Tools Day: Umbrella Swift

The umbrella swift earns the “Cool Tool” award! I have sixteen skeins of 20/2 Mora wool (as seen in Skeins of Colors). Before making them into little butterflies of color for a woven transparency, I am winding the skeins into balls. This means I get to use one of my favorite tools–the umbrella swift. My Glimåkra swift is simple to use and gives flawless results every time.

How to Use an Umbrella Swift

  • Attach the clamp of the umbrella swift to the side of the loom, or other secure structure, like a table. The swift functions vertically or horizontally. I prefer to position the swift horizontally so the yarn rolls off vertically. Also, I find it easier to hang the yarn on a horizontal swift than to place the yarn on a vertical swift, holding the yarn while expanding the umbrella.

How to use an umbrella swift. Tutorial.

  • Position the yarn ball winder so that it is in line with the umbrella swift, a short distance away. I clamp the yarn ball winder to my loom bench, and sit on a small stool behind the bench.

Yarn ball winder in use with umbrella swift.

  • Remove the yarn skein’s label and put it aside. Carefully unfold and untwist the skein of yarn and open it out to a big circle. Place both arms through the center of the circle of yarn and snap your arms outward. Repeat the snapping action one or two more times, with the yarn repositioned about a quarter turn each time. This helps straighten out the yarn for placing it on the swift.
  • Lower the “umbrella” of the swift by loosing the screw and pulling the bottom screw-piece toward the clamp. Place the opened and prepared skein of yarn around the swift.

Placing the skein on an umbrella swift. How to.

  • Push open the “umbrella.” Spread it open just far enough to hold the yarn taut. Tighten the screw to keep the swift in that position.

How to use an umbrella swift for weaving yarn.

  • Find the place(s) on the skein where the skein has been tied, and untie the knot(s). Identify the end of the yarn that is on the outer side of the skein and connect that end to the yarn ball winder. For consistency among multiple skeins of yarn, I have the umbrella swift turn in the same direction for each one, with the yarn unwinding from the top of the swift.

Putting skein of yarn on umbrella swift.

  • Turn the yarn ball winder until all the yarn has been unwound from the swift.

Set up for using umbrella swift. Tips.

Winding ball of yarn from umbrella swift.

Winding ball of yarn from umbrella swift.

  • Remove the yarn ball from the yarn ball winder and wrap the skein’s label on the new yarn ball.

New ball of yarn thanks to umbrella swift.

  • Collect the new balls of yarn and play with the colors in your imagination.

Mora wool. Getting ready for woven transparency!

May you take pleasure in your work of preparation.

All the best,
Karen

11 Comments

  • Dear Karen,
    Good morning, I just had the luck of stumbling onto your lovely blog and I see you have accomplished what I am struggling with. I too have a glimakra and I recently “upgraded” it to 8 shafts. Very long story short, I don’t have any documentation and I suspect the reason I’m getting terrible sheds is because of cord lengths. Is there any chance we could talk for a few minutes?
    On a pretty morning by the Bay,
    Astrig

  • Betsy says:

    Well, duh! I’ve never thought to use my swift horizontally! I’ll have to give it a try. It’s a little smaller than yours, but hopefully it will fit on the Standard upright.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, I hope it works for you! Horizontal seems logical to me, but I suppose if you think of it as an actual umbrella, it naturally would go in the vertical direction. The good thing is, it works either way!

      Karen

  • Thank you Karen for the explanation of use and excellent photos to accompany. I’d be lost without my swift. As we all know, skeins can bite you if you don’t treat them with respect!
    Alison

  • Ruth says:

    Rock Chalk, Jayhawk, KU. Love the KU foot stool(?)!
    Wonderful horizontal use of your skein winder. Never looked at using mine horizontally – must remember to keep an open mind and look at all possibilities in life.
    Happy weekend.

    • Ruth says:

      Guess I’m tired this morning. I intended to refer to the swift as a swift. LOL

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth, You took the bait. I was hoping to draw out any KU alumns with that little stool. 😉
      Good point about seeing possibilities. We can do surprising things if we are not set in our ways.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • tsw says:

    Karen, your photos and step by step instructions are clear and wonderful. As a former private investigator, I give you high marks for your ” evidentiary photography.” I am a wannabe weaver, awaiting retirement to spread my wings, attend Vavstuga, and weave away my retirement. In the meantime, I study, and gain inspiration and food for thought from your blog and the online weaving forums.
    If you only knew how much you nurture other people’s hearts and minds…
    You are a blessing to all of us!

    • Karen says:

      Dear tsw, I am touched by your thoughtful remarks. Your encouragement means so much to me!

      What a wonderful way to prepare for retirement! Keep dreaming, and seeing those dreams come to life. You have nurtured me today with your kindness.

      Happy weaving dreams,
      Karen

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One Thing on My Weaving Bucket List

I have a weaving “bucket list.” Making a handwoven jacket is on that list. I took a step toward that dream with Michele Belson’s (of Lunatic Fringe Yarns) workshop on pattern drafting last week. This Contemporary Handweavers of Texas Conference workshop was exactly what I needed.

Michele Belson's workshop. Body block pattern drafting.

Taking precise body measurements is the first step in making a body block pattern draft. The measurements are then transferred to the pattern paper in a systematic way. My handwoven “Mary Poppins” bag on the floor holds all my supplies for the day.

Making body block pattern draft in Michele Belson's workshop.

Front and back bodice patterns in progress.

Making a muslin in Michele Belson's workshop.

Making a muslin by transferring pattern markings and adding seam allowances.

I can weave fabric for a jacket. And I have sewing skills to sew a jacket. But the fitting! That’s been the missing link for me. And who wants to cut into handwoven fabric when the fit is not a sure thing?

Making a muslin from a body block pattern draft in Michele Belson's workshop.

Muslin pieces are sewn together so the bodice can be fitted.

Fitting a muslin in Michele Belson's workshop.

Michele Belson checks the fit of the muslin. After some small adjustments, she pronounces it a perfect fit! Ease will be added, suitable to the garment being made, when the time comes to make a garment pattern.

Adjusting a commercial sewing pattern in Michele Belson's workshop.

Michele demonstrates how to use the finished body block pattern draft to adjust the fit of a commercial pattern.

Mindful attention to details. Processing information to apply it to the work in your hands. Learning a glossary of terms. Combining new skills with old ones. Listening, with an intent to understand. These are elements of wisdom. Think of the created world around us. Look at the detail, complexity, and beauty in it. Is it any surprise that our Creator is the source of wisdom? Wisdom is the key to skillful work. And, as always, it must be applied and practiced. I will certainly practice fitting and sewing. And then, when it’s time, I’ll weave jacket fabric, and let wisdom guide me in cutting it.

I’m curious, do you have a weaving bucket list, too?

May you cross something off your bucket list.

Happy sewing,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Joanne Hall says:

    Back in the old days when I was teaching sewing pattern making, we called it a sloper. Did you hear that word being used? After careful fitting, we made the sloper out of cardboard. Then, you could use it to make any type of garment. My usual problem was not adding enough ease.
    Joanne

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanne, I am familiar with the term sloper, but I didn’t hear Michele mention that. She did say to make the pattern on poster board, so that’s exactly what I did when I came home. I’m not ready to draw my own jacket pattern, but I’ve started an attempt to adjust a commercial pattern. We’ll see how it goes.

      Thanks for chiming in!
      Karen

  • D'Anne Craft says:

    What a great class! I am looking forward to seeing your creations, Karen. So glad you took Michele’s class.

    • Karen says:

      Hi D’Anne, I know you would have loved it! I’m looking forward to getting together with you to show you what I learned.

      Karen

  • Sandy says:

    Good for you! So many people are afraid of taking this step. As a former patternmaker in the fashion industry, I can’t wait until my weaving skills are up to the task of making yardage for a garment for myself. I’m sure it will be a rewarding experience, as I’m sure that making your jacket will be.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sandy, I’m impressed that you have experience as a patternmaker! Weaving yardage for a garment will be wonderful accomplishment. I can’t wait to see what you make!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Peg Cherre says:

    Sounds like a great workshop, and one that I need! I’ve got 2 lengths of handwoven fabric now that I’m afraid to cut into. I’m going to suggest this as a local workshop.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Peg, Maybe you can start with making something small with your handwoven fabric. I’ve had fun making bags and things, and even a hat from smaller pieces, as well as a skirt that didn’t take much fitting. That has helped build my confidence for cutting into the fabric. If you get a chance to take Michele Belson’s workshop, though, I would recommend it!

      Karen

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Miles and Miles to Weave

I just reached the quarter-of-the-way mark. After completing a long border at the beginning of this runner, I have been weaving the same two blocks over and over. And over. Really? I’m only a fourth of the way there? This long table runner is a marathon, not a sprint.

M's and O's on the loom.

Unbleached cotton warp and half-bleached linen weft. The checkerboard appearance of this sålldräll (M’s and O’s) will become rounded when taken off the loom, and, even more so when wet-finished.

Reached the quarter-of-the-way mark!

Weaving reaches the “1/4” mark on the pre-measured tape. Only 3/4 of the way to go! 🙂

I am already thinking about the rag rug project that’s up next. The plans are written out. The rug warp is waiting on my shelf. And it has been too long since I’ve had rag rugs on the loom. As you know, rag rugs are my favorite. If I’m not careful, impatience creeps in.

M's and O's table runner on the loom.

Keep weaving, winding more quills, and making fabric.

M's and O's on the loom.

Beginning border of the table runner is going around the cloth beam.

Look up to heaven. When you pray, it’s a signal that you want the Lord of heaven to get involved. It’s a way of saying you don’t have everything you need on your own. Like patience. And gratitude. He brings you back to remember how much you enjoy the mechanics of weaving–throwing the shuttle back and forth, gliding your feet across the treadles, making threads turn into cloth. Living a dream come true. Miles and miles of Sålldräll (M’s and O’s)? Yes, please. I’m happy with that.

May you live your dream.

Gratefully,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Tiny Beunk says:

    This is SO unbeleavable! Just yesterday I made MY warp to weave this same weave! I use red for accent, just like VÄV showed it. Curious for your result.

  • Mary Lawver says:

    Beautiful Karen. So subtle and so striking. And your selvedges. I know, practice!
    Mary

    • Karen says:

      Hi Mary, I do love vibrant colors, but I’m fond of the neutral colors, too, with their subtlety and elegance. Yes, practice -mindful practice- improves just about anything.

      Thanks for taking time to comment!
      Karen

  • Cindy Bills says:

    Thanks as always for sharing! I often fight impatience when I get a project on the loom, weave a foot or so, realize it’s going to work and see how it’s turning out. Then my mind begins my next project and I begin to lose interest in the one I’m doing.
    Our Lord uses weaving to teach us many things, doesn’t He?! I’m weaving and praying and I suddenly realize this is a habit of mine across many areas of my life, this “beginning to execute” then losing initial interest and wanting to move on to something new. I AM a finisher, but too wrapped up in that initial thrill…
    As a writer, this can be deadly to my work. Starting a book and losing interest half-way through… and our Lord begins to teach me while I’m weaving. Throw the shuttle, like you said; BE HERE in this moment; revel in the joy of creation itself rather than concentrating on anything else. And practice patience in all things. Thank you for reminding me of recent lessons learned! 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi, Cindy, I love hearing what you’ve been learning. Life is rich with teachable moments. “Practice patience in all things.” – This would be a great motto to hang on the wall in the weaving studio. What better way to practice than weaving!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Nanette says:

    I’m sort of there too, but haven’t lost patience YET. A 6 foot runner, with border. BUT mine is a multi-color 8 shaft overshot long repeat, so it isn’t too boring yet either, and rather challenging since it is on a table loom using a 5-lever lift plan instead of treadles. My mantra: ” the process, not the product” and the process includes concentration and hopefully perfection! Your ribbon-measuring technique has been a big help. Thanks for sharing. Nanette

  • Karen says:

    Sometimes the long repitition, instead of frustration, gives me a kind of peaceful or comforting feeling. Relaxing because I know that particular cycle. Peace of mind, heart.

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Skeins of Colors

New yarn arrived this week! Seeing the skeins of colors makes me excited about starting the next project. I am preparing to weave another transparency. This time, the hanging will have a pictorial design. But there are several things to tend to before the weaving begins. First, I will wind the skeins into balls, and wind the linen warp. And then, I will finalize the cartoon. Stay tuned…

Collection of colors in Mora wool for a transparency.

Collection of colors in 20/2 Mora wool for a planned transparency. 16/2 linen for warp and background weft.

Meanwhile, this week I am at the Contemporary Handweavers of Texas Biennial Conference, learning new things and making connections with handweavers across the state.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

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If a Warp End Is Frayed…

I noticed that a warp end was starting to fray, but I kept on weaving. I thought I could make it past the weak spot. Well, I was wrong. The warp end broke. So much for happy weaving! A broken warp end at the selvedge is no fun, especially on a weft-faced piece like this. Looking back, I wish I had taken time to splice in a new length of thread when I first noticed the weakness. But at the time, I didn’t want to be bothered with that. I just wanted to weave.

Tapestry / inlay sampler on small countermarch loom.

Weaving right along. I start to notice some abrasion on the warp end at the right selvedge. I’ll be extra careful. I can keep weaving and enjoy myself, right???

Broken selvedge end on the right. Ugh.

Warp end on the right selvedge frayed to the breaking point. Gone! The weaving must be removed far enough back to reach at least 1/2″ of the warp end in front of the break. That reaches back into the red portion–the first section of the sampler.

Tapestry / inlay sampler on small countermarch loom.

Pin is inserted to secure a new selvedge warp end. The fourth end from the right showed some fraying, so I am splicing in a new piece of 12/9 cotton warp. Learned my lesson.

Original selvedge warp end is now being spliced back in (green flathead pin). Second splice is complete, with thread tail hanging out, to be trimmed after this is off the loom.

Tapestry and inlay sampler. Spliced warp ends fix frayed threads.

Two sections of the tapestry and inlay sampler are complete.

We tell ourselves if we do what we want, we will be happy. That’s a delusion. Happiness will fail you. It doesn’t last. I was only happy weaving until the thread broke. There is something better than happiness. Faithfulness. It’s better to be faithful in the moment, even if it puts a delay on being happy. Faithfulness lasts. Next time, I hope to choose the long satisfaction of faithfulness over the short-lived gain of happiness.

May your broken selvedge ends be few.

Faithful weaving,
Karen

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