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

Tried and True: Cutting Off for a Fresh Start

I have good reasons for cutting off this first double-binding rag rug before proceeding with the rest of the warp. This pause and reset ensures happy weaving to the end. Cutting off gives me a fresh start for the next rug.

Rug is wrapping around the cloth beam.

Reasons for cutting off rag rug before end of warp

  1. Uneven warp tension. I can improve the warp by tying back on.
  2. Large rag rag. I can get a tighter warp tension by removing the rug’s bulk from the cloth beam.
  3. New design. It helps me to see the completed rug before starting the next one, since this is a brand-new design.
Rug comes to an end with a red border/hem. A warp-thread header follows, and then a few rows of scrap header to help secure the weft until finishing knots are tied.

Steps for cutting off rag rug before end of warp (countermarch loom)

Secure everything before cutting off. Shaft bars are in shaft holders and shaft pins are put back in place.
Countermarch locking pins on this Glimåkra Ideal are wooden dowels that go through the all the holes in the countermarch jacks.
Tension on the warp is released at the back ratchet and front ratchet.
  • Mark a cutting line across the warp with a black marker. Allow at least 10 centimeters (4 inches) beyond the rug’s warp-thread header for tying knots later that will secure the weft.
Mark a cutting line across the warp. Leave enough warp at the end of the rug to tie overhand knots to secure the weft.
  • With tying back on in mind, cut one group of ends and skip the next group of ends. Continue across the warp, alternating cut and uncut groups of ends. Tie groups of cut ends in slipknots as you go.
By spacing out the cut ends, the weight of the rug is evenly distributed. There is less pulling and distortion while cutting off. At the same time I am preparing groups of ends for tying back on.
  • Make a second pass, cutting the remaining groups of ends, and tying them in slipknots.
Continue cutting off groups of ends.
  • Unroll the rug from the cloth beam. Take a photograph.
First look at the back of the rug.
  • Lay the rug out on the floor. Ooh and aah.
Double-binding rag rug, ready for finishing and hemming! I let the rug rest on the floor for a couple days to let the warp and weft relax. Next step is to tie ends into overhand knots.

May you get a fresh start whenever you need it.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

Tried and True: When the Shed is Missing

You followed all the instructions for dressing the loom, and have finished the countermarch tie-up. Now, at the moment of triumph you step on the treadles, one by one. Alas! Some or all of the treadles give you nothing you can call a shed. Now what? Maybe you relate to Laura who wrote me recently, “I can’t seem to get the treadles to make a shed.”

The solution is simple. Follow the advice in this sentence on page 37 of Learning to Warp your Loom, by Joanne Hall, “If your sheds are not good, check your loom tie-up from the top down.”

If sheds are missing, there is a good chance you have a crossed cord.

Warp is threaded, sleyed, and tied on. After arranging and connecting a few Texsolv cords, I will tie up the treadles.

Find Misaligned Cords

1 Follow each Texsolv cord, starting from the countermarch at top of the loom.

All the shafts are good to go, right? Not quite. Better see what’s happening at the top of those Texsolv cords.

2 Make sure that each cord is connected in the right order at the right place.

Is the first countermarch jack connected to the first shaft, the second jack to the second shaft, and so on?

Misaligned cords as seen from the top of the loom.

Are the cords that go to the lower lamms strictly in order?

– With horizontal countermarch, does each cord fall behind the shafts in order?

Cords from the horizontal countermarch go through the center of the warp, to be attached to lower lamms below.
Make sure each cord goes behind its corresponding shaft bars to the lamms below. When attaching the cords to the lamms, make sure the cords are attached in the correct order. If loom is already tied up, follow each cord to check that it is attached to its corresponding lamm.

– With vertical countermarch, is each cord on its pulley, and connected to lamms in the right order?

Vertical countermarch has cords that go over pulleys on the side down to the lower lamms. I have to be extra careful to keep from attaching a cord to the wrong lamm.

3 Correct any misaligned cord.

Now, step on each treadle, one by one. Decent sheds that just need a little refining? Triumph!

Helpful Habit

When attaching a cord while dressing the loom, start your hand at the top of the cord and slide it down to the point of connection. This helps you take hold of the correct cord.

Ready to connect the shaft cords on the Glimåkra Julia, made easy by the small hooks on the shaft bars. Instead of expecting the cords to hang straight down in order, I reach my hand up to the top of the cord.
Touching where the cord meets the wood, I know I have the correct cord for the shaft closest to the front of the loom. I do the same for the next cord.
My hand slides down the cord and I connect the cord to the correct shaft. Now, all that’s left is tying up the treadles. Then, we weave!

May none of your cords be crossed.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

Tried and True: Rag Rug Block Party!

I am happy to say that with only four shafts we have exactly what we need for a checkerboard rag rug. Thank you to Megan for asking about it. ”I am searching for a 4-shaft draft for a checkboard pattern. I am limited to only 4 shafts.” Double binding opens up a world of opportunity!

Checkered rag rug. Karen Isenhower

Let’s talk about blocks. A block is a specific sequence of warp ends or weft picks. Double binding on four shafts has two blocks for the warp and two blocks for the weft.

One of several possible threading and tie-up plans for double binding. Add two plain weave treadles if you want to weave plain weave hems.
Plain weave hem starts a new double-binding rag rug.

Have a Block Party!

→ Use graph paper to plan the configuration of your blocks.

For the threading blocks, use two rows of squares. One row is for Block A and one row is for Block B. Each square on the paper represents one threading unit. You can make a checkerboard pattern by uniformly alternating the A blocks and B blocks. Or, you can make a wildly different geometric pattern by varying the size of alternating blocks. Your two-row graph becomes a profile draft to use as your threading key.

For the weft blocks, use the same arrangement of blocks as for the threading, and turn them vertically for the treadling draft. Or, use your creativity to make a unique configuration of weft blocks. The sky is the limit!

Three possible block configurations for the threading. The bottom example is a part of the sequence for the rug currently on my loom.
Weaving with two ski shuttles. Glimåkra Ideal. 4 shafts, 6 treadles.
Printout shows me where the blocks change in the weft.

Check out these resources for more double-binding rag rug ideas: Alla Tiders Trasmattor, by Monica Hallén and Ann-Kristin Hallgren; Så Fint med Trasmattor, by Monica Hallén and Ann-Kristin Hallgren; Älskade Trasmattor att väva som för, by Monica Hallén and Ann-Kristin Hallgren; Swedish Rag Rugs 35 New Designs, by VävMagasinet; Happy Weaving, from VävMagasinet.

May you discover a world of opportunity.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

Tried and True: Measurement Tape

You can measure what you are weaving. A set of towels will all be the same length. A table runner will fit the table as planned. A rug will be the right size for the designated floor space. All it takes is a dependable way to measure. (Thanks to Elisabeth S. for writing me, “I’d love to have a better way to measure my work as I’m weaving it.”)

Dependable way to measure on the loom!

Measurement Tape (accompanying video below)

Supplies:

  • Calculator
  • Project notes
  • 5/8” polyester twill tape
  • Fine point indelible marker
  • Tape measure
  • 2 flat-head straight pins

Make Calculations

  • Determine the finished length.
    • Consider the Golden Ratio, 1:6.
    • Consider where the finished textile will be placed.
  • Estimate take-up and shrinkage.
  • Include these measurements in your project notes.

Prepare a Measurement Tape

  • Draw the beginning line about 2 cm from the end of the tape. If there is a hem, draw a second line to mark the hem’s length.
  • Write the item description on the tape.
  • Write ” ___ (finished length) + ___ (take-up and shrinkage) = ___ (total length)” on the tape.
  • Measure the total length from the first line (or from the hem) on the tape. Draw a line at the end (add hem, if needed).
  • Cut the tape about 2 cm after the ending line.
  • Find the middle of the tape. Draw a line and write “MID”.
How to measure your weaving on the loom.
Place the first line of the measurement tape directly over the beginning picks of the woven article.

Prepare a Half Measurement Tape

  • Do the same as for a full-length measurement tape, except divide the total length measurement in half. Draw a line on the tape at the halfway point. Write “MID” before the line.
  • Cut the tape about 2 cm after the MID line.

Weave and Measure (Always with the warp under tension)

  • Use two straight pins to pin the measurement tape to the weaving near one selvedge. Place the beginning line of the tape directly over the beginning of the woven article.
  • As weaving progresses, remove the pin closest to the breast beam. Leapfrog over the remaining pin. Reinsert the removed pin through the tape near the fell line.
Using a measurement tape for weaving consistent lengths.
Move one pin at a time. I usually move the pin right before I advance the warp.
  • If using a half measurement tape, weave past the MID line. Mark the spot with a pin. Remove the measurement tape. Turn the tape and pin into place to weave the second half.
How to make a half measurement tape.
When you reach the MID line on a half measurement tape, keep the measurement tape in place until you have woven a few more centimeters.
How to make and use a Measurement Tape for weaving accurate lengths.
Place one pin through the cloth, pointing to the MID line. Then, it’s safe to remove the measurement tape and turn it around. Go your merry way, weaving the second half of the Monksbelt runner, or whatever you have on your loom.

Here’s a demonstration of making and using a measurement tape:

(For a previous discussion of this topic, see Tools Day: Measured Weaving.)

Since you can measure what you are weaving, do relax and enjoy the ride.

May you reach the mid point at just the right time.

Happy Weaving,
Karen