Tried and True: Threading Eight Shafts

Threading four shafts is straightforward because the heddles fit perfectly between four fingers and a thumb. Threading eight shafts is tricky because we don’t have that many fingers! Thankfully, threading eight shafts can be as straightforward as threading four shafts. I like to think of it as four shafts in the back, and four shafts in the front.

For a review of threading four shafts, watch the short video in this post: You Can Prevent Threading Errors.

Threading Eight Shafts – Straight Draw

  • Set a small group of heddles apart on each shaft to prepare for threading the next group of ends.
  • Pick up the next threading group of ends and bring it to the front, on the left side of the separated heddles.
  • Lace the threading group of ends under, over, under, over the fingers of your left hand, palm up.
Threading eight shafts - the easy way.

Left hand becomes tensioning device for threading the heddles. I like to put my index finger in between the two parts of the cross, as separated by the lease sticks.

  • Wrap left hand index finger around the group of heddles on shaft one (the shaft nearest the back of the loom), the middle finger around heddles on shaft two, the ring finger around heddles on shaft three, the pinky around heddles on shaft four, and bring the thumb around to hold it all loosely together.
Threading eight shafts - the easy way.

Each warp end is taken in order from between the lease sticks, and then threaded through the heddles in order.

  • Thread the first four heddles—1, 2, 3, 4.
  • With the right hand, hold the group of warp ends taut, and open the fingers of the left hand to release the heddles.
  • Keeping the group of warp ends loosely laced around the fingers, slide the left hand toward you to thread the next four heddles—5, 6, 7, 8. Position your fingers around the heddles on each shaft, as you did for the first four shafts.
Threading eight shafts - the easy way.

Left hand slides toward the front of the loom to thread the next four heddles. It helps to hold the warp ends taut with the right hand while the left hand is repositioned.

  • After threading the second set of heddles, follow the same procedure as before and slide the left hand back again to thread 1, 2, 3, 4.
  • Continue sliding the left hand forward and back, until the threading is completed for that group of ends.
  • Check the threading group for accuracy, and then tie the group of ends together in a loose slip knot.
Threading eight shafts.

Always check for accuracy before moving on to the next threading group.

Complete the threading across the warp. And then, step back and admire the beauty of a beamed and threaded loom.

Glimakra Standard. Threading the loom.

Shafts are raised high for good access and visibility for threading, and for checking for accuracy.

Threading is complete. 8-shafts undulating twill.

Threading is complete. Cotton throw. 8/2 cotton, undulating (wavy) twill on eight shafts.

May you find efficient methods for the work of your hands.

Happy weaving,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Cynthia says:

    Love those colors, can’t wait to see finished

  • Good morning Karen,

    I really appreciate it when you post photos of your weaving space. It answers many unspoken questions about how to design a work area.

    The space has a tile floor with a rug placed immediately under the loom.

    There are no electronics to be seen.

    The floor is clean of lint.

    Plenty of natural light, with a view.

    Thank you.

    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, All of that is correct, except there is no rug under the loom. The loom sits on a square patch of wood floor. The original owners of this house designed that spot specifically for their baby grand piano. Since I don’t have a baby grand, a Glimåkra Standard seems the next best thing.

      After having carpet under my looms, it’s really nice to have a smooth floor under them now. It’s much easier to collect all those dust bunnies that hold meetings under there.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    Good morning, Karen!
    I am going to print and keep the information on the post since I have plans to order and 12 shaft Louet Delta after Christmas. I haven’t even threaded more than 4 shaft so this post is much needed!
    Thank you so much for sharing yourself with the weaving world. I have learned a great deal from you.
    May your hands always be busy weaving.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, I’m excited for you! You’ll find that there are several ways to do just about everything. It’s good that you are collecting information that you can use for reference later.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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Getting Dressed to Weave

I want to wrap up in this cozy throw already. But I need to weave it first. This is an undulating twill throw that I am making for sweet Lindsay, one of my daughters-in-law. Of course, I am including enough warp to make a small throw of my own.

Getting ready to beam the warp. Back to front warping.

Four chained bouts. The 8/2 cotton warp is pre-sleyed, and the back tie-on bar has been placed through the loops at the end of the warp.

Every step of dressing the loom is fascinating. I easily get immersed in the enjoyment of the process. All the while, I’m dreaming of the finished work.

Read to beam the warp, using warping trapeze.

Warping trapeze is in place at the front of the loom. Ready to beam these soothing colors onto the warp beam.

Warp is beamed. Ready for threading.

Warp is beamed. Warp ends are counted into groups of 32 ends each, for efficiency and accuracy in threading. This will be threaded for undulating twill on eight shafts.

Dressing the loom leads to the making of cloth. Dressing our lives leads to the making of good character. Prayer is of utmost importance in dressing our lives. Prayer is not a single step in the process, but a posture of faith throughout the process. Earnest prayer reaches God. The power of prayer is not in our words, in the threads we express, but in the Grand Weaver. He receives our humble threads and weaves them into his will to bring about his beautiful cloth. Fascinating, isn’t it?

May you dream as you dress the loom.

Prayerfully,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    There is something soothing about dressing a loom. I can’t wait to see the weaving begin.

  • I agree- I enjoy the entire process. I think you have to or you wouldn’t continue to weave year after year!! “ you must be warped to weave” .

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maria, Yes, maybe that’s the appeal for those of us who are drawn to handweaving – the enjoyment of process, of being part of making something from beginning to end. Your weaving is so beautiful. It’s good to know you enjoy the whole process, too.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Emonieiesha says:

    Good Morning Karen,
    I just came across your blog and what a joy. I am a beginner with a RHL and a 4 Shaft Table loom! There is nothing like creating while keeping our hearts and minds on the Creator. Happy Weaving with the one who created it all.

  • Susan Hommel says:

    Hi Karen, I love reading you warm and knowledgeable advice and have followed your weaving adventure these last few years. You even inspired my first rug attempt when you submitted your lovely rosepath pattern to Handwoven. Now I’m at a crossroad. I’ve been using my Schact standard but the draw to a Swedish loom has bitten me…. I await delivery of my Glimakra Julia countermarch next week. Here’s my question. Is there value in passing up the Glimakra set up direction in favor of Vavstugas Dress your loom the Vävstuga Way ? Thanks for any advice you can offer! Best regards, Sue

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sue, I’m excited for you! You will really enjoy your new Julia.

      The Glimakra set up and Vavstuga’s guide are completely compatible, as far as I know. I use Joanne Hall’s books and Vavstuga’s and get a great compilation of instructions. You can’t go wrong either way, or both! Don’t forget “The Big Book of Weaving.” It also has great set up (and weaving) instructions. The more, the merrier. 🙂

      Very happy weaving,
      Karen

  • How pretty the colors are.
    My skills are not there yet. Dressing the loom requires a lot of detail that my creative brain wants to ignore.

    Warping All By Yourself was my guide for dressing a loom. Front to back. I am glad you provided visual details. I will reference the next time I dress a loom and see if it speeds things up.

    About a month ago I went to the high school craft fair in Crivitz, Wi. There a woman selling the most beautifully crafted rag rugs I’ve ever seen. Nothing fancy, but even edges and beautifully chosen colors.

    She lives back in the woods in the home she shared with her late husband, south east of Green Bay and weaves. No business cards.

    I mentioned your website. She is the last hold out not on line. Her world is edged by north eastern Wisconsin. Next year I will look for her again at the Crivitz high school autumn craft fair. But earlier. The bake sale was sold out.

    I will miss your twice weekly posting. Enjoy the ride.

    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, I understand what you mean about your creative brain. My brain has trouble holding details, too.
      Having a system with specific steps helps me. I don’t try to remember the steps. I have written down the steps and keep that step-by-step list in front of me every time I warp the loom.

      Those old time rag rugs are wonderful. I have two that a friend of my grandmother made in a small country town in Missouri back in the ‘50’s.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
      Karen

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Quiet Friday: Threads of Love

Talk about thick and thirsty towels! Double weave makes these hand towels thick. And the linen in the cottolin threads makes them highly absorbent. The colors are fantastic together. When our daughter Melody moves with her little family to Chile, she can set up her new home with these made-for-her towels. My love is woven into every single pick.

I have included two short little videos just for the fun of it. Enjoy!

This project started in my weaving studio in our Houston home, where I beamed the warp.

Colors for Towels

Winding a warp for double weave towels.

Beaming the warp for towels.

And then we decided to move! We sold the house and moved into an apartment. The big loom was dismantled, with the towel warp on the back beam. Then, we moved all the pieces to our Texas hill country home.

Dismantled loom for moving.

Moving a Glimakra Standard loom.

Putting the Glimakra Standard loom back together.

Recently, I spent a week there to finish dressing the loom and weave all four towels. Whew! (Here’s what I did that week: Testing Color Surprises with My Little Helper and Weaving Deadline)

Threading 12 shafts. Double weave towels coming!

Lower lamms ready to go!

Starting the hem on double weave towels.

Double weave cottolin towels on 12 shafts. Karen Isenhower

From the back beam. Double weave on 12 shafts.

Double weave towels. Loom with a view!

Squares in a double weave towel.

Towels on the cloth beam. Karen Isenhower

Double weave towels on the loom.

Double weave cottolin towels on the loom. Karen Isenhower

Towels on the cloth beam.

Glimakra Standard loom in Texas hill country.

Cutting off!

Cutting off! Double weave towels.

Fresh double weave towels, ready for finishing.

I wove hanging tabs on my band loom. And I discovered that I could showcase both sides of the colorful towel if I stitch the hanging tab on the side of the towel, off center.

Glimakra band loom.

Hanging tabs for towels woven on Glimakra band loom.

Hanging tab stitched to side of towel.

The towels are hemmed and pressed, ready to brighten the day!

Double Weave cottolin towels. Side A.

Double weave cottolin towels. Side B.

Double weave cottolin towels! Karen Isenhower

Cottolin towels, hanging from the side. More pics on the blog.

May you put threads of love into everything you do.

Love,
Karen

18 Comments

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Testing Color Surprises with My Little Helper

Twelve shafts and twelve treadles are all tied up. I found and fixed one threading error. And I am still making some adjustments on the tie-ups to get clean sheds. But for the most part, the Standard is ready to go! I have a week with this loom, to weave towels for my daughter. This colorful double weave looks promising.

My helper peers up at me as I tie on the warp.

My helper this week peers up at me as I begin to tie on the warp.

Dressing the countermarch loom.

Lower lamms and upper lamms are connected to the shafts before tying up the treadles.

Glimakra Standard with twelve-shaft double weave.

Arrangement of the heddles on the shafts give a clue to the three blocks in this twelve-shaft double weave.

Weaving with my granddaughter at my side.

Testing weft colors and patterns with granddaughter Lucia by my side.

Helper for managing the shuttles at the loom. :)

Two-year-old Lucia helps manage the shuttles.

Double-weave towels on twelve shafts. Beginning sample.

Design decisions for the towels will be made based on this beginning sample.
It’s surprising to see the array of colors produced by only four shades of cottolin thread.

When the loom is properly dressed and prepared, the weaving is delightful. Every pick of color is a pleasant surprise. Our Father knows our needs. He is the loom dresser. Everything is set up for the threads to make gorgeous cloth. Do we think prayer is all about asking God our Father for things? Yes, he does invite us to ask for the things we need. But let’s start with admiring his ways and works, with a heart of gratitude. Then, with the threads he puts in our hands, the future looks promising!

May your looms be ready for weaving.

Happy weaving,
Karen

12 Comments

  • When God blesses us with variables your loom demonstrates I believe He not only wants to meet our needs but wants to bring joy to our souls. Some people weave tabby with their lives. Some people live their lives weaving lizards while exploring the subtle variations in the process. I believe God wants us to explore and enjoy all the good He has to offer and dresses our individual looms to do that..

    Yesterday our second grandchild arrived. He is as perfect as his older sister. A day such as that makes it easy to forget all the threads that had to be re-sleighed along the way.

    Blessings to all

  • Laura says:

    Love the pattern and colors….

  • Lynette Glass says:

    Can I weave something similar with four shafts? Do you have any four shaft doubleweave pattern ideas or books that you know about? I like your colors very much!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lynette, You can certainly do double weave on four shafts. I don’t personally have much information on the topic, though. I do know that Jennifer Moore is known for her work in double weave and has a book and video about it, as well as workshops that she teaches.

      I chose colors that were not in my usual palette, and I’m pleasantly surprised at how much I like them.
      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Susie redman says:

    This looks stunning – the colours are so complementary. Are you managing this double weave on only one back beam?
    Susie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Susie, I have only one back beam, and I don’t know the first thing about weaving with a second back beam. Is double weave like this something for which a second back beam is useful?

      Thanks!
      Karen

      • Susie says:

        Hi Karen,
        I have only experienced double weave on a table loom and it was fitted with a second beam – one for each layer. My own loom is a Glimakra Standard too and I’m heartened to see that you can achieve double weave with one back beam. I had thought that it would be out of the question.
        Many thanks,
        Susie

  • Rebecca Neef says:

    This is so beautiful and inspiring. What an adorable helper you have! I have a Glimakra Standard also, a 120cm model. Mine only came (used) with 8 shafts, although it has 12 treadles. Is yours a special model made for 12 shafts, or did you do anything special to accommodate the extra shafts? I’d sure love to be able to do some 12 shaft weaves on mine! Thanks.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Rebecca, I was surprised that my little helper would sit there as long as she did. There was a lot to keep her attention, I guess.

      My loom (120cm) also came with 8 shafts. I wrote to Glimåkra USA and told them I wanted to upgrade to 12 shafts and they listed all the parts I would need to do that, and then I ordered the parts.

      I don’t expect that I’ll use 12 shafts very often, but it’s nice to have them for a few special projects.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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Tools Day: Click Test

It is not easy to see sleying errors in this fine-dent reed. I unknowingly quadrupled the ends in four of the dents, instead of the specified two ends per dent. When I check as I go, I find the errors while they are still easy to fix.

How to check and double-check for sleying errors:

  • Tie ends into threading groups, using a loose slip knot. (I do this before threading the heddles.)
  • Sley one threading group. (I sley right to left.)
  • Visually check the sleyed group of ends for skipped dents and crowded dents.
  • Do a Click Test. Use the hook end of the reed hook to count the dents by running the hook along the reed…click, click, click… Make sure the number of clicks matches the number of dents needed for that group of ends.
    —This is how I caught my errors. When the dents came up short in the Click Test, I knew I had some crowded dents that I had failed to catch in the visual check.
  • Move ends and re-sley as needed.
  • Sley each remaining group of ends, checking as you go, visually and with the reed-hook Click Test.
Reed is sleyed. Dressing the loom for double-weave towels.

Two ends per dent in this 70/10 metric (equivalent to an 18-dent imperial) reed.

May your errors be few and fixable.

Happy sleying,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Great tips! I warp F2B, sley the reed left to right and the heddles right to left.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, No matter what warping method we use, it’s good to find any denting errors as soon as possible. After the weaving begins it’s much more of a hassle to correct, isn’t it?

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Ouch. Better at the click than 10 rows into the weaving.

    Thank you for the lesson to correct.

    Nannette

  • Lise Loader says:

    Hello Karen,

    I have been following your work for many months, love your teaching and can’t wait for your next project.

    Unfortunately I don’t get the clicking of a hook to check if skip or crowded reed. Is there a video or some kind of demo for me to learn from. I have some mistakes when I’m dressing the loom and it is frustrating when the skip or the crowing is right of the middle of the reed, if you know what I mean.

    Lise

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lise, That will be a good subject for a short video. Thanks for the suggestion. I can do that next time I dress the loom.

      I do know what you mean about finding a denting error — and it always seems to fall right in the middle of the reed!

      What I mean by the “click test” is this – I know that if I have 40 ends in a threading group, and there are 2 ends per dent, that there should be 20 dents with threads in them when I finish sleying that group of threads. I am counting the dents with the tip of the reed hook (it’s hard for me to count the dents without something touching the actual spaces, and my finger is too large for that with this fine-dent reed). As I move the reed hook along the reed, it makes a sound (“click”) at each dent. I listen for 20 “clicks” to check that I have those 40 threads in 20 dents.

      I’m always looking for ways to check my work as I go so that when I get to the weaving part it’s smooth sailing! But even so, a few mistakes still manage to slip through sometimes. That’s weaving! But thankfully, mistakes are fixable!

      I hope that makes sense.
      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    Good morning, Karen.

    I am also not sure what you mean by clicking the reed in terms of how that will show a mistake. Perhaps a short video in future when you need to sley again?

    I like the colors in the warp that you are using! Is the yarn a variable one? Or did you mix colors thread by thread? And what are you making? Inquiring minds want to know.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, I’ll make a short video about the “click test” next time I dress the loom. Thanks for the suggestion!

      Read my answer to Lise, and see if it makes sense to you.

      The warp colors alternate. Since I wind with 2 threads at a time, I’m able to wind the 2 colors at the same time and then thread them alternately in the heddles.
      I am making hand towels for my daughter. This is double weave with twelve shafts. (My first attempt at weaving with twelve shafts.)

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    I love how you are always challenging yourself and growing as a weaver. I can’t wait to see the progress on these towels. After reading your response to Lise, I understand the click test perfectly. I am going to adopt this practice also.

    Thank you for taking the time to clarify for us.

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