Tried and True: Are Retaining Cords Worth the Trouble?

Some things are easier done than said. I said to myself that it’s too much trouble to tie retaining cords on the shafts. I am weaving almost full width on the Glimåkra Julia. I know that heddles can slip off the ends of shafts. Still, I tell myself I can keep an eye on it. It won’t be a problem, right? Wrong.

Juila’s wide warp. So far, so good. I’ll pay attention and everything will be just fine. Famous last words.
Oops. I took this picture after I had fixed most of the mess created by dangling heddles. When heddles slip off shafts they must be put back on thread by thread to maintain correct warp order. These were tangled enough that it took me a few tries to get it right.


Tie Retaining Cords on Shafts

Purpose: Keep Texsolv heddles secure on their shaft bars, especially when weaving a wide warp.

Supplies

  • Tape measure
  • 12/6 cotton seine twine
  • Scissors
12/6 cotton seine twine (rug warp) to the rescue!

1 Measure shaft bar from hole to hole. (Julia shaft bar is 70 cm)
2 Figure additional length (about 40 cm) for tying two knots. (70 + 40 = 110 cm)
3 Cut seine twine to measured length for each upper and lower shaft bar. (Heddles can slip off lower shaft bars, too.)

Retaining cords are cut.

4 Insert one of the seine twine cords through the hole on one end of a shaft bar. Tie. (I use the half-bow slip knot as described in Learning to Warp Your Loom, by Joanne Hall, p.38.)

Tie retaining cord to one end of the shaft bar. Any knot will do, but I like this half-bow slip knot because I can untie it simply by pulling the end of the cord.

5 Insert the other end of the cord through the hole at other end of the shaft bar. Tie.

Thread the cord through the hole at the end of the bar.
Tie a simple knot and tighten it.
Tie another simple knot, leaving a fold in the end of the cord.
Pull the loop to tighten the knot.

6 Repeat steps 4 and 5 for each remaining upper and lower shaft bar.

All tied up and ready to go! When this project is finished I will wind up these retaining cords on an empty tube and re-use them for the next wide warp on the Julia.

Continue weaving with one less thing to think about.

45 minutes: Time it took to reposition heddles that had slipped off a few shafts and were in a mess because I didn’t notice it immediately.
Less than 10 minutes: Time it took to cut string and tie retaining cords on 4 upper shaft bars and 4 lower shaft bars.

‘Nuff said.

May you take the time to do what needs to be done.

Ever Learning,
Karen

Process Review: Priceless Monksbelt and Video

Talk about exciting! When something has been on the loom this long it is indeed exciting when the back tie-on bar comes over the back beam. I finish weaving the final “bonus” towel. And then, I use up all the quills to make a little piece of scrap fabric (because scrap fabric is always better than leftover quills). And then! Then, I start my cutting-off checklist.

After all this time, the moment we’ve been waiting for is here!

After weaving a short scrap fabric with thread left on quills, it is time for cutting off the long monksbelt runner and two bonus towels.

I cut off the warp. And as I unroll the cloth, I am mesmerized by the tactile intricacy that passes through my fingers–Fårö wool for the pattern weft, and 16/2 cotton for slow-as-molasses weft rep ground cloth. Finishing proves to be the easiest and quickest part of this project. I like the crisp pristine state of the monksbelt runner, so I am not going to wet finish this article. I examine for errors (none found!), wet finish the two towels, hem the table runner and towels, and press. The Priceless Monksbelt Runner now graces our dining room table.

After the Priceless Monksbelt Runner I had enough warp to weave two bonus towels with monksbelt borders. In between the towels I did a small heart-shaped inlay just for play.
Two simple plain weave towels, with monksbelt borders. The tabby weft is 16/2 golden bleached linen. The coral pattern weft and green pattern weft is doubled 16/1 linen. The ecru center pattern weft is doubled 6/1 tow linen. Warp is 16/2 cotton. With only one washing so far, the towels still have a wonderful crisp linen hand.

The exceptional value of handwoven textiles makes your home a welcoming place. Time is one of our most valuable assets. That makes the textiles we create priceless!

Our dining table is just to the right as you walk through the front door of our home. May all who enter know they are welcome here!

Please enjoy this video review of weaving the Priceless Monksbelt Runner.

May the works of your hands bring exceptional value to your home.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

Preview of Puckers

Like sunrays rippling on the horizon at dawn. That’s how I think of this emerging cloth. I am hopeful that the ripples we see now will become all-over puckers when this is finished. I am filled with joyful anticipation!

Preview of puckers. Warp is 22/2 cottolin and 20/2 cotton. Weft is 16/1 linen and 16/2 cotton. Differential shrinkage is what I hope to achieve.

However… This is not an effortless weave. This is double-width weaving in a very fine sett. And, 6 ends per dent, no less. I have simple 1-2-3-4 treadling, but the 20/2 cotton warp threads are relentlessly hugging each other. Consequently, I am clearing the shed with the back of my fingers again and again. I expect to have floats to repair when this “sunrise” fabric comes off the loom. With the end in mind, I patiently keep at it. It will be glorious in all its puckers. I am sure of it.

Double-width weaving is double weave that is open on one side and closed on the other side. Finished cloth will unfold and open up to be a small tablecloth.

Every dawn brings the reality of a new day. Every sunrise reveals the glory of God. Night always turns into morning. With the end in mind, our Lord patiently, kindly, gently, opens the shed in our lives again and again. As he loosens our grip on things of this world we get a preview of the glorious fabric he has in mind, puckers and all. In the full light of the risen Son, we can see the love in our Grand Weaver’s hands.

May you catch the sunrise as often as possible.

Hopefully yours,
Karen

Monksbelt Surprise Ending

Monksbelt has been on the Glimåkra Standard for months. I expect the table runner to be fabulous when it finally comes off the loom, so I’m not complaining. The time spent weaving only adds to its worth. The runner is finished, so why not cut it off now and count the remaining warp as excess thrums? That shows how eager I am to put this monksbelt runner to use!

Long monksbelt runner is woven. End of warp has room for two plain weave towels with a monksbelt accent.
16/2 cotton warp. Coral 16/1 linen hem. Unbleached 16/2 linen ground weft. Coral 16/1 linen, doubled, outline pattern weft. Camel 6/1 tow linen, doubled, pattern weft.

The truth is, there is enough warp left for one, or maybe two, tea towels. After experimenting with several weft ideas, I am excited about weaving to the very end of the warp! Monksbelt gives us a surprise ending. A plain weave towel with a monksbelt border—this is a happy ending to a good long story.

May you keep going until the very end.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

Long Conversation with the Loom

Day after day, pick after pick, this fabric lengthens and becomes ever more significant. As daylight dims, I stay at the loom a while longer. The rhythmic series of weaving motions is soothing. A handweaver finds calm in the complexity and delight in the detail. Challenges that arise are seen as problems to be solved.

Weaving for a short while in the evening helps wind down the day.

This monksbelt table runner has been a good long conversation between the loom and me. In fifteen more centimeters (six inches) I will put the closing exclamation point at the end of this lengthy runner. The warp that remains will be my playground for some creative experimentation.

Long monksbelt table runner wraps around the cloth beam.
Monksbelt pattern with weft rep ground weave. 16/2 cotton warp. 6/1 Fårö wool pattern weft in six colors. 16/2 ground weft in three colors.

When our patience is stretched thin, when we forget why we do what we do, when hard times go on longer than we ever anticipated, we need hope. We need more than what we can gain by ourselves alone. Relationship with our heavenly Father brings hope into the fabric of our days. He beckons us to walk with him through Jesus Christ. He wants to sustain us through the long stretches of this day-by-day life. The time will come when we look back with wonder, seeing the colorful threads that have become fabric for a beautiful purpose.

May you never lose hope.

With you,
Karen