Thursday, August 6, 2009

Elena's Shawl: dressing the loom

As I mentioned previously, I'm about to start a project that is a custom order. The client is watching along with the rest of you! So some of this stuff might seem repetitious, but not to Elena. It's also personal as she discovers the process in my weaving her one of a kind shawl. Elena chose her yarns, colours and pattern. I determined the sett and total warp length based on yarns to be used and her decision on shawl length and fringes. I do get a free hand in the beading and I recently bought some at Beadworld in Victoria with this project in mind.

So all projects start on paper: The yarn we wanted was tencel (for beautiful drape), the colours are two shades of red wound together and black and yarn size is 2/8, the sett will be 24 epi. There is to be a small black border running down both sides and it will be 85" woven length and a shorter fringe at approx 6 to 8 inches. (I normally leave 12 inches) This is an eight shaft pattern, using 8 treadles; the threading is extended M's and W's with the treadling done in network twill ( a series of twill progressions all going in one direction to the middle of the shawl, then reversed at the midpoint to the end of the shawl) I have tried to do screen capture and it is not working out too well for me so will try to photograph the draft and insert here for you. As luck would have it, Blogger is flipping some of my images sideways (again). I tried loading from a second computer and still the same result, although I did not turn my camera sideways to get the shot. So the red bar is the top with the M's and W's threading and the black is the weft with the net work twill treadling.

What's the 'C' at the midpoint? Well, that's where I'll weave 42.5" (approx) and then reverse the treadling so the pattern will now be descending for the final half of the shawl. It's a subtle thing.

I forgot to take a picture of winding this actual warp but have an older image of another project at the top to show how the yarns ( in a given length measured on the board and in this shawl project is four yards long) is wound onto the warping board and then securely tied at regular intervals.

I wound my warp in one inch bouts as I'm using my hybrid sectional method ( and incidentally this will be my last time doing it this way for a while on my big loom as I'm going to work Jane Stafford's warping method to this loom. I will be taking the sectional rakes off after this project). There are a total of 589 ends over 24.57" at the reed. I'll be using a 12 dent reed and sleying 2 threads per dent.

I have long leader cords of seine twine attached at each sectional space. Long enough to bring the warp right up to the back of the heddles. I attach the end of the warp ( with the cross on this end) to the leader cross using a lark's head knot. Then I open the cross and slip onto the pegs. Please note the cross is secure with a loop of cotton. This stays on till much later!

I run my fingers between the two levels of threads and gently smooth away any snarls and using consistent tension I manually turn the beam. How much tension? Trust me it's tight!

The warp is tied snugly at regular one yard intervals and notice how there is no irregularity in warp length at the tie point? This section is going on well... When I get to the end and the last tie, I leave it in place and gently lift the cross section off the pegs and hand wind the entire section onto the beam. I repeat again that the cross is still marked with a loop of cotton and the last tie is at the end.

Below the picture is showing my progress across the sectional. I work right to left so my start was 12 inches from the centre point which you can see is marked with red yarn. I use small snippets of painters tape to hold the end in place.

Here the entire warp is on and now ready to insert the lease sticks.

I sit on a small stool at the back with the lease sticks securing them with tape at the right end and then free each section and then *being careful not to twist the bouts* slip the lease sticks through the cross. Once all bouts are on, I tape the left end closed and then pull up and over the back beam, hanging the lease sticks from the upper castle as close as possible to back of the heddles. Now I move to the front of the loom and gently pull all warp bouts through to the front. There are some small irregularities in lengths due to the leader cords not being exactly the same length . (I keep meaning to correct this and its apparently low on my 'to do' list.) In the picture below you can see the cross loop is still around each section. If everything is perfect, these can be cut off now. The last warp tie is removed one section at a time as the section is pulled through tightly, the end is snipped off the end loops and the tie removed. When all is done, you are ready for threading!
I sit on a low spinners chair ( as its four legs fit over my loom's foot beam). I use the pattern's natural groups guide the threading as I follow along with a sheet and small post it notes marking the current group I am working on . I double check and then continue on... Each one of the warp ends must go through the eye of a heddle to control its movement in the pattern. I take this part slower than most as I really don't like fixing mistakes after the fact! When I got to the end I seemed to be 4 red threads short. Oh dear!.... this means I've either miscounted at the warping board or there's an error in the threading. I guess we'll see which it is a bit later....
All done! Now we 'sley' the warp...
I rehung the beater bar assembly and slipped in a 12 dent reed into the slot. A reed does more than beat the weft into place; it determines the sett or density of the cloth being made. This reed has 12 slots or dents in a one inch space. I'll be bringing through or sleying two warp ends through each dent. This cloth will be 24 ends in every one inch space. I work my way from right to left, having determined the half way point by dividing the warp width (24.57") by half , so 12.29" or 12.3. This marks my starting spot.

I use a small plastic tool or hook to do this as I don't want to create metal snags or burs that will damage the yarns and cause breakage. Okay, sleying is all done and no missed dents.

Here you can see the threads lying evenly and even make out the two shades of red.

Now comes tying up the loom. With normal looms, there are many cords under the loom and they are secured according to the treadles according to the tie up on the weaving draft. For a countermarche loom like mine, some cords go to the upper lamms and some to the lower lamms. The end result is the threads are evenly pulled apart and back together again. It is a tedious job getting under the loom and one I dreaded. It means being curled up like a pretzel under the loom doing the ties and later adjustments and with a hip replacement in 2001, I don't bend so well. I literally don't have the full mobility I had before. (Now we won't discuss my being chubby ...) That's where the '20 + tie up assist' came to the rescue. All the tie up points are now secured with longer cords, that take a dedicated route to the back of the loom and up and out through a peg board at the back of the loom. I sit on a stool and pull the cords that are pre-marked to the right hole in the texsolv cord and can do 8 shafts and 8 treadles in under ten minutes.
But there are some things to consider when using the tie up assist. If you stand at the front of your loom, the shaft in the front closest to you is number one and the left hand treadle is number one but when you view the peg board, this is reversed and also flipped! Check the numbers on the board:
Treadle one at the front, is now the first one on the far right at the back. Shaft one is at the top and not at the bottom. So I sit with a large copy of the tie up and isolate one row at a time and transfer the information to a new grid which reflects the situation I'm facing. I clearly mark the sheet and save them in a folder for future repeats of the project. I'm building a library of flipped tie up drafts.

This is the new tie up sheet. The numbers represent the X's and the orange dots are the O's. The O's are normally tied to the lower lamms (or rising) and X's to the upper (or sinking). But in the case I will have to reverse this as it turned out that I was weaving upside down and I'd rather see the more definite side of the pattern this time! ( This pattern is reversible but I like the look of the other side better... and if I'm going to be looking at it for a while, might as well be the side I like!)

How does this work on the 20+ ??

So if we look at row 1 on the far right, I pull and clip shafts 1, 4, 7 and 8 to the lower lamm cord...the cord on the opposite stays loose. Then I pull the cords for shafts 2, 3, 5, and 6 to the upper lamm cords on the corresponding left hand side.... the opposite cords stay loose. Scroll up to the picture showing the peg board with pulled cords and it will be more clear. You can see how there are two rows of holes for each shaft. You'll see that I have pulled cords for 8 shafts and the bottom cords still hanging are shafts 9 through 12 which are not being used. ( Those shafts are secured up at the top of the jacks by cords to hooks to keep the shafts from dropping during use)

Don't let all the cords fool you, it's very easy system. There must be a cord for very possible tie up option which in this looms case is 384 cords. ( 12 shafts and 16 treadles)

So in the next post we will be tying onto the front beam, fiddling with my floating selvages and extra ends in their film canisters, then starting to weave with some scrap yarn. We'll see if there are any errors to fix or we can get busy weaving!


Caroline M said...

I shall be on tenterhooks waiting to see what happens with those missing four ends.

bspinner said...

Thanks for sharing this adventure with us. Great choice of colors and pattern.

Life Looms Large said...

Great post with lots of detail about your techniques!!

You are a great advertisement for that 20+ add-on. I'm envious already - even though my 2 shaft 2 treadle tie-up was easy enough!!!

Your post also makes me want to get back to my studio and weave. I've been pretty scattered this summer doing summery projects - and I will continue in that vein for a few more weeks - but as fall approaches I inevitably get more inspired to be productive....and I feel like this post is helping move me in that welcome direction!


Theresa said...


Great tutorial. I do have a question, the leaders on each bout you tie them to the bout and then to the loom. Do you leave them on the loom after the project is finished by undoing the larks head loop or do you do new leaders each warp? I'm sure the question is stupid, so apologies in advance. Glad you are getting cooler weather, we are too, much cooler!


Susan said...

Hi Theresa...
The leader cords are made from a fine seine cord. Once the project is complete, I open the knots slightly and pull the cut end of the warp out and throw away. The cords could stay on the loom in each spot but the spare cords tend to flip around and catch on things so I found it easier to to take them off. I use only use what ever number I need for a given project. Yes, I re-use the same cords each time.

I wish you lived a lot closer as it would be great to just show you in person!

Its cooled down here too and they are talking of rain Monday... wouldn't that be nice!


barbara said...

Wow - what a process. I too am waiting to hear the outcome of what happened to the four missing ends. I hope it works out that there is not a threading error; or at least if there is one, a simple one to fix!!! Thank you for sharing this process - I will never have the opportunity or desire to work on a loom such as this ..... but fun reading about it. Weaverly yours ...

Theresa said...

Thank you Susan for the clarification. Makes perfect sense too. I am getting a warp ready for Hey Baby right now, I'll remove my leader cords and put them in a bag. I am trying something new for me after reading on Laura Fry's site how she leaves her sectional rakes on but warps in the non-sectional way. Might as well give it a whirl too! :-)

deborah said...

I enjoy your detailed posts so much, even though they are a little advanced for me. The illustrations are wonderful it feels like standing next to you and your loom. Looking forward to the pattern emerging.

i_wander said...

oh my! a blog about weaving! lovely! i hope you don't mind me following... ^o^