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 Beth Cancel reply


Tools Day: Reeds

Eventually, I would like to have a metric reed (or two) in every possible size. Until then, I will be happy with what I have, while I gradually add to my supply, as needed, one reed at a time.

I prefer metric reeds (dents per 10 centimeters) over imperial reeds (dents per inch). For one thing, the math is easier for project planning. And because there are smaller increments between sizes, there are more sett choices with metric reeds. It could be my imagination, but it often seems that the metric reed yields a Goldilocks “just right” sett.

Assortment of weaving reeds.

Supply of reeds. Some purchased new, some second-hand purchases, and some received as gifts. All but one have been used on my looms. The reeds usually reside in my weaving supply closet.

My selection of reeds vary in length, from 70 cm (27″) to 120 cm (47″), to fit the weaving widths of my looms. But Glimåkra countermarch looms have beaters that are open on the sides, so I can use any length reed in any loom.

Beginning cotton warp with M's and O's.

Reed with 120 cm weaving width is being used on this 100 cm Glimåkra Ideal. This is a 22.5 dents/inch reed, sleyed two ends per dent. Notice that the warp is high in the reed? That’s because the front tie-on bar is going over the breast beam.

My all-around favorite reeds are those made by Glimåkra because they are lightweight and easy to handle, …and they come in metric sizes. (Of course, you need to choose reeds that work with your loom.)

Taqueté in Tencel on eight shafts.

This 120 cm reed is a perfect fit for the weaving width of the 120 cm Glimåkra Standard loom. This is a 50/10 metric reed, giving a Goldilocks “just right” sett for this 8/2 tencel taqueté.

I put together a reed conversion chart so that we can see our options at a glance. You never know when a new project will “require” a new metric reed!

Weaving reed metric/imperial conversion chart.

May your next project have a Goldilocks “just right” sett.

Happy weaving,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Julia says:

    Awesome, Karen!
    I’ve recently purchased a loom made in Japan which has a metric reed. It is taking me a while to convert my calculating mind from Imperial to Metric measuring. Your conversion chart will be a tremendous help. Thank you.

  • Thanks for the conversion chart. It will be helpful. I hope you don’t mind that I printed it out to hang on my studio bulletin board.
    Jeny

  • Sandy says:

    Thank you for putting this together, Karen! My first loom was made in Hungary, purchased when we were posted there with the military. It came with two reeds, one of which is 65/10 cm and the other (which I’ve not used yet) I think is about 23.6/10 cm. I was ripping my hair out in December, looking for some conversion charts to assist in calculating sett for a handspun scarf. I, too, would like to print out your chart to hang on my studio bulletin board.

    I was thinking this morning, just before sitting at the computer interestingly enough, that I’d like to get more metric reeds for this loom. As the reed holder is a bit of an oddball width here in North America, my choices seem limited. I must explore options further.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sandy, I searched online for a reed conversion chart, so I could link to it, and I couldn’t find one that was as complete as I wanted. So I decided to put a spreadsheet together to do the math, and create my own chart.

      Please use the reed conversion chart however it serves you best.

      Suppliers for metric reeds in the US are quite limited, as imperial reeds are usually the American favorites.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Shirley says:

    thanks, Karen. your chart is just what I need.
    I have Metric reeds,but also like to use patterns from Handwoven magazine.
    So your printed out chart will also hang in my loomroom.

  • Thanks so much for this Karen! I have a mixture of imperial and metric reeds and until recently I have been referring to my 1970’s Toika handbook (the one with the lady setting up the loom on a rocky Finnish beach!) which had a blurry picture of a reed conversion chart. Thank you!

Leave a Reply to Beth Cancel reply


Quiet Friday: Rya Rag Rug

I wasn’t happy with a simple “X” for the design area, but I struggled to come up with something better for this rug. And then, Steve and I went to the symphony. There, on the floor, in the long hallway, was the inspiration I needed for the pattern design on this rug!

Design inspiration for a rug.

Design inspiration is found on the floor on the way to the symphony.

Despite all that went wrong from the start, and how many things I had to undo and do over, I must tell you that I really did enjoy weaving this rug. The rya knots and loops made it fun and interesting. And this unique fluffy rug will always remind me of that sweet symphony date with my honey, when he patiently waited as I pulled out my iPhone to snap a few shots of the floor. Now that’s love.

Counting warp ends on the warping reel.

Counting warp ends on the warping reel.

Ski shuttle and temple for making large rag rug.

Ski shuttle holds doubled weft–fabric cut into 3/4″-wide strips.

Cutting fabric strips for rya knots.

Three different lengths of fabric strips are used for making the rya knots.

Placing rya knots in large rag rug.

Adding more rya knots.

Large rag rug with rya knots and loops.

Loops are made with the help of a wooden dowel.

Rag rug with inlay, using a brown paper cartoon under the warp.

Brown paper cartoon under the warp has the outline for the pattern. Lines on the cartoon, showing where to change the inlay technique, are inked onto the warp as a guide.

Making loops on a rag rug. Fun!

Making loops.

Extra warp width after re-sleying the reed.

After weaving a sample at the very beginning, I re-sleyed the reed, spreading the warp ends further apart. Excess warp ends, because of the increased width, are chained on both sides. Future band loom warps?

Another do-over.

Don’t ask. Almost finished weaving, and another do-over happened.

Cutting off!! Time to celebrate!!

Cutting off! Time to celebrate!!

Handwoven rag rug with rya knots and loops.

Sculpted inlay appearance is achieved by graduated lengths of the rya strips and heights of the loops.

Rag rug with rya and loops. Karen Isenhower

May your design inspiration come from unanticipated places.

Love,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Mary says:

    Hello Karen,

    I’m a relatively new weaver and so enjoy your blog posts – my favourite weaving blog and because you post so frequently I feel as if I’m there with you in your workshop.
    I’ve learnt so much from your posts and and often refer to your weaving tips. I’m in the process of becoming familiar with my Louet Delta countermarch loom – treadling and tie up is all new to me and I’m finding it quite challenging but strangely enjoyable.(perhaps not enjoying all the pulling out and reworking!).
    Your rag rugs are beautiful and your recent linen weaves – a great source of inspiration.
    Thank you very much.

    Mary

    • Karen says:

      Hello Mary,

      It’s a pleasure to meet you! I’m thrilled to hear that you find useful things here. What a wonderful camaraderie we handweavers have as we struggle and learn how to do this thing called weaving.

      Thank you so much for taking time to leave your thoughts!
      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

  • Shirley Haeny says:

    Hello, thanks for sharing your weaving , Is really good to know that it doesnt always go as we planned. But it encourages me to keep going. I love your rug.
    and will try the technique ( rya, inlay) out on my next . enjoy your weaving, it the greatest hobby ever!
    Shirley

  • Sharon says:

    The rug is fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing. I get excited when your email pops up. Sharon

  • Liberty says:

    Oh Karen, it is beautiful, what a great design!
    I know of another woman who gets inspiration in strange places, she went to Italy and spent a lot of time taking pics of floors for quilts! I think she even did a book on it!!
    Thank you for all your wonderful posts!!
    Liberty

  • linda says:

    Karen: The rug would be fun as a bathmat. I’ve almost cleared the loom of colonial overshot and the warp for rag rugs is wound. The weft is colored venetian blind tape. warp is blue linen rug warp with a white stripe. I’ll get my grand kids to send it to your site. Don’t hold your breath waiting; I’m really slow
    I just love the rug. I’ve only done Rya with wool. You have some great ideas. LP&J, linda

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda,
      I enjoyed this fabric strip rya more than I did the wool yarn rya that I did previously. I like the whimsical, fun look it has.

      I look forward to seeing your pictures. No hurry; take your time.

      Karen

  • Anne says:

    Hi Karen
    I too am a fan of your blog and have learned lots. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge. Love the rug. Hope you won’t use it as a bathmat!. It’s too beautiful for that.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Anne, I’m glad you’re with us. This rug is a little too big for a bath mat anyway. I have decided to hang the rug, where it will make a statement as you come into our home.

      Thanks so much for weighing in!
      Karen

Leave a Reply to Beth Cancel reply


Sley, Sley Again

I have never re-sleyed a warp after weaving the sample. Until now. It’s a drastic measure; but it’s better than fighting with the warp the whole way. I’m doing inlay on a rag rug, with rya knots and other techniques. It didn’t take long to see that the ends needed to be spaced further apart. But this is why we sample, right?

Beginning sample of rag rug weaving with rya knots.

Rya knots quickly add bulk to the rag rug sample. Three rows of rag knots are already creating a little hill in the weft.

Cutting off a sample piece. Painter's tape as cutting template.

Four inches are marked on a piece of painter’s tape to use as a template for cutting the warp. I want enough length on the sample piece being cut off to be able to tie the ends in square knots.

It was not an easy decision to re-sley. I had anticipated an enjoyable day of rag rug weaving. Instead, I spent the day cutting off, pulling the ends out of the reed, switching reeds, re-sleying, dealing with extra warp width, tying back on, and beginning a new sample. Is this called learning the hard way? Nope. This is simply called learning.

Rag rug sample with inlay techniques.

Warp has been re-sleyed and is ready for weaving a new sample. First sample piece includes rya knots, loop technique, and HV technique on weft rep, using fabric strips for weft and weft inlay.

Rag rug sample, trying out rya knots.

After re-sleying, I start a second sample. I am happy to see that the rya knots fit into place without adding excessive bulk to the weaving.

Weaving, relationships, and purposeful living. Learning takes time–a lifetime. I want the Lord to teach me how to live. Even when it means messy beginnings and do-overs that use up my day. We have a lot to learn. Lord, teach me, and lead me on your path. More than a prayer in crisis, this is a lifetime prayer for a lifetime of learning.

May you know when to start a do-over.

Still learning,
Karen

2 Comments

Leave a Reply to Beth Cancel reply


Quiet Friday: Weaving Linen Air

Linen lace weaving. It’s like weaving air. 16/1 linen warp and weft, with uneven sleying and careful weaving. Beating is not the right word this time; let’s call it “placing the weft.” Gentle, gentle, gentle, easy does it. No temple needed. Indeed, what would you hook the temple into? There is almost nothing there.

Linen on the warping reel.

Winding the 16/1 linen warp on the warping reel.

Linen warp chain, ready to dress the loom.

Wound warp is chained and placed over the breast beam and through the beater in preparation for dressing the loom.

Dressing the loom with linen singles.

Ends are counted and grouped before threading.

Uneven sleying of the reed with linen singles.

Reed is sleyed unevenly, sometimes called “crammed and spaced.”

I did weave a sample, trying out different colors and sizes of weft. The weave is so airy; honestly, I was not sure if the fabric would hold its shape off the loom. To wet finish, I first soaked the sample for 20 minutes in hot water with mild soap. Then, I washed it by hand, lifting and lowering the net-like cloth repeatedly in the water. I rolled it in a towel and gently squeezed to remove moisture. Lastly, I laid it out flat to dry.

Half bow keeps linen from slipping, while allowing adjustments.

Half bow-tie makes sure the linen will not slip. Adjustments are easy, if necessary, after weaving a few inches.

Tying up treadles in the "playhouse" under the warp.

Treadle tie-up happens in the “playhouse” under the warp in the back. Sunlight through the linen reveals “invisible” hairy fibers.

Linen sample, not yet wet finished.

Sample, not yet wet finished.

Linen sample in black and white.

Black and white view shows cloth structure.

Result? It came through beautifully, with the lace weave intact. Linen, there is something about you that is exquisite and delightful, yet a bit mischievous and sly. I like you.

Linen sample after wet finishing. Karen Isenhower

After wet finishing and drying, the linen sample shows a glimpse of scarves to come.

Weaving linen air. Karen Isenhower

Weaving linen air.

May all your concerns be as light as air.

Happy Linen Weaving,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Charlene says:

    Your linen is beautiful. What weight is the linen? Now that it is summer it has great appeal.

    • Karen says:

      Hi, Charlene,
      I agree, the airy linen practically feels like summer. I am using Bockens 16/1 line linen. Bockens has glorious colors in their line linen.

      Karen

  • Diane says:

    Wow, I just picked up some estate sale linen – I don’t think I’ll make mine *quite* that airy, but yours is lovely! I’m thinking summer scarves, too.

    • Karen says:

      Diane,

      Lucky you for finding some estate sale linen!

      Yay! for summer scarves. Here in Houston, scarves in the summer need to be practically invisible. 🙂

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Klaasje says:

    That is beautiful <3 As Diane I just found me some sale (16/2) linen and thought of such an airy weave right away. I just love these as an art piece.

    • Karen says:

      Klaasje, It makes me happy to think that you might try an airy weave like this! I hope you have as much fun with it as I have had with these scarves.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

Leave a Reply to Beth Cancel reply