Tried and True: How Far Will Your Quill Go?

Do not overfill your quills. It may seem efficient to load the quill as much as possible so you can weave as far as possible. Like me, you may have to learn this the hard way. A too-chubby quill that has to be coaxed through the shed takes more time and effort than winding a few extra quills. So much for efficiency.

Cottolin bath towels on the Glimåkra Standard.
Cottolin bath towels on the Glimåkra Standard, in twill, broken twill, and reverse twill.

It helps to have an idea of how far the thread on a quill will go. With this information, you can wind a few in advance without ending up with an excess of wound quills at the end of your project. I like to have the next quill ready to go when I am weaving so that I can put the new quill in my shuttle and keep weaving with very little interruption. This is especially helpful when the treadling sequence is tricky, like with the reverse twill in every other large color block on these cottolin bath towels. 3-2-1-6-5-4

How to Estimate Weaving Distance for Filled Quills

1 Start a new quill, leaving a 4 – 5 cm tail on the surface of the cloth. Or, start a new quill at the beginning of a color change.

How to measure how far a quill will weave.
End of one thread. Ready for a new quill.
How to know how far a quill will weave. Tutorial.
With the threads overlapping in the shed, the tail of the thread on the new quill lies on the surface.

2 Weave until the quill has emptied. Leave a 4-5 cm tail on the surface of the cloth.

How to know how far a full quill will weave.
Quill has emptied. Tail is brought out to the surface of the cloth.

3 Replace the empty quill in the shuttle with a new quill and continue weaving 1 – 2 cm further.

4 Measure the distance from the first weft tail, or line of color change, to the second weft tail. Place a straight pin, in line with the first weft tail, directly under the second weft tail. Measure from the pin to the second weft tail. This is the approximate weaving distance you can expect to cover with a new quill. Notate the quill’s estimated weaving distance on your project notes for future reference.

Tutorial on how to know how many quills you need to wind.
Measure the woven distance.

5 Trim the weft tails close to the surface.

6 Increase accuracy by repeating the process three times, and then use the average as your quill’s estimated weaving distance.

The large color blocks on this bath towel are 14 cm long. A single full quill will weave 5 1/2 – 6 cm; therefore, I make sure I have 2 full quills, plus at least another half-filled quill before I start a new color block section. It’s nice to be able to leave my foot on the treadle while I change out quills, so I don’t lose my place.

Cottolin bath towels.

May your efforts prove to be efficient.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Beth says:

    Oooo! I love these colors!

  • Nannette says:

    Good morning Karen,

    I just noticed you work in metric measurements. I hadn’t before. Hmmm. Is that the side effect of transposing 2.54 cm per inch so many years? Metric does make the math easier.

    Moving/estate sale in 5 weeks. The epiphany is textile projects will have to wait until the basement in Wausaukee is set up. The last visit I made up north the home made floor loom was to the point of hooking up the castle. I stopped after I put it on backwards.

    Thank you for your reality touchpoints.

    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, I started using metric measurements for weaving after going to Vavstuga Basics. It makes sense to me.

      Blessings on all your transition events.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Joanna says:

    You always give us such great tips! Thanks, Karen. And thanks for using metric measurements, I wish everyone did.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna, I’m happy if a tip is helpful to you. As I mentioned to Nannette, metric measurements make sense to me for weaving. I am not a math whiz, so I like the simplicity of metric math.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Linda Adamson says:

    I really like your colors as well. Did you set the cottolin at 24 epi? If so is it thick enough this way?
    Linda

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda, These really are comfort colors for me. I’m using a metric 50/10 reed, so my sett is 10 ends per cm, equivalent to 25.4 epi. So, 24 epi would also be a good sett for this twill. I wouldn’t call these towels thick, but they will be soft and absorbent. My experience with Bockens 22/2 Cottolin is that the cotton/linen blend makes great towels. They seem to get softer and more absorbent the more they are used and washed and dried.

      I haven’t made cottolin bath towels before, so hopefully I can give you a good report when we start using them!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Maureen says:

    Hi Karen,
    May I ask, what are you using for a bobbin? It doesn’t seem to be the rolled piece of paper that is usually used for a quill. Where did you get them, is it from purchased yarn? I’ve found that some of the empty yarn spools don’t fit in my Glimakra quill shuttle.
    Your weaving is always so inspiring, you have a wonderful colour sense and technique.
    Maureen

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maureen, The quills that I use are narrow cardboard tubes made for this purpose. These cardboard quills function like the rolled piece of paper that you describe, and come in different sizes to fit the Glimakra quill shuttles. I purchase the cardboard quills from weaving suppliers in the USA, like GlimakraUSA.com or Vavstuga.com. If I need extra quills, I make them from rolled paper, too.

      Your kind and encouraging words mean a lot to me.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Kristin Girod says:

    That’s a wonderful tip, Karen! I’m definitely going to try that with my next project. And I’ve always trimmed my tails after washing. Do you trim to the fabric while on the loom no matter the size or type of yarn?

    • Karen says:

      Kristin,

      Good, I’m glad you found this tip helpful!

      I trim weft tails as I go–regardless of size or type of yarn. I like to trim as much as possible while it’s on the loom because I don’t want to have to go back and do it later. 🙂

      I try to make sure to have my weft threads overlap enough in the shed to take into account shrinkage that will happen with washing and drying. If you trim before it’s washed, the added benefit is whatever bit of thread that is left on the surface will nicely disappear as it shrinks into the cloth.

      Happy weaving!
      Karen

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My New Glimåkra Julia Loom

My family of looms just welcomed a new little sister—Julia! This 8-shaft countermarch is Glimåkra’s smallest floor loom. I dressed the loom right away in 6/2 Tuna wool for 4-shaft Jämtlandsdräll to try out the loom. So far, so good. An 8-shaft project using 20/2 Mora wool is up next. Would you believe this is my new portable loom? Surprisingly, the Julia fits in the back of our vehicle, without disassembling. This is the loom you can expect to see with me at future workshops.

My new Glimakra Julia Loom delivered!
One of the boxes delivered to my front door.
Assembling my new Glimakra Julia loom!
Loom assembly in our foyer.

My Julia Observations:

  • It goes together like you’d expect from a Glimåkra. Instructions are minimal, and quality is high. It’s a well-designed puzzle.
  • The assembled loom is easy to move around to gain space needed for warping, or simply to change location for any reason.
  • The breast beam is not removable like it is on my other Glimåkra looms, which makes it a stretch to thread the heddles from the front. However, by hanging the shaft bars from the beater cradle at the very front I can thread the heddles without back strain. (Or, if you are petite and don’t mind climbing over the side, you can put the bench in the loom for threading.)
  • Tying up lamms and treadles is not much different than it is for my Ideal. Everything is well within reach from the front. It helps to take the lamms off the loom to put in the treadle cords, and then put the lamms back on the loom. With one extra person available, it is entirely feasible to elevate the loom on paint cans, upside-down buckets, or a small table to make tie-ups easier, but I didn’t find it necessary to do that.
Swedish loom corner in the living room. New Glimakra Julia.
Loom that Steve built sits near the windows in our living room. Julia sits nearby. Sister looms.
Glimåkra Standard and Glimåkra Julia in the living room.
Glimåkra Standard sits by the windows at the front of the living room. Julia sits a few steps away. Loom sisters.
  • Weaving on the Julia is a delight, as it is with my other countermarch looms. Everything works. With four shafts, the sheds are impeccable.
  • The bench adjusts to the right height.
  • The hanging beater is well balanced, sturdy, and has a good solid feel. I can move the beater back several times before needing to advance the warp.
  • I thought the narrower treadles might prove annoying, but I’ve been able to adjust quickly. After weaving a short while, I forget about the treadle size.
Jämtlandsdräll in Tuna wool.
Double-bobbin shuttle for the pattern weft, and new boat shuttle that came with the loom for the ground weave weft. All 6/2 Tuna wool. Jämtlandsdräll.

Steve is the loom assembler in our family. I stand by and give a hand when needed. I hope you can feel our excitement as you watch this short video of us discovering what’s in the boxes and figuring out how it all goes together.

May you enjoy the puzzles that come to your doorstep.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

26 Comments

  • Nannette says:

    Too cool.
    What a great video of putting together the 3d wooden puzzle. It reminds me of sewing a tailored jacket. All those pieces with no rhyme nor reason until it starts to come together.
    When I think about it… That is what weaving is.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Nancy says:

      Thank you for the glowing review! I was ready to purchase one, but was told it isn’t the wood like in the regular Glimakra loims, but plywood. Also told the front and back beams get grooves in them from the warp threads.
      Waiting for your updates in about 2 months.
      Thanks!

      • Karen says:

        Hi Nancy, If you haven’t heard enough about it in a couple months, send me a note and I’ll give an honest update.

        The wood is most definitely beautiful solid wood, not plywood at all. Any wooden breast beam and back beam will show wear from warp threads and beam cords. This loom is no different. I don’t think it’s a problem.

        Happy weaving,
        Karen

        • Anonymous says:

          Thank you very much! I will get back to you! Perhaps this dealer was trying to upsell me?
          Nancy

          • Karen says:

            Nancy, I look forward to hearing from you. I hope the dealer had better intentions than that. Anyway, if you keep doing your research you will end up with a good loom.

            Karen

          • Nannette says:

            Hi Nancy,
            Decades ago I was enamored with English smocking and took two classes from two different instructors.on maintenance and care of the pleater. The first class I took we were told to NEVER EVER take the pleater completely apart as it was not possible to ever get it back together and working properly. The second class I took began with the instructor ‘accidentally’ dismantelling the pleater. We were taught how to care for a very simple tool.
            Maybe your dealer is not familiar with the loom?
            It sounds like you have a support system in this blog to help you through any challenges.
            Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, It’s very interesting how all those tinker-toy sticks fit together perfectly!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

      • Nancy says:

        Karen, is there some way you can email with me?
        My email is camel heights at msn dot com.
        Strange I know, it’s a street I lived on in Evergreen, Colorado. On the side of a mountain.
        I have more questions about this loom.
        Thank you very much!
        Nancy

  • Betsy says:

    She’s adorable! May you have many happy workshops together.

  • Kristin G says:

    Loved the video – I could feel the excitement! I’m looking forward to seeing the beautiful items you will create with her 🙂

  • Julia says:

    I can agree with you there. The Julia is a great little loom, I speak from the experience of a proud owner. I can therefore fully understand the joy of unpacking, because it was very similar to me last fall, only that it was my first loom… Greetings from Berlin, Julia

    • Karen says:

      Hi Julia, It’s good to hear from you. Oh, the excitement of putting together your first loom! That is the best of all. The Julia is a perfect first loom! Or second, or third, or fourth, or fifth… 🙂

      Very Happy Weaving,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    What a darling little loom! I wish I had room for one more. I don’t always reply but always read you posts, Karen. Not only do I always learn something but I just enjoy feeling that we are keeping in touch.

    Please tell Steve I think he is the best husband a weaver could ever have!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, It’s satisfying to know you read these posts. I do like keeping in touch, too.

      I’ll tell Steve. He’s definitely the best husband this weaver could ever have!
      Love,
      Karen

  • Gretchen says:

    Congratulations on your new loom Karen! How exciting!! And there os just nothing more beautiful than a new loom! May Julia bring you many happy hours of weaving. Sending love from WA. Gretchen

  • marlene toerien says:

    i am green with envy, I would love to own a Julia, or even a Mighty Wolf from Schacht, as I am living in South Africa where looms are a big luxury at the moment with our exchange rate, and my studio space is taking over our home, it will stay a dream. I do have 5 Varpapu looms, 3 table looms, 2 floor looms.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marlene, Thanks for chiming in!
      I’m glad that you have some good Varpapu looms to work with. The Julia is a sweet little loom in the family of Glimakra looms. The Glimakra Standard is still my favorite.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Marina says:

    Great video! What are the thingies under the feet of the loom in the background?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marina, I’m glad you enjoyed the video! What you are seeing under the feet of my other looms are Stadig Loom Feet. They keep the loom from “walking,” and they help absorb the impact of the beater when firm beating is needed, such as for weaving rugs. I get them from GlimakraUSA.com.

      Thanks,
      Karen

  • […] My intention is to weave fabric for a couple of cushy throw pillows. But after just one pattern repeat, I realize that this cloth on my brand new Glimåkra Julia is something I would like to wear! No pillows this time. Instead, here is my new autumn/winter shoulder wrap, embellished with frisky swinging fringes. Miss Julia has proven her worth on four-shaft Jämtlandsdräll (crackle) in 6/2 Tuna wool. Her next adventure will be something that explores all eight shafts. (See My New Glimåkra Julia Loom.) […]

  • MitzyG says:

    Is your Julia made of pine?

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Tried and True: Designing with Fibonacci

Before starting, I sketched out several versions of the finished blanket, showing different sizes and arrangements of the rectangle blocks. My favorite version is one with a random look. This twelve-shaft double weave has three blocks. Block 1 is a solid color across the warp. Block 2 has a narrow, vertical contrasting rectangle. Block 3 has a wide, horizontal contrasting rectangle. The warp threading determines the width of the rectangles. But the height of the rectangles is determined by the treadling pattern. I decided to use a Fibonacci sequence of numbers in random order to guide my treadling options as I weave.

Double weave blanket.
Rectangles vary in size.

Low-Tech Random Fibonacci Sequence

1 Determine the desired range of the Fibonacci sequence. 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13

2 Determine the number of repeat options for each block (one repeat is 4 picks per double-weave layer).

  • Block 1, solid color – 2 repeats every time
  • Block 2, narrow rectangle – 2, 3, 5, 8, or 13 repeats
  • Block 3, wide rectangle – 1, 2, 3, or 5 repeats

3 Write each number of the sequence on individual squares of paper. Make three sets of these numbers. 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13

4 Fold each paper square in half and place in a container at the loom. Mix thoroughly.

Designing with random Fibonacci numbers. Low tech!
Fibonacci numbers are ready for eyes-closed random selection.

5 Randomly select a paper square to reveal the number of repeats for the next narrow or wide rectangle block.

Fibonacci numbers as design tool.
Assignment for the next rectangle block – three repeats. The lines indicate that this number can be used for Block 2 (narrow, vertical) or Block 3 (wide, horizontal).

For this blanket I have a woven hem and border, and then two repeats of Block 1 (solid color) between alternating Block 2 (narrow) and Block 3 (wide) rectangles of varying heights.

Double weave wool blanket.
Back side has reverse colors.
Double weave Tuna wool blanket.
Block 1 (solid blue across) stays a consistent size between the white rectangles.

Surprise is built in which makes it hard to leave the loom. “Just one more block,” I tell myself…

Double weave blanket. Fibonacci for design.
View of the cloth beam reveals the variety of sizes of rectangles. Eager to see it off the loom!

May you be greeted by random (happy) surprises.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

18 Comments

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Weaving Some Simple Borders

I need to free up this little loom in order to put on a different warp that has a deadline. So, now that I have returned from my travels, my attention is going to these towels. My friend is letting me weave this lovely cottolin warp that she got at Vavstuga.

Simple border stripe in first towel of the Vavstuga towel kit.
Simple border stripe in first towel. Straight twill.
Cottolin warp and 8/1 tow linen weft.
Cottolin warp and 8/1 tow linen weft.
Point twill on four shafts.
Point twill on four shafts. Three horizontal stripes made with half-bleached tow linen weft.

Straight twill, point twill, broken twill, and now “rick-rack.” And after that, a couple towels in plain weave. Everyone who weaves this Vavstuga towel kit and follows the instructions will end up with the same six towels. True? Not necessarily. I like to step off the expected path. That is why I vary the weft and include some type of simple border design on each towel.

Loom with a view. Texas Hill Country.
Three colors of 8/1 tow linen sit on the little blue table as choices for weft. Half-bleached, Unbleached, and Bronze.
Broken twill for a cottolin towel.
Changed the tie-up to broken twill, which allows me to keep a simple straight treadling pattern. Dashed weft pattern for the border stripe is produced by alternating the bronze linen weft with the half-bleached linen weft.
Color-blocked towel uses three neutral weft colors.
Long wavy vertical lines give the appearance of rick-rack. Again, I changed the tie-up to keep the simple straight treadling pattern. I use all three weft colors in this color-blocked towel.
Cottolin towels with 8/1 tow linen weft.
Plain weave, with four shafts and two treadles. The main body of the towel uses the unbleached linen weft. Two picks of half-bleached linen are sandwiched between several rows of bronze linen weft.

There is a wide path that is crowded with many people. It’s the common and expected way of life. It’s where you stay if you want to fit in with everyone else. But if you search for it, you’ll find an uncommon path. It’s narrow; and few find it. It’s the path of life that is found in Jesus Christ. Stand in the narrow path. That is where your unique features will show up as border designs that set you apart as a cherished child of God.

May you be set apart.

Happy weaving,
Karen

9 Comments

  • Joanna says:

    What a timely post this is! I have a long striped towel warp on that I was getting seriously bored with after only two towels. Right now it’s 4S/2T in a straight draw, but I was mulling over putting more treadles on and fiddling with the tie-up. Thanks for helping me decide (I’m prone to dithering). Bless you, Karen.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna, I tend to thrive on variety. Maybe you’re like me in that regard? I have changed the tie-up three times on this warp so far. With only four shafts, it’s an easy way to change things up. The instructions that came with the Vavstuga towel kit gave different tie-up options, so I thought – why not do them all? 🙂

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Kristin Martzall says:

    Your posts are so inspiring! How do you use the grosgrain ribbon? as a measuring device? Like a cash register tape bit not as bulky and fragile.?
    Thanks ,in advance ,for your help in explaining that process!

    Kris

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kristin, Welcome!
      The marked grosgrain ribbon came with the Vavstuga towel kit. I normally use twill tape for the same purpose – to pre-measure the desired length of what I am weaving. Here’s a blog post I wrote about it: Tools Day: Measured Weaving

      Happy weaving!
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    Welcome home, Karen! I am sure that you missed your looms! Were you able to finish the tapestry from Big Bend?
    I also like to try different tie ups or striping when I make towels. I like the combination of striping and pattern you have with those colors.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, I made some good progress on my Big Bend tapestry while away. But my floor looms have a louder voice in calling me than the portable frame loom does. I guess I better set aside some quiet evening time to finish the tapestry.

      Thanks!
      Karen

  • Linda Cornell says:

    Five sentences, so precious, choose the narrow path!

    Thank you and Blessings.

    Linda

  • Pam Cauchon says:

    Thank you, Karen, for such wise words. I had been questioning my decision to simplify my life. While simplification is good for contemplation it can be a bit lonely. Weaving provides those moments for contemplation and it is encouraging to hear from someone who is like-minded. To know Christ’s narrow path is well worth it. Then I realize I’m not so lonely after all. Indeed, thank you for the encouraging words.

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Tame the Wool

I am in Germany this week, but before I left home I started the blue wool blanket. Twelve shafts and twelve treadles is challenge enough. Double weave with a sett of 5 EPC (12 EPI) per layer in 6/2 Tuna wool adds to the challenge. This wool stubbornly clings to itself in this sett. I don’t care to fight defiant wool to get a clean shed on every treadle! I could re-sley to a coarser sett. But I want to keep the sett as is, as written for this project in The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell. Cowboy Magic to the rescue! I discovered this horse mane detangler when I wove a mohair throw a few years ago. It rinses out nicely in the wet finishing. It worked magic for me at that time. Now, with a small amount of slick detangler on my fingers I can tame these blue wool fibers. Voila! No more fighting to get a clean shed.

Cowboy Magic to the rescue to tame wool yarn double weave.
Twelve treadles means clearing and adjusting the shed twelve times just to get started. Before Cowboy Magic, I had to run my hands through the shed to clear it each time. That’s asking for trouble–and skipped threads all over the bottom layer.

Now I have something to look forward to when I get home.

Blue wool double weave blanket on 12 shafts.
Twelve shafts gives me three blocks in this double weave small blanket. I think it will be a very pretty addition to use in our little Casita Travel Trailer on cool evenings.

May you eliminate unnecessary fighting.

Weave Happy,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Beth says:

    Beautiful! Cowboy Magic is a great solution. Hope you’re having a grand time on your trip!

  • ellen says:

    it is a great idea, but i don’t understand how you use it. you put it on your hands and wipe it on the warp? while you are warping or after? do you have to wait a while before you can use it? ellen

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ellen, So far, I have been putting it on my hands and wiping it on the warp behind the reed and in front of the heddles. I re-apply each time I advance the warp. I’m not very far yet, so as I progress, I may try applying it to the warp at the back of the loom and see if that works just as well. I haven’t been waiting. I just apply it and weave.

      I’ll let you know if I change my methods as I go.

      Karen

  • Ruth says:

    Wishing you a wonderful journey in Germany. Who would have thought the detangler I use on Reno, RD and Sitka would work at the loom? Love these cross overs from one aspect of my life to another weaving it all together. My one sure common thread is Christ!

  • Nannette says:

    Hope you had a wonderful and safe Easter.

    Just curious… Would any of the hair conditioners work?

    Love the color combination

    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, I have wondered the same thing–whether other hair conditioners or detanglers would work. I think they would, but I went with something I had heard from other weavers. I thought about trying a detangler for children’s hair, as it would probably be mild.

      Karen

  • Joan says:

    Do you think that there would be less stickiness if one used 6/1 Fårö yarn rather than the 6/2 Tuna?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joan, I think the sett makes the most difference. At this sett, 6/1 Fårö would probably give no problems, but the fabric would be a looser weave. At a denser sett, I think the Fårö would have the same stickiness issues. But it would be worth an experiment… Maybe next time? I do love that Fårö wool!

      Karen

  • […] 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.) […]

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