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.
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.
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.
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.
Do you have a simple tip that improves your efficiency and/or quality at the loom? Please share in the comments.
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.
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.
Unwind enough weft for the pickbefore 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.
Eleven hours and thirty-six minutes into this project, the starting line for weaving is just around the corner. Wind the warp, and beam it. Thread the heddles. Sley the reed. Unlock the back beam ratchet. Move the countermarch to the front of the loom. … Pause when you think about moving the twelve shafts and the reed forward with the countermarch. Reach. Wiggle. Pull. Wiggle. Pull some more. Got it. Now, put the reed in the beater. Relax? Almost, but not yet.
We must not forget to center the reed. I center the reed just as soon as the reed is in the beater.
How to Center the Reed
(We are actually centering the warp that is in the reed.)
Supplies needed: Tape measure (or string)
1. Using the tape measure, measure from the right edge of the warp in the reed to the outer edge of the beater on the right-hand side. Hold the tape measure with your fingers marking the measurement.
2. Holding that measurement, place the tape measure at the left edge of the warp in the reed stretching out toward the outer edge of the beater on the left-hand side.
3. Note the difference in measurement between the right side and left side. Move the reed in the beater to center.
4. Repeat the first two steps until the measurements are the same on both sides.
Now you can relax. Enjoy the moment, because you are that much closer to seeing fabric take shape!
It is almost effortless to make a short warp for the band loom. All you need is a peg at the beginning and a peg at the end. You can use a spoke of the warp beam wheel, for instance, at one end, and the leg of an upside-down stool at the other. I normally use my warping reel, though, for even a simple warp, because the reel is so handy. However, I don’t have my warping reel here at the apartment, so I am turning my band loom into a handy warping board for this band loom project.
It is not easy to see sleying errors in this fine-dentreed. I unknowingly quadrupled the ends in four of the dents, instead of the specified two ends per dent. When I check as I go, I find the errors while they are still easy to fix.
How to check and double-check for sleying errors:
Tie ends into threading groups, using a loose slip knot. (I do this before threading the heddles.)
Sley one threading group. (I sley right to left.)
Visually check the sleyed group of ends for skipped dents and crowded dents.
Do a Click Test. Use the hook end of the reed hook to count the dents by running the hook along the reed…click, click, click… Make sure the number of clicks matches the number of dents needed for that group of ends.
—This is how I caught my errors. When the dents came up short in the Click Test, I knew I had some crowded dents that I had failed to catch in the visual check.
Move ends and re-sley as needed.
Sley each remaining group of ends, checking as you go, visually and with the reed-hook Click Test.