Introduction: This is used when smooth yarns won’t hold with a regular weaver’s knot. Remember though, even this knot won’t hold very slippery yarns. Jim’s fisherman’s knot is for them. See “Warping Your Loom & Tying On New Warps” for the chapter on knots.
Note: The double can also be undone like the regular weaver’s knot. Another Note: See my eBook, Weaver’s Knots on the website to order from Amazon.
The double weaver’s knot is a regular weaver’s knot with an additional step. One way to make it is to begin like the “ears” method.
As soon as you have the thread between the ears, go to the next illustration.
As soon as you have the thread between the ears, take it once around the right-hand ear as well.
Then do the same last steps: take the right-hand ear down under the thumb and…
The key to knowing you’ve tied the weaver’s knot correctly is to be able to release or undo it.
To undo it, you want to straighten out the thread that makes the “U” in the completed knot. No matter which way you tie it, there is one thread in a U-shape and the other thread winding itself around the first.
Pull on both ends of that “U” thread—in opposite directions—to unbend it and straighten it out.
The squiggly portion can be slipped right off, and even the squiggles relax so you have two fresh threads when you’re through.
Introduction: The weaver’s knot’s characteristics—non-slip and a quick release—are valued not only by weavers but by climbers and sailors, too. The knot can be used whenever two cords are tied together or to fasten one cord to a loom part. Because it can’t be tied under tension, it is a good knot when measuring the warp when you have a slack thread to work with. It can be tied with short ends, but not with very slippery threads, such as silk. It’s slower to work than a square knot, but more secure and smaller. So, if a square knot doesn’t hold, try a weaver’s or double weaver’s. Even so, some threads aren’t compatible enough with each other or are too slippery to tie either a square or a weaver’s knot.
There are several names associated with the weaver’s knot, such as bowline and sheet bend. I found five different methods for tying it, not including the double weaver’s knot. The method here I call the weaver’s knot with “ears”.
Check future posts for how to undo the knot and for the Double Weaver’s Knot!
This is the way Jim Ahrens taught and is in many books. The worker thread should be the longer of the two. If you are using this knot to tie on new warps, the worker thread is the new warp. In repairing a broken warp, the new thread (being longer) would be the worker and the existing end would be the non-worker. Step 1. Cross the two tails, left over right, and hold the crossing part between the thumb and first finger of the left hand. The “ears” are the ends of the tails that should stand up straight. Make the ears long enough but not so long as they bend over.
Step 2. The right end is the worker thread. Take it around over the thumb and pass it behind the left-hand ear—just the left one—and bring it to the front between the two ears.
Drop the worker. Take the right-hand ear, bend it down into the circle, and place it under the thumb so it is pinched by the thumb along with the thread already under the thumb. The bent thread is actually bending on itself and held to itself in the pinch.
To tighten, continue holding the thread bent on itself in the pinch between the thumb and index finger of the left hand WHILE pulling on the remaining end with the right hand.
With warp threads likely to break at any place, you might need to tie a weaver’s knot with one end very short. Another time might be when tying on new warps if the old warp behind the heddles is very, very short. Here are the steps and a word of caution.
1. Make a slip knot in the long thread—that will be the worker thread. 2. Slip the loop over at least 3/8” of the short warp thread.
3. Pull the tail and the standing end of the worker thread away from each other (in opposite directions from each other). This capsizes or flips the knot inside out. 4. Tighten by holding the tail and standing end of the short thread between the thumb and forefinger of one hand; pull on the remaining standing end with the other hand.
One word of caution from Vince Webers of Wilmington, Delaware: If you make the slip knot too tight to start with, this weaver’s knot won’t “upset” (capsize) in Step 3. He says you soon learn how much you should pull on the two threads. If you want to test this, try it with two ropes.
Slide the vertical line in the photo back and forth and see the difference the color of the warp makes on this weft ikat cloth. We visited a young weaver in Japan who made these 2 different cloths using the same weft threads she ikat dyed.
When I turned back to see what the first lesson was in the 2-shaft book, I liked the idea of one warp color with different colored weft stripes. Weavers with any number of shafts should not forget about this possibility. Often, we weavers sample different wefts to see which we like the best, but seldom make stripes with different colors. Even though the warp changes all the weft colors a bit, many combinations of colors can make good-looking fabric. Using the example from the previous photo, the same idea could apply with a dark warp. This is what inspired this whole post.
This is the traditional way we are used to seeing these cotton weft-ikat fabrics in Japan. White threads for the weft are tied and then dyed in indigo. This results with the pattern being white with a dark background when the warp is also dark.
A close-up of the dark warp with the ikat weft.
I only saw one other example of using a white warp with indigo dyed ikat weft patterning at one other studio—It was a piece displayed on the wall designed by the weaver’s wife’s mother who was an artist. Our young weaver used the non-traditional in the same unique way: using a white warp instead of the traditional dark one.
Rather than thread every other thread on shafts 1 and 2 or every 2 threads, you might try this variation of every 3 threads, or any number. Of course, you could do the same or something different in the treadling.
This could be an interesting threading variation. Think of how you could use different colors of threads as well in different areas.
In this post I go through the process of color drafting the 2-shaft weave from the previous post. For those who are new at drafting, there’s a whole chapter on drafting in my book Weaving for Beginners. Note thatI begin the threading on the right and work right-to-left.
Be sure to use pencil and have a good eraser. You’ll see that I had to use it. This was my 3rd start on this, it’s easier to start over when you find mistakes.
First draw the lines defining the part of a weave draft. The chapter on drafting in my book Weaving for Beginners explains the parts of a weave draft.
Put in what you can see on the cloth—both the warps and wefts.
Assign threading to those known. I saw the weft floats first, so I assigned them to Shaft #1. Remember, I work a draft from right to left here and in my books.
Assign what colors you know: the wefts are the horizonal lines.
Add the warp colors now, the vertical lines.
Then I looked for what I could find next: verticals for warps on top on either side of yellow weft areas. NOTE: the colors are not always in the same place! Assign them a shaft: see in the tie up that shaft #2 is lifted so all the lifted warps must be on shaft #2.
Now discover what the last warp threads will be. Now I need to look below to the rows below to discover those and I see the first is orange. Again, looking for vertical threads in the cloth.
Fill in the same way for the missing spaces: see that they are all shaft 1’s and watch out to get the colors right. I see below, a warp lifted in the first rows is followed by a weft every time.
We know the weft color from the photo of the cloth so fill in the wefts (horizontals).
We see on the cloth that each warp missing is orange. See that the single warps have 1 orange and one yellow since we know the yellows (wefts) already, so the rest must be orange.
Now we know all the warps in the threading draft AND we know some of their colors, too. So fill in the colors we know. Then we can fill in the yellow wefts but that’s easy. We still have to determine the colors of some of the warps. Again, look for rows below for the clues needed. The vertical floats are easy to see.
Now put in the treadling 1 & 2. What’s under the grey floats, check wefts so check the image and you can see shaft 1 should be up from the treadling and see the color from the photo or further down the draft. Notice I tried to erase grey in rows 5 & 7. They should be yellow wefts colored in the treadling draft.
What goes on under all the floats you can check out first in the treadling draft: what shaft is up. Then, fill in the blanks for the wefts (horizontals). Then clean up the draft and you’re done. (I hope I haven’t made any mistakes! Let me know if you find any.)
This is a scroll I made with the handspun yarn from Bhutan that I unwound from the skeins with a cross. It measures 8” x 27. That makes the warp 8” wide; a width I often do. It was on my small 4-shaft loom.
Here is a close-up of the center pieces I dyed with black walnuts. My original plan was to weave white cloth and dye it. However, I’m really liking the whites I wove and don’t know if I’ll dye any more of them or not.
This piece is very supple with thick and thin wefts in plain weave. It’s surprising how lovely the singles yarn wove up. Singles for warps finish up flatter than plied yarns which makes a nice cloth. Then for the selvedges you use 4 plied yarns. I might use sewing thread or 5/2 pearl cotton or something else like the warp yarn.
Here is a close-up showing the different wefts.
Here, the warp and weft are both the handspun yarn.
The warp is the one I wove the needle cushions on. Here I just used one block for the whole cloth. I hard pressed it then to flatten the floats. That means when it was damp from wet finishing (light hand washing) I ironed it hard.
Here, I used a very fine thread for the weft. I had made a warp of it at 125 epi so you know it is fine. Since I knew it was fragile, I didn’t snug up the wefts at the selvedges and just let them splay out a good bit. The reason for the fine weft was to see how the handspun yarn looked without any weft showing.
A Needle Weaves Gauze! 36” x 22” (doubled). Background: The background is the main feature. Mentor, Milton Sonday, at the Copper Hewitt Museum in New York needle-wove this gauze piece (it was 22” long) long ago I assume! It’s unbelievable. He told me he had a frame set up somehow. Center: A silk kimono fragment from Japan. I think this was a piece where they stenciled the design on the warp. First a warp is extremely loosely woven with a weft that zigzags up and across the warp to hold the warp threads in place. Then that “cloth” is taken off and stretched and stenciled. Then that warp is put back on the loom and woven as beautiful silk cloth. The designs were bold and a cheaper way to imitate ikat. The term for silk woven this way is: Mason. We visited the workshop and were blown away. Both Cathy and I ended up getting a piece of the stenciled warp threads, plus at least one gossamer silk scarf.
Fragments Worked into Felt. 37” x 20” Background: Commercial linen I dyed. Center: I marked old cotton kimono ikat fabrics I got in flea markets in Japan with sumi kink. Then these pieces were laid on wool fiber and felted. I love how the cloth shrank into the felt. The cloth is OK to do this if you can feel your breath through it. (That means the cloth is open enough to work– we were told by Jorie Johnson.) I learned these in a workshop at Slow Fiber Studios in Berkeley where I’ve had amazing experiences.
A Fancy Twill Meets Peggy’s Mottled Cloth. 8” x 18” Background: I’ve woven this twill many times and I always like it. It was labeled “fancy twill” so I kept the name. It’s 3,2,/1,2. I think. I like the thick and thin ridges. Center: A cotton fragment from wiping the bowl of kakishibu dye (green persimmon dye). The dye came from Japan. It has to be fermented for some years. I tried it for two years and didn’t get anything. I just liked the way some of the small pieces turned out.
Trying to Get Away with Something. 11” x 32” Background: Plain weave cotton shawl from the Philippines. Slash pattern due to random ikat weft threads. Center: Satin weave silk dip dyed in black walnut dye. Notice where I ran out of silk warp yarn and substituted with another yarn and thought no one would know the difference. It makes me chuckle when I see how the left side did everything different: shorter on top and shorter on the bottom. I couldn’t resist keeping it anyhow. I think it adds character. At least I don’t think it’s disfiguring. Or as a friend once said, “It doesn’t insult me.”
Sometimes there are just too many tie-ups in a multi-shaft project that a table loom is the best solution. (Of course, you can weave a 4-shaft project with the universal tie up in previous posts.)
Weaving this Christmas stocking took 8 shafts and Carolyn Burwell did not want to crawl under her floor loom for all these tie-ups. Using the levers on a table loom for all the sheds was easier by far than making all those tie-ups on a floor loom.
Here is what the back looked like. Weaving wrong-side-up would not be any help.
Red velvet will cover the wrong side beautifully. See the next post for the finished stocking.
Introduction: The tie-ups in the two previous posts are actually examples of skeleton or universal tie-ups. They are repeated here.
This ingenious tie up for 4-shaft countermarch looms is often called a skeleton tie-up. The treadles are tied up so that two or more are used to make the sheds. This is a way to make more sheds without tying up so many treadles, or to create the sheds you need when there are more sheds than you have treadles. Summer and winter tie-ups can require more treadles than you have,so askeleton tie-up is often used. Check the internet for more information on skeleton tie-ups for countermarch looms as well as jack and counterbalance. Yes, you can make skeleton tie ups on all kinds of looms.
Actually the illustration is a universal tie-up, because all of the 14 possible sheds can be made with only these 8 treadles. Do you see the difference? The terms are closely related but the universal will do everything. But the skeleton will be a tie-up with fewer treadles than the number of sheds required for a particular draft. Both tie-ups use two or more treadles together to create a shed. If you can’t figure out a skeleton tie-up yourself, you can look at Tim’s Treadle Reducer online. www.cs.earlham.edu/~timm/treadle/form1.php I tried it and it was great. I put in that I had 8 shafts, 10 treadles, and 12 treadles were required. Then a grid came up and I entered the tie-up in the pattern. And a skeleton tie-up was given using only 10 treadles instead of 12, sometimes using two treadles together.
This tie-up for 4-shaft jack and counterbalance looms is an example of a universal tie-up because with it you can make all the combinations possible using more than one treadle at a time. That means you won’t ever need to make a skeleton tie-up with 4 shafts for these two kinds of looms. That’s because you can make every combination you want using the four treadles, no matter how many different sheds are required.
A Universal tie-up for you. Never tie up your treadles again!
Introduction: I’ve posted this many times and it continues to be one of the most seen of all my posts. If you already use it, please bear with me. Since I gave the countermarch weavers their tie-up, I thought I should repeat this one yet again for everyone else. In fact, my own 4-shaft looms have only 4 treadles, so this is what I use for everything. And I think it makes me more creative because I can change my mind whenever a new idea comes along.
This tie-up works for jack and counterbalance looms.
I never change my treadles on these four-shaft looms because I only use the tie-up in the photo. The left outside treadle connects to shaft one and the right outside treadle connects to shaft two. The left inside treadle connects to shaft three and the right inside treadle connects to shaft four.
This tie-up allows you to treadle all the possible combinations of four shafts by pressing two treadles at a time. That means you can change from one structure to any other on a whim, and you don’t have to redo the tie-up. Because there are only four treadles, the feet can always find where to go.
A student of mine one enthusiastically said, “I tried your tie-up and added two treadles for tabby!”
I said, “You’ve missed the point. You don’t want those extra treadles; they just make it more complicated for the feet.”
Using two feet at once, this tie-up allows you to “walk” your treadles for almost every weave structure. Try it right now, pretending you’re sitting at a loom with the treadles as shown. Treadle shaft one, now two, now three, now four. You can weave faster because you’re alternating feet. Rememer that shafts one and two are on the outside, which makes them easy to find, so you can get started and find the other treadles easily without looking. (I’ve seen looms built with the same idea, with the arrangement: 3,1,2,4. That works, too.)
To treadle plain weave, put one foot in the crack between the two left treadles to press both treadles at one time with the left foot for one shed. Do the same with the right foot on the right- hand treadles for the other shed. Alternate your feet to weave tabby or plain weave.
Now try treadling a 2/2 twill. One and two together, two and three together, three and four together, four and one together. See how only one foot needs to move at a time? It’s just like dancing!
There is a comprehensive chapter on how the different kinds of looms work and how to adjust them in my book, Warping Your Loom & Tying On New Warps. It is available on my website as a pdf.
A Universal tie up so you never have to tie up your treadles again!
Use the tie up in the photo and you can tie up the treadles one way that works forever if you have only four shafts and eight treadles. Most four-shaft countermarch looms have only six treadles, but on some looms it’s easy to make two more treadles from pieces of wood to match those already on the loom.
You can make all the sheds possible with four shafts this way by using both feet and using two treadles at a time. Each treadle has only two ties.
Look at the photo. Remember all “o”s represent shafts that are to rise (like bubbles) and all “x”s are for shafts that are to be lowered.
This is an ingenious tie-up because countermarch looms require each shaft to be active to make a shed. The shaft must either rise or sink, and you can’t ask a shaft to move in two directions at once. If you want shafts 1 and 3 up, the treadles to press are the second treadle from the left and the far-right treadle. Do you see that you could not use the two left-hand treadles together because that would be asking shafts 1 and 3 to go both down and up?
Think about what to do to get shafts 2 and 4 up: Use the far-left treadle plus the second treadle from the right. Then shafts 1 and 3 will go down and 2 and 4 up.
This post is about larger totes I’ve brought home with an astounding photo at the end of a woven-resist kasuri fabric. This bag came from Japan. It’s made of paper rice bags. A similar technique was use by a friend of mine using grocery bags she tore into various shapes. She covered her kitchen floor with them. It’s really beautiful as well as practical. I have no idea how the paper is treated.
This tote bag was made in the Philippines and is a great size and shape for file folders, etc. The weave is strong, but the bag is padded which is a good idea. Plus, it has a nice lining with a pocket or two on the inside. It really holds its shape no matter what’s inside.
This bag shows a traditional pattern made on the island Amami Oshima between the Islands of Kyushu and Okinawa in Japan. This pattern is found on busses, post boxes, and shopping bags all over the island. However, no one knows about the weaving itself or the technique. The ikat resist is done by weaving. More for the last photo.
The strap is attached on one side of the bag so the top can be folded down to make the bag smaller. I think this is a great idea.
On the other side of the bag the strap is attached further down so the bag can work even smaller. Notice the snap. That holds the folded part down on the inside.
Here is the black side at it’s smallest height with the strap attached at that level.
Here is the patterned side when the bag is folded down to it’s shortest. I would say it’s made of a canvas fabric with the pattern printed on.
Here is a piece of the real woven cloth. Not a traditional pattern, but contemporary. Look at the detail. Every warp and weft thread is tied for the ikat process by being woven into a thick mat. Then the mat is unwoven and put on a loom to weave the pattern. The cloth is known as Oshima in the textile world. Cathy and I went there specially to see it and we spent two days with a guide going to several places to see both the resist mats and the silk cloth being woven. Interesting enough, our guide knew nothing about any of this until he researched it for our visit. We were happy to see how impressed he was. We found two little shops that sold the fabrics in pieces and by the meter so we could bring home good memories. This piece is a part of a scroll that I put together on a cloth from a Kyoto fabric shop.
Introduction: I thought I would tell a bit about each of my books and maybe some of the back story about how I came to write them. If you like, just skip to my website: www.peggyosterkamp.com for details of the Holiday Sale. Buy One book and Get One Free!
My annual Holiday Sale begins today on Black Friday. “Buy one, get one free with your order”. You can request a free book with every item you buy. The website: WWW.PeggyOsterkamp.com has all the details.
Book #1:Winding a Warp & Using a Paddle was first published in 1992 and was revised and enlarged in 1998 and reprinted for the Third Edition in 2005. While we were still living in Greenwich Village in New York Carol Hillestad, one of my students was an aspiring writer and offered to write a book for me. I gave her the information and she did the writing (not just editing but really writing). She had an office high up in one of the twin towers which made it a thrill to go there. We also passed manuscripts over the turnstiles in the subway. We moved to California and a fellow weaver in the local guild offered to design the book. Since we had to pay for each illustration, Carol and I decided that we’d only have an illustration when words couldn’t wouldn’t suffice. After the first edition, another weaver scolded me and said “Weavers are VISUAL people [she shouted] and we want more illustrations”. That was good advice, and I found a fine illustrator after 2 people didn’t work out. I really wanted a big book like Peter Collingwood’s bible but I knew it would never get done that way so decided to only do the winding the warp part of setting up the loom for the first book. I added the paddle part because I thought everyone would be hot for that. (It wasn’t the case). The sett charts in the back I use a lot: there are several pages of them for different yarns and again for twill as well as plain weave.
This book guides you through every step of planning a project and measuring the warp threads. I see that I got a testimonial from Peter Collingwood: “It is wonderful that these books put today’s weavers in touch with well-tried European methods and so keep alive a tradition of real textile craftsmanship.” (WOW!)
Book #2: Warping Your Loom & Tying On New Warps came out in1995 and the second and third editions, in 1997 and 2002. Now it’s out of print but available as a pdf. The reason for writing the books is that the information Jim Ahrens taught us at Pacific Basin School of Textile Arts was revolutionary. That is, American handweavers were not using this information that production weavers in Europe and around the world were using. In his class, Production Weaving, he taught us those techniques and I felt the information must be passed along to future weavers. I apprenticed with him for a year and I kept a folder with all the things he taught us that year. We called it the “Chairman Jim File.”
This book guides you through every step of beaming your warp and threading the loom. Plus, comprehensive chapters: Adjusting Looms, Tying On New Warps, Sectional Beaming, Knots, and more.
Again, I was afraid I wouldn’t get more books written so I put a lot more in it that the title indicates—just in case. On the title page, I wrote: “A guide that makes weaving fun with new techniques from European handweavers and the textile industry.
Book #3: Weaving & Drafting Your Own Cloth, came out in its third printing in 2005. I’m not sure when the first edition was printed. Finally, I got to the weaving and drafting part of the process. In all three of these books I put in everything I knew and what Jim taught us. I call them tomes because I wrote why about everything and much more than many weavers need to know.
This book guides you through every step from weaving motions, shuttles and selvedges to finishing your cloth. When problems come your way there’s an extensive chapter on trouble shooting. The drafting chapter explains how to create your own designs as well as to use drafts in books and magazines. I wanted it to be for those weavers who think that they will never understand drafting. Also included: Drafting for Analyzing Fabric and Drafting for Multi-shaft Weaving.
Book #4: Weaving for Beginners. It came out in 2010 with the Second Edition in 2014 and just now, the Third Edition. This time I put in all the steps and left out a lot of the “whys” and had the illustrator make over 600 illustrations. I taught Beginning Weaving at our junior college for 10 or so years and this is what I taught them—all using the same efficient techniques. I hoped that someone could teach themselves with only the book. I also hoped teachers would use it for themselves to plan their classes as well as use it for a text for students. They could demonstrate something for the whole class and say what page it was on. Students could follow along as well as come back and refer to it when they got to that stage.
Jim’s techniques did not cover warping “Front-to-Back” so I asked an expert to write that chapter and I helped edit it so that I could understand it. Front-to-back is like standing on my head for me. Other experts wrote the chapter on computers. And others did chapters on hand-manipulated weaves and a beginning chapter: Rigid Heddle Weaving.
This time Jason Collingwood wrote a testimonial. “Clear, concise and well presented information, her books on warping are a valuable addition to any weavers library and are, as such, thoroughly recommended.” (I was thrilled for this.) Also Syne Mitchel who I greatly admire wrote: “Peggy Osterkamp’s books are wonderfully thorough. They were my go-to references when I was learning to weave.” (I’m remembering when I got up the courage to ask for those testimonials).
The DVD: Warping the Loom Back to Front, (2005) was also demanded by a workshop student I had from West Virginia. I thought it was the hardest thing I’d ever done at the time. The producer said I should not tell “why” about anything. I asked, “Why?”. She said, “People don’t want to know.” It was hard making the script and harder yet to stick to it. They did a great job of editing. I’m pleased with it because it exactly follows the process I describe in my books.
Then I was told that people weren’t going to have DVD players in the future so Bob, my tech dude, helped me get video on demand. People still seem to want DVDs and I’m glad I can offer it “on demand”, too.
Footnote: I took these pictures in my studio this morning. I have to say it took some doing not to show the messes all around! I never know when a project/idea is finished and then I begin something new right on top of the old ones. When I need to find something, sometimes it’s like an archeological dig to get to the bottom layers. I wish I had more on the looms today, but what is, is, right?
He Haiyan uses scraps and keeps her employees busy while not making unique fashions. This shawl is generous in size and still light weight. The cotton warps and wefts are approximately the size of 20/2. Silk rags are narrow with black rags alternating with colorful rags. It looks to me like the rags are about 3/8” wide. It measures 16 ½” x 87” including fringe. I hope it inspires some weavers.
It is so supple and can be bunched up or flat. It wasn’t easy to take the selfies, but this is the best I could do. It’s so long that just hanging around my neck it reaches a bit below my knees. One would think it would be too bulky when wrapped, but it bunches up nicely. It weighs only 8 ½ oz.
Notice how nice the selvedges are. Each rag was individually cut AND folded back at the selvedges. I could barely make out that the rags were folded back about 1 1/2”at each edge! This makes the edges nice and he rags don’t work themselves out. Pains were taken to weave it so beautifully .
Another selfie to show how flexible.
Here’s another close-up of the fabric. Carefully designed and woven and yet so casual and comfortable. And the cotton isn’t slippery, so it stays put on my shoulders.
This placemat came from the boutique in Shanghai where I found the square mats in the previous post. This is another way the designer, He Haiyan, used scraps of fabrics. It uses scraps cut into strips for wefts. The weave structure is a variation of rep weave. It alternates with every other weft being thick and the alternate wefts are thin. This is explained in my book Weaving for Beginners, in the Future Assignments chapter. I can imagine lots of projects: mug rugs, floor rug, vests, bags, totes, pot holders perhaps…on and on. The back of the mat is nice, too. I just remembered that I also got a shawl from the shop—that will be for another post.
Here is a close-up of the weave. If you look closely you can see both the thick and the thin wefts. I’ve eaten many meals during the pandemic on this mat—sometimes one side is up and sometimes the other.
This is a placemat I brought back from Japan MANY years ago—on my first trip, I think. That would have been around 1969! Since the pandemic, our meals are brought to our apartments, and I’ve been using this one and enjoying looking at the weave for a while now. Something must have been sitting on it for a long time because one can see how gracefully it has faded over the years.
A closer look at the weave and the subtle little floats.
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
I inherited this needle case pillow from a weaver who died. I love it and have made many to give away and to have at home with my sewing things. I’m amazed at how often I need a tapestry needle. And having different sizes has come in handy many times.
This beautiful pin cushion was with Ethel’s things when she died. It so represents her aesthetic.
This is my first attempt at making something to hang from my castle. I probably made it when I first got my loom from Jim Ahrens. I’m sure the idea came from him: I must have seen one on his own loom. Mine isn’t pretty but I can jam in pins, scissors, and notes. I should make something better as a gift to myself…sometime.
Jim Ahrens built looms and on his own he had a holder like this. Jim is the “A” part of AVL and was my mentor. What I learned from him is the basis of my books. He was a production weaver, a mechanical engineer, and an inventor. This is on my 12-shaft early AVL dobby loom. I wonder if they still are on the new looms today. I love it.
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!