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

12 Comments

  • Beth says:

    Oooo! I love these colors!

  • Nannette says:

    Good morning Karen,

    I just noticed you work in metric measurements. I hadn’t before. Hmmm. Is that the side effect of transposing 2.54 cm per inch so many years? Metric does make the math easier.

    Moving/estate sale in 5 weeks. The epiphany is textile projects will have to wait until the basement in Wausaukee is set up. The last visit I made up north the home made floor loom was to the point of hooking up the castle. I stopped after I put it on backwards.

    Thank you for your reality touchpoints.

    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, I started using metric measurements for weaving after going to Vavstuga Basics. It makes sense to me.

      Blessings on all your transition events.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Joanna says:

    You always give us such great tips! Thanks, Karen. And thanks for using metric measurements, I wish everyone did.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna, I’m happy if a tip is helpful to you. As I mentioned to Nannette, metric measurements make sense to me for weaving. I am not a math whiz, so I like the simplicity of metric math.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Linda Adamson says:

    I really like your colors as well. Did you set the cottolin at 24 epi? If so is it thick enough this way?
    Linda

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda, These really are comfort colors for me. I’m using a metric 50/10 reed, so my sett is 10 ends per cm, equivalent to 25.4 epi. So, 24 epi would also be a good sett for this twill. I wouldn’t call these towels thick, but they will be soft and absorbent. My experience with Bockens 22/2 Cottolin is that the cotton/linen blend makes great towels. They seem to get softer and more absorbent the more they are used and washed and dried.

      I haven’t made cottolin bath towels before, so hopefully I can give you a good report when we start using them!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Maureen says:

    Hi Karen,
    May I ask, what are you using for a bobbin? It doesn’t seem to be the rolled piece of paper that is usually used for a quill. Where did you get them, is it from purchased yarn? I’ve found that some of the empty yarn spools don’t fit in my Glimakra quill shuttle.
    Your weaving is always so inspiring, you have a wonderful colour sense and technique.
    Maureen

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maureen, The quills that I use are narrow cardboard tubes made for this purpose. These cardboard quills function like the rolled piece of paper that you describe, and come in different sizes to fit the Glimakra quill shuttles. I purchase the cardboard quills from weaving suppliers in the USA, like GlimakraUSA.com or Vavstuga.com. If I need extra quills, I make them from rolled paper, too.

      Your kind and encouraging words mean a lot to me.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Kristin Girod says:

    That’s a wonderful tip, Karen! I’m definitely going to try that with my next project. And I’ve always trimmed my tails after washing. Do you trim to the fabric while on the loom no matter the size or type of yarn?

    • Karen says:

      Kristin,

      Good, I’m glad you found this tip helpful!

      I trim weft tails as I go–regardless of size or type of yarn. I like to trim as much as possible while it’s on the loom because I don’t want to have to go back and do it later. 🙂

      I try to make sure to have my weft threads overlap enough in the shed to take into account shrinkage that will happen with washing and drying. If you trim before it’s washed, the added benefit is whatever bit of thread that is left on the surface will nicely disappear as it shrinks into the cloth.

      Happy weaving!
      Karen

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Tried and True: Checklist for Winding a Warp

I am winding a narrow warp for my next drawloom project. My warping reel is in a little four-foot-by-four-foot corner of my drawloom studio, and has just enough room to maneuver. When I am ready to wind a warp the first thing I pull out is my trusty checklist. I use a checklist for efficiency. It keeps me on track. And it’s more dependable than my memory.

Checklist for Winding a Warp

__ Weigh warp thread and write the amounts on the project notes. By weighing the thread before and after a project, you will know exactly how much warp thread was used in the project.

__ Stick a sample four-inch thread to each thread label; put a rubber band around the tube. After you finish winding the warp, you can quickly pair each yarn with its correct label because of the sample thread stuck to the label.

__ Bring supplies to the warping reel. If your warping reel is in a different room, or in a separate building, like mine is, make sure you have all you need before you head to the warping reel.

+ Thread for the project

+ Thread stand, if not already in place

+ Scissors

+ Choke ties

+ Project notes, with fully completed draftAn incomplete draft may give faulty information. Also, a review of the project notes and draft is a good idea, especially if weeks or months have passed since you wrote it all down.

Checklist for winding a warp.

__ Set up the warping reel for warp length. Use a guide string, or measure the distance needed to place the pegs and turning pin at the right place on the warping reel for the warp you are going to wind.

Checklist for winding a warp.
Checklist for winding a warp.

__ Set out the thread on the thread stand. Wind the warp with two or more threads at the same time, for best results.

__ Hang or tape up the project notes at eye level. Project notes show the warp sequence and other vital information.

__ Take note of warp length, number of bouts, and number of ends in each bout. Aim for 25 cm (10”) or less in the reed, or 200 or fewer ends, per bout. For the drawloom, wind the warp in pattern unit increments when possible.

Checklist for winding a warp.

__ Wind first bout, counting warp ends. Use a cord between groups of ends to keep track of the counting.

Checklist for winding a warp.

__ Visually check the warp order. Check to see that the warp order on the warping reel matches the warp sequence on the project notes. (I added this step to my checklist after the time I omitted 6 threads at the center of a warp, discovered after threading the loom.)

__ Tie off around the turning pin or the outside peg. Always wind the last pass with two or more threads together so you can tie them around the pin or peg.

__ Tie the lease cross; and tie choke ties on the warp. Tie the cross first, and tie any passes of the warp directly above the cross. Then, spin the wheel and tie the warp wherever it passes on the side opposite the cross. Also tie at the turning pin, at the top and bottom of the loop.

Checklist for winding a warp.

__ Chain the warp bout. Start the chain by holding the loop at the turning pin, and pull out the pin. Chain the warp, ending at the cross. (I use my knee, not so gracefully, to control the turning of the reel as I chain the warp.)

Checklist for winding a warp.

__ Place the warp bout on the loom, with the lease cross end going through the beater.

__ Wind remaining bouts, following the same procedure. When you place the warp chain on the loom double check the warp sequence to make sure the bouts are in the right order.

Checklist for winding a warp.
Checklist for winding a warp.

__ Roll up the thread tubes, replace labels, weigh thread and write down amounts, and place thread tubes in project bin. Each loom has its own project bin to hold the thread for that project.

Checklist for winding a warp.

__ Put away the choke ties, scissors, and thread holder.

__ Fold up the warping reel.

Checklist for winding a warp.

Get ready to dress the loom!

Checklist for winding a warp.

May you enjoy the process.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Elisabeth says:

    Thank you so much! I realize it has been awhile, long enough to forget the steps. I’ll wind a warp today following these instructions. Then I will have two towel warps and can hopefully dress the loom without my usual long pause I’ll weave the easy one first, to get back into it, and have as a goal to have some towels ready as Christmas gifts.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, I’m glad you can use this! A checklist really helps me when I’ve been away from the loom for a while. I don’t have to re-think everything. I’m looking forward to hearing more about your towels. They will be beautiful, I’m sure!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Betsy says:

    Ah, yes, tie the cross. I don’t know how many times I’ve come *this close* to forgetting that step.

  • Karen Simpson says:

    Thank you so much….I’ve never weighed before to determine usage amount…will do. I also number my bouts with a sticky…learned the hard way..ha….

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, I’ve learned a lot of things the hard way, too. 🙂 I also weigh my weft thread before and after. The accumulated data helps when planning new projects.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Barbara says:

    I use a different color tie at the top of the lease cross so I know which way is up when taking the warp bout to the loom. Got confused once with a striped warp, took a bit of “undoing” to be sure I didn’t have the same colored stripes next to each other.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Barbara, Thanks for sharing your helpful tip. Getting the warp bouts mixed up at the loom is not fun. Some of our best lessons come through fixing our mistakes!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Summa Irukalam says:

    This is terrific! Thank you.

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Tried and True: Threading Eight Shafts

Threading four shafts is straightforward because the heddles fit perfectly between four fingers and a thumb. Threading eight shafts is tricky because we don’t have that many fingers! Thankfully, threading eight shafts can be as straightforward as threading four shafts. I like to think of it as four shafts in the back, and four shafts in the front.

For a review of threading four shafts, watch the short video in this post: You Can Prevent Threading Errors.

Threading Eight Shafts – Straight Draw

  • Set a small group of heddles apart on each shaft to prepare for threading the next group of ends.
  • Pick up the next threading group of ends and bring it to the front, on the left side of the separated heddles.
  • Lace the threading group of ends under, over, under, over the fingers of your left hand, palm up.

Threading eight shafts - the easy way.

Left hand becomes tensioning device for threading the heddles. I like to put my index finger in between the two parts of the cross, as separated by the lease sticks.

  • Wrap left hand index finger around the group of heddles on shaft one (the shaft nearest the back of the loom), the middle finger around heddles on shaft two, the ring finger around heddles on shaft three, the pinky around heddles on shaft four, and bring the thumb around to hold it all loosely together.

Threading eight shafts - the easy way.

Each warp end is taken in order from between the lease sticks, and then threaded through the heddles in order.

  • Thread the first four heddles—1, 2, 3, 4.
  • With the right hand, hold the group of warp ends taut, and open the fingers of the left hand to release the heddles.
  • Keeping the group of warp ends loosely laced around the fingers, slide the left hand toward you to thread the next four heddles—5, 6, 7, 8. Position your fingers around the heddles on each shaft, as you did for the first four shafts.

Threading eight shafts - the easy way.

Left hand slides toward the front of the loom to thread the next four heddles. It helps to hold the warp ends taut with the right hand while the left hand is repositioned.

  • After threading the second set of heddles, follow the same procedure as before and slide the left hand back again to thread 1, 2, 3, 4.
  • Continue sliding the left hand forward and back, until the threading is completed for that group of ends.
  • Check the threading group for accuracy, and then tie the group of ends together in a loose slip knot.

Threading eight shafts.

Always check for accuracy before moving on to the next threading group.

Complete the threading across the warp. And then, step back and admire the beauty of a beamed and threaded loom.

Glimakra Standard. Threading the loom.

Shafts are raised high for good access and visibility for threading, and for checking for accuracy.

Threading is complete. 8-shafts undulating twill.

Threading is complete. Cotton throw. 8/2 cotton, undulating (wavy) twill on eight shafts.

May you find efficient methods for the work of your hands.

Happy weaving,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Cynthia says:

    Love those colors, can’t wait to see finished

  • Good morning Karen,

    I really appreciate it when you post photos of your weaving space. It answers many unspoken questions about how to design a work area.

    The space has a tile floor with a rug placed immediately under the loom.

    There are no electronics to be seen.

    The floor is clean of lint.

    Plenty of natural light, with a view.

    Thank you.

    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, All of that is correct, except there is no rug under the loom. The loom sits on a square patch of wood floor. The original owners of this house designed that spot specifically for their baby grand piano. Since I don’t have a baby grand, a Glimåkra Standard seems the next best thing.

      After having carpet under my looms, it’s really nice to have a smooth floor under them now. It’s much easier to collect all those dust bunnies that hold meetings under there.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    Good morning, Karen!
    I am going to print and keep the information on the post since I have plans to order and 12 shaft Louet Delta after Christmas. I haven’t even threaded more than 4 shaft so this post is much needed!
    Thank you so much for sharing yourself with the weaving world. I have learned a great deal from you.
    May your hands always be busy weaving.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, I’m excited for you! You’ll find that there are several ways to do just about everything. It’s good that you are collecting information that you can use for reference later.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Jean Flores says:

    Exactly how I do it! I just posted a video of me threading last week on Instagram. lol.

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Getting Dressed to Weave

I want to wrap up in this cozy throw already. But I need to weave it first. This is an undulating twill throw that I am making for sweet Lindsay, one of my daughters-in-law. Of course, I am including enough warp to make a small throw of my own.

Getting ready to beam the warp. Back to front warping.

Four chained bouts. The 8/2 cotton warp is pre-sleyed, and the back tie-on bar has been placed through the loops at the end of the warp.

Every step of dressing the loom is fascinating. I easily get immersed in the enjoyment of the process. All the while, I’m dreaming of the finished work.

Read to beam the warp, using warping trapeze.

Warping trapeze is in place at the front of the loom. Ready to beam these soothing colors onto the warp beam.

Warp is beamed. Ready for threading.

Warp is beamed. Warp ends are counted into groups of 32 ends each, for efficiency and accuracy in threading. This will be threaded for undulating twill on eight shafts.

Dressing the loom leads to the making of cloth. Dressing our lives leads to the making of good character. Prayer is of utmost importance in dressing our lives. Prayer is not a single step in the process, but a posture of faith throughout the process. Earnest prayer reaches God. The power of prayer is not in our words, in the threads we express, but in the Grand Weaver. He receives our humble threads and weaves them into his will to bring about his beautiful cloth. Fascinating, isn’t it?

May you dream as you dress the loom.

Prayerfully,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    There is something soothing about dressing a loom. I can’t wait to see the weaving begin.

  • I agree- I enjoy the entire process. I think you have to or you wouldn’t continue to weave year after year!! “ you must be warped to weave” .

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maria, Yes, maybe that’s the appeal for those of us who are drawn to handweaving – the enjoyment of process, of being part of making something from beginning to end. Your weaving is so beautiful. It’s good to know you enjoy the whole process, too.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Emonieiesha says:

    Good Morning Karen,
    I just came across your blog and what a joy. I am a beginner with a RHL and a 4 Shaft Table loom! There is nothing like creating while keeping our hearts and minds on the Creator. Happy Weaving with the one who created it all.

  • Susan Hommel says:

    Hi Karen, I love reading you warm and knowledgeable advice and have followed your weaving adventure these last few years. You even inspired my first rug attempt when you submitted your lovely rosepath pattern to Handwoven. Now I’m at a crossroad. I’ve been using my Schact standard but the draw to a Swedish loom has bitten me…. I await delivery of my Glimakra Julia countermarch next week. Here’s my question. Is there value in passing up the Glimakra set up direction in favor of Vavstugas Dress your loom the Vävstuga Way ? Thanks for any advice you can offer! Best regards, Sue

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sue, I’m excited for you! You will really enjoy your new Julia.

      The Glimakra set up and Vavstuga’s guide are completely compatible, as far as I know. I use Joanne Hall’s books and Vavstuga’s and get a great compilation of instructions. You can’t go wrong either way, or both! Don’t forget “The Big Book of Weaving.” It also has great set up (and weaving) instructions. The more, the merrier. 🙂

      Very happy weaving,
      Karen

  • How pretty the colors are.
    My skills are not there yet. Dressing the loom requires a lot of detail that my creative brain wants to ignore.

    Warping All By Yourself was my guide for dressing a loom. Front to back. I am glad you provided visual details. I will reference the next time I dress a loom and see if it speeds things up.

    About a month ago I went to the high school craft fair in Crivitz, Wi. There a woman selling the most beautifully crafted rag rugs I’ve ever seen. Nothing fancy, but even edges and beautifully chosen colors.

    She lives back in the woods in the home she shared with her late husband, south east of Green Bay and weaves. No business cards.

    I mentioned your website. She is the last hold out not on line. Her world is edged by north eastern Wisconsin. Next year I will look for her again at the Crivitz high school autumn craft fair. But earlier. The bake sale was sold out.

    I will miss your twice weekly posting. Enjoy the ride.

    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, I understand what you mean about your creative brain. My brain has trouble holding details, too.
      Having a system with specific steps helps me. I don’t try to remember the steps. I have written down the steps and keep that step-by-step list in front of me every time I warp the loom.

      Those old time rag rugs are wonderful. I have two that a friend of my grandmother made in a small country town in Missouri back in the ‘50’s.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
      Karen

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Not the Easiest Way to Weave

I considered making a matching set, but at the loom I get an inclination to explore. Hence, no two placemats are alike. A change in the weft changes everything. New colors emerge! Slate and apple green on a coral warp become periwinkle and avocado. If you look closely, though, you can still see the underlying coral and camel stripes of the warp.

Cotton placemats on the loom with color and weave effects.

Second placemat uses red and orange in the weft. These colors work with the coral in the warp to bring out a distinctive color-and-weave effect in the design.

Three double-bobbin shuttles—this is not the easiest way to weave. I am carrying the colors up the selvedge, so it gets tricky when all three shuttles end up on the same side. Nevertheless, this is the joy of weaving a challenge. How and where to set the shuttles down, and which hand picks them up—ever aiming for efficiency. Newly-formed colors and technical pursuits—this is a handweaver’s thrill of discovery!

Three double bobbin shuttles for this color and weave placemat.

Beginning of the third placemat shows variation in pattern and color choices. Three double bobbin shuttles put my manual dexterity to the test.

Color and weave variations.

Coral and camel warp stripes form the base of the design. Pattern variations are produced by varying the number of picks per weft color.

Imagine the thrill of discovery that awaits us in heaven! Love permeates heaven. Like a narrow-striped warp, love is written into the fabric. The environment there is love, where pride and selfishness don’t exist. Blending of colorful personalities will be such as we’ve never seen. All to the glory of our Grand Weaver. And how marvelous that through Christ we’ve been given everything needed to practice that kind of love here and now. Double bobbin shuttles, and all.

May you rise to the challenge.

Love,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Ruth says:

    Karen,
    Thanks so much for the color show this morning. It is snowing once again up north and I am so ready for spring and color. The close up of your placemat makes my heart sing! And the double bobbin shuttles with their color are beautiful. Blessings to you and yours.

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    Beautiful colors Karen! Geez, I have problems with 2 shuttles, someday I’ll make it to 3!!!
    Libby

    • Karen says:

      Hi Liberty, Three shuttles is a little crazy. I may make it easier on myself for the placemats after this. I’m enjoying the colors, too!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Elisabeth says:

    I really like that they are all different but have the same warp (core). It’s almost llike human beings 🙂 They are all beautiful!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, I see it the same way. I think it will make an interesting set. Yes, humans are all made in the image of God. What could be more beautiful?

      Thanks,
      Karen

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