Slay the dragon. Ride the sleigh. Sley the reed. To succeed in these challenges, you must be prepared, pay attention, and make sure you’re on the right track. Here, I’m going to focus on sleying the reed with success. (For dragon slaying and sleigh riding challenges, I won’t be of much help.) Don’t miss the new video below with tips for sleying the reed.
First, make sure you have good lighting. I have a snake arm shop light attached to the top of my loom. (See Tools Day: Loom Lighting for more about loom lighting.) I also have a smaller clip-on gooseneck LED lamp, clipped onto my loom bench, that illuminates my specific working area. With a fine-dent reed, like this metric 100/10- (~ imperial 25-) dent reed, focused lighting makes a difference. It means seeing the dents instead of guessing.
In this video, I share some tips for sleying the reed, with checkpoints to ensure success. (See Tools Day: Click Test for more about the “click test” mentioned in the video.)
I have an efficient way to handle weft color changes. It’s very simple. This is for those instances when I need to end one weft thread and start a new one. As a rule, I take care of weft tails as I go. I don’t want to come back to them later if I don’t have to. If I tuck in each weft tail at the beginning of the row, thickness from the extra wefts builds up at the selvedge, especially if I’m weaving horizontal stripes. The method I describe reduces the extra wefts, and eliminates having to tuck any tails in.
Change to the shed needed for the next color. Take the shuttle with the first color into the shed for about about 3 cm (1 1/8”), and bring the shuttle up and out through the top of the warp.
Lightly beat (tap) in the 3 cm (1 1/8”) of thread. Carefully snip off the thread close to the warp.
Weave a pick of the next color, with the end of the new thread overlapping the 3 cm (1 1/8”) of the previous color thread. Position the new thread such that the end is outside the selvedge just a hair.
Beat in the new weft and continue weaving until the next color change.
Watch this short video to see me demonstrate this method of changing the weft colors.
May your choice of weft colors give a glimpse of your best qualities.
I am winding a narrow warp for my next drawloom project. My warping reel is in a little four-foot-by-four-foot corner of my drawloom studio, and has just enough room to maneuver. When I am ready to wind a warp the first thing I pull out is my trusty checklist. I use a checklist for efficiency. It keeps me on track. And it’s more dependable than my memory.
Checklist for Winding a Warp
__ Weigh warp thread and write the amounts on the project notes. By weighing the thread before and after a project, you will know exactly how much warp thread was used in the project.
__ Stick a sample four-inch thread to each thread label; put a rubber band around the tube. After you finish winding the warp, you can quickly pair each yarn with its correct label because of the sample thread stuck to the label.
__ Bring supplies to the warping reel. If your warping reel is in a different room, or in a separate building, like mine is, make sure you have all you need before you head to the warping reel.
+ Project notes, with fully completed draft — An incomplete draft may give faulty information. Also, a review of the project notes and draft is a good idea, especially if weeks or months have passed since you wrote it all down.
__ Set up the warping reel for warp length. Use a guide string, or measure the distance needed to place the pegs and turning pin at the right place on the warping reel for the warp you are going to wind.
__ Set out the thread on the thread stand. Wind the warp with two or more threads at the same time, for best results.
__ Hang or tape up the project notes at eye level. Project notes show the warp sequence and other vital information.
__ Take note of warp length, number of bouts, and number of ends in each bout. Aim for 25 cm (10”) or less in the reed, or 200 or fewer ends, per bout. For the drawloom, wind the warp in pattern unit increments when possible.
__ Wind first bout, counting warp ends. Use a cord between groups of ends to keep track of the counting.
__ Visually check the warp order. Check to see that the warp order on the warping reel matches the warp sequence on the project notes. (I added this step to my checklist after the time I omitted 6 threads at the center of a warp, discovered after threading the loom.)
__ Tie off around the turning pin or the outside peg. Always wind the last pass with two or more threads together so you can tie them around the pin or peg.
__ Tie the lease cross; and tie choke ties on the warp. Tie the cross first, and tie any passes of the warp directly above the cross. Then, spin the wheel and tie the warp wherever it passes on the side opposite the cross. Also tie at the turning pin, at the top and bottom of the loop.
__ Chain the warp bout. Start the chain by holding the loop at the turning pin, and pull out the pin. Chain the warp, ending at the cross. (I use my knee, not so gracefully, to control the turning of the reel as I chain the warp.)
__ Place the warp bout on the loom, with the lease cross end going through the beater.
__ Wind remaining bouts, following the same procedure. When you place the warp chain on the loom double check the warp sequence to make sure the bouts are in the right order.
__ Roll up the thread tubes, replace labels, weigh thread and write down amounts, and place thread tubes in project bin. Each loom has its own project bin to hold the thread for that project.
__ Put away the choke ties, scissors, and thread holder.
My grandma made a pattern on brown paper for a neck pillow. I suppose she found the pattern in a magazine or newspaper decades ago. I am using my copy of her pattern to make my own neck pillow. Maybe someday my pillow will be as worn and wobbly as Grandma’s well-loved neck pillow that I remember.
Looking through my pile of handwoven scraps I find the piece of fabric that had been hanging as a Roman shade on the back door of our previous home. This two-block twill in cotton and linen was my first 8-shaft project on my floor loom. Good memories! The fabric, softened and slightly faded through daily use, is perfect for the comfy neck pillow I’m imagining. (Unlike Grandma’s pillow, I’m making this one with a removable cover so it can be easily laundered.)
Instructions for Constructing a Handwoven Neck Pillow
Cotton muslin, pre-washed
Handwoven fabric, pre-washed
Cluster Fluff, or other cluster fill or polyester fiberfill
7” invisible zipper
Invisible zipper foot
Sleeve board for pressing, optional
Cut four pillow pattern pieces from the muslin.
Sew two of the muslin pieces together, right sides together. Press seams open.
Sew the other two muslin pieces together, right sides together. Press seams open.
Sew the two parts together, right sides together, leaving a 4-inch opening for turning and stuffing. Press seams open using a sleeve board.
Turn the pillow right side out.
Stuff with Cluster Fluff, starting at the furthest end from the opening. Fill to desired fullness.
Hand stitch the opening closed.
Cut four pillow pattern pieces from the handwoven fabric.
Serge or zigzag the fabric edges. Press flat.
Insert invisible zipper between two of the pieces.
Complete the seams at both ends of the zipper. Press seams open.
Sew the two other pieces together, right sides together. Press seams open.
Open zipper, and sew the two parts together, right sides together. Press seams open using a sleeve board.
Turn the pillow case right side out.
Push the muslin pillow into the pillow case. Close the zipper.
Take a nap in your favorite chair with the pillow behind your neck.
If you would like a pdf copy of my grandma’s neck pillow pattern, please click HERE to send me an email request. I will be happy to send the pattern to you.
What do you do with weft tails on a rag rug? Normally, you wrap the weft tail around the outer warpend and tuck it back into the shed. But what about color changes? If you have several color changes in a row, you can end up with extra bulk on one selvedge or another from those tucked-in tails.
3 Ways to Outsmart Rag Rug Weft Tails
TWO PICKS For a two-pick stripe, leave a tail of several inches on the first pick. For the second pick, lay the weft tail from the first pick in the shed. Lay in the second pick, and cut the fabric strip to overlap the weft tail in the shed. This eliminates any extra bulk at the selvedges. (All tails are cut at a steep angle.)
CARRY IT When feasible, carry the weft up the side. If a weft is out of play for only one or two rows, do not cut it. When another weft enters the shed, make sure it encircles the idle weft.
DISTRIBUTE Whenever possible, avoid tucking in weft tails two picks in a row. Wait, and tuck in the tail on a subsequent pick.
HERE IS AN EXAMPLE:
One more thing. Cut the weft tail extra long if you are tucking it in a row with weft floats, as in rosepath (Like the center pick in this medallion). This helps keep that weft tail from popping out of place. You don’t want those tails to start waving at you.