Tips for Taming String Yarn Weft Tails

Those pesky string yarn weft tails! There is a lot of starting and stopping with these mug rugs. Normally, tucking a weft tail back into the shed adds a bit of extra thickness at the selvedge. So, what about this very thick weft? It has the potential to throw everything off balance. A few easy tips help minimize the distortion the thicker weft can cause.

Taming String Yarn Weft Tails

  • Begin the thick weft on alternating sides. This will prevent one selvedge from building up more than the other.
  • Taper the end of the string yarn, cutting it at a steep angle.
  • Starting about 1 3/4″ inside the selvedge, send the shuttle through the shed toward the selvedge, going over or under the outermost warp end. Pull through until almost all of the weft tail is caught.
What to do with string yarn weft tails.

Starting the shuttle from the inside, going outward, is an easy way to catch all the separate threads of the string yarn.

Taming string yarn weft tails.

  • In same shed, send the shuttle back through to the other side, aware of encircling the one warp end.

Tucking in string yarn weft tails. Tips.

  • Beat. (Beat on open shed. Beat again. Change sheds. Beat again.)

How to manage string yarn weft tails.

  • Continue weaving.

Rep weave mug rugs. String yarn weft tails - tips!

  • To end the thick weft, leave a 1 3/4″ tail, and taper the end of the string yarn, as before. Lay the tail back in the last shed, going around the outermost warp end. Beat.

Things happen that throw us off balance. From personal celebrations to unexpected losses. Don’t be afraid. Putting trust in the Lord minimizes the inner turmoil. The Lord is my light. He lights my way. What is there to be afraid of? Wholehearted trust in the Lord pushes fearfulness away.

May you walk in a lighted path.

Happy weaving,
Karen

4 Comments

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    Hey Karen,
    Just wanted to say congratulations on another great project and article in the newest Handwoven Mag! I’m so proud of you! Thanks for all you hard work and help with our weaving!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Liberty, Thank you so much! It’s my joy to add my little two cents to the whole wide weaving world. My copy came in the mail yesterday! There are a lot of great projects in there.

      Thanks, friend,
      Karen

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Tools Day: Swedish Weaving Draft

Cooks have recipes, builders have blueprints, and handweavers have weaving drafts. There are a few different formats, but all drafts carry the same essential information. There is the tie-up box, the threading pattern, and the treadling sequence. Finally, there’s the drawdown, a graphic representation of how all the threads intersect.

The two formats I see most often are the typical American draft (e.g., Handwoven), and the Swedish draft (e.g., VÄV Magasinet). Many American drafts assume jack looms; whereas, Swedish drafts usually assume counterbalance or countermarch looms. However, any loom can weave from any draft.

As Madelyn van der Hoogt says in The Complete Book of Drafting, “Any tie-up can be used for any type of loom. Discover from the tie-up which shafts must be up and which down for each shed, and do to the loom whatever is required to get them there.”

All the draft formats have this in common: The tie-up box is the starting point. The threading pattern and treadling sequence begin at that point, and go out from there.

The Swedish draft makes perfect sense (remember, of course, I weave on Swedish countermarch looms). I picture the draft as if it is lying flat in front of me.

Becky Ashenden says in the forward to Weave Structures the Swedish Way, “With this orientation of tie-up, treadling, and threading, the draft has a direct relationship to the weaving of the fabric. The tie-up’s location in the lower right-hand corner of the draft allows all other information to match as closely as possible the physical aspects of the loom.”

Here is a comparison of the Swedish and American draft formats:

Swedish Draft

Reading a Swedish draft.

Swedish draft, with a weft drawdown.

  • Weft drawdown (filled-in squares show lowered warp threads, weft passing over)
  • Tie-up is in lower right corner, and uses black squares to designate shafts that sink / white squares for shafts that rise
  • Threading is below the drawdown
  • Shafts are numbered from back of the loom to front, with the first shaft the furthest from the weaver seated at the loom
  • Treadling sequence is on the right, and reads from bottom to top
  • Treadles are numbered from right to left
  • For a “sinking shed” loom (countermarch or counterbalance loom), use the black squares to tie up sinking shafts
  • For a “rising shed loom” (jack loom), use the white squares to tie up rising shafts

American Draft

Reading weaving drafts.

American draft, with a warp drawdown.

  • Warp drawdown (filled-in squares show raised warp threads, weft passing under)
  • Tie-up is in upper right corner, and uses numerals to designate shafts that rise / white squares for shafts that sink
  • Threading is above the drawdown
  • Shafts are numbered from front of loom to the back, with the first shaft the closest to the weaver seated at the loom
  • Treadling sequence is on the right, and reads from top to bottom
  • Treadles are numbered from left to right
  • For a “sinking shed” loom (countermarch or counterbalance loom), use the white squares to tie up sinking shafts
  • For a “rising shed loom” (jack loom), use the squares with numerals to tie up rising shafts

Similarities between Swedish and American Drafts

  • Threading reads right to left
  • Squares in the tie-up box represent treadle cords that attach treadles to corresponding shafts
Weaving draft in place for weaving mug rugs.

Draft is hanging at the corner of the loom. The fabric logically grows in the same direction as the sequence of weft picks as seen on the treadling draft.

Resources
Getzmann, Ulla, and Becky Ashenden. Weave Structures the Swedish Way. Shelburne, MA: Väv Stuga Press, 2006.
Hoogt, Madelyn Van der. The Complete Book of Drafting for Handweavers. Coupeville, WA: Shuttle-Craft Books, 1993.

May you flourish at your loom.

All the best,
Karen

14 Comments

  • Julia says:

    Hi Karen,
    Thank you for this comparison of the two ways to write drafts, this will make translation much easier.

    One question. You say, “For a “rising shed loom” (jack loom), use the white squares (or numerals) to tie up rising shafts”. Do you mean this to apply to the American way of writing the draft?

    Thank you.

    • Karen says:

      Julia, Thank you for asking this question. I need to edit what I wrote and make a correction.

      The American way of writing the draft usually has numerals for the rising shafts. For a jack loom, use the squares with numerals to tie up rising shafts. The white squares, in this case, are used to tie up sinking shafts.

      Thanks for helping me clarify!

      Karen

  • Thanks Karen, a good blog to explain the differences quite clearly. I prefer the swedish way (and yes I have a a Glimåkra floor loom, but it just makes sense to me. Sometimes I get them mixed up but I think it’s good to know both methods. It’s a bit like preferring to beam the warp from the front or the back – you just tend to find what works for you. Thank you again.
    Blessings,
    Alison

    • Karen says:

      Hi Alison, I get them mixed up, too. I am so accustomed to the Swedish format that I have to go back and review my notes if I want to “translate” an American draft.

      Karen

  • Hi Karen,
    Thanks for the comparison post. It will be good to refer new weaver’s to it, so they know there is more than one way for patterns to be written.

    Here is a bit of additional information for American weaver’s used to jack loom drafts. Many own the book, A Handweaver’s Pattern Book by Marguerite Davison. It was published back when counterbalance looms were the norm. Her drafts are written in the American way, with threading and tie-up at the top. Her tie-up is written for a sinking shed, so marked boxes go down. If someone owns a jack loom, in order to see the pattern while weaving, they should tie up the blank squares instead of the x’s. I think other older drafts, such as Atwater, Bertha Hayes, and others also tie up for counterbalanced looms.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jenny, I’m glad you mentioned this! It’s important for a weaver to understand the format of a draft and how to interpret it.

      My first project on a floor loom was from Davison’s book. My instructor carefully pointed out the author’s note that tells that the drafts are written for counterbalance looms.

      Thank you so much for adding this important information for weavers used to drafts written for jack looms.

      Karen

  • Sandy says:

    Karen, I’m new to all of this, and I’m not able to perceive what you are referring to as black and white squares. Are those the empty squares? So you would tie up all of those, vs one black thread?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sandy, Empty or white? It’s a matter of perception. Yes, in a draft written for sinking shed looms, such as a Swedish draft, you would tie up the empty squares if you are using a jack loom. I don’t think of the squares as “empty,” because for my countermarch loom, I tie up the black squares to the shafts that sink, and I tie up those “white” squares to the shafts that rise.

      I hope that makes sense.
      Karen

  • Randi says:

    Thank you for this post. I’m a new weaver and have a counterbalance loom. I’ve ordered the book you mentioned.

    I also really enjoy your posts.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Randi, You are welcome! I wanted this kind of information when I was starting out, so I’m hoping it is useful for others. The Getzmann/Ashenden book does a great job of explaining the whole drafting concept and procedure. So does the Van der Hoogt book, for that matter. You can’t have too many weaving books! 🙂

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Sandy says:

    Thank you for writing this post. I’m sure it will be very helpful to many of those seeking to expand our repertoire.

    A friend recently sent me some drafts written in the Swedish manner and, while I figured out most of it, I misinterpreted how the shafts are numbered in relation to the weaver. I’ll have to go back to my Fiberworks entry and edit it or I’ll mess up my weaving.

    I have two looms, one a computer controlled dobby that uses a programme in the American style. My other loom is a four shaft counterbalance that I brought home from Europe, so I’m somewhat used to reversing the tie-up when I weave with it. My first project ended up upside down on the loom!

    • Karen says:

      Sandy, You are going to become an expert on reading different formats of weaving drafts! Bravo! I’m guessing that just about every weaver has accidentally woven a fabric upside down. I know I have.

      The thing about reversing the order of the shafts and the treadles is that it usually doesn’t really matter all that much. As long as you are consistent, most things will come out just fine, even if they are upside down.

      Happy weaving!
      Karen

  • Sue Seymour says:

    I have learned – the hard way – to read the Intro material in any new book I purchase so as to learn which way the author is writing drafts, treadling, and tie-up. It seems there is always a new wrinkle. Even though I have a Swedish countermarche loom, I prefer the American way of drafting, which is what I learned way back when there were only three weaving books available, Mary Black, Mary Atwater, and the Davison book.

    • Karen says:

      Sue, Yes, read the intro material. It’s not unusual for you to prefer the American way of drafting. I’m sure it’s second nature for you. And those three books should still be in every weaver’s library.

      All the best,
      Karen

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Weaving Rugs Under Mugs

I don’t mind slow weaving. The progress that is measured in hours, not minutes, is satisfying. I don’t mind fast weaving, either. It’s a chance to be productive. These mug rugs fall in the fast-weaving category. I can whip up a few of these in an afternoon.

Rep weave mug rugs. Cottolin and stringyarn.

Plain weave hems fill the space between rep weave mug rugs.

I hope to get 20 to 25 of these little mug rugs from this six-yard warp. I have to admit, it’s fun to weave something easy once in a while. Now, I can measure progress in minutes, instead of hours. We determine the value of things according to time and effort, don’t we? How long did it take, and how much effort? Some woven items are destined for elegance, and others are, simply, rugs under mugs.

Rep weave mug rugs on the loom.

Mug rugs begin to circle the cloth beam. Turquoise Cottolin weft thread alternates with black midi stringyarn. Block changes are made by weaving two thick picks in a row.

Grace doesn’t measure value that way. The Lord’s generous grace demonstrates true equality and fairness. His grace places equal value on people, not taking into account how “good” they are, or how much effort they extend to do “good” things. Grace is distributed equally. The Lord offers it to all, not because of who we are or what we have done, but because of who he is, and what he has done. That’s good news. The mug rugs may end up on an elegant table, after all.

May you receive and extend grace.

Happy weaving,
Karen

PS Plattväv Towel Kit update: Still in progress! You will be the first to know when the kits are ready.

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New Warp Comes Alive

Put on a new warp as soon as possible. That’s my philosophy. A weaving loom should not stay bare. I am ready to begin a stack of rep weave mug rugs (my local weaving group is making them for an upcoming conference).

Cottolin warp on the warping reel.

Cottolin warp seems to light up on the warping reel. The colors become more vibrant when lined up together.

A new warp comes alive as I wind the threads on the warping reel. It is a picture of possibility! Every warp has a beginning and an end. Beginning a new warp on the loom is always exciting. And when I come near the end, I often wish I could weave a little longer.

Cottolin warp chain with vibrant colors!

Warp chain is ready for dressing the Glimåkra Ideal loom.

Pre-sleying the reed for rep weave mug rugs.

Lease sticks are in place under the reed, held up by two support sticks, and the warp has been pre-sleyed. Next step is to set up the warping trapeze.

Have you considered the warp as a metaphor for a life’s span? It is measured out in advance, with a certain type of fabric in mind. The setts, patterns, and structures vary. But they are all meant to be woven. Weft passes are like days and years. For a time, it seems like it will never end. And then, you see the tie-on bar coming over the back beam. You’re reminded that this warp is temporary. We all have this in common: We are mortal. Time is a precious gift. Every pass of the weft is a reminder of our Grand Weaver’s loving attentiveness to complete the weaving he began.

May you enjoy the gift of time.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Deb Hazen says:

    Love the image of being a weaving in progress. As weavers, we take such care to bring projects along…we spend extra and loving energy sorting out the snarled sections. Most importantly, we are persistently present. How delightful it will be to sit at my loom tonight and reflect on my life as a weaving in perfect confidence that my Creator always has the shuttle.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Deb,

      in perfect confidence that my Creator always has the shuttle

      What a lovely way to say it! In that confidence lies true rest and peace.

      Thanks for sharing,
      Karen

  • Kate Chitwood says:

    I hope those mug rugs are going to the CHT conference ! I’ll be there – hope to see you.

  • Cindy Bills says:

    Hi, Karen,
    I’m a weaver in Michigan, new to your site. I am loving your posts! Thank you for your reminders of how all things can be seen through the eyes of our faith, and our lives made richer because we do. And we learn so much from our Lord!
    I also strive to always have something on each of my looms. Right now that is a rayon scarf in peacock colors on my 8 shaft Schacht Standard, a baby blanket in James C Brett Marble chunky on my 48 inch Ashford rigid heddle loom, and placemats on my 15 inch Cricket travel loom. My 30 inch Flip loom just became bare after finishing another smaller baby blanket in soft washable acrylics.
    Aren’t we blessed to be able to weave this life and give of our weaving skills to others?!
    Thanks in advance for the blessing of your thoughts as you continue to post them.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindy, Looms all active! What a treat to hear about what you have on your looms. Who would’ve thought we could gain and give so much by weaving fabric?

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Debi says:

    Beautiful…both the weaving and the analogy! God bless!

  • Bruce Mullin says:

    Nice comforting thoughts!

  • Missie says:

    I’m always drawn to photos of rolls of yarn, thread, and wool. There is something about the colors and chaotic tangles that give beautiful patterns making for great composition. Also there is a nice representation of something in transition… taken something raw from nature and turning it into a transitional product full of possibilities. The colors of this warp chain are beautiful together.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Missie, I agree, a collection of (somewhat organized) yarn or thread is a good representation of transition… with all the uncertainty and unknown, yet it holds a promise of something good or useful that will come out of it. Great thoughts!

      All the best,
      Karen

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