Tried and True: Slay – Sleigh – Sley

Slay the dragon. Ride the sleigh. Sley the reed. To succeed in these challenges, you must be prepared, pay attention, and make sure you’re on the right track. Here, I’m going to focus on sleying the reed with success. (For dragon slaying and sleigh riding challenges, I won’t be of much help.) Don’t miss the new video below with tips for sleying the reed.

Loom lighting makes a difference!
Shop light attached to top of loom provides good general lighting to all working areas of the loom. Smaller clip-on lamp provides directed light for detail work, like sleying a dense reed.
Clip-on lamp for detail work at the loom.
Even in a room filled with natural light, a focused bright light on the work area relieves eye strain and reduces errors.

First, make sure you have good lighting. I have a snake arm shop light attached to the top of my loom. (See Tools Day: Loom Lighting for more about loom lighting.) I also have a smaller clip-on gooseneck LED lamp, clipped onto my loom bench, that illuminates my specific working area. With a fine-dent reed, like this metric 100/10- (~ imperial 25-) dent reed, focused lighting makes a difference. It means seeing the dents instead of guessing.

Making a new video. Tips for sleying the reed.
Making a new video. Steve does the filming and I do the editing.

In this video, I share some tips for sleying the reed, with checkpoints to ensure success. (See Tools Day: Click Test for more about the “click test” mentioned in the video.)

May your dragons be few.

Yours truly,
Karen

Tried and True: Weft Color Changes and Video

I have an efficient way to handle weft color changes. It’s very simple. This is for those instances when I need to end one weft thread and start a new one. As a rule, I take care of weft tails as I go. I don’t want to come back to them later if I don’t have to. If I tuck in each weft tail at the beginning of the row, thickness from the extra wefts builds up at the selvedge, especially if I’m weaving horizontal stripes. The method I describe reduces the extra wefts, and eliminates having to tuck any tails in.

Weaving tutorial about weft color changes.
Color changes add to the movement and excitement of the design.
How to change weft colors - simple!
Vertical and horizontal narrow stripes in six-shaft broken twill.

How to Start a New Weft Color

  1. Weave the last pick of one color.
  2. Change to the shed needed for the next color. Take the shuttle with the first color into the shed for about about 3 cm (1 1/8”), and bring the shuttle up and out through the top of the warp.
  3. Lightly beat (tap) in the 3 cm (1 1/8”) of thread. Carefully snip off the thread close to the warp.
  4. Weave a pick of the next color, with the end of the new thread overlapping the 3 cm (1 1/8”) of the previous color thread. Position the new thread such that the end is outside the selvedge just a hair.
  5. Beat in the new weft and continue weaving until the next color change.
Tutorial about efficient way to change weft colors.
Ending the third of four bath towels.
Stripes in towels. How to!
Hand towels waiting to be paired up with the bath towels…hopefully, before Christmas!

Watch this short video to see me demonstrate this method of changing the weft colors.

May your choice of weft colors give a glimpse of your best qualities.

Simply Weaving,
Karen

Tried and True: Wool Skeins into Balls

I am adding about thirty more skeins to my yarn supply to get the colors I need for a new tapestry. At this rate, maybe I will have every single color of Borgs 6/2 Tuna and 6/1 Fårö wool on my shelves some day. That’s wishful thinking… But I do have what I need for now to make the butterflies for this special pictorial tapestry.

Preparing to weave a new pictorial tapestry.
Beautiful colors of wool skeins of yarn.

All these new skeins of yarn need to be wound into balls using my Swedish umbrella swift and a ball winder. In the past, I have used a manual ball winder. That means a lot of handle turning, but eventually all the yarn is wound into balls.

Swedish umbrella swift and an electric ball winder.
Skein of yarn is opened and placed on the umbrella swift.

This time is different. I found a new time-saving and arm-saving tool. It’s an electric ball winder, made by Fiber Artist Supply Company. I put the skein on the swift, cut the ties, secure the loose end of yarn to the ball winder, and then turn it on, gradually increasing the speed. In less than two minutes, I have another beautiful ball of yarn to use for making tapestry butterflies.

My new electric ball winder.
End of yarn is secured on the post of the ball winder.
Electric ball winder. Time-saver and arm-saver!
Dial on the winder allows me to gradually increase the speed. When I see that the skein is unwinding properly, I turn the dial to full speed.
Yarn swift is turning swiftly!
Maybe this is why it’s called a yarn “swift.” Previous pictorial tapestry, Siblings, is seen on the wall.
Electric ball winder. Time-saver and arm-saver!
One minute, fifty-four seconds later, and we have a ball of yarn.
New ball of yarn from the electric ball winder.
I will wrap the label on this ball of yarn and it will join the yarn collection for this tapestry.
Getting ready to start a new pictorial tapestry!
Linen warp is ready for beaming. Wool weft yarn is being sorted and organized for making butterflies.

May your tools give you more time for weaving.

Making it easier,
Karen

Tried and True: One Small Skein

I have a single skein of colorful cotton/bamboo sock yarn that a sweet friend gave to me. I’m not a knitter. What can I do with a mere 50 grams of silky-soft yarn? My 13.5” Glimåkra Emilia rigid-heddle loom is perfect for the task. When I’m at home I weave on floor looms. When I travel I like to take Emilia along.

"Make Do" warping while away from home.
This is called “Make Do” warping while away from home.
Glimakra 13.5" Emilia rigid heddle loom, ready to tie on and start weaving.
Emilia is beamed and the heddle is threaded. Ready to tie on and start weaving.
Weaving in the Casita Travel Trailer.
Now, a trip to visit some wonders of creation in Texas. Time to bring Emilia along. Weaving in “La Perlita,” our Casita Travel Trailer.
Weaving outside while camping.
Weaving outside the Casita in the shade of a tree is a relaxing way to spend the afternoon.
Weaving outdoors.
Two shades of bamboo thread are used for the weft–hot pink and coral–woven in alternating blocks of color.
Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park, with poppies in the foreground.
Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park. Poppies in the foreground provide color inspiration for more weaving projects.
Hemstitching at the end of a scarf on the rigid heddle loom.
Hemstitching at the end of the scarf, easiest to do while still on the loom.

One skein of this yarn yields just enough to make the warp for a short scarf with fringe. I am using Xie Bamboo thread for the weft, left from the huck lace shawl I wove for myself to wear to my daughter’s wedding six years ago (See Quiet Friday: Coral Shawl for a Memorable Occasion). This thinner weft gives me a loose weave, and the color blends in a way that allows the changing color of the warp to take center stage.

Trimming fringe on a handwoven scarf.
Back home again, doing the finishing. Fringe is trimmed to an even length.
Trimmed.
Trimmed.
Twisting fringe.
Twisting fringe. (For more on twisting fringe, see Tools Day: Fringe Twister.)
Twisting fringe.
Fringe twisted.
Handwoven scarf before washing.
Before hand washing.
Rigid heddle scarf made with sock yarn.
Scarf has been air dried, and the fringe knots have been trimmed. This soft short scarf is just right to wear with a light jacket in the Texas autumn air.

Now that this scarf is finished, the only thing left to do is make sure I have a new warp ready for Emilia in time for our next travel adventure.

May you take your joys with you.

Happy travel weaving,
Karen

Tried and True: How Far Will Your Quill Go?

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.

Cottolin bath towels on the Glimåkra Standard.
Cottolin bath towels on the Glimåkra Standard, in twill, broken twill, and reverse twill.

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

1 Start 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.

How to measure how far a quill will weave.
End of one thread. Ready for a new quill.
How to know how far a quill will weave. Tutorial.
With the threads overlapping in the shed, the tail of the thread on the new quill lies on the surface.

2 Weave until the quill has emptied. Leave a 4-5 cm tail on the surface of the cloth.

How to know how far a full quill will weave.
Quill has emptied. Tail is brought out to 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.

Tutorial on how to know how many quills you need to wind.
Measure the woven distance.

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.

Cottolin bath towels.

May your efforts prove to be efficient.

Happy Weaving,
Karen