’m counting down the top ten. Here is number 3. This one has had 7828 views as of today!! The top one has more than 27,000 views to date!! Can you guess what the subject of that tip is?
This is a very different approach from what you’ve known before!! Jim Ahrens told me, “If you can talk them out of tying on in front, you will be doing them a big favor.” Here’s our gift to you.
Part One explained why this is such a good method and the concept. Part Two gives you the step-by-step.If you like it, and tell your weaving friends!!
Step 1. Make an Accurate Lease Behind the Shafts
The correct sequence of the threads in the old warp is easier-far, far easier-to see from a lease than from the heddles. You avoid many errors by selecting threads from a lease.
If the lease sticks are still in place on the old warp, check that the lease is accurate. (Check by treadling the two plain weave sheds and seeing if they are exactly the same as where the lease sticks are.) The lease may not be accurate if you corrected an error made when you wound the warp or threaded the heddles. If your lease doesn’t correspond exactly to the order of the threads in the heddles, make a new lease from the heddles.
Why this emphasis on the exact order? Later, threads out of order show up as crossed threads, making it impossible to pull the new warp through the heddles. Stabilize the sticks or cord. Hang the sticks from the castle or tie them to the sides of the loom. If you use a lease cord, make it taut by tying it to the sides of the loom.
STEP 2. CUT THE OLD WARP OFF THE WARP BEAM APRON
Before you cut the warp, be sure you’ve stabilized the lease sticks or cord so they can’t fall out. Cut the warp’s end loops at the endstick or apron rod. Leave all the loom waste intact. As you cut, you may want to tie slip knots in bunches of the warps to help keep the lease sticks in place. When you finish, the warp ends are dangling from the lease cord or sticks. See Figure A.
STEP 3. BEAM ON THE NEW WARP AS USUAL
STEP 4. POSITION THE WARPS AND LEASES
Position the leases in both the old and new warps between the shafts and the back beam. It’s important that you can easily see the leases so you won’t make mistakes. You’ll be choosing the threads in sequence from each lease to tie a thread in the old warp to its matching thread in the new warp.
Adjust the two warps so they overlap each other about half way between the shafts and the back beam. Leave a 4″ tail from each warp extending past the midpoint of the overlap. This is where you tie the knots. Long tails make tying the knots easier-you cut the tails off later. If you don’t have enough of the old warp to overlap 4″ past the knot-tying spot, you can make the knots closer to the shafts.
STEP 5. ENGAGE THE BRAKES
Make sure the brakes are engaged on both the cloth and warp beams, to put both old and new warps under tension for knot-tying.
STEP 6. MAKE SURE BOTH LEASES ARE HORIZONTAL (PARALLEL TO THE FLOOR) AND SECURE
Both the leases should be horizontal-parallel to the floor. If you’re using lease cords and they are taut and tied to the sides of the loom, adjust the ties so the leases are horizontal. See Figure B.
If you’re using lease sticks, probably the easiest way to make them horizontal is to tie the two warps together temporarily. Make two ties about one fourth of the way in from each edge. Take about aninch of warps from the old warp and a similar bunch from the new warp, and tie them in a bow or half bow. It doesn’t matter that these probably are not exactly corresponding threads because you’ll retie them thread-by-thread later. Now you can remove any ties you made to stabilize the lease sticks. The temporary ties make the leases parallel to the floor and stabilize the lease sticks. See Figure C.
The leases in both warps should be “safe” –nothing is going to collapse or fall out. If you feel anything is cumbersome or vulnerable, see what you can do now so all is stable. It makes you work better if you know all is safe.
STEP 7. CENTER THE WARP IN THE HEDDLE EYES
If necessary, raise the shafts so the warps are in the center of the heddle eyes. This is important so the old warp is straight while you’re tying the knots, and so the knots won’t catch when you pull them through the heddles.
STEP 8. POSITION THE SUPPORT BOARD
Position a board beneath the knot-tying area, midway between the back beam and the shafts. If your old warp is short, position the board closer to the shafts and adjust the warps so your knot-tying area is above the board. Support the board on the side framework of your loom or on lary sticks, or suspend it from long loops of string tied to the loom’s overhead structure. See Figure D. It should be sturdy and in no danger of falling, so experiment with C-clamps and string, if you need to, to get a firm work surface.
STEP 9. GET YOURSELF COMFORTABLE AND READY
Decide where to work. You begin tying the knots at the edge away from you and work toward yourself. Stand or pull a stool or chair up to the back of the loom, whichever is more comfortable. If there is room, you can sit inside the loom itself. For a wide warp, you need to tie the last warps from outside the loom.
Make sure your lighting is good and that you are comfortable. Comfort is not a luxury-it’s important to help you work error-free.
STEP 10. TIE THE KNOTS
You take the first thread in the lease of the old warp and tie a square knot to join it to the corresponding first thread in the lease of the new warp. Continue in sequence, picking one thread from one lease and then its mate from the other, until all the warp threads are knotted together. When you get to a temporary tie, untie it, match up the warp threads, and continue knotting. Don’t worry too much about maintaining precise warp tension while tying the knots.
STEP 11. CUT THE TAILS OFF THE KNOTS
Leave the long tails on the knots until all the knots are tied. Then cut all the tails short-to about 3/4″ (or 1/2″). Don’t try to weave or pull the threads through the heddles with the long tails on! The tails will tangle terribly. If a knot unties after you’ve cut the tails, there won’t be enough thread to re-tie it. You can either tie in an extension and re-tie it, or treat it as a broken end when you weave the heading.
STEP 12. REMOVE THE OLD WARP’S LEASE AND THE SUPPORT BOARD
With all the warps correctly tied, tightened, checked, and with tails cut off, you can remove the support board. Remove the lease sticks or cord from the old warp — and only the old warp. The new warp’s lease sticks or cord should stay in place, although you should untie the lease sticks from the sides of the loom. Remember, if possible, you want the lease in during weaving and for tying on the next new warp.
STEP 13. EASE THE KNOTS THROUGH THE HEDDLES
Now you’re ready to pull the tied-on warp through the heddles. Disengage the brake on the warp beam. Make sure the warps are in the center of the heddle eyes to avoid getting the knots caught on the tops of the eyes. Raising the shafts in Step 7 should have centered the warps.
I think “easing” is the key word. Some warps move smoothly through the heddles, others-especially heavier threads-may take more hand manipulation to ease them through, whether you crank or pull the knots through by hand. Sometimes a good tromp on a treadle will shake the knots loose so they’ll go through.
STEP 14. EASE THE KNOTS THROUGH THE REED
Getting the knots through the reed can be slower than you think, so gather up some patience. It’s easier if you have sleyed two ends per dent.
STEP 15. WEAVE THE HEADING
If the old cloth is still attached, you already have the warp under tension. You can weave the heading in the new warp as soon as the knots are through the reed.
If you have only a heading or overhand knots in the ends of the old warp, you need to get the warp under tension before you can begin the heading in the new warp. Attach the heading stick(s) or the overhand knots to the cloth apron rod. You can lace on. See May Tip of the Month.
The first time you tie on a new warp, it will probably seem slow, but just be patient. It will go faster the next time.
It’s been five years since I published my new website including over 100 weaving tips and I’m counting down the top ten. Here is number 4. This one has had 5920 views as of today!! The top one has more than 26,000 views to date!! Can you guess what the subject of that tip is?
BEAM THE WARP WITH A LOT OF TENSION, MORE THAN IT WILL BE UNDER WHILE YOU’RE WEAVING. THIS EXTRA TENSION PREVENTS THE THREADS FROM BITING DOWN UNEVENLY AS THE LAYERS BUILD UP ON THE WARP BEAM. THE IDEAL IS A SOLID, SMOOTH, VERY HARD PACKAGE OF YARNS, THE SAME DEGREE OF SMOOTHNESS AND SOLIDNESS AS A SPOOL OF SEWING THREAD.
TOO LITTLE TENSION DURING BEAMING IF YOU PUT LESS TENSION ON THE WARP WHEN BEAMING THAN YOU DO WHEN WEAVING, MYSTERIOUS BUNCHES OF FLABBY WARPS APPEAR RANDOMLY AS YOU WEAVE. THE EFFECT OF THE GREATER TENSION YOU APPLY WHILE WEAVING IS THE SAME AS PULLING HARD ON THE WARP. IMAGINE PULLING HARD ON A LOOSELY WOUND WARP: THE OUTER LAYERS OF THE WARP WOULD SLIP, PULLING THE INNER LAYERS NEARER THE BEAM TIGHTER. ON A SHORT WARP OF JUST A FEW TURNS OF THE BEAM, THE SLIPPAGE WOULD PROBABLY CONTINUE RIGHT DOWN TOTHE BEAM, TIGHTENING THE WHOLE WARP, AND SO THERE WOULDN’T BE ANY EFFECT ON YOUR WEAVING. BUT ON ANY WARP LONGER THAN A FEW YARDS, THE SLIPPAGE CAN’T GO DEEPER THAN A FEW LAYERS, AND THE TIGHTENED OUTER LAYERS COMPRESS THE INNER LAYERS. AS THEY COMPRESS, THE THREADS FLEX AND CURVE. IN WEAVING, THE FLEXES START TO STRAIGHTEN OUT THE CLOSER YOU GET TO THEM, BUT THEY DO SO RANDOMLY, NOT ALL AT ONCE. THAT EXPLAINS THAT CURIOUS SNAKY PATTERN YOU MAY HAVE SEEN ON YOUR BEAM AFTER WEAVING FOR AWHILE AND ALSO THE MYSTERIOUSLY UNEVEN TENSION OF THE WARP.
DOES EXTRA TENSION HARM THE WARP?
No, not even elastic yarns like wool, and not even if you don’t weave it off immediately. In fact, Jim Ahrens once wove off a 2/28 wool warp that had been under this kind of tension for eight years. In comparing the finished fabric to the sample he had woven eight years earlier on that warp, he found no difference in hand or resilience of the two fabrics. I wouldn’t recommend you put a poor quality thread to this extreme test, but since we’re weaving high-quality cloth, you wouldn’t be using poor quality thread anyway.
Tensioning the Warp by Yourself
If you’re working on your own, without a helper, using the “jerking” method allows you to apply great tension to your warp. Every time you crank the warp beam one full turn, stop, engage the brake, and then stand where the bulk of the warp is. Starting at one side of the warp, take a 2″ section of the warp in each hand. Tension them by jerking hard, very hard. Drop those sections, and pick up the next two sections and jerk very hard again. Continue jerking, in 2″ sections, all the way across the warp. See Figure A. This tightens the warp you just wound on the beam. Then wind on another turn, and follow the same process again, starting from the other edge of the warp. Alternating right and left edges as the starting point helps prevent one side receiving less tension than the other because you may have pulled harder on the first bundles every time.
If you begin to get blisters, though I never have, fingerless gloves, like those that golfers use, can help.Note that it is the turn of warp that you just wound onto the beam that is being tensioned. Warp that is not on the beam is slack as soon as you let go of it. If you must stop beaming and resume later, jerk all the sections of the last turn of the warp again before you start beaming. Another way to achieve good, consistent tension is to use your body weight instead of jerking the warp. Grasp each 2″ section at arm’s length, lock your elbows, and then lean back against the warp. Try this if you feel you can’t be sure of jerking with the same force all across the warp. Remember, the tension has to be not only tight, but even.
SMOOTHING OUT THE WARP AS YOU WIND ON
You may find it necessary to smooth out sections before tensioning to get the warp threads lined up and flat. Whatever you do, don’t comb! Combing can snag a thread or create tangles, often causing threads to break.
Often, it’s enough just to shake the warp briskly, like a horse’s reins, while pulling the warp toward you. You might also try holding a section of warp taut and slapping with your palm or flicking with your finger. See Figures B and C.
If this doesn’t lay the warp out flat, the best way to smooth sections with the least possibility of stretching is what I call “the pinch.” Lay threads over the flats of your fingers, then pinch them gently with the thumb. Now draw thumb and fingers toward you for a few inches. Release, pinch, and draw again until the threads lie properly. By drawing the pinch along, the loose warps that have looped up are worked along the bulk of the warp; eventually all the ends are equally tensioned. See Figure D.
To save a lot of stress on your hands, you can wind the sections around a short length of dowel and pull on the dowel. It is easy and quick once you get the rhythm of doing it. The diameter of the dowel should be around 1/2″. See figure #133.
It’s been five years since I published my new website including over 100 weaving tips and I’m counting down the top ten. Here is number 5. This one has had 5723 views as of today!! The top one has almost 26,000 views to date!! Can you guess what the subject of that tip is?
Here is a comment about this tip describing in a real world situation how useful this tip can be: “Thank you so much. I have some 42/2 linen and it is going slow. Long story short, I signed up for a towel exchange due on Saturday. I have a couple woven and needed to cut them off so I can get them hemmed. This worked SOOO slick!! Thank you, thank you thank you!”
The two-stick heading 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 completedly woven. You need a pair of sticks that fit on your cloth beam and won’t interfere with the ratchet. 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.
Two Stick Heading #1
After you’ve woven the initial heading to spread out the warps (page 105) (or at least 1″), insert a stick in one plain weave shed; insert another stick in the next plain weave shed, and continue weaving for 1″, or so. See Figure 307. The lease sticks will stay in place because they are woven in the cloth.
Two Stick Heading #2
Release the tension on the warp, and carefully cut between the knots and the first inch of the heading that you wove. Leave both plain weave sections and the sticks attached to the loom! Remember, you are cutting between the knots and the cloth which means only the knots are being cut off—the heading remains attached to the loom because it is part of the warp that is on the loom. Be careful not to cut the loom’s apron cords! See Figure 308. (If you want fringe, see Figure 311). The heading will be re-attached to the apron rod. See Figure 310. If the warp is sparse or slippery, put some white glue or tape on the cut edge to prevent the heading from unraveling or the warp threads from pulling the heading out when the warp is back on tension.
Two Stick Heading #3
Fold the first stick, with the first inch of the heading, under the second stick and the second inch of the heading. See Figure 309.
Two Stick Heading #4
Tie the two folded sticks across the front apron rod at 3″ intervals. Make the ties strong by doubling a sturdy but not fat string. Use a tapestry needle to go through the cloth and around the rod. Make the first tie in the center of the warp to hold the sticks stable. You might find it easier if you wind up the cloth apron until the apron rod is resting on the breast beam. Then pull the heading sticks (and the warp) forward to the apron rod and tie them to it, while steadying them on the breast beam. Put the knots on the front edge of the apron rod so you won’t make lumps with the ties. See Figure 310. Begin weaving again. The warp tension remains unchanged; since the heading sticks were woven in with the warp on tension before the knots were cut off, all the threads remain evenly tensioned as you resume. FRINGE If you want fringe, untie the knots instead of cutting them off and fold the sticks as above. Then smoothly fold back the unknotted warp threads as well as the heading.
Cutting Off As You Go
Another situation: Cutting off the cloth as you go You can cut off pieces as you weave them; it’s not necessary to wait until the entire warp is used up before cutting off the fabric. The headings and two sticks save precious warp because you don’t need to tie the warps back on to the apron rod. When you’re ready to cut off a length of cloth, make the complete 2-stick heading just as above. (Weave 1″ of plain weave, insert 2 sticks into the next two plain weave sheds, and weave one inch more. That’s the complete heading. You do not leave any space between the cloth and the heading—you’ll just cut the cloth and heading apart. Cut between the cloth and the first inch of the heading you wove, leaving the complete heading attached to the loom. See Figure 311. Remove the cloth from the front apron rod. Fold the two sticks, and tie them to the apron rod, as above.
It’s been five years since I published my new website including over 100 weaving tips and I’m counting down the top ten. Here is number 6. This one has had 5457 views as of today!! The top one has about over 24,500 views to date!! Can you guess what the subject of that tip is?
ONLY USE PAPER AFTER EVERY FEW TURNS OF THE WARP BEAM.
DO NOT USE PAPER CONTINUOUSLY–SEE WHY BELOW.
To keep the edge threads from slipping off the roll of warp, you pack in a new, short length of paper after every yard or so as you wind. To provide the support needed, use sturdy, brown paper called kraft paper or grocery bags, if they are wide enough for your warp; newspaper is too flimsy. Don’t use rolls of corrugated cardboard as packing paper‹this paper is too spongy to create the very tight, evenly tensioned warp you’re striving for. It¹s also so thick that it can take up a lot of your warp beam’s capacity.
Cut the paper 4″ wider than the width of your warp on the warp beam and in lengths about 12″ long, or the circumference of your warp beam. Why cut the paper into lengths? You don¹t need to use continuous paper if your warp is beamed on very tightly because, as you remember, tightly wound layers can¹t bite down into each other. Continuous paper is usually unnecessary, takes up room on the warp beam, and is terribly difficult to wind in smoothly. Even if you choose to use continuous paper, it’s much easier to use short lengths continuously rather than one long length of paper.
Next fold in 1″ on both edges of the width of the paper. These 1″ extensions support the edge threads on the warp beam because the folds at the edges strengthen the edges of the single-thickness paper.
When winding in the packing paper, be careful that warp threads never travel over the paper folded double at the edges. Also watch for paper that is crinkling or rolling in at an angle. A simple trick prevents this. Insert the paper so that it is wound in 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 figure, right in the middle. Hold it taut there as you wind the paper in with the warp.
Put the first piece of paper in after the first several turns of warp are wound on in a flat layer. Remember, if your apron cords prevent the warp from going on flat, you need to insert packing sticks to create a flat base before you can use the pieces of paper.You usually need about one piece of folded paper for every several turns of warp. You know when it’s time to put in another piece of paper when the edges of the warp look like they might not be piling up exactly upon themselves. One teacher said “The edges should look like cliffs.” My teacher said to add paper every yard or so. I usually do it more often with the fine silk threads I’ve been using.
Remember, the packing paper’s only job is to hold the edges of the warp up straight. It’s because you are winding the warp so tightly that the layers can’t bite down into one another. You need paper more frequently if you have gaps between raddle groups on the warp beam.
It’s been five years since I published my new website including over 100 weaving tips and I’m counting down the top ten. Here is number 7. I’m amazed that it has had about around 5,000 views. The top one has about over 23,000 views to date!! Can you guess what the subject of that tip is?
This tip is mostly about making warp and weft faced fabric with a little bit on balanced weaves (for plaids). It refers to four other posts about sett. Use these links for the information needed. This TIP refers to what is sett. Here is a TIP that makes weaving easier.This TIP refers to the Ashenhurst method of calculating sett. This TIP refers to adjusting the sett for specific purposes. NOTE: the percentages mentiond refer to the Maximum Sett using Ashenhurst.
In weft-faced fabrics, the warp is all but covered by the weft. To accomplish this, you have to space the warps far enough apart that the rows of weft will pack down and cover them. There is a method which can be used as a starting point for experimentation in finding this warp spacing. Use your ruler to wind both the warp and the weft threads together. Alternate the warp and weft threads. Keep them flat. Be careful not to twist or stretch them, but still, push them together until they just barely touch. Finally, count only the warp threads in your inch to get the approximate sett. See Figures A-C. You probably will use a thicker weft yarn than a warp yarn.
Sett for Weaving Weft Faced Cloth
In warp-faced fabrics, there are so many more warp threads than weft threads that the weft is all but covered by the warp. Use Ashenhurst’s diameters or wrap the warp threads around your ruler. Then, increase or even double the number per inch you get. See figure below.
Sett for Weaving Warp Faced Cloth
If you want a true plaid, then you’d want a precisely balanced sett, so that the warps and wefts are both showing equally. However, look at a machine woven plaid-the warps are denser than the wefts-for ease in weaving.
If a weave has weft emphasis, you can’t have the warp as dense as 80%. Examples are overshot and summer-and-winter fabrics. Use a plain weave sett here because plain weave is the basis for these two weaves. Then, as a starting point, take 60-70% of their maximum sett, depending on the purpose of your cloth.
It’s been five years since I published my new website including over 100 weaving tips and I’m counting down the top ten. Here is number 8. I’m amazed that it has had about 4,900 views. The top one has about over 23,000 views to date!! Can you guess what the subject of that tip is?
Here’s how to repair a broken warp thread. Cut a piece of warp yarn that matches the broken end, about the length of the loom’s depth, maybe a little longer if the loom is small. Whether I begin working on a repair at the front of the loom or at the back depends on where I noticed the break.
If I’m working at the front of the loom (the broken end is in front of the shafts), I first isolate the offending thread and tie the splice thread to the end of the broken end (I like to use an overhand knot–Figure A). Anchor the other end of the splice thread to the woven cloth with a pin like a cleat (Figure B). Then, pull the splice though the dent in the reed and heddle to the back of the loom. You can avoid manually threading through the reed and/or heddles by pulling the original warp end with the splice connected to it through them.
Pull the splice toward the back of the loom as far back as you can-through the lease sticks and close to the warp beam. With the splice and the original warp still connected, tie a slipknot at the back of the loom as shown in the the box below. See how to tie the special slip knot and how to undo it. Go to the front of the loom and re-adjust the tension of the warp thread on the pin in the woven cloth. See Figures C and D. The reason to tie the slipknot is that it will be easy to undo when it appears just behind the heddles. See Figure E. At that time, undo the slipknot and pull the splice connected to the original warp thread through the heddles and reed to the cloth and tension it on a new pin used like a cleat. You’ll be winding the original thread on the pin, and the splice thread will no longer be used. See Figure F.
Instead of using the slipknot, you can replace the overhand knot with a big bow. It works fine, but won’t be as easy to undo as the slipknot. Another method is to weight the splice thread and let it dangle behind the back beam as you weave. When the original thread is long enough to go through the heddles and reed, attach it to the woven cloth on a pin. See Figure G.
If the break is behind the heddles,connect one end of the splice thread to the broken warp end with an overhand knot and tie the slip knot (see above) as close to the warp beam as you can. Then, it’s quick and easy to find the empty heddle by pushing the threads on either side of the broken thread apart at the lease sticks and working the separation up toward the shafts. I drape the splice thread on top of the warp at right angles to the warps so I can easily see it from the front of the loom, and then I thread it through its heddle while I’m sitting at the front of the loom. See Figure H.
With the same separating motion at the front of the loom,you can quickly find the correct dent, pull the thread through the reed, and anchor the splice thread in the cloth with a pin like a cleat. See Figure I below.
When the slipknot advances, continue weaving until the slipknot has moved forward to the back of the shafts. See Figure E. Then, stop and undo the slipknot as shown in Figure L in box below. By then, the original thread will be long enough to be pulled through the heddle and reed, and pinned like a cleat into the cloth Figure F. Resume weaving and never think of that warp thread again.
Instead of knotting the threads together behind the heddles, the splice thread could simply be clamped to the warps on either side of it as far back from the heddles as possible. A good clamp is a hemostat, a clamp-like instrument that surgeons use. See Figure J. When the hemostat advances to just behind the heddles, you can unclamp the warp and draw the original thread through the heddles just as though you had done the slip-knot procedure. Use small hemostats that are about 6″ long or so.
Tie a slip knot to take up the slack in a spliced thread
Pinch the splice thread and the broken thread to form a loop of the excess thread. Use the two threads in the loop together as one thread (the tail) to tie the slipknot. See Figure K. Make a loop in the excess thread by crossing the tail on top of the pinched threads. Reach through the loop and grasp the tail pulling it to form a second loop. Tighten the knot by pulling the second loop away from the pinch. To loosen the slipknot, pull the two threads in the tail in opposite directions. See Figure L. In order for the slipknot to hold, it is important to tie the slipknot using only the excess thread you’ve pinched off.
–Halsey, Mike and Youngmark, Lore, Foundations of Weaving. David & Charles Ltd. England, 1975.
This is a balance scale that is used to determine how many yards of a yarn are in one pound. It’s great for letting you know how much yarn you have on an unmarked cone or skein. Place a length of yarn in the “V” on the balance arm, and cut off pieces until the arm balances. Measure the length of yarn in inches. Multiply the number of inches (and fractions) by 100 for the approximate number of yards in a pound. Measure carefully because you multiply your measurement and your error by 100.
Long ago, before this new website began 5 years ago I published a tip a month on the old site. There are over 100 and they are on this website. I think many new weavers must see these tips because the numbers say that for all of my most popular Top Ten tips, there were at least 3,600 visitors!!
Yarn Count Explained:
Understanding the labels on yarn packages
There are official standards for measuring the number of yards in one pound of yarn. These standards were created by cloth manufacturers in the nineteenth century. The standards refer to the weight given to a given length of thread. For cotton, they used a reel with a circumference of 1 1/2 yards or 54″; for linen, one of 2 1/2 yards or 90″; for woolens, one of 2 yards or 72″. Silk uses the cotton reel.
A 1 ply thread of cotton wound around its reel = 1 1/2 yards; 80 threads = one skein or 120 yards; and 7 skeins = one hank or 840 yards or one pound! So, now we know that there are 840 yards (one hank) of one ply cotton thread in one pound. This is the base measure or the “one-count.” Linen is calculated in leas, where 1 lea = 300 yards of one ply linen = 1 pound. Worsted is measured by counts. One count = 560 yards of single ply worsted = one pound. See the Table of Base Counts of Threads for some other base measures (one-counts). Table of Base Counts of Threads
Now, it is obvious that a very thin yarn will take more yards to weigh a pound than a thick yarn would. On the package or cone of yarn is a fraction which tells you how your yarn relates to the base measure. It also tells you how many plies the yarn has. You need to know this because the measure of yards per pound is based on one ply thread.
Say your package of cotton thread has a fraction of 3/2, for example. The top number tells you the size of your yarn and that it is three times the base measure or 3 x 840 = 2520 yards per pound. The bottom number is the number of plies, which here is 2 (2 ply). You know what one ply of your yarn is, so divide the total of the yards above the line by the number of plies.
Using the Yarn Count Method to Find Yards to Pound
Simple! Unfortunately, some yarn makers put their fractions upside-down. Usually, you can consider the smaller number to be the plies and the larger number to be the size. If after your calculations you get a number that makes no sense, try flipping the fraction and recalculating. If you have the yarn in your hands, you can count the plies, so you can tell which part of the fraction refers to it. Taken from: Book 1: “Winding a Warp and Using a Paddle”
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.