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: Linen

Take a short stroll through our home and you will see and touch linen in all its superb versatility. Linen warp and weft speaks of elegance. Yet, this natural fiber is right at home with ordinary daily living. Linen, oh, how it sings!

I am thrilled to be dressing the Julia now with 16/2 linen on eight shafts. We will have another linen highlight to grace our home—a table runner for our dining room table.

Bockens 16/2 line linen for a handwoven runner.
It is a happy day when new tubes of Bockens 16/2 line linen arrive at the door.
Making a linen warp.
Winding two threads together at a time on the warping reel.
8-shaft Julia and linen warp.
Dividing the warp into three bouts makes it easier to spread and beam the warp with even tension across the warp.
Glimakra Julia 8-shafts. Glorious linen!
Golden bleached linen is a gorgeous backdrop for the olive center section and contrasting midnight blue borders.

Is there anything more vibrant than the sheen of linen saturated with color? And, have you noticed that plain unbleached linen is anything but plain? Linen fills both ends of the spectrum—glowing exuberant color and natural wrinkled humility. Linen, oh, how it sings! There’s always room for more music in the home.

May your home be filled with everyday elegance.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

Tried and True: Organized Reeds

My weaving history includes very fine threads all the way to heavy-duty rug warps. As a result, I have acquired a wide selection of reeds over time. All five of my looms have beaters that will accommodate any length or height of reed. When I plan a project, one of the first things I consider is whether I have the size reed that is needed. To keep my reeds organized, I need two things. One, a simple method to manage the reeds I have, tracking the reeds as they go in and out of use. Two, a place to store all the reeds, arranged in order by dents per cm and dents per inch.

Reed Organization

  • Reed Inventory

I keep a list in my Notes app on my phone with the sizes and lengths of reeds that I have. If a reed is in use, I note which loom. If a reed will be needed for a planned project, I also note that. As soon as I remove a reed from the beater at the end of a project, I put the reed away and update my Reed Inventory list.

Simple system for tracking reeds in and out of use.
Sample Reed Inventory note. When I am planning, I look at the note on my phone to see what reeds I have that are available. “Next” reserves the reed for the loom that needs it next.
  • Reed Holder

Steve created a storage solution for my reeds. The holder goes along the back wall of my drawloom studio for about six feet. Here are the details, using nominal board sizes. The reeds sit on a 1” x 6” board at the base, which is supported against the wall by a 1” x 4” board. The base, with a 1” x 2” lip, sits about 12” off the ground. The reed dividers are 3/8” x 5 3/4” dowels that are sunk into a 1” x 3” board that is attached to the wall, which sets the dowels about 27” above the base.

DIY Reed Holder behind my drawloom.
Reed holder is fastened to the wall behind the drawloom. (Notice that the drawloom rag rug warp has come over the back beam…)
Organized reeds!
The dowels are placed at a height that will hold even my shortest reeds.
Reed holder stores weaving loom reeds. DIY
Reeds are in order by dent size. Metric reeds are separate from those with dents per inch.

If you would like a PDF copy of Steve’s diagram that shows all the dimensions, click HERE to send me an email request.

May you have a place for everything, and everything in it’s place.

Yours,
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: Five Reasons Sampling Makes Sense

Why sample? It means using more warp and weft. And it means waiting longer to start to the “real” project. What do I gain from it, anyway? Is it a waste of resources and time?

I can’t imagine putting on a warp that didn’t have room up front for sampling. There’s more than one reason to put on sufficient warp to weave a sample. It makes perfect sense, especially if there is anything new or unfamiliar about your planned project.

Five Reasons to Add Extra Warp for Sampling

Drawloom
Sampling to test patterns, weft colors, and beat consistency, before starting on fabric for a garment.


1 Space to play. I want plenty of room to play, and to practice techniques that are new to me.
2 Room to try out designs. By weaving a portion of my designs, I am able to determine what works, and what adjustments need to be made.
3 Warp for testing weft colors. Only when woven can I see the full effect of each potential weft color.
4 Time to gain a consistent beat. When I start the main project, I want to have woven enough to be able to “feel” how firmly or softly I need to move the beater.
5 The best reason of all! It’s always good to have enough warp on the loom that you can invite friends and family to enjoy some weaving time. …Before your main project is in progress.

Drawloom
My weaving friend Betsy came over to see what it is like to weave on a drawloom.
Drawloom
My daughter Melody came for a visit and wanted to see what it was like to weave on a drawloom.
Drawloom, making garment fabric.
Garment fabric. This is to be used for two side panels of a vest I plan to make for myself.
Drawloom, making garment fabric.
This is to be the back panel of the vest.
Drawloom, making garment fabric.
This is the beginning of the front panels for the vest.

May you give yourself room to play.

Yours truly,
Karen