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

Process Review: Threading Preparation and Two Pairs of Lease Sticks

Dressing the loom with two sets of lease sticks keeps me on my toes. It means I am thinking carefully as I transfer lease sticks from in front of the reed to behind the reed. And, after beaming the warp(s), it means I am counting carefully as I put ends into threading groups of 48 threads each—32 ends of 20/2 cotton, and 16 ends of 22/2 cottolin.

Two set of lease sticks have been carefully moved from in front of the reed to behind the reed. After straightening all the warp ends, I will beam the warp.

I group ends together before threading. Then, when threading, if there is a discrepancy in the number of ends, it alerts me to find a threading error. Counting out these delicate unbleached cotton threads is challenge enough. Having the layer of cream cottolin threads underneath presents additional complexity. With all these ends, this part of the process is tedious. Still, it’s worth it if it lessens my chance of making threading errors with these 1,472 ends.

Preparation for threading. Ends are gathered into threading groups and tied together with a loose slip knot.
Each set of lease sticks is tied to the back beam separately, so they can hang at different heights. The lower set is tied around the side frame and over the back beam.
If I stand behind the loom, my back is in a leaning-forward position and not comfortable for long. I placed a child’s chair and cushion behind the loom. Kneeling behind the loom at this height gives me good visibility and access to the threads.
View from the back of the loom. Ends are counted at the center of a pair of lease sticks. These counted ends are tied together in a loose slip knot.
View from behind the loom. Loop of unbleached ends just counted lay on top to clear the view. Ends on lower pair of lease sticks are counted and tied separately. I tied the cotton threads and the cottolin threads separately to make it easier to find an error if I miscounted along the way (which, fortunately, didn’t happen).
Counted ends are dropped into hanging position before moving on to the next grouping. (After taking this picture, I re-tied the lease sticks closer together, making counting easier.)
Threads remain in the reed. I pull threads out of the reed when they are counted.
Pretty sight of counted ends. Ready for threading!

One step at a time.

May you enjoy the process you are in.

Happy Loom Dressing,
Karen

Spreading Two Warps at Once

I am spreading this warp (two warps, actually) at the worktable. One warp is 22/2 cottolin, with a narrow selvedge border of 16/2 cotton. The other warp is 20/2 cotton. This intriguing double-width project is in the Nr.3 – 2021 issue of Väv MagazineWinnie’s Linen-Cotton Crinkly Tablecloth, by Winnie Poulsen, p.52. Despite some intrepidation, I am jumping in!

Spreading 2 warps for a double-width project.
First warp has been pre-sleyed, and the loops are held in place on the cloth beam tie-on bar. Now spreading the second warp, and placing both warps’ loops on the long stick in front.

Coordinating two warps onto a single tie-on bar is tricky business. The last time I did the two-warp maneuver at the loom I nearly lost a lease cross and my sanity. The advantage of pre-sleying these warps at the table is that everything is secure. Nothing is teetering. At the worktable I can clearly see what to do for each step. Within minutes, I’m hopeful that this adventure will indeed be worth it. (Pre-sleying a warp on the table is expertly explained in Learning to Warp Your Loom, by Joanne Hall, pgs.19-20.)

Two warps for one double-width project.
Second stick holds both warps’ loops.
Spreading two warps in the reed.
Tie-on bar slides in and warps’ loops are secured by tying a string from one end to the other.
Getting ready to weave some differential shrinkage!
Extra stick is removed. Two warps, each with its own set of lease sticks, have been spread in the reed. No mishaps along the way!
Glimakra Julia ready for a new fun warp!
Warp bouts are in the basket. The two sets of lease sticks, the reed, and the cloth beam tie-on bar sit on top. We’re ready to beam this warp on the Julia!

Spreading a warp (or two) is a lot like spreading hope. We come to the Lord Jesus weary, having tried hard to make things work on our own. He welcomes us with open arms and reveals the time-tested way of trusting him, one step at a time. Now, like threads being sleyed across the dents of a reed, threads of hope spread throughout our being. The threads are secured. Come weary; receive rest; spread hope.

May you be ignited with hope.

Your friend,
Karen

Process Review: Weaving Rhythm

“With so many looms, how do you decide what to weave every day?,” I was asked. The answer lies in my Weaving Rhythm. I have five floor looms. I happily aspire to meet the challenge of keeping all of them active.

Glossary

Weaving Rhythm ~ A pattern created across time, through a regular succession of weaving-related tasks.

Arrange individual tasks to keep each loom consistently moving forward in the weaving continuum.

Weaving Continuum ~ The cycle for each loom that is continually repeated.

When the first few centimeters are woven on a new project, begin planning the next project. When finishing is completed for the current project, wind a new warp and dress the loom for the next project.

First Things First ~ Prioritize daily tasks to maintain the Weaving Rhythm.

  1. Finishing
  2. Dressing
  3. Weaving

Do some finishing work first. Do some loom-dressing tasks next. The reward, then, is sitting at one of the dressed looms and freely weaving for the pleasure of it.

Weaving bath towels on the Glimakra Standard.
Glimåkra Standard, 120cm (47″), vertical countermarch. My first floor loom. Weaving the third of four bath towels, 6-shaft broken and reverse twill, 22/2 cottolin warp and weft.
Weaving hanging tabs for bath towels.
Glimåkra two-treadle band loom. Weaving hanging tabs for bath towels. 22/2 cottolin warp and weft.
Glimakra 100cm Ideal. Sweet little loom.
Glimåkra Ideal, 100cm (39″), horizontal countermarch. My second floor loom. Dressing the loom in 24/2 cotton, five-shaft huckaback, for fabric to make a tiered skirt. Ready to start sleying the reed.
Hand-built Swedish loom.
Loom that Steve built, 70cm (27″), horizontal countermarch. My third floor loom. Weaving the header for a pictorial tapestry sample, four-shaft rosepath, 16/2 linen warp, Tuna/Fårö wool and 6/1 tow linen weft.
Sweet little Glimakra Julia 8-shaft loom.
Glimåkra Julia, 70cm (27″), horizontal countermarch. This is my fifth (and final?) floor loom. Weaving the first of two scarves, eight-shaft deflected double weave, 8/1 Mora wool warp and weft.
Weaving lettering on the drawloom.
Glimåkra Standard, 120cm (47″), horizontal countermarch, with Myrehed combination drawloom attachment. This is my fourth floor loom. Weaving some lettering for the seventh pattern on this sample warp, six-shaft irregular satin, 16/2 cotton warp, 16/1 linen weft. 35 pattern shafts, 132 single unit draw cords.

Give Thanks ~ Live with a thankful heart.

Every day I thank the Lord for granting me the joy of being in this handweaving journey. And I thank him for bringing friends like you along with me.

May you always give thanks.

With a grateful heart,
Karen

Stony Creek Drawloom Rag Rug

I have woven umpteen rag rugs. But never one like this! Eight-shaft satin on the single-unit drawloom brings its own challenges, from managing draw cords to getting a decent shed. Add rag weaving to the mix and we have a whole new experience!

Cutting off drawloom rag rug.
Cutting off in 1-inch sections to make it easy to tie back on for the second rug on the warp.

Finishing has its own set of new challenges. My go-to method of tying knots to secure warp ends is unwieldy in this instance because the threads are extremely dense. By quietly doing some detail studies on a sample, I find a way to finish this unusual rug: Secure the ends with the serger. Then, sew two rows of straight stitches on the sewing machine for added security. Sew a narrow bound hem using some of the fabric that was used as weft in the rug. Steam press to finish.

Drawloom rag rug finishing details.
Serger cuts off the ends as it overlocks the edge. I pull out the scrap header little by little just ahead of the serger needles and blade.
Finishing drawloom rag rug - steps.
Two rows of straight stitching.
Bound hem on a drawloom rag rug.
Lightweight woven fusible interfacing backs the fabric used for the narrow bound hem.
My Grandma's thimble.
My Grandma’s thimble helps me hand stitch the back side of the bound hems.
Drawloom rag rug finished!
Finished and pressed.
Stony Creek Rag Rug woven on single-unit drawloom! (Design by Kerstin Åsling-Sundberg)
Dream come true! Stony Creek Rag Rug (Design by Kerstin Åsling-Sundberg)

I have another rag rug to weave on this warp. It will still be a challenge. With what I’ve learned, though, I’m anticipating a satisfying weaving and finishing experience.

We know what to do in normal circumstances. It’s in unusual times that we fall into dismay. Private time with Jesus turns confidential fears to confident faith. He treats our challenges like personal detail studies, showing us the way forward. His grace enables us to conquer the next challenge with confident faith.

May your confidence grow.

With faith,
Karen