The computer is a worthwhile instrument for creating designs to weave. I like the flexibility and repeatability it gives me for drawloom designs. I’m also using the computer to develop the cartoon for my next pictorial tapestry. The computer work takes time—usually more time than I think it should.
When I sit at the loom, though, time slips away unnoticed. This is where I’d rather be.
I’m starting the second of four bath towels on my Glimåkra Standard. The loom, with its colored threads and cloth, is the first thing to greet you as you come in our front door. Welcome. Let’s put the computer away for a while and simply enjoy ourselves. There’s no better time than now.
Come, look over my shoulder as I weave a windmill and taildragger image on the drawloom. The central design is woven using 103 single-unitdraw cords. I have a simple motif for the borders that uses only three pattern shafts. In the video below, watch as the three draw handles for those pattern shafts appear and disappear throughout the weaving.
I recorded my weaving in time-lapse form so you can watch three hours of effort compressed into three-and-a-half minutes. In the video you will see my hand pulling the draw cords, and then touching all the pulled cords from right to left to double check my work. That double checking saved me from dreaded do-overs.
When our good friends, Jerry and Jan, saw my drawloom they brought this picture to my attention. — Forty years ago Jerry discovered the silhouetted windmill and airplane tucked away on a back page in an old issue of Flying magazine. Because of his affinity for airplanes and windmills he cut out the tiny picture and saved it. Years later, Jan found the picture and had it enlarged and framed. — After learning about my loom’s pictorial capability, Jerry and Jan wondered aloud if this special image could be woven on a drawloom…
The sky is the limit! That is my conclusion after weaving a few designs using the Myrehed combination drawloom. The shaft draw and the single unit draw systems are combined on this ingenious apparatus that is attached to an otherwise ordinary loom. The shaft draw system enables me to weave repeated patterns. The single unit system enables non-repeat patterns. This narrow warp is my playground to do both.
I use the computer to create designs. ”Home in Texas” shows the back of our house, with its massive stone chimney. The tree in the scene is a tracing of the oak tree that I pass as I walk up the hill to my drawloom studio. The airplane is a copy of the Mooney that our pilot friend took us in to fly over Enchanted Rock. I am delighted to discover that I can use a drawloom to bring features of personal meaning such as these to life.
The words of the Creator have life in them. It’s as if he puts his thoughts on the loom and weaves them into being. Let there be light! He speaks; and it is so. Listen closely. Hear the Grand Weaver say, Peace to you. And it is woven so. You are his workmanship, bringing his design to life.
Do not overfill your quills. It may seem efficient to load the quill as much as possible so you can weave as far as possible. Like me, you may have to learn this the hard way. A too-chubby quill that has to be coaxed through the shed takes more time and effort than winding a few extra quills. So much for efficiency.
It helps to have an idea of how far the thread on a quill will go. With this information, you can wind a few in advance without ending up with an excess of wound quills at the end of your project. I like to have the next quill ready to go when I am weaving so that I can put the new quill in my shuttle and keep weaving with very little interruption. This is especially helpful when the treadling sequence is tricky, like with the reverse twill in every other large color block on these cottolin bath towels. 3-2-1-6-5-4
How to Estimate Weaving Distance for Filled Quills
1Start a new quill, leaving a 4 – 5 cm tail on the surface of the cloth. Or, start a new quill at the beginning of a color change.
2 Weave until the quill has emptied. Leave a 4-5 cm tail on the surface of the cloth.
3 Replace the empty quill in the shuttle with a new quill and continue weaving 1 – 2 cm further.
4 Measure the distance from the first weft tail, or line of color change, to the second weft tail. Place a straight pin, in line with the first weft tail, directly under the second weft tail. Measure from the pin to the second weft tail. This is the approximate weaving distance you can expect to cover with a new quill. Notate the quill’s estimated weaving distance on your project notes for future reference.
5 Trim the weft tails close to the surface.
6 Increase accuracy by repeating the process three times, and then use the average as your quill’s estimated weaving distance.
The large color blocks on this bath towel are 14 cm long. A single full quill will weave 5 1/2 – 6 cm; therefore, I make sure I have 2 full quills, plus at least another half-filled quill before I start a new color block section. It’s nice to be able to leave my foot on the treadle while I change out quills, so I don’t lose my place.
A warp is finished when the woven cloth has been taken to completion. At that point, the loom is free for a new warp. That is the rule I’ve given myself. If I ignore the rule and put on a new warp before its time, the unfinished cloth has a way of staying unfinished for too long.
Thanks to that completion rule, I have a new bag. This fabric includes the various patterns that I wove in Joanne Hall’s workshop on Swedish Art Weaves several months ago. You will also see that I explored some patterns on my own at home. I gained two excellent outcomes from this finishing pursuit—a new bag to use, and a loom that is free for the next warp! (See the first bag here: Monksbelt Flowers on a Shoulder Bag)
Left to myself, I’d rather do what I want. I’d rather start a new project than bring an “old” one to completion. I’m glad my Lord is faithful with me. He completes the work that he began. The Good Shepherd tends his sheep. He leads us to the still waters of peaceful perseverance, saving us from the regret of going our own way. And we have his perfect outcome to look forward to.