Tools Day: Tape Measures

A tape measure is a weaver’s best friend. Think about how many ways the tape measure serves you. I have one at each loom. Always. And I have a few others scattered around, hanging up, and in bags. Because you never know when you might need to measure something.

Tape Measure Uses

  • Take measurements to determine the desired size of the finished cloth, such as window measurements for curtains, floor space for area rugs, or length of skirt tiers for skirt fabric.
  • Measure the length of a guide string for winding the warp.
  • Find the starting point for the warp width in the pre-sley reed.
  • Double check the width of the warp after it is pre-sleyed.
  • Check the width of the warp on the back tie-on bar.
  • Center the reed in the beater for beaming the warp by measuring the distance from the warp in the reed to the outside edge of the beater on both sides.
  • Find the starting point to sley the reed by measuring half of the warp width outwards from the center of the reed.
  • Double check the width of the warp in the reed after it is sleyed.
  • Center the reed in the beater for weaving.
  • Adjust to the correct width of the warp on the front tie-on bar after the warp is tied on.
  • Mark the measured weaving length on twill tape or ribbon to use as a weaving length guide.
  • Measure how far one quill weaves.
  • Measure the distance between pieces that require unwoven warp, such as for fringe, or for tying knots between rag rugs.
  • Measure the distance from the first shaft (nearest the back of the loom) to the back tie-on bar (especially when you are hoping there is enough warp left to finish a symmetrical pattern).
  • Measure the width and length of fabric that is cut from the loom.
  • Measure the width and length of fabric that has been wet finished, dried, and pressed.
  • Measure your pleasure at the loom. Immeasurable!
Tape measure, in constant use at the loom. Let me count the ways...

Tape measure with imperial and metric units, both of which I use regularly. Metal ends have been removed from the tape to clearly see the tape’s markings, and because I slip the tape into a dent of the reed when I am marking the spot to start sleying.

Tape measure at the loom. Various uses.

Glimåkra Ideal loom, with tape measure in its usual place hanging on the end of the loom bench.

Tape measure usage at the weaving loom.

Glimåkra Standard loom, with tape measure ready for the next measuring task.

Preparing the loom for weaving.

Tape measure hanging over the back beam on the Texas hill country loom while pre-sleying the reed and positioning things to prepare for beaming the warp.

Tape measure hangs on peg strip above the work table.

Extra-long tape measure hangs on the peg strip above my work table.

Sometimes a long tape measure is needed!

Occasionally, I borrow Steve’s metal carpenter’s tape measure from his wood carving bench.

Travel tapestry supplies, including tape measure.

Compact retractible sewing tape measure rides in my travel tapestry bag. It has imperial and metric units.

No purse is complete without a tape measure, right?

No purse is complete without a tape measure, right? (A tape measure can outlive the business it promotes.)

What have I missed? Can you think of other ways your tape measure comes in handy?

May you be blessed in full measure.

All the best,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Annie says:

    I guess I never really thought about how often we measure things but that is quite a lengthy list! I really need to get more to spread around as that seems really convenient. I have one next to my loom and death to anyone who moves it! My family has discovered that I don’t share weaving things well; like tapes, scissors, pins, pens, clamps or my iPad charging cord and actually, not the iPad, either.

    However, I will share many other blessings with them.
    Thank you for sharing your blessings with me this morning, Karen. May you also have a blessed day.

    Annie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, I’m protective of those items around the loom, too. I’m usually the one who carries it off without thinking, though, and then wonders where it is when I need it. 🙂

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Elisabeth says:

    The measuring tape is definitely a tool that has seen consistent use for as long as I can remember, and to me, that’s a “gadget” worth owning. I don’t own many of them, maybe because I am also a seamstress and use it as an “accessory”, it hangs around my neck 🙂
    For weaving, after the fabric is made, I use it for measuring hems, or for seam allowances and centering zippers if I make pillows. The width of a measuring tape, 5/8″, is a good seam allowance for a lot of things, and I use it when I need to mark a consistent 5/8″.
    If consistency is important when making several lengths the same, like for curtains, I measure only the first length with a measuring tape, the rest I measure with the first piece I cut, it tends to be even more accurate that way, especially if you make a bunch.
    Over the years, a new measuring tools has been added, the large gridded cutting mat laying on my work table. Which is a great measuring tool for certain things, like measuring a warp string, texolv cords, or the size of a pillow insert in order to decide the size for the cover. And for good measure (pun intended) when you need to get an idea of proportions, like width and length of a runner or a placemat the gridded mat is great.
    Maybe the most unusal thing I have used my measuring tape for (urged by my urologist) has been to measure the size of my kidney stones 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Oh Elisabeth, I can learn so much from you! I never thought about using the width of the measuring tape to mark a consistent 5/8-in. line.

      I agree that the gridded mat is useful again and again. Also, the clear quilter’s ruler is in frequent use at my table.

      Kidney stones big enough to measure -ouch!

      Thanks for your great input!
      Karen

  • Tobie says:

    I am still looking for cloth measuring tapes. I find it difficult to use the plastic coated ones.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tobie, When I hear cloth measuring tape, the first thing I think of is the cloth measuring tape my grandmother used. Sweet memories there!

      It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a cloth measuring tape. I hope you find some that work for you!

      All the best,
      Karen

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Tapestry Portrait Beginning

I started with a photograph of seventeen-month-old Lucia sitting in her grandad’s lap after eating lunch at Culver’s. Her pouty bottom lip and her serious brown eyes caught my attention. It seems an impossible task to replicate the charming expression in yarn, but it doesn’t hurt to try. I enlarged the picture, and then cropped it to fit a four-by-six-inch “canvas” of 12/6 cotton warp. I also reversed the image, since I am weaving this tapestry from the back. The weft is one, two, or three strands of Fårö wool yarn, depending on the degree of detail.

Grandad and granddaughter.

Steve and Lucia enjoying each other.

Here is my beginning attempt at a portrait, accomplished during our car ride home from Texas hill country, after spending time with Lucia and her cousins for the Christmas holidays.

Travel tapestry loom is warped before hitting the road.

Loom is warped before hitting the road.

Tapestry portrait in progress.

Shapes are slowly filled in with yarn. Paint stick serves to hold the cartoon in place.

On the road with a little tapestry weaving.

On the road with a little tapestry weaving.

Attempting to weave a tapestry portrait.

Beginning the blue and white polka-dotted dress. Inlaid magnets hold the blunt tapestry needle.

Weaving a tapestry portrait in the car.

Dusk has arrived, so it is time to put the weaving away for now. Good lighting is a must.

Checking progress on a small tapestry loom.

Before putting the loom in the bag, I turn it over to look at the right side of the weaving. Progress!

May you attempt the impossible.

All the best,
Karen

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Tools Day: Needles

Even though there are dozens of needles in and around my weaving and sewing spaces, nine stand out from the rest. These go-to needles have earned special favor. As essential tools, these needles have specific holders and permanent homes.

The 9 needles I use most for handweaving.

  • Sharp needles: hand-hemming, hand-sewing, stitching on labels, and stitching a tapestry to a linen mat for mounting (curved needle)
    HOLDER: Pincushion I made in 1980
    HOME: Sewing supply closet, “Needles and Pins” drawer

Sharp needles for hand-hemming. 1980 pin cushion.

Stitching labels onto handwoven towels.

Hand hemming handwoven table runner.

  • Blunt tapestry needles, small and medium: hemstitching, stitching a thread mark to the right side of the fabric, sewing in tapestry weft tails, finishing work—needle-weaving for corrections and repairs
    HOLDER: Remnant of cotton handwoven plain weave fabric
    HOME: Loom-side cart, top drawer

Handy needles to keep by the loom.

Blunt needles by the loom.

Steve sanded and rounded the tips of the needles to make them blunt. A needle with a rounded tip won’t pierce and split the threads.

Hemstitching at the loom.

Sewing in weft tails in the back of a tapestry.

  • Blunt tapestry needles, large: hemstitching, hand-hemming rugs, weaving small tapestries
    HOLDER: Felted inkle-woven tape
    HOME: cutting/work table, Grandma’s old sewing tin

Felted inkle-woven needle holder.

Rag rug hemming by hand.

Hemming a handwoven rag rug.

  • Sacking needles: pulling rag rug warp ends out of scrap weft, threading warp ends back into a wool rug (I did this…once)
    HOLDER: straw-woven pouch from a trip to The Philippines
    HOME: weaving supply closet, top drawer on the left

Woven pouch from The Philippines.

Tying warp ends into knots. Rag rug finishing.

May you find the needle you need when you need a needle.

All the best,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Nanette says:

    Works for you, and a beautiful system! I have several “work stations” (sounds more organized than it is!) on two floors. So, my “system” is four (handwoven of course!) pin cushions, each with a variety of the needles, in various places. Not ideal, I suppose, because often the needles “migrate” and the right one is sometimes not in the right place! Do enjoy all your posts.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nanette, I like how you call them “work stations.” It does sound very orderly. I do understand how those needles can migrate! Mine do that sometimes, too. At least we have some sort of system…

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Elisabeth Munkvold says:

    I love how you store the different needles you use! It makes so much sense. In addition to being a beautiful way to preserve memories, I really like the make-do approach, too.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, I enjoy finding creative solutions to keeping things somewhat organized. I may have learned that from you. 🙂
      It is sweet to find ways to use special items, like my Grandma’s sewing tin.

      Merry Christmas,
      Karen

  • Beth says:

    You’re inspiring me to make something out of a handwoven scrap for needles and get them out of the little plastic box.

  • faun says:

    my great aunt did a similar checkerboard pattern
    “https://flic.kr/p/EnVPZE”

    my needles will migrate thanx to the intervention of critters.
    filling your pincushion with wool fleece with the natural lanolin
    will help prevent rusting- cotton will collect moisture and help them rust
    so wool cloth for your pin cushions is better in the long run too.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Faun, It looks like your great aunt’s rug uses thick and thin weft, like mine. Nice!

      Thanks for the tip about wool for pincushions. Good to know!

      All the best,
      Karen

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Small Tapestry Revived

This little tapestry has been almost finished for a very long time. I stopped short of completion months ago. I’ve missed my small tapestry weaving, so I’m back at it. Only a few steps remain with this one. Soon this little color gradation sweetheart will be on the wall, to be enjoyed.

Small tapestry with color gradation.

Last few picks of this small tapestry are woven in one sitting. Warp thread header and waste yarn are added.

Small tapestry with color gradation.

Small tapestry frame makes an interesting artwork frame. But this tapestry must be removed so another tapestry can begin.

The finishing steps are not difficult. (Rebecca Mezoff gives excellent instructions in Weaving Tapestry on Little Looms.) After the piece is removed from the loom, it is steamed. Then, weft tails are sewn in and/or trimmed on the back. Half Damascus knots secure the warp ends. The hems will be folded under and stitched down. Then, this little masterpiece will be ready for mounting and display.

Weft tails that will be sewn in and/or trimmed.

Tapestry was woven from the front, so all the weft tails are on the back.

Sewing in and trimming weft tails.

Weft tails have been sewn in and/or trimmed on the back of the weaving.

Finishing ends on a small tapestry.

Warp ends are secured with half damascus knots. Two-pound walking weight helps hold the little tapestry in place.

Here is an ancient description of an interesting woman, as told by another woman.

Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the future.
She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
—from Solomon’s book of Proverbs

Small tapestry is ready to be hemmed.

Small tapestry with color gradation is ready to be hemmed. Ends will be folded under at the soumak lines, and stitched into place.

This is the type of woman I admire. Wear the best clothes that money can’t buy—strength and dignity. She has optimism. No anger. She speaks with wisdom and kindness. These are finishing touches I ask my Maker to work in me. To be a woman ready for what she was made for.

May you be finished.

Kindest regards,
Karen

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Keep Advancing the Warp

This is a series of learning experiences—some easy, and some quite challenging. I am near the end of the first panel of the tapestry/inlay sampler. All along the way, I encounter obstacles. Like a broken warp end. Again. That broken warp end is discouraging. Surely, I should be able to keep that from happening by now.

Tapestry/inlay sampler. All linen weft.

Broken warp end on the right selvedge required taking out several rows of weaving so I could splice the warp.

Meanwhile, a simple line of soumak makes a pleasing border for this curve. It defines the shape with a slightly raised line. Over three, around one…all the way across. This part is nice and easy.

Soumak border on tapestry sampler.

Soumak technique, Step 1.

Soumak border line on tapestry sampler.

Soumak technique, Step 2.

Peaceful setting for the weaving loom!

Despite another broken warp end, the warp is advanced and the weaving continues. It helps to weave in a peaceful setting.

Daily life is not always easy. Put your eyes on God, not on the obstacles you face. And don’t worry about your own inability to navigate the circumstances. Trust God to carry you. He has carried you this far, and will continue to show himself strong on your behalf. Those broken warp ends are spliced, and the weaving continues. The selvedge may show some evidence of having had trouble, but the soumak outlines and other woven features will draw the eye. There is victory in advancing the warp to continue the sampler to the end.

May you advance through the obstacles you face.

With you,
Karen

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