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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Tools Day: Eliminating Warp Knots

You are not going to believe how many knots I came across in this 16/2 linen warp! Too many. As I wound the warp I made the decision to leave most of the knots, and deal with them on the loom. (I did remove knots that were close to the beginning or ending peg on the warping reel.) I lost count, but I’m sure I have spliced the warp on this five-and-a-half-meter project at least a dozen times. (To see more details about how I splice the warp, visit this blog post and video: How To Splice the Warp – Video.)

I do not weave over warp knots. A knot introduces a spot of vulnerability to the fabric. Knots can fray, loosen, or come undone over time, even if the knot is originally imperceptible.

In a couple instances, a knot distorted the tension of the warp end because of catching on a heddle or passing through the reed. For that reason, I now try to eliminate knots in the warp before they reach the heddles.

Tool: Warp Separator

  • Identify the warp end that has a knot, and insert the warp separator between warp ends to isolate the thread.

Warp separator to isolate warp with knot.

  • With a length of repair warp thread, follow the path of the original thread to splice in the new warp end, feeding it through the heddle of the original warp end.

Warp separator to isolate warp end with knot.

  • Bring the repair warp thread through the reed in the same dent as the warp end that has a knot.

Eliminating a warp knot.

  • Attach the repair warp thread near the fell by wrapping it around a flat straight pin.

Splicing a warp end.

  • Remove the warp separator from between the warp ends.

Warp separator for repairing a warp end.

  • Place a weight on the floor below the back beam. Wrap the repair thread around the weight two or three times to hold the thread at tension that matches the rest of the warp. Loosen the wrapped-around thread before advancing the warp, and then re-tighten before resuming weaving.

Splicing warp ends.

  • Weave one to two inches with both the original warp end and the repair warp thread in place.
  • Then, cut the original warp end with the knot (behind the heddles) and let it hang over the back beam.

Cutting a warp knot behind the reed.

  • The original and replacement warp ends overlap in the weaving for about one to two inches.
  • Remove the straight pin when it reaches the breast beam.
  • Re-attach the original warp end when it is long enough to secure in front of the fell line with a flat straight pin.
  • And then, cut and remove the replacement warp thread.
  • Trim all the spliced warp tails after wet finishing.

Spliced warp end to eliminate a knot in the warp.

Warp separator guy, ready to jump in and help!

Warp separator guy, ready to jump in and help!

This warp separator was a gift from The Weavers and Spinners Society of Austin, included in the goodie bag from last summer’s Contemporary Handweavers of Texas Conference. It would not be hard to make a warp separator like this from wood or sturdy cardboard. I have not been able to locate a supplier online.

If you know where to find a warp separator tool, please put a link in the comments.

May you have very few warp knots.

All the best,
Karen

19 Comments

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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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