Recipe for a Weaver

Weavers are an exceptional group! Here are my 2 cents on what they’re made of!

Running the numbers

Weaving is not for those who need instant gratification…

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

 

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

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