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

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What to Do about Weaving Errors

I’ve been waiting for a bright sunshiny day to thoroughly examine this tightly-woven linen satin dräll fabric. Today is perfect. Fixing errors must be done before the fabric is washed, when the weave will become even tighter. I am looking for unwanted floats where the shuttle skipped threads, and for loops at the selvedges.

In my examination I did find an errant float and a few small selvedge loops. Let’s get started.

Tools:

  • Blunt-tip needle. Sharp needle tip has been sanded to a rounded tip.

Blunt needle for fixing weaving errors.

  • Thread. Use the same weft or warp thread that is in the area needing repair.
  • Good lighting. If the fabric has a complex structure, good lighting is essential.
  • Magnification. I take a photo on my iPhone, and then zoom in to see the minute details.

Zoom in on iPhone photo to magnify details.

 

How to Mend Skipped Threads:

1 Locate the error. Here is a long weft float.

What to do with skipped threads. Tutorial.

2 Thread the blunt-tip needle with a length of the same thread as the float.

Tutorial on fixing weaving errors.

3 Following the exact under-over pattern of the weave, start one inch before the float and needle-weave toward the float. I lay my iPhone nearby, with the magnified iPhone photo clearly showing the weave pattern.

Needle weaving to mend a weaving error. How to.

4 Needle-weave the correct path of the thread through the float area. Continue needle-weaving along the same thread pathway, going one inch beyond the float.

How to fix skipped threads in weaving.

5 Check the front and back of the fabric to see if your stitches match the correct pattern of the weave.

Skipped threads in weaving. Fixed!

6 When you are certain that the float thread has been accurately replaced, clip the float and remove it (or, leave it and trim it after washing). Leave two-inch tails on the replacement thread, and trim after wet finishing. (I leave the replacement tails so I can find and check the repair after it is washed. This also allows for shrinkage before trimming.)

Clip off the float AFTER repair thread is in place.

 

How to Fix a Small Selvedge Loop

1 Locate the loop.

How to fix a loop in the selvedge.

2 Using the blunt-tip needle, gently ease the excess thread to spread over four or five stitches inside the selvedge.

Easing in a loop at the selvedge. Short how-to.

3 The thread that has been eased in (just above the needle) will completely smooth out in wet finishing.

Eliminate an errant loop at the selvedge.

What skipped threads and loops would be found if I were examined this closely? Would I leave them and hope no one notices? Or, would I allow re-weaving and cutting away? A negative attitude is replaced with a thread of thankfulness. A loop of complaining is eased back in. The result is joy. A thankful heart knows joy. When the fabric is washed, the errant floats and loops are gone. What remains is the woven fabric with lustrous threads of joy.

May you have a bright sunshiny day.

With you,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Re-weaving and cutting away in life – what a great analogy.

    I am fascinated by your snips (scissors). Are they surgical snips? Those curved blades! I’d love a pair of my own.

    Here’s to a day full of joy!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, Finding those personal flaws can be a little painful for me, but putting in a better thread is worth it.

      These snips with curved tips work great! I found them at a vendor at the quilt festival in Houston a few years ago. I picked up another similar pair at a needlework shop a couple years ago.

      Joy to you!
      Karen

  • Annie Lancaster says:

    Good morning, Karen! I loved your analogy! The lazy part of me would think no one might notice because change is difficult. But then the good Catholic guilt takes over and I must do something about myself!

    The same with corrections in my weaving. My first thought is will anyone really see that? But I can’t unsee it, so it must get fixed!

    One thing I never knew though, was that the loopy selvedges could be corrected. Thank you for sharing this technique, Karen. I am always eager to learn how to improve and correct, though I sometimes have to do a bit of self talk first!

    Enjoy the sun today.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, The wonderful thing about grace is that someone greater than us does the fixing. He can see clearly what needs to be done.

      You are right about not being able to unsee a flaw. If there is something I can do about it, I will. If it can’t be fixed, then, I will chalk it up to the reality of being handmade.

      The loop I showed here would probably correct itself in the wash, but it wasn’t hard to ease in the thread, so I did.

      Happy to have another day with sunlight!
      Karen

  • Mary Still says:

    Beautiful piece and I like what you say at the end! Bless You!
    Mary

  • Linda Cornell says:

    You are a gifted writer as well as weaver. Thank you for sharing both!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda, It feels like a privilege to me to be able to weave and write and have someone like you show interest. Thank you!

      All the best,
      Karen

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Tools Day: Eliminating Warp Knots

You are not going to believe how many knots I came across in this 16/2 linen warp! Too many. As I wound the warp I made the decision to leave most of the knots, and deal with them on the loom. (I did remove knots that were close to the beginning or ending peg on the warping reel.) I lost count, but I’m sure I have spliced the warp on this five-and-a-half-meter project at least a dozen times. (To see more details about how I splice the warp, visit this blog post and video: How To Splice the Warp – Video.)

I do not weave over warp knots. A knot introduces a spot of vulnerability to the fabric. Knots can fray, loosen, or come undone over time, even if the knot is originally imperceptible.

In a couple instances, a knot distorted the tension of the warp end because of catching on a heddle or passing through the reed. For that reason, I now try to eliminate knots in the warp before they reach the heddles.

Tool: Warp Separator

  • Identify the warp end that has a knot, and insert the warp separator between warp ends to isolate the thread.

Warp separator to isolate warp with knot.

  • With a length of repair warp thread, follow the path of the original thread to splice in the new warp end, feeding it through the heddle of the original warp end.

Warp separator to isolate warp end with knot.

  • Bring the repair warp thread through the reed in the same dent as the warp end that has a knot.

Eliminating a warp knot.

  • Attach the repair warp thread near the fell by wrapping it around a flat straight pin.

Splicing a warp end.

  • Remove the warp separator from between the warp ends.

Warp separator for repairing a warp end.

  • Place a weight on the floor below the back beam. Wrap the repair thread around the weight two or three times to hold the thread at tension that matches the rest of the warp. Loosen the wrapped-around thread before advancing the warp, and then re-tighten before resuming weaving.

Splicing warp ends.

  • Weave one to two inches with both the original warp end and the repair warp thread in place.
  • Then, cut the original warp end with the knot (behind the heddles) and let it hang over the back beam.

Cutting a warp knot behind the reed.

  • The original and replacement warp ends overlap in the weaving for about one to two inches.
  • Remove the straight pin when it reaches the breast beam.
  • Re-attach the original warp end when it is long enough to secure in front of the fell line with a flat straight pin.
  • And then, cut and remove the replacement warp thread.
  • Trim all the spliced warp tails after wet finishing.

Spliced warp end to eliminate a knot in the warp.

Warp separator guy, ready to jump in and help!

Warp separator guy, ready to jump in and help!

This warp separator was a gift from The Weavers and Spinners Society of Austin, included in the goodie bag from last summer’s Contemporary Handweavers of Texas Conference. It would not be hard to make a warp separator like this from wood or sturdy cardboard. I have not been able to locate a supplier online.

If you know where to find a warp separator tool, please put a link in the comments.

May you have very few warp knots.

All the best,
Karen

19 Comments

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Tools Day: Needles

Even though there are dozens of needles in and around my weaving and sewing spaces, nine stand out from the rest. These go-to needles have earned special favor. As essential tools, these needles have specific holders and permanent homes.

The 9 needles I use most for handweaving.

  • Sharp needles: hand-hemming, hand-sewing, stitching on labels, and stitching a tapestry to a linen mat for mounting (curved needle)
    HOLDER: Pincushion I made in 1980
    HOME: Sewing supply closet, “Needles and Pins” drawer

Sharp needles for hand-hemming. 1980 pin cushion.

Stitching labels onto handwoven towels.

Hand hemming handwoven table runner.

  • Blunt tapestry needles, small and medium: hemstitching, stitching a thread mark to the right side of the fabric, sewing in tapestry weft tails, finishing work—needle-weaving for corrections and repairs
    HOLDER: Remnant of cotton handwoven plain weave fabric
    HOME: Loom-side cart, top drawer

Handy needles to keep by the loom.

Blunt needles by the loom.

Steve sanded and rounded the tips of the needles to make them blunt. A needle with a rounded tip won’t pierce and split the threads.

Hemstitching at the loom.

Sewing in weft tails in the back of a tapestry.

  • Blunt tapestry needles, large: hemstitching, hand-hemming rugs, weaving small tapestries
    HOLDER: Felted inkle-woven tape
    HOME: cutting/work table, Grandma’s old sewing tin

Felted inkle-woven needle holder.

Rag rug hemming by hand.

Hemming a handwoven rag rug.

  • Sacking needles: pulling rag rug warp ends out of scrap weft, threading warp ends back into a wool rug (I did this…once)
    HOLDER: straw-woven pouch from a trip to The Philippines
    HOME: weaving supply closet, top drawer on the left

Woven pouch from The Philippines.

Tying warp ends into knots. Rag rug finishing.

May you find the needle you need when you need a needle.

All the best,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Nanette says:

    Works for you, and a beautiful system! I have several “work stations” (sounds more organized than it is!) on two floors. So, my “system” is four (handwoven of course!) pin cushions, each with a variety of the needles, in various places. Not ideal, I suppose, because often the needles “migrate” and the right one is sometimes not in the right place! Do enjoy all your posts.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nanette, I like how you call them “work stations.” It does sound very orderly. I do understand how those needles can migrate! Mine do that sometimes, too. At least we have some sort of system…

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Elisabeth Munkvold says:

    I love how you store the different needles you use! It makes so much sense. In addition to being a beautiful way to preserve memories, I really like the make-do approach, too.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, I enjoy finding creative solutions to keeping things somewhat organized. I may have learned that from you. 🙂
      It is sweet to find ways to use special items, like my Grandma’s sewing tin.

      Merry Christmas,
      Karen

  • Beth says:

    You’re inspiring me to make something out of a handwoven scrap for needles and get them out of the little plastic box.

  • faun says:

    my great aunt did a similar checkerboard pattern
    “https://flic.kr/p/EnVPZE”

    my needles will migrate thanx to the intervention of critters.
    filling your pincushion with wool fleece with the natural lanolin
    will help prevent rusting- cotton will collect moisture and help them rust
    so wool cloth for your pin cushions is better in the long run too.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Faun, It looks like your great aunt’s rug uses thick and thin weft, like mine. Nice!

      Thanks for the tip about wool for pincushions. Good to know!

      All the best,
      Karen

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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

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