Here are the steps I go through to set up the loom before each event!
It’s time to do some winding, my friends!
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!
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!)
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!
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!
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…
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!
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!)
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!)
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…
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!
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…
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!)
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!
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!
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!
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!)
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!
Next up, I’ll reunite the reed and the loom, bringing it all together! It’s going to be good! Talk to you soon…
We’ve traveled so far! There was measuring the project at the warping board, sleying the reed at the table, threading the heddles at the loom, and now, we’ll wind the whole project on! But first, I have to do a little tying!
The loom has very similar parts at the front and the back – including a rod that is lashed on to each beam. Once each yarn has been assigned to a heddle, I’ll tie the yarn to the rod at the back in bunches of about an inch or two.
Once the back is tied in place, I’ll move around to the front to get it set up. I opened up the twisted portions of the project and loosely grouped the yarn into sections. This will give me something to tug on. I’ve left the lease sticks in place to help me identify any particularly twisted spots. The goal is to catch them before they butt up against the reed. Ah, those handy lease sticks!
During the winding process, the goal is to give each section of yarn a tug, straightening each little soldier out so there are no problems! I like to go left to right the first time, and then the opposite direction next. I have found that if you yank on the chunks of yarn the same way each time, you can create discrepancies in the rate that the yarn is wound on. Sounds technical, but it means that at the end of the winding process, one side is noticeably longer than the other! And you want to avoid that as much as possible!
So little by little, I do my tug-and-wind dance! At the back of the loom, I’m slowly feeding in yard sticks to keep the yarns even. (Are you sensing a theme here? Keep the yarns as even as possible. Rinse and repeat…)
Once the project is completely wound on, it’s time to tie the front! You know, now that I think about it, weaving is really a lot of winding and tying.. and threading – oh my! (And who is now envisioning a brunette in blue gingham, a tin man and a scarecrow skipping down a brick road? Just me? I’m not surprised…)
I have no idea what this type of knot is called. If we have any knot aficionados in the crowd, feel free to chime in! I usually just refer to it as the “fancy” knot! A little tricky to learn, but very helpful when undoing everything at the end! Thank you, fancy knot!
The loom is set! We are all dressed and ready to go! You know what this means – next up, there will be weaving! Woohoo! And the crowd goes wild! Again, could just be me… Talk to you soon!