The missing piece…

Hello! The reed has been sleyed (threaded) and is now ready to slide into the loom, bringing all the parts together!

Reed, meet the loom. Loom, reed.
Reed, meet the loom. Loom, reed.

The reed’s job is to keep the project a consistent width. The reed is now tucked into the beater bar, that will move forward and back to keep the density of the fabric consistent while we’re weaving. The beater bar sits in front of the shafts which will move up and down creating a pattern in the fabric. Lastly, in the shafts live a bunch of heddles that hold each yarn, which will move according to the pattern. And that covers the inner workings of a loom! Go forth and impress your friends with your weaving knowledge!

Fits like a glove!
Fits like a glove!

When I’m threading heddles, I like to start in the middle and work my way out. Because I have a 4-shaft loom, I have 4 different options for each yarn. I’ll be doing a stardard 1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4 pattern for this project – keeping it nice and simple! So, the first yarn is threaded through a heddle on shaft 1. The next yarn goes through a heddle on shaft 2. Then, 3, and 4 and back to 1! Repeat over and over again until all the yarns are safely tucked into the loom!

View from the back!
View from the back!

(By the way, shaft 1 is closest to the beater bar and shaft 4 is closest to the back. Just for a little clarification, because I know you were dying to ask… I see your hand up over there!)

Bird's eye view of the (4) shafts.
Bird’s eye view of the (4) shafts.

Here is a concept that might make your brain ooze out of your ears. Because I’m starting in the middle and moving to the right, the yarns will go in the order I mentioned before. But after that 1/2 is finished, I need to come back to the middle and move to the left – meaning I need to thread them backwards (4-3-2-1-4-3-2-1)… Yeah, it’s a little disorienting the first few times you do it! But ultimately, I want the pattern to look the same from one end to the other. Thankfully, it feels less weird the more times you do it!

Each yarn has (4) different options!
Each yarn has (4) different options!
It's a close-up. Just because...
It’s a close-up. Just because…

I like to knot the yarns together about every inch. It helps me double and triple check that I haven’t flubbed up somewhere before this! The “flubbing up” does occasionally happen… I know, it’s hard to believe…

And so it goes!
And so it goes!

The heddles are threaded – woohoo! All that’s left is to wind the project onto the loom, and then there will be weaving! Lots and lots of weaving!!! Hang tight for all the fun to come! Talk to you soon…

Run 15 Heddles 13

Making a "dent" in the project…

Hello, friends! I’ve just started a project including a variety of purples sandwiched in between sections of pale blue. I was feeling the cool colors, if you couldn’t guess! The project has been measured on the warping board and is moving to the table to sley the reed!

A warp, a reed and a pair of lease sticks walk into a bar...
A warp, a reed and a pair of lease sticks walk into a bar…

So, here are the players – the project (I have mine in 2 chunks because of its size), the lease sticks (this pair of sticks will help keep the cross, therefore maintaining the consecutive order of the yarns), and the reed (a long, skinny, metal frame with evenly spaced slots to keep the project width the same). Some weavers like to use a sley hook for threading, too. But, I’m using a reed with fairly wide slots, so it’s not too tough to get the little buggers in there!

In go the lease sticks!
In go the lease sticks!
A close up of the lease sticks book-ending the cross.
A close up of the lease sticks book-ending the cross.

When I was winding everything on the warping board, I carefully kept each yarn in order by using the “cross”. So, I don’t want to lose it now that the project has been moved! Here is where there lease sticks are critical. I’ve tied a contrasting yarn around the 2 sides of the cross so I can tell where the sticks slide in. From here on, the lease sticks will stay in the project until I’m nearly finished dressing the loom! (“Dressing the loom” refers to the process of setting it up. You know us weavers – we can’t just say “setting it up”! It has to sound old and formal and like we’re drinking Earl Grey with our pinkies in the air… or something like that!)

We're ready! Let's sley!
We’re ready! Let’s sley!
Threading the project into the reed!
Threading the project into the reed!

I am using an 8-dent reed for this project, which means I have 8 slots per inch. I’ve planned for each yarn to get their own dent, with the occasional doubling up! Once upon a time, I unintentionally put multiple yarns in a dent. Now, I do it on purpose! Funny how that happens!

Each yarn finds a home in a dent...
Each yarn finds a home in a dent…
It's all in!
It’s all in!

In the weaving world, there are 2 opposing camps when it comes to dressing the loom – front-to-back (go through the reed, then the heddles, then wind on), and back-to-front (just the opposite). I’m a front-to-back weaver, which allows me to tackle this stage sitting at a comfortable table versus leaning over a loom. I’ve always appreciated that perk! I’m sure there are various benefits to going the opposite direction. I’m just not as familiar with them. Of course, I am completely biased. So, there you have it…

Next up, the reed & the loom will converge!
Next up, the reed & the loom will converge!

The reed has been sleyed! (It always sound more exciting and violent than it actually is!) Next up, I’ll slide it into the loom and pair up the yarns with the heddles. Ah, sweet progress… Talk to you soon…

Run 15 Sleying 9

Something borrowed, something new…

Ok, so I sort of butchered the title phrase! But, I think my version accurately applies to the next project! In the past, I’ve created fabric using traditional yarns in the shuttle, and I’ve created fabric using recycled materials – specifically men’s neckties. What if there was something in between? A hybrid, if you will! Let’s see what that might look like! First up, creating a warp!

Step up to the warping board!
Step up to the warping board!

Because the last project was all about the warm colors, it only seems fitting that the cool colors get a chance to shine in this round! A variety of purples mixed with a pale blue (the blue looks sort of gray in some of my photos) will be just the right blend to create something interesting… At least, that’s the goal!

How 'bout a few cool colors?
How ’bout a few cool colors?

The brilliance of the warping board is found when the weaver can measure out a lengthy project, ensuring that each individual yarn will be the same length as its neighbor.  Like so many weaving tools, it doesn’t look like much. But, it is used for big, ambitious things! Yay, warping boards!!

The starting peg!
The starting peg!

When you change colors, you cut and knot the yarn at the beginning or ending peg – at least I do! I suppose there may be a way to have the yarn hang out to the side until you need it again. But, I prefer to keep things simple and hopefully, tangle-free. So, I just chop it, tie it, and move it away from the board until I need it again. But, as I design a project, I don’t usually consider what hassle that might be if I’m changing colors every 4th yarn! Ah, artists…

The ending peg!
The ending peg!
Twisting off the first 1/2!
Twisting off the first 1/2!

There aren’t really a lot of rules to the warping board! Yet, the point of this step is not only to wind on hundreds of yarns all the same length, but also to wind them on in order! And you need a cross to do that. The cross is the point where all the yarns intersect – one in front of the next one. Because they come from opposite directions, you should be able to “read” the order once it’s off the loom. A little tricky to explain in photographs. For all my non-weaving friends, just know that it’s important. For all my weaving friends, I’m happy to expand if you have questions!

The infamous "cross"!
The infamous “cross”!
My own little racetrack of yarn!
My own little racetrack of yarn!

When taking the yarn off the warping board, I start at the bottom and do a little twisty thing until I get to the top. My weaving teacher tried to explain how the twisting motion was similar to a crochet stitch. But, since I’m not a crochet-er, I’m sure I looked at her with glazed-over, non-comprehending eyes. So, she just walked me through it about 50 times until I got it! Teachers are so patient, aren’t they?

Second 1/2 of the project!
Second 1/2 of the project!
Only takes a few flicks of the wrist!
Only takes a few flicks of the wrist!

All right! The yarn has been measured and is ready to go into the reed! Next up, we’ll be sleying! Makes me so happy!!! Talk to you soon…

Run 15 Warping 13

Gold futures

Laura – I love it! She had all sorts of “gold” titles for me! Thank you much! I’ll be taking ideas for next week! So, send them my way! Let’s finish threading the heddles, shall we?

So many lovely heddles!
So many lovely heddles!

I’m taking each yarn and threading it through the eye of a heddle on one of the shafts. My loom only has (4) shafts, so not too many choices! The pattern is really straightforward, making my job a little bit easier!

One of my favorite heddles pictures - ever!
One of my favorite heddle pictures – ever!

I like to include a few images from various angles to present a different perspective. Especially in this case! Because, you can see the yarn travel from the front, through the beater bar which holds the reed, and lastly through the (4) shafts that hold the heddles – all the really critical elements in the loom! If the yarns aren’t in the proper spot, the weaving process can quickly become less than fun. And no one wants that!

Bird's eye view
Bird’s eye view
The path through the belly of the loom.
The path through the belly of the loom.

Now that all the yarns have been matched up with a heddle, it’s time to tie everyone to the back of the loom and wind them on! First up, extending the back of the loom! I had everything condensed so I could sit very close to the heddles. Now, I have to let the loom stretch back out to it’s full size!

Time to extend the back!
Time to extend the back!
Voila!
Voila!

Next, I’ll tie the yarns to a rod that has been lashed to the back. You want to unroll the rod and take it over the “rear oval beam”, which is the beam at the top, versus the beam that the project winds onto. So, confession time… I tend to call both the “warp beam” and “rear oval beam” the same thing – the back beam! In rare instances when I need to differentiate, I just rephrase the sentence to work around it! Ha! Now you know my dark little secret! Don’t judge. And definitely don’t tell anyone who thinks I know what I’m talking about! It can just stay between you and me, right?

Tying the yarns to the back
Tying the yarns to the rod
Let's wind it on!
Let’s wind it on!

When you wind the yarns, you need to release the brake first so all the loom parts will move. I always look like I’m playing a strange game of twister when I do it! Because you release the brake with your left foot, turn the crank with your right hand and I usually use my left hand to keep the lease sticks level with the eye of the heddles so everything moves as smoothly as possible. Let’s just say I recommend doing a few tree poses beforehand to help with your balance!

Release the brake!!!
Release the brake!!!

(In the picture below, you can see both the rear oval beam and the warp beam. The warp beam is easy to pick out because the white cords are already winding around it. The rest of the yarns will soon wind around it, too! Whereas, the rear oval beam is just a place holder that the yarn travels over. It’s at the top right of the image. See how I’m practicing my new vocabulary already?!!)

Heading towards the back beam.
Heading towards the back beam.

And let the winding continue! Between you and me, this is not my favorite part of the process. Mostly, because it means I am SO close to weaving! So close! But, it’s essential and with any luck, I will be happily throwing the shuttle in no time! Stick around to see the fun! Talk to you soon…

Run 13 Winding On 4

Goldfinger

Carole suggested I use James Bond’s “Goldfinger” as the title, which I love!! There’s something about combining 007 and weaving that just tickles my funny bone! Could they be any more different? Ha! If you have other gold-related titles to suggest, I’m all ears! And now, on to the show…

All done sleying!
All done sleying!

I usually try to take many, many photos during the course of a project. But sometimes, I get caught up the process and forget! This is the case with the “sleying the reed” step this time around! I typically have 10-20 photos of each inch of the reed, and now I have about 2! What can you do, right? (So, imagine I’ve included another handful of delightful images! I’ll make it up to you, I promise!) I have threaded each yarn through a slot (called a dent) in the reed and now, it will all go into the loom!

The beater bar at the front of the loom
The beater bar at the front of the loom
In goes the reed!
In goes the reed!

In an attempt to make life easier, I tied the lease sticks in place so they won’t flop around when I’m threading the heddles. But, I like keeping the lease sticks in the project through this step because they act as a hurdle the yarn has to go through. If there is a knot or twist in the yarn, it will get caught at the lease sticks and I can straighten it out before it gets to the loom! (At least that is how it happens in a perfect world!)

Tying up the lease sticks
Tying up the lease sticks

Once the stage is set at the front, I come around to the back, drop the weaving bench down to a squat and begin threading the heddles! Heddles are long, skinny, metal pieces with an eye in the middle for holding a yarn. The heddles live on each of the (4) shafts in my loom. (A shaft, or a harness, is a frame in the loom that lifts up – taking yarn with it!) So, I have (4) choices on where each yarn can go. For this project, it’s a simple 1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4 pattern, which doesn’t hurt my head too badly.

The view from the back!
The view from the back!
A little slip knot will hold it for now!
A little slip knot will hold it for now!

I recommend tying the yarns together at every inch or whatever makes sense to you. Then, go back when you’re done and check your work. (It sounds like a math problem, doesn’t it – “checking your work”? If that makes you break out in hives thinking of Algebra II from long ago, we’ll just call it “verifying your awesome attention to detail”!)

Bird's eye view
Bird’s eye view
A fabulous, fiber row!
A fabulous, fiber row!

While threading heddles, I recommend some upbeat music, maybe a re-run of Big Bang Theory, and a cup of tea (hot or cold – doesn’t matter)! It takes some time! So, you might as well be comfortable! Be sure to get up and stretch every so often. Because sitting in a crouch on a stool is more pleasant than leaning over the loom. But, it’s still tough on your body after awhile! No weaving injuries, please!

Can you see the order?
Can you see the order?

I’m getting there! Next time, I’ll finish threading the heddles and hopefully, tie the project to the back of the loom! It’s getting so good!!! Talk to you soon…

Run 13 Heddles 10