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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Melody Towels

I am stepping out of the box with this combination, trusting that what is seen only in my mind’s eye will have an extraordinary impact. This warp will become towels for my daughter Melody. I chose cottolin threads in colors that remind me of the colorfully painted homes we saw on our visit to Chile a few years ago when Melody was living there. Aqua, light poppy, marigold, and orchid.

New warp on the warping reel.

Mix of colors that remind me of Chile.

Warping reel. Winding a new colorful warp!

First of three bouts on the warping reel.

Beaming the warp with a warping trapeze.

Beaming the warp with the help of the warping trapeze.

Cottolin towel warp being beamed.

Warp beam with new cottolin warp for towels.

We trust what we can see—a chair to hold us, and an airplane to fly us. But unseen things are also part of our trust—the chair maker’s glue, and the air that aerodynamic engineers depend on. Earth and heaven, seen and unseen. Jesus, seen on earth, made the unseen God visible. Trust the unseen.

May you step out of the box.

Trusting,
Karen

10 Comments

  • ellen b santana says:

    every week you remind me to trust God. and i can’t wait to see these towels. thank you. ellen

  • Nannette says:

    Beautiful colors. They remind me of summer..

  • Lynette says:

    I look forward to seeing the woven cloth, with the pattern you have chosen.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lynette, It’s nice to hear from you. I think this will be very interesting to weave. I’m glad you are following along.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Ruth says:

    Oh my! What a beautiful color scheme you have chosen for these towels. What color(s) will you weave with? Are you using plain weave, twill, basket ….? Will there be bands of color or will the warp do the “talking”? Thank you taking me on your journey. Your work is always inspiring as are your words.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth, I’m glad you like this color scheme! I’m really fond of it, too. I will make decisions about about the weft when I do some sampling with different colors. I’d like to try out several options to see what I like the best. This will be another doubleweave with two plain weave layers, but this time I’m using 12 shafts–my first time to use 12 shafts.

      Thanks so much!
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    Wow! I like the color combination! I am also excited to be on this journey with you, Karen.

    And I frequently need to be reminded to trust in God. Your message is appreciated.

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Quiet Friday: Warping Back to Front with Confidence

“Put on many short warps.” This was the best piece of advice I received as a new weaver! Repeated practice of the back-to-front warping steps accelerated my confidence at the loom. If I can get it on the loom, surely I can weave it, right? When you are comfortable dressing the loom, you start feeling like a “real” handweaver. And before you know it, you are planning, designing, and weaving. And having the time of your life!

Tips for Preparing the Warp for Beaming

  • Wind the warp with two (or more) threads, separated by your fingers to keep them from twisting. This virtually eliminates tangles during the warping process.
  • Wind multiple bouts, when needed. The rule of thumb I use is to stay under 200 ends or 10 inches. Smaller bouts equalize the tension across the width of the warp.
  • Tie tight choke ties about every yard or meter along the warp before chaining it. This keeps the warp ends from shifting.
  • Keep the warp under constant, even tension. Threads can get into trouble if you let them relax.

Warping Back to Front

1 Lay warp chains across the breast beam, and through the beater, with the lease cross of each warp chain on the other side of the beater.

Warp chains ready for warping the loom back to front.

2 Raise the shafts out of the way, and place support sticks over the beater and the back beam to hold the lease sticks and the pre-sley reed. Thread the lease sticks through the cross of each chain. Lease sticks in the picture are being tied together.

Tying lease sticks during warping process. B2F warping explained.

3 Use tape measure and reed hook to mark the starting dent for pre-sleying the reed.

Pre-sleying the reed in back to front warping.

4 Divide warp into sections corresponding to the cords on the back tie-on bar. Insert the tie-on bar through the loops that form at the end of the warp.

Insert tie-on bar while warping back to front.

5 Install the warping trapeze at the front of the loom, or use another method to extend the warp and weight it. Texsolv cord is connected to the end of each warp chain to extend the length. (This is a 3.5 meter warp–not long enough to go over the trapeze cross bar.) Weights are suspended from the texsolv cords with S-hooks.

Adjusting the warp on the warping trapeze.

6 Transfer the lease sticks from in front of the reed to behind the reed. This is a gutsy way of transferring lease sticks. (Please don’t try this method unless you read about it first in Becky Ashenden’s book, noted below.)

Transferring lease sticks like this takes guts!

7 Straighten out each warp end from the reed to the back tie-on bar.

Winding on a new warp. Back to front warping pics.

8 Place the reed in the beater. Center the reed in the beater.

Placing the reed in the beater.

9 Remove choke ties between the beater and the trapeze cross bar, but do not remove choke ties from the very end of the warp. Starting at the reed, separate each warp bout in the middle.

Warping trapeze in use for warping Glimakra Standard.

10 After sliding lease sticks toward the reed, wind the warp onto the beam. Place a warping slat on each flat side of the warp beam for one revolution. (Octagonal beam uses eight sticks.) Advance weight at the front of the loom as needed. After two additional revolutions of the beam, add warping slats for one revolution again. Continue this pattern as beaming progresses.

Warping slats during beaming. Beaming tutorial.

11 Tie beater back to allow a little more warp to be wound on.

Finishing up beaming the warp.

12 Tie lease sticks to the back beam. Do not forget this step!

Tie the lease sticks to the back beam before cutting the ends.

If you missed step 12, do it now, or you will be yelling for help as you try to hold the cut ends with one hand while trying to keep the lease sticks from slipping out with your other hand. I speak from experience.

13 Loop the end of the warp chain around your hand, and then remove the remaining choke ties. Cut the loop.

Cutting ends after beaming the warp.

14 Remove a group of warp threads from the reed and tie in a loose slipknot. Continue across the warp. Remove the reed.

New warp of 16/2 cotton for monksbelt on weft rep.

15 Use the threading draft to count the warp ends into threading groups, tying each grouping with a slipknot.

Grouping warp ends before threading.

16 Adjust the loom for threading. For this Glimåkra Standard loom, I move the countermarch assembly to the back of the loom, put the bench in the “playhouse,” and lower the shafts for threading.

Bench "in" the loom for threading. Glimakra Standard.

For more thorough instructions about warping your loom, please consult these excellent resources:

  • Dress Your Loom The Vävstuga Way, A Bench-Side Photo Guide, by Becky Ashenden
  • Learning to Warp Your Loom, by Joanne Hall
  • The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell

May you find yourself beaming, inside and out.

Resurrection blessings,
Karen

7 Comments

  • Joanna says:

    Wow, thar’s amazing. Pre-sleying the reed from within the loom with it horizontal, is a wonderful idea. I’ve been carrying my chained warps to the dining room table, weighting with brick and sleying with the reed supported in an upright position. It works, but your method is much, much kinder to both warp and weaver. Thanks for a another good tutorial.

    May your Easter Sunday be brightened by the assurance our Lord is truly Risen.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna,

      I learned this pre-sleying method at Vavstuga. It makes so much sense!

      Thank you for the wonderful Easter greeting. And may the risen Lord fill you with all joy in believing.
      Karen

  • Hugh S. Myers says:

    An excellent tutorial indeed!! The only thing that occurs to me is that you could eliminate the flat ‘warp’ sticks on the warp beam with a pair of flanges set to the correct width. I took the necessary leap of faith when I started using mine on my AVL…while I did miss the clatter when each stick rolled off, I did not miss the unnecessary step in the process. Just a thought…

    • Karen says:

      Hugh, Thanks for your input! Very interesting! I have only heard of using flanges, but have never actually seen them being used. It’s good to hear of your positive experience.
      I need to do a little research…

      Karen

  • linda says:

    Hi Karen. I did leave a note before, but somehow I didn’t post it. Your back to front is beautiful to see. I’m the front to back girl have been for 30+ years. I’ll tell you about it some time, Beckey knows how it’s done she managed to do it Jeanettas way for 4 years even tho’ she’d sneak in her way now and then. Have a great day, PL&J, linda

  • Hans Gundesen says:

    Hi. Could you help me. I’m a relative of Becky Ashenden. Would you have an email adress of hers?

    My wife and I did visit with her and her parrents some almost 30 years ago.

    yours

    Hans Gundesen

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Quiet Friday: Linen Dice Weave Pillows

The linen on my loom last spring was a secret project. I only showed hints of what I was doing. Now that the “secret” linen project is published, let’s go back to see some of the process. Complete instructions for weaving and sewing these Linen Dice Weave pillows are in the January/February 2015 issue of Handwoven magazine. Read how it all came about in Caught by Surprise – in a Good Way.

Linen arrives!

Linen arrives!

Ready to pre-sley the reed with linen.

Ready to pre-sley the reed.

Warping trapeze in action to beam linen warp.

Warping trapeze in action to beam the linen warp.

Linen, ready to be threaded in the heddles.

Ready to thread the heddles.

Linen dice weave on the loom.

First pillow.

Linen dice weave as seen through the warp.

Linen dice weave as seen through the warp.

Linen dice weave coming around the cloth beam. Karen Isenhower

Coming around the cloth beam.

Linen dice weave on the loom.

Ending the pattern.

Dice weave in linen on the loom.

Dice weave.

Cutting off celebration!

Cutting off celebration!

Assembling handwoven linen pillows.

Assembling pillows.

Two sets of handwoven linen dice weave pillows

Two sets of linen dice weave pillows.

Linen dice weave pillows. Karen Isenhower

Linen dice weave pillows ready to send.

May you and those you love make meaningful memories on this Christmas day.

Merry Weaving Christmas,
Karen

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Quiet Friday: Checkered Rug

I have another rag rug warp on my Baby loom (Glimåkra 100cm Ideal), playing with the magic of double binding again, this time with four shafts and four treadles. Ten yards / nine meters of warp. I planned an additional twelve inches / 30.5cm between rugs for cutting off and tying back on, so I can cut each rug off as it is finished. Here is the first rug.

Winding warp for another rag rug.

Small warping reel is used to measure the ten yards / nine meters of 12/6 cotton rug warp.

Beaming the warp under tension, using warping trapeze and weights.

Warp chains are undone and lengthened out over the warping trapeze. Several pounds of walking weights hold the bouts under constant even tension for beaming the warp.

Tying on.

All tied on. Ready to weave.

Designing a rag rug.

Design concept is created; and fabric colors are chosen.

Double binding rag rug on the loom. Karen Isenhower

Progress.

Using a temple for weaving rag rugs.

Temple is always in place when I am weaving a rug. I fitted two different temple parts together to get this warp width. Notice the lengthwise gaps between the temple parts…but not a problem.

Rag rug on the loom. Nearing completion.

Around the breast beam, and over the knee beam, to wrap around the cloth beam. Warping slats are placed between the cloth beam and the rug the first time around to make a smooth surface for the woven rug-cloth.

Rag rug on the loom. Woven hem.

Hem is completed with 12 picks of rug warp. Three inches of scrap fabric header comes next, and then the rug is ready to be cut from the loom.

Hand-hemming rag rug.

Warp ends have been knotted and trimmed; and hem folded under and pressed. Now, hemming with a needle and rug warp, the last step is almost complete. The only thing left is to sew on my label.

Checkered rag rug. Karen Isenhower

Notice the subtle changes in color and depth of color where the warp colors change–purposely not aligned with the block changes.

Home sweet home. That's what rag rugs are for.

Home sweet home. A patterned rag rug makes a house feel like home.

May you finish what you started.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

9 Comments

  • Betsy says:

    Hi Karen. A beautiful rug! Do you have a suggestion for a good source for rag rug patterns and drafts? I really like your designs. Betsy

    • Karen says:

      Most of my favorite books with rag rug patterns and drafts are not in English. But weaving drafts work in any language, and the pictures can inspire many different ideas.
      Here are some of the rag rug books that I refer to often for design ideas:
      Alla Tidors Trasmattor
      Älskade Trasmattor
      Trasor och Tekniker: 35 nya mattor (I did find this one in English from a used book seller – pricey$$$ – Swedish Rag Rugs 35 New Designs)

      I’m always on the lookout for Swedish weaving books, which sometimes have rag rug drafts in them.
      The books I mentioned happen to be carried by Vavstuga.com. (Not affiliated; just offering a source.)

      The Big Book of Weaving and Happy Weaving also have one or two good rag rug drafts for starters.

      Hope that helps!
      Karen

  • Joanna says:

    Ooh, pretty! It looks like blue skies and fresh green meadow grass, absolutely lovely.

  • linda says:

    note: any pattern can be used for a rag rug even colonial overshot, summer winter, ….as long as the floats are not too long. just plan on using a plain weave between shots of pattern and make the floats over 2 or 3 warp threads. Of course this means you’ll need a 4 harness loom if your using a floor loom. another note: If you weight the beater bar with a metal rod screwed to the beater bar not as much muscle is needed to beat the weft into place. So get out that draft paper and design. linda

  • linda says:

    I love this sight it keeps me on my toes. I couldn’t remember what bouble binding was; I know it as double weave. The double binding moniker must be Swedish…Beckey again. The last three fridays when I’ve been by the studio/school it’s been closed. when i do see her I’ll say hi for you. Love Peace and Joy (LPJ), linda

  • […] the way, the first rug from this warp (Quiet Friday: Checkered Rug) is now in my […]

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