We weavers are resourceful. We enjoy finding solutions that make our time at the loom more efficient, while raising the quality of our weaving. We’ve done some of these little tricks so much we don’t think about them anymore. And then, some innovations are things we think up on the spot because necessity, as you know, is the mother of invention.
Necessity: Keep from losing my place with treadling repeats. Solution: A strip of blue painter’s tape with “3 2 1” and a rubber band, placed on the breast beam. Move the rubber band on the tape (from right to left) to track repeats.
Necessity: Keep from fumbling the catch, having to reposition the shuttle in my hand to send it back across the warp. Solution: Keep my eye on the shuttle. If I turn my head to watch the movement of the shuttle, my catching and throwing improves immediately. This makes my selvedges improve, too.
Leave No Trace
Necessity: Keep from leaving slightly perceptible lines in the woven cloth that reveal every time I stop to move the temple and advance the warp. Solution: When it is almost time to advance the warp, I move the temple and then weave one or more pattern sequence(s) before advancing the warp. This helps me leave no trace of starting and stopping.
Do you have a simple tip that improves your efficiency and/or quality at the loom? Please share in the comments.
I warped the drawloom with gray 6/2 Tuna wool several months ago with the goal to make fabric for a reversible vest. The beautiful drawloom fabric turned into dreamy garment-worthy fabric after washing! (See Process Review: Drawloom Jewels)
And then I hit two huge hurdles.
Hurdle 1. Fit.
In order to cut into handwoven drawloom fabric, I need assurance that the end result will fit me. My sewing assistant helped me refine a commercial pattern.
After umpteen muslins and two or three mock-ups, I finally got the fit I was after. Confidence to cut!
Hurdle 2. Garment Construction Uncertainties.
Do some detail studies, my dear friend Elisabeth said to me. Her advice got me over the insecurity hurdle. A detail study is making a small sample to test a hypothesis or answer a question. I made a list of everything I wanted to know about constructing a vest from this type of handwoven wool fabric. And then, using some of the extra fabric from the sampling at the beginning of the warp, I did a detail study for each point on the list. Twelve detail studies in all.
(If you are interested in seeing my complete list of 12 detail studies for this project, click HERE to send me an email and ask for my “Detail studies”.)
Here are a few examples of my findings:
Zigzag before or after cutting? // Zigzag before cutting, stitch width 3, stitch length 2 1/2
Lapped seams? 3/8”, 1/2”, 5/8”? // Yes, lapped seams, overlap 1/2”, stitch basted line to guide placement
Neck and armhole curves – staystitch with hand running stitches or machine stitching? 1 row or 2? // Hand running stitches, 2 rows
From the results of the detail studies I was able to compile a step-by-step garment construction plan. Confidence to sew!
Follow my process pictures of the garment construction to see the results:
It took me seven years of study, practice, and mistakes to complete this rigorous Swedish weaving curriculum! You have been with me through much of it right here. I’m talking about The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell. I made it through the book, sequentially, page by page, warp by warp. 43 warps in all! Remember the blue 12-shaftdouble-weave blanket I had on the loom in June? That is the final project in the book.
In the short video below, each completed project is presented in order in our Texas hill country home. Watch to the end to see the blue blanket in all its finished glory.
For nitty-gritty details, check out The Big Book of Weaving tab at the top of the page.
Getting lost and absorbed in the whole process of weaving.
V. Favorite project: Old-Fashioned Weaving / Monksbelt (at 4:46 in the video)
Are we determined students of heavenly things? Oh, to know God’s will! Study what’s written, don’t lose heart, eyes on the prize, no option besides completion through Jesus Christ. One life dedicated to know him. Day by day, warp by warp, the Grand Weaver teaches us. We can know God’s will.
I made an embarrassing blunder. No wonder this Tuna wool resists all my efforts. It’s the wrong yarn! Tuna is 6/2 wool—twice as thick as the 6/1 wool I should be using. Cowboy Magic won’t solve this sticky problem. (I thought it would, as I expressed in this post: Tame the Wool.)
The yarn is gorgeous, but my frustration level is pushing me to throw in the towel. I tried hard to make this work. I was so convinced I had the right yarn that I missed it even when reader Joan left a gentle comment asking if 6/1 Fårö yarn would work (I’m sorry for not listening, Joan). There is nothing left but to cut off this failure.
In this lowest moment a thought occurs to me. Re-sley the reed. An ounce of hope rises.
I re-sley to a coarser reed and tie back on. I hold my breath and step on the treadles. It works. And it’s gorgeous!
Have you experienced great disappointment and loss of hope? Sometimes our own failure brings us to that point. The Lord makes things new. We come to Jesus with our failed attempts, and he exchanges our used rags of effort with his clean cloth of righteousness. In his forgiveness, the failure is cut off and removed. Our threads are re-sleyed and re-tied to make us gloriously new.
Handwoven towels need handwoven hanging tabs. I finished the Vavstuga cottolin towel warp, so now it’s time to put my band loom to use. Why not use the warp thrums to make the woven band? The length of the thrums is too short for the band loom, so I am knotting two ends together for each strand.
Everything is starting out just fine, but my inexperience with the “weaver’s knot” proves problematic. One by one, the knots are working themselves loose. I re-tie each failed knot into a confident square knot. Finally, after three weaver’s knot failures, I decided to advance the warp far enough to get past the knots altogether. Smooth sailing after that, and I still ended up with plenty of woven band for the six woven towels.
I like finding another good use for the thrums. So, I will do this again. But next time, I’ll do a refresher on knot tying before I begin.