Sanna's Bag

“I never seem to have what I need when I need it. I’m going to make a belt-bag that’s bigger on the inside than on the outside, and just carry everything with me.”

Friday, July 27, 2007

The old pro weaves - chpt 4

You have wound the warp onto the back beam and the end of the warp is within a foot of the reed. Now, unless you are a lot better than I am at compensating and making your movements with machine-like precision, you will find that the warp graduates in length from one side to the other. Cut it all even. (Hey, this technique is fast and easy, not frugal.)

I should note here that this is not "Art" weaving. This is production weaving stuff. Time is more valuable than materials here. If you can't afford to throw away a few yards of your warp, don't do it this way.

Pull up a loop of string from your breast beam, pull a hank of warp threads through it, split them, and tie them on top.

Repeat, repeat, repeat. Pull the warp snug. You will need to untie and tighten the first few knots as you work.

When the warp tension is pretty much even clear across, weave in a few inches of rag strips or heavy yarn. Just like magic, it evens out and looks like you are ready to produce fabric.

I am using a flat shuttle because I sold my bobbin winder and boat shuttles with my favorite loom when I blew out my shoulders. Wind the weft (Fill) on your shuttle. If you are the sort of person who knits tight, and winds balls of yarn that could be used as lethel weapons, wrap your hand clear around your shuttle and wind the yarn over the top of your fingers so you don't wind it on too tightly.

Don't fuss a bunch with the edges. Can you see how the yarn lies on a 45 degree angle inside the warp? That's what you are aiming at. It's better tohave soft loops at the sides than to have fabric that pulls in at the sides.

Here's a few inches of work. The colors are gorgeous, but the stripes just don't make me want to laugh and dance. The fill yarn is too soft to be used for true warp, but I think I'll float a few strands in as supplemental warp. I want a scarf six feet long. I cut five strands of yarn that are seven feet long.

And I thread them through the reed and the heddles along with one of the regular warp threads, pinning them to the fabric in front,

And tieing a weight on them in back to keep them under tension.

OK, that's a little better. I may add in a few more warp stripes today. It will take me several days to weave this up. I'll note changes as they come, and show you the finished works.

In the meantime, allow me to address a few questions. Warrior Knitter asked if you buy the warps already cut to length. Nope. You buy skeins or cones or balls of yarn and measure and cut it as you go along.

Monica PDX asked if it was harder pulling all those knots through metal heddles. Actually, rigid metal heddles are the best for this style of weaving. The knots slide right through. Rigid metal heddles are heavy and noisy, but boy are they sturdy! String heddles like to cling to the yarn and stick to the knots. Wire heddles can give and bend if you are pulling heavy knots through.

As a side note, if anyone is looking at buying a loom, first off, try as many different kinds as possible. You should take at least one beginning floor-loom class just to get an idea of the variety of looms available. I don't know anyone who has ever owned only one loom unless they bought it and never used it. Your weaving supply store will have a bulletin board of people selling used looms which no longer meet their needs. Get someone with experience to look them over with you. I'm sure Craig's list has a slew of looms. Your local paper may occasionally have a loom in the want ads. You don't need to buy a brand new two thousand dollar loom to get started.

Remember, however, that a loom takes more space than knitting or even spinning. And a loom will lead your down different design paths. Having woven that fabric, what are you going to do with it? You think people max out on scarves quickly? Try enchanting them with your hand-woven table runners. People can WEAR sweaters and socks and hats. Can you bear to cut into your fabric and sew a coat from it?

Also, everyone I know wo has ever woven seriously has weaving-related injuries. I blew a disc in my lower back, (a very common problem for people who weave for hours at a time) and later blew out both my shoulders, one after the other. Other friends have had crippling carpal-tunnel problems, and herniated discs in the neck. If you become obsessed with the art, remember that there are risks.

I am quite limited with what I can do with two harnesses. I can not be tempted by designing and producing intricate twills and diapering, summer-winter weaves, two sided weaving, tapestries, . . . . well, weaving can go as many different directions as knitting. (Cables, entrelac, Faire Isle, mosaic, lace, . . . .) It's addictive, babe. Are you sure you want to go there?

Oh, Jejune, Kitties ALWAYS like hot laundry. And it isn't all that summery here right now. I had to wear a cotton sweater when I was outside working on the loom.


  • At 9:30 AM , Blogger Wannietta said...

    Gorgeous and without a doubt an impressive skill, but I'm not even a little tempted. Thank god - Kerwyn would probably have an actual cow if I started a whole new craft that was so obvious. I try to stick to little ones - beading & x-stitching) that are more innocuous looking.
    I'm looking forward to seeing how this project of yours turns out. I'll weave vicariously through you and my friend Kathy.

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  • At 7:47 PM , Blogger Amy Lane said...

    That's really amazing... I remember in the Lloyd Alexander books about Prydain, he featured two different weavers--and both of them were hunched over their looms, in pain...

    And now I know why...

    But your results! Wow.!!!

  • At 9:33 PM , Blogger Willow said...

    Re: your comments: I'm sure I'll felt things in my new washer, but John won't be happy about it! I don't know about washing fleeces...I've always hand washed them...

  • At 5:40 AM , Anonymous Dave Daniels said...

    ***Boo Hiss*** to the blogger spammer. They suck.
    You'd best take it easy over there. You've done enough damage to yourself, and that's WAY more than enough. This is interesting to see how the yarn in striping. Of course, I guess it should, but I'm used to seeing more take up from it being knitted. This info is being filed away for later use. I like the insertion of the blue warp.

  • At 12:39 PM , Anonymous MonicaPDX said...

    Thanks for the answer on the rigid metal heddles, Roxie - whee, I lucked out on that, didn't I? Very interesting to see the insertion of new warp threads, too. I knew about doing that as a repair of a broken warp thread, but not for adding interest!

    Now, as you mentioned in drawbacks to weaving... If I can ever make the room for setting up the loom, maybe I could weave a couple things on occasion. And it only weaves 36" wide, it's just a liddle 'un. For a floor loom. ;) But in an apartment??? Hee. (I don't think the balcony would work, y'know?)

  • At 11:25 PM , Blogger Jejune said...

    Fascinating to see the process, and all exciting to see the weaving and colours happening at last, after SO much setting up :) With a history of RSI I don't think I'll be taking up this craft, but it's wonderful to see how it's done. Looking forward to seeing how your scarf progresses!

  • At 12:30 PM , Anonymous Laurie said...

    This really was very interesting! It's quite amazing to see how other weavers do things. I believe that I'll stick with front-to-back warping though.

    I use a version of your "dummy" warp, I think - sometimes when I finish weaving a project I leave the long thrums tied to the back beam and tie them off in front of the reed. Then if my new project is the same threading and about the same width I can tie on each warp thread with a weaver's knot and pull each one through the heddles and reed (or the heddles if I need a different epi). It is much faster than doing all that re-sleying! I don't do it often because I'm usually ready for something different but it would be the perfect thing to do for a 2-harness loom.


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