Tried and True: Five Reasons Sampling Makes Sense

Why sample? It means using more warp and weft. And it means waiting longer to start to the “real” project. What do I gain from it, anyway? Is it a waste of resources and time?

I can’t imagine putting on a warp that didn’t have room up front for sampling. There’s more than one reason to put on sufficient warp to weave a sample. It makes perfect sense, especially if there is anything new or unfamiliar about your planned project.

Five Reasons to Add Extra Warp for Sampling

Drawloom
Sampling to test patterns, weft colors, and beat consistency, before starting on fabric for a garment.


1 Space to play. I want plenty of room to play, and to practice techniques that are new to me.
2 Room to try out designs. By weaving a portion of my designs, I am able to determine what works, and what adjustments need to be made.
3 Warp for testing weft colors. Only when woven can I see the full effect of each potential weft color.
4 Time to gain a consistent beat. When I start the main project, I want to have woven enough to be able to “feel” how firmly or softly I need to move the beater.
5 The best reason of all! It’s always good to have enough warp on the loom that you can invite friends and family to enjoy some weaving time. …Before your main project is in progress.

Drawloom
My weaving friend Betsy came over to see what it is like to weave on a drawloom.
Drawloom
My daughter Melody came for a visit and wanted to see what it was like to weave on a drawloom.
Drawloom, making garment fabric.
Garment fabric. This is to be used for two side panels of a vest I plan to make for myself.
Drawloom, making garment fabric.
This is to be the back panel of the vest.
Drawloom, making garment fabric.
This is the beginning of the front panels for the vest.

May you give yourself room to play.

Yours truly,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Lovely, Karen! Your advice is well taken! Also love seeing your friends checking out the draw loom. 🙂

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Sample, sample, sample. I love to sample. When I need a break from big projects I’ll dress the loom with a narrow warps and play with new-to-me drafts. Great advice!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, It’s rewarding to try out new things on samples. That’s where we get some of our best ideas for future projects.

      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

  • Charlotte says:

    It is lovely, visiting your Blog, today. There is a Casita gathering Feb. 12th on Lake Belton. If you and Steve could sign up, I think you would thoroughly enjoy it. We play games, at night. Have music (mostly guitars, ukuleles), enjoy potlucks. I usually spend a few minutes with Sarah in her Saori studio and then…we piddle. I can send you more information, if you think you might be free.

  • Nannette says:

    Good morning Karen,
    I’ve done samples in others textiles, but never considered samples in weaving. Must do. It would have been one less garage rug when weaving overshot.

    Thank you for your wisdom.

    Nannette

  • Vivian says:

    Ha ha ha! What a novel idea. What a delight that you invite friends and fa,ily to try your loom.

  • Gail Pietrzyk says:

    A sample also gives you an opportunity to test finishing methods–especially if you are using some unlabeled mystery yarns.

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Process Review: Comfy Throw With Fringe

This throw has fringe. It seems appropriate for a homestyle cotton wrap. Fringe says comfortable, casual, and playful. I do not mind the time it takes to twist the threads to make this tactile edging. It’s a satifying close to a worthwhile project. After all, who can resist running their fingers through soft twisted fringes?

Finished handwoven cotton throw.
Knots on the ends of the fringes are trimmed off after washing and drying the throw.

Reminisce with me through the start-to-finish process of making this eight-shaft undulating twill throw for my lovely daughter-in-law Lindsay.

Beaming the warp.
Dressing the Great Room loom.
Heddles are threaded.
Sleying the reed on Glimakra Standard.
Ready to tie on.
Eight shafts.
All tied on.
Testing, testing...
Eight-shaft undulating twill in 8/2 cotton.
Cloth beam is filling!
Weave to the end mark.
Hemstitching at the end of the cotton throw.
Playing with pattern. 8-shaft twill.
End of warp is near.
8-shaft twill. Fun with patterns.
Cutting off!
Getting ready to twist fringe.
Twisting fringe on cotton throw.
Before wet finishing.
After wet-finishing.
Trimming off the knots at the end of fringes.
Finished 8-shaft twill cotton throw. With fringe!

May you have plenty of fringe benefits.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

16 Comments

  • Maria says:

    Really nice- what are the dimensions?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maria, Thanks! The hand and drape are just what I was hoping for.

      This had a lot of weft-wise shrinkage. On the loom, 109.3 cm width x 166 cm length (43″ x 65″), not including fringe. Finished piece after wet finishing is 86 cm x 149.5 cm (34″ x 59″). That’s about 21% shrinkage in width and 10% in length. The fringe length before twisting was 20 cm (8″), and finished is 12 cm (4.75″).

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Susan Gruen says:

    Love the colors looks so soft
    How did you wet finish?susan Gruen

    • Karen says:

      Hi Susan, The cotton does feel nice and soft, which I like.

      I washed it in cool water on the delicate cycle, and no spin. I used Eucalan wash and included a couple Color Catcher sheets (which both turned dark blue). I squeezed water out of it with a large beach towel and then put it in the dryer on a medium heat setting, along with the beach towel. I pulled it out of the dryer while it was still a little damp.

      I will tell my daughter-in-law that she can throw this in the washer and dryer without worry. It may shrink a little more, and it will be wise to use a Color Catcher for a couple more washes.

      Thanks for asking,
      Karen

  • Marjorie says:

    How big are your tie-on bundles? You are such an inspiration to me! Love your color choices!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marjorie, I am honored that you would consider anything from my hand an inspiration for you!

      I tie on in 1-inch bundles, and 1/2-inch bundles at the selvedges. These small bundles help evenly distribute the ends and make for an easy start to weaving.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Nflood says:

    Thank you for your inspiration. Love to see the progress pictures.

  • Laura says:

    Like your threading hook, what brand is it?
    Your throw is beautiful! Thanks for all your inspiration. Where to you find the time?!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Laura, I use the Vavstuga Reed Hook. It fits really well in my hand. You can get it at Vavstuga.com.

      I’m glad you like the throw. I tried wrapping up in it, and I like it, too! 🙂

      Where do I find the time? Haha, I never feel like I spend enough time at the loom. I always wish I had more time for this!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Maggie Ackerman says:

    This really beautiful. I love the colors. I noticed you had 2 knots in your twisted fringe. Could you tell me why?
    Maggie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maggie, You asked a great question!

      I tie a preliminary knot on each group of fringe ends first. I do it for two reasons – 1. It’s easier for the alligator clip of the fringe twister to grasp a small knot than a group of threads. 2. After wet finishing I cut off the knot, which has all the fuzzy ends from going through the washer and dryer. And I’m left with clean-cut ends. I have a video about using the fringe twister that explains it a little more: How to Use a Fringe Twister. It’s part of this post – Quiet Friday: Cotton Scarves. And here’s another post about twisting fringe – Tools Day: Fringe Twister.

      And one happy coincidence – Today, I happen to be wearing the cotton scarf that’s in the video.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Alice says:

    This throw is gorgeous! I love the color and drape. Wow! It looks like the way you tie on to the loom allows you to get started weaving right away.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Alice, You make me smile with your enthusiasm!

      Yes, two things make it easy to start weaving the warp right off. 1. Tie small bundles, as mentioned earlier. 2. Tie on a leveling string. This is really the magic. You can read about it in this post – Tools Day: Leveling String .

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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Weaving History Carries Memories – Year in Review Video

Transition. Changes. Adventure into the unknown. That describes 2018 for Steve and me. When I review my weaving history for the year, everything on the loom is attached to a memory. Like an old song that awakens our thoughts to past experiences, the Lizard tapestry certainly sparks in me revived memories of our transition season and the moving of looms. See Quiet Friday: Tapestry in Transition.

Removing the warp beam. Relocating the loom.

Steve unscrews a bolster that holds one side of the warp beam so I can remove the warp beam.

I began 2018 with a plan to weave coordinated fabrics for our Texas hill country home—towels, upholstery for bar stools, and placemats, explained in this post: Harmonized Weaving for the New Year. Accomplished! I also committed to weaving a gift for each of my three daughters (daughter and two son’s wives), as described in this post: Weaving a Gift. Accomplished two out of three! The final gift is nearing halfway on the loom right now.

Hemstitching at the beginning of the cotton throw.

Cotton throw has hemstitching at the beginning. The ends will be twisted for fringe when it’s taken from the loom.

Eight-shaft twill in an undulating pattern. Lightweight cotton throw.

Eight-shaft twill in an undulating pattern. Single-shuttle weaving gets me off to a fast start for 2019.

2019 is a continuation of transition, changes, and adventure, as we tiptoe into this retirement chapter. A drawloom is in the forecast, as well as some travel tapestry weaving, and more rag rugs, towels, scarves, and throws. And anything else we can think up. It’s going to be a good year! Thank you for coming along. I’m grateful to have you as a friend.

May you have much to look forward to.

Blessings to you,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    You’ve had an exciting and productive year. Wishing you all the best in 2019 and beyond.

  • Diane Leblanc says:

    I look forward to each post. I have had my loom for 38 years and it is retirement that finally gave me the time to weave and learn as I have always wished for. I am learning so many things I am inspired by weavers in my guild into their 80’s who are still weaving and learning. I wish us both a good weaving year in 2019

    • Karen says:

      Hi Diane, It is wonderful to have fellow weavers like you on this journey with me. Learning new things is one thing I look forward to in 2019!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • ellen santana says:

    well i’m real happy to have you too. i did that undulating twill in wool a couple of times and it shrank like crazy. do you find that in cotton also? happy new year to you and your husband. ellen

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ellen, It’s good to hear from you!

      I haven’t done undulating twill in cotton before, so we shall see about the shrinkage. I’ll be sure to mention it when I take measurements after washing.

      Blessed new year to you,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Remarkable year!!

    Please continue sharing.

    Kind regards,

    Nannette

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Two Kinds of Dressing

Before everyone arrives for our Thanksgiving family gathering, I am making pie crust for the pecan pie, dough for my “famous” cranberry bread, and doing the prep to make Gram’s turkey dressing. Each family is bringing their contributions to the meal (feast). Thanksgiving Day is a flurry of activity with too many cooks in the kitchen—just how we like it! And sitting at the table with the feast before us, we give thanks. Thanks to each other, and to our Creator. We are blessed!

Making perfect pecan pie for Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving feast prep. It takes two pastry chefs to make the perfect pecan pie.

And before everyone arrives I also manage to sley the reed on the Standard. A different kind of dressing—loom dressing.

Sleying the reed.

Two ends per dent in a 45/10 metric reed.

Sleying the reed.

I sit “inside” the loom on my loom bench to sley the reed.

Next step - tying on!

After the reed is sleyed, I remove the loom bench, lower the shafts, and move the countermarch to the front of the loom. Then, I place the reed in the beater and make sure it is centered. Next step–tying on!

Fresh warp on the back beam. Magical!

Getting dressed. Oh the beauty of a fresh warp going over the back beam! Magical.

A feast for the eyes and hands and heart. Thankful indeed!

May you give thanks,
Karen

8 Comments

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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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