Ski shuttles are a rag-rug weaver’s best friends. A few simple tips for using a ski shuttle make rag-rug weaving even that much more fun.
In the video below I tell you why I prefer Glimåkra ski shuttles, and how I wind the weft fabric on my shuttle. And I share two quick tips to make weaving with a ski shuttle a bit more manageable. If you are an experienced rag-rug weaver you probably already know these things. Watch to the end to see a short demo, plus a little blooper. Enjoy!
A fluffy sheepskin stays between me and the hard wooden bench at my Glimåkra Standard loom. Softening your loom bench makes weaving that much more pleasant. Last week Jane asked a great question: How do you secure the sheepskin on the bench? To answer that, I invite you to follow along as I secure the sheepskin on my drawloom bench.
1 Mark placement for 6 grommets on the underside of the sheepskin.
2 With block of wood underneath, hold grommet hole punch over one of the marked positions. Tap tool with the hammer to cut a small hole.
3 Insert the protruding ring of the top grommet piece (grommet) into the fur side of the hole.
4 With fur side down on the block of wood, fit bottom grommet piece (washer) on top. Align grommet and washer between the base and flaring tool. Firmly tap with hammer until the two grommet pieces are tightly fastened together.
5 Repeat steps 2 – 4 for each of the 5 remaining grommets.
6 Lay the sheepskin fur-side down on a table or floor. Center the seat of the bench upside down on the sheepskin. Bring the sides of the sheepskin over the bench. Measure the distance between opposing grommets.
7 Double the grommet-to-grommet measurement, and cut three Texsolv cords that length. Sear the cut ends in a flame.
8 Secure the sheepskin to the seat of the bench by lacing one of the cut Texsolv cords through two opposite grommets. Tighten the cord and lock it in place with an arrow peg. Repeat for the remaining two cords.
Sit in immovable comfort.
While we’re at it, let’s fix up one more bench cover…
You followed all the instructions for dressing the loom, and have finished the countermarchtie-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.
Find Misaligned Cords
1 Follow each Texsolv cord, starting from the countermarch at top of the loom.
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?
Are the cords that go to the lower lamms strictly in order?
– With horizontal countermarch, does each cord fall behind the shafts in order?
– With vertical countermarch, is each cord on its pulley, and connected to lamms in the right order?
3 Correct any misaligned cord.
Now, step on each treadle, one by one. Decent sheds that just need a little refining? Triumph!
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.
You can measure what you are weaving. A set of towels will all be the same length. A table runner will fit the table as planned. A rug will be the right size for the designated floor space. All it takes is a dependable way to measure. (Thanks to Elisabeth S. for writing me, “I’d love to have a better way to measure my work as I’m weaving it.”)
Measurement Tape (accompanying video below)
5/8” polyester twill tape
Fine point indelible marker
2 flat-head straight pins
Determine the finished length.
Consider the Golden Ratio, 1:6.
Consider where the finished textile will be placed.
Estimate take-up and shrinkage.
Include these measurements in your project notes.
Prepare a Measurement Tape
Draw the beginning line about 2 cm from the end of the tape. If there is a hem, draw a second line to mark the hem’s length.
Write the item description on the tape.
Write ” ___ (finished length) + ___ (take-up and shrinkage) = ___ (total length)” on the tape.
Measure the total length from the first line (or from the hem) on the tape. Draw a line at the end (add hem, if needed).
Cut the tape about 2 cm after the ending line.
Find the middle of the tape. Draw a line and write “MID”.
Prepare a Half Measurement Tape
Do the same as for a full-length measurement tape, except divide the total length measurement in half. Draw a line on the tape at the halfway point. Write “MID” before the line.
Cut the tape about 2 cm after the MID line.
Weave and Measure (Always with the warp under tension)
Use two straight pins to pin the measurement tape to the weaving near one selvedge. Place the beginning line of the tape directly over the beginning of the woven article.
As weaving progresses, remove the pin closest to the breast beam. Leapfrog over the remaining pin. Reinsert the removed pin through the tape near the fell line.
If using a half measurement tape, weave past the MID line. Mark the spot with a pin. Remove the measurement tape. Turn the tape and pin into place to weave the second half.
Here’s a demonstration of making and using a measurement tape:
The monksbelt piece that adorns our entry is my favorite from all the projects in The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell. This current narrower version on the Standard is another heirloom monksbelt piece in the making. The ground cloth is weft rep.
This is snail’s-pace weaving, with 2 picks of 16/2 cotton for the ground weave between every 6/1 Fårö wool pattern pick.
“To weave [weft rep]…the weft must be longer than the width of the warp and so the weft has to arc across the shed. There are two ways to do this: with many small waves across the width or with a large and high arc…The tiniest bit of unevenness can quickly build into hills and valleys across the weft line…”
The Big Book of Weaving, p. 236
Weft Rep in Three Steps
1. Make a Mountain.
After throwing the shuttle, increase the length of the weft by making it into a large arc in the open shed. Put one finger through the warp to form the peak while keeping enough tension on the thread with your other hand to maintain a good selvedge.
2. Make Hills and Valleys.
Keeping the shed open, push the mountain down into hills and valleys to evenly distribute the extra weft.
Turn the mountain into hills and valleys with your finger.
Simply drag your spread-out fingers lightly through the weft.
TIMESAVER – Slowly pull the beater toward you (shed open), smooshing the weft into a wavy line. Stop two or three inches away from the fell line.
3. Flatten the Hills
Treadle for the next shed. On the closed shed beat in the weft. Two short pulses with the beater distribute the weft more effectively than a single squeeze with the beater.
Watch for little loops that may form in places where there is a bit too much weft. To correct, open the shed, pull that portion of the weft back into a little hill and redo.
TIMESAVER – Draw the back of your fingernail across the warp where you see excess weft. This is often enough to even out little bumps.
Slower weaving develops into a rhythmic pace that is comfortable. And the cloth grows, line by line.