Weave Past the Mid Mark

“Mid” marks the halfway point on every pre-measured tape I make. I like to know when I’m starting the second half of something. It’s a target before I reach it, and a passing milestone after I cross that line.

Middle line marks the halfway point in the weaving.

Pre-measured twill tape has a line at the halfway point, marked “Mid.” Tail from a spliced warp end will be trimmed in the finishing process.

As I’m weaving this throw, my thoughts jump ahead. I will have a few skipped threads to fix, and spliced warp ends to clip. I think about how I will hem the piece, and wash and dry it. In what special manner shall I present the finished throw to my beloved daughter-in-law? And, my mind goes to the twelve-shaft double weave towels for my daughter that are up next, with the flowery threads beckoning me from the shelves.

Cotton double weave on the loom.

Double weave with eight shafts. 8/2 cotton.

Shelves of weaving thread!

Do you see the aqua, poppy, marigold, and orchid cottolin threads that are ready to jump off the shelves and be woven into hand towels?

I’d like to know where I am in the span of my life. There is no “Mid” mark, though, is there? I’m not in charge of that measured tape. Faith in Christ, love, and perseverance—these form a foundation. A solid foundation is security for life. In this security, I think about what I need to repair and resolve and finish. And how to leave intangible gifts that outlive me. And I think about the glory that awaits. Imagine fabric of unbridled creativity in colors only heaven knows!

May your second half be better than your first.

With you,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Meg says:

    What a awesome, beautiful, fantastic piece. And congrats to midway.

  • Written like the creative soul God created you as.

    Midway is hard to place with life on Earth. It is not as ‘tangible’ as your weaving. I often wonder why some people have a very short midpoint and others…. much longer… What have they left behind to continue on through others?

    Even so, having been gifted hand woven fabric from another generation, I cannot help but look at your sparkling colors and see the colors they will fade to be with time. Is the softness that time brings to dyes also a softness God gives to our memories left behind.

    Blessings,

    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, The items I have of my grandmother’s handwork is faded, as you say. Her memory lives on in me, and is softly faded to the point I only remember the good things about her.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    Good morning, Karen. At my age, I have no doubt that I have long since passed my mid point although I didn’t really wake up to that fact until I hit fifty. The first half of my life, I believed the tangible was so important; but in the second half, I believe that it is the intangible we leave behind that will be the longest lasting.
    After seeing so many beautiful handcrafted items in second hand stores, I realized that what I valued as family heirlooms to be handed down through the generations with stories may not be valued as such by the recipient of my work.
    So I just try to concentrate on the enjoyment of creating whatever I make, make what I like and hope that someone else might value it.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, I agree with you that the intangible seems more important now. The values we pass on will outlast the things we hand down.

      Blessings,
      Karen

  • Linda Cornell says:

    Thank you all for your reflections, uncannily, similar to my own recently… the Holy Spirit weaving through our lives. Can you recommend 4 shaft double weave patterns for baby blankets? Though the blankets will probably not last, hopefully the love that weaves them will cover those new little lives.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda, The only 4-shaft double weave I’ve done was a double-width throw. The double weave baby blankets I’ve woven were on 8-shafts. Both the double-width and the 8-shaft double weave projects were from The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell.

      Your love will definitely have the longest-lasting impact.

      All the best,
      Karen

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Tools Day: Eliminating Warp Knots

You are not going to believe how many knots I came across in this 16/2 linen warp! Too many. As I wound the warp I made the decision to leave most of the knots, and deal with them on the loom. (I did remove knots that were close to the beginning or ending peg on the warping reel.) I lost count, but I’m sure I have spliced the warp on this five-and-a-half-meter project at least a dozen times. (To see more details about how I splice the warp, visit this blog post and video: How To Splice the Warp – Video.)

I do not weave over warp knots. A knot introduces a spot of vulnerability to the fabric. Knots can fray, loosen, or come undone over time, even if the knot is originally imperceptible.

In a couple instances, a knot distorted the tension of the warp end because of catching on a heddle or passing through the reed. For that reason, I now try to eliminate knots in the warp before they reach the heddles.

Tool: Warp Separator

  • Identify the warp end that has a knot, and insert the warp separator between warp ends to isolate the thread.

Warp separator to isolate warp with knot.

  • With a length of repair warp thread, follow the path of the original thread to splice in the new warp end, feeding it through the heddle of the original warp end.

Warp separator to isolate warp end with knot.

  • Bring the repair warp thread through the reed in the same dent as the warp end that has a knot.

Eliminating a warp knot.

  • Attach the repair warp thread near the fell by wrapping it around a flat straight pin.

Splicing a warp end.

  • Remove the warp separator from between the warp ends.

Warp separator for repairing a warp end.

  • Place a weight on the floor below the back beam. Wrap the repair thread around the weight two or three times to hold the thread at tension that matches the rest of the warp. Loosen the wrapped-around thread before advancing the warp, and then re-tighten before resuming weaving.

Splicing warp ends.

  • Weave one to two inches with both the original warp end and the repair warp thread in place.
  • Then, cut the original warp end with the knot (behind the heddles) and let it hang over the back beam.

Cutting a warp knot behind the reed.

  • The original and replacement warp ends overlap in the weaving for about one to two inches.
  • Remove the straight pin when it reaches the breast beam.
  • Re-attach the original warp end when it is long enough to secure in front of the fell line with a flat straight pin.
  • And then, cut and remove the replacement warp thread.
  • Trim all the spliced warp tails after wet finishing.

Spliced warp end to eliminate a knot in the warp.

Warp separator guy, ready to jump in and help!

Warp separator guy, ready to jump in and help!

This warp separator was a gift from The Weavers and Spinners Society of Austin, included in the goodie bag from last summer’s Contemporary Handweavers of Texas Conference. It would not be hard to make a warp separator like this from wood or sturdy cardboard. I have not been able to locate a supplier online.

If you know where to find a warp separator tool, please put a link in the comments.

May you have very few warp knots.

All the best,
Karen

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Keep Advancing the Warp

This is a series of learning experiences—some easy, and some quite challenging. I am near the end of the first panel of the tapestry/inlay sampler. All along the way, I encounter obstacles. Like a broken warp end. Again. That broken warp end is discouraging. Surely, I should be able to keep that from happening by now.

Tapestry/inlay sampler. All linen weft.

Broken warp end on the right selvedge required taking out several rows of weaving so I could splice the warp.

Meanwhile, a simple line of soumak makes a pleasing border for this curve. It defines the shape with a slightly raised line. Over three, around one…all the way across. This part is nice and easy.

Soumak border on tapestry sampler.

Soumak technique, Step 1.

Soumak border line on tapestry sampler.

Soumak technique, Step 2.

Peaceful setting for the weaving loom!

Despite another broken warp end, the warp is advanced and the weaving continues. It helps to weave in a peaceful setting.

Daily life is not always easy. Put your eyes on God, not on the obstacles you face. And don’t worry about your own inability to navigate the circumstances. Trust God to carry you. He has carried you this far, and will continue to show himself strong on your behalf. Those broken warp ends are spliced, and the weaving continues. The selvedge may show some evidence of having had trouble, but the soumak outlines and other woven features will draw the eye. There is victory in advancing the warp to continue the sampler to the end.

May you advance through the obstacles you face.

With you,
Karen

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If a Warp End Is Frayed…

I noticed that a warp end was starting to fray, but I kept on weaving. I thought I could make it past the weak spot. Well, I was wrong. The warp end broke. So much for happy weaving! A broken warp end at the selvedge is no fun, especially on a weft-faced piece like this. Looking back, I wish I had taken time to splice in a new length of thread when I first noticed the weakness. But at the time, I didn’t want to be bothered with that. I just wanted to weave.

Tapestry / inlay sampler on small countermarch loom.

Weaving right along. I start to notice some abrasion on the warp end at the right selvedge. I’ll be extra careful. I can keep weaving and enjoy myself, right???

Broken selvedge end on the right. Ugh.

Warp end on the right selvedge frayed to the breaking point. Gone! The weaving must be removed far enough back to reach at least 1/2″ of the warp end in front of the break. That reaches back into the red portion–the first section of the sampler.

Tapestry / inlay sampler on small countermarch loom.

Pin is inserted to secure a new selvedge warp end. The fourth end from the right showed some fraying, so I am splicing in a new piece of 12/9 cotton warp. Learned my lesson.

Original selvedge warp end is now being spliced back in (green flathead pin). Second splice is complete, with thread tail hanging out, to be trimmed after this is off the loom.

Tapestry and inlay sampler. Spliced warp ends fix frayed threads.

Two sections of the tapestry and inlay sampler are complete.

We tell ourselves if we do what we want, we will be happy. That’s a delusion. Happiness will fail you. It doesn’t last. I was only happy weaving until the thread broke. There is something better than happiness. Faithfulness. It’s better to be faithful in the moment, even if it puts a delay on being happy. Faithfulness lasts. Next time, I hope to choose the long satisfaction of faithfulness over the short-lived gain of happiness.

May your broken selvedge ends be few.

Faithful weaving,
Karen

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