Tried and True: Center the Reed

Eleven hours and thirty-six minutes into this project, the starting line for weaving is just around the corner. Wind the warp, and beam it. Thread the heddles. Sley the reed. Unlock the back beam ratchet. Move the countermarch to the front of the loom. … Pause when you think about moving the twelve shafts and the reed forward with the countermarch. Reach. Wiggle. Pull. Wiggle. Pull some more. Got it. Now, put the reed in the beater. Relax? Almost, but not yet.

Time to move the whole shebang forward.
Reed is sleyed, so reed support cords have been removed. Time to move the whole shebang forward.
Ready to insert the reed into the beater.
Plastic-coated wire is threaded through the ends of the shaft bars because I don’t have shaft pins long enough for twelve shafts. After coaxing and wiggling the mass of shafts forward, with the countermarch above them, I am ready to insert the reed into the beater.
Basics: How to center the reed.
As I put the reed in the beater I make sure all of the ends are free, and not trapped in the beater’s grip.

We must not forget to center the reed. I center the reed just as soon as the reed is in the beater.

How to Center the Reed

(We are actually centering the warp that is in the reed.)

Supplies needed: Tape measure (or string)

1. Using the tape measure, measure from the right edge of the warp in the reed to the outer edge of the beater on the right-hand side. Hold the tape measure with your fingers marking the measurement.

Center the reed.


2. Holding that measurement, place the tape measure at the left edge of the warp in the reed stretching out toward the outer edge of the beater on the left-hand side.

How to center the reed.


3. Note the difference in measurement between the right side and left side. Move the reed in the beater to center.


4. Repeat the first two steps until the measurements are the same on both sides.

Centering the reed.
Tips for centering the reed in the beater.
Tips for centering the reed in the beater.
Reed is centered.

Now you can relax. Enjoy the moment, because you are that much closer to seeing fabric take shape!

May you enjoy the process you’re in.

Patiently,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Trina says:

    Only a weaver would appreciate the amount of concentration that has gone into getting to this point! Well done!

  • Beth says:

    Gosh! So much involved with setting up a countermarch. I’ve only dealt with easy-peasy jack-types. I agree with Trina’s sentiment.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, The countermarch seems straightforward to me. It’s all I know. Having 12 shafts does add some complexity though, I admit.

      It’s what we get from the loom that counts, and I always admire the cloth you weave!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    I do not yet enjoy setting up the loom. It is so hard to wait to throw the first shuttle. But, like all things worth doing, the solid foundation makes the end result beautiful.

    Praise God .

    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, I find the setting up process calming (most of the time), but I understand that each of us approaches the loom differently. Point well taken that a solid foundation makes the end result beautiful.

      Thanks,
      Karen

  • Cindy Bills says:

    Thank you for always showing us your process! It is fascinating. I had to chuckle at the “eleven hours and thirty -six minutes…” I recently spent hours working on a cramming and denting project only to find as I began to weave that I’d missed a dent in the sleying. Then missed catching it when I tied on. And when I first started to weave! Oh boy, patience is required then, for sure. It is important to love the process and the blessing of it all. 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindy, I think denting errors are the worst of all. After I finished sleying this one I realized that I had missed the step of checking the number of dents in each grouping. I’m hoping, hoping that I won’t have to regret that later. But even re-sleying becomes part of the whole process, doesn’t it?

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Vivian says:

    What a beautiful warp. It is inspiring.

Leave a Reply to Nannette Piasini Cancel reply


Tools Day: Cartoon Trials

Making a cartoon for a lizard tapestry this size is quite a process. First, I enlarge the photograph. Then, I trace the outlines of the details onto a sheet of clear acetate. Next, to make the cartoon, I trace the bold Sharpie lines of the acetate image onto interfacing material meant for pattern making. But next time, it will be different.

Tracing photograph to make a tapestry cartoon.

Tracing outlines from the enlarged photograph onto the sheet of acetate. Photo image on the iPad helps clarify which distinctive lines to draw.

Making a tapestry cartoon.

White poster board under the acetate makes the Sharpie lines visible. The interfacing material lays on top of the acetate so I can trace the lines to make my cartoon.

I don’t plan to use this interfacing material again for a cartoon. It is not stiff enough. As the tapestry progresses it becomes more and more difficult to keep the cartoon from puckering and creasing in places. A better option would have been stiffer buckram, like I used for my transparencies. (See – Quiet Friday: Painting with Yarn and Animated Images.) But I am not able to find buckram in sufficient width.

Unwanted creases in the tapestry cartoon.

Interfacing material is susceptible to puckers and creases. Unevenness in the cartoon can result in a distorted woven image on the tapestry.

After I finished weaving the lizard portion of the tapestry, I decided to experiment. I removed the interfacing cartoon and switched to the acetate sheet instead. There’s no puckering with this one! It is much easier to line up the cartoon with the weaving. It has drawbacks, though. Noisy! When I beat in the weft it makes thunderstorm sound effects. (Not so great for our temporary apartment life.) It’s also harder to see the cartoon lines. And the magnets I use to hold the cartoon slip out of place too easily.

Using a sheet of acetate for a tapestry cartoon.

Slat holds the cartoon up to the warp. To beat the weft, I move the slat out of the way of the beater, just under the fell line. The sheet of plastic would be a good prop for making sounds effects for a film about a thunderstorm.

Next time... White paper, like the gorgeous tapestry cartoon I have seen in Joanne Hall’s studio. That’s what I’ll use. Next time

Joanne Hall and her tapestry cartoon!

Joanne Hall in her Montana studio. This is the cartoon she made for her impressive Bluebonnets tapestry that hangs on display in a Dallas hospital.

May you learn from your experiments.

All the best,
Karen

2 Comments

  • Good morning Karen,

    My interest is always drawn to how things work. Tapestry is not an easy medium to work in. But, oh… Such beautiful results.

    Could the widths of the buckram be spliced together?

    May you continue to find new paths to explore.

    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, Yes, in hindsight I could have used the buckram crossways, and continued the pattern across the separate pieces. The other advantage I see with the paper is the ability to color the design, and work from that. I’d like to try that.

      Karen

Leave a Reply to Nannette Piasini Cancel reply


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

Leave a Reply to Nannette Piasini Cancel reply


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

Leave a Reply to Nannette Piasini Cancel reply


Tools Day: Countermarch Loom Pros and Con

When my long-held dream of weaving on a floor loom became a possibility, I started my journey with questions. What are the pros and cons of the different types of looms? After considerable research, a winner emerged—the Swedish countermarch loom!

Pros and Con of Countermarch Looms
(My experience is with Glimåkra. Other countermarch looms may differ.)

Pros

  • Weave anything. Rag rugs to lace-weight fabric.
  • Hanging beater. Swinging beater has momentum that enables a firm beat. No strain to shoulders, arms, or wrists. Asset for weaving rag rugs, and superb control for cloth with an open weave. Beater placement is adjustable, making it possible to weave longer before advancing the warp.
  • Rear-hinged treadles. Pressing treadles is effortless, no matter how many shafts. No strain on back, legs, knees, or ankles, even with robust weaving. Because treadles are close to each other, I press correct treadles with sock- or bare-footed ease…without having to watch my feet. Ample foot rest makes it easy to trade feet when using many treadles.
  • Clean shed. Stepping on a treadle raises and lowers shafts at the same time, so a great shed is not only possible, but usual.

Horizontal countermarch. Info about CM looms.

Glimåkra Ideal with horizontal countermarch. The cords from the countermarch jacks at the top of the loom go straight down through the warp to the lower lamms. The lower lamms connected to treadles cause shafts to lift when a treadle is depressed.

  • Even warp tension. Because shafts are both raised and lowered, tension is equal on raised and lowered warp ends. Even warp tension is good for all types of weaving. This even tension makes a tight warp possible. Perfect for linen, and for rugs.

Vertical Countermarch Loom - info about CM

Gimåkra Standard loom with vertical countermarch. Cords from the countermarch jacks go over the side of the loom to the lower lamms below. The upper lamms (not pictured) attached to treadles cause shafts to sink when a treadle is depressed.

Threading ease of countermarch looms.

Bench sits in the loom for threading heddles. I call this my little playhouse.

  • Texsolv heddles. Heddles can be easily added or removed from shafts (shafts are also easily added or removed). Quiet. Easy to thread.
  • Perfect fit. A petite person like me can weave on a large loom (my Standard is 47”/120cm) as comfortably as someone with longer arms and legs. Able to sit in upright posture for weaving.
  • Wooden. The loom is primarily wood. Bonus if you appreciate natural beauty of wood. Held together with wooden wedges and a few bolts. No screws or wing nuts.
  • Scandinavian clarity. Because of the Swedish loom, I adopt Swedish weaving practices and have an interest in traditional Scandinavian textiles. The loom fits the style. Streamlined design, precision, systematic and logical processes, and beauty with function.

Con

  • Treadle tie-ups. Shafts are connected to upper lamms and lower lamms. Treadle cords with a bead at one end are hung in the lamms. Lamms are then attached to treadles. Treadle tie-ups normally fall under the Pros category, because this is what enables the loom to have the clean shed it’s known for. But since I just finished tying up ten shafts to ten treadles (that’s 100 treadle cords), this is my least favorite part right now. 😉 (The weaving pleasure more than makes up for it, though.)

Countermarch treadle cords. Pros and cons.

One hundred treadle cords hang from upper and lower lamms. The only thing left is to attach all the cords to treadles. 😉

Treadle cords for 10 shafts! 5-shaft satin coming up!

Treadle cords are attached. Little anchor pins lock each cord into position under the treadle. After a few adjustments, the shed on each treadle is good. The loom is dressed! Five-shaft satin dräll coming up!

Conclusion:
When I weave on my Glimåkra Standard countermarch loom, I am soaring like an eagle. I’m sailing with the spinnaker up. I am a pipe organ maestro. I am dreaming while fully awake. This is everything I imagined weaving could be, only better.

Countermarch looms - pros and con.

Testing weft options. Gorgeous handcrafted damask shuttle, Chechen wood, made by Moberg Tools. Five-shaft satin dräll–a weaver’s dream.

For more in-depth information about countermarch looms, comparisons of looms, and other fantastic resources, see articles written by Joanne Hall, found at Glimåkra USA.

May you live your dream.

Very Happy Weaving,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Annie says:

    This article is exactly what I needed to read, Karen. I have been looking online at websites at the various looms, trying to decide which one I think would be best. I narrowed it down to countermarches for the versatility and sheds but was confused about brands, sizes, etc. This really helps. However,l I have a large learning curve before I jump into buying one unless a great used one suddenly appears.
    Many blessings, Karen.

    Annie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, It was your previous comment that prompted me to write this. So I thank you for that!

      Take your time with research and questions. As you narrow it down, you’ll gain confidence about making the right choice for your circumstances.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • JAN says:

    Great descriptions/instructions! Yes, sitting on the floor tying up the treadle cords for any contramarsch loom is tedious, but as you said, the results are well worth it. Sounds like you have written an ad for Glimåkra. The same, even somewhat better results can be obtained on an Öxabäck loom, a.k.a “Ulla Cyrus”?

    • Karen says:

      Hi, JAN, Yes, the tie-up can be demanding, but I can see that you enjoy what comes as a result, too.

      I’m afraid you’re right. It does sound like an ad for Glimåkra. I’m very happy with my Glimåkra looms, so I may be a little eager about my own experiences.

      Öxabäck has a wonderful reputation! I haven’t yet had the pleasure of weaving on one. I’m sure there are details about the Ulla Cyrus and other countermarch looms that I would really appreciate!

      Thank you,
      Karen

  • Joan says:

    Check out Vavstuga Weaving Studio’s way of tying up the treadles. Becky has figured out how to ditch the legged pegs for knitting needles. So much easier!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joan, I think Becky’s ingenious method of using knitting needles for tying up treadles is fantastic! I learned it at Vavstuga Basics a few years ago. I use that method when weaving with two, four, or even six shafts.

      When weaving with eight shafts, however, I have found that I can get better sheds by tweaking the tie-up after weaving a few inches. And it’s easier to pop out and replace individual pegs than to pull out the knitting needle and redo the whole treadle. So, with eight or more shafts, I prefer the old-fashioned method of pinning each treadle cord.

      Thanks for your input!
      Karen

  • Esther Bauer says:

    I have a 4 shaft Glimåkra. I love it.

    • Karen says:

      Hi, Esther, I can spend hours on my 4-shaft Glimåkra. It’s such a weaver-friendly loom. It’s good to hear of your experience!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Kayleen Andresen says:

    I have a Glimakra 4 shaft. I have found it to be great to use. I have had to dismantle it to move and it is very easy to assemble again. My least favorite job is changing the tie up.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kayleen, Thank you for bringing up how easy it is to dismantle and re-assemble. I didn’t think of including that in my list. That is definitely a big plus!
      Changing the tie-up is one of those things of which can be said: “I didn’t necessary like doing it, but I like having done it.” It does give me a good sense of accomplishment!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Gerda says:

    Thanks Karen, very clear and I love your conclusion. Such prose! It is exactly how I felt when I finally had my Toika countermarch up and running, after years on a counterbalance (which is still very useful, and I like it too). I have graduated to 8 shafts, 8 treadles, this week going to 10 treadles: more texsolv to cut, more crawling to do… 10 shafts comes in a year or so, lots of soaring and playing to do first. Living the journey and reading your blog faithfully!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Gerda, There’s such satisfaction in weaving on a loom that functions so beautifully for the task. That’s great that you are graduating little-by-little adding treadles and shafts. There’s no hurry, because even 2 or 4 shafts is sufficient to have a grand time at the loom.

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

Leave a Reply to Nannette Piasini Cancel reply