Tried and True: How to Count to Three – and Other Weaving Tips

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.

Keep Count

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.

Weaving tips - low tech solutions.
I need help counting to 3 when it comes to treadling repeats. On the Glimåkra Standard loom, I am able to loosen the warp enough to lift the breast beam so I can put a rubber band on it. Without a removable breast beam, one could use a separate small piece of tape instead of a rubber band to keep track.
Keep track of repeats. Blog post with tips and tricks.
Low tech solution for keeping track.

Shuttle Catch

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.

Weaving tips and tricks. Easy tip on how to catch the shuttle perfectly.
It is easy to throw and catch the shuttle without actually looking at your hands. I have to consciously remember to turn my head to follow the shuttle with my eyes.

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.

Tips and tricks for the weaving loom.
Almost ready to advance the warp, I remove the temple and reposition the pins on my guide tape. Then, I put the temple back on, near the fell line.
Tips about when to advance the warp.
After moving the temple, I weave one or more complete treadling sequences before advancing the warp.
Three simple weaving tips for efficiency and quality!
After advancing the warp, I know exactly where I left off because of my tape-and-rubber-band counter. My eyes are on the shuttle to continue this segment of weaving.

Do you have a simple tip that improves your efficiency and/or quality at the loom? Please share in the comments.

May you notice what you’re doing.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

Tried and True: Five Steps for Rag Rug Selvedges and a Quick Tip Video

What do you look for in a handwoven rag rug? How do you detect quality of craftsmanship? I look at the selvedges. First thing. I look for selvedges that are nice and tight, and that have a uniform twist at the edge. A few simple steps, consistently practiced, produce the kind of quality you can see and feel. It’s one more reason I find delight in weaving rag rugs.

Rag rug selvedges. Short quick tip video.
Rag rug selvedges. Weft is snugly wrapped around the selvedge warp ends.

Five Steps for Firm Selvedges on a Rag Rug

  1. Throw the shuttle, leaving a loop of the fabric-strip weft at the selvedge.
  2. Hold the weft out taut, and turn the weft under twice at the selvedge.
  3. Untwist the weft in the shed, straightening it, as needed.
  4. Pull the weft tight against the selvedge.
  5. Position the weft in the shed and beat it in.
Weaving a rag rug. Tutorial video of a quick tip.
Beater swings forward to beat in the weft with its just-formed firm and tidy selvedge.
Filming a short video on weaving rag rug selvedges.
Set up for filming the short tutorial. My husband does the filming and proves his patience through several retakes.

Watch this Quick Tip video for a short demonstration.

Rag rug on the loom. Tutorial about selvedges.

May the quality of your work be the first thing noticed.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

Tools Day: How to Set a Temple and Video

The temple is one of my favorite tools. I have a collection of them. I happily use a temple for almost everything I weave. And I certainly wouldn’t dream of weaving a rag rug without one!

Temple instructions and video.
Temple in place.

Rag rugs are especially susceptible to draw-in, and a temple helps reduce that by maintaining the proper width of the rug. Draw-in distorts the shape of a rug, contributes to uneven warp tension, and can make selvedge threads break. A temple also aids in getting tight selvedges, and enables the firmest beat possible. (My favorite temples to use, even for rugs, are the wooden ones made by Glimåkra.)

How and why to use a temple for rag rugs.
Spaced rep rag rug, using fabric strips and warp thread for weft.

Temple Tips:

  • Set the temple to the proper width. (The video below shows how I do it.)
  • You can set the temple into the cloth as soon as there is is enough woven for two or three teeth to sink into. Then, move the temple up when you have woven enough to set all the teeth into the cloth.
  • Even with a temple, place adequate weft through the shed. The tool works best in conjunction with careful weaving practices.
  • Watch out for the sharp points! I get pricked when I forget and reach around the selvedge to straighten something out.
  • Make sure the temple is far enough back from the fell line that it won’t scrape the edge of your beater. I have a scar on my beater because it was hitting the temple. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice until the damage was done.
  • Move the temple frequently. For consistency at the selvedges on a rag rug, I move the temple at least every inch.
  • Remove the temple by moving the slider with one hand, while holding the center part down with the other hand. Keep the pin in place and the temple will draw up in the center. Then, disengage the teeth from the cloth on both sides.

Spaced rep rag rugs on the loom. Tutorial for using a temple.
Width in the reed for this rag rug is 90 cm on this 100 cm loom. I keep a supply of temples so that I have what I need for any weaving width.

 

May your tools serve you well.

Happy weaving,
Karen

Not Just Any Old Weft

The weft makes or breaks a weaving project. 16/1 linen weft requires careful weaving, but the quality of Swedish Bockens linen won’t disappoint. If you use superior quality warp thread, like this Swedish Bockens Nialin (cottolin), it makes perfect sense to choose a weft that equals that degree of excellence.

Platväv table runner. Linen weft.
Plattväv table runner. Black 16/1 linen is doubled for the pattern weft in this plattväv design. The background tabby weft is golden bleached 16/1 linen.

When I weave useful items on my loom, I want them to stand the test of time. I want these plattväv towels and table runner to outlive me. So, no skimping on quality. Time and patience are woven into the cloth, with artisan details and carefully applied skills. Perfection? No, not this side of heaven. But making the most of what I’ve been given is one way I show gratitude to my Maker.

Plattväv table runner. Linen weft.
End of towel kit sample warp has enough room to weave a companion short table runner with plattväv squares. All weft tails will be trimmed after the fabric has been wet finished.

End of warp closes in.
Weaving as far as feasible. End of warp closes in.

We have much to be grateful for. The Lord’s enduring love is of measureless worth and quality. It’s the basis for our unwavering hope, which sustains us through every adversity. This isn’t a knowledge of the love of God. This is the actual love of God, poured into willing hearts. Love changes everything. This love is the weft that makes perfect sense for the completion of something as valued as you or me. What if every fiber of our being reflected the love of God? How beautiful!

May your finest qualities be seen and cherished.

Love,
Karen

PS Plattväv towel kit is in development. The kit includes a pre-wound warp and sufficient weft to weave four hand towels, and one companion short table runner/table square. PLUS, special access to one or two short instructional videos.

Quality Rug Warp

After a few weeks of having to refrain from weaving, I am thankful that there was warp to weave one more rug. The quality of warp thread matters because it is the core of the rug. Never underestimate the value of good, strong warp thread for weaving rag rugs.

Rosepath rag rug almost complete!
First hem is going around the cloth beam. Weaving is almost complete!

I like to use 12/6 cotton from Bockens. This rug warp is a six-strand thread with high twist. The smooth, nearly-unbreakable thread enables me to ratchet up the tension on the warp. That high tension helps produce sturdy, tightly packed rugs with tidy selvedges. Knowing you are making a rug that will last is a very satisfying and enjoyable weaving experience.

Cutting off never gets old!
Cutting off never gets old.

Rosepath rag rug just finished. Karen Isenhower
Ta da! Hems are folded under for the picture. As soon as the hems are stitched, this rosepath rag rug will have its Etsy photoshoot.

With finishing nearly complete, this rag rug will be enjoyed on the floor of someone’s home. Most people aren’t aware of the structural elements of a rag rug, but they do notice quality in the finished work. People, too, have an inner core–the heart. The heart matters. The strength of our inward framework determines our outward attitudes and actions. Since true quality is found in a life that serves others, most everything comes down to a matter of the heart.

May your quality of life be noticeable.

Happy weaving,
Karen