Tried and True: Are Retaining Cords Worth the Trouble?

Some things are easier done than said. I said to myself that it’s too much trouble to tie retaining cords on the shafts. I am weaving almost full width on the Glimåkra Julia. I know that heddles can slip off the ends of shafts. Still, I tell myself I can keep an eye on it. It won’t be a problem, right? Wrong.

Juila’s wide warp. So far, so good. I’ll pay attention and everything will be just fine. Famous last words.
Oops. I took this picture after I had fixed most of the mess created by dangling heddles. When heddles slip off shafts they must be put back on thread by thread to maintain correct warp order. These were tangled enough that it took me a few tries to get it right.


Tie Retaining Cords on Shafts

Purpose: Keep Texsolv heddles secure on their shaft bars, especially when weaving a wide warp.

Supplies

  • Tape measure
  • 12/6 cotton seine twine
  • Scissors
12/6 cotton seine twine (rug warp) to the rescue!

1 Measure shaft bar from hole to hole. (Julia shaft bar is 70 cm)
2 Figure additional length (about 40 cm) for tying two knots. (70 + 40 = 110 cm)
3 Cut seine twine to measured length for each upper and lower shaft bar. (Heddles can slip off lower shaft bars, too.)

Retaining cords are cut.

4 Insert one of the seine twine cords through the hole on one end of a shaft bar. Tie. (I use the half-bow slip knot as described in Learning to Warp Your Loom, by Joanne Hall, p.38.)

Tie retaining cord to one end of the shaft bar. Any knot will do, but I like this half-bow slip knot because I can untie it simply by pulling the end of the cord.

5 Insert the other end of the cord through the hole at other end of the shaft bar. Tie.

Thread the cord through the hole at the end of the bar.
Tie a simple knot and tighten it.
Tie another simple knot, leaving a fold in the end of the cord.
Pull the loop to tighten the knot.

6 Repeat steps 4 and 5 for each remaining upper and lower shaft bar.

All tied up and ready to go! When this project is finished I will wind up these retaining cords on an empty tube and re-use them for the next wide warp on the Julia.

Continue weaving with one less thing to think about.

45 minutes: Time it took to reposition heddles that had slipped off a few shafts and were in a mess because I didn’t notice it immediately.
Less than 10 minutes: Time it took to cut string and tie retaining cords on 4 upper shaft bars and 4 lower shaft bars.

‘Nuff said.

May you take the time to do what needs to be done.

Ever Learning,
Karen

Tried and True: Cutting Off for a Fresh Start

I have good reasons for cutting off this first double-binding rag rug before proceeding with the rest of the warp. This pause and reset ensures happy weaving to the end. Cutting off gives me a fresh start for the next rug.

Rug is wrapping around the cloth beam.

Reasons for cutting off rag rug before end of warp

  1. Uneven warp tension. I can improve the warp by tying back on.
  2. Large rag rag. I can get a tighter warp tension by removing the rug’s bulk from the cloth beam.
  3. New design. It helps me to see the completed rug before starting the next one, since this is a brand-new design.
Rug comes to an end with a red border/hem. A warp-thread header follows, and then a few rows of scrap header to help secure the weft until finishing knots are tied.

Steps for cutting off rag rug before end of warp (countermarch loom)

Secure everything before cutting off. Shaft bars are in shaft holders and shaft pins are put back in place.
Countermarch locking pins on this Glimåkra Ideal are wooden dowels that go through the all the holes in the countermarch jacks.
Tension on the warp is released at the back ratchet and front ratchet.
  • Mark a cutting line across the warp with a black marker. Allow at least 10 centimeters (4 inches) beyond the rug’s warp-thread header for tying knots later that will secure the weft.
Mark a cutting line across the warp. Leave enough warp at the end of the rug to tie overhand knots to secure the weft.
  • With tying back on in mind, cut one group of ends and skip the next group of ends. Continue across the warp, alternating cut and uncut groups of ends. Tie groups of cut ends in slipknots as you go.
By spacing out the cut ends, the weight of the rug is evenly distributed. There is less pulling and distortion while cutting off. At the same time I am preparing groups of ends for tying back on.
  • Make a second pass, cutting the remaining groups of ends, and tying them in slipknots.
Continue cutting off groups of ends.
  • Unroll the rug from the cloth beam. Take a photograph.
First look at the back of the rug.
  • Lay the rug out on the floor. Ooh and aah.
Double-binding rag rug, ready for finishing and hemming! I let the rug rest on the floor for a couple days to let the warp and weft relax. Next step is to tie ends into overhand knots.

May you get a fresh start whenever you need it.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

Tried and True: When the Shed is Missing

You followed all the instructions for dressing the loom, and have finished the countermarch tie-up. Now, at the moment of triumph you step on the treadles, one by one. Alas! Some or all of the treadles give you nothing you can call a shed. Now what? Maybe you relate to Laura who wrote me recently, “I can’t seem to get the treadles to make a shed.”

The solution is simple. Follow the advice in this sentence on page 37 of Learning to Warp your Loom, by Joanne Hall, “If your sheds are not good, check your loom tie-up from the top down.”

If sheds are missing, there is a good chance you have a crossed cord.

Warp is threaded, sleyed, and tied on. After arranging and connecting a few Texsolv cords, I will tie up the treadles.

Find Misaligned Cords

1 Follow each Texsolv cord, starting from the countermarch at top of the loom.

All the shafts are good to go, right? Not quite. Better see what’s happening at the top of those Texsolv cords.

2 Make sure that each cord is connected in the right order at the right place.

Is the first countermarch jack connected to the first shaft, the second jack to the second shaft, and so on?

Misaligned cords as seen from the top of the loom.

Are the cords that go to the lower lamms strictly in order?

– With horizontal countermarch, does each cord fall behind the shafts in order?

Cords from the horizontal countermarch go through the center of the warp, to be attached to lower lamms below.
Make sure each cord goes behind its corresponding shaft bars to the lamms below. When attaching the cords to the lamms, make sure the cords are attached in the correct order. If loom is already tied up, follow each cord to check that it is attached to its corresponding lamm.

– With vertical countermarch, is each cord on its pulley, and connected to lamms in the right order?

Vertical countermarch has cords that go over pulleys on the side down to the lower lamms. I have to be extra careful to keep from attaching a cord to the wrong lamm.

3 Correct any misaligned cord.

Now, step on each treadle, one by one. Decent sheds that just need a little refining? Triumph!

Helpful Habit

When attaching a cord while dressing the loom, start your hand at the top of the cord and slide it down to the point of connection. This helps you take hold of the correct cord.

Ready to connect the shaft cords on the Glimåkra Julia, made easy by the small hooks on the shaft bars. Instead of expecting the cords to hang straight down in order, I reach my hand up to the top of the cord.
Touching where the cord meets the wood, I know I have the correct cord for the shaft closest to the front of the loom. I do the same for the next cord.
My hand slides down the cord and I connect the cord to the correct shaft. Now, all that’s left is tying up the treadles. Then, we weave!

May none of your cords be crossed.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

Tried and True: Prevent Weaving Mistakes with Two Secret Weapons

As much as I am enthralled with what I am doing at the loom, my concentration ability wanes. It is in those waning moments that errors happen. Also, as you know, I have looms in my home, which means I can weave well into the evening in my pajamas, if I want to. But, I better not exceed my limits, or else…

Combination drawloom. Towels for gifts.
Seven pattern shafts are being used for the border “windows.” The center area uses single units to make the design that includes numerals and letters.

Weaving on the drawloom demands my undivided attention, as does pictorial tapestry and any intricate pattern weave. All of these are especially tedious to undo. Therefore, mistakes are outlawed! To that end, I have two secret weapons that prevent all most mistakes—

Combination drawloom for weaving towels.
Same towel, same weft, same time of day as previous picture. A change of viewing angle highlights the rust in the brown-rust 16/1 linen weft. I notice things like this when I get up and take a break.

Five-Minute Breaks

Twenty-Five Minutes On – Five Minutes Off

25 Minutes. Go full strength. Be completely absorbed in the task.
5 Minutes. Take a break. Stand up, walk around, stretch.
(I use an app on my phone, Focus Time Activity Tracker, but any timer will do.)

The Cinderella Hour

Know When to Stop

If I am weaving at the end of the day (in my pajamas, or not), I stop when the clock chimes 8 times. I call it my Cinderella hour. My loom turns into a pumpkin after 8:00 pm. If I keep weaving, I can expect to be fixing errors the next day.

Weaving in the evening in my pj's. Monksbelt.
Weaving monksbelt in the evening (in my pajamas). Oh listen, I hear the clock chiming…1.2.3.4.5.6.7.8. Time to put the shuttles down.

May you know when to take a break.

Happy Restful Weaving,
Karen

Tried and True: What a Little Piece of Tape Can Do

You never know when you’ll need a piece of blue tape. A roll of blue painter’s tape is among my essential weaving supplies. My favorite way to temporarily mark just about anything is with a piece of blue tape.

Blue Painters Tape for Temporary Markings

  1. Cut (or tear) the tape to size.
  2. Fold one edge of the tape under. This makes a little tab so that the tape is easy to remove or reposition.
  3. Use a fine point Sharpie to write on the tape.
Weaver's uses for blue painter's tape.
Tape prepared for pointing.

Three Examples

  • Keep your place. Draw an arrow on a small piece of blue tape. Use the arrow on the tape to follow along the threading or treadling draft. This eliminates confusion, especially after a pause.
Blue tape uses in the weaving studio.
Rosepath treadling for 4-shaft tapestry. Since there are plain weave picks between each rosepath row, I need something to remind me where I left off.

  • Measure the space. Draw a straight line on small pieces of tape. Measure the warp width on a tapestry frame or rigid heddle loom. Use the lines on the tape to mark where the first and last warp ends should lie on the loom. This eliminates guessing when warping the loom.
Uses for blue tape in my weaving studio.
Tapestry frame is ready for a new warp. After measuring for weaving width, and counting dents, I mark the dents with tape. No more guessing if I’m “almost there” when putting on the warp.
Blue tape to mark the rigid heddle. And other uses for blue tape.
By clearly marking the first and last slots/holes I can verify that my calculations are correct before I start warping the rigid heddle loom. This is helpful for direct warping and for indirect warping methods.

  • Number with Grace. Write out a series of numbers on a long piece of tape, leaving space between the numbers. Cut the numbers apart. Use the numbers to label pattern shaft draw handles on the drawloom. Place the numbers directly above the draw handles, arranged in groups of five for easy visual recognition. Use a separate series of numbers for border pattern shafts, if applicable. This temporary numbering system gives the advantage of being able to customize the numbering for each drawloom draft.
This is how I number my drawloom handles. Blue tape!
Using the Myrehed Combination Drawloom, I configure the numbers for the pattern shaft draw handles to coordinate with the single unit draw cords, which are grouped by tens. This makes my working chart that uses single units and pattern shafts much less complicated. For this reason, it doesn’t make sense to give my draw handles “permanent” numbers.

Have you found ways to use blue painter’s tape in your weaving studio? Share in the comments!

May your life leave marks that are more than temporary.

Have fun,
Karen