Tools Day: Measure Once

It occurs to me that I am unnecessarily doing something the hard way. Repeatedly. For every new project, I pull out my tape measure to find the right set of lease sticks. The tape measure also helps me select the temple needed for the current weaving width. No more! I do like my tape measure, but why am I measuring these things every time? Why not measure them once and label them?

Solution

  • Measure the lease sticks and write the length in centimeters and in inches on one stick of each pair, in pencil.
  • Use a wood burner to trace the pencil markings. (My husband Steve does this part for me.)
Weaving tip: Measurements on lease sticks.
Wood burner is used to write the length measurement on the end of a lease stick. Centimeters and inches are indicated because I use metric or imperial units, depending on the project.
  • Thread a cord through one end of each pair of lease sticks, to keep pairs together. Hang the lease stick pairs with the measurements clearly visible.
Weaving tip: Measured lease sticks paired together for hanging.
Looped cord is threaded through the lease stick holes to provide an easy way to hang pairs together.
Paired lease sticks, ready for hanging.
Paired lease sticks, ready for hanging.
Lease sticks hanging in the weaving studio.
Pairs of lease sticks hang beside my worktable in my weaving room. My ol’ Beka rigid heddle loom on the wall happens to provide just the right little hanging post for the measured lease sticks.
  • Look up the temple sizes on a website that sells them, and write the size range in centimeters and in inches on each temple, in pencil.
  • Use a wood burner to trace the pencil markings. (Steve, again.)
Weaving tip: Measure the temples.
Range of temple widths is important information when I’m choosing a temple. Weaving width of a project must fit in that range.
  • Store the temples in a manner in which the marked measurements are easily seen.
Weaving tip: Find the right temple size the first try!
No more trying different temples to find one that fits. Now I can look at the markings and select the correct temple the first time.

Now I have permanent at-a-glance measurements for each of these frequently-used tools!

May you find something to simplify.

Happy weaving,
Karen

Tools Day: Swedish Bobbin Winder

There’s nothing quite like the beauty and functionality of a well-designed tool. The Swedish hand bobbin winder is one of those tools. A bobbin winder is essential. Steve made a superb electric bobbin winder for me that I normally use. But at our Texas hill country home, my Swedish bobbin winder comes into play. And it is a pleasure to use. I clamp the bobbin winder on a shelf in the cabinet where I store my few weaving supplies for this location. The tube of thread sits directly below on a simple homemade spool holder.

Swedish hand bobbin winder for winding quills.
Swedish hand bobbin winder is set up in my supply cabinet. It is easy to remove and put away when I finish winding quills.
Swedish hand bobbin winder for winding quills.
Narrow spindle on the bobbin winder is the size that works for winding quills.

For these color-and-weave cotton placemats, I am using double-bobbin shuttles. So, with the impressively simple Swedish hand bobbin winder I am winding matching pairs of colorful 8/2 cotton quills.

Double-bobbin shuttles for weaving doubled weft.
Double bobbin shuttles are handy for weaving this doubled weft color-and-weave pattern.

May you have the pleasure of working with well-designed tools.

Happy weaving,
Karen

Tools Day: Tape Measures

A tape measure is a weaver’s best friend. Think about how many ways the tape measure serves you. I have one at each loom. Always. And I have a few others scattered around, hanging up, and in bags. Because you never know when you might need to measure something.

Tape Measure Uses

  • Take measurements to determine the desired size of the finished cloth, such as window measurements for curtains, floor space for area rugs, or length of skirt tiers for skirt fabric.
  • Measure the length of a guide string for winding the warp.
  • Find the starting point for the warp width in the pre-sley reed.
  • Double check the width of the warp after it is pre-sleyed.
  • Check the width of the warp on the back tie-on bar.
  • Center the reed in the beater for beaming the warp by measuring the distance from the warp in the reed to the outside edge of the beater on both sides.
  • Find the starting point to sley the reed by measuring half of the warp width outwards from the center of the reed.
  • Double check the width of the warp in the reed after it is sleyed.
  • Center the reed in the beater for weaving.
  • Adjust to the correct width of the warp on the front tie-on bar after the warp is tied on.
  • Mark the measured weaving length on twill tape or ribbon to use as a weaving length guide.
  • Measure how far one quill weaves.
  • Measure the distance between pieces that require unwoven warp, such as for fringe, or for tying knots between rag rugs.
  • Measure the distance from the first shaft (nearest the back of the loom) to the back tie-on bar (especially when you are hoping there is enough warp left to finish a symmetrical pattern).
  • Measure the width and length of fabric that is cut from the loom.
  • Measure the width and length of fabric that has been wet finished, dried, and pressed.
  • Measure your pleasure at the loom. Immeasurable!
Tape measure, in constant use at the loom. Let me count the ways...
Tape measure with imperial and metric units, both of which I use regularly. Metal ends have been removed from the tape to clearly see the tape’s markings, and because I slip the tape into a dent of the reed when I am marking the spot to start sleying.
Tape measure at the loom. Various uses.
Glimåkra Ideal loom, with tape measure in its usual place hanging on the end of the loom bench.
Tape measure usage at the weaving loom.
Glimåkra Standard loom, with tape measure ready for the next measuring task.
Preparing the loom for weaving.
Tape measure hanging over the back beam on the Texas hill country loom while pre-sleying the reed and positioning things to prepare for beaming the warp.
Tape measure hangs on peg strip above the work table.
Extra-long tape measure hangs on the peg strip above my work table.
Sometimes a long tape measure is needed!
Occasionally, I borrow Steve’s metal carpenter’s tape measure from his wood carving bench.
Travel tapestry supplies, including tape measure.
Compact retractible sewing tape measure rides in my travel tapestry bag. It has imperial and metric units.
No purse is complete without a tape measure, right?
No purse is complete without a tape measure, right? (A tape measure can outlive the business it promotes.)

What have I missed? Can you think of other ways your tape measure comes in handy?

May you be blessed in full measure.

All the best,
Karen

Tools Day: Needles

Even though there are dozens of needles in and around my weaving and sewing spaces, nine stand out from the rest. These go-to needles have earned special favor. As essential tools, these needles have specific holders and permanent homes.

The 9 needles I use most for handweaving.

  • Sharp needles: hand-hemming, hand-sewing, stitching on labels, and stitching a tapestry to a linen mat for mounting (curved needle)
    HOLDER: Pincushion I made in 1980
    HOME: Sewing supply closet, “Needles and Pins” drawer

Sharp needles for hand-hemming. 1980 pin cushion.

Stitching labels onto handwoven towels.

Hand hemming handwoven table runner.

  • Blunt tapestry needles, small and medium: hemstitching, stitching a thread mark to the right side of the fabric, sewing in tapestry weft tails, finishing work—needle-weaving for corrections and repairs
    HOLDER: Remnant of cotton handwoven plain weave fabric
    HOME: Loom-side cart, top drawer

Handy needles to keep by the loom.

Blunt needles by the loom.
Steve sanded and rounded the tips of the needles to make them blunt. A needle with a rounded tip won’t pierce and split the threads.

Hemstitching at the loom.

Sewing in weft tails in the back of a tapestry.

  • Blunt tapestry needles, large: hemstitching, hand-hemming rugs, weaving small tapestries
    HOLDER: Felted inkle-woven tape
    HOME: cutting/work table, Grandma’s old sewing tin

Felted inkle-woven needle holder.

Rag rug hemming by hand.

Hemming a handwoven rag rug.

  • Sacking needles: pulling rag rug warp ends out of scrap weft, threading warp ends back into a wool rug (I did this…once)
    HOLDER: straw-woven pouch from a trip to The Philippines
    HOME: weaving supply closet, top drawer on the left

Woven pouch from The Philippines.

Tying warp ends into knots. Rag rug finishing.

May you find the needle you need when you need a needle.

All the best,
Karen

Tools Day: Mirror Mirror

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.

Weaving cotton chenille inlay on linen for a simple transparency.
Weaving from the back, the inlay weft turns look like scallops along the edge of the pattern area. The pattern on the underneath side of the cloth has smoother edges.

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.

Mirrors at hand beside the loom.
Top drawer in the cart beside the loom holds small tools that are used during weaving.
  • A little wooden mirror with mother-of-pearl inlay that I picked up on one of my international travels.
Small hand mirror is used to view the underside.
Small hand mirror is used for a quick glimpse of the underside pattern.
  • 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.”
Lighted mirror extends to inspect underneath the cloth.
Lighted mirror extends to inspect the underneath side of the woven cloth. The telescoping handle makes it possible to view underneath a wide warp.

May you find tools that serve you well.

Happy Weaving,
Karen