What to Do When It’s Hot and Smokey

Introduction
This is the first time in months that I missed a post every other day. When I had the post ready on the regular night, Monday, my tech guy said the photos could be much better. Today, Wednesday, he gave me a good lesson in “post processing” the photos. Here are the much-improved photos.

A big surprise was to see the fog coming in! Hooray for cool, clean air.


The fog coming in begins to hide the City. I got lucky catching the gull, fisherman casting, and people in the shot as well.


The theme of the post is how beautiful it can be when the fog comes in at the Golden Gate Bridge and over the Marin hills. And seeing it through sailboat masts.


Caught sight of a sea lion poking its nose up then diving down again.


What’s Next?

Since I think I’ll be locked in for a long time ahead, I’m beginning to think about the white silks I brought back from India. Again, like the linens, I expect the different fabrics to take a variety of shades and tones when they come out of a dye pot together. I have 21 different ones.


The silks look nice bunched together even before dyeing. I think they will look better bunched up somehow, rather than flat like the linen scrolls.


These are the samples I dyed with red onion skins and the 3 tannins I’ve been using. They are on a cloth I wove just before the pandemic. Maybe my scroll project is finished and I need to think of another way to present the silks.


These were dyed with red onion skins. I don’t think I used a mordant. I like the mottled colors I got from bunching up the fabrics in the dye pot and not stirring them much.


Here the colors are more even. I like them, too.


Now I have a good supply of red onion skins and yellow, too. So, maybe I’ll just plunge in—next week??


Finished Linen Scrolls: Looking Back

Here I a photo of all the background fabrics I dyed. This was in a post at the end of June—seems long ago. I loved the results, seeing them lined up, and felt they would look good together.


All the were white when I began about 3 months ago. All (but 1) were linen which is a fabric I love. The second from the lightest end turned out to be silk. The reason I wanted so many different whites is that I knew they would vary slightly when put into a dye pot together. I think the salesmen at Linen Club in Chennai, India were perplexed why I got “a meter of this, 2 meters of that” etc. and when I asked only to see the white ones.


On the scrolls, I made the “art” the dyed fabrics that were in one dye pot together to show the subtle variations.


More of the fabrics in a single dye pot. I only used 2 natural dyes: onion skins and black walnuts to make the 14 scrolls.


Another set of fabrics. I used 3 tannins (quebacho, myrobalans, brugeriera), alum mordant, and iron and copper with the onion skins and black walnuts.



Scroll Project Update: I Will be Hanging Them Soon!

The linen scrolls are finally finished! And all 14 of them will be hung in our gallery space in the common areas in the retirement place where I live. Here are some of them hanging ready to be rolled into a room to be quarantined for a week. I began with white linen fabrics that I brought back from India in February—just before the pandemic hit. Way back in March I began dyeing with onion skins from our kitchen’s chef and black walnut dye I made a year ago.


Here is the rest of the 14 in the collection. I began with 9 different fabrics with the idea they would be subtle variations in color when they came out of the dye pots together. One fabric turned out to be silk so in all the different dye baths it was always the lightest one. Usually silk dyes the best and linen the lightest but I used techniques for dyeing linen and the silk wasn’t happy. The Ellis and Boutrup book came to me just at the right time. It’s hard to believe that everything started out white sometimes.


Here is one of the scrolls. I almost always arranged the pieces in the center from light to the dark. Often I basted the swatches to a backing pad I made out of cotton. Then I attached that to the background fabric. To make the small pieces lie flat I used French knots to tack them down.


Since I have been in lockdown all this time, I could not get to my studio to find matching threads for the French knots and stitching. I used what I had, matching the value of the thread to the fabric. Colors of the same value blended in so well they were barely noticeable—just like the threads had matched. I had a lot of spools of thread of different values to work with.


Separate Selvedges: Part Two

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.


Separate Selvedges: Part One

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 separately make 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.


Floating Selvedges Part Two: Adjusting Height and Weight

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.


Selvedges And More, Oh, My! Floating Selvedges Part One

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 Just Learned a Tip: A Threading to Catch the Outside Warp Thread for Twills

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.)


Pineapple Plants to Cloth: Part Three—Warping

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 Plants to Cloth: Part Two: Making Threads

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.


From Pineapple Plants to Cloth: Part One

The first step is cutting the leaves in the field. Here you can see the length of the leaves and that they all seem to be the same length.


Inside, the process begins. The set-up is on the floor.


The leaves are stripped.


Then they are scraped. The scraper was a broken plate.


Finally the leaves are stripped down to the fibers. Next time, how the fibers of a certain length turn into long threads for warps and wefts.


Woven Philippine Designs and One More Embroidery

This embroidered cotton cloth was hanging in a museum and fascinated me. Cathy and I found one in an antique shop and I brought it home. It always brings a smile. I put in on my bed sometimes just to enjoy it. See the next photo.


The designs are frogs! I forget why they wanted frogs, but I love them.


We saw designs woven, too. They very much remind me of embroidery. Inlay is the technique.


Another loom with inlay designs. Lots of white but not always.


A demonstration showing pineapple fibers we saw on a sidewalk. More in future posts about the fibers.


Looms weaving the fine pineapple fibers. The cloth is called pina. Often the warp is silk with only the pineapple fibers as weft. You’ll see why in future photos.


More Embroidery on Pina Cloth

I’ve been looking at my photos from my trip to the Philippines in February of 2016 for more embroidery because the last post’s embroidery really moved me. This is on a gorgeous pina (pronounced pin-ya) cloth (made of pineapple fiber). This blue cloth may look familiar. I think both the warp and weft are the pina.


Here is a blouse I bought and was told it was for “pure” girls to wear! I have worn to the opera on occasion. It may not be pina because I only paid $50 if I remember correctly. But look at the embroidery.


This is the back of the blouse. Coming or going it is impressive.


Fantastic Philippine Embroidery on Pineapple Cloth

This amazing piece of embroidery I brought home from our textile trip to the Philippines some years ago and made into a scroll. But the embroidery is more important than the scroll. I think this piece was meant to be part of a man’s shirt.


You can see how the fine threads are pushed around by embroidery to make the pattern.


Another close-up of the embroidery. You can see how the fabric had been pinned out taught while being stitched upon.


Here is the scroll as it hangs in my hallway. I couldn’t get far enough away for a photo straight on. I dyed linen fabric for the background. This piece is my half. We also visited where they were weaving with the pineapple cloth called pina cloth (I think). The warps and wefts were like hairs practically. Since the length of the pineapple plant’s leaves determines the length of the fiber, each length had to be joined together to form long threads—by hand of course.


A Trick when Weaving Twills: How to Catch the Outside Thread

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).


Ways to Catch the Outside Thread when Using Two Shuttles

When using two shuttles, you’ll need to do something special to catch in the outside warp threads. Here’s what to do:

Check the area where the shuttle came out of the shed— (at one edge of the warp) and notice if it came out under or over the last warp thread.

If the shuttle comes out under the last warp thread, place that shuttle on the woven cloth closer to the reed. See Shuttle A.

If the shuttle comes out over the last warp thread, place it on the woven cloth closer to you. See Shuttle B.

I say to myself: “under, away from me” or “over, near me,” to remember what to do.

Note: If the previous shuttle is in the position where you want to place your new shuttle, slide the previous shuttle out of the way a little bit so you can put this new shuttle where it should be:

away = closer to the reed
near you = nearer the breast beam.

This intertwines the two wefts at the edge and catches the outside warp threads into the cloth.

What if Your Selvedges Splay Out?

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.


A Few Flower Photographs

Introduction:
I can’t tell you how thrilled I am at the support I’ve gotten for my photographs! I am really touched. Today I wanted to make another “creative” post, but just couldn’t get behind showing any of the things I’ve started but not finished. What is consuming me creatively, is the photography so I hope you’ll indulge me one more post. However, I am working on finishing the linen series with hems, sewing, etc.

We have a big rose garden on the terrace and I’ve followed the season from the beginning first blossoms. I like the buds a lot.


I also like to take “arty-fartsy” photos of the roses. Lately our rose committee has dead-headed the roses so scrupulously that there aren’t many opportunities to find things.


I think this is called a passionflower bush.


A pink rose. What more can be said?


I liked this flower and was reminded of my mentor, Helen Pope. Her ikebana teacher recommended humiliating the main beauty by having something, maybe a leaf just slightly in front of it. I often have thought of that with my weaving and creative things.


Another rose. I like the two-tone color scheme.


And Now for Something Different:My Photography Progress Report

Introduction:
It seems long ago, but I began learning to use a real camera last fall in preparation for a photography trip to Southeast India. When we got home (FEBRUARY 4th!!!), I continued practicing so I wouldn’t forget what I’d learned. About two weeks ago my neighbor down the hall GAVE me her “old” 3-year-old Olympus E-M1 camera plus 3 lenses! The learning curve has been hard and exciting so far. There are so many buttons, I can’t remember what all they can do and the book I have has been hard to figure out, too. However, on Monday of this week we were finally allowed to leave the premises to walk in the neighborhood or take a drive. Here are my shots from this week from our terrace and from a bike path along Corte Madera Creek just down the hill. I know this is a weaving blog, but just wanted to share more of my projects for once. My scroll work has been interrupted to learn this wonderful camera. Back to work all weekend!

I got up early yesterday to photograph the sunrise. The smoke from the fires in northern California made the intense color. I got up especially because people said the sunrise day-before-yesterday was spectacular with the smoke influence and lots of clouds. For 6 months I haven’t been allowed to leave the premises of the retirement place where I live. So I know the views from our terrace very well considering I’ve been going out on it every day.


Looking out from our terrace with the sun just about to rise. The rowers on the creek interested me. You can also see San Quentin in the distance.


The bike path goes along the Corte Madera Creek which flows into the San Francisco Bay. The tide was out and some shore birds have come back for the winter. I watched this great egret hunting for food and learned to know just when it was going to pounce.


Another egret photo.


I caught this one as it was about to take off.


Here is a black necked stilt beginning to take off. Sometimes out of focus is a good thing.


And finally, I finally caught a bee in the flowers on my walk on the terrace.


A Project Finished Four Months Later

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.


When Not to Use Packing 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.


Using Packing Paper When Beaming

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.

Twills Plain and Fancy– Recipe Books: Remember: Bubbles Rise!

The “Davison” book, is a bible to many weavers. However, when I was teaching I never showed it to my students. That was because I was teaching them how to make their own drafts. And the “Davison book” taught recipes. Tonight I looked at the Table of Contents and saw there are 3 whole chapters devoted to twills. The entire book is for 4 shafts (harnesses).


Here is my own copy, the cover worn out and tucked inside. That tells you how much I, myself, have looked at that book.  There are times when I’ve wanted a recipe—and to know something was going to probably turn out. And following a recipe can be fun. There are hundreds of ideas in this book all the drafts are included!


However, all the drafts are meant to be read differently from the way most weavers these days and for a long time learned to read them. It tells you so on page XII, but who reads those pages usually? Her tie-up drafts tell what shafts are to be LOWERED. Even when I was learning in the 70’s we learned to read drafts that in the tie-ups, the little o’s told what shafts were to be LIFTED. The mantra was “bubbles rise”! But in this book, there are little x’s in the tie-up drafts and that those x’s represent shafts lowered. That’s because in the olden days almost all looms were counterbalance looms and you treadled to pull the shafts DOWN. (and that made the other shafts rise!) This photo shows you what to do when a draft has x’s and the instructions are that they are for lowered shafts. You treadle all the shafts that are not indicated. So if the book wants 1 and 2 and down, then you raise 3 and 4 to accomplish the same thing. In the photo I show bubbles wherever there are no x’s. That means you raise those shafts.


This is how I learned to read drafts in the 70’s and taught my students for many years. It’s the same as the Davison book except for the tie-up drafts as I explained above. Each section is read starting at the dark solid lines dividing the quadrants. It means that sometimes, you read right-to-left and sometimes, vice versa. Sometimes, you read from the top down and other times from the bottom up. You can follow the arrows and see that they work outward from the dividing lines. An example is that I read threading drafts and thread right-to-left.


The Strickler book seems to have come out in 1991 and my copy is the 17th printing. That was when I was busy teaching theory so never discovered the book. It relates to the Davison book but all the patterns are for 8 shafts. There are hundreds of wildly interesting patterns. And the drafts are all included. I counted that there are 7 chapters on twills!


I was embarrassed recently when I was teaching some not-beginner weavers some drafting. Someone finally showed me the book and that explained why they were so confused with what I was showing. I love how she says it on page 8: “…the left end of the threading [draft] is the left side of the repeat in the photos, and the bottom of the treadling is the bottom of the repeat. So to weave as shown, read the threading in the same direction as you thread (looking at the front of the loom) and follow the treadling from bottom to top. If you thread in the opposite direction, follow the treadling from top to bottom.” (my underlines) This makes a lot of sense in today’s world. I was ashamed that I didn’t realize this “new” way.


Warning! This is what I wrote at the beginning of my drafting chapter in “Weaving for Beginners”: “Knowing how to read weave drafts and write your own is enormously satisfying and is a tremendously important part of weaving and designing, but it is not the only part to know. What drafts don’t tell is anything about the yarns, colors, ends per inch (epi), the beat or the wefts per inch (ppi), for instance. When you read directions for a project in a book or magazine, you must read every word that is written about the project. All that information is crucial to reproducing what the directions are for…. Also, pay close attention to any photographs or graphics.”

A Fancy Twill


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”!