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

Weave it up to me!

We have crossed all the treacherous obstacles involved in dressing the loom and are now ready for some weaving! Par-tay!

Bring in the TP!
Bring in the TP!

First up, we need some sort of filler to even out the yarns. I like to use toilet paper – preferably, the really cheap stuff! For every (5) weavers you meet, they will have (5) different ways of tackling this part of the process! Using old yarn, strips of fabric, just start weaving without beating it until it evens out, etc. So many options! None of them wrong! (See how zen I sound? Everyone is right in their own way. Well… maybe not you over there with the funny smirk on your face…)

Knots & TP as far as the eye can see! (aka, the width of the loom!)
Knots & TP as far as the eye can see! (aka, the width of the loom!)
Enter weft stage right...
Enter weft stage right…

Since I have blues and purples in the warp (yarns in the loom), it makes sense to start things off with a little blue in the weft (yarns in the shuttle)!

Let's begin with a little sky blue!
Let’s begin with a little sky blue!

So, funny story. I grew up with an elementary teacher who loved everything to match and I inherited a strong sense of color from her! Fast forward to college and I happened to be taking a studio class in my Interior Design major when I have an instructor tell me that my sample board is too “matchy-matchy”… Huh? I’m sure the look on my face said, “I have no idea what you are saying to me! Speak English, please.” I have no recollection of how I remedied the problem. But, I’m sure I grumbled the entire time thinking the instructor was simply crazy!  I find it fascinating what people prefer! Even when they are wrong… (Boy, the zen thing didn’t last but a minute, right?)

Using the trusty rag shuttle!
Using the trusty rag shuttle!
Throw in a few neckties for good measure!
Throw in a few neckties for good measure!

I’ve decided to use recycled neckties as a design element in the fabric – partly because I like the look, and partly because to create fabric solely using ties takes a really long time! I’ve done it, and believe me when I say it’s not quick! So, my solution is to create a hybrid. Use a traditionally woven base and sprinkle in some cool, recycled materials to add a little flair! We’ll see how it goes. Keep your fingers crossed for me…

Ah, the woven landscape!
Ah, the woven landscape!
It's always good to step back!
It’s always good to step back!

All my purple fans can rejoice that I’m using purple ties! It’s a bit subtle, but I like it! As I get into the darker colors, it will be interesting to see how the ties stand out!

The fabric is starting to wind on!
The fabric is starting to wind on!
Lifting shafts 1 & 3... or 2 & 4 - I can't tell!
Lifting shafts 1 & 3… or 2 & 4 – I can’t tell!

Can I tell you how happy all this weaving makes me? If you could peer through the computer, you would see the ridiculous grin! And even better, there is more weaving to come! What is better than that? Not much, friends… not much. Let’s meet back here next week, shall we? Talk to you soon…

Run 15 Weaving 10

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

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