Introduction I have 5 pages of text and illustrations in my book, Weaving & Drafting Your Own Cloth on the Beat. This post is taken mostly from Weaving for Beginners. However, I couldn’t resist including how to beat lightly from the Weaving & Drafting book. There’s, a lot more to it if one is interested. Also, I am talking about weaving fabric here, not rugs and textiles that take a much harder or lighter beat.
Swing the beater with one arm; don’t pull it. Tap the weft into place, do not press it in. All my teachers (me, too) say that “beat” is a misnomer. What you want to do, generally, is to place the weft with the beater, not beat it in. When to beat This is especially important. Beat immediately after you’ve thrown the shuttle and adjusted the weft diagonal and snugged it up to the outside warp thread. The shed should still be open when you beat. Your hands on the beater don’t need to be in the middle of the beater, provided the beater is rigid. In fact, when you are throwing the shuttle, the hand on the beater can change from side to side. However, if the beater on your loom is wobbly or flimsy you’ll need to swing the beater with your hand in the center of it.
The photos show the hand positions on the center of the beater and on the shuttle when beating and when the shuttle enters and exits the shed. (If your beater is not flimsy, your hands can be to the sides of the center—wherever it is comfortable as you reach your hands forward to beat.) Beat evenly with the same gentle swinging of the beater and with the edge of the cloth (the fell) always about the same distance from the shafts. You can picture it—if the fell is up close to the heddles, you can’t get the same amount of “swing” with the beater as when it is near the breast beam.
Advance the warp often If you try to weave too close to the breast beam, the wefts might not beat in straight across—they may curve up at the selvedges with unwoven V-shaped areas appearing at the edges. To keep the fell of the cloth about mid-way between the breast beam and the heddles, you will need to roll the cloth forward often. This is called “advancing the warp.” You need to advance the warp after weaving about every 2”.
Five ways to beat lighter In order of my preference: 1. Lessen the tension on the warp. 2. Weave with the fell a bit closer to the shafts. 3. Beat on a closed shed. 4. Beat after changing to the new shed, and even so, forget “beat” and think “nudge”. 5. Increase the density of the warp (sett, epi).
Introduction The way you weave greatly affects the look of your selvedges as well as the woven cloth itself. The 3 stages are: throw, beat, change the shed. This post is about the first step: throw. Parts two and three will address beat and change the shed.
This is a good way to hold the shuttle for both entering the shed and catching the shuttle.
The shuttle should glide along the shuttle race (ledge on the beater at the base of the reed) of the beater. If your loom doesn’t have this ledge, throw the shuttle close to the reed. If the warp threads on the bottom of your shed aren’t resting on the shuttle race, check the tension on the warp. If the tension is too high, the warps will float above the shuttle race. If adjusting the warp tension doesn’t put the threads on the shuttle race, adjust the height of the beater, if possible. Many looms have this adjustment on the legs of the beater. Sometimes, people put the beater on the loom backwards so the ledge faces the shafts and isn’t available for weaving. If this is the case, don’t change it now—you can still weave. However, do change it before you sley the reed for your next project. The shuttle race should face the weaver as shown. Remember, too, that some looms do not have a shuttle race.
You want to place the weft in the shed on a diagonal. A diagonal should form naturally from the edge of the woven cloth to the shuttle race. (The edge of the cloth where the last weft was woven is called the fell of the cloth.) Be sure to maintain the diagonal and, keep the shuttle on the shuttle race (or close to the reed). However, there are some special circumstances where you don’t want to place the shuttle on the race.
Snug up the weft against the outside warp thread, (the selvedge thread)—neither pulling that thread in, nor leaving a loop on the outside of it. I like to snug the weft up until it barely moves that outside thread—just grazes it. This is how good-looking selvedges are made.
Don’t touch the selvedges. You can control the weft at the selvedges with your shuttle. As your shuttle comes out of the shed, press the weft thread onto the shuttle or bobbin and pull on the shuttle to snug the weft into place at the selvedge. For boat shuttles, if your shuttle cavity is open on the bottom of the shuttle you can use your ring finger to stop the bobbin to pull on the weft to snug it in place. (See previous photo.) For shuttles that are closed on the bottom, use your thumb on the bobbin as shown here.
This knot You Need to Learn. It will save time and frustration.
Introduction: There is a wonderful knot to tie the weights to the threads. It’s easy to undo, which is necessary every time you need to let down the weights for more thread. This is the same knot I tie for weighting supplementary warps, described in my second book, Warping Your Loom & Tying On New Warps, on page 156. Here it is again along with the steps to tie it. The steps sound more complicated than they are, but if you learn it well, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and aggravation in your future weaving life because the knot comes undone quickly.
Step 1 Hold the selvedge supply taut by gripping the warp with the finger of the left hand. In this manner, the warp will be taut throughout the procedure.
Step 2 With the right hand, pull a big loop of warp through the loop of the weight using your finger and thumb. The left hand continues holding the warp taut, but now just uses the 2 fingers shown in the illustration.
Step 3 With your left hand, adjust your thumb and first two fingers to pinch the warp to the loop of the weight—the right hand still holds the loop of warp.
Step 4 With the right hand, take the loop in front of the left hand’s pinch and then behind the selvedge threads.
Step 5 Readjust your left thumb and index finger so that they will be able to receive some thread (Step 6). (You are letting go of the weight now, but the fingers of the left hand still hold the threads taut.)
Step 6 Open the pinch in the left hand slightly and accept a small amount from the big loop in the right hand.
Step 7 Pull on the small loop and enlarge it somewhat. Be sure to hold the loop in the right hand, and do not let it be pulled through by the left hand.
Step 8 With both hands pull down (towards the floor) and cinch the knot tight.
Step 9 To undo the knot, simply pull on the loop that was held in the right hand, drop the weight down, and retie.
Regular selvedge threads often get tight. The problem is solved by winding separate selvedge threads. More than anything, you want to keep the selvedge warp threads from tightening up. By weighting them separately from the main warp they can weave and take up without getting tight. It isn’t hard to do, and it ensures good-looking selvedges that weave without problems. It is more efficient to start with them as separate warps, rather than to find out mid-warp that your selvedge threads are breaking because they are too tight, or that they are becoming so close together that the shed can’t open, or that the wefts at edges are beating down too much as seen in the photo. When to weight selvedge threads separately I use separate selvedges for warps that are over 3-5 yards long. I also use them when I begin to weave if I find that the normal warp’s selvedge threads aren’t supporting the wefts as they turn at the edges.
For separate selvedges, I make 2 tiny warps—one for each selvedge—often, with 4 threads for each. I determine the number of threads to use by the number of shafts in use. That is, if there are 4 shafts, I use 4 threads, if there are 8 shafts, I use 8 threads. For more shafts, see my book Weaving & Drafting Your Own Cloth in the chapter on selvedges. They will not be beamed onto the warp beam with the main warp but will hang over the back beam behind the loom with weights providing the tension on them. These threads are made separately from the warp threads, may be different from the warp threads, and are sleyed closer in the reed. (More follows.) How to measure the threads Because they will take up more than the main warp, measure out the selvedge threads longer, say, 10% longer than the regular warp threads. Measure out 4 threads making only one cross—a thread-by-thread cross at one end. Be sure you separatelymake two of these tiny warps. Tie the crosses as usual and make ties at the beginning and end of the warps and at several places in the middle. It will be hard to make real choke ties because the warps are so tiny. You can wind your little selvedge threads like a little kitestick, on a pencil, bobbin, or small tube, or make a chain. Or use a little piece of cardboard as in the previous post. Put each little selvedge warp in a plastic bag to keep it from twisting and tangling during weaving. What threads to use I double the sett (epi) for the 4 selvedge threads in the outside dents of the reed. However, if the warp threads are too thick to double up, use thinner threads for the selvedge threads. With thinner threads, you can get them closer, and the selvedges look almost machine made. Be sure your threads are plied, smooth, and strong. Threading the selvedges Thread the selvedge threads one per heddle, one on each shaft: 4,3,2,1. Putting the selvedges in the reed You will put in more threads per dent for the selvedge threads. Since the warp will naturally draw in a bit, it is a good idea not to fight it, and to sley the selvedge threads more densely than the body of the warp to keep the threads from breaking. I double the sett (epi) for the 4 selvedge thread in the outside dents of the reed.
If the selvedges build up faster than the rest of the fabric, the threads may be too close together. Threads sleyed too closely may keep the weft from packing in. Also, the selvedges may build up faster than the rest of the cloth if they aren’t weighted enough.
How to weight the threads I have found the “plastic bag and pencil” way to be satisfactory, and the cardboard, too. I use clothes pins to hold the bag and the warp at the knot together, which helps to prevent twisting. The weights I like to use nuts, washers or fishing weights for my selvedges. These “weights” are small enough that I can add or subtract them in small increments to adjust the tension. You can also use plastic bottles filled with the amount of water needed for the weight. As the selvedge threads get woven, the weights and their supply of thread rise up. When they reach the back beam, they need to be let down to just above the floor. A small bag of weights is more convenient than a bottle because it doesn’t have to be let down so often during weaving since it is smaller. How much weight? Six to fourteen ounces of weight are needed. I start with 6 ounces and add or subtract, as necessary. The way to know if you need more or less weight is simple. The fell of the cloth will be straight if the weight is correct as in the photo.
If the fell of the cloth curves up at the edges towards the shafts (making a “smile”,) it means there isn’t enough weight. Sometimes, one selvedge takes more weight than the other does. Do whatever is needed so the fell is straight. It’s better to have the selvedge threads a little too loose than too tight. If too tight, the body of the fabric may pucker into the selvedges. It might not be noticeable until the cloth is washed.
If the fell of the cloth curves down at the edges towards the breast beam (making a “frown”.), it means there is too much weight as shown. When to attach the weights Weights need a loop of some kind so you can attach the selvedge threads. It can be a loop of string or a metal shower curtain hook. How to attach the weights See the next post.
Adjusting the height – If the floating selvedge isn’t high enough in the shed for the shuttle to go under it easily, raise the threads by tying loops of string around them and attaching the loops to the castle of your loom. Raise the loops so the floating selvedge threads float in the middle of the open sheds as in the photo.
Adjusting the tension – Since they don’t interlace with the wefts like the main weave, they are likely to get looser as you weave along. You can hook a weight on each one and let it slide along as the warp is advanced as in the photo. Because they don’t get tighter as a rule, they can be beamed on with the regular warp ends.
If you used separate threads for the floating selvedges, they must be anchored at the back of the loom in some way so there is tension on them for weaving. The next post will talk about how to know how much weight to add.
I love this idea for winding a selvedge thread. I learned it from the participants in a workshop I taught years ago.
Introduction: Every new weaver learns about floating selvedges. In case of any doubts, here’s where the shuttle goes and why it works. Upcoming posts will have more in-depth selvedge “talk”.
What: There will be one extra thread on each side of the warp for the floating selvedges. I sometimes add these two extra threads, and other times I just use the outside threads on the existing warp. (I make new threads if using the two already in the warp will spoil the design at the edge.) Floating selvedges are commonly used when the outside warp thread doesn’t weave into the cloth, or when it isn’t caught often enough because of the structure of the weave. Why: These floating selvedges give a warp thread for the weft to go around on every shed, so there is never a thread left dangling out of the cloth at the edge.
Where: These floating threads move neither up nor down when the sheds are made but stay in the middle of the sheds. If you are using threads from your existing warp and the warp has already been threaded, remove the two outside warp threads from their heddles and replace them in the reed. If you are using separately made threads, take them through the castle but not through any heddles and put them in the outside dents of the reed as shown in the previous photo. Tie them on to the cloth apron rod as usual. (How to tension threads made separately follows in the next post.) When: I never use floating selvedges unless they are needed because it slows down the weaving a bit. Twills that only weave in one direction do not need them. Only twills that change directions need them, such as herringbone. Use a floating selvedge when two shuttles are used so you don’t have to worry about the rotation of the shuttles to catch the outside thread.
How to enter the shed: There is a certain way for the shuttle to enter and exit the sheds to make the wefts always catch the outside warp threads. Here is what I do. Enter the shuttle into the shed over the floating thread and exit the shuttle under it. It’s easy to push the warp end down with the nose of the shuttle when entering the shed.
How to exit the shed: The shuttle naturally leaves the shed at the opposite side going under the floating selvedge. There are many ways you can enter and exit the sheds to make the floaters do their job; you just need to do it the same way all the time. I prefer the method here because it’s easy and works naturally with the way the shuttle enters and exits the sheds. Next: Adjusting and tensioning floating selvedges.
I love getting comments from my Post readers. And I love learning new things. A comment from Jon gave this threading to catch the outside warp thread. With it you don’t have to think and you don’t need a floating selvedge. I might not use it if I thought I would weave other structures besides twills in a piece, but it beats a floating selvedge if you plan a big twill project. Try to figure out how it works just from the threading.
Here is the regular 4-shaft twill tie-up. Can you see how a thread is always caught on each edge with every weft shot? Notice the circles in the tie-up. That’s because it’s showing shafts lifted. Remember that bubbles rise.
Now add the treadling. Can you figure out what the edges will look like from this information?
Here is the complete draft. The edges make a sort of plain weave. Perhaps you could thread more threads for the edges and make a border. Maybe an idea to ponder and worth trying? This is how my mind works—I’d want to do a sample first to see how the two weaves work. Now I’m thinking again…you could thread the edges: 22, 44 and 11, 33 to get a real basket weave on the edges and I think that should surely work with the twill. When I want bands of both twill and plain weave in a cloth, I often use basket weave instead of real plain weave because they both draw in the same. (If you use plain weave bands, they will turn out to be wider than the twill areas.)
Here is the warping reel. The woman sits in the middle and reaches out to the pegs on either side. In the middle are the pegs for the cross. Children grow up with these processes so it’s in their bones.
Two threads are taken as one on the warping reel. You can barely see them against the man’s blue shirt.
The threads come from the “pancakes” that came from the bowls from the knot-tying people.
Two pancakes sit in the box. What looks like kitty litter is sprinkled on top to weight down the pancakes so the threads can be drawn off without tangling. This idea could be used by other weavers, I think.
Here is a photo of me wearing a gorgeous pina cloth dyed in indigo. This is the photo we used the photo for my blog—a rare good picture. I can’t remember who the other woman was but I remember the lovely evening vividly.
Here is what I did with the cloth when I got home. I have bars on my bedroom walls for hanging textiles. I love looking at that piece.
Pineapple fibers are too short to be threads for weaving. They are joined with a specific knot to make the long threads needed.
This group of people are knotting the fibers to make long threads.
This woman has been tying for a long time.
This young girl is showing the joined fibers she has knotted together.
The threads fall into a bowl as they are tied. Later they are draw out of the bowls for warp threads in this studio—without any snarls!
This “pancake” came from one of the bowls. The threads will be drawn from it for warping. I brought one home just because it was beautiful and fascinated me. The end of the top thread was marked so one knows where to start.
If the trick is not observed: This photo shows how the outside thread is skipped if the trick is not observed when weaving twill.
Here is the trick: Always start the twill weaving sequence by entering the shuttle on the even side of the warp. The “even side” refers to the side where the outside thread is threaded in a heddle on an even shaft. For a 4-shaft twill, that would be shaft #4 or shaft #2.
If you didn’t follow the trick: If you are weaving along, and you notice the problem, you won’t want to interrupt the sequence of the twill weave. In this situation, you can cut the weft thread and enter the shuttle on the other side of the warp. In other words, if the shuttle was on the right edge of the warp and normally would be entered from that side, cut the weft and enter it from the left side. This procedure might need to be done a couple of times to get the right sequence and side of the warp to work out.
Of course, you can take the shuttle around the outside warp by hand as you enter the shed. To do this, you’ll take the shuttle around the outside warp thread and place it into the new shed. You can do it every few wefts—just to keep the outside thread woven into the cloth. Another option is to use a floating selvedge. This is the solution I would recommend if the twill changes direction (zig zags).
If your outside selvedge threads begin to splay out as shown, there is too much angle in the diagonal of the weft. You must stop this or the warps will just continue to splay out more and more.
To correct this problem, throw the next weft, and while it is still loose in the shed, tug the previous weft at the selvedge, pulling out the tiny bit of excess weft.
Then, Take up that extra weft in the new shed and beat it in as usual. The tiny bit of slack that is taken out will straighten the warps. When the selvedges are back in place, decrease the angle of the diagonal in your wefts. You should need to make this adjustment only a few times to get the selvedges back in place. If you are throwing the shuttle on the shuttle race as I recommend, the way to decrease the angle is to move the fell of the cloth a little closer to the reed.
One common selvedge flaw is a characteristic ridge or ripple caused by a combination of too much weft in one shot, and too little weft in the following shot. The ridge is produced by changing the shed before the weft is beaten into place. With each shot the problem becomes worse.
Finally after beginning with the idea 4 months ago, this velvet piece is finished! In April when my posts were about velvet fragments I brought back from Italy, I was working on how to mount this piece I loved to be a scroll. I didn’t want a hem at the bottom. (I liked the cut edge.) I ended up using a product similar to “Fray-chek”. I got “Aleene’s Original Stop Fraying” on Amazon. It’s amazing what can be gotten online when one can’t get to JoAnn’s.
The piece hung in my hallway for months clipped onto a yard stick with clothes pins. I didn’t want a hem so knew a regular stick couldn’t work. Finally, it dawned on me to use a beautiful piece of black bamboo. I’ve used it quite a bit and have a “goodly” amount of it in my stash. I think it’s perfect. Then I used mono filament from the bamboo to hang it.
The background fabric is the gazar silk I first posted about in April. Here is a repeat of a photo of it hanging off my ironing board that shows its body and sheerness. You may remember how I struggled to iron it perfectly. I wanted the background to be perfectly flat—like a scroll. I have had to accept some little puckers. I am realizing that a normal scroll is backed with paper so it can be absolutely flat and a textile is what it is: beautiful, but not paper.
Introduction: Some weavers prefer to use packing sticks rather than paper. I prefer paper because the warp beam builds up so much more if sticks are used.
Sectional warp beam If your loom has a sectional warp beam like in the photo, you do not need to use packing paper. It is meant to wind the warp in sections. However, you can use a sectional beam like a plain beam. Read on.
If the sectional beam doesn’t have an apron rod, you’ll have to make one. After that, follow the procedures you do with a plain beam except don’t use packing paper. Attach a smooth narrow stick or dowel (about ½” diameter) to the cords on the sectional beam with lark’s head knots. If there are no cords, make some with strong string, not thick or bulky rope. Cut the cords twice the distance from around the beam to where the shafts are like in the photo. Fold each cord in half and knot the ends. Then, attach them to pegs at about 3-4” intervals to the sectional beam with lark’s head knots. Attach the cords to the apron rod with lark’s head knots. See the end of the post for how to make a lark’s head knot.
Very large warp beam If your warp beam’s circumference is very big, say, around 11” or more as in the photo, you don’t need to use packing paper.
The lark’s head knot This is another of my favorites that I find I use a lot.
Introduction: When I was teaching I used to say the teacher learned the most. I learned something when I got this comment after a post. “I thought it might be useful to add here that paper also has a grain (I think of it as a warp/weft) and will curl and fold parallel with its ‘warp’ more smoothly. So, folding the sides of the warping paper, if it is held sideways, will crinkle the paper.” I use short pieces of packing paper and I wonder if this person uses continuous packing paper. I’ve not noticed any problems when I have folded my papers for years, but it’s only because I never ran into paper that had such strong grain.
Preparing the Packing Paper The principle is this: cut the paper 4” wider than your warp is intended to be and about 2” longer than the circumference of the loom’s warp beam. For longer warps, you will need several sheets prepared—say, about one for every yard of warp length. The edges should be folded so they are double strength at the edges—these doubled areas will extend beyond the warp.
Use heavy paper such as a grocery bag. Cut off the bottom, cut off any handles, and cut along the seam so it lies flat. Fold each of the edges in 1”.
When winding in the packing paper, be careful that warp threads never travel over the paper folded double at the edges. The warp itself only goes over the single-thickness paper with the folded extensions sticking out to strengthen the paper at the edges. You may put in the paper with the folded part on top or underneath—either way of inserting the paper is all right. Make sure no warp falls on the doubled edges. Remember the comment I mentioned in the introduction. “…that paper also has a grain (I think of it as a warp/weft) and will curl and fold parallel with its ‘warp’ more smoothly.”
A Trick so the paper won’t wrinkle Also watch for paper that is crinkling or rolling in at an angle. A simple trick prevents this: Insert the paper so that it can be wound with the warp, then turn the beam a bit until the end of the paper catches in. With your thumb and forefinger, take hold at the center of the opposite end of the paper, as in the photo, right in the middle. Hold it taut there as you wind the paper in with the warp so the paper can’t wrinkle.
When to put in the paper. My teacher said about every yard. I usually put it in more often. I watch the edges of the warp building up. Just before the edge seems not to be sharp like a cliff or rolling in, is when I put in a new piece of paper. In Japan I noticed that they use small pieces of paper, too, but use them continuously.
I don’t recommend continuous packing paper because it is very difficult to get it wound on without wrinkling, and it builds up the warp beam circumference faster than short pieces put in every yard or so. Winding the warp tightly prevents the layers from biting down into one another so continuous packing paper isn’t necessary.
I can’t remember where I first saw this pattern but I do remember it was called a “fancy twill” and I’ve always called it that. I wove a bit with this thick red silk weft before the pandemic. It’s a twill. Here is the way it works. In the photo it shows what the warps are doing: 3 up, 2 down, 1 up, and 2 down for each pick. (Just like the fraction shows.) When you design a twill like this, all the numbers need to add up to the number of shafts you are using. In this case, it’s an 8-shaft “fancy” twill. Here in the weaving I think you can track the warps up and down by following a weft. Here is the back side of the cloth. I wove some of the pattern in white on white with the idea I might see how it would dye. Of course, the pattern doesn’t show up when there’s not contrasting warps and wefts. However, you can make a pattern appear if you change the warp color, say for a border; and have the center part have the warp and weft be the same. I’ve used this idea and like it a lot. It makes me think of Nellie, one of my students. She made an elaborate twill draft for a scarf but made the warp and weft the same except for one tiny inch. All her work didn’t show up except for in that one-inch section of warp. But I took her “idea” to heart. Look what I found in the Handwoven magazine I got this week! My “Nellie idea”!
What is a scroll? My inspiration is Japanese scrolls. They are narrow “wall hangings” that hang in little niches where art is displayed–usually a flower arrangement. Usually they are long and have a nice background with a piece of art mounted on it. I went to an exhibit in Japan a couple of years ago and the artist’s scrolls were many shapes and sizes–all with a background she chose for the art displayed on it. So that is what I’m calling MY scrolls. I’ve been matching up backgrounds and art. Sometimes parts are made by me –woven and/or dyed or things I’ve brought home from many trips. I’ve been under lock down since March 8 and can’t get to my studio where my looms are. I’ve been enjoying looking at what I have in my apartment and using what I have on hand.
Another background cloth from the striped warp in previous posts.
The background this time is plain weave. The warp threads are DMC 6-strand embroidery cotton. Someone gave me two cartons of cones of the stuff we usually see as little tiny skeins. The colors are wonderful and can be subtle. I took some light ones and some dark ones for the stripes.
Here is a close up of the art. They are shiny silk squares I cut from fabrics I dyed all with black walnuts a year ago or so. I attached them to pieces of cotton fabric (also black walnut dyed) with a museum-quality double stick tape. I love this tape and use it a lot. I got it from a bookbinding supply place in Brooklyn. The name is Talas. They have an extensive catalog and do online orders. I then attached these pieces to a flannel cloth for just the right amount of body for the hanging.
I’m thinking I have a trilogy—not a triptych; but they might hang together.
Here is a close-up of one section. In all the sections I turned the shiny squares 90 degrees so the way the light catches them makes the checkerboard pattern.
The fabric for the squares in this section was an upholstery fabric, I think. One side is silk, the other is cotton. The squares didn’t like to stay flat with time! However, it shows you how I mounted them with tiny bits of the tape in the middle of the tops of the squares.
Here is another piece I wove for a background for a scroll. You might recognize the warp from the “Three Faces of Karl” scroll in previous posts. I seemed to be wanting to use up things I’d been hoarding in my studio: this time, the black thin wool boucle. And I wanted to show off the boucle which I love and the rough silk as wefts.
Here is the back side which shows the warp dominating. This was the back when I was weaving and remained so.
Since there is a fat weft and the thin boucle weft, the selvedges naturally go in and out. Thick yarns don’t turn as easily as thin ones at the selvedges, but I didn’t want to lose the idea of the special silk so I let it stick out or turn at the selvedge as it wanted to.
This is a close-up of the warp face side (the back side). The thick weft is very rough being made of the waste part of silk cocoons. It’s called kibiso. It is very lumpy and sort of flat, and a little paper-like. I dyed it with black walnuts a year ago and kept looking at it until I finally decided to try it.
Today I finished the top and bottom and attached the silks I had dyed. So here is the finished scroll.
Someone asked me about the weave structure for the background of this piece in the previous post. I realized there is a story behind it. (Just when I think I’ve run out of post ideas, something comes up to get me going again!)
This is what I intended to weave. Since I was going to use the butcher’s twine that I’d been hoarding for years, I wanted to have the weft dominate the warp to show it off. When I think of twills I usually think of balanced twills where the warp and weft show equally. That can be written as 2/2 twill. In the fraction, the top number represents the number of warps lifted and the bottom number, the warps to be lowered. Regularly the treadling would be 12, 23, 34, 41 etc. And to reverse the direction it would be 41, 34, 32, 21 etc.
For the weft to dominate over the warp I need to weave a weft faced twill. That would be a 1/3 twill with 1 shaft up and 3, down. 1,2,3,4, and 4,3,2,1. That would be easy with only one shaft lifted at a time and the weft would show a lot and the warp hardly any. (because only 1 warp would be up for each row). In the piece, I wove 16 rows one direction and 16 rows the other.
Besides that, I wanted the points where the direction of the twill changed to be crisp so special attention needed to be made. Normally one might think to change the direction at the point you would treadle 1,2,3,4,3,2,1. The point is often mush or not sharp with that treadling. What you do is at the point of reversal you jump to a specific treadle and to begin the reverse direction. How do you know what to do? Read on.
You make yourself a “twill circle”. You make a circle and put on it as many points as there are treadles for one repeat. The photo shows the circle I used for a 4-shaft twill. Wherever you end up and are ready to change directions, you jump to the point directly across the circle. In this instance if I ended with treadle 4, the next treadle should be 2. That would be the first shot for the reversed direction. So wherever my 16th row happened to land, I would always know what treadle to start the reversal with. If I ended on 1, then I would begin with 3. The lower circle shows a circle if I were weaving with 8 shafts. If I ended up on treadle 4 I would jump to treadle 8 and if I landed on treadle 5, I would know to jump to treadle 1.
However, I decided I liked the wrong side better when it was off the loom! The wrong side is the reverse, with the warp dominating as a 3/1 twill. If you look closely at one row you might be able to see 3 warps up between each single weft. Warp face and weft faced twills can be called unbalanced twills as opposed to balanced twill which would be a 2/2 or 4/4 twill, or 5/5 twill etc.
I think maybe people would like a break from my linen scroll project. Life has suddenly gotten in my way so I don’t have any pictures ready of the latest and last ones.
This is one of the first scrolls I made at the beginning of the pandemic. I wove the ground fabric just before the lock down.
I used butcher’s twine for the weft. It’s what Lia Cook used long ago in her pressed pieces. I’d been wanting to use it for a long time. When I wet the fringe to straighten it, some of the cloth got wet, too, so it shrank—dah—butcher’s twin is supposed to shrink when it gets wet. So, I spread it out on the counter and wet the whole piece. The selvedges tightened up nicely.
This is the top piece. No fog, the City (San Francisco?) is clear.
The little pieces I wove with the handspun cotton I got in Bhutan. It’s fun to think about where some of the pieces or yarns came from. The warp was that fine silk at 125 ends per inch of long ago. I was determined to weave it off even after I lost a huge number of threads to threading errors and breakage. Fog is coming in.
The silk threads for the warps are going horizontally. I dipped the pieces into black walnut dye. The wefts are the vertical threads in these pieces with the “selvedges” on the top and bottom.
Fog completely obliterates the City!
I received a comment today on my website about a tip I’d made about loom waste. I’m not sure what I was thinking, but not clearly, for sure. I hope it was done long ago. I will get my tech guy to delete the tip (when the lockdown is over?). In it I also showed the two-stick heading which is not about loom waste but about headings. It should not have been in that tip at all. Also, the illustrations and text didn’t match up. A certain amount of your warp cannot be woven into cloth. It’s at each end. You must allow for it when deciding how long to make your warps. I remember a student long ago who wanted to make a baby blanket. We calculated how long the warp should be. Then she made the warp only as long as the finished blanket was going to be. She hadn’t understood why we’d done all the calculations for loom waste. The next week she came to class and reported on her ultrasound. Twins! And her first thought was that she could only make one blanket! I never saw her again! Front loom waste
The front loom waste is at the beginning of the warp. That is the place where some of the warp is used in tying it onto the cloth beam apron rod. See the illustration. Front loom waste might be anywhere from 6-8 inches to 20 inches long, depending on how thrifty or wasteful you are and on what method you use for tying on (knots or lacing on). Lacing on uses the least amount of warp. Back loom waste
The loom waste at the back of the loom can be seen in the illustration. It is the amount that cannot be woven because of the warp’s being threaded in the heddles on the shafts. Large looms have more distance between the beater and the back shaft, so they have more distance between the beater and the back shafts, so they naturally have more loom waste than a small loom would. To know how much to allow, see the illustration and measure on your loom the distance represented by the arrow. Pull the warp beam’s apron rod up to the heddles on the shaft furthest back on the loom. Measure from there to a few inches in front of the beater or about one-half the distance between the beater and the breast beam. Add a few more inches here if you warp front-to-back, for tying the knots on the warp beam’s apron rod, say, 4-6 inches more.
I have a lot of tips and information on end-delivery shuttles and 2 ½ pages with illustrations on winding pirns alone. Here is a brief description with out important details.
The shape you are making is a cylinder with a cone-shaped tip. To secure the weft yarn to the pirn at the beginning, start by wrapping the yarn a few times on itself around the flat part of the pirn, not where you will form the base of the cone shape. Do it before putting it on the winder. The yarn won’t “hold” if you start it on the cone-shaped part.
There are two motions going on at once while winding pirns. One motion is the overall movement from the base of the pirn toward its tip. The second movement is a swinging of the yarn, back and forth for a distance of about an inch to an inch and a half.
Your hand will only guide the thread—it should not put tension on it, because that would burn your fingers. To put tension on the thread while winding the pirns, use a tension box of some kind. By running the weft yarn through the tension box over and under the pegs, sufficient tension can be placed on the weft yarn to pack the pirn firm and tight.
Begin winding at the base—where there is a built-in-cone-shape. Wind on some weft to make a small hump, which immediately begins to establish a cone shape. This initial hump should fill only an inch or so on the shaft of the pirn. Even though the base of your pirn is already shaped like a cone, you’ll want to retain this shape and build it up a bit higher right at the beginning.
Remember to swing the yarn back and forth right from the start. At its base, the diameter of your starting cone of yarn should be just a s big as the diameter of the finished filled pirn. This diameter is determined by the size of the shuttle’s cavity.
Continue winding and swinging the yarn as you guide it, maintaining the cone shape. This cone shape advances along the pirn as it is being wound with the base of the cone always the same size. As you swing the yarn, do not swing it over the high part of the cone as it advances, but keep working the cone shape down the pirn toward the tip.
Don’t wind these pirns in sections as the manuals often suggest. Rather, keep gradually progressing toward the tip. It’s like a stack of dunce caps, or highway cones, on their side.
Here is a finished pirn. The completely filled pirn should be quite firm and end in a cone shape about ½” from the tip. It is OK to fill many pirns at one sitting.
Almost every yarn has twist (among the few that don’t are flat yarns like ribbon, reed, and metallics). Twist is what makes natural fibers hold together as yarn. It’s what makes the plies of thread hug together in a strong yarn. Even man-made fibers benefit from the twist. This post talks about slightly adding or subtracting twist by which end of a spool you take the yarn off of. These situations aren’t common, but may occur with over-twisted, unbalanced, or single ply yarns. Three major truths about twist to keep in mind:
1. In general, adding twist makes a harder, stronger yarn.
2. In general, subtracting twist makes a softer, more easily abraded yarn.
3. Twist has two directions: S twist and Z twist. You can add S or Z twist when you unwind yarn from the end of a spool.
When the yarn, as seen from the end of the spool, moves in a counter-clockwise direction as it unwinds from the spool, S twist is added.
By turning the spool end-for-end, the yarn will move in a clockwise direction as it unwinds, adding Z twist to it.
Repeating the principle: which end of the yarn package the yarn comes off from dictates the direction of the twist put into the yarn—because the yarn is coming off the end.
You can add or subtract twist not only by how you wind a pirn, but also by which end of the spool of yarn you take the yarn off of. Now, every time you wind or unwind yarn, you can slightly add twist, subtract it, or have no effect on it. How you unwind a ball of yarn determines the amount of twist as well as the direction of twist. If the ball rolls around and the yarn comes off the side, you know that no twist is being added.
If the yarn comes out from the center and off the top of a ball a small amount of twist is added or subtracted depending upon which end of the ball is on top as usual.
If you unwind the ball starting at the outside of the ball, the amount of twist being added (or subtracted) increases as the circumference of the ball gets smaller and smaller. However, if you begin to unwind a ball from the center of the ball where the circumference is small, you’ll be putting in the most twist at the beginning. It will gradually get less and less as the circumference of the inside of the ball gets bigger as it is unwound, because one twist is added for each time the yarn traverses the circumference of the ball, making more twists per inch where the circumference is small—in the center. If this is a problem (kinks in the yarn) let the balls roll around on the floor as you wind. Then any twist will work itself out before it gets to the winder.
You can always check yourself with a roll of toilet paper so you don’t need to worry if you forget all of this!
For years, I resisted identifying yarns by whether they were S or Z twist. “How could you possibly know whether you’re holding the yarn right-or-wrong-side up, I said to myself. (And I’ve heard others say it, too.) Often, I learn things when I have to teach something and this time it was for collapse weaving with overtwisted yarns. My toilet paper demo was a big help. I can’t remember how I thought it up. What is S & Z?
Yarns have two directions of twist: S and Z. To see the direction of twist of a yarn, look for diagonal lines. How to tell the direction.
Hold a length of the yarn taut. Look at it closely. You’ll see that the surface of the yarn spirals (note the diagonal lines). If the diagonal slants the same way as the line forming the middle of the letter S, then we say it has S twist. If it slants the same way as the line forming the middle of the letter Z, then we say it has Z twist. That is why the twists are named as they are. The seine twine in the photo shows S twist.
You can see how the diagonal lines are formed when you look at the toilet paper demonstration again. Which one shows S twist? Which one is the Z? Read on. What to look for.
Look for the bars in the two letters: S & Z. See that the bar in the S goes on a diagonal like the back slash on the computer keyboard: \. Also see that the bar in the letter Z goes in the same direction as the forward slash: /. Does it matter if the yarn is upside down?
Here is a gorgeous black cord I brought back from Bhutan (I think). Note where the tassel is in the photo. I see that the diagonal lines are going in the Z direction here. What will happen when I turn it upside down? See the next photo.
Now the tassel shows that I’ve turned the cord upside down, so-to-speak. It’s still Z twist! No change in direction! No matter which way you turn a yarn or look at it, the twist will always look the same!! Here’s a quick way to check S & Z that always works. (The way I do it.)
Knowing that most yarns are twisted in the S direction, and that the right hand is the dominant hand for most people, swing your right hand across your body. Start the swing with your hand at your side and swing it towards your left shoulder. That is the same diagonal of S twisted yarn! So, if the yarn in question has the same diagonal as you do when you swing your right hand, it’s an S-twist yarn. Swinging your left hand across your body gives you the diagonal for Z twisted yarns. When I’m in a yarn shop, I don’t actually swing my arm—I just swing my hand across my chest—right for S direction and left hand for the Z direction.