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.
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.
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.)
Sometimes things do not go as you hope or expect. I thought this color-and-weave effect would be more distinct. Yes, I chose low-contrast colors. I wanted the pattern to be subtle. But this may be too subtle. I have to use my imagination to see anything other than a faint checked pattern. It’s not a complaint. It’s just not how I thought it was supposed to be.
I am taking pictures from all different angles, thinking the camera lens might show more than I can see with my eye.
And, to my great surprise, there it is! The pattern I am hoping for shows up when I snap a photo of the underside. What happened? It’s all in the lighting. In this case, I need shadows to reveal the pattern in the weave.
Endure. When you walk through shadows of life, the patterns that are woven in you become evident. If you depend on the Lord’s might to walk through and endure day-by-day challenges, that same power will be with you when you walk into a major shadow and need endurance the most. In fact, it is in that shadow that the image of Christ is most clearly seen in you.
This color and weave is decoratedplain weave. I have nine weft colors to put on trial. Which ones will pass the test? The winners will be used to weave colorful placemats for our Texas hill country home.
Eager to begin, I start weaving, despite knowing that evening is approaching. Even with good lighting at the loom, it is hard to judge the colors. I need daylight!
The morning light does not disappoint. I find that the colors that are the most similar to the coral and camel in the warp showcase the color-and-weave pattern. The slate and apple green win, too, because they add welcome color contrast. The abundance of natural light in the room makes it easy to see the impact of each of these colors.
We have been given a well-lit path. When we choose to go our own way, with our own artificial light, our perceptions can be off. There is a kingdom of light where Jesus is on the throne. To be one of his subjects is to be in a place where his light reveals true colors. He exchanges our colors with his own to make color-and-weave fabric that is heavenly!
I started with a photograph of seventeen-month-old Lucia sitting in her grandad’s lap after eating lunch at Culver’s. Her pouty bottom lip and her serious brown eyes caught my attention. It seems an impossible task to replicate the charming expression in yarn, but it doesn’t hurt to try. I enlarged the picture, and then cropped it to fit a four-by-six-inch “canvas” of 12/6 cotton warp. I also reversed the image, since I am weaving this tapestry from the back. The weft is one, two, or three strands of Fårö wool yarn, depending on the degree of detail.
Here is my beginning attempt at a portrait, accomplished during our car ride home from Texas hill country, after spending time with Lucia and her cousins for the Christmas holidays.
When the front side of the fabric is on the underside, it helps to have a mirror. This is one of those times. A transparency can be woven with the weft turns on the front or on the back. I’m weaving this transparency with the weft turns on the front. The underside, therefore, has the crisper lines, and will (probably) be the right side of the finished transparency.
You can think of other weaves, as well, that have a different appearance on the back than on the front. That’s when a little mirror comes in handy. You can use a larger hand mirror, of course; but these are two little mirrors that I keep in the cart by my loom.
A little wooden mirror with mother-of-pearl inlay that I picked up on one of my international travels.
A lighted extended little mirror that I picked up on one of my wanderings at Home Depot while my husband was shopping for tools. A Husky Round Lighted Inspection Mirror, “…for inspection of hidden, unlit areas in applications ranging from industrial maintenance and automotive repair to general homeowner DIY applications.” They forgot to add, “…and for handweaver inspections of the reverse side of the cloth.”