Beauty in Cutting Off

There is beauty in cut threads. They signify completion. Look what has become of these linen threads! Order and sequence, timing and continuity, perseverance and pursuit. Through a weaver’s hands it all adds up to fabric made for a purpose.

Cutting off! Linen threads flow through the reed like a waterfall.

Cutting off! Linen warp ends flow through the reed like a waterfall after the cloth is cut off.

Linen 5-shaft damask. Cutting off!

Cut threads appear as tidy fringe on the stately linen satin damask weave. The warp beam holds the cloth until it is ceremoniously unrolled.

Linen damask weaving, just cut from the loom.

Fabric and warping slats fall to the ground.

Linen fabric just off the loom, ready for finishing.

On the sewing room work table, the completed fabric awaits the finishing process. I will look for and repair errors, secure cut ends with serger stitching, and wet finish the fabric. Then, I will hem them so they can be used as the towels I envisioned from the start.

Father. With God as our Father, we are on the receiving end of the process. Grace and peace, granted from the Father’s hand, shape our lives. And, like a good weaver, our Father makes something beautiful from the threads we offer him. Imagine the day when it may be said of us, “Look what became of the linen threads in the Grand Weaver’s hands!”

May your threads turn into something beautiful.

With joy,
Karen

14 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Beautiful tribute to Our Father who IS the Masterweaver! I just finished the second project on my Baby Wolf and it was a major learning experience, so it is a miracle that, as I cut it off, it really became the towels I intended to do! Lessons: (1) Make sure that the warp goes OVER the back beam (2) count the heddles more carefully to avoid need to make repair heddles…which sometimes come loose! (3) Use the right equipment, e.g. raddle that spreads the threads so they are straight. But, they will come off the loom this a.m. I intend to continue doing the back to front warping until I learn it better…and I will do something in plain cloth, with at least some stripes. Thanks to many resources, I have choices! Thank you, Karen, for this timely message! God Bless!

    • Karen says:

      Good Morning, Joyce, I think that you will find that every new warp on the loom is a new learning experience. Congratulations on finding solutions along the way! Neglecting to go over the back beam is a common one-time error. Call it “weaving initiation.” It’s the kind of error you only make one time. 😉
      I don’t use a raddle. Instead, I pre-sley the reed, which is another easy way to spread the warp.

      You are right, you have choices!

      Grace to you, and peace from God our Father.
      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Goodness! They’re going to be luxurious towels.

    • Karen says:

      Good Morning, Beth! Linen fabric captivates me because of the way it hides and reveals pattern depending on the light. I think that’s why linen works so well for satin damask, with it’s pattern of warp and weft floats. Yes, I guess handwoven linen satin damask is luxury. I feel very fortunate. :-j

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Shari says:

    Yourr weaving is lovely as are your words and writing!

  • Kay Larson says:

    Hi Karen!
    I love your blog. I am just getting back to weaving after a 20 year hiatus. Your words of wisdom have been a great help. Your talking about cutting off the cloth brought to mind a question. What do you do with your loom waste?

    Peaceful Weaving,
    Kay

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kay, Welcome back to the world of weaving! I’m so glad you wandered over here. Great question!!

      Most of the time I discard the thrums (loom waste). However, I cannot get myself to throw away linen. So, I have several short chains of linen thrums hanging in my weaving studio. I have a few other chains of thrums of yarn that was too pretty or too long to justify throwing away. I have used cotton thrums as choke ties, using a few threads bundled together. But I have other choke ties that I prefer to use. There “should” be a good use of thrums, and I’ve heard of a few; but life (and space) is too short to keep everything that “could” be used someday. I did find a draft for linen washcloths that uses linen thrums in the weft. I have that on my list for this year’s weaving, so you’ll see with me how that works out. Who knows, that may open a whole new door for thrums!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Kathryn says:

    Hello Karen,

    These are so beautiful! Are they going to be dish towels?

    You have inspired me to try this type of weave on my new loom (loom number three and counting)! Do you have a resource for learning how to weave satin damask? Also, what is the weight of the linen you are using and the set?

    I hope you don’t mind me picking you brain:)
    Thank you so much,
    Kathryn

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kathryn, These will be dish towels and/or hand towels.

      Thanks for asking questions! It’s a pleasure to correspond about weaving.

      The warp is 16/2 linen. The weft on two of the towels is 16/1 linen, which makes a nice elegant towel. My husband requested that I make some towels that are not as “sweet and sissy,” that are thicker and more hefty. So the remaining towels have 16/2 linen weft. I will know more after wet finishing, but I think these heftier towels will be very nice. If they end up being too stiff I may not cut them apart, and leave it as a long table runner.

      Weaving this satin damask has been so enjoyable that I have already wound a warp to do it again, with a slightly different pattern. And, I’m doing it in 8/2 cotton this time (with a 65/10 metric reed, 13 epc).

      You need ten shafts and ten treadles for this five-shaft satin in two blocks. I followed the draft and instructions for this from my favorite weaving book, “The Big Book of Weaving,” by Laila Lundell. I am using a 70/10 metric reed, and the sett is 14 ends per cm. With an Imperial reed, comparable would be an 18-dent reed, with 36 ends per inch.

      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

  • Maggie ackerman says:

    Karen, I love these towels. You mentioned that one of the things you do post look is correct mistakes. How do you do this and which mistakes can be corrected off loom. I’m always dismayed upon finding a mistake but have learned that nothing is perfect. Thank you for your blog. I look forward to it.
    Maggie Ackerman

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maggie, You ask a really good question. And you are so right that nothing is perfect. Thankfully, many weaving errors can be corrected off the loom. I think I shall do a blog post when I start fixing the errors on these towels. Thanks for the idea!

      The main kind of errors I’m looking for are skipped threads or floats. These can usually be corrected, but it must be done BEFORE the fabric is washed. I use a blunt needle and needle-weave the matching thread, warp or weft, in the correct path of the weave, starting about an inch before, and going about an inch beyond the errant float. On a tight weave like these towels, I may need to use a magnifier to see what I’m doing.

      The other kind of error that I want to take care of is a loop at the selvedge. Depending on the size of the loop, there are a couple ways I handle this. Either, cut the loop and sew it back into the fabric, or needle-weave in a new thread entirely. …or, just leave it and hope it will shrink in enough in the wash.

      I hope this helps! Look for a blog post on the subject in the next couple weeks.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Martha says:

    Such lovely towels, I adore the colors and the draft.

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Tools Day: Eliminating Warp Knots

You are not going to believe how many knots I came across in this 16/2 linen warp! Too many. As I wound the warp I made the decision to leave most of the knots, and deal with them on the loom. (I did remove knots that were close to the beginning or ending peg on the warping reel.) I lost count, but I’m sure I have spliced the warp on this five-and-a-half-meter project at least a dozen times. (To see more details about how I splice the warp, visit this blog post and video: How To Splice the Warp – Video.)

I do not weave over warp knots. A knot introduces a spot of vulnerability to the fabric. Knots can fray, loosen, or come undone over time, even if the knot is originally imperceptible.

In a couple instances, a knot distorted the tension of the warp end because of catching on a heddle or passing through the reed. For that reason, I now try to eliminate knots in the warp before they reach the heddles.

Tool: Warp Separator

  • Identify the warp end that has a knot, and insert the warp separator between warp ends to isolate the thread.

Warp separator to isolate warp with knot.

  • With a length of repair warp thread, follow the path of the original thread to splice in the new warp end, feeding it through the heddle of the original warp end.

Warp separator to isolate warp end with knot.

  • Bring the repair warp thread through the reed in the same dent as the warp end that has a knot.

Eliminating a warp knot.

  • Attach the repair warp thread near the fell by wrapping it around a flat straight pin.

Splicing a warp end.

  • Remove the warp separator from between the warp ends.

Warp separator for repairing a warp end.

  • Place a weight on the floor below the back beam. Wrap the repair thread around the weight two or three times to hold the thread at tension that matches the rest of the warp. Loosen the wrapped-around thread before advancing the warp, and then re-tighten before resuming weaving.

Splicing warp ends.

  • Weave one to two inches with both the original warp end and the repair warp thread in place.
  • Then, cut the original warp end with the knot (behind the heddles) and let it hang over the back beam.

Cutting a warp knot behind the reed.

  • The original and replacement warp ends overlap in the weaving for about one to two inches.
  • Remove the straight pin when it reaches the breast beam.
  • Re-attach the original warp end when it is long enough to secure in front of the fell line with a flat straight pin.
  • And then, cut and remove the replacement warp thread.
  • Trim all the spliced warp tails after wet finishing.

Spliced warp end to eliminate a knot in the warp.

Warp separator guy, ready to jump in and help!

Warp separator guy, ready to jump in and help!

This warp separator was a gift from The Weavers and Spinners Society of Austin, included in the goodie bag from last summer’s Contemporary Handweavers of Texas Conference. It would not be hard to make a warp separator like this from wood or sturdy cardboard. I have not been able to locate a supplier online.

If you know where to find a warp separator tool, please put a link in the comments.

May you have very few warp knots.

All the best,
Karen

23 Comments

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Amazing Five-Shaft Satin Dräll

Ten shafts and ten treadles. Isn’t it fascinating how all those parts synchronize and work together to turn threads into cloth? It’s a mystery unless you’ve been in the weaver’s seat. Even then, it’s a wonder. Especially when you see linen threads turn into this amazing five-shaft satin dräll!

All-linen 5-shaft satin dräll on a Glimåkra Standard loom.

Linen warp and weft in five-shaft satin dräll. A temple is a standard tool when I weave with linen. No draw-in means no broken selvedge warp ends…so far, at least.

There are three towels left on this warp, but I am weaving the remainder as one long piece. I will cut it into separate towels after it’s off the loom. Or, I might change my mind and leave it long as a table runner.

Linen 5-shaft satin dräll. Unbleached warp, ecru weft.

Warp is unbleached linen and the weft is ecru, also linen. The subtle difference in color highlights the dräll pattern in the fabric.

Mystery. The mystery of the ages is that Christ can dwell in us. Understand that? No, but I do understand a weaver sitting at the loom, managing the threads and throwing the shuttle to produce a specific fabric. What if I invite Jesus Christ to take control of everything being woven in my life? That is a mystery worth pursuing.

May you find your way into a good mystery.

Happy weaving new year,
Karen

6 Comments

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Tools Day: Needles

Even though there are dozens of needles in and around my weaving and sewing spaces, nine stand out from the rest. These go-to needles have earned special favor. As essential tools, these needles have specific holders and permanent homes.

The 9 needles I use most for handweaving.

  • Sharp needles: hand-hemming, hand-sewing, stitching on labels, and stitching a tapestry to a linen mat for mounting (curved needle)
    HOLDER: Pincushion I made in 1980
    HOME: Sewing supply closet, “Needles and Pins” drawer

Sharp needles for hand-hemming. 1980 pin cushion.

Stitching labels onto handwoven towels.

Hand hemming handwoven table runner.

  • Blunt tapestry needles, small and medium: hemstitching, stitching a thread mark to the right side of the fabric, sewing in tapestry weft tails, finishing work—needle-weaving for corrections and repairs
    HOLDER: Remnant of cotton handwoven plain weave fabric
    HOME: Loom-side cart, top drawer

Handy needles to keep by the loom.

Blunt needles by the loom.

Steve sanded and rounded the tips of the needles to make them blunt. A needle with a rounded tip won’t pierce and split the threads.

Hemstitching at the loom.

Sewing in weft tails in the back of a tapestry.

  • Blunt tapestry needles, large: hemstitching, hand-hemming rugs, weaving small tapestries
    HOLDER: Felted inkle-woven tape
    HOME: cutting/work table, Grandma’s old sewing tin

Felted inkle-woven needle holder.

Rag rug hemming by hand.

Hemming a handwoven rag rug.

  • Sacking needles: pulling rag rug warp ends out of scrap weft, threading warp ends back into a wool rug (I did this…once)
    HOLDER: straw-woven pouch from a trip to The Philippines
    HOME: weaving supply closet, top drawer on the left

Woven pouch from The Philippines.

Tying warp ends into knots. Rag rug finishing.

May you find the needle you need when you need a needle.

All the best,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Nanette says:

    Works for you, and a beautiful system! I have several “work stations” (sounds more organized than it is!) on two floors. So, my “system” is four (handwoven of course!) pin cushions, each with a variety of the needles, in various places. Not ideal, I suppose, because often the needles “migrate” and the right one is sometimes not in the right place! Do enjoy all your posts.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nanette, I like how you call them “work stations.” It does sound very orderly. I do understand how those needles can migrate! Mine do that sometimes, too. At least we have some sort of system…

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Elisabeth Munkvold says:

    I love how you store the different needles you use! It makes so much sense. In addition to being a beautiful way to preserve memories, I really like the make-do approach, too.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, I enjoy finding creative solutions to keeping things somewhat organized. I may have learned that from you. 🙂
      It is sweet to find ways to use special items, like my Grandma’s sewing tin.

      Merry Christmas,
      Karen

  • Beth says:

    You’re inspiring me to make something out of a handwoven scrap for needles and get them out of the little plastic box.

  • faun says:

    my great aunt did a similar checkerboard pattern
    “https://flic.kr/p/EnVPZE”

    my needles will migrate thanx to the intervention of critters.
    filling your pincushion with wool fleece with the natural lanolin
    will help prevent rusting- cotton will collect moisture and help them rust
    so wool cloth for your pin cushions is better in the long run too.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Faun, It looks like your great aunt’s rug uses thick and thin weft, like mine. Nice!

      Thanks for the tip about wool for pincushions. Good to know!

      All the best,
      Karen

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Treadle Adjustments on a Countermarch Loom

The countermarch loom is known for having a clean shed, so that is my goal. Is that possible for ten shafts and ten treadles? The first treadle I step on reveals that treadle cord adjustments are definitely needed!

How to evaluate the shed and adjust on countermarch looms.

Before making any adjustments, a few of the sheds look impassable, like this one.

I learned the basics of making adjustments to treadle cords from Learning to Warp Your Loom, by Joanne Hall, and The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell. I also gained valuable experience from Vävstuga Basics, with Becky Ashenden.

Here’s how the process looks for me, with this ten-shaft, ten-treadle project as an example.

I keep the following note on my iPhone. It helps me remember how things work.
I fill in the blanks for each treadle, noting which shafts are too high or too low. Then, using my iPhone note for reference, I make the needed adjustments.

Note on iPhone for making countermarch treadle adjustments.

  • The first time through, I am primarily interested in the bottom of the shed. I make adjustments to clear the shed enough to be able to weave a little bit.
  • Weave an inch or two. It is surprising how the shed cleans up with a little bit of weaving.
Adjusting treadles on countermarch loom.

Bottom of the shed has threads on one or two shafts that need to be lowered. After making those adjustments, this treadle will have a clean shed for weaving.

  • After weaving that first inch or so, I go through a second, and a third time, if needed, to get a clean shed on each treadle. Adjustments for the top of the shed are only needed if there are threads that will interfere with the shuttle.
Clean shed of a countermarch loom. Tutorial.

No hindrance for the shuttle here. This is the kind of shed I hope to see on every treadle.

When I first see a messy shed, I think, “How will I ever get my shuttle through that?” But it turns out to be little adjustments here and there. It’s not too difficult if you understand the loom.

Five-shaft satin dräll in linen. How to adjust countermarch treadles.

After all treadle adjustments have been made, the shuttle glides freely through the shed. And pick by pick, linen threads become cloth.

Nothing is too difficult for the one who made heaven and earth. Our Creator knows how to help us. He hears our prayers for help, and little by little, we see what He is doing as the shed clears and the shuttle glides through, unhindered.

May little adjustments clear the way for you.

With you,
Karen

16 Comments

  • Cathy M. says:

    Thank you! I’m bookmarking this. I was recently gifted an old Toika countermarch and I’ve only worked with jack-style looms. This will be invaluable to me as I begin learning!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cathy, I am excited for you! I hope you enjoy your new countermarch loom as I do mine. Let me know if you have any questions along the way as you get going.

      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

  • Thanks Karen! If you don’t mind, I think I will copy your notes to keep handy in my studio. I am hoping the same type adjustments will work with my ten shaft counterbalance loom. Getting under my loom is the hardest part for me. It’s like playing in a jungle gym! Hopefully your notes will simplify the tie-up process. I have a six shaft weave to tie up today and will try your procedure.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jenny, The process should work for you with your counterbalance loom. You’ll just have fewer tie-ups. It’s always exciting to start a new project!

      Here are the notes. You should be able to copy and paste from here. Let me know if this doesn’t work for you.

      Treadle adjustments:

      Bottom of shed—
      Thread is high – move shaft down – shorten treadle cord
      Thread is low – move shaft up – lengthen treadle cord

      1- 3 is high
      2-
      3- 4 is high
      4- 8 is low
      5-
      6-
      7- 4, 5 are high
      8-
      9- 2 is high
      10- 3, 5 are high

      Top of shed—
      Thread is high – move shaft up – lengthen cord
      Thread is low – move shaft down – shorten cord

      1-
      2- 5 is low
      3-
      4-
      5-
      6-
      7- 2 is low
      8- 1 is low
      9-
      10-

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Marjorie says:

    I agree with Cathy M — for a beginner like me, this post will help me get those wonderful sheds the countermarch is known for. My first warp looked like the picture you showed, and I was overwhelmed. Thanks also for including the references: I have both books and will look at them again.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marjorie, I’m so happy you are persevering through the learning stages! It’s all downhill from here. 🙂 I know that overwhelming feeling. Those two books have been steady references and friends for me to help solve all sorts of problems.

      I’d love to hear about your clean sheds the next time you put on a new warp!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Karen, I hate to bother you, but I tried saving your form, but is is like a photo, so I can’t edit it would you mind e-mailing a copy to me? Thanks!

  • Annie Lancaster says:

    As I was reading this post, I thought that living life is very much like adjusting the shed/treadles. When things aren’t going well, sometimes we just need to patiently figure out which area is where the problem actually lies and then start with small adjustments in that area only to solve the problem.

    I often need to be reminded of this as I tend to want to scrap the entire project!

    Have a blessed weekend, Karen. And I am also keeping the notes you created for my future loom. Thank you for sharing!

    Annie

    • Karen says:

      Annie, Yes, that’s a great reminder to me, too. Those small adjustments can make a world of difference!

      I appreciate hearing your thoughts.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Susie Redman says:

    Hello Karen
    Thank you for your clearly written help. I was given a beautiful Glimåkra Countermarch loom a couple of years ago and I’m learning something new every time I weave another project.I have noticed a horrible shed where pressing one treadle – on my current 4 shaft project. I didn’t know where to begin with making adjustments -from the top or at the treadles. I shall follow your advice and try to make some small adjustments with the treadle cords.
    Susie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Susie,
      It doesn’t hurt to start from the top. A while back, after adding some shafts, I had a terrible time getting a good shed. I was pulling my hair out until I finally looked closely at every cord, starting at the top. I found two cords from the jacks that were crossed and connected to the wrong shafts. That solved everything! 🙂 Also, sometimes a poor shed is actually an indicator of crossed warp ends somewhere. What I have learned is that there is always a solution! But often, it takes a little bit of detective work.

      I’d love to hear how your shed dilemma works out!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Karen, your post comes at the most opportune time for me as I’ve just spend the better part of today pretending to be a pretzel under the new loom trying to make sense of a million cords and lamms only to find a shed looking very much like your top picture as my results . I have read and reread the books you mentioned and was just going to begin the process of finding where I needed to make adjustments when I read your process here and it all clicked! I’ve added your process to my phone as well and will attempt to work through each step as you noted in the morning. Thank you again!!
    Charlynn

    • Karen says:

      Hi Charlynn, It does take some time to learn how it all works. It gets easier the more you do it. I’m glad this post came at a good time for you! Hopefully, you are very close to smooth sailing.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Nettie Cross says:

    Thank you! I have been weaving for 20 years, but every time I go to tie up my Glimakra Ideal, I pause. I sadly think I have gotten good sheds by sheer angelic intervention more than wrapping my head around it. Your notes are going into the studio tomorrow!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nettie, Hopefully this takes some of the mystery out of the tie-ups for you. I’m so glad you found this information helpful!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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