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

 

The end is in sight!

Hello friends! Let’s wrap this up today, shall we?

Moving right along!
Moving right along!
Coming around the bend!
Coming around the bend!

The knots are coming up quickly, signaling the end of the fabric! I started the project with lots of blues, moved into some purples and now am solidly living in magenta-land! (I know many folks who could live quite happily in magenta-land without complaints!)

Love those rich colors!
Love those rich colors!
Peeking over the edge...
Peeking over the edge…

I’m still incorporating a strip of necktie every so often to give it a beautiful change in texture. I love the subtlety! But, I may make the ties more prominent next time. We’ll see…

Check out the fun necktie! Little pink, little gray, little yellow!
Check out the fun necktie! Little pink, little gray, little yellow!
The last few inches!
The last few inches!

If you remember from the beginning of the project, I wound in a number of yardsticks to keep the yarns even. Now, all the yardsticks have fallen out of the back and they’ve been moved to the front, keeping the fabric consistent. What would the world do without yardsticks? Honestly, most folks wouldn’t miss them. But, I’d like to think weavers everywhere would! (Or, it could just be me. I’m OK with that!)

Ready for scissors!
Ready for scissors!
Snip, snip!
Snip, snip!

Time to begin cutting! I like to start in the middle and work my way out to the edges, knotting as I go. I had a friend who asked me about using toilet paper at the project end since I use it at the beginning. And what I’ve discovered is that I’ll need to remove it before I transfer it to my seamstress anyways. So, at the end of the project, I don’t bother. You certainly could use some sort of spacer between the fabric and the knots. But for this type of project, it’s not critical. (In my humble opinion, of course!)

Pulling away from the loom!
Pulling away from the loom!

Once all the yarn has been cut and knotted, the fabric flops itself down towards the floor and with the help of gravity, begins unwinding itself! It’s so fun to see the colorful fabric mixed in with a mess of sticks!

It's free!!!
It’s free!!!

Once everything is completely off the loom, I just remove the TP from the beginning of the project (remember when everything was blue?). Then, it’s ready to travel on to the magic seamstress! I don’t have photos handy of the entire bolt of fabric, but I’ll include a few next time so you can see the progression from start to finish! And then, something new! What is better than that? Starting and finishing – they are the best! Talk to you soon…

Run 15 Weaving 76

Wind me up!

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!

Time to tie!
Time to tie!

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.

Time to begin winding - easy does it!
Time to begin winding – easy does it!

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!

Here's what's happenin' at the front!
Here’s what’s happenin’ at the front!

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!

Lots of bundles to yank!
Lots of bundles to yank!

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…)

Slithering from the front to the back!
Slithering from the front to the back!
We're winding, we're winding...
We’re winding, we’re winding…

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…)

And now, we tie on the front!
And now, we tie on the front!
It's a pretty knot!
It’s a pretty knot!

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!

Ready to weave! Yay!
Ready to weave! Yay!

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!

Run 15 Winding 12

Goldenrod

The loom has rods in it and the project includes lots of gold colors… That’s the best I’ve got! I’m up for other “gold” related titles! Send me your brilliant ideas! And we’re winding, and winding, and winding,…

Trusty yard sticks!
Trusty yard sticks!

When winding the yarn around the warp beam at the back, the goal is to provide an even surface for the yarn to wrap around. I like to use yard sticks since I have a 36″ wide loom – the math makes me happy! If you don’t use something (sticks, heavy paper, etc.), the yarn will pile up on itself, creating mountains and valleys. This scenario, in turn, will alter the rate at which the yarn unwinds while weaving, causing tension problems. Yadda, yadda, yadda… bottom line is, yard sticks – good! Nothing between the layers of yarn – bad!

Smoothly winding on the back!
Smoothly winding on the back!

While I’m focused on winding the yarn onto the back, there is plenty of excitement going on at the front! I’m slowly straightening the yarns (sectioning off chunks of yarn that each get a gentle yank before they make their way through the loom) and keeping an eye on them as they travel to the back. You can see the end coming when the tips lift off the carpeting!

The view from the front
The view from the front

Once the lengths becomes very short, it’s time to knot the project onto the rod at the front! I cut out the lease sticks because it’s time to give them a rest. And then, I generally grab about an inch-ish of yarn at a time to create my knots! I’ve found it’s easiest to start in the middle. (How many times during the process have I said, “start in the middle”? Clearly, I’m a creature of habit!)

View from the front, with everything tied on!
View from the front, with everything tied on!
And closer...
And closer…

My weaving instructor taught a complicated knot for this step, which I still use! It’s very easy to undo when you are ready. But, because of the type of cotton I use, I sneak in a simple knot first, and then do the fancy one. I get nervous that the fancy one won’t hold the yarns in place. And nervous weavers are definitely something to avoid! (Ask anyone in my family…)

Closest!
Closest!
See all the lovely knots?
See all the lovely knots?

It’s time to weave!!! Woohoo!!! You’ll need a little filler to spread out the yarns before you dive right in. So, my poison of choice is toilet paper! Matter of fact, I’ve found that the cheap stuff works great! Because it is perforated, it is much easier to remove than a fat yarn or strips of fabric. And, it’s not a huge investment! A friend from the local weaver’s guild gave me a 12 or 16 roll pack once upon a time and at the rate I’m going, I’ll never use it all! So, if you live near Northwest Indiana, give me a buzz and I’ll share with you!

A little TP before we weave!
A little TP before we weave!
About 5-6 rows will do it!
About 5-6 rows will do it!

Ooooh! I love this part coming up! I’m loading up the shuttle and getting ready to let it fly! Isn’t weaving great??? Stay tuned for more fiber goodness…

Run 13 Weaving 1

Look what I can do!

Do remember watching “Stuart” on Mad TV? So funny! One of his famous lines was, “Look what I can do!” which was usually followed by a funny little jump or crazy pose – mostly hysterical because of the seemingly random timing of it! Sometimes good ‘ole Stuart pops in my head when something goes well and I want to share it with someone else! Ah, Stuart…

Time to start snipping!
Time to start snipping!

I have woven as much as I can squeak out! Literally, the yarns won’t separate from each other enough to squeeze the shuttle through. So, time to grab the scissors!

Cut & knot, cut & knot!
Cut & knot, cut & knot!
Working from the inside, out!
Working from the inside, out!

I like to start in the middle and work my way out. Pretty sure the sky won’t fall on you if you do it a different way. But, I’m a fairly serious creature of habit. So, here we go!

Ah... love me a close-up!
Ah… love me a close-up!

I like to cut the yarn close to the back because it gives me many inches of yarn to manipulate when tying the knots. Then, I typically trim each tail so they aren’t crazy long. Very few things are more annoying that cutting the yarn too close to the fabric, so you can’t get your fingers in there to make the knot! It’s no good, I tell ya!

Unrolling is such fun!!!
Unrolling is such fun!!!

It is such a joy to take the brake off and let the fabric unwind from the loom! It goes spinning around, dumping fabric and yard sticks all over your feet – so entertaining! And after many, many hours of working on the project, you definitely look forward to a satisfying release at the end!! From here, I typically remove the toilet paper from the beginning of the project, knot the ends close to the fabric, lay the project out over the living room floor and just grin for awhile! It’s a fantastic feeling starting with a few tubes of yarn and ending with a gorgeous, rich, interesting bolt of fabric! Yay!

Voila! We have fabric!
Voila! We have fabric!

I loved this project! I have no idea what comes next – how’s that for honesty? I’ll come up with something for next week, I promise! Thanks for following along! Talk to you soon…

Run 12 Fabric 2