Tag: heddles

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!
img_1614
Threaded the heddles.
img_1615
Tied the yarns on to the back of the loom. 
img_1616
Started winding the yarns through the loom. 
img_1618
Tied the yarns to the back.
img_1619
Put a few spacers in place (toilet paper) and it’s ready to go!!! 

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

 

And now, moving on…

Hello! I am eyeball deep in heddles! (See now, that’s a phrase you just don’t hear every day…) Each yarn gets its own heddle, which sits on 1 of 4 shafts in the loom. And I’m currently somewhere about 3/4 of the way through the project!

Bird's eye view of the heddles.
Bird’s eye view of the heddles.
They look very tall from this angle, don't they?
They look very tall from this angle, don’t they?

The heddles (especially the metal ones) rattle around in the loom and some folks find it loud and distracting. For me, I don’t even notice! I think it’s like living near a train or on a busy road – you don’t even hear it after living there about a week!

Here, you can see all 4 shafts that hold the heddles!
Here, you can see all 4 shafts that hold the heddles!
Almost done!
Almost done!

So why thread heddles, you ask? Well, astute student, each shaft in the loom has the ability to lift up, separating some yarns from the others. When you thread a yarn into a heddle, you assign it to that particular shaft. For instance, I have a green yarn in the middle of the project that gets threaded through a heddle on shaft #2. When I am doing a weaving pattern, I know that this specific green yarn will lift up with all the others on shaft #2. This helps you establish your pattern! (Not the most graceful explanation, I know. But, rest assured, it is an important part of the process!)

Hundreds of yarns are involved!
Hundreds of yarns are involved!
Each yarn gets their very own!
Each yarn gets their very own!

So once the heddles are threaded, it’s time to unfurl the back of the loom and tie the yarns to the rod. Part of the reason I love my Schacht loom is that the back collapses and the back beam lifts off. Meaning, I can get as close as I want when threading the heddles. Then, it is easy to expand everything back out when it is time to start winding! Go, Schacht, go!!!

Expanding the back of the loom
Expanding the back of the loom
Tying the project on!
Tying the project on!

You know, each step of the process has little things to watch out for. Once, I had a project where my cord holding the rod to the beam snapped! I kept wondering why things seemed loosey-goosey! Thankfully, it’s an easy fix (not mid-project, but if you catch it at this stage it is!). You tie the ends together, even everything out, and carry on! Just like life, right?

Ready to start winding!
Ready to start winding!

Next, I’ll begin the winding process. And after that, there will be weaving – woohoo! I love the weaving… Have a lovely week and I’ll talk to you soon!

Run 14 Winding On 4

Welcome to the Forest O' Heddles!

Last we chatted, I had sleyed the reed, which will keep the project at a relatively consistent width. Next up, the whole piece will move into the loom. And before I leave you today, I’ll start threading some heddles! What a line-up!

Everyone? The loom. The loom? Everyone!
Everyone? The loom. The loom? Everyone!
Inserting the reed!
Inserting the reed!

The reed, that is now completely filled with yarn, moves over to the beater bar of the loom and fits right in! The top of the beater bar comes off, making it easy to put the reed into the grooves and then tighten everything up so we don’t have wiggleage. (I’m sure that’s not a word. Probably “wiggling” would have been more accurate. But, I’m taking creative leverage today – Mr. Webster will have to get over it!)

Profile shot of the beater bar.
Profile shot of the beater bar.
Next up, the yarns travel through the heddles!
Next up, the yarns travel through the heddles!

Next up, the yarns all need their own heddle. So, I sit behind the loom (which is really more of a squat so I’m at heddle level) and start threading the yarns from the middle moving out. (p.s. heddles are tall, skinny, metal pieces with an eye in the middle that slide around on the shafts of the loom. And now you are in the know!)

The view from the back of the loom.
The view from the back of the loom.
Making progress!
Making progress!

For whatever reason, I always start in the center and go right first. Is that because I’m right-handed, or we’re in the Northern Hemisphere or something? Could be just me! I would be curious if my left-handed friends instinctively go left first. Hmmm…. the things that make me wonder…

1-2-3-4, over & over again!
1-2-3-4, over & over again!

Because I’ll ultimately be doing a really straightforward pattern with the weaving, I am doing a simple threading. I’m starting with the yarn in the center of the project and threading it through a heddle on shaft 1. The next yarn is threaded through a heddle on shaft 2. The one that follows goes through 3 and after that, 4. Then, repeat many, many times! It’s a very repetitive process, but it is important to stay alert – which is a tricky combo, for sure! Having to redo part of the threading is not the end of the world. But, it’s not fun, either! So, coffee, loud music, complete silence, Red Bull – whatever helps you focus, pull that trick out of the hat for this stage!

Working from the center, out!
Working from the center, out!
Can't see the loom for the heddles! (Or something like that!)
Can’t see the loom for the heddles! (Or something like that!)

For a project this size, it’ll take me 2-3 hours to thread each yarn. If I haven’t mentioned this recently, weaving is not the sort of pastime for those that need instant gratification! It is so much fun! But in no shape or form would you ever call it quick! And so, in true weaver’s fashion, I’ll be back next week to finish up the heddles and start winding on! Talk to you soon…

Run 14 Heddles 8