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

8 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

  • Jean Flores says:

    Exactly how I do it! I just posted a video of me threading last week on Instagram. lol.

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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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Not the Easiest Way to Weave

I considered making a matching set, but at the loom I get an inclination to explore. Hence, no two placemats are alike. A change in the weft changes everything. New colors emerge! Slate and apple green on a coral warp become periwinkle and avocado. If you look closely, though, you can still see the underlying coral and camel stripes of the warp.

Cotton placemats on the loom with color and weave effects.

Second placemat uses red and orange in the weft. These colors work with the coral in the warp to bring out a distinctive color-and-weave effect in the design.

Three double-bobbin shuttles—this is not the easiest way to weave. I am carrying the colors up the selvedge, so it gets tricky when all three shuttles end up on the same side. Nevertheless, this is the joy of weaving a challenge. How and where to set the shuttles down, and which hand picks them up—ever aiming for efficiency. Newly-formed colors and technical pursuits—this is a handweaver’s thrill of discovery!

Three double bobbin shuttles for this color and weave placemat.

Beginning of the third placemat shows variation in pattern and color choices. Three double bobbin shuttles put my manual dexterity to the test.

Color and weave variations.

Coral and camel warp stripes form the base of the design. Pattern variations are produced by varying the number of picks per weft color.

Imagine the thrill of discovery that awaits us in heaven! Love permeates heaven. Like a narrow-striped warp, love is written into the fabric. The environment there is love, where pride and selfishness don’t exist. Blending of colorful personalities will be such as we’ve never seen. All to the glory of our Grand Weaver. And how marvelous that through Christ we’ve been given everything needed to practice that kind of love here and now. Double bobbin shuttles, and all.

May you rise to the challenge.

Love,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Ruth says:

    Karen,
    Thanks so much for the color show this morning. It is snowing once again up north and I am so ready for spring and color. The close up of your placemat makes my heart sing! And the double bobbin shuttles with their color are beautiful. Blessings to you and yours.

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    Beautiful colors Karen! Geez, I have problems with 2 shuttles, someday I’ll make it to 3!!!
    Libby

    • Karen says:

      Hi Liberty, Three shuttles is a little crazy. I may make it easier on myself for the placemats after this. I’m enjoying the colors, too!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Elisabeth says:

    I really like that they are all different but have the same warp (core). It’s almost llike human beings 🙂 They are all beautiful!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, I see it the same way. I think it will make an interesting set. Yes, humans are all made in the image of God. What could be more beautiful?

      Thanks,
      Karen

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Shuttle Catching

I am already a quarter of the way on this baby wrap. Simple plain weave with one shuttle is fast and uncomplicated, making this the perfect setting to improve weaving technique. Surely, I can gain efficiency by examining some of my practices.

First quarter woven on baby wrap.

Twill tape has marks that show 1/4, Mid (1/2), and 3/4 of the length of woven baby wrap. The first quarter used about seven full quills of light blue weft.

Under scrutiny, I see that I am not consistent in how I catch the shuttle. It makes a difference where I make contact with the shuttle as it glides into my hand. I often have to reposition the shuttle in my hand to prepare it for the return throw. That’s not very efficient. Solution? Look at the hand that is catching the shuttle. All I have to do is turn my head to look, and the hand does the job. It’s amazing how that works. It pays to pay attention.

Beginning sample comes around the cloth beam. Baby wrap.

Beginning sample meets the cloth beam. View is from the front of the loom, looking under the breast beam.

Following Jesus can be compared to finding a breakthrough in weaving technique. It’s more than just meeting him, and trying to go the right way. That is weaving by habit, doing it like I’ve always done it. Jesus gives all to those who give him all. Breakthrough comes when I give up my habits to find a better way–his way.

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.

– Jim Elliot

May your eyes help your hands.

With love,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Kerry Fagan says:

    You explain so nicely the thought processes we(I) have when weaving – how to do it better, more consistently and how will this piece end up. That is the buzz that keeps us weaving again and again.

  • Randi says:

    I’m loving your blog and your whispers of Jesus.

  • ruth says:

    Thanks for the reminder to use twill tape for measuring the total length of a project! I’m ready to begin weaving a couple of table runners and had forgotten to “use the tape”. I’m changing treadling during this project and will add notes to the tape to remind myself of when those changes occur. You’ve saved me lots of time and measuring headaches with your post.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth, Oh good! I’m so glad this served as a reminder for you. Using the tape to make notes of treadling changes is a great idea. I’ve done that before, but I don’t always think of it. So you’ve given me a reminder, too!

      I love hearing what other people are weaving. I’m sure your table runners will be beautiful!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Debbie Moyes says:

    I love the twill tape for measuring! I have a variety of ways that I measure as I weave, but none are particulalry good. I have twill tape, which I use to bind hooked rugs and will make a tape for my next project. The colors of your wrap are gorgeous!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Debbie, I used to use grosgrain ribbon for measuring, but I like twill tape better. It’s soft, easy to pin, easy to mark, and doesn’t stretch.

      Thanks for the compliment about the colors! I’m energized by pretty colors, so this has been happy weaving for me.

      Karen

  • linda says:

    Karen: God wants us to spread our wings and try new things. I’m going to be the devil. Get rid of the template, think about the music of the weaving, and try new materials.
    Music :Open shed 1,3 throw from R (I put my index finger on the tip of the shuttle) by flicking the wrist. catch on L(put the shuttle on the woven cloth if using two shuttles), with R hand I give a little tug to the R side ..using R hand. Open the next shed (2,4) throw from L to right, catch, place on cloth, tug L,……..
    Some times by trying a new method one can find freedom, ,joy, and more time to .think..
    How about a nubby soft cotton with a cotton warp. love ya, Linda

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda, I love your eagerness to help. You give great instructions, worth trying. I agree with you that it’s good to try new things and new methods.

      I do like using a temple. It’s a tool I’m not likely to give up.

      Love to you,
      Karen

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Simplest Rag Rug Stripe

An isolated thin weft stripe makes a bold statement. One simple technique greatly improves the efficiency of weaving such a stripe in a rag rug. This method eliminates the need to weave weft tails in at the beginning and end of the stripe. So, besides being efficient, the selvedges look better too.

How to Weave a Thin Weft Stripe (Two Picks)

1 Weave up to the stripe placement. No need to end the weft if the same weft will continue after the thin stripe.

Rag rug on loom. How to make thin stripes.

2 Place the first pick of the stripe in the shed, leaving a long tail of about 6 inches / 15 cm, or more.

How to make thin weft stripe in rag rug. Step by step pics.

3 Beat in the first pick of the stripe.

Making thin stripe in rag rug. How to.

4 Change sheds. Lay the long tail into the new shed.

Making thin stripe in rag rug. How to.

5 Send the shuttle across for the second pick, catching the previous weft to carry it up the selvedge.

Make a thin stripe in a rag rug. How to and pics.

6 As the weft goes across for the second pick, bring the shuttle all the way out.

Second pick of thin stripe. Explanation and pics.

7 Pull enough of the second pick through the warp to cut a tapered edge that will overlap the tapered edge of the long tail.

How to make thin stripe in rag rug.

8 Overlap the two tapered fabric strips in the shed.

Overlap in the shed. Rag rug instructions.

9 Beat in the second pick of the stripe.

Rag rug thin stripe.

10 Continue weaving with the previous weft that was carried up the selvedge.

Rag rug on the loom. Thin stripe tutorial.

If you’re like me, you are always on the lookout for ways to enhance weaving efficiency. One little tip can improve the whole weaving experience. When you know there is so much more to learn, and you are hungry to learn, every morsel of insight is delectable.

Has your soul ever felt hungry? Mine has. The Lord is ready to fill the hungry soul with good. He fills the empty. He satisfies the hungry, meeting the deepest need. One sweet morsel leads to another, inviting us to keep coming back. Taste and see that the Lord is good.

May you be hungry for good things.

Satisfied,
Karen

4 Comments

  • Ruth says:

    What a clever idea! Thanks so much for sharing. Too bad I can’t put a rug warp on today and cement this idea in my brain. Blessings.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth, this technique works equally well with thread or yarn for any two-pick stripe. I’ve done it this way for thin weft stripes in towels and throws, too. So, go ahead and try it out on your next project!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Debbie Moyes says:

    That’s a great technique! And as I am weaving rag runner/placemats I will try it. I see I need to read more of your blog, but a quick question – is your threading 11223344 – and if so, is the reason for the pattern or something else? I generally do just a tabby.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Debbie, I’m glad you have a project going that you can try this with.

      The threading is 1234, with 2 ends per heddle and 2 ends per dent. Technically, it is supposed to be weft rep, but I was not able to completely cover my warp, as true weft rep should be. But the weft rep effect is what makes the rickrack zigzag more prominent than it would be with just tabby. Most weft-faced weaving will produce a wavy line with 2 picks, as in tapestry weaving.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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