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…
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!
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!
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!)
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!!!
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?
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!
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…
When a weaver is in the process of setting up a loom, it is called “dressing” the loom! And there is your interesting nugget for the day! Now, on with the show!
To take the yarn off the warping board, I do a twisty thing. (Is all the technical talk making you woozy?) I’m sure there is a more precise description for it. But basically, you start at the bottom of the board, create a loop and pull another loop through it, and then repeat until you reach the top. With one good yank, it will come undone. I think it’s crochet-related – does that sound right? It took me awhile to get the swing of it. But, it is very helpful in this instance!
Before I take anything off the board, I mark where the cross is located (see below) and I like to add a choke tie at the top. Choke ties are just what they sound like – a piece of yarn tied really, really tightly around a portion of the project. I like putting at least one in place. And if you are nervous about the yarns shifting too much, you can certainly add more! Weavers preference! (Kind of like what you put on your hot dog… mustard and pickles, of course! Or, if the place does Chicago style dogs, adding tomato and celery salt, too! Makes me drool a little thinking about it…)
Once all the parts of the project are off the warping board, they all converge at the table – hopefully in order! It looks the colorful chaos. But, there is a method to the madness – promise!
It’s a short one today! But, the break in the action seems to make sense! Next up, I’ll be sleying the reed – my favorite! Can you feel the excitement buzzing? Talk to you soon…