Linen Is Special

Linen is special. This is nothing new. Even in biblical history, linen is mentioned as fabric for sacred purposes. But weaving with linen requires attentiveness. The inelasticity of linen means extra care is needed in every stage of dressing the loom and weaving. Of first importance is an even warp tension.

Getting ready to weave with linen. Tying on.
Tying on linen in small 1-inch/2.5 cm increments is one thing that helps contribute to an even warp tension.

This method of tying on* is perfect for weaving rag rugs. The 12/6 cotton rug warp stays snugly in place. Not so with linen. The even warp tension that I have been so careful to maintain can be lost in a moment. The sneaky linen is smooth and slick enough to tie on easily, and then loosen up just as easily. So I take the double precaution of tying an additional overhand knot, AND moistening that knot with a dab of water which helps the linen grip itself. I never have to worry about these knots slipping loose.

Beginning dice weave in linen.
Additional overhand knot, with a dab of water, secures the tie-on threads. I am using sample space to try weft colors and work on getting optimum weft density.

What do you worry about? I have bigger things I worry about, too. But my heavenly Father assures me that He has secured all the knots that concern me. “Don’t worry,” he tells me. “Your Father knows your needs.” Be attentive to keep first things first. Put yourself in the Father’s care, and find that he takes care of you. Special you.

May you forget your worries.

With you,

* I learned this method of tying on from Becky Ashenden. You can see it fully explained by Becky, with pictures, in Dress Your Loom the Vävstuga Way: A Benchside Photo-guide.

Trash the Warp or Try Again?

This band was giving me fits! First, the 12/6 cotton (rug warp) is a little heavy for a band. Secondly, I created tension problems by adding two green stripes of 22/2 cottolin. Thirdly, a wider band like this is unwieldy to weave with my small hands. Fourth, I goofed in the threading. And, lastly, I couldn’t see the goof in my threading because I was pulling the weft too tight. Nothing was going right.

How NOT to weave on the band loom.
How NOT to weave on the band loom.

Cut it off and throw the whole thing away. It’s only three yards. Hold on… I don’t want to give up that easily. Yes, cut off the woven mess. But why not correct the threading and at least try weaving a little bit? As it turns out, the threading error had contributed to most of the problems. Times like this remind me to carefully examine what I am doing.

Weaving a sturdy strap on Glimakra band loom.
After making threading corrections, adjusting my beat and how tightly to pull the weft, the true pattern emerges. At 1 3/4″ / 4.5cm, it will be the right width for a nice sturdy strap–a shoulder strap for a bag, or a guitar strap, perhaps.

Examine everything. Hold on to what is good; and abandon evil. We need to practice the good, even when the good seems difficult and we want to take the easy way out. Repeat the good; don’t let the good slip away. And you will find yourself making progress in the right direction.

May you not give up too easily.

P.S. Many of you have shared my Twisting Fringe on the Loom tutorial video! Thank you!!
In answer to your requests about my finishing process for the wool blanket, including the fringe, look for a series of short videos in my Quiet Friday post at the end of this week!

(If you have not signed up to receive my posts by email, now is a good time. Sign up at Follow Along on the right sidebar.)


This Takes Effort

The cloth beam is filling up with rugs. The fuller the cloth beam gets, the more muscle it takes for me to crank up the warp tension. I put all my weight into it. Literally. First, I agressively turn the wheel at the back beam to tighten the ratchet. Then, I grab two spokes of the breast beam‘s wheel, put a knee or foot on another spoke, and pull back with all my might, adding an appropriate grunt!

Simple block design for patterned rag rug. Karen Isenhower
Because of tight warp tension, it is possible to firmly pull the weft around the selvedge ends, creating snug edges on the sides of the rug.

Why keep the tension so extremely tight? Because of the outcome–good rugs. Rugs that are sturdy, have snug selvedges, and lay completely flat. Hopefully, my effort will outlast me, as the rugs continue to serve people long after I’m gone.

It takes tremendous effort to hold on to courage when hope is slipping. After cranking up the tension for so long, the thought of keeping it up becomes overwhelming. One word of en-courage-ment from a friend breaks through hopelessness: God will see you through. Hope is restored, not based on feelings or positive thoughts, but based on believing God.

Keep up your courage. Only a few more turns and you’ll be there. The rugs will be finished; and you will know you did what you were called to do. Keep up your courage, friend.

May your good efforts outlast you.

Pulling for you,

Simple Secret Fixes Tension Problem

Those pesky warp ends! I am getting loose warp ends on the outer edges again. The last time this happened, it was near the end of the warp, and I rigged up a makeshift solution. (You can read about it and see pictures HERE.) This time, I began having trouble from the start; so, when I finished weaving the first piece, I cut it off, and re-tied the warp. There must be a better way!

Dice weave in linen.
Dice weave in linen. First piece is cut from the loom; and warp ends are re-tied. Emerald green weft for the second piece produces a lovely teal with the deep blue warp.

How do you handle recurring problems? I get tired of stumbling over the same old thing. I wanted to find a solution to this warp issue, so I started digging through my weaving books to see what I could find. Aha! On page 254 in The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell, I find helpful advice.

The outer ends of the warp are looser than the rest

(You mean I’m not the first person to have this problem?)

This can be adjusted by pressing an extra slat down at an angle inside the loose sections.

Slats take up the slack for loose warp ends.
One more secret in the bag of tricks to manage uneven warp tension. Simply insert extra warping slats into the warp against the warp beam. Thank you, Laila!

Seekers find secrets. The seeking itself shows you recognize your own need. This is what prayer is about. Come to God asking, seeking, knocking. These are the prayers he answers. Simple, heartfelt, persistent. Never give up. There are secrets to be found.

May you uncover long lost secrets.

Truly Yours,

Tension! Who Needs It?

A warp that has not been properly wound on at the start will be full of problems every inch of the way, compromising the quality of the finished cloth. One thing that helps ensure an evenly wound warp is tension. I lay warp chains on the floor in front of the loom, weighted down with bricks and walking weights. The weights provide resistance for winding the warp over the back beam onto the warp beam, giving tight and even tension. People need tension, too.

Glmakra Ideal with striped cottolin warp for classic Swedish towels.
Looking toward the warp beam at the back of the loom, from under the tightly wound Cottolin warp.

Given a choice, I would like no tension, thank you. Just give me some slack. Do you know that the tension you and I would rather avoid could be the very thing that makes us shine?

Tension is uncomfortable, stretches our limits, and can bring out the worst in us. It tests us. But testing has positive results. Our maker knows that. His testing of our hearts reveals our true identity by confirming our deeply held convictions. Any loose or broken threads hidden in the warp become apparent, so they can be repaired or replaced. And we are made ready for the rest of the weaving.

May you find gold and silver threads shining in your warp as you become refined through testing.

Your friend,

Have you ever been refined through tension?

(If you find this post helpful, you can sign up under Follow Along to receive email reminders for new posts.)