Two fingers gently test the resistance of the threads, from the center of the warp, moving outwards to the right, and to the left. This is how I evaluate the warp tension. I don’t rush; and I give the effort all my attention. Weft rep, where the ground weft almost completely covers the warp, is especially susceptible to hills and valleys from uneven warp tension. After I have made several tension adjustments, I tie on the leveling string. Next is tying up lamms and treadles, and winding quills. Then, the joy of weaving this monksbelt begins!
The ability to feel unevenness in warp tension is a learned practice. Being attentive is half the battle; and patience is the other half. Taking time on the front end reduces correction time after weaving has begun.
Skilled listening is a learned practice, too. Listening is more than hearing, isn’t it? Pay attention to how you listen. It matters. It takes a gentle touch to listen with a heart of understanding. When we listen with an unbending heart, we only hear what we want to hear. Patience on the front end results in fewer corrections later.
May you hear and be heard.
“Put on many short warps.” This was the best piece of advice I received as a new weaver! Repeated practice of the back-to-front warping steps accelerated my confidence at the loom. If I can get it on the loom, surely I can weave it, right? When you are comfortable dressing the loom, you start feeling like a “real” handweaver. And before you know it, you are planning, designing, and weaving. And having the time of your life!
Tips for Preparing the Warp for Beaming
- Wind the warp with two (or more) threads, separated by your fingers to keep them from twisting. This virtually eliminates tangles during the warping process.
- Wind multiple bouts, when needed. The rule of thumb I use is to stay under 200 ends or 10 inches. Smaller bouts equalize the tension across the width of the warp.
- Tie tight choke ties about every yard or meter along the warp before chaining it. This keeps the warp ends from shifting.
- Keep the warp under constant, even tension. Threads can get into trouble if you let them relax.
Warping Back to Front
2 Raise the shafts out of the way, and place support sticks over the beater and the back beam to hold the lease sticks and the pre-sley reed. Thread the lease sticks through the cross of each chain. Lease sticks in the picture are being tied together.
3 Use tape measure and reed hook to mark the starting dent for pre-sleying the reed.
4 Divide warp into sections corresponding to the cords on the back tie-on bar. Insert the tie-on bar through the loops that form at the end of the warp.
5 Install the warping trapeze at the front of the loom, or use another method to extend the warp and weight it. Texsolv cord is connected to the end of each warp chain to extend the length. (This is a 3.5 meter warp–not long enough to go over the trapeze cross bar.) Weights are suspended from the texsolv cords with S-hooks.
6 Transfer the lease sticks from in front of the reed to behind the reed. This is a gutsy way of transferring lease sticks. (Please don’t try this method unless you read about it first in Becky Ashenden’s book, noted below.)
7 Straighten out each warp end from the reed to the back tie-on bar.
8 Place the reed in the beater. Center the reed in the beater.
9 Remove choke ties between the beater and the trapeze cross bar, but do not remove choke ties from the very end of the warp. Starting at the reed, separate each warp bout in the middle.
10 After sliding lease sticks toward the reed, wind the warp onto the beam. Place a warping slat on each flat side of the warp beam for one revolution. (Octagonal beam uses eight sticks.) Advance weight at the front of the loom as needed. After two additional revolutions of the beam, add warping slats for one revolution again. Continue this pattern as beaming progresses.
11 Tie beater back to allow a little more warp to be wound on.
12 Tie lease sticks to the back beam. Do not forget this step!
If you missed step 12, do it now, or you will be yelling for help as you try to hold the cut ends with one hand while trying to keep the lease sticks from slipping out with your other hand. I speak from experience.
13 Loop the end of the warp chain around your hand, and then remove the remaining choke ties. Cut the loop.
14 Remove a group of warp threads from the reed and tie in a loose slipknot. Continue across the warp. Remove the reed.
16 Adjust the loom for threading. For this Glimåkra Standard loom, I move the countermarch assembly to the back of the loom, put the bench in the “playhouse,” and lower the shafts for threading.
For more thorough instructions about warping your loom, please consult these excellent resources:
- Dress Your Loom The Vävstuga Way, A Bench-Side Photo Guide, by Becky Ashenden
- Learning to Warp Your Loom, by Joanne Hall
- The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell
May you find yourself beaming, inside and out.
Monksbelt is up next, another classic Swedish weave. I’m thrilled! This time I am weaving yardage, without knowing exactly how the fabric will be used. I planned this project while the rya rag rug was still on the loom; and I’m eager to get started!
Winding the warp is a rewarding part of the process. When I wind a warp, it goes directly to a ready-and-waiting loom. So, this is a declaration of a new beginning. It is also the anticipation of future rewards. The final reward is long-lasting–a useful length of colorful handwoven fabric.
Look for rewards that will last. We get side-tracked if we look only for immediate satisfaction, or short-term success. The long view brings perspective that cannot be seen in quick snapshots. I don’t have to know exactly how things will look in the future. I can enjoy the stage of the process I am in right now. Ultimately, though, I await the finished cloth. Keeping that reward in mind brings purpose to each step along the way. The eternal reward that heaven holds for us fills each season here with meaning.
May you enjoy many rewarding experiences.
Hemming a rag rug may be easier than you think. I have used my classic Bernina sewing machine to hem rag rugs; but now, I hem many of them by hand. It’s easier and faster than I once thought. I plan the rug’s hem into the weaving, using half-width fabric strips for the hem area, and end it off with 1 cm of a warp thread heading. After cutting off the rug, I secure and trim the warp ends. There’s only one thing left to do. Hem the rug! (Start with Tools Day: Rag Rug Finishing Video if you haven’t seen it yet.)
Tools and supplies
- Steam iron
- Long straight pins
- Rug warp to match the rug (mine is Bockens 12/6 cotton seine twine)
- Blunt tapestry needle
May you enjoy the work of your hands.
An isolated thin weft stripe makes a bold statement. One simple technique greatly improves the efficiency of weaving such a stripe in a rag rug. This method eliminates the need to weave weft tails in at the beginning and end of the stripe. So, besides being efficient, the selvedges look better too.
How to Weave a Thin Weft Stripe (Two Picks)
1 Weave up to the stripe placement. No need to end the weft if the same weft will continue after the thin stripe.
2 Place the first pick of the stripe in the shed, leaving a long tail of about 6 inches / 15 cm, or more.
3 Beat in the first pick of the stripe.
4 Change sheds. Lay the long tail into the new shed.
5 Send the shuttle across for the second pick, catching the previous weft to carry it up the selvedge.
6 As the weft goes across for the second pick, bring the shuttle all the way out.
7 Pull enough of the second pick through the warp to cut a tapered edge that will overlap the tapered edge of the long tail.
8 Overlap the two tapered fabric strips in the shed.
9 Beat in the second pick of the stripe.
10 Continue weaving with the previous weft that was carried up the selvedge.
If you’re like me, you are always on the lookout for ways to enhance weaving efficiency. One little tip can improve the whole weaving experience. When you know there is so much more to learn, and you are hungry to learn, every morsel of insight is delectable.
Has your soul ever felt hungry? Mine has. The Lord is ready to fill the hungry soul with good. He fills the empty. He satisfies the hungry, meeting the deepest need. One sweet morsel leads to another, inviting us to keep coming back. Taste and see that the Lord is good.
May you be hungry for good things.