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: Measurement Tape

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.”)

Dependable way to measure on the loom!

Measurement Tape (accompanying video below)

Supplies:

  • Calculator
  • Project notes
  • 5/8” polyester twill tape
  • Fine point indelible marker
  • Tape measure
  • 2 flat-head straight pins

Make Calculations

  • 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”.
How to measure your weaving on the loom.
Place the first line of the measurement tape directly over the beginning picks of the woven article.

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.
Using a measurement tape for weaving consistent lengths.
Move one pin at a time. I usually move the pin right before I advance the warp.
  • 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.
How to make a half measurement tape.
When you reach the MID line on a half measurement tape, keep the measurement tape in place until you have woven a few more centimeters.
How to make and use a Measurement Tape for weaving accurate lengths.
Place one pin through the cloth, pointing to the MID line. Then, it’s safe to remove the measurement tape and turn it around. Go your merry way, weaving the second half of the Monksbelt runner, or whatever you have on your loom.

Here’s a demonstration of making and using a measurement tape:

(For a previous discussion of this topic, see Tools Day: Measured Weaving.)

Since you can measure what you are weaving, do relax and enjoy the ride.

May you reach the mid point at just the right time.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

Tried and True: Weft Rep

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.

Classic monksbelt in modern colors.
Multi-color ground weave and vibrant Fårö pattern colors make this monksbelt fabric a standout. Glimåkra Standard in the background holds a new version of this favorite piece.

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.

Weft rep tutorial
Weaving monksbelt with weft rep. How to.

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.
Monksbelt with weft rep. Tutorial.

OR,

  • Simply drag your spread-out fingers lightly through the weft.
Weft rep how to.
Monksbelt with weft rep. Tutorial.

OR,

  • 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.
Weft rep using the beater to make wavy line.
Simplified weft rep.

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.

Simplified weft rep.

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.

OR,

  • TIMESAVER – Draw the back of your fingernail across the warp where you see excess weft. This is often enough to even out little bumps.
Weft Rep - How to, and simplified.

Slower weaving develops into a rhythmic pace that is comfortable. And the cloth grows, line by line.

Monksbelt on the Glimakra Standard.
Rows of monksbelt flowers.

May your slow pace yield thoughtful progress.

Slowly and Surely,
Karen

Tried and True: Shuttle Shuffle

Some of the monksbelt flowers have a different color for the three center picks. The new color is only temporary, so I simply carry the first weft color up the side for that short distance.

How to shuffle shuttles.
Monksbelt with six colors of 6/1 Fårö pattern weft and three colors of 16/2 cotton ground weft.

More than one shuttle doesn’t necessarily mean more difficult. Everything runs a little smoother when there is an efficient exchange of shuttles between your hands.

Monksbelt flower garden.
Monksbelt flower garden.

How to Handle the Exchange of Shuttles

  1. For this example, the temporary weft starts from the left and goes to the right. Weave the first pick of the temporary weft, catching the shuttle with your right hand. (If the first pick of the temporary weft goes from right to left, reverse the right hand/left hand instructions, here and following.)
  2. Transfer the shuttle with the temporary weft (active weft) to your left hand.
  3. With your right hand pick up the shuttle that has the weft that will be carried up the side (inactive weft). Bring the shuttle all the way around the active weft and then lay the shuttle down again.
  4. Transfer the shuttle with active weft back to your right hand and continue weaving.
  5. Follow steps 2 – 4 until the section with temporary weft is finished.
  6. Tuck in the tail of the temporary weft and continue weaving with the weft that has been carried up the side.

Here’s a short demo:

May your shuttle exchanges go smoothly.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

Tried and True: How to Remove Guesswork

Documenting your work for repeatability is valuable for any any step-by-step process. With the Lizard tapestry I learned how to do the finishing, including the backing. By the time I was ready to put a backing on the Siblings tapestry, I had limited recall of that first experience. Now that Eye of the Beholder is ready for backing, I need help again. Fortunately, I made note of every detail while constructing the backing for the Siblings tapestry. So, this time I have the benefit of written and photo documentation. No guesswork!

How to Document Your Steps

How to document your process steps.
Photo guidance on the computer corresponds with enumerated steps on my phone. This removes guesswork for the next part of the process.
  1. Do research. Gather your notes, search resources, and get advice from experienced weavers regarding the process you want to document.
  2. Outline the steps. Write out and number all the steps as you understand them. Doing this before you start helps you think through the entire process.
  3. Refine the steps. Begin working through the steps in order. Adjust the steps as you go. You may need to add or eliminate steps, or change the order in which they are done.
  4. Make it visual. Take a photo of any step that benefits from visual clarification.
  5. Finalize. Simplify and clarify the instructions in every step as if they are meant for someone who knows less about this process that you do. Remove redundant and/or unnecessary photos.

May you remove guesswork as much as possible.

All the best,
Karen