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: Simplify Subtle Color Changes

When I pick up a color of thread I don’t want to have to guess if it’s the right color. Four of the five blues in the weft sequence are close neighbors in value. The one color that is easy to identify is the navy blue, which provides a good contrast among the blues.

Five blues in 8/2 cotton. 8-shaft twill.
Weft color order follows the sequence of the warp color order. Five blues for this 8-shaft twill in 8/2 cotton.

The weft order matches the warp order, and is marked out on a ribbon. I am using a separate boat shuttle for each shade of blue. But how do I know which color is which, when the difference is subtle from one color to the next?

Simplify Subtle Color Changes

  • Give each color a number. Write the numbers next to the colors of the warp order on the Project Notes.
Project Notes for weaving with 5 blues.
Weft colors are the same as the warp colors. The Project Notes show all the details. “1, 2, 3, 4, 5” is added to the sheet to give each color a simple number.
  • Label the thread tubes with a small piece of blue painter’s tape. Each tube of thread is numbered to correspond with the numbers on the Project Notes.
Make removable labels with blue painter's tape.
Handy blue painter’s tape is used to make removable labels.
Five blues are labeled for simplicity.
Thread tubes are labeled with their identifying number.
  • Label each boat shuttle with its assigned color number, using a small piece of blue painter’s tape.
There are five blues for this 8-shaft twill.
Each boat shuttle holds its own color.
  • Place wound quills under the rubber band of their respective thread tubes.
Simplify subtle weft color changes.
When I wind an extra quill I place it with its thread tube so I don’t accidentally pick up the wrong color quill.

It is easy to keep track of these five numbers as I follow the weft sequence that is marked on my reference ribbon. Now, it’s shuttle #4’s turn…

Simplify subtle weft color changes.
Next in line…

May you find a way to simplify.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

Tried and True: Slay – Sleigh – Sley

Slay the dragon. Ride the sleigh. Sley the reed. To succeed in these challenges, you must be prepared, pay attention, and make sure you’re on the right track. Here, I’m going to focus on sleying the reed with success. (For dragon slaying and sleigh riding challenges, I won’t be of much help.) Don’t miss the new video below with tips for sleying the reed.

Loom lighting makes a difference!
Shop light attached to top of loom provides good general lighting to all working areas of the loom. Smaller clip-on lamp provides directed light for detail work, like sleying a dense reed.
Clip-on lamp for detail work at the loom.
Even in a room filled with natural light, a focused bright light on the work area relieves eye strain and reduces errors.

First, make sure you have good lighting. I have a snake arm shop light attached to the top of my loom. (See Tools Day: Loom Lighting for more about loom lighting.) I also have a smaller clip-on gooseneck LED lamp, clipped onto my loom bench, that illuminates my specific working area. With a fine-dent reed, like this metric 100/10- (~ imperial 25-) dent reed, focused lighting makes a difference. It means seeing the dents instead of guessing.

Making a new video. Tips for sleying the reed.
Making a new video. Steve does the filming and I do the editing.

In this video, I share some tips for sleying the reed, with checkpoints to ensure success. (See Tools Day: Click Test for more about the “click test” mentioned in the video.)

May your dragons be few.

Yours truly,
Karen

Tried and True: Use a Boat Shuttle for Rag Weaving

Wind very narrow fabric strips on quills and put them in a boat shuttle. It’s efficient. It’s faster to wind a quill than to load fabric on a ski shuttle. Plus, I like the advantage of sending a boat shuttle across rather than a ski shuttle. This rag rug on the drawloom has fabric strips that are only one centimeter (~3/8”) wide, instead of the usual two-centimeter-wide (~3/4”) strips for an ordinary rag rug. Grab your boat shuttle and pay attention to a few simple tips. Your very narrow fabric strips will be woven up in no time.

Tips for Using a Boat Shuttle to Weave Very Narrow Fabric Strips

  • Use fabric that has minimal fraying at the edges. Trim off any long threads. Loose dangling threads that are long enough to wind themselves on the quill will make you wish you had used a ski shuttle.
  • Wind the fabric with the right side down. Then, when the quill unrolls, the right side will be facing up.
Winding quills with narrow fabric strips. Rag rug on the drawloom.
Swedish bobbin winder is clamped to the side of the loom. A five-yard fabric strip is wound onto a quill. The right side of the fabric is against the quill.
  • Handle the wound quill as little as possible to prevent fraying the fabric edges. Simply wrap the tail end of the fabric strip around the filled quill. Do not wrap the end into a slip knot around the quill because the fabric will fray as you release the knot.
Winding narrow fabric strips on quills for drawloom rag rug.
One long fabric strip per quill. Fabric is cut 1 cm (3/8″) wide.
Fabric-wound quills ready for weaving drawloom rag rug.
One fabric-filled quill covers a little more than one unit of weaving (4 picks). I keep a dozen filled quills in the basket on my loom bench so I can keep weaving as long as possible.
  • Unwind enough weft for the pick before you throw the shuttle. Pull the weft out straight from the quill. When a quill unwinds in the shed, the weft comes off at an angle. And as such, if there are any loose threads at the edges of the fabric strips, the threads will wind themselves on the quill and bind it up. And you will wish you had used a ski shuttle.
Folke Samuelson Damask Shuttle - drawloom rag rug!
Folke Samuelson Damask Shuttle has a low profile, well-suited for the smaller sheds of the drawloom. Fabric is unrolled from the shuttle prior to the next pick.
Design is "Trasmatta Snöfall" ("Snowfall Rag Rug") by Kerstin Åsling-Sundberg, from Damast, Horlags AB Vavhasten
Drawloom rag rug is well underway. Single unit drawcords are pulled and held in place on the pegs above the beater. Design is Trasmatta Snöfall (Snowfall Rag Rug) by Kerstin Åsling-Sundberg, from Damast, edited by Lillemor Johansson.

May your hands enjoy their work.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

Tried and True: Rag Rug with Surprising Rosepath Inlay

The first rag rug on this 12/6 cotton warp is well underway. This rug is mostly plain weave, with one simple rosepath repeat every ten centimeters. I am weaving the rosepath motif without tabby between pattern picks. The treadling is 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 4, 3, 2, 1. The dark brown motif contrasts with the surrounding light-colored plain weave. It almost looks as if a thick chain has been laid across the rug. I transform the otherwise dark rosepath “chains” with a simple bright inlay strip.

Rag rug with rosepath motif.
Rosepath motif stretches across the plain weave surface.

Rosepath with Inlay

  • Weave the first four picks of the rosepath pattern, treadling 1, 2, 3, 4 (or, if using a different treadling sequence, weave up to the center pick).
  • Lay in the center pick (treadle 1, in this example). Wait to beat it in.
How to do rosepath with inlay.
Center pick of the rosepath motif is arched in the shed.
  • Measure and cut the inlay strip to size, tapering the ends.
How to add an inlay strip to rosepath rag rug.
Inlay fabric strip is measured against the weft in the shed and cut to size.
  • Put the inlay strip in the shed, laying it directly on top of the fabric strip already there.
Making a rosepath rag rug with an inlay strip.
By pushing the beater back I can send the inlay fabric strip through the shed with a ski shuttle.
Rag rug with inlay.
Place the inlay fabric strip directly over the fabric strip of the center pick in the motif.
Inlay instructions.
  • Beat in the weft as usual.
One type of inlay on a rag rug.
Both weft layers are beaten in together. The inlay strip stays visible on top.
  • Continue weaving to complete the rosepath pattern, treadling 4, 3, 2, 1 (or, as needed, for a different sequence).
Rosepath with inlay.
Finished rosepath motif.

You can accomplish a similar effect by weaving in a separate fabric strip for the center pick. In that case, cut tapered ends that are long enough to twist and tuck back into the shed. And carry the weft strip from the previous pick up the side.

The inlay method eliminates the extra bulk at the selvedges, and adds a slight thickness to the center pick, helping to give it a raised look. I am leaving the inlay weft tails loose, but you could cut them a little longer and tuck the ends in, if you prefer.

Rag rug with special rosepath motif.
Weft tails are free at the sides, like little flags at the ends of the rosepath rows.
Glimakra Ideal loom--great tool for dreaming up rag rugs!
Glimåkra Ideal loom–great tool for dreaming up rag rugs!

May you experience the simple pleasure of doing something unexpected.

Happy Weaving,
Karen