Day 4. Arakei Textile (who we visited in Chichibu) had an exhibition at Mitsukoshi, a prestigious department store. We exchanged websites–they had put our visit on their site and I put them on mine! It was a grand display.
Another display at Mitsukoshi department store. We will be going to Hakata to see a weaving place. Traditionally they weave obi like the ones sumo wrestlers wear. I wonder what we’ll see when we get there. Here they are promoting their non traditional textiles.
Another department store, Matsuya, had a boutique of textiles from Nuno. Their textiles are ones we watch for because they are so innovative. I learned to make this exact textile in a workshop with Yoshiko Wada!
An exhibit of indigo Japanese work clothes was at International Christian University. They have a big collection of textiles and many exhibits. This is a place to keep watching for future shows.
Day 3. Tokyo Favorite Places Today!
First stop: Issey Miyake. This was the first of several of his shops on the street.
One of the many designer shops we passed by on the way to a favorite lunch place. We didn’t stop in. I thought the long black sleeves added something.
yatescountyhome commented. “I like the ‘ selfie ‘ in the window.”
City Shop is the name of a very popular place for lunch. The four of us were the only people over 30 but no one seemed to mind and it’s a very different kind of restaurant with great food. We had to wait to get a table.
Fourth stop: Morita the antique textile dealer. Lovely things to touch and see. Cathy Cerny and I always find some treasures when we go there. I found an old weaver’s sample book and some gorgeous white silk crepe kimono fabric this time.
Day 2 a day with two textile experts. We visited Haruko Watanabe who has a large collection of textiles made in the Meisen technique. In fact she is going to give a lecture and show her amazing kimonos in New York soon. The designs and colors were bold to say the least for the period that is her specialty.
Haruko Watanabe bending over the boxes full of kimonos. She maybe showed us at least 30 smashing pieces–all in perfect condition.
The huge pile of kimonos she showed us. We offered to help put the back into their boxes but she said no.
Then we visited with Keiko Kobayashi an accomplished weaver and artist. She wrote this comprehensive book about textile constructions. Her drawings are so clear, never mind that the book is in Japanese. There are some captions in English.
Keiko Kobayashi is also a scholar. This is her article in the Textile Museum Journal. The next photo shows the cover for information.
Day 1 / Part 2 – More About Meisen Weaving in Chichibu. This is the front of a brochure from the studio we visited: Arakei Textile. An image is printed on a warp.
First temporary wefts are woven very far apart in a warp of white threads. Then the extremely loosely woven cloth is taken to the printing table. Here you can barely see one weft on a diagonal. See the next photo.
Here you can see that temporary weft in this photo of the printed warp. I brought home a piece of the printed warp. The warp threads are barely held in place by the temporary weft–just enough so the warp can be put into the loom. If I disturb these printed threads they will separate some so they must stay put or all the threads could get out of line.
Here you can see on the loom where the cloth has been woven and also the printed warp threads not yet woven.
These young women were wearing lovely kimonos of Meisen fabric while shopping in the showroom on the day we were there. I am not on a tour for this trip but am traveling with my travel partner on many previous tours. Dear friends drove us to Chichibu which is three hours from Tokyo.
Day 1. Our trip to Chichibu to see Meisen weaving. This is outside the weaving shop. The man is the weaver. His mother made most of the delicious food which we ate with our tea after seeing everything and shopping.
The looms! It always thrills me to see the looms. These were powered by the belts and pulleys overhead.
For the Meisen technique the pattern is printed on the warp before weaving. Here you can see the supply of warp on the roller that shows the printed warp. The two layers in the photo show the printed warp threads more closely.
On this loom every other thread goes over the rod. This distorts the pattern or shifts the pattern a bit so that an image can overlap itself. Instead of a simple circle a second circle overlaps the original one in the finished design.
Here the weaver is explaining the printing process on the long printing table. Woven scarves are displayed overhead.
This is a warp that has been printed on. It will be put into the back of a loom and then will be woven. This is a very special technique done in this village in the mountains outside Tokyo. I bought the beautiful blue and white silk scarf seen at the edge of the photo.
Arrived in Tokyo at 4:00AM so stayed in this deluxe capsule hotel at Hamada Airport. There was room for my big suitcase thank goodness. We will be in Japan for three weeks.
And room to stretch out and watch TV. No TV for me. The space cost around $30 for 3 hours and was really comfortable.
This is what the regular price capsule looked like. Bathroom and shower were down a hall along with a Japanese bath big enough for 4 people. It was a glorious way to begin our first day.
|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.)
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.
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
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.|
THE ABOVE TIP IS AN EXCERPT FROM “WEAVING FOR BEGINNERS” AND BOOK 2: “WARPING YOUR LOOM AND TYING ON NEW WARPS”.
It’s always a treat to visit Mimi Luebbermann’s Windrush Farm in Petaluma. When I asked her if she would do a guest post for my blog she mentioned that there will be a spinning class beginning next week–October 1. Just being out in the country is special, but learning how to spin yarn from a sheep’s fleece is the icing on the cake. I think there are two sessions.
She told me about a flea market she has in the fall where people bring what they don’t want to keep in their stashes anymore and take home new stuff.
I went to her holiday sale and farm day last fall and look forward to going again.
“We have our beginning classes starting next week, Oct 1 and 2, a two part beginning to really get folks spinning. Then, on October 9, I am having a spin-in day, with spinners coming to the farm to spin and have a potluck lunch and for those folks who wish, a fiber flea market.”
There’s always a Holiday Sale at the farm: dyeing, spinning demonstrations and of course, seeing the sheep. (Lambs don’t come until the spring.) I forget when the day is to see the sheep getting sheared–but that is a really nice thing to do, too.
You might use this method when tying on new warps if the old warp behind the heddles is very, very short.
- Make a slip knot in the long thread–the worker thread.
- Slip the loop over at least 3/8″ of the short warp thread.
- 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.
- 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.
Release, or undo the knot the same as with any weaver’s knot.
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.
I took a workshop called Shibori and Sublimation Printing on the weekend. It was really inspiring. We were dying on polyester using shibori techniques and dying by sublimation using disperse dyes and a heat press. I hope to use the ideas with my persimmon dyes on silk and cotton.
A friend who is becoming a weaver passed this on to me and I loved it. I hope you’ll enjoy looking at the pictures of a woman weaving in her camper van and traveling around the British countryside. Click on the article title below.
I had a glorious day in the countryside near Petaluma at my friend’s farm with some of her fiber-loving friends. After a fine lunch we sat around and visited while knitting. Then we cooled off in the pool. I love this landscape and drive out to be in it whenever I need a country fix. In August I always look for blooming naked ladies. They were flourishing along the roadside. I brought home some precious green persimmons–perfectly hard–to make my own dye called kakishibu. It might take 3 years to ferment to really do a good job!
Knowing how to tie the weaver’s knot is very satisfying. I use it when I want a small, thin knot. I first learned it with the “ears” method but I see that I decided to just use the rabbit hole story in my book Weaving for Beginners. The next posts will have more details and how to make a double weaver’s knot.
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.
There are several names associated with the weaver’s knot, such as bowline and sheet bend. One of my previous tips was the weaver’s knot with “ears.”
By remembering the following climber’s story, you can always remember this version of the weaver’s knot. Imagine a rabbit hole with a tree growing right behind it. Every day the rabbit jumps out of his nest, runs around the tree, and pops back into the hole. Think of the rabbit hole as a length of cord using the short tail end to form a loop. The “tree” (or tail of the cord) ends up behind the “hole” (loop).
Another cord follows the rabbit’s daily path. This cord comes up through the loop, runs around the cord tree, and pops back into the loop.
To tighten, pull equally on both standing ends in opposite directions. Release in the same way for all weaver’s knots.
HOW TO UNDO ANY WEAVER’S KNOT AND KNOW IF YOU’VE TIED IT CORRECTLY
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. See figures below.
I’ve been interested that I could dye with green persimmons for awhile and I have a friend with persimmon trees. But when I got Chris Conrad’s book, “Kakishibu: Traditional Persimmon Dye of Japan”” and found I could buy the dye already made I was hooked. These are some of my first experiments. I love them and have more pictures for an album we’ll make later. Her book told me all I needed to know to get started. Visit her website : http://kakishibui.com/
Here are the sett charts from my book, Weaving for Beginners.
They are more like summaries of the comprehensive charts found in my book, Winding a Warp & Using a Paddle but I think they can do for a quick check. My charts are based on the yards per pound (m/kg) of the yarns. You can read how the calculations were made, Ashenhurst, and much more about sett in my tips on the website. Search for sett.
My next post will be 2 sett charts that include both metric and US measurements.
Here is my project worksheet that I always use. It’s in my book Weaving for Beginners. Someone asked if I could put it here on the blog so it will be easier to make copies than from the book. I posted it on my blog a few years ago, but think it’s time to post it again now that I have close to 600 subscribers (598). It is used to calculate the many things needed when planning a project. This worksheet lets you figure out how long and wide the warp should be and the amount of warp and weft yarn you need. When I was starting out, I was always worried that I’d forget a critical calculation. You may download the worksheet HERE.
Here are my Structo table looms all ready for the campers later in June. Last year we had great creativity from the 6-11 year-olds. Finally a use for my looms that have been gathering dust n my studio. Last year was a great success so we are going to do it again this year. I always wonder before hand how it will go over. The kids last year were so eager. I made the warps–2 1/2″ wide and then cut cut them off when they are all done and glue the cut ends.
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
Threading My Loom with Threads that are as Fine as Hairs
I’ve been threading the heddles now for a few weeks—about an hour at a time and when I can get into the studio. It’s such a meditative thing that I wanted to have a film made. I’ve never used so fine a thread before and I hope it can stand up to the tension and abrasion of weaving. This short segment is the beginning of the film I’m dreaming of. I hope we can put together the rest of setting up the loom and me weaving—and an end result. This time threading is both soothing and ‘hair’ raising—you’ll see why in the video. If you’re not a weaver and don’t want details, go to the video now.
The thread is so fine that I couldn’t get it wound off from the skein so I sent it to Japan for them to wind it off (my friend with the equipment in the US couldn’t do it). It came back on about 15 cones—each with a very small amount of thread on it. So even the experts had a hard time—so many cones means that the thread kept breaking and they had to find an end and start a new cone over and over.
I’m planning on 120 threads per inch—the threads in my other sheer warps have been only 96 ends per inch. That gives you an idea of how fine we are talking about—like hairs.
I thought I’d warp 10 cones at a time as I’ve done with the other thread. Well, things kept breaking and threads blew around in the air and I almost gave up. I did end up using 4 cones at a time. I could keep track of those and repair them every time one broke and find its own exact path to the heddles in the heck block on my warping reel.
I didn’t notice that the 4 cones weren’t in position to make a perfect cross so I ended up with a 2×2 cross. You’ll notice that in the video. Jim Ahrens taught us that 2 threads at a time can work but never more than that. (3 or more threads will braid up on one another.) I’m hoping that is true because every thread has a mate in the cross. The reason to use a paddle is so you can always make a thread-by-thread cross. In my case I have a heck block that does that job connected to my reel. I am lucky enough to have a warping reel that Jim Ahrens made.
People have asked me why I am buying something on a trip and what am I going to do with it? My answer has been (to myself) “to have it”. I got inspired to really put away my textiles honorably when I visited a friend I met on the Philippines trip. Here is the result.
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 an inch 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.
This tip is an excerpt from Chapter 8, “Tying On New Warps” in Book 2, Warping Your Loom and Tying on New Warps– Revised Edition.