Tag: knots

Zen weaving…

Over the years, I’ve had a number of folks watch me weave and comment on how meditative it must be. My response is usually, “Yes, it’s very zen… until I mess up!” That’s sort of how life is, right? It’s going along swimmingly, until it isn’t. And that’s your weaving philosophy for the day!

Here we are, in a sea of cream!
Here we are, in a sea of cream!
Moving right along!
Moving right along!

We are coming down the final stretch for the project, which is great news! I’ve found over the years that sometimes shorter projects are better. So, I have it spaced such that about the time I’m ready for something new, the knots come around the bend! It’s wonderful when things work out that way!

Let's dust in a little brown...
Let’s dust in a little brown…
See the necktie making an appearance?
See the necktie making an appearance?

I love some of the warm, caramel colors in this section of the fabric! Reminds me of baked chocolate cookies – homemade, of course! (Mind you, not baked by me, but by my brilliant sister and Ma – who can completely rock some homemade cookies!)

In a caramel haze!
In a caramel haze!

And what do we have here? The knots have stealthily worked their way up to the mid-section of the loom! I have no more space for weaving – meaning it’s time to pull out the scissors!

We're at the knots! Woohoo!
We’re at the knots! Woohoo!
Start snippin'!
Start snippin’!

I like to start in the middle of the project, cutting close to the knots in the back. Then, I shorten up the tails once I’ve made a knot at the fabric. Snip, knot and repeat until the fabric is free of the loom!

Working my way out from the middle.
Working my way out from the middle.
Release the fabric!
Release the fabric!

Ahhhh… the fabric is almost completely off the loom! Next up, I’ll release the knots from the front and lay it out to see what we have! (I always forget how the project started by the time it’s done. So, it’ll be fun to check it out!) Talk to you soon…

Run 14 Weaving 76

 

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

Reed-y?

You know, thinking up a title for a weekly blog – not so easy! And sometimes, just sometimes, all I can come up with is something sounding ridiculously corny. But, I’m guessing if you’ve read this far, you are OK with a little corn and we can all simply carry on, ignoring the crazy title! And here goes! (p.s. I am up for suggestions, if a brilliant title for a weaving blog comes to you in the middle of the night… just saying!)

And here are the players for today's sleying!
And here are the players for today’s sleying!

Today is sley-the-reed day!!!! Best day ever! I love this part of the process. I’m not sure exactly what makes it so appealing. All I can figure is that sitting at a table organizing hundreds of yarns just does it for me! I like to tell folks that to be a weaver, you have to be a little bit crazy… and I would guess my prior statement puts me firmly in that category! And I’m OK with that!

Lease sticks slide in.
Lease sticks slide in.

To sley a reed, you need a reed (rectangular frame with evenly spaced slots that will fit into your loom), lease sticks (a pair of sticks with holes in both ends meant to be a place holder for the cross that delineates the order of the yarns), and a pair of scissors. That is the bare minimum. But, for me, I always include a cup of tea, my project journal to track my time, and either a TV show or a little music to entertain me!

The view from where I'm sitting (aka, the view from my belly button!).
The view from where I’m sitting (aka, the view from my belly button!).

First up, the lease sticks slip through the cross I made on the warping board. I tied everything in strategic spots so I could locate the cross once I was sitting at the table. (Those ties get cut once I start sleying.) So now, the lease sticks are keeping the yarns in order! The reed sits directly in front of me with an edge hanging off the table to make the threading easier. The trick is to avoid knocking the reed over onto the floor. You can always tape it down if it makes you more comfortable!

Each yarn is placed in a dent of the reed.
Each yarn is placed in a dent of the reed.
Lots of little ends in this project!
Lots of little ends in this project!

Because I had a lot of color changes at the warping board, I have a lot of little ends that typically pull right off before the yarn goes into the reed. (I thought this particular pile was very pretty! And sometimes, that’s all you need for a bit of happiness – a pretty pile!)

Just, yum...
Just, yum…
I made it to the other end!
I made it to the other end!

I like to knot the yarns every inch or so just to double check my math. Like most folks, I don’t enjoy the process of undoing and fixing a project. So, I try to put as many checks and balances in place as possible along the way!

Ready to go to the loom!
Ready to go to the loom!

Next up, I’ll reunite the reed and the loom, bringing it all together! It’s going to be good! Talk to you soon…

Run 14 Sleying 8

On her mark, get set, go!

How about something new? I’m thinking green. Which isn’t surprising, honestly. It would be shocking if I said I was thinking lavender. Now, that would be surprising! (Friends and family would start asking if I was feeling OK… For any hard-core lavender fans out there, I’m so sorry but I’m really not your girl! Look elsewhere for your pastel fix!) And now we’re off!

Ah, the warping board...
Ah, the warping board…

So, here’s what I’m thinking. I’d like to create some green fabric. But, I don’t want the warp to be all greens. Instead, I’ve pulled together lots of good earthy colors. Brown, gold, tan, green, chocolate, etc. I have put them in a set order that will be repeated faster and slower throughout the warp. (“Warp” refers to the yarns that will be in the loom, versus “weft”, which refers to the yarns in the shuttle.)

A-measuring as we go, a-measuring as we go!
A-measuring as we go, a-measuring as we go!
Back & forth, we go!
Back & forth, and back & forth!

I always use a warping board for measuring the yarn. The distance of the pegs from left to right is about a yard. If I remember correctly, this particular version is considered a 14-yard warping board. I hardly ever use all the pegs. But, if you wanted to go crazy, you could put on as much as 14 yards!

The starting peg...
The starting peg…
Twisting off the first section.
Twisting off the first section.

Before I even started at the warping board, I sat down with a pencil and piece of grid paper to figure out both the math for the project, as well as the layout of the warp yarns. Weaving can be pretty math intensive. If I want a project to be 60 inches when it is finished, I may need to measure out as much as 120″ to start! I have to include allowances for things like knots, the dead space at the loom, and the distance the yarns have to travel up and over each other. All these factors feed into the overall project details. (A lot of weaving is tied up in the nitty gritty, if you hadn’t guessed already!) Plus, I had to sort out which colored yarn  will go where! (The designing part is much more fun than figuring out the math – as you can imagine!)

Racing around the pegs!
Racing around the pegs!
Love the colors!
Love the colors!

Because the entire project won’t fit on the pegs at one time, I’ve broken it up into (3) chunks. I like to stop at a point that makes sense to me, instead of measuring exactly (200) yarns or some other random amount. It’s all about keeping it simple and logical in my head! (Things get confusing up there quickly enough without me adding to it!)

Featuring: the cross!
Featuring: the cross!

I’m making progress! I’ll finish winding everything on to the warping board next time, and then move the fun to the table for a little sleying! More fun than a barrel of monkeys! Promise! Talk to you soon…

Run 14 Warping 12