Category: Dressing the Loom

What's weavin'? 

When I first started the blog, I only focused on my weaving projects. And these days, I’m branching out to include “day in the life of an artist” types of stories. But, I don’t want to cut out all the fun weaving going on simultaneously! So, I think the plan will be to sprinkle projects in randomly, providing much needed color/pattern/texture into our lives. Yay! 

Last week, I wrapped up my green project on the demonstration loom. I had originally set it up for the American Craft Council Show in Atlanta in March. But, it’s been sitting around looking pretty ever since! So, I finally finished it! 

Birdseye view of green project
Cutting off the project

I am about halfway through dressing the floor loom with a new project, which is always exciting! It’s a little red & sky blue action this time! 
Red project on the warping board
Adding choke ties before I take it off the warping board
Sleying the reed
Ready to go into the floor loom

And that, my friends, is what’s weavin’! I’ll keep you posted on how things progress! 

How are your projects going? 

Navigating the weaving obstacle course 

I am starting a new project – yay! Yesterday, I jotted down my pattern, pulled out the yarn, measured everything at the warping board, and sleyed the reed. And just when I was feeling really good about myself, I realized I forgot to measure an entire repeat of the pattern (since 9 goes into 36 4 times – not 3)! 

This got me thinking about all the variables and ways a weaving project can go awry. Right off the bat you are working with a loom and all its moving parts. You truly need to be part mechanic to keep up! I have had multiple bits fall apart, fall off, bend, break, fray, and who knows what else! I currently am holding together part of the loom with a twist tie! (You know – the little guys used to keep your bread closed? So far, its working! Keep your fingers crossed for me, would ya?) 

Thankfully, parts of the loom tend to wreak havoc in stages, not all at once! I’m fortunate to have been able to simply repair or easily replace parts thus far. No serious surgery has been necessary. I’ve been lucky!

As a weaver, you not only have to navigate all the moving parts of the equipment, but also the many stages of a project! I feel pretty confident that in my 11 years of weaving, I’ve hit all of the major mistakes & lots of minor ones! Forgetting to mark the cross on the warping board so I have no clue what order my 200+ threads are supposed to be in. Not having enough heddles in the loom when you have already laid in nearly all the yarns. Making a threading error an inch off center in the project. Ah, the list goes on and on! 

But I feel like this obstacle course every weaver runs through with each project makes us a very patient & persistent lot! Some might say crazy… and that might not be wrong, either! There is certainly a reason not everyone weaves. But to those who do, I wish you all the best jumping, swinging and dodging your way through your next project! 

What is your best story about a project gone wrong? 

This is the moment I realized I was missing something – like 9″ of yarn supposed to fill in the right side of the reed!

The birth of a project 

Here are the steps I go through to set up the loom before each event!

These were the winning colors!
Measured the yarns on the warping board.
The lovely warp – ready to go!
Sleyed the reed!
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Threaded the heddles.
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Tied the yarns on to the back of the loom. 
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Started winding the yarns through the loom. 
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Tied the yarns to the back.
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Put a few spacers in place (toilet paper) and it’s ready to go!!! 

It's a democracy… mostly

Before each art fair, I have certain rituals I go through – check the money, charge the credit card reader, pack water/snacks, and last but not least, set up the demonstration loom. A few years back, I thought, “Why not let the FB fans choose the colors of my project?” Since then, each Tuesday before a show, I post yarn combinations and let people vote! It’s always entertaining to see the results! Typically, the crowd leans towards brighter colors, purple nearly ALWAYS wins, and my sweet friends Lisa & Pam cancel each other out. 

My rule of thumb is to propose 2 options that I like, so it doesn’t matter which one wins. Seems very logical, doesn’t it? Well, last week was the first time I seriously considered throwing the vote! Blue was the common color between the pair of fiber foursomes. (See the choices below.) Yet, one was distinctly spring-ier colors and the other one screamed fall! Warm, dark, earthy – all my favorites! And I’m counting on the crowd to be in the mood for sweater weather and vote the same direction I’m leaning! 

As the votes begin trickling in, nearly all of them are for spring (you should know that when I say, “nearly all”,  that’s about 5…) For the first time ever, I start strategizing how I can sway the vote! Not very diplomatic of me, I know! But, I talked myself off the ledge and decided to wait. Sure enough, by the end of the day, the crowd had planted themselves firmly in the fall camp (and by “crowd”, I mean 8…). Whew! Big sigh of relief. And after all the drama, a beautiful piece of fabric was born! (Not that I couldn’t have woven something cool with the other colors! I just wasn’t feeling it… we’ll call it an artist’s prerogative…) 

Which brings me to this week! Of which I have NO idea… better think of something soon…

All wound up!

It’s time to do some winding, my friends!

The view from the front!
The view from the front!
Lots of yarn ready to move!
Lots of yarn ready to move!

I find that winding the loom is a deceptively difficult part of the process. On the surface, it seems really easy! Give each group of yarn a yank, unlock the loom, roll it onto the back and repeat for the new few hours. But, like many things in life, there are pitfalls to watch out for. Am I pulling some yarns harder than others? Are the yarns spreading out too far on the back so they don’t fit on the yard sticks? Am I getting the twisted yarns out of the way so I don’t break them going through the reed & heddles?.. But, if you are beginning weaver, ignore what I just said and simply yank, unlock and roll! Piece of cake!

Love me some yard sticks!
Love me some yard sticks!
Closer look at the back beam...
Closer look at the back beam…

Of course I have to take a moment to reiterate my love of yardsticks! I have a 36″ loom so they fit perfectly at the back, keeping the yarns winding on smoothly! And I don’t know of anyone else who uses them these days. So, I feel like I could be the official champion for the lowly yardstick! They are awesome! (This impromptu advertisement was not endorsed by any yardstick company. But, could be in the future… call me!)

View from the back!
View from the back!
It's the aerial shot!
It’s the aerial shot!

If you will note, I still have my lease sticks in the yarn. I have found that they come in very handy! They are a sort of early detection system for snarls in the yarn! It’s better to catch and fix the twisty bits before they hit the reed!

Time to tie it up!
Time to tie it up!

I like to start in the middle when tying up a project, grabbing about 1-1/2″ of yarn for each knot. The goal here is to create equal tension in all the yarns throughout the width of the project. I think it’s one of those things you wrestle with forever! I’ve been weaving for 9 years and still do a bit of agonizing over it each time I start tying things! But according to my girl, Madelyn Van Der Hoogt, I should just breathe through it and relax. She’s sort of the zen master of weaving – at least in my book!

Ta-da! Dressing the loom is finished!
Ta-da! Dressing the loom is finished!

And we are done! The loom is all dressed and ready for weaving! Let’s see if I can make some good thing happen next. Love the weaving magic! Talk to you soon…

Run 14 Winding 18