Tools Day: Weaving Apron

In my memories, I always picture Grandma wearing an apron, whether doing housework, gardening, or baking coffee cake in her kitchen. Maybe that is part of the magic I feel when I put on my weaving apron.

Weaving apron makes sense.

Weaving apron is ready for my next session at the Glimåkra Standard loom. Fabric protection board protects the fabric on the loom, but without an apron my clothing suffers from rubbing up against the board.

I sit right up to the breast beam when I weave, which helps my posture and my reach. This makes the fabric on the loom vulnerable, especially to buttons, buckles, or zippers. It also gives my clothes undue wear, even creating small holes in some of my shirts. My Glimåkra Standard loom has the fabric protection board, aka “belly board,” but that is not in place until the knots from the beginning of the warp go under the breast beam. So, the first inches of weaving go unprotected. My other looms don’t have a fabric protection board.

Weaving apron is used to protect fabric on the loom and on the weaver.

Apron is kept on the loom bench for easy access. There is no fabric protection board on this loom, so without an apron, the tapestry being woven and the clothing I wear are both susceptible to damage from repeated contact.

Weaving apron with pockets!

Apron pockets keep things handy.

Weaving apron, criss-cross back straps.

With simple criss-cross straps at the back, this weaving apron fits just about anybody. And there is no bow to tie in the back, like my Grandma’s aprons had.

A weaving apron guards both the fabric on the loom and my clothes. The apron also gives me ample pockets, good for countless things—dropping in a few wound quills to take back to the loom, keeping a tape measure handy, separating one wool butterfly from the rest, and other things you wouldn’t think of if you didn’t have them.

Weaving apron, and why it makes sense!

Texas hill country loom has its weaving apron ready for my next visit there.

An apron like this would be easy to make. However, I was fortunate to come across the perfect weaving apron (not labeled as such), pockets and all, at a quaint little shop in Texas hill country. So, now I keep one at each loom. And when you put one of these aprons on to weave, something magical happens…

May you have ample pockets.

Happy weaving,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Julia says:

    Fun! And of course it would be fun to weave the fabric to make one, if the current ones wear out.

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    I wondered if the little shop in Texas hill country has aprons, on line, for weaving. Or is it on Etsy? Thanks! 🙂

  • Cindy Bills says:

    Thanks for the post! I’ve been considering buying or weaving myself a weaving apron and you have inspired me! I recently began wearing an apron again to cook. I don’t know why I never did once I left home so many decades ago! But it really saves on the splatter stains, especially grease, that I get on my clothes while cooking. AND with weaving I am enamored with the pockets! My “new to me” little Baby Wolf loom doesn’t have a castle or a bench with pockets on the sides like my Schacht Standard loom has. Pockets would really help!
    I don’t often comment on your posts, but I like to once in a while because I REALLY enjoy them and I want to support and thank you for the blessing that you are! 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindy, Your sweet encouragement means so much to me!

      I have a couple of my mom’s old aprons, but I don’t put them on very often. Maybe I should get them out and use them more often! (Maybe I should cook more often. 🙂 )
      Yes, the pockets sold me on these aprons I use for weaving. It’s so great to have a place for those little things when I need them.

      Thank you!
      Karen

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Tools Day: Cartoon Support

Alignment, security, and visibility are the main things I think about in regard to attaching and supporting the cartoon. In order to weave a tapestry this size, or any size for that matter, you need a good way to manage the cartoon. My cartoon is drawn onto a thin Pellon product (Pellon 830 Easy Pattern, 45″ wide) that is meant for pattern making. This material is easy to pin, doesn’t tear, and only barely wrinkles.

Alignment
Align center of cartoon to center of warp.

A blue dashed line from top to bottom of the cartoon marks the center. I also have a pencil mark on the exact center of my beater. When the blue line on the cartoon is perfectly aligned with the center warp end, as seen from the mark on the beater, I know my cartoon is in the correct position.

Beginning a new tapestry.

Pencil mark on the beater is above the center warp end.

Security

  • Pin the cartoon in two places on each side of the woven tapestry.
    This warp is too wide for me to reach all the way to pin the cartoon in the center. So, on both sides of the weaving I place one flathead pin near the selvedge, and another one as far as I can comfortably reach toward the center. I move the pins forward each time I am ready to advance the warp.
Beginning a new four-shaft tapestry.

Two flat-head pins hold the cartoon under the tapestry weaving on the right-hand side.

  • Hang a support slat under the cartoon.
    I learned this from The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell, p. 239, 2008 edition. I used this method previously for a rag rug that had a cartoon for a large inlay pattern. It also works well for holding the cartoon for a woven transparency.
Positioning a cartoon under the warp.

Seine twine loop with rubber band hangs from beater cradle. Slat holds cartoon up against the warp.

Supplies: 12/6 cotton seine twine, 2 rubber bands, long warping slat

1 Make a loop with the seine twine to hang from the beater cradle to just below the warp, with a rubber band on the loop.

2 Tie the ends of the loop with a bow knot or a weaver’s tie-up knot (this useful knot is described in How to Warp Your Loom, by Joanne Hall, p. 39).

Cartoon management for tapestry.

Top of loop tied in a bow knot.

Weaver's tie-up knot helps hold the tapestry cartoon.

Weaver’s tie-up knot is perfect for this application, since it is quick and easy to undo and re-tie if repositioning is needed.

3 Make another loop the same way, with rubber band, and hang it on the other beater cradle.

4 Place the warping slat in the hanging rubber bands, underneath the cartoon.

5 Adjust the length of the loops so that the slat lightly presses up on the cartoon and the warp.

One way to manage a tapestry cartoon.

Rubber band gives flexibility to the seine twine loop that is holding up the cartoon.

  • Pin the rolled-up cartoon underneath.
    I roll up the Pellon cartoon under the warp and pin it once on each side. As the warp and cartoon advance I can reposition the pin as needed.
Cartoon management for tapestry.

Under the warp, the cartoon is loosely rolled up and pinned.

  • Move the slat toward the breast beam, out of the way, to beat in the weft.
    Because of the rubber bands, the slat support has flexibility and does not impede the movement of the beater.

Visibility
Move the slat near to the fell line.

With the slat under or near the fell line, it presses the cartoon up to the warp. By doing this, I can easily see what comes next as the tapestry weaving develops row by row.

Managing a cartoon for tapestry weaving.

Placing the slat under the fell of the weaving raises the cartoon to visibility where it is needed most.

I wait for my ordered yarn to arrive. Meanwhile, I dream of this tapestry becoming a reality as cartoon meets wool.

May you have the alignment, security, and visibility you need.

All the best,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Annie Lancaster says:

    Good morning, Karen. I learn so much from your posts! This one is very timely for me as I have enrolled in the workshop for transparency weaving. Now I feel a little better prepared.

    I never thought of applying the words alignment, security and visibility to life before but they are exactly what everyone needs. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, I’m glad you will be in the transparency workshop. I know it will be great! Just remember, there are about as many different ways to handle the cartoon as there are tapestry and transparency weavers. 🙂 I’m sure you will learn even more at the workshop!

      Alignment, security, and visibility – for a balanced life.
      All the best,
      Karen

  • Rebecca Neef says:

    Wonderful system! In future perhaps I should do my tapestries on my Glimakra, instead of my Lillstina on which it now languishes. The Lillstina has no beater cradle! Just goes to show, as Roseann Rosannadanna said, “it’s always something.”

    • Karen says:

      Hi Rebecca, I’m sure there’s a way to manage a cartoon on your Lillstina! My experience is limited to my Glimakra. I do think the Glimakra is a sweet loom for this type of weaving, though. I hope your tapestry revives soon. Life’s too short for a loom to be tied up with something that’s not working.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Lynette says:

    Thanks for the idea of the rubber bands. I will do that next time and I can see it will work better. You inspire me to start weaving something. I’ve been busy moving. Just curious who is teaching the transparency workshop?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lynette, The rubber bands do make a big difference. I hope you get a chance weave something soon! Your transparencies are inspiring!

      Laura Viada is teaching the transparency workshop in Houston. Her work is amazing. Laura is also going to teach the workshop in July at HGA Convergence in Reno.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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Tools Day: Measure Once

It occurs to me that I am unnecessarily doing something the hard way. Repeatedly. For every new project, I pull out my tape measure to find the right set of lease sticks. The tape measure also helps me select the temple needed for the current weaving width. No more! I do like my tape measure, but why am I measuring these things every time? Why not measure them once and label them?

Solution

  • Measure the lease sticks and write the length in centimeters and in inches on one stick of each pair, in pencil.
  • Use a wood burner to trace the pencil markings. (My husband Steve does this part for me.)
Weaving tip: Measurements on lease sticks.

Wood burner is used to write the length measurement on the end of a lease stick. Centimeters and inches are indicated because I use metric or imperial units, depending on the project.

  • Thread a cord through one end of each pair of lease sticks, to keep pairs together. Hang the lease stick pairs with the measurements clearly visible.
Weaving tip: Measured lease sticks paired together for hanging.

Looped cord is threaded through the lease stick holes to provide an easy way to hang pairs together.

Paired lease sticks, ready for hanging.

Paired lease sticks, ready for hanging.

Lease sticks hanging in the weaving studio.

Pairs of lease sticks hang beside my worktable in my weaving room. My ol’ Beka rigid heddle loom on the wall happens to provide just the right little hanging post for the measured lease sticks.

  • Look up the temple sizes on a website that sells them, and write the size range in centimeters and in inches on each temple, in pencil.
  • Use a wood burner to trace the pencil markings. (Steve, again.)
Weaving tip: Measure the temples.

Range of temple widths is important information when I’m choosing a temple. Weaving width of a project must fit in that range.

  • Store the temples in a manner in which the marked measurements are easily seen.
Weaving tip: Find the right temple size the first try!

No more trying different temples to find one that fits. Now I can look at the markings and select the correct temple the first time.

Now I have permanent at-a-glance measurements for each of these frequently-used tools!

May you find something to simplify.

Happy weaving,
Karen

18 Comments

  • Annie Lancaster says:

    What a great idea, Karen!
    I am going to start measuring and marking today!

    Thank you for sharing and may you have a blessed day..

  • Beth says:

    Great organizing tip! Thanks, Karen!

  • ellen b santana says:

    i read the whole thing hoping i would see a place to store all those long things that fall all the time, like the reeds, lease sticks and other things. what do you do with those? i knock them over every time i try to use something in the pile.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ellen, I’m still working on a system for storing those long things. Currently, most of them are leaning in a corner of the room or along one wall, where they are out of the way, but accessible. When I get that figured out, I’ll let you know.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Elisabeth says:

    I know it helps the weaving process tremendously to get a system for everything. Thank you for all your inspiration! I still have some organizing to do. These last couple of weeks I have been working on a total overhaul of my workroom, I guess I may as well dive into the weaving “department” today 🙂
    My daughter, who is finally launching her professional organizing business is helping me. She has been doing this kind of work for three years now trying hard to get away from it, but it just keeps coming back to her 🙂 I feel it is so easy to ignore what God wants us to do and try to figure it out on our own instead. Sometimes it is totally unexpected…who in the world would have thought that my daughter would end up a professional organizer, and be so good at it?! Other times it is obvious, but still so hard to see…I guess I fall into the latter category. I am trying very hard to open up my ears, my eyes, and my heart, so that I can see what is in store for me. I believe I have found a lot of stuff in my work room that is not 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, That’s fabulous that your daughter can use her gifts to help you! I admire your aim to open up your ears, eyes, and heart. I’m sure you’ll see rewards from that!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Anonymous says:

    My floor loom is too large to move set up and has to be dismantled to move. (weekend house to spare bedroom and eventually to the new weekend / retirement house) To make the process easier the corresponding parts of the loom were marked with a @Sharpie. Matching ‘2’ with ‘2’ on a joint made set up easier.
    Now I will have to mark the tools and instruments I keep for weaving and set up some hanging hooks.
    Thank you for direction on so many levels.
    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, That’s a great idea to mark corresponding parts on your loom to make the tear down and set up process easier! Thanks for sharing!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    Great idea Karen, sometimes it takes my old brain awhile to think of things, and then wonder why didn’t I think of that sooner??
    Thank you,
    Libby

    • Karen says:

      Hi Liberty, It’s interesting how we get used to doing things a certain way, and don’t notice the easy adjustments we can make in our process.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Fawn Carlsen says:

    Hi Karen, I have a large ceramic vase shaped like a cylinder that I keep all my stick-like tools in. It is heavy enough that it doesn’t tip over and can sit in the corner so the longest things rest against the wall. It keeps them in one place and it’s easy to pick out the ones I want. I love hearing about your weaving adventures.
    Thanks for all the advice.
    Fawn

    • Karen says:

      Hi Fawn, That sounds like a great way to store the stick-like tools. I do something similar. My warping sticks are in a tall-ish small wooden crate that came from the creamery that was down the street from my grandma’s house when I was a child. It sits in the corner, and the sticks in it rest against the wall.

      I may look for a ceramic vase that I can put by my Ideal loom to hold its sticks.

      Thanks!
      Karen

  • Elisabeth says:

    Do your temples fit sitting on the side in the drawer, with the text facing up? You would see all measurements at once, and it would be easy to grab the one you need. Leave styrofoam with opening on top and lift the temple out, which “saves” the spot for when you put the temple back.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, Why, yes, they do fit sitting on the side in the drawer… Which only goes to prove how much I need people like you in my life!

      Gratefully yours,
      Karen

  • Elisabeth says:

    Thank you! As a designer, I am so much about function. But I don’t always see solutions that quickly…it took me four years to make s small change to the better in my laundry room 🙂
    And may I suggest hanging your lease sticks on a peg rail of some kind…so easy to grab one set without messing with multiple loops.

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Tools Day: Swedish Bobbin Winder

There’s nothing quite like the beauty and functionality of a well-designed tool. The Swedish hand bobbin winder is one of those tools. A bobbin winder is essential. Steve made a superb electric bobbin winder for me that I normally use. But at our Texas hill country home, my Swedish bobbin winder comes into play. And it is a pleasure to use. I clamp the bobbin winder on a shelf in the cabinet where I store my few weaving supplies for this location. The tube of thread sits directly below on a simple homemade spool holder.

Swedish hand bobbin winder for winding quills.

Swedish hand bobbin winder is set up in my supply cabinet. It is easy to remove and put away when I finish winding quills.

Swedish hand bobbin winder for winding quills.

Narrow spindle on the bobbin winder is the size that works for winding quills.

For these color-and-weave cotton placemats, I am using double-bobbin shuttles. So, with the impressively simple Swedish hand bobbin winder I am winding matching pairs of colorful 8/2 cotton quills.

Double-bobbin shuttles for weaving doubled weft.

Double bobbin shuttles are handy for weaving this doubled weft color-and-weave pattern.

May you have the pleasure of working with well-designed tools.

Happy weaving,
Karen

2 Comments

  • I am glad I found your blog. It visually explains how weaving should look when done right. AND—– (very important) has been kept up to date since 2013.
    Thank you.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, What a kind thing for you to say! I aim to give visual explanations, so I’m happy to hear that from you.

      Yes, I have been posting twice a week ever since I started in April 2013. Thank you for noticing!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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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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